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Morning Five: 06.11.13 Edition


  1. Coming into this season Scottie Wilbekin‘s starting job was in peril with the arrival of talented freshman Kasey Hill at Florida, but you might have reasonably expected that the rising senior could bank on his experience and maturity to give him an edge in playing time. That is until Wilbekin was suspended indefinitely for an unspecified violation of team rules. This is not the first time that Wilbekin has been suspended indefinitely in the off-season as he faced a similar suspension last year and ended up missing the first three games of last season. We have no idea what Wilbekin was suspended for and if it is related to his suspension last year, but it places Billy Donovan in a difficult situation on both what to do with Wilbekin as well as how to ease Hill into the starting point guard job as we would expect Wilbekin to miss at least a few games at the start of the season if the infraction was significant enough to warrant the team disclosing it in June.
  2. It should not come as too much of a surprise but Andrew Wiggins will not be playing for the Canadian national team this summer. Wiggins like many of his American contemporaries is passing on the opportunity to play for his country’s U19 team at the FIBA World Championships. Like them Wiggins will be trying to get an early start on his college experience and given how brief Wiggins’ stay is expected to be that makes sense. Of course we do not expect this will have any long-term repercussions for Wiggins in terms of being named to future Canadian national teams as he is essentially viewed as the future of the sport in the country.
  3. Even in the crazed world of college transfers the decision by Jerome Seagers to back out of his transfer to Auburn is a curious move. Seagers, who averaged 6.5 points and 2.6 assists per game last season, announced his transfer from Rutgers to Auburn in the wake of the Mike Rice scandal. Now a month later Seagers has decided that Auburn is not the ideal destination for him. We will probably never be sure of the reason why Seagers decided to back out of the transfer, but according to Auburn the stated reason is that  “he hadn’t truly recovered emotionally from his time at Rutgers.” Whatever the reason is for his decision it will be interesting to see where Seagers ends up, but from the school’s statement it would appear that he wants to be closer to his family in Silver Springs, Maryland.
  4. Speaking of transfers The New York Times took a look at increasingly onerous transfer restrictions with a focus on a couple of particularly notable cases. The article does not take a look at some notable cases in college basketball where player transfers were blocked although the ones we have seen do not block nearly as many universities (see Todd O’Brien) so we know the problem extends beyond just college football. The big question of what drives these type of tactics is one that the article cannot get to bottom of because coaches will never talk about it, but it is likely one of asserting their power over the athletes to try to prevent future transfers by making the transfer process as difficult as possible.
  5. There are a lot of crazy stories happening with conference realignment, but one that will probably be largely overlooked is how moving conferences will change the finances for schools even in areas that are not the school’s primary focus. Take the move of Kenya Hunter for example. Normally we would not highlight the move of an assistant particularly one who has not been rumored as a top candidate for significant head coaching positions, but Hunter’s lateral move from Georgetown to Nebraska speaks to the changing finances of the two schools. This is not to suggest that Georgetown is falling apart, but instead should highlight how TV contracts can alter how an athletic program is built because five years ago we could not even fathom someone leaving Georgetown for a similar position at Nebraska (frankly, we are still having trouble comprehending it).

Why Kentucky’s Shunning Of International Basketball is Very Good, and Very Scary, News.

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

An obvious implication of the NCAA’s move two years ago to open up individual workouts to players enrolled in summer classes was an improved brand of non-conference performance. Teams would be better suited to kick off their schedules with gusto. Much of the sloppy rust that typically defines November and December would be cleaned up, replaced by a crisper and more cohesive style of play. There was little regard for what other rippling effects this new rule might have. Coaches seemed to love the idea, anyway, and for all the obvious reasons. A slightly disconcerting side effect of the NCAA cutting the tape on summer team workouts rose to the surface with Thursday’s release of USA Basketball’s list of accepted tryout invitations for the Under-19 Czech Republic-located FIBA World Championships. The list is not short on talent or, slippery as it is to define in today’s diffuse one-and-done landscape, star power – Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell, Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Villanova’s Ryan Arcidiacono and Arizona’s Aaron Gordon are among the accepted invites. But it’s missing an important and highly touted subset of players: the top players from the class of 2013.

Summer practice time has forced players and coaches to rethink how they approach preseason preparation (Getty Images).

Summer practice time has forced players and coaches to rethink how they approach preseason preparation (Getty Images).

With the exception of Gordon, the second-ranked power forward and fourth-ranked player overall, according to ESPN Recruiting nation, the list features none of the breathtaking talents that have national recruiting analysts in unanimous agreement over this class’s distinguished eminence. 2013’s top tier of talents is a rare collection of athletic wonder and refined skill and future lottery potential, and almost none of it will go into putting the best outfit possible on Eastern European courts this summer to represent the stars and stripes. Scan the list yourself, then peek back at any 2013 class rankings, and the absence of essentially every consensus top-20 player is hard to ignore. The Jabari Parkers and Julius Randles and Noah Vonlehs are all passing up the opportunity. Many of these players are scattered about the nation’s traditional blue-blood programs, but Kentucky – as part of building the best recruiting class of all time, Andrew Wiggins’ exclusion duly noted – owns six top-100 commitments in 2013, and none of them decided to join up with Team USA at this summer’s event. John Calipari spoke with The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy about his players’ collective rebuttal of national team participation, and when you dig beneath the image of Calipari’s nebulously slick media guile and accept his words at face value, their decision is perfectly respectable (and not at all unpatriotic – just in case you were ready to summon one of those tortured “what about the old days?! These kids have no sense of what it means to wear the stars and stripes!!” blusterings). It makes the most complete sense.

“Most of it is, they didn’t want to play. I’m not forcing kids to do anything,” Calipari told Sporting News. “I think the reason they all turned it down is, they want to get started.”

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Morning Five: 05.23.13 Edition


  1. The Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Draft lottery for the second time in three years on Tuesday night, which means that the team that selected rising superstar Kyrie Irving #1 overall in 2011 will get a chance to pair another potential star next to him. Will it be Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, Kansas’ Ben McLemore, Georgetown’s Otto Porter, Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, or some other prospect who hasn’t yet risen up the draft boards? Whoever it is, and this is a solid mock with explanations from, keep one thing very much in mind. If you redrafted the 2010 NBA Draft right now — just three years later — the top overall pick would probably be an overlooked athlete from Fresno State who never so much as sniffed a winning season in two years in the Central Valley, Paul George. So no matter what anyone says between now and June 27 (including ourselves), take it with a healthy dose of NaCl. 
  2. While on the subject of George and his Indiana Pacers, his head coach Paul Vogel took quite a bit of heat last night for removing center Roy Hibbert from the game in the closing seconds, allowing the freight train known as LeBron James to power his way into the lane for an easy layup to win the game (beating George badly to his left, incidentally). Still, Vogel appears to be a rising star himself with the way he has developed this Pacers group, but we’re betting that you didn’t know that his dream job was actually to become a college basketball coach. He got his first start by basically begging then-Kentucky coach Rick Pitino for a spot on his staff as a student manager in the mid-1990s, eventually becoming UK’s video coordinator and alighting to the NBA ranks when Pitino left Lexington for the Boston Celtics. It’s a rags-to-riches underdog sort of story, and one well worth familiarizing yourself with. If Vogel continues to play his cards right in the NBA, he may find that elusive major college head coaching job available to a guy like him after all.
  3. It was open secret for most of the week, but confirmed on Wednesday that Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski will in fact return as the captain of the Team USA men’s basketball ship for the next three years (which includes the 2014 World Championships and the 2016 Summer Olympics). We’ll have more on this decision later today in a separate post, but while on the topic of international basketball, USA Basketball invited 24 rising freshmen and sophomores to try out for its U-19 team that will compete later this summer in the World Championships in Prague. The most recognizable candidates who will battle for one of 12 roster spots next month are Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon, Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes, and Oregon’s Damyean Dotson. Notably missing from the two dozen players are any of Kentucky’s impressive haul from the Class of 2013, several of whom already have had international basketball experience. But John Calipari says that the group as a whole is itching to get to Lexington and would rather spend their summer months working out to prepare for what everyone believes could be a phenomenal year.
  4. Last week we mentioned that a Brown University player named Joseph Sharkey had been assaulted on the street and put in the hospital with critical head injuries as a result. As of yesterday he remained in a Providence hospital, but the better news is that local authorities have arrested a suspect for the brutal crime, a reserve Marine who served in Afghanistan named Tory Lussier. We’re in no way going to loft unfounded accusations at this “hero” without a full accounting of the details of the night in question, but it’s worth noting that Lussier was already under suspicion for assault of an elderly person from an incident in a Connecticut parking lot last fall. Whether this is the guy who committed such a senseless crime or it was someone else, we really hope that justice is served in one way or another.
  5. There were a couple of notable comings and goings yesterday. In some bad news, Florida’s Will Yuguete had his right knee scoped on Wednesday and is expected to miss the next four months of action. The French wing had suffered numerous injuries during his career in Gainesville, so the hope here is that this particular course of treatment and rehabilitation will allow him to have a strong, injury-free senior season in 2013-14. Up the coast a bit in Storrs, Connecticut announced on Wednesday that center Enosch Wolf‘s suspension for an on-campus domestic dispute has ended. He is cleared to return to the team if he likes, but here’s the catch — he no longer has a scholarship. With the school’s announcement this week of the transfer of GW’s Lasan Kromah, there simply isn’t an available spot left. Funny how things like this work themselves out. Wolf expects to make his decision in the coming weeks.

RTC Summer Updates: Atlantic 10 Conference

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest update comes courtesy of our Atlantic 10 correspondent, Joe Dzuback. You can read more of his in-depth writing and analysis at Villanova By The Numbers.

Reader’s Take I

Summer Storylines

  • Bobinski to Chair NCAA Selection Committee: While the conference again sent seven teams, half of its membership, to the postseason — three to the NCAA, one to the NIT and three to the CBI, the Final Four runs by Butler (Horizon League) and Virginia Commonwealth (Colonial Athletic Association) overshadowed a showing, Xavier’s loss to Marquette excepted, that exceeded 2010’s NCAA results. The NCAA announced that Xavier Athletic Director Mike Bobinski will succeed Connecticut’s Jeff Hathaway as Chairman of the 2012 NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. Bobinski just completed his third year of a five-year term on the Selection Committee. While the Atlantic 10 has been the most successful non-BCS conference in placing teams in the tournament field (with 20 NCAA bids allotted to six teams since 2004), its representatives have tended to draw the short straw when it comes to seeding, and Bobinski will likely lobby hard for that cause.
  • The Coaching Carousel:  The conference had two coaching vacancies during the early phase of the coaching carousel. If the 2010 offseason saw coaching turnovers due to firings, the 2011 offseason saw suitors come to call on the Atlantic 10 coaching fraternity. Tennessee, having fired Bruce Pearl on March 21, made its first call to Xavier to talk with Chris Mack. Mack reportedly turned aside an offer of $2 million per year to coach the Volunteers in favor of staying in Cincinnati with the Musketeers. Richmond’s Chris Mooney signed a 10-year contract extension, his second extension in two years, ending Georgia Tech’s courtship. Mooney’s decision triggered a spate of articles (see “Old coaching assumptions are fading” by Dana O’Neil for example) about non-BCS coaches who pass on BCS offers to stay with their programs. The Yellow Jackets turned their attention to Dayton’s Brian Gregory, who succumbed to the lure of the BCS and packed his bags for Atlanta on March 28. Dayton conducted a six-day search and hired Archie Miller, brother of former Xavier head man Sean Miller, away from Arizona to succeed Gregory. In late April, George Washington’s Athletic Director, Patrick Nero, fired 10-year veteran Karl Hobbs. Nero, who succeeded retiring AD Jack Kvancz on June 30, was hired on April 20, and wasted no time in turning over the men’s basketball staff. Nero reached into his old stomping grounds, the American East Conference, and hired the league’s premier head basketball coach, Mike Lonergan of Vermont, on May 6 to replace Hobbs. The resignation of Penn State head coach Ed DeChellis on May 24 (DeChellis took over the Navy program) triggered a few tense days among the Duquesne faithful as coach Ron Everhart landed an interview for the Happy Valley position. The Dukes exhaled on June 1 when Everhart withdrew his name from consideration in favor of staying with the Pittsburgh school next season.
  • Media Coverage: The Atlantic 10 and ESPN renewed their deal to have eight games (selected by ESPN) televised on either ESPN or ESPN2 in each of the next two seasons. The ESPN networks are committed to broadcasting the Women’s Championship and up to 32 appearances in each of the next two seasons.

Tu Holloway Makes the XU Offense Go

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RTC Summer Updates: Southeastern Conference

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest update comes courtesy of our SEC correspondent, Gerald Smith.  This season he will be covering the NCAA Basketball with zeal, nerd-culture references and a fistful of silliness at You can also follow him on Twitter (@fakegimel).

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

  • One Big, Mostly-Happy Conference: After several years of divisional lopsidedness in conference scheduling and tournament seeding – to the dismay of programs like Alabama — the SEC has merged the West and East divisions for basketball. A 16-game conference schedule, consisting of the same pairings within and across old divisions, remains for the 2011-12 season. Starting with this year’s SEC Tournament, teams will be seeded and awarded first-round byes by their overall conference record. The most vocal dissenter against peace, conference unity and love was Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury. He argued unsuccessfully that divisional championships create excitement for the fans. MSU athletics must have sold some awesome merchandise for Coach Stansbury’s six SEC West Division championships.
  • Too Much of a Good Thing? - Stansbury also argued that a united 12-team conference won’t produce a true champion unless each team plays a full 22-game home and away conference schedule. In July’s coaches’ conference call, some SEC coaches (South Carolina’s Darrin Horn & LSU’s Trent Johnson) agreed, but wonder if such a schedule is feasible. Other coaches (Kentucky’s John Calipari & Alabama’s Anthony Grant) believe that teams should worry more about strengthening their non-conference scheduling and RPI ratings. Increasing the schedule to at least 18 games would placate athletic directors and the SEC’s broadcast partners, but would add further scheduling imbalance and hysteria. In meetings, the decision to increase the number of conference games was postponed until after the 2011-12 season. The SEC coaches will meet again later in August to debate their options.
  • Missouri Newbies - Two coaches previously employed in the Show-Me State join the SEC during this period of conference remodeling. As an assistant under former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson, new Arkansas coach Mike Anderson became very familiar with the “40 Minutes of Hell” system (and Coach Richardson’s snakeskin boot collection). After stops with UAB and Missouri, Anderson returned to Fayetteville to replace John Pelphrey.
  • Caught lying to cover-up his impermissible BBQ — mmmm… impermissible BBQ… *gurgle noise* — Tennessee was forced to fire Bruce Pearl. Missouri State’s Cuonzo Martin was hired to fill Pearl’s vacated orange blazer. With his athletic director resigning and additional NCAA penalties applied to his program, Martin may long for his past days in Springfield.

A major growth spurt led to a similar shoot up the 2011 high school rankings for Kentucky's Anthony Davis. (Sam Forencich/USA Basketball)

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Around The Blogosphere: July 28, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • U of L basketball earns top academic honor: “The University of Louisville men’s basketball team has earned the 2010-11 BIG EAST Conference Team Academic Excellence Award, which recognizes the highest collective grade-point averages in each of the conference’s 26 sports.” (Card Chronicle)
  • Basketball Prospectus ranks Draymond Green the 14th best returning player in the country: The senior is expected to step up this year as the lone Spartan in the top 100. (The Only Colors)
  • Miller To Try Out For World University Games Team: “Kentucky forward Darius Miller is going to give international competition another try as the former U19 gold medalist will begin camp with Team USA Friday in hopes of making the World University Games roster. Miller is one of 22 players who accepted the invitations to the camp, which will be held in Colorado Springs and trimmed to the final playing roster August 8. The team will compete in China August 12-23 and will be coached by Purdue’s Matt Painter.” (Kentucky Sports Radio)

Around The Blogosphere: July 25, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • Moe Harkless cleared to play for St. John’s: “It looks like the first big eligibility hurdle for the Red Storm has been cleared. Zach Braziller reports on Twitter that sources tell the New York Post that Maurice Harkless is cleared to play for the Red Storm.” (Rumble in the Garden)
  • More details emerge in Bruce Pearl NCAA Scandal: An update on Pearl and the allegations against him. (Kentucky Sports Radio)
  • News on Garrett Green to Indiana: Some updates on the potential transfer. (Inside the Hall: His potential impact and Q & A)
  • Former UK Legends to Play Game vs. Dominican Republic in Rupp: “Calipari is organizing an exhibition game between former UK players and the Dominican Republic National Team on August 15th in Rupp Arena. Rosters have yet to be finalized.” (Kentucky Sports Radio)

Morning Five: 07.22.11 Edition

  1. In Andy Katz’s latest update on the David Salinas situation, he reports that the University of Houston has found nothing that would suggest any compliance problems regarding their basketball program and the late investment advisor. Sticking to his guns, he also repeats that the NCAA has not launched a formal investigation into the matter because it lacks the evidence to do so right now (perhaps the corpus of the departed, the coaches talking to the media about their squandered money, and the federal investigation aren’t enough). Because we know people are being called about this — indeed, Katz notes as much in his article — as we alluded to in yesterday’s M5, maybe this is the difference between a formal and informal inquiry. When the NCAA calls and you’re on the other end of the phone, though, it probably feels formal enough. Also, do they have to ask the same questions a seond time when they investigation goes from informal to formal?
  2. Remember Tony Mitchell? He was a top Class of 2010 prospect who initially signed with Missouri, but, after an investigation into his high school transcripts, it was found that he had attended an unaccredited prep school for a year on the advice of an AAU coach. Ruled ineligible at Missouri, he’s been at North Texas attempting to fulfill his academic obligations and get back on the court. SI‘s Luke Winn spent some time with Mitchell in Riga, Latvia during the latter’s service on the USA squad that just finished fifth in the FIBA U19 World Championships. The entire article is great, but the part that really got our attention was when Winn showed, through tempo-free stats gathered at the U19 tournament, how Mitchell compared pretty darn favorably to the best player in the competition, Lithuania’s Jonas Valanciunas…who just got taken 5th in the NBA Draft.
  3. What is it with basketball, the state of Texas, and Ponzi schemes? Totally unrelated to the Salinas matter, a San Antonio businessman pleaded guilty yesterday and could face up to eight years in the big house due to his involvement in a false investment scheme once led by Travis Correll — a former Southeastern Conference referee! Correll is already in prison on a nine-year stretch and gets to pay $29 million in restitution when he gets out.
  4. The July evaluation period(s) — big opportunity for previously unseen prospects, or teeming, swarming cesspool of corruption? Maybe that’s taking it a little too far, but one has to admit that in the past it’s always seemingly been these summer recruiting periods where so much naughtiness happens. John Wall says his life would be drastically different if he hadn’t had the July eval period to show his stuff. Everyone knows it needs an overhaul, but getting rid of it entirely might not be the way to go. Change is coming, though, and that right soon. What results may be a paradigm in which the traveling recruiting analysts become some very important (and therefore popular and probably very rich) dudes. Interesting stuff from the Washington Post, including takes from the likes of Messrs. Pastner, Calipari, and Izzo.
  5. Excellent and difficult question by CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman: on the list of college basketball’s great accomplishments, where does Butler making consecutive title games rank? Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim both had pretty high praise, as you’d expect. We’re not going to tell you where Mr. Goodman listed it, so you’ll have click on the above link to find that out, but one thing we’re wondering is…what about next season? If Butler doesn’t have another great Tournament run (Bulldog fans, we’re not saying it won’t happen, this is a hypothetical), you know there will be people who will say that Brad Stevens should have cashed in and switched jobs when the gettin’ was good. If you hear such things, after you’ve rolled your eyes, please do it again on our behalf.

Around The Blogosphere: July 12, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • Former Kentucky Student Assistant To Play For Turkey National Squad: “Forever a former Wildcat in our hearts, Enes Kanter was listed among 18 players set to play for the Turkish National Team on their finalized roster. Kanter mentioned a handful of times that he would like to play for Turkey in the event of a lockout, so seeing this made official doesn’t come as much of a shock. Kanter will be joined by a few other NBA players including Hedo Turkoglu and a few other players you aren’t familiar with.” (Kentucky Sports Radio)
  • FIBA U19 World Championship — USA Defeats Australia For Fifth Place: Team US was unable to win gold, but knocked off the Aussie in the 5th place game. (Villanova by the Numbers)
  • Erik Murphy Receives Deferred Prosecution: “Remember the incident at a St. Augustine bar in April that produced arrests for Florida basketball players Erik Murphy and Cody Larson? Murphy’s taking deferred prosecution for his part, according to the Orlando Sentinel, an arrangement that should keep him from doing time and in the Florida program.” (Alligator Army)

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Get To The Point: Big Ten Edition

Throughout the summer RTC contributors Zach Hayes and Brian Otskey will discuss the hot topics — or whatever comes to mind — around each major conference in college basketball.  This week, they tackle the Big Ten.  For the entire summer series focusing on each of the six power conferences, click here

Brian: Lots of folks give the Big Ten grief every year for its slower tempo and meat grinder games. I, for one, love the Big Ten. Fundamentally sound basketball, efficient offense and hard-nosed defense has always appealed to me and all three reside in this conference pretty much every year. The Big Ten (or is it 12?) welcomes a new team this year as the Nebraska Cornhuskers joined this venerable league effective last week. Everyone knows Nebraska joined for football but this addition gives the league an even number of 12 teams and a basketball team that, while it may not do so in the short term, has the potential for some long term success. While I wouldn’t go so far to say Nebraska is the proverbial “sleeping giant,” this is a program with a pretty good coach and a new arena opening up in a couple years. The Cornhuskers have never won a game in the NCAA Tournament but they did manage to get there five times in the 1990’s. If Nebraska can establish its identity early on in its tenure with the Big Ten, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the program have some decent success down the road.

As for the coming season, Ohio State has to be the clear favorite. The Buckeyes return Jared Sullinger, who’s been working on expanding his game (a frightening proposition for opponents), along with William Buford, Aaron Craft, DeShaun Thomas and Jordan Sibert. Thad Matta welcomes yet another strong recruiting class, led by center Amir Williams, forward LaQuinton Ross and guard Shannon Scott, among others, giving the Buckeyes a strong rotation that should result in a solid top ten ranking all year long. Ohio State is in a position where they could run away with the Big Ten regular season title. I could see Michigan and maybe Wisconsin or Purdue making a run at the men from Columbus but I don’t feel there is another team in this league that can hang with Ohio State on a nightly basis.

The big fella is back for the Bucks

Despite losing Darius Morris to the NBA, I still like Michigan to finish near the top of the conference. It’s taken John Beilein some time to build a solid program in Ann Arbor but was there ever any doubt? Not in my mind. The Wolverines have made two of the past three NCAA Tournaments after going 11 years without an invite. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jordan Morgan bring a solid inside-outside threat to the table while the backcourt has depth with Stu Douglass, Zack Novak and Matt Vogrich, a player who should move into a larger role for this team in 2011-12. Michigan’s backcourt will be bolstered further by freshmen Trey Burke and Carlton Brundidge. The latter can be a big time scorer in Ann Arbor down the road but the biggest question for Michigan is replacing Morris at the point. Beilein has a decision between Burke or a few veterans. This choice could very well go a long way towards determining the Wolverines’ fate this season.

Do you see Ohio State running away with the Big Ten or will another team keep pace with them? I like what Michigan, Purdue and Wisconsin have on their rosters this season but I’m not seeing enough talent there to surpass the Buckeyes.

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Morning Five: 07.11.11 Edition

  1. In a somewhat shocking turn of events at the FIBA Under-19 World Championships in Latvia, Team USA lost 79-74 Friday to Russia in a quarterfinal game where the Yanks simply could not throw the ball in the ocean from outside the arc (0-9).  Nor, apparently, could they defend it, as Russia dropped 12 threes on its end, making it virtually impossible for a team lacking much of an inside presence to win the game.  The American team regrouped to throttle Poland on Saturday before finishing the tournament by beating Australia, 78-77, Sunday to take the fifth place trophy (USA’s worst showing since 2003, also a fifth place finish).  Connecticut’s Jeremy Lamb was the undisputed leader of this team, averaging 16/4 in taking 53 more shots than anyone else on the team, but the surprise of the squad may have been Creighton’s Doug McDermott, the 2010-11 MVC ROY but someone that most national fans haven’t yet heard of.  The rising sophomore went for averages of 11/6 in the tournament and proved the only player on the roster capable of reliably hitting threes (39.3%) — keep an eye out for this future March Madness hero in coming seasons.
  2. So what happened to cause a disappointing fifth place finish (Team USA was expected to win gold or silver) in Latvia this year?  Luke Winn writes that the hordes of A-list stars who opted to stay stateside this summer — from UNC’s Harrison Barnes to Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger — had an obvious impact; but he also mentions some of the chatter from NBA GMs and scouts who openly suggested that some of the players didn’t take the competition seriously enough.  Whether this is yet another indictment of the infernal AAU system in America, or simply a matter of players foolishly failing to recognize that the rest of the world can play too, we’re not sure.  But the fact remains that USA Basketball is nowhere near as fearsome of an entity as it once was — especially at the younger levels.
  3. We always talk about ranking the programs on the measure of how well they put players into the NBA, but that doesn’t always give us the entire picture.  For example, a school might have ten players in the League, but they may all ride the pine.  Another school might have half that many total players, but three or four of those could be All-Stars.  Dollars for Ballers took a stab at this problem by considering player salaries.  While @SportsGuy33 persuasively argues that NBA salaries are not always commensurate with talent and productivity (hello, Rashard Lewis!), it’s a better proxy than none at all.  So given this, would you believe that Michigan State’s five players — Jason Richardson, Zach Randolph, Morris Peterson, Shannon Brown, and Charlie Bell — had the highest salary average at $7.76M than any other school with at least three players?  Duke, with its 13 total pros, many of whom have been around for a while, collected nearly $90M in salaries last season.  Really, the only way to do this kind of analysis accurately is to tie programs to individual and team outcomes, but this is a decent start.
  4. Some players get tattoos and carve messages into their hair to rep for their families; incoming Kentucky freshman Michael Gilchrist decided to change his name.  According to his tweet on Friday afternoon, one of the best freshmen in the country has officially changed his name to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.  He chose to add Kidd to his existing surname to honor his deceased uncle, Darrin Kidd, a mentor who suffered a fatal heart attack on the same day MKG signed his letter of intent last year; and, of course, his father, Michael Gilchrist, Sr., was shot and killed fifteen years ago.
  5. On a sad note, former TCU head coach Neil Dougherty died last Tuesday during a jog in Indianapolis.  He wasn’t carrying identification and is not a local resident — he was in town as part of his current job with iHoops, an NBA/NCAA joint initiative — so after passing during the run, his body was kept as a “John Doe” until last Friday when his identity was revealed.  Dougherty was a long-time assistant throughout the 80s and 90s, most notably at his home-state school of Kansas under Roy Williams, and his age of only 50 years has many folks in Lawrence and Fort Worth shaking their heads.  He leaves a wife, Patti, and three children.  RIP, Coach Dougherty.

Morning Five: 07.08.11 Edition

  1. The Reign Man is heading back to Seattle. Sort of. Washington announced yesterday that Shawn Kemp Jr. (yes, that one; no, we won’t be making the obvious Jr. joke) had signed a financial aid agreement to get the final scholarship the Huskies had available. Kemp Jr. has taken an interesting path to get to Washington as he previously committed to Alabama in 2008 before being declared academically ineligible and to Auburn in 2009 before being declared academically ineligible again. Now it appears that he is academically eligible although coach Lorenzo Romar has already said, “The first thing he’s going to have to do is get into condition.” Unfortunately that isn’t the first time we have heard that about a player named Shawn Kemp.
  2. After Kyrie Irving went down last December, Jared Sullinger stepped up to become the premier freshman in the country. This season the Ohio State star is looking to take his game to another level by attempting to lose up to 30 pounds in an effort to get into better shape and develop his game more. It is rare that we would question any big man trying to lose a few pounds, but given Sullinger’s inside game and his relatively good conditioning (not falling apart late in games even as a freshman) we have to wonder if Sullinger’s play might actually suffer in a weird way from him getting into shape.
  3. UNC coach Roy Williams was honored yesterday in Marion, North Carolina, where he was born, with the unveiling of a sign honoring him with the official ceremony to follow on July 18, which Williams is expected to attend. Before fans of rival teams start harping on the cost of the sign in these fiscally challenging times it is worth noting that the sign was paid for with private donations. The more interesting thing for us is that due to his very well-documented difficult childhood Williams actually spent very little time in Marion and grew up in Asheville, North Carolina.
  4. Luke Winn checks in with his summer update from the FIBA Under-19 Tournament in Latvia, and the biggest storyline involves a player who isn’t even suiting up this summer.  Youssef Mejri is a 6’8″ power forward prospect who has committed to Davidson despite never playing a minute of American high school basketball, and few people are quite sure as to whether the Wildcats are getting a major sleeper or an unfulfilling headache.  Several other D-I players that Winn evaluates include rising freshmen Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga), Sim Bhullar (Xavier), Jackson Aldridge (Butler), and Hugh Greenwood (New Mexico).
  5. Finally, one of our correspondents, Kelly James Powers, was in Indianapolis yesterday for the adidas Invitational and noted that in addition to the star power on the court (Andre Drummond and Shabazz Muhammad were showcasing their considerable talents) there was plenty of star power in the stands (John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino, and Tom Izzo, just to name a few). As exciting as the on-court skills of the players might be, the positioning and interactions of these coaches while evaluating these prospects would be fascinating to watch. Obviously Calipari and Pitino have to act like the other doesn’t exist, but what about the other coaches there?