ACC Preview: Syracuse’s Burning Question

Posted by Matt Patton on November 14th, 2014

This team preview is part of the RTC ACC microsite’s preseason coverage. You will find all the team previews on the ACC Microsite Preview Page located here.

Can Jim Boeheim recreate last year’s magic with another freshman point guard?

Only two ACC teams in history have ever started a season better than 25-0, soo Syracuse joined the record books with its impossible start last season. But the Orange quickly crashed back to earth in February and March, going 3-6 down the stretch after picking up their first loss at home to a bad Boston College team. The finish would have been disappointing no matter the start, but the 25-game winning streak blew everyone’s expectations way out of proportion. A lot went right to get to 25-0; most importantly, Tyler Ennis was ready to take the reins from day one and improve where Michael Carter-Williams left off.

Jim Boeheim has more questions than answers heading into this season (US Presswire).

Jim Boeheim has more questions than answers heading into this season (US Presswire).

It might have been the perfect start that gave Ennis the chance to be one-and-done instead of staying two or even three years. He got reams of national coverage and his draft stock rose with each win as Carter-Williams flourished in the NBA. His good fortune leaves Boeheim in a familiar but risky situation, though, needing to start again from scratch with freshman Kaleb Joseph asked to handle the point guard duties. Last year’s frontcourt stars Jerami Grant and CJ Fair also left for the NBA, but those losses will be countered, at least partially, by consensus top-25 recruit Chris McCullough. McCullough and Rakeem Christmas will comprise a solid ACC frontcourt, and even though it’s hard to know how quickly McCullough will learn the defensive schemes, his reputation as a transition scorer along with Syracuse’s general lack of frontcourt depth means he’ll play right away. Dajuan Coleman would be a huge asset this season, but he’s still recovering from knee surgery. If Coleman can’t go, Christmas has to learn to cut down on his fouls because Boeheim will need him to play 30 minutes per game. Sophomore Tyler Roberson will also see some time, but his offense leaves much to be desired.

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One on One: An ACC Preview With Bret Strelow

Posted by Walker Carey on November 5th, 2014

RTC interviews one on one

Rush the Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you throughout the preseason with previews of each of the major conferences.

With the college basketball season nearly upon us, we thought it would be a good idea to gather some expert opinions on the nation’s major college basketball conferences. As part of our national preview with the ACC, RTC correspondent Walker Carey (@walkerRcarey) recently had the pleasure of speaking with an ACC expert in Bret Strelow (@bretstrelow), the ACC basketball reporter for The Fayetteville Observer.

Rush the Court: Duke was an extremely talented unit last season, but it was ultimately done in by its defensive deficiencies in its stunning NCAA Tournament loss to Mercer. The Blue Devils once again have a talented roster and are widely projected to win the league. Will this season be any different than last when it comes to the defensive end of the floor?

Bret Strelow: It would be hard to get much worse. The Blue Devils ranked in the 100s in defensive efficiency, which is a far cry from what a Mike Krzyzewski-coached team usually is. With Jabari Parker, defense was not his calling card. Rodney Hood took on some tough assignments and struggled at times. The current thought around the Duke camp is that Jahlil Okafor at 6’11” and 270 pounds is a legitimate rim-protector. Duke can clean up some of its mistakes and pressure the ball a little bit more with Okafor back there. I think Duke should ultimately be a better defensive team, but we will see how much of a difference that will make.

Marcus Paige could be NPOY This Sesason. (credit: Ethan Hyman / Raleigh News & Observer)

Marcus Paige could be NPOY This Sesason. (credit: Ethan Hyman / Raleigh News & Observer)

RTC: Marcus Paige alone can probably keep North Carolina competitive in the ACC, but if the Tar Heels want to compete for the league crown, they are going to need a supporting cast to step forward. What Tar Heels can you see breaking out this season?

Strelow: It really might be a little bit of everybody. If Marcus Paige has to carry the load like he did for much of last season, North Carolina is probably not going to reach the goal that it has of contending for a Final Four and a national title. I think you can expect a little bit from everybody. Brice Johnson was extremely efficient last season in a secondary role behind James Michael McAdoo. If Johnson can stay out of foul trouble and guard well enough, I think his offense will be there. Kennedy Meeks has slimmed down. His offense has never been a problem. With Johnson and Meeks, you have two solid front line guys. When you look at the North Carolina freshmen class, Justin Jackson is a guy who has the uncanny ability to score. He has a way of scoring quickly and scoring in a way that does not require a lot of dribbles. I think he can really have a big year. He is probably more of an offensive threat than fellow freshmen Theo Pinson and Joel Berry II. I think outside shooting might still be an issue for North Carolina outside of Paige and if Jackson can hit a few. When you look at a guy like J.P. Tokoto, outside shooting is not his game. I think the Tar Heels have enough inside and with Jackson coming along, they are going to have enough to help Paige carry the load this season.

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Morning Five: 05.29.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on May 29th, 2014

morning5

  1. Yesterday, we mentioned that the class of 2014 had only recently finished announcing where they were headed. It turns out that we may have jumped the gun a little as Chris McCullough, a top-25 recruit who signed with Syracuse, is still awaiting his SAT and ACT scores (yes, he took both) to see if he will be eligible. McCullough’s journey to Syracuse has been an interesting one as he transferred from Brewster Academy to IMG Academy last season after being kicked out of the former for violating unspecified school rules. With Syracuse losing its top three players to the NBA Draft (C.J. Fair, Tyler Ennis, and Jerami Grant), whether or not McCullough can play next year could be a critical factor in whether or not they will be towards the top of the ACC.
  2. He is not an incoming recruit, but the announcement that Jerian Grant has been officially readmitted at Notre Dame might be the most significant move since Myles Turner announced that he was heading to Texas at the end of last month. Grant was suspended midway through last season due to academic issues and soon after his suspension the Irish fell apart going 7-13. With Grant (and his 19 points and 6.2 assists per game) returning the Irish won’t be at the top of the ACC, but he should make them a mid-tier team and could make them an upset threat particularly at home.
  3. Much like Grant’s absence late last season for Notre Dame, the injury to Larry Nance Jr derailed Wyoming’s season last year. Given Nance’s contributions to the team–leading them in scoring, rebounds, blocks, and steals–it was not surprise that his absence would have such a profound effect. Fortunately for Larry Shyatt it appears that Nance will be ready for the start of fall practice. Even though Nance tore his ACL on February 18 there was no cartilage damage or any other significant injuries so if his rehab goes well he could make them a threat in the Mountain West if he returns to form.
  4. Oklahoma guard Isaiah Cousins was hit in the shoulder by an errant bullet while he was back home in New York. According to reports, Cousins found himself in the middle of what appears to be a long-running battle between two street gangs. He was reportedly with a group that was not affiliated with either side when he was struck by a bullet.  Cousins, who averaged 11.0 points and 4.2 rebounds last season, is expected to recover without surgery and return to the team when they begin summer activities in June.
  5. We have seen schools do a lot of things to keep coaches, but what Arizona is attempting to do seems unique. A donor is offering football coach Rich Rodriguez, basketball coach Sean Miller, and athletic director Greg Byrne a stake in an oil and gas company (via a MLP) if they stay at the school for another eight years. Based on the current value of the shares this could be worth $6,188,000 each for Rodriguez and Miller and $3,536,000 for Byrne. The Board of Regents will vote on the contracts on June 6 at which time they would go into effect. The only catch for these three is that they have no protection if the value of the company falls. Of course, their shares could also rise significantly. With the high stakes nature of college athletics it will be interesting to see if more universities and their donors follow this model.
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Morning Five: 11.12.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 12th, 2013

morning5

  1. Well that didn’t take long. Less than a month after suspending Chane Behanan indefinitely and saying that his return to the team was “not probable”, Rick Pitino reinstated Behanan to the team. Pitino has a reputation for overstating his position or changing his mind (or something less euphemistic), but this is a pretty impressive about-face on a national stage. [Ed. Note: We are sure that Big Blue Nation can give a full list of every such instance for Pitino.] Behanan could possibly play as early as tonight in Louisville’s game against Hofstra. Apparently, Behanan did enough during 25 or 30 days (depending on who is counting) to earn his way back onto the team. Or maybe Pitino realized that he needs an interior presence.
  2. At this point we would hesitate to call Harvard a sleeper team even though most of the public probably would not even consider them a threat in the NCAA Tournament, but they took a bit of a hit recently as they announced that Kenyatta Smith (Harvard) will be out indefinitely with a foot injury. Given the depth that the Crimson have they should be able to handle the temporary loss of Smith, 6’8″ center who averaged 5.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game last season, much better than you would expect. The one game that it might affect them (and could alter their season) is a game at Colorado on November 24. November games are rarely that meaningful, but for Harvard’s hopes of getting a reasonable NCAA seed they need to win that game. Now, Harvard has not set a timetable for Smith’s return, but we are assuming that their definition of indefinite is a little different than Rick Pitino’s.
  3. It is not quite Miami’s “Big Three”, but for college basketball it might as well be. This Friday, three of the top five prospects in the class of 2014–Jahlil Okafor (#1), Cliff Alexander (#3), and Tyus Jones (#5)–are all expected to announce their college decisions. Okafor and Jones have repeatedly said that they will be a package deal and many believe that Kansas and Duke are the leaders with Duke being the slight favorite. As for Alexander, who at one time was considered to be part of a package deal with Jaquan Lyle, he is reportedly down to four schools with one of them being Kansas. We have no idea how Okafor/Jones might coordinate with Alexander, but there exists the realistic possibility that Bill Self could land a haul on Friday that would blow away anything that Andrew Wiggins could be expected to do in his one year in Lawrence.
  4. Most Syracuse fans are probably more focused on the state of their team this year as they adjust to the ACC, but should probably pay attention that was is going on with their class of 2014 signee Chris McCullough, who was dismissed from Brewster Academy for a violation of school rules. We have no idea where McCullough is headed, but for his sake hopefully it is a place where he will be able to finish with enough credits to be academically eligible for the 2014-15 season. If he is not, that would be a huge loss for Syracuse as McCullough, a five-star forward, is expected to be the centerpiece of the incoming Syracuse class.
  5. With the new polls coming out that can only mean one thing: a new year of Gary Parrish’s Poll Attacks. Before we get into Gary’s attack(s) we should point out that it is pretty ridiculous to come out with a new poll after one game especially since most of the games were against cupcakes. Anyways, they decided to do it and some people decided to be dumb with their votes. Gary’s targets this week in the AP Poll was Jon Wilmer who made the curious decision to rank Colorado 16th and not rank Baylor even though Baylor beat Colorado by 12 in the only game either team has played this year. His attack on the Coaches’ Poll is more of an attack on the system that lets Mark Fox rank Georgia 25th even though they are probably a bottom-tier SEC team. Honestly, it is way too early in the year to really care about polls (actually polls are always sort of ridiculous since they do not have any affect on the championship), but it is amusing to see some people be so careless with it or make a mockery out of the entire system.
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Future ACC Stars Shine at 2013 Hoophall Classic Led by Jabari Parker, Tyler Ennis and Chris McCullough

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on January 22nd, 2013

Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @DevilsinDurham

I spent this past weekend sitting courtside at the 2013 Hoophall Classic. This was my second year spending five days watching the best and brightest in high school basketball take the court at Springfield College’s Blake Arena, just a three-minute walk from the gym where James Naismith first told a group of YMCA athletes all about his brand-new game. There was only one truly competitive game in the entire tournament: Monday’s match-up between Findlay Prep and Montverde, but the value of the tournament is not in the competition. Instead, it is in watching players who are either college-bound or yet to make a decision about where they will continue their careers. This weekend was loaded with future ACC players and it appears that the league will be in fine hands going forward.

Jabari Parker is a Legitimate Difference Maker (AP)

Jabari Parker is a Legitimate Difference Maker (AP)

Leading the way for this group was the consensus No. 2 player in the country, Jabari Parker. The future Duke forward lit up Oak Hill for 28 points and did it all in the flow of the game. He knocked down threes, attacked the basket and did everything without forcing the issue or trying to do too much. He looked as though he is still a week or two away from being back at 100 percent but he looked every bit the Duke-style forward that will slide right into the rotation for the Blue Devils next season.

Syracuse fans, who may still be worried about the Big East at this point, can look forward not just to the ACC but to the players who will be joining them over the next few seasons. Two Syracuse commitments impressed the crowd this weekend in Chris McCullough and Tyler Ennis. McCullough is an evolutionary Chris Bosh, a stretch four who can attack the basket with elite athleticism but can also step away and hit a mid-range jumper. He wowed the crowd with a few highlight reel dunks that every Orange fan will enjoy thoroughly over the next few weeks. Just a junior, McCullough will be a problem for ACC defenses if he can improve any aspect of his game over the next few years. Ennis is the future for the Orange at the point guard position. A bigger player, Ennis has great court vision and did some nice things off the ball for St. Benedict’s (NJ) when they used another player as the primary ball-handler. The heir apparent to Michael Carter-Williams, Ennis will fit right in with Jim Boeheim’s schemes and his long wingspan make him a dream for the top of that 2-3 zone.

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Who’s Got Next? Top Centers to ACC, Isaac Hamilton Picks UTEP, Syracuse Adds Tyler Roberson…

Posted by CLykins on November 20th, 2012

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a 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 discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: ESPN Recruiting used for all player rankings

Kennedy Meeks Chooses UNC Over Georgetown

Two schools consistently stood out above the rest for West Charlotte High (North Carolina) center Kennedy Meeks. Appropriately, both schools have had a long and successful history in landing and producing top big men. With his recruitment winding down, Georgetown and North Carolina were in a neck-and-neck battle that left most national recruiting pundits undecided. On Friday, Meeks made it official as he will remain in his home state and play for the Tar Heels and head coach Roy Williams.

Charlotte native Kennedy Meeks picked UNC over Georgetown

“I talk to Roy Williams almost every other day. He understands the recruiting process and gives me good advice about college and about being a great player,” Meeks said of his decision. “Coach Williams said he liked my tenacity, my desire to play the game, my rebounding and outless passing.” Ranked as the No. 20 overall prospect and No. 2 center in the class of 2013, the 6’9″, 275-lb. big man is expected to contribute right away during his freshman season. Due to his size, Meeks is a true center that impacts the game significantly down low. With an extremely wide frame, he has a soft touch around the rim and is able to rebound at an extremely high rate by carving out space. One of his better traits is his passing. Whether it’s his superior outlet passing skills or if it’s out of the low-post, he exhibits excellent vision for a big man. There is no question regarding his talent and skill, but his conditioning has been a constant issue in the past. With North Carolina’s up-tempo style of play, it is extremely necessary for him to arrive at Chapel Hill in the best playing shape of his young life. Read the rest of this entry »

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Seven Sweet Scoops: Dakari Johnson Reclassifies, Tyus Jones Cuts List…

Posted by CLykins on November 9th, 2012

Seven Sweet Scoops is the newest and hottest column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting analyst. Every Friday he will talk about the seven top stories from the week in the wide world of recruiting, involving offers, which prospect visited where, recent updates regarding school lists and more chatter from the recruiting scene. You can also check out more of his work at RTC with his weekly column “Who’s Got Next?”, as well as his work dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene.

Note: ESPN Recruiting used for all player rankings.

1. Dakari Johnson Joins Class of 2013

As if the class of 2013 couldn’t get any better, it just did. Center Dakari Johnson of Montverde Academy (Florida) has announced his intentions to reclassify into the senior class. With the move, he will join Wayne Selden, Noah Vonleh and Andrew Wiggins as the four elite players from the class of 2014 to forego their junior seasons in high school. As Johnson becomes a part of the ever-more-impressive 2013 class, he will be ranked as the No. 12 overall prospect and immediately become the No. 1 overall center. A native New Yorker, Johnson transferred to Montverde from St. Patrick High (New Jersey) following head coach Kevin Boyle, who took the head coaching job there after the 2010-11 season. Due to transfer rules, Johnson was forced to sit out last season. At 6’10” and around 255 lbs., he is a handful for the opposition in the low post. He uses his strong frame very effectively with a soft touch around the rim. Due to his size, it proves to be a challenging task for defenders to keep him from where he wants to go down low. He is also very active on the glass, carving out space and rebounding the basketball at a high rate. Among those involved with Johnson include Florida, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State and Syracuse. The Gators were the first school to see Johnson a day after his reclassification. His mother, Makini Campbell, has stated that he will be a spring signee.

Dakari Johnson now becomes the No. 1 center in the class of 2013 with his recent reclassification

2. Tyus Jones Releases List of Eight

The current No. 1 prospect in the class of 2014, Tyus Jones, has narrowed his recruiting list of potential suitors to eight. Baylor, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio State made the recent cut for the electric point guard from Apple Valley High School (Minnesota). Jones took over the top spot in the 2014 class after the reclassification of Andrew Wiggins. At 6’1″, Jones is an efficient scorer, as displayed at the 2012 Nike EYBL Finals in the summer, where he was the tournament leader in scoring with 25.8 points per game. Capable of carving up any defense with outstanding speed, he exhibits a great understanding of passing lanes on the court. A heady player, Jones is always one step ahead of the opposition, elevating not only his game but his teammate’s games as well. He was also a vital component for the USA U-17 National Team where he helped lead the squad to a gold medal at the FIBA Americas U-17 Championship, averaging 8.5 points and 5.4 assists per game. Outside of trimming his list, Jones has been apart of a rapid discussion in recruiting circles along with classmate and the No. 2 prospect, Jahlil Okafor. Both players have spoken publicly about being a “package deal” in college. Okafor is currently being pursued by five of the eight schools listed by Jones — Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina and Ohio State. Of those schools, the Blue Devils, Buckeyes and Spartans are currently in great shape of landing the top two junior prospects.

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Who’s Got Next? Austin Nichols Stays In Memphis; Jarrell Martin Picks Hometown LSU…

Posted by CLykins on November 6th, 2012

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a 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 discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: ESPN Recruiting used for all player rankings

Austin Nichols Stays Local, Picks Memphis

There’s no place like home. At least according to 6’8″ Briarcrest Christian (Tennessee) power forward Austin Nichols, who ended his college recruitment on Monday by committing to the hometown Memphis Tigers. The No. 12 ranked player in the class of 2013, Nichols will join an already loaded recruiting class that includes fellow ESPN 100 prospects small forward Kuran Iverson, small forward Nick King and point guard Rashawn Powell as well as three-star shooting guard Markel Crawford. He chose the Tigers over Auburn, Duke, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Virginia.

2013 No. 12 ranked prospect Austin Nichols completes a stellar recruiting class for Memphis

“At the end of the day, Austin wanted to stay at home and play with some talented guys who he knew very well,” said his father, Mark Nichols. Once back home after completing his last official visit to Auburn, Memphis head coach Josh Pastner showed up at the Nichols residence for one final recruiting pitch. Rumored by many to be fading down the stretch to the likes of Duke and long-time favorite Tennessee, Pastner never wilted and kept pushing to land what he considers a “future Memphis basketball icon.”

With his recruitment shut down for a week once Pastner made his last attempt, the Nichols family spent Sunday night pondering the important decision. Mark Nichols then presented Austin with a 58-page report from KenPom.com to review advanced statistics of each of the six teams he was considering. The innovative approach factored into Nichols selecting the Tigers, which was decided as the perfect place for his future. The allure of playing in the area he grew up and in front of family and friends at the collegiate level proved to be all he could have ever wished for. “I’m just honored, I can’t even explain it,” Nichols said. He intends on signing his national letter of intent during the early signing period, which runs from November 14-21.

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Big East M5: 11:06:12 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on November 6th, 2012

  1. I am willing to bet most of the country doesn’t read The Hour, a century-old newspaper based in Norwalk, Connecticut. But the fortunate folks who do regularly read the paper were treated to a neat story from columnist John Nash about Los Angeles natives Kevin Ollie and forward DeAndre Daniels.  The sophomore forward was highly touted as a freshman but struggled to adjust to life on the opposite coast and thus struggled on the court. But Ollie, who went through exactly what Daniels was going through when he arrived in Storrs, helped the freshman through the season, and now the duo need each other as both are out to prove themselves. If the Huskies are going to win games this season, they will need Daniels to make serious strides on both ends of the floor which, at least for now, seems to be in progress.
  2. File this under problems most coaches would kill to have but apparently Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon isn’t done talking (read: bragging) about tinkering with his starting lineup. Pittsburgh brought in an excellent recruiting class led by New Zealand big man Steven Adams and got clearance to play for accomplished transfer Trey Ziegler, so Dixon’s inability to decide on a starting lineup shouldn’t elicit much sympathy from anyone. What the topic does illustrate well is that Pittsburgh is poised to rebound very quickly from last season’s losing debacle. While successful programs like St. John’s and Villanova remain mired in mediocrity, Dixon has his Panthers again ready to challenge for the Big East crown if everything falls into place.
  3. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim was able to convince another long, athletic, big man to play basketball for him, although it may be a little while before we see this one in actino. Bronx native — by way of the Salisbury School and Brewster Academy — Chris McCullough is a five-star talent in the class of 2014 who committed to Syracuse yesterday (hat tip on the reporting to our very own Dan Lyons). This is a big get for the Orange who still have a number of very high profile targets left on the board in that class and McCullough himself is no slouch. I watched the highlight videos from the link from beginning to end, which I rarely do, and what I saw was an athletic big man with exceptional range, touch, and footwork. McCullough will fit nicely in the back of that zone defense where his length and inherent defensive talents will not be kind to opposing shooters. Don’t look now, but 2014 is shaping up to be a monster recruiting year for the Orange.
  4. The Villanova Wildcats have not looked good in the preseason and are staring down another rebuilding season as they try to rebuild the depth and talent that made them a perennial contender for the second half of the last decade. One way the rebuilding project can be expedited is if redshirt sophomore forward JayVaughn Pinkston fulfills some of the potential he showed in spurts last season and becomes a go-to scorer for a team who desperately needs a playmaker who can create his own shot. The good news is that Pinkston, who always seemed too short to play power forward and too heavy to run with small forwards, has lost 25 pounds and apparently has put his past transgressions behind him. He was a breakout star for the Wildcats during parts of conference play last year and he will need to become an offensive leader for this young and inexperienced team. Jay Wright seems to have righted the ship and the Wildcats should be better than last season, but how much better may depend on whether Pinkston really has put some of those troubles and conditioning issues behind him.
  5. I admit, this story is old, but I would be remiss if I didn’t occasionally throw some love towards the oft-forgotten members of the conference, so Rutgers and its head coach Mike Rice deserve our attention. The article itself is pretty straightforward. The Scarlet Knights have one new scholarship player this season and he is junior college transfer Vince Garrett. He is raw, but very, very athletic, and he will be counted on to add a scoring punch on the wing. He is struggling with the nuances of the D-I game right now, but Rice is confident he will pick it up and eventually become a key contributor. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Rice is building himself some excellent depth in the backcourt for this season.
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Morning Five: 11.06.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 6th, 2012

  1. The season is just a few days away, but that doesn’t mean teams can’t still receive bad news. In Marquette‘s case, it was an announcement that sophomore guard Todd Mayo is academically ineligible. Mayo, who averaged 7.9 minutes and 2.7 rebounds per game last season, was expected to have a greatly expanded role with the graduation of the team’s top two players. We aren’t sure how long Mayo will be out for, but we would guess he couldn’t come back until Christmas break at the earliest based on Marquette’s academic calendar. On the other hand, Arkansas will only be without sophomore guard B.J. Young for two games (an exhibition game last night and the season opener on Friday against Sam Houston State) after he violated some undisclosed team rules. We doubt that Young’s suspension will have a long-term effect on the Razorbacks, but Mayo’s absence may for a team that is already losing a lot from last season.
  2. While it was a relatively quiet day for current college basketball players, the next crop of incoming players were making quite a bit of news. Yesterday Dakari Johnson became the fourth five-star prospect previously in the class of 2014 to reclassify to the class of 2013. Johnson, who was the #4 overall recruit in the his old class, joins Andrew Wiggins, Noah Vonleh, and Wayne Selden in a group of talented players who have decided to leave high school a year early. We have no idea why so many highly rated players are choosing to leave the class of 2014 (we can always hope that there rumors that the NBA’s two-year rule is coming), but it promises to make the class of 2013 a very solid one although it should raise questions as to what the class of 2014 will look like when this is all finished.
  3. As for players making decisions on where to play college basketball, five-star power forward Chris McCullough made the biggest announcement of the day when he committed to Syracuse. McCullough may actually be part of a package deal that could bring four-star shooting guard Isaiah Whitehead to an already-impressive class. While the Monday commitment of Austin Nichols to Memphis isn’t as big as that of McCullough to Syracuse, CBSSports.com‘s Jeff Borzello points out that it was a big coup for the Tigers as Nichols was considered a Tennessee lean before using his 58-page binder on schools to pick Memphis.
  4. Many of you probably remember the story of Austin Hatch, a 2014 Michigan commitment who was involved in a plane crash that killed his father and stepmother and left him in a medically-induced coma. After 18 months of recovery, he has now been cleared to begin conditionally practicing again with his high school team. Hatch, who was in the plane crash shortly after committing to play for the Wolverines in 2011, was given a fifth year of prep eligibility by the Indiana High School Athletic Association and reportedly still has an offer on the table to become a member of the Wolverines’ class of 2014. Before we get ahead of ourselves it is worth pointing out that the Hatch family is still not sure if Austin will play for his team this season. Regardless of whether he plays for Canterbury High School, Michigan, or any other team, we are sure that basketball fans across the country will be pulling for him.
  5. As you hopefully have noticed today is Election Day. Here at RTC we try to stay above the political fray for a variety of reasons (not the least of which is that not every member of our staff has the same political beliefs), but we feel like we should express our one and only wish for this election. We aren’t going to proselytize about how you have to vote as a good American (that’s your choice), but we do hope that however the outcome of this election turns out that members from both sides of the aisle can come together after the election to do what they honestly think is best for the long term interests of the country rather than continuing the same antagonistic and destructive tactics that we have witnessed for years.
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Who’s Got Next? Wainright Opts For Baylor; Missouri Adds Two…

Posted by CLykins on October 25th, 2012

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a 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 discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Scott Drew Hauls in Wainright

After making an official visit to the Baylor campus for their “Midnight Madness” festivities nearly two weeks ago, small forward prospect Ishmail Wainright made it official last Thursday evening by verbally committing to the Bears. Wainright, the No. 26 ranked prospect in the ESPN 100, picked Baylor over Ohio State, St. John’s and Texas.

Scott Drew Continues to Pile Up the Top Recruits at Baylor

A Missouri native, the 6’6″ Wainright was formerly a Missouri commitment back in May 2011. At the conclusion of that summer, he decided to reopen his recruitment after a successful AAU campaign. As Wainright began the recruiting process all over again, over 30 of the top schools in the country reached out to the Missouri small forward. With his recent commitment to Baylor, Wainright will join power forward Jonathan Motley as the only two commitments for the Bears from the class of 2013.

When describing Wainright’s overall game, he is a tremendous athlete and one of the most physically imposing small forwards at the high school level. On the offensive end, Wainright does most of his damage scoring around the rim, either in transition or driving to the basket when creating for himself off the bounce. He is also a great passer with even better court vision. He has a knack for making the right play at the right time when creating opportunities for his teammates to make plays. A glaring weakness of his offensive game, however, has been his shooting. Prior to the summer, Wainright was not a good shooter. Most defenses took note of that fact by playing him loosely, forcing him into taking shots from the outside. As exhibited during the early recruiting period in the summer, though, Wainright showed an ever improving jump shot. To round out his game, Wainright needs to make it a point to continue working on his shooting touch before ending up on the Baylor campus. On the defensive end, Wainright is as good as they come. With great length, strength and athleticism, Wainright is arguably one of the best defenders from the class of 2013. He can guard multiple positions on the floor in part due to his great frame. He is a nightmare for the opposition and will continue to be well into his college career.

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Big East M5: 10.24.12 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on October 24th, 2012

  1. DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti‘s contract with the school has been extended through 2017, according to Sports Illustrated. SI’s article focuses on the impact on the men’s basketball program, which is currently looking for a new home arena. Without necessary space on the DePaul campus, Lenti is looking at possibilities in downtown Chicago: “My preference would be if we can’t be on campus, I’d like to be somewhere downtown. I think we have over 120,000 alumni that are in the major metropolitan area so you’d like to have something that people could come to from work and have the same kind of excitement and energy that so many of our other Chicago teams have generated.”
  2. Multiple sources have reported that 2014 blue chip prospect Chris McCullough currently lists Syracuse as his top choice. The 6’10”, 220-pound forward is rated with five stars by ESPN, Scout, and Rivals, who has him listed as the #10 recruit in his class. In the past McCullough has discussed going to school with guard Isaiah Whitehead as a package deal, and Syracuse would seem to fit the bill in that situation, as the Orange have made offers to both players. The two also share offers from Rutgers, St. John’s, Arizona, Iowa State, UCLA, and others.  While McCullough has yet to commit anywhere, that may not last long based on a Facebook post of his which he made shortly after making it known that Syracuse was his leader:
  3. Georgetown has released images of its new basketball uniforms for the 2012-13 season.  The new jerseys, designed by the Jordan brand, are very similar to the current uniforms but add a number of team-specific designs and watermarks, not unlike the Nike Hyper Elite jerseys that conference rivals Syracuse and Connecticut unveiled in 2010. Georgetown’s jersey features the year ‘1984’, representing Georgetown’s national championship season, Hall of Fame coach John Thompson, and images from the Georgetown campus. It is currently unclear when the new jerseys will be unveiled, or when they will be put on sale for the public.
  4. Grantland‘s Shane Ryan began his college basketball season preview of the “20 (or so) Most Interesting Teams” with profiles of what he calls the four “Dangerous Outsiders” – Florida State, Saint Louis, San Diego State, and Cincinnati. In true Grantlandian fashion, the article was complete with numerous references to Akria Kurosawa’s Yojimbo and quotes from Les Misérables. Ryan refers to the Bearcats as “The Giant Killers,” citing their upset of Florida State (“The Grinders”, if you were wondering) in the NCAA Tournament which busted his bracket. Ryan describes Cincy’s long range shooting and aggressive defense as strengths, while weak defensive rebounding, which may be compounded with the loss of Yancy Gates, as the major weakness. He goes on to project a third place finish in the Big East and a run to the Elite Eight this season for Mick Cronin‘s team.  I think most Bearcats fans would take that.
  5. SBNation‘s excellent USF blog Voodoo Five published the first part of its season preview yesterday, focusing on USF’s excellent 2011-12 season as well as the program’s attendance issues. Blogger (and RTC emeritus) Collin Sherwin goes into detail about the “religious experience”-like quality of the Bulls’ first March Madness berth in decades, but expresses disappointment in USF’s fan contingency in Ohio for the games. With USF football struggling mightily this season, basketball may be the school’s banner varsity program in the 2012-13 academic year, so time will tell whether or not the fans embrace Stan Heath‘s surprising club. With the Big East soon losing a number of strong teams, it is nice to see one of the conference’s newer members pulling itself up by its bootstraps like USF seems to be doing.
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