Set Your TiVo: Opening Night

Posted by bmulvihill on November 7th, 2011

Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @themulv on Twitter.  See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

The 2011-12 college basketball season tips off with the regional rounds of the 2KSports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.  We will not see a full slate of games until Friday but if you are starved for college hoops like we are, there are two games tonight that should whet your appetite.

William & Mary @ St. John’s – 7 pm EST on ESPNU (**) (RTC Live coverage begins at 6:45 pm)

Lavin's Ridiculously Young Team Tips Off the Season Tonight

  • With the exception of a few holdovers, St. John’s brings an entirely new squad into the 2011-12 season.  The Red Storm will rely heavily on freshman like Maurice Harkless, Dom Pointer, and D’Angelo Harrison.  Although young, SJU should be able to shoot on a William & Mary squad that allowed opponents to shoot an eFG of 50.1% last season.  It will take Steve Lavin’s team some time to jell over the coarse of the season, especially with three highly touted recruits being ruled ineligible for the fall semester.  However, this game may be a case where overall talent outduels experience.
  • William & Mary essentially brings back its entire 2010-11 team that went 10-22 overall.  Tony Shaver’s squad returns its two leading scorers, Quinn McDowell (15.5 PPG) and Brandon Britt (10.9 PPG).  Although a relatively solid shooting team last year (52.1% eFG), the Tribe struggles with scoring beyond those two players.  If W&M can get scoring from another player and continue to shoot the ball well, they may be able to keep it close on the road against an incredibly inexperienced St. John’s team.  However, if either of those two players gets into foul trouble or is cold from the floor, it will make for a challenging night for the Tribe.
  • This game probably will not be a defensive clinic.  William & Mary ranked 254th in the nation last year in adjusted defensive efficiency and a young team like St. John’s will probably take time to develop on that end.  If either team can create any turnovers at all, they will have a clear advantage. Unfortunately, only three teams in the country were worse than the Tribe last year at causing turnovers.  However, with many of the St. John’s players seeing their first action at the Division I level, turnovers should be expected.  Look for William & Mary to take advantage of SJU’s freshmen mistakes to keep this one close.  It will then come down to McDowell and Britt’s ability to convert points off turnovers.

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Analyzing the Top Ten Recruiting Classes of 2011

Posted by zhayes9 on October 7th, 2011

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

In this era of one-and-done, where every touted freshman and blue-chip prospect must lace up the sneakers in college for at least a season, recruiting has never been more important.

As recently as a decade ago, programs were built, legacies were formed and trophies were hoisted on the basis of developing and grooming four-year players. In 2003, freshman Carmelo Anthony bucked that trend by carrying his Syracuse team to a national title. When David Stern instituted an age limit to participate professionally, impact players such as Greg Oden, Kevin Love and Derrick Rose may have only dipped their toes in the collegiate water, but the Final Four berths won’t soon be forgotten.

This upcoming season, college basketball hasn’t been gutted as dramatically as in the past. Assumed lottery picks passed on the immediate NBA riches whether in fears of a prolonged lockout or simply to accomplish goals left unmet. A plethora of battle-tested seniors also make their dramatic return. Despite this welcomed development, freshmen will still have their say in who grabs the four all-important #1 seeds and who ultimately graces the hardwood in Indianapolis next April.

Here are the ten teams primed to receive a substantial contribution from their talented newcomers this upcoming season:

1. Kentucky- Brandon Knight is the latest Calipari-coached freshman to bolt early for the pros. Luckily for Big Blue, their coach’s recruiting skills hasn’t eroded in the least bit. In pretty much any other freshman class in the country, Kyle Wiltjer would top the list; in Lexington, he’s easily the fourth-best rookie on the squad. The headliner is center Anthony Davis, the early favorite to be selected first overall in the 2012 NBA Draft.  The Chicago native reminds many scouts of a young Kevin Garnett with his tremendous versatility, remarkable athleticism and exceptional rebounding abilities. Formerly a lightly-recruited guard prior to a timely growth spurt, Davis is more than comfortable handling the ball around the perimeter. Taking over at point guard for Knight is Marquis Teague, a lightning-fast lead guard and the younger brother of former Wake Forest and current Hawks reserve Jeff Teague. Teague is a better fit for Calipari’s preferred dribble-drive motion offense than the ball-screen dependent Knight. The third potential freshman starter is St. Patrick’s own Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Gilchrist is an intense competitor and will be absolute joy for Calipari to coach. Witjer should prove a valuable backup big man with a refined perimeter game.

Anthony Davis/kentuckysportsradio.com

2. Duke- Losing your three most productive players – two face-of-the-program seniors and a point guard that just happened to be chosen #1 overall — would result in a multi-year rebuilding process at most schools. Most schools aren’t Duke, and the Blue Devils are once again expected to compete in the top ten. The biggest reason why is Austin Rivers. Easily the best scoring guard in the freshman ranks, Rivers is a legitimate threat to average 17-20 PPG during his first (and likely only) season in Durham. Rivers does possess the ability to create his own shot, but could struggle to get opportune looks until Seth Curry develops a comfort level at point guard. Oak Hill’s Quinn Cook is expected to compete for minutes at the point once he recovers from a knee injury. He appears destined to be Duke’s floor general of the future. Cook is a born leader that has one priority: to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. How deep Coach K opts to utilize his bench will determine the playing time of wings Michael Gbinije and Alex Murphy, along with the third Plumlee brother, Marshall Plumlee. All three will be regular contributors down the road. Once Murphy develops some strength, he could be the best of the lot as a scoring threat with sneaky athleticism.

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Who’s Got Next? Elite Talents Commit, Top Classes Crumble and Prospects Discuss Realignment

Posted by Josh Paunil on September 28th, 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. 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 who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing or different things you’d like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Introduction

Head coaches around the country are watching their top recruiting classes crumble before their eyes. Elite prospects are beginning to commit to big-name schools, initiating the domino affect across the college basketball recruiting world. Recruits are also speaking out on conference realignment and how it will affect their college decision. The first fall edition of Who’s Got Next? brings you this and more as we draw closer and closer to the fall signing period in November.

What They’re Saying

  • Wichita Heights head coach Joe Auer on senior Perry Ellis committing to Kansas: “He (Ellis) adores [Kansas assistant] coach [Danny] Manning, he watched how he handled the Morris twins. He was studious in watching how they developed.”
  • Senior shooting guard Archie Goodwin on committing to Kentucky: “He (head coach John Calipari) told me he wants me bad and I’m a top recruit for him. No matter what, he wants the ball in my hands and he feels like me committing will probably get the ball rolling for the rest of the class. It’s got to start somewhere.”
  • Junior shooting guard Brannen Greene on conference realignment: “I don’t care what conference I play in, I’m more so looking at the program. I think it’s great for the ACC [though] and it’s a shocker. If UConn and Louisville were to join, it would be an amazingly competitive conference!”
  • Junior point guard Isaiah Lewis on conference realignment: “It matters in my recruitment a lot. Certain schools that are recruiting me may go to a conference that I don’t think fits my game. I’ve been hearing a lot, I’m hearing Kansas may go Big East, West Virginia is going to the SEC and UConn is going to the ACC.”
  • Junior small forward Troy Williams on conference realignment: “It doesn’t affect my recruitment, they’re all moving to better conferences to get players and play better teams.”
  • Junior power forward Chris Walker on setting his decision date: “After I commit, I’m hoping to get someone like [Class of 2013 guys]  [center] Nerlens Noel, [shooting guard] Brannen Greene, [guards] Andrew and Aaron Harrison, [power forward] Julius Randle, [point guard] Kasey Hill or [small forward] Jabari Parker to come with me.”
  • Sophomore stud Jahlil Okafor on his recruitment: “I’m a big fan of Kentucky, but I haven’t heard from them. I really like what Kentucky has to offer. They have a lot of history, and they have a track-record for getting players to the NBA, and that is my ultimate goal. They also have a great fan base and the entire state is high on basketball. Ohio State has been recruiting me pretty hard, but Arizona, Georgetown and Illinois are right in there too.”

What Alex Poythress Is Saying

  • On Kentucky: “Kentucky is a good school, I like their offense. Coach [John] Calipari is a good coach. He’s a pretty good guy. He knows what he’s talking about. He’s been around basketball a long time.”
  • On Vanderbilt: “Vandy has been recruiting me for a long time. I’m close with the coaching staff.”
  • On Memphis: “Memphis is a basketball city. I like how it’s a basketball city and they play up-tempo ball.”
  • On Florida: “Florida is a good school. Coach [Billy] Donovan is a good coach. I like how they use their wings.”
  • On Duke being dropped from his list: “Actually, they said they weren’t recruiting me anymore. They sent me an email saying they were going to back out of recruiting me so I said, ‘OK.’”

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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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