Big East M5: 11.16.12 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on November 16th, 2012

  1. ESPNU’s National Signing Day Special airs tonight, and features two top-30 players who may select Big East schools. Four-star center Kennedy Meeks will reportedly decide between Georgetown and North Carolina. Meeks is a big-bodied post player who should be able to dominate the glass at the next level.  Four-star Tyler Roberson will choose between SyracuseVillanova, and Kansas. Roberson would fit well in both Jim Boeheim’s and Jay Wright’s up-tempo systems.  He has range out to the NBA three-point line, and his coach Dave Boff from Roselle Catholic in New Jersey calls him the best rebounder in the state.
  2. Following a big win in Germany over Michigan State, UConn fans are pretty excited about their prospects this season, with a pair of student writers debating the possibility of the Huskies claiming the one title they can win this year – a Big East regular season crown. While the Huskies are certainly a talented team, they lack the depth and experience of the top-tier Big East teams, and the grind of the conference season does not bode well for teams in that situation. Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright are both talented scorers, but neither is a tremendously efficient player, and if one has a really off night it will be interesting to see what other players are capable of picking up the slack. The Huskies are talented, but choosing them to win the Big East is an aggressive prediction.
  3. In other news about a wiser monetary investment in Connecticut basketball, interim coach Kevin Ollie further demonstrated his loyalty to the program with a $100,000 donation to the new UConn Basketball Developmental Center. Combined with his big first win over Tom Izzo and the blessing of his mentor Jim Calhoun, Ollie seems to be doing all the right things in order to have his coaching contract extended at UConn. He really needs to just focus on his team improving every day in practice so that they can compete in every game where they lace them up.
  4. One of the major themes of this early season seems to be the growth of many big players in the conference.  Yesterday’s M5 touched on the evolution of Eric Atkins, and today we learn about Louisville’s Russ Smith‘s own maturity as a player.  Smith spent last year as a sparkplug off the bench for the Cardinals, and while he had a penchant for the big play, his usage rate was incredibly high and he was prone to big mistakes as well. Going into this year, Rick Pitino tasked Russ with improving his consistency and becoming a more reliable basketball player. Eamonn Brennan’s ESPN article also delves into the etymology of Smith’s nickname “Russdiculous.” I’m not sure if it’ll ever catch on outside of Louisville, but if it’s good enough for one of Pitino’s horses, it’s good enough for me.
  5. This early signing period has been a joyous occasion for Marquetteas the school looks to bring in one of the best classes in school history. The Golden Eagles, who in the past have built the program on the backs of underrated players and junior college prospects from all over the nation, focused on higher-rated high school talent this time around, and were able to keep a few Milwaukee-area stars at home. Scout has Marquette’s 2013 class ranked seventh in the nation, with four top-100 players committed to Buzz Williams. If this class can pan out for the school, we may see the Golden Eagles’ ascendance from conference contender to top-flight program.
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Big East M5: 11.15.12 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on November 15th, 2012

  1. College basketball’s signing day isn’t quite as frenzied for recruitniks as football’s, in large part due to the early signing period, which allows schools to ink recruits early, thus securing their commitment and ending much of the signing day “will he or won’t he” speculation. Cincinnati pulled in a nice three-player class with the opening of the early signing period yesterday, including Summit Country Day guard Kevin Johnson, a lifelong Bearcats fan who has flown under the radar due to injury. Mick Cronin heaped a lot of praise on his future guard: “He fits the mold of a lot of our current players. He can play a couple of different positions and he’s good with the ball in his hands. He’s an extremely unselfish player. He can beat his man whenever he wants.”
  2. It’s fairly common for the coach of a top-ranked team to downplay its abilities, especially early in the year, in order to reel his team in. Rick Pitino did just that when describing Louisville’s rebounding issues heading into the “Battle 4 Atlantis”, a preseason tournament featuring Duke, Missouri, and Memphis: “We are not ready to play in the Battle 4 Atlantis for that type of competition,” Pitino said. “We are not ready yet because we’re not rebounding the ball well enough.” This may not all be motivational bluster from Pitino, however. Louisville has gotten outrebounded by Bellarmine in an exhibition game and Manhattan already this season.
  3. Much has been written about Notre Dame’s experienced starting line up. While a number of players on the Irish have been making an impact for a few seasons, point guard Eric Atkins is becoming the straw that stirs the drink in South Bend. Atkins has stepped into a leadership role for Notre Dame, driven by the failure of last year’s team to put away 10th seeded Xavier in the NCAA Tournament after holding a double-digit lead over the Musketeers. The once-carefree guard is all business this year: “I thought it would be beneficial for me — just being serious all the time, just trying to perfect everything I’m doing, being focused the whole time… in a game, I’m still smiling. But when it comes down to practice time and getting stuff done, I’m going to be serious.”
  4. Former Syracuse basketball players Fab Melo and Kris Joseph, both of whom were drafted by the Boston Celtics, have been sent to the D-League’s Maine Red Claws. Where the D-League used to be a death sentence for a player’s career, it has recently been more utilized as a minor league system for NBA teams to develop fringe talent. Melo is still a raw player with less than five years of formal basketball under his belt, while Joseph is behind Paul Pierce and former Georgetown great Jeff Green at the small forward slot in Boston. Both players should benefit from the increased playing time at that level more than they would riding the pine in Boston.
  5. The Big East will never quite be the same after the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry ends, or at the very least crosses conference lines, after this season. The rivalry is unique in that it is almost entirely based on mutual disdain from on-court events, rather than proximity or other factors that usually spurn hated rivalries. This season’s games promise to be especially heated, with both fan bases signing on for “the most vitriol-ridden, hate-spewing iteration of the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry ever seen in the 30-plus year history of the teams’ membership in the Big East Conference.”  The flames of the rivalry were fanned by an unusual source today – U2 front man Bono, who spoke at Georgetown today, and, among other things, called beloved Syracuse mascot Otto “a fruit” to the bemusement of the present Hoya faithful. This isn’t the first time that celebrities have pandered to Syracuse or Georgetown fans while on campus by putting down the other school.  During a basketball game at the Carrier Dome last season, Shaquille O’Neal uttered the popular Syracuse catch phrase “Georgetown still sucks” while promoting an anti-binge drinking campaign. At Syracuse’s 2012 commencement, screenwriter and Syracuse alumnus Aaron Sorkin discussed accepting the different viewpoints of others “unless they’re Georgetown grads, then they can go to hell.” Needless to say, that final game in the Big East rivalry on March 9 at the Verizon Center is going to be a fun one.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.10.11 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 10th, 2011

  1. The early signing period began Wednesday, and Oregon State signed a pair of three-stars on the first day of the week-long period. The first to sign was Langston Morris-Walker, a small forward out of Berkeley High (CA). Morris-Walker could see immediate playing time next season if current Beaver Jared Cunningham decides to forgo his senior season and move on to the NBA. He also had offers from Colorado, Utah, and Washington State, among others. The second to sign was center Maika Ostling. While Ostling is a solid prospect, he will most likely redshirt his freshman season as he will be behind Chris Brown, Joe Burton, and Angus Brandt in the OSU lineup.
  2. Pundits around the nation are picking California to either win the Pac-12 or come pretty close to it, and the reason for those high hopes are centered on senior shooting guard Jorge Gutierrez. Gutierrez grew up in Mexico and was lightly recruited out of high school, but coach Mike Montgomery took a leap of faith on him. That leap was well worth it as Gutierrez averaged 14.6 PPG last season and was named to the all-conference team. There is no doubt this season that this is his team, “At first, I thought I didn’t belong here,” Gutierrez said. “But now it’s my house. This is my court, and you play the way I want you to play.” Big words, but he has earned the right to say them.
  3. Sticking with the Golden Bears, California signed two players yesterday. We already alluded to Tyrone Wallace in yesterday’s M5, but Wallace made it official by putting ink to paper on Wednesday. The other signee was Kaileb Rodriguez, a 6’8″ power forward from Thunder Ridge High (CO). Rodriguez could see a lot of playing time next season since there is only one other “true” power forward on the roster (Bak Bak). The two signees put the Bears at 12 scholarships for 2012-13, one below the NCAA limit. They are still waiting on decisions from forward Zena Edosomwan of Harvard-Westlake school (CA) and forward/center Landen Lucas of Westview High (OR).
  4. Wednesday was also a big day for both USC and UCLA, as both schools signed two players each. The first signee for the Trojans was J.T. Terrell, a transfer from Wake Forest who just began playing this season at Peninsula College. The 6’3″ guard should see immediate minutes because of his size and the overall lack of talent at the position for SC. 6’8″ forward Strahinja Gavrilovic was the other player to sign with Kevin O’Neill’s team. Highlighting the Bruins’ day was Kyle Anderson out of St. Anthony High (NJ). Coach Ben Howland says that he expects Anderson to contribute immediately next season at the point.
  5. Regular season play continued last night in Tucson, where Arizona struggled with Duquesne for 30 minutes before finally pulling away for the 67-59 victory. The Wildcats continue to underwhelm fans across the nation, as Arizona has looked far less-than-impressive in their first four outings. Their first was an exhibition loss to Seattle Pacific and that was followed by a closer-than-comfort exhibition win over Humboldt State. Their first two regular season games against Valparaiso and Duquesne have not been decided until the final minutes. The trend of Sean Miller’s Wildcats’ in not putting teams away will definitely be something to watch for Pac-12 fans in the coming days and weeks.
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Early Signing Period Starts Today

Posted by jstevrtc on November 11th, 2009

Wednesday, November 11th was the first day of basketball’s early signing period for high school seniors, and several noteworthy prospects signed on the dotted line throughout the day.  A recap (all rankings from the ESPN 100):

jared sullinger

The biggest story came out of Columbus, Ohio.  Thad Matta is flexing right now, as he brought in four players in the top 100, including two players in most recruiting analysts’ top 10-12; Jared Sullinger, an almost unanimous #2 in this year’s whole senior class (pictured above), and #12 DeShaun Thomas, a smooth 6’7 three-position threat.  Also signing with the Buckeyes were top-60 players Jordan Sibert and Aaron Craft, so you can see why OSU boasts the best recruiting class for 2010 to this point.

Perry Jones, considered the third-ranked prospect in the current senior class, signed with Baylor today, thus continuing Scott Drew’s highly commendable rebuilding of that program.  Jones verbally committed back in 2007 but today’s signing made it official.  The 6’10 Jones has the skill set to play the 3, 4, or 5 at the collegiate level.

Other signing notes:  Marquette inked a couple of top-100 recruits in the excellently-named 6’3 shooting guard Vander Blue and 6’6 wing Jamail Jones.  A couple of former NBA stars saw their sons sign letters; Shawn Kemp, Jr. (6’9, 215) signed with Auburn, while Tim Hardaway, Jr. (6’5, 185) pledged his support to Michigan.

harrison barnes

Two of the biggest names in the class of 2010 also revealed their plans to announce soonHarrison Barnes (dunking above) is touted as possibly the best player in the class, and says that he’ll announce this Friday at 4 P.M. ET.  The leaders for his services are said to be Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, and Oklahoma.  Top ten recruit Tobias Harris, according to his father, will not sign a letter of intent this week, but will announce his college choice next week; Maryland, Louisville, Georgia Tech, and West Virginia are listed as the top possibilities for the 6’8 combo-forward.

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