Seven Sweet Scoops: Kevon Looney, Devin Booker, James Blackmon Jr. Commitments & More…

Posted by Sean Moran on November 1st, 2013

7sweetscoops

Seven Sweet Scoops is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you seven notes from the high-stakes world of college basketball recruiting. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Fouldedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date 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: Scout.com used for all player rankings.

1. Kevon Looney Surprises All and Heads West

The #14 player in the class of 2014 surprised almost everyone on Thursday afternoon with his college commitment. Kevon Looney, a five-star forward, decided to head west and chose UCLA over Duke, Florida, Tennessee, Michigan State and Wisconsin. The commitment is a huge deal for head coach Steve Alford who struggled recruiting in his first summer at UCLA. Not only did Alford get a talented prospect and likely McDonald’s All-American, but he also signed his first five-star recruit and put to rest any doubts about his recruiting skills. Looney is a 6’8” combo forward that hails from Milwaukee and will join talented shooting guard Isaac Hamilton (#31 – 2013) in sunny Southern California next year. The Bruins will lose the Wear twins to graduation after this year and most likely forward Kyle Anderson will be off to the NBA as well, leaving plenty of playing time available for Looney. Alford spent time in July following Looney around from game to game and eventually sold UCLA to Looney. “UCLA is a great campus, the most beautiful I’ve ever seen,” said Looney. “They have a great style I can fit in.”

2. Kentucky Moving Up the Recruiting Rankings

Soon after five-star forward Kevon Looney made his announcement to UCLA, four-star shooting guard Devin Booker made his announcement as well. The 6’5” shooting guard chose Kentucky over Missouri, Michigan State and Michigan. Booker currently attends high school in Mississippi, but used to live in Michigan as he currently resides with his father, a former star at Missouri. Despite those connections, Booker still chose to play for John Calipari and the Wildcats. With the commitment, Booker joined five-star center Karl Towns Jr. (#11 overall, #4 center) and point guard Tyler Ulis (#29 overall, #6 PG) in the 2014 Kentucky class. Earlier in the summer, the smooth-shooting Booker noted that he enjoyed playing with point guard Ulis and this connection played a large part in his commitment as he indicated to Scout.com. “Going into my college decision a lot of it was playing with Tyler [Ulis]. I’ve been playing with Tyler at camps the past two years. He finds you wherever you are at. He just makes the game a lot easier for me.”

3. James Blackmon Jr. Going Back Home… Again

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SEC M5: 11.01.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 1st, 2013

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  1. Billy Kennedy is on the hot seat in College Station, according to sources close to the third year coach. Despite going to the NCAA Tournament from 2006 to 2011 under Billy Gillispie and Mark Turgeon, the Aggies haven’t even gotten a sniff of the Big Dance in Kennedy’s first two seasons at the helm. Texas A&M Athletic Director Eric Hyman expects a postseason berth at the end of the year, and it sounds like Kennedy likes his chances. “We’re deeper and more talented,” Kennedy said after his team’s exhibition win. “We’ve just got to find our identity and find a rotation, and guys have to start separating themselves.” Of course Kennedy needs all of his players on the court to be successful, and it appears that the Aggies are struggling in that department.
  2. Kennedy’s cause won’t be helped by Texas A&M guard J-Mychal Reese, who was suspended indefinitely for a violation of athletic department rules. Reese started 25 games last season for the Aggies averaging 6.2 points, 1.9 assists, and 2.3 rebounds per game. Reese will continue to practice with the team, and could be reinstated for game action in the “near future.” In A&M’s first exhibition game of the year, the backcourt got a 13-point contribution from Fabyon Harris and 11 points and six rebounds from guard Jamal Jones. The Aggies won by just 10 points over Texas Permian Basin, but perhaps the bigger absence at this point is forward Kourtney Roberson, who is still sidelined with a heart condition. Roberson plans to return to the team in a few weeks, but the Aggies can ill afford to lose any more key players in light of the number one item on today’s morning five.
  3. Florida coach Billy Donovan is also busy suspending players from his already thin roster. Donovan previously placed point guard Scottie Wilbekin on the pine, and now Dorian Finney-Smith and Damontre Harris will join him. While Wilbekin will sit out the first three games of the year, Finney-Smith and Harris will both be out for the first two. “Well, I mean, you know, it is what it is,” Donovan said. “We just try to go with the guys that we know are going to be available, going to be there to play.” The Gators have very few players available at this point. Donovan has just five scholarship players at his disposal because of the aforementioned suspensions and injuries or illnesses hampering Will Yeguete, Michael Frazier, and Eli Carter.
  4. It was no surprise that the Kentucky Wildcats came in as the preseason #1 in the Associated Press rankings. The Cats will play #2 Michigan State Spartans on November 12 as part of the Champions Classic. The #1 vs #2 match-up will be the first time the top two college basketball teams squared off in the regular season since 2008. And for the SEC history buffs, that last match-up of the nation’s best was when Memphis and the SEC’s own Tennessee Volunteers battled. But you probably already know that Kentucky coach John Calipari downplayed the honor by pretending his team isn’t very good. After learning of his team landing the top spot, he said, “we may be very talented, but I can’t imagine us being the best team in the country at this point.” That’s Calipari speak for, “we’re really, really good.”
  5. Speaking of UK, Calipari grabbed a 2014 recruit in 6’5″ guard Devin Booker on Thursday. Booker liked what he saw in Kentucky, and of course, in Calipari. “The history of Kentucky, coach John Calipari,” Booker said. “I’m a show-me type, and Coach Calipari showed me a lot of things he does with big guards.” Booker is the #31 player in the Scout.com rankings, joining point guard Tyler Ulis and center Karl Towns in what makes up the current Wildcats’ 2014 class. Of course, with the mass exodus scheduled out of Lexington at the end of the year, Calipari and company aren’t done securing a new crop of youngsters for the blue and white. However, in a rare recruiting setback, Calipari appears to have lost out on James Blackmon Jr., who recommitted to Indiana last night.
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Morning Five: 11.01.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 1st, 2013

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  1. With a little over a week until the start of the season, Iowa State might have just suffered the biggest injury setback after Melvin Ejim hyperextended and bruised his left knee during Wednesday’s practice. Ejim is expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks, which would also include a game against Michigan. Ejim’s injury will place an extra burden on sophomore Georges Niang and will force Fred Hoiberg to try to find a serviceable replacement to support Niang on the inside and keep the Cyclones in contention for the NCAA Tournament when Ejim returns.
  2. Zay Jackson‘s time at Murray State has been nothing if not eventful. Last year, Jackson was arrested after running over two people with his car in a Wal-Mart parking lot. He was subsequently suspended by the team for the season before returning and was expected to start before hearing his ACL in early October. Yesterday, he announced that he would be transferring from the school. We have no idea where Jackson is headed, but we can guess that Steve Prohm will be much less stressed going forward.
  3. We are sure that Florida will be fine by the time that March rolls around, but that probably won’t make Billy Donovan feel any better right now. On Tuesday, he found out that Michael Frazier would be out indefinitely with mononucleosis. Yesterday, the school announced that Scottie WilbekinDamontre Harris, and Dorian Finney-Smith had been suspended indefinitely for an unspecified violation of team rules. The Wilbekin and Harris/Finney-Smith suspensions appear to be separate incidents, but this will still be another big blow for a team that is getting weaker by the day. Based on what Andy Hutchins at Alligator Army has found out it appears that Wilbekin will be out for at least six games and Harris/Finney-Smith will be out for at least three games. Even if that includes the team’s exhibition game against Florida Southern, the three would probably also be out for the team’s trip to Wisconsin turning what was once a promising match-up into a mismatch.
  4. It seems like we have updates on transfer waivers everyday. Today’s update has one approval and one denial. The approval comes out of Baylor where Denver transfer Royce O’Neale was granted a waiver that will allow him to play for Baylor this season. O’Neale, a 6’6″ guard who averaged 11.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season as a sophomore at Denver, transferred to be closer to his ailing grandfather. On the other end of the spectrum, Isaac Hamilton was denied his waiver to play for UCLA this season. Hamilton was attempting to have his National Letter of Intent that he had signed with UTEP voided by the NCAA after Tim Floyd refused to release him. As a result, Hamilton will be allowed to practice with the Bruins, but will not be allowed to play for them until the 2014-15 season.
  5. Yesterday, was also a big day for high school recruits with three top-25 recruits announcing their commitments. Kevon Looney, a 6’9″ power forward, led the group off by committing to UCLA. The Bruins were able to beat out Wisconsin, Duke, Florida, Michigan State, and Tennessee with the Volunteers reportedly coming in second for his services. The announcement was a bit of a surprise as many recruiting analysts had the Bruins below Duke, Florida, and Tennessee for his services, but with how frequently Steve Alford has lost recruits at UCLA we wouldn’t be shocked to see Looney back out either. Looney was followed by Devin Booker, a 6’6″ shooting guard, committed to Kentucky with the Wildcats beating out Michigan State, Michigan, and Missouri. While having a top recruit commit to Kentucky is certainly not surprising it is worth noting that Devin’s father, Melvin, was a first-team All-American at Missouri in 1994 leading them to a 14-0 Big Eight record. Finally, James Blackmon Jr., a 6’2″ shooting guard, committed to Indiana (again). Blackmon’s decision is particularly notable because he originally committed to Indiana before backing out and was said to be considering Kentucky (where his father played) before recommitting to the Hoosiers.
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Kentucky’s Unusual Position: How to Build a #1 Class After Recent Misses

Posted by nvr1983 on October 10th, 2013

While Jayhawk fans celebrated Kelly Oubre’s commitment to Kansas on Tuesday, the announcement left Kentucky and its fans in a situation they are not accustomed to — one in which they are left wondering which recruits are still available. It also comes as the third consecutive major commitment — Andrew Wiggins and Emmanuel Mudiay were the other two — that Kentucky has missed out on, which is a highly unusual development in the Calipari era. Now this is not to say that the Big Blue Nation should go into panic mode and their first glimpses of Julius Randle and the Harrison twins next week will certainly help to alleviate any pending anxiety. Still, for the first time since John Calipari rolled into Lexington in 2009, Kentucky is now in danger of not having the top recruiting class in the country.

Calipari is All Smiles About This Year's Group. What About Next Year? (AP)

Calipari is All Smiles About This Year’s Group. What About Next Year? (AP)

Of course, Kentucky will be getting its share of incoming stars, but it probably will not be the type of ridiculous haul that Wildcat fans have enjoyed over the past four seasons. Calipari already has received commitments from 7’1″ Karl Towns, Jr., a top-10 recruit according to nearly every major recruiting service, and Tyler Ulis, a strong point guard prospect despite his 5’9″, 150-pound frame. The Wildcats are still in the running for eight more five-star recruits in the class of 2014 — big men Jahlil Okafor, Myles Turner and Trey Lyles, and perimeter prospects Tyus Jones, Stanley Johnson, Justise Winslow, Devin Booker and James Blackmon, Jr. — but a closer look suggests that their prospects of landing each are less promising than they might first appear.

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ACC M5: 03.12.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 12th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. ACC: The official first teams were released yesterday. As the blogosphere has become more involved in the voting, I’m starting to think we’ve seen the last of unanimous all-conference voting. This year, Mason Plumlee came the closest, finishing on the first team on 73 of the 77 ballots. The only really egregious misplacement — apart from the media leaving Michael Snaer off the all-defensive team — was filled by James Michael McAdoo on the second team. McAdoo is a very good player, but he often hurts North Carolina as much as he helps with his poor shooting and turnover-prone nature. On the other side of the coin, Devin Booker is criminally underrated and Reggie Bullock is a few spots too low.
  2. The Business Journal: They had to log some overtime, but the first phase of renovations to the Greensboro Coliseum are on schedule for the ACC Tournament. The main upgrades (so far) are in seating, which should be significantly more comfortable (both because the seats are wider and have cushions) along with some higher-end meal options. The renovations should help Greensboro in its quest to compete with future sites (Madison Square Garden), but its ACC heyday is done.
  3. Duke Basketball Report: Barry Jacobs hints at what stat guru Ken Pomeroy alluded to last month. A conference’s strength on the road versus home has very little to do with how good the conference is. The same can be said for teams, though road wins do say something about a team’s poise. A good example of this is Duke last year compared with Duke this year. Last year the Blue Devils were perfect away from home in conference play, but they clearly weren’t as good as this year’s group, which has struggled away from Cameron Indoor Stadium.
  4. Sports Illustrated: The big news Monday was that Notre Dame will join the ACC next year for basketball. The Fighting Irish also managed to avoid paying an exit fee by virtue of the “Mutual Commitment Agreement” that is also getting the Catholic Seven schools out free. This either means that Notre Dame joined forces with the basketball schools or was allowed its own agreement based on its independent status in football. Regardless, the Irish are coming our way very soon.
  5. New York Times: Connecticut is one of the only Big East members left without a home. Truthfully, despite its recent success, the school may want to consider dropping football (or playing football in a different league) in order to join the Catholic Seven. Barring more conference realignment, the Huskies are probably out of the ACC. That’s thanks in large part to Boston College, who reportedly doesn’t want another school encroaching on its New England market and doesn’t want the ACC any closer to requiring its members to join the ACC for hockey (which would mean the Eagles lose their direct connection with the prestigious Hockey East).
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Rushed Reactions: Maryland 72, Clemson 59

Posted by IRenko on February 23rd, 2013

rushedreactions

I. Renko is an RTC correspondent based in D.C. and the author of the weekly column, The Other 26. He filed this report after Saturday afternoon’s game between Maryland and Clemson. Follow him on Twitter @IRenkoHoops.

Three key takeaways:

  • Maryland’s Tournament Hopes Are Alive — Last weekend’s win over Duke gave the Terps’ Tournament hopes a big boost, but a letdown loss at Boston College on Tuesday left them on the thinnest of ice. A loss to Clemson at home would have been a big blow, and it seemed a real possibility when the Tigers pulled to within a point just after halftime. But a 21-6 run gave the Terps a comfortable 16-point cushion with 11:20 to play, and from there, they eased to a comfortable 13-point win, keeping their Tournament hopes alive. While acknowledging his team’s somewhat slow start, head coach Mark Turgeon was quite happy with the Terps’ second-half performance, crediting their defense even more than their offense for enabling them to take control.
  • Maryland’s Freshman Frontcourt May Be Its Future — Sophomore Alex Len has been the focus of the media’s attention for most of the year, but Maryland’s freshmen frontcourt shows signs of being a real force for years to come. Jake Layman, Charles Mitchell, and Shaquille Cleare were averaging just 5.2, 5.5, and 4.2 points coming into today’s game, but they scored 12, 8, and 10 respectively today. More than that, they showed a certain kind of maturity and poise that belied their status as freshmen. The 6′ 8″ Layman is a swing forward with the athleticism, quickness, and shooting touch to play on the perimeter. He has been a full-time starter since late January, and the confidence and skill he displayed against Clemson show why. Mitchell and Cleare are a pair of big bodies who are still refining their post moves, but are strong finishers and rebounders who use their bulk to great effect. They added 6 and 7 boards apiece today and were a big reason Maryland was able to dominate the paint against a typically stout Clemson defense. Their physicality will suit the Terps well when they make the transition to the Big Ten.
  • Clemson’s Offense Is In A Deep Funk – The Tigers have a strong defense, as they showed in taking Miami the distance last week in a 45-43 loss. But their offense has struggled and especially badly of late. This was the fifth straight game in which they scored less than a point per possession. For a team that is likely looking forward to next season already, the news gets worse — two of their three leading scorers, Devin Booker and Milton Jennings, graduate this year. That leaves a heavy load for K.J. McDaniels, who managed seven points against Maryland, and Jordan Roper, who scored a very inefficient 13 points on 5-of-15 FG shooting.

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Night Line: Clemson and Georgia Tech Crystallize Offensive Woes in CBB

Posted by BHayes on February 15th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from Thursday’s game in Atlanta between Georgia Tech and Clemson.

Clemson picked up its first ACC road victory of the season in Atlanta on Thursday night, holding off a late Georgia Tech rally to hang on, 56-53. And while Brad Brownell was pleased to get that monkey off his team’s back, it was a clunker of a first half that seemed to be on the forefront of everyone’s minds after the game. The first 20 minutes saw the two teams combine for 35 points and 45 missed shots, a certifiably ugly half of basketball by any measure, but sadly, an affront to the eyes that is becoming all too commonplace in today’s college basketball. The offense picked up in the second half, with each team shooting over 50% from the field. But the first half was still the hot topic for both coaches after the game, and each discussed the larger implication – why offense on the college level seems to be grinding to a halt.

Brian Gregory Was Not The Only One Struggling To Enjoy The First Half Of Basketball At McCamish Pavilion

Brian Gregory Was Not The Only One Struggling To Enjoy The First Half Of Basketball At McCamish Pavilion

One contributing factor that both coaches could agree upon is the physicality of today’s college game. The kids are bigger and stronger, and without any sort of freedom of movement initiative (like the one the NBA installed to help restore offensive flow), the rules allow players to be overly physical, both on and off the ball. Gregory wondered if a similar initiative might be installed soon, while Brownell mentioned that there is a fine line between “calling all the fouls and there actually being some playing out there.” It’s an issue that Jay Bilas has addressed on his College GameDay spot on Saturdays – further proof of a growing consensus that the rules need changed so that skill regains its appropriate value in college basketball.

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Seven Sweet Scoops: Trey Lyles Trims List, Andrew Wiggins Sets Visits, and More…

Posted by CLykins on February 13th, 2013

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Seven Sweet Scoops  is the newest and hottest column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting analyst. He will discuss 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. Trey Lyles Cuts List to Six

Arsenal Technical High School (Indiana) five-star power forward Trey Lyles has narrowed his list of schools down to six. Lyles, the No. 5 overall ranked prospect from the class of 2014, is down to Butler, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Louisville and UCLA. “I’m just focused on those schools,” Lyles said in an interview with the Indianapolis Star“I like the style they play, they have rich legacies, have good coaches and I feel like I could be comfortable at any of them.” The 6’9″ Lyles, a former Indiana commitment, recently took a visit to Lexington this past weekend for the Wildcats’ SEC clash against Auburn. He was also on the Kentucky campus for their Big Blue Madness festivities in October. He has also taken trips to in-state Butler and Louisville and will plan to take official visits to Duke, Florida and UCLA at the conclusion of his junior season. He is currently averaging 22 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists for Arsenal Tech this season.

Top five junior Trey Lyles is down to Butler, Duke, Florida, Kenutcky, Louisville and UCLA

Top five junior Trey Lyles is down to Butler, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Louisville and UCLA

2. Andrew Wiggins Sets Unconfirmed Visits

The nation’s No. 1 overall ranked player Andrew Wiggins is beginning to make progress with his recruitment. The 6’8″ small forward out of Huntington Prep (West Virginia) has only visited one school — Florida State — on his list of candidates. However, that will soon change. Also considering Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina, Wiggins has now set tentative dates with each of those three schools. Kentucky will receive Wiggins’ second official visit on February 27 as the Wildcats will host Mississippi State. He was scheduled to be in attendance for Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness festivities in October but had to cancel. He will follow that up with a visit to the Kansas campus on March 4 for the Jayhawks’ final home game of the season against Texas Tech. To close it out, Wiggins will then travel to Chapel Hill on March 9 for the Tar Heels’ ACC showdown against Duke. North Carolina head coach Roy Williams has feverishly pursued Wiggins in the last few months and has really gained steam in this recruitment, however, Florida State and Kentucky are still considered the top two to land the potential No. 1 NBA draft pick in 2014. While those specific dates could change as they have yet to be confirmed, Wiggins timetable is seemingly geared towards the spring signing period which falls from April 17 to May 15. Read the rest of this entry »

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Michael Snaer Hits A Buzzer Beater, Because Of Course He Does

Posted by KCarpenter on January 25th, 2013

Who will hit the buzzer-beaters in the ACC after Michael Snaer graduates this year? The conference’s most reliable provider of last second miracle shots did it again — a banked three as time expired gave the win to a Florida State team that trailed Clemson for most of the game. In a season where road wins have been hard to come by, it looked like the Tigers might just pull out the victory in Tallahassee. Powered by the forward tandem of K.J. McDaniels and Devin Booker, the pair combined for 30 points and 10 rebounds, offsetting the dreadful performance by the mercurial Milton Jennings (who managed to make only one of his seven attempts from the field and turned the ball over five times).

Yet two newcomers to the Seminoles’ team managed to put Florida State back in the game. Kiel Turpin, a 7’0″ center, didn’t score (or even attempt) any baskets or grab a single rebound in the first half. Leonard Hamilton, despite all this, saw it fit to play Turpin in the second half as well, and it was a good decision. Turpin scored a game high 16 points, all in the final 20 minutes of play. The big man had some help from the backcourt too, as freshman Devon Bookert, not to be confused with Clemson’s Devin Booker, was a non-factor in the first half (outside of a pair of made free throws). Yet, Bookert would close out the game by recording a perfect shooting night that netted the Seminoles 11 points in the most efficient manner possible.

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ACC M5: 01.22.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 22nd, 2013

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  1. Greenville News: Devin Booker had a career game at NC State over the weekend, but it wasn’t enough. While he was an outstanding 8-of-11 from the field, the rest of the team started 2-of-20. The team was slightly better in the second half, but the damage was done. Booker is for real, though. He dominated Florida State’s front line at Clemson, he dominated Richard Howell at NC State, and he dominated Mason Plumlee head-to-head at Duke. His consistency isn’t what it could be, and he doesn’t have the same range as his brother, Trevor, but he’s been the best post player in the ACC through the first few games.
  2. South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Speaking of post players who are really overachieving this season, Miami’s Julian Gamble has filled in for Reggie Johnson perfectly. Gamble, a sixth-year senior, isn’t the most skilled or athletic guy on the court, but he’s got a Richard Howell-like motor and knows some tricks of the trade. He shows flashes of brilliance in the post (see: his beautiful lefty baby hook against North Carolina), but most of what he does well isn’t pretty. In some ways, Miami may be better with him in the game than Johnson (who had a tendency to check out of some games), a thought that seemed absurd just a couple of short weeks ago.
  3. Washington Post: I’m going to go ahead and disagree with Roy Williams a lot. In Monday’s teleconference with ACC coaches, Williams said, “I do think, top to bottom, the league is probably the best in the 10 years I’ve been back. If you take somebody lightly in this league right now, you’re going to lose. I don’t care who you are or who you’re playing.” I’d direct him to his first season in the league (2003-04) when six of the conference’s nine teams made the NCAA Tournament with seeds of #1, #3, #3, #4, #4 and #6. Only one team was ranked below #56 in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings (Clemson at #97)–and three were in the top 10. But Williams does have a point: The league is full of mediocrity and road wins are going to be nearly impossible to come by this year.
  4. Streaking the Lawn: Speaking of road wins, Virginia is in some serious RPI trouble, as the Cavaliers currently sit at #139. No team has ever made the NCAA Tournament as an at-large with an RPI below #70. The biggest issues are home losses and a horrid strength of schedule. On paper, Virginia’s schedule was never full of world-beaters, but an untimely home loss to Delaware (which caused the Cavaliers to play Lamar and North Texas instead of a couple of stronger power-conference teams) and major under-performance (here’s looking at you Old Dominion) have sabotaged Virginia’s RPI to an alarming extent. It will come up, but the Cavaliers are going to need to steal some ACC road wins and avoid any home losses at all costs going forward.
  5. Orlando Sentinel: Well so much for the “Roy Williams can’t recruit anymore” narrative. It was always a reactionary storyline, but Williams put it to bed for the time-being with a commitment from consensus Class of 2014 top-15 prospect Joel Berry. Berry, one of the top point guards in that class, should quiet worried fans as well as help attract other top players to Chapel Hill going forward.
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Lessons Learned: ACC Weekend Wrap-Up

Posted by KCarpenter on January 21st, 2013

There were no big upsets in the ACC this weekend, but there were some big-time performances that are worth mentioning. The rest of college basketball offered some thrilling upsets and close finishes, but the Atlantic Coast Conference offered some sublime moments of its own in individual achievement and failure.

TJ Warren Blew Up Against Clemson Sunday

TJ Warren Blew Up Against Clemson Sunday

  1. T.J. Warren Is A Scoring Machine. Sure, Warren went 0-for-6 against Maryland, contributing exactly zero points in the close loss, but make no mistake, that game wasn’t typical. In the game against Clemson, the North Carolina State forward scored 21 points. Yes, he wasn’t technically the game’s high scorer thanks to Devin Booker’s 27-point gem, but Warren’s performance was more impressive. Warren’s 21 points came in a mere 25 minutes that featured the freshman shooting 9-of-11 from the field, hitting a three, and grabbing six rebounds to help his team. Warren’s offensive production borders on the freakish. Coming off the bench, Warren is averaging an offensive efficiency rating of 129.2, which is the 20th best mark in all of Division I basketball. Of course, because of Scott Wood’s sweet shooting, Warren isn’t even the deadliest offensive weapon on his own team, but he is certainly a force to be reckoned with.
  2. Assertive Reggie Bullock Is Terrifying. The only player in the conference with an offensive efficiency greater than Wood and Warren is North Carolina’s Reggie Bullock. Bullock has posted an offensive efficiency of 131.5, driven by incredible three-point shooting (47.7% on 88 attempts this season), low turnovers and strong offensive rebounding for his position. Bullock, also arguably the team’s best defensive player, unleashed his offensive fury on Saturday against Maryland, amassing 21 points in the first half alone and leading North Carolina to an early lead against the Terrapins. Bullock has struggled to assert this season, often vanishing from the team’s offense and deferring to others to the point of fault. On Saturday, Bullock demonstrated how his newfound aggresiveness could help the team: His shooting opened up space for James Michael McAdoo to operate and he drew extra defensive attention that made it easier for Dexter Strickland and Marcus Paige to handle the ball and make plays. This North Carolina team is still deeply flawed, but when Reggie Bullock takes the lead, the team is significantly better. Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC M5: 01.16.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 16th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. BC Interruption: Duke isn’t the only team dealing with an injured critical player. Because of Boston College’s struggles last year, it’s easy to overlook this team’s hardship. Dennis Clifford was the Eagles’ best player in Spain this summer. He hasn’t been 100% all year though. First it was his ankle. Now it’s his knee, and Steve Donahue doesn’t sound optimistic about the seven-footer. Clifford gives Boston College one of the more interesting frontcourts in the league when he’s healthy and allows Ryan Anderson to play the four. Here’s to hoping the Eagle’s big man can get totally healthy before next season.
  2. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Tech has gotten over its roster turmoil, but the bench has been inconsistent of late. Assistant coaches Chad Dollar, Josh Postorino, and Billy Schmidt were all suspended for a game. Brian Gregory refused to comment on the matter, and the athletic department spokesman was just as vague. Smart money is on small NCAA infractions, though Postorino was arrested in early December for DUI and had to sit out five games.
  3. Greenville News: In Clemson’s win against Virginia, Milton Jennings showed glimpses of what made him a McDonalds’ All-American in high school. He put up 21 points on 13 shots with 11 rebounds to boot. Combined with Devin Booker, who has looked good all year, and the Tigers looked to be achieving their potential. Against Wake Forest Tuesday night, the Tigers still won (and by a significant margin), but Jennings disappeared again. He only took five shots. Even though the Tigers got by with KJ McDaniels stepping up, Clemson needs Booker and Jennings on their A-games this year.
  4. Charlotte Observer: Mike Krzyzewski did everything but use the phrase “freshman wall” when describing Rasheed Sulaimon‘s recent struggles. The freshman’s plight has been lost in the wake of Ryan Kelly’s injury, but Duke needs Sulaimon back to early season form on both ends of the court. The silver lining is that Sulaimon has stayed aggressive, and it feels like if he can just have a good game offensively, everything else will turn around. It’s too early for Sulaimon to be hitting the conditioning wall freshmen often get late in the season.
  5. Washington Post: Speaking of disciplinary issues, Mark Turgeon has also been dealing with “immaturity issues” amongst his players. Against Miami it was Shaquille Cleare who sat, but Turgeon made the issue sound more widespread. It’s still not clear where this Maryland team will wind up. The Terrapins dominated low and mid-majors during nonconference play–especially on the boards; and they have plenty of depth. If they can solve their leadership issues, they will be able to make a run for the Big Dance. But right now, Turgeon is on the outside looking in.

EXTRA: “Graduation gap persists between athletes and students in ACC” is a pretty strong headline. And the North Carolina study came to an even stronger conclusion: “the ACC ranks last among the NCAA’s 30 Division I men’s basketball conferences, boasting the largest gap in graduation rates between players and the general full-time student body.” Unfortunately, the article glosses over several very important points including how transfers and professional departures treated as well as how many years do athletes get to graduate. Still it is an interesting study.

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