20 Questions: What is the Best November Tournament This Season?

Posted by dnspewak on October 24th, 2011

Danny Spewak is the RTC correspondent for the Sun Belt Conference and a Big 12 microsite writer.

Question: What is the Best November Tournament This Season?

The pick: Maui Invitational

Participants (with preseason rank): Island: Duke (#6), Memphis (#9), Kansas (#13), Michigan (#18), UCLA (#20), Tennessee, Georgetown, Chaminade; Regional: Belmont, Middle Tennessee, UNC Greensboro, Towson

The theme at the Maui Invitational this fall is history. Sure, it’s impressive that the field includes five teams ranked in the preseason Top 20 in the Coaches’ Poll, but the bracket will also provide us with all kinds of wonderful nostalgia. On one side of the bracket, Duke and Michigan might play a rematch of the 1992 National Championship in the semifinals; or, Memphis and Tennessee could battle for in-state supremacy once again (except the game is, you know, in Hawaii). The possibilities are endless — and that’s the case on the other side too. The winner of Georgetown/Kansas will likely face UCLA, and those three programs have 15 combined NCAA titles. And hey, if Memphis and Kansas keep winning, they could meet in a rematch of the 2008 title game. Mario Chalmers won’t be allowed in the building this time.

John Wooden is Just One Legend This Historic Tournament Will Remind Us Of

At this point, you may be physically shaking at some of these matchups. We don’t blame you. That’s how enticing these games are: they’ve got historical value, star power, legendary coaches and terrific fan bases. And you think that’s all the 2011 Maui Invitational has to offer? Take a look at the regional rounds, which also includes Belmont, widely considered one of the top non-BCS programs this season with the majority of an NCAA Tournament team returning. The Bruins dominated the Atlantic Sun in 2010-11, and it’ll face Duke in the regional round of this tournament at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The result of the game won’t determine who flies to Hawaii — Duke will automatically advance — but the Bruins are likely to put a scare into the Blue Devils (2008 NCAA tourney, anybody?).

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RTC Summer Updates: Conference USA

Posted by Brian Goodman on July 18th, 2011

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 newest update comes courtesy of our Conference USA correspondent, Steve Coulter.

Reader’s Take I

Summer Storylines

  • Joe Jackson Goes Patriotic: The Memphis guard and MVP of the CUSA Championship was selected as a member of USA Basketball’s U-19 Would Championship squad on June 23. After a week of training camp, Jackson was among the final twelve players selected by the USA Basketball committee. The squad left for Europe on June 30 and returned July 10. While Team USA disappointed in finishing fifth, Jackson more than held his own against some of the top international talent in the world, averaging over 11 points and 4 assists in 9 games. Jackson was accompanied to Latvia for the competition with eleven other collegiate sophomores including Michigan State’s Keith Appling, Villanova’s James Bell, Stanford’s Anthony Brown, Arizona State’s Jahii Carson, Michigan’s Tim Hardaway, Jr., Connecticut’s Jeremy Lamb, Illinois’ Meyers Leonard, Creighton’s Doug McDermott, North Texas’ Tony Mitchell, Butler’s Khyle Marshall and Florida’s Patric Young.

Memphis guard Joe Jackson was a bright spot for Team USA in Latvia, despite a fifth-place finish in the FIBA U-19 World Championships. (Vytautas Mikaitis)

  • Thundering Herd Runs Deep: Marshall already had one of the more loaded backcourts heading into the 2011-12 season with stars Damier Pitts and DeAndre Kane, but with the addition of Justin Coleman, a one-time Louisville commit, the Thundering Herd will certainly have the deepest backcourt the conference has to offer. Coleman sat out last year, but he will be coming off the bench as a shooting guard this season. Along with Coleman, junior college transfers Robert Goff and Dennis Tinnon will be new faces for the Herd. Goff and Tinnon are strong power forwards, looking to aid a weak Marshall frontcourt.
  • Memphis Coaching Legend Larry Finch Passes Away: Former Memphis coach Larry Finch passed away from natural causes at Saint Francis Hospital in Memphis on April 2 at the age of 60. Finch finished his career with the most wins in Tiger basketball history, a record he still holds today. Before leading the Tigers from 1986-97, Finch was a player at Memphis from 1970-73 and worked as an assistant at his alma mater from 1979-86. He passed away as not only a celebrated coach of the game, but a rare influence at the collegiate level. During his 11-year stint as head coach, Finch had seven 20-win seasons, made six NCAA appearances, amassed 220 wins and propelled 7 former players into NBA Draft selections. He finished his career with a loaded resume, having taken his alma mater to the Final Four, getting his jersey retired by the program and becoming the school’s all-time winningest coach.

Power Rankings

  1. Memphis: Freshman swingman Adonis Thomas, the No. 16 ranked prospect on Scout Inc.’s Top 100, is the conference’s best newcomer and he joins the already lethal Wesley Witherspoon as a scorer on a loaded Tigers roster that includes two of the nation’s best young guards in Joe Jackson and Will Barton. Head coach Josh Pastner can continue his Conference USA dominance this season, but the Tigers need to play solid defense and claim more out of conference wins then they did last season. Otherwise, they will be playing for their NCAA Tournament lives again come March.  As of now, Witherspoon and Barton are two of only four Conference USA prospects in the Top 100, ranking in at No. 79 and No. 80, respectively. Read the rest of this entry »
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Who’s Got Next? A Recruiting Notebook…

Posted by Josh Paunil on April 11th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru.  We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information.  Each week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are in the lower levels of the sport.  If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Introduction

With this past week full of events such as the All-American Championship, Nike Hoop Summit and Nike EYBL that displayed top high school talent, there were a lot of chances to watch, analyze and talk to some of the best high school basketball players in the country of all grade levels. We were able to watch more than half of the top-50 prospects in both the classes of 2011 and 2012, and saw great match-ups such as the two best guards in the class of 2012 in Rodney Purvis (#9 – Louisville) and Ricardo Ledo (#10) going at it in the EYBL. We also saw Anthony Davis (#4 – Kentucky) go up against one of the top international big men in Bismack Biyombo (Fuenlabrada, Spain) in the Hoop Summit and two class of 2011 top-five point guards in Josiah Turner (#10 – Arizona) and B.J. Young (#22 – Arkansas).

What We Learned

Rodney Purvis, the #9 overall prospect in the class of 2012, was the best player at the Nike EYBL this past weekend in Virginia, and often required two defenders. (Credit: National Recruiting Spotlight)

Rodney Purvis Elevates to Top Guard. Purvis clearly established himself as the best guard in his class during the EYBL as he out-played the second-best guard in Ledo, hit clutch shots and scored prolifically from everywhere on the court. He is a big-time scorer who can shoot the lights out from behind the arc or take it to the rim where he can finish through contact. He is also a good ballhandler and applies great pressure defense at times which results in turnovers for his opponents. Purvis is able to keep his opponents in front of him as well on defense and has good anticipation which results in steals and easy transition baskets on the other end. Expect him to move even further up the rankings since he has started to consistently get into the lane where he can finish or dump it off to a big man. Purvis is an elite level talent who will make an immediate impact for Louisville in a couple of years.

Anthony Davis Rises to #1 Player (coming soon).  Like Purvis, Davis staked his claim as the best player at his position during the Hoop Summit. However, he went one step further and seized the title as the number one prospect in the country (our new rankings will be out next week). Saying Anthony Davis is versatile at 6’11 is an understatement. The former guard is a force down low as a tremendous shot-blocker and rebounder and is very good at guarding the perimeter against smaller players. He can also handle the ball well and is a deft passer.  Additionally, he can score off the dribble and can play either with his back or facing the basket. He is a very tough match-up due to his versatility. His shooting is respectable and he is a dominant offensive rebounder which allows him to get a lot of easy putbacks. Davis’ potential is unlimited and the sky is the limit for him, which is why he is the best player in his class. Look for Davis to dominate at Kentucky next year and to be an impact player in the NBA down the road.

A Duke Version of the Fab Five? The Fab Five documentary got a lot of press and media attention due to Jalen Rose’s remarks and Grant Hill’s response, but Duke-commit Rasheed Sulaimon took something else away from it. “I saw it and thought it would be a cool idea and I know Duke is recruiting [#5] Shabazz [Muhammad], [#19] L.J. [Rose] and [#15] Tony [Parker] hard so I thought why not put another one together,” Sulaimon said when I asked him about it. L.J. Rose also had some remarks about Sulaimon’s idea, “Him and Alex Murphy have been recruiting me, Shabazz [Muhammad] and Tony Parker hard. It would be fun, it would be a lot of fun.” Parker also smiled at the thought of the idea, “It would be fun,” he added.

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Recruiting Rumor Mill: 11.01.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 1st, 2010

Although we have been mentioning that some of the recruiting buzz might start slowing down we still saw one big-time recruit commit this week and another back out of his prior commitment.

  • First we will go with the big commitment as Memphis picked up its first commitment of the recruiting season (shocking, right?) when local product and reality TV star Adonis Thomas committed to play for the Tigers. Josh Pastner utilized former Memphis star Penny Hardaway to appeal to Thomas during a video segment aired during their version of Midnight Madness. Thomas announced his decision on ESPNU, which is quite frankly less dramatic than we imagined for a player who went on ESPNU to announce his finalists.
  • Now for the less joyous news (if you’re a fan of the team that previously had a commitment) we will head to Texas where Rick Barnes lost a commitment from highly coveted Canadian (via Findlay Prep) point guard recruit Myck Kabongo who has not provided a definitive answer as to why he has reneged on his earlier promise. As of now he says that he is still considering Texas along with Syracuse, Duke, Kentucky, and North Carolina. There has been some talk about Austin Rivers and Kabongo wanting to team up (anybody getting visions of college poor man’s LeBron-Wade in Cameron?), but we will probably have to wait until Spring to find out as Kabongo says he is 60% certain that he’ll sign in the late period. [Ed. Note: Where do these guys come up with these percentages?]

    Kabongo is on the market again

  • Stanford picked up a huge commitment this week when the received a verbal commitment from top 10 point guard prospect Chasson Randle, who decided to head to Palo Alto after considering Illinois and Purdue citing the combination of academics (4.0 high school GPA) and athletics.
  • Indiana might still be waiting on Cody Zeller to decide on where he wants to go, but they were able to pick up a commitment from Hanner Perea, a power forward in the class of 2012 that many recruiting experts consider the most explosive big man in the class. Some of you may remember Perea as being the focal point of Baylor‘s current cell phone/text message scandal, but we have a feeling you might forget that when you see how athletic he is (additional video after the jump).
  • [Ed. Note: Both videos--this and the one after the jump--are of Perea as a sophomore.]

  • Bruce Weber may have missed out on Randle and Anthony Davis, two of the top players in the state of Illinois, but he was able to get a commitment from Mike Shaw, a 6’8″ forward who many expect to improve significantly in college.
  • Last week we noted the apparent hesitance of Jahii Carson to officially sign with Arizona State, but now it appears like he will sign with the Sun Devils during November.
  • Duke lost a commitment from Tyler Adams, a 6’9″ center who the Blue Devils had been interested in to help them add depth on the inside. The decision might surprise some, but not those who have followed the process closely. As RTC interview subject Dave Telep notes the two sides had grown apart to the point that Adams attended Midnight Madness at Georgetown, which is never a good sign for a Duke commit. According to Telep, the two current leaders for Adams are Georgetown and Mississippi State.
  • Speaking of Mississippi State they picked up a big commitment from Rodney Hood, one of the top small forwards in this year’s class, who opted to stay in his home state instead of going to a long list of potential suitors. With Arkansas picking up an outstanding class, Georgia starting to corner the market on in-state recruits, Kentucky being Kentucky, and other schools landing several solid recruits could the SEC be turning the corner and becoming a solid conference again? Read the rest of this entry »
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Recruiting Rumor Mill: 10.11.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 11th, 2010

After a few weeks of huge commitments this week was a little more quiet as it seems like most of the big pieces have committed with the exception of Quincy Miller, LeBryan Nash, and Adonis Thomas, but don’t forget that none of the currently committed players have done more than verbally commit and we all know how fickle teenagers can be so we could see some minds change between now and Signing Day. Having said that there were a few notable commitments this week and other news worth following.

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Recruiting Rumor Mill: 09.20.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 20th, 2010

Dear NCAA,
We promise that we have not had any contact with recruits outside the parameters set forth by your upstanding institution.

Sincerely,
Rush the Court

  • Obviously the big news this past week has been the punishment of Bruce Pearl and the effect it would have on Tennessee‘s ability to recruit. It looks like some players including RTC favorite Adonis Thomas are beginning to express some reservations about going to a school that is sure to be closely followed by the NCAA.
  • The big actual recruiting news is that Arizona landed Josiah Turner, the #3 ranked point guard in this year’s class. Now Sean Miller faces an interesting dilemma — how to fit all his scholarship players onto a roster in light of the NCAA sanctions against them stemming from the Lute Olson era. One of the recruits that many expect the Wildcats to be in contention for is LeBryan Nash, but it appears like the talented small forward is leaning towards Oklahoma State over Arizona, Kansas, and Baylor.

    Sean Miller will be counting on Turner to turn the Wildcats around

  • Speaking of point guards. . . Austin Rivers, the de facto #1 point guard in the country and possibly the top player in the country, has narrowed his list down to three schools – Duke, UNC, and Kansas – after eliminating Florida from consideration. Some are speculating that Duke, which many consider to be the leader in the Rivers sweepstakes, could land both Rivers and Quinn Cook. [Ed. Note: Is Coach K cool with his star player and a potential recruit hanging out with Michael Beasley, a player of questionable character?]
  • Ohio State received a commitment from Sam Thompson, one of the top small forwards in this year’s class, with a little help from Evan Turner, who apparently has been texting Thompson to convince him to go to Columbus [Ed. Note: Is this allowed by the NCAA?].
  • With all of these top recruits committing it is interesting and somewhat refreshing to see Norvel Pelle, the #2 center in this year’s senior class, just beginning to take home visits.
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Adonis Thomas: Coming To A Couple Of Stations Near You

Posted by jstevrtc on August 16th, 2010

Remember MTV? It’s evidently still popular with the kids these days, not so much for the playing of actual music videos, but…wait a minute.  I’m getting ahead of myself.

Remember music videos?  Oh, forget it.  Suffice to say, there’s still this thing called MTV and they now play alleged reality shows as often as they used to play music videos (go look those up yourself), and have even made a few forays into the world of sports.  Soon, they’ll even have a hand in college basketball, or at least in the life one particular kid who will be playing it starting in the fall of 2011.

As reported by CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish last week, Melrose High School in Memphis — the high school of Adonis Thomas, a consensus top ten recruit in the class of 2011 — will be featured on an upcoming MTV reality series similar to the Two-A-Days series that chronicled the lives of those kids from high school football powerhouse Hoover High in Alabama. Shooting could begin as early as this week, and it’s said the show will focus on the battle of, as Parrish writes, “inner-city minorities trying to repeat as state champions.”

Hey, sounds good.  We’d tune in for that.  But we wonder if the upcoming MTV series might have also led to this:

That’s from Adonis’ Facebook page, as you can tell.  We’ve all seen kids announce final college choices on ESPN-U before, so that’s nothing new.  We enjoy those a lot — almost as much as we enjoyed the eloquent invitation on Thomas’ page for him to stay at home and play at Memphis by the inarguably well-dressed Charles Sims, Jr.  But an ESPN-U appearance to announce a final list of colleges?  Is this something we should all be getting behind?

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Viva Las Vegas!

Posted by nvr1983 on July 22nd, 2010

With the growth of the AAU summer circuit it has been difficult for fans and coaches to keep track of all the action. There are few places where that has been more evident than in Las Vegas where at times there have been four tournaments going on simultaneously on dozens of courts making it impossible for someone to catch a potential superstar that everybody seems to have missed (Anthony Davis, anybody?). This year, however, there are only two tournaments to follow: the Super 64 and Fab 48 (you can guess how many teams each tournament has). If you only had one tournament to go to this weekend in Las Vegas (and how could there possibly be anything better to do in Vegas in the 120 degree dry heat?), we would suggest the Fab 48, which features the majority of the “big names” (for some reason the Super 64 doesn’t list its top players and we can’t figure out who plays for what AAU team), is NCAA-”certified” (although the Super 64 might be too), and also managed to snipe the last two Super 64 champs. Here’s a sampling of the talent (commits have the school next to their name) that will reportedly be at the Fab 48:

  • PF Quincy Miller***
  • PG Myck Kabongo (Texas)
  • SF Adonis Thomas
  • SG Wayne Blackshear (Louisville)
  • SG LeBryan Nash
  • SG Jabari Brown
  • SG Tony Wroten Jr
  • PF DeAndre Daniels (Texas)
  • PF Michael Shaw
  • SF Branden Dawson
  • SG Quddus “Deuce” Bello

***Miller may not be at the Fab 64 (details below)

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