Morning Five: 09.20.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 20th, 2013

morning5

  1. Yesterday, the NCAA announced that it was opening up the bidding for the 2017-2020 Final Fours. Cities have until October 11 to submit their bids. The obvious major criteria is that the event will be hosted in a dome with a capacity of at least 60,000 and be able to provide at least 10,000 hotel rooms within a reasonable distance of the venue. We have expressed our distaste for playing basketball games in giant domes, but we understand the NCAA’s reasoning–greater access for fans and more money for the NCAA. Final Fours have traditionally been held in a select group of cities so we will be interested to see if the NCAA steps outside of its usual rotation.
  2. One of the reasons that we tend to stay away from recruiting stories is the random speculation that seems to follow many recruits. Yesterday was another example of this with Isaiah Whitehead, who eventually announced that he was committing to Seton Hall, but not before Twitter managed put out a variety of rumors about where Whitehead was going, what kind of package deal was involved, and if another package deal would be voided by this package deal. In the end, Kevin Willard was able to land a five-star point guard and the most highly touted Seton Hall recruit in recent memory. The questions regarding how he got Whitehead (almost certainly because Willard agreed to hire Whitehead’s high school coach as an assistant), which we will discuss separately, are another issue, but despite how shady it may seem it is still within NCAA guidelines.
  3. It has been four years since Michigan star Rumeal Robinson was arrested on fraud charges and it appears that another star of that era–Tate George–may soon be joining him. George, who hit a turnaround desperation game-winner in the 1990 Sweet 16 (only to be outdone the next round by some guy named Laettner), is accused of wire fraud totaling $2 million including $250,000 that he reportedly stole from fellow former Connecticut star Charlie Villanueva. According to reports, George convinced Villanueva and others to invest in a project in Bridgeport, Connecticut, but was never able to return the money on their investments and when it started falling apart fired his accountant then sent fraudulent letters claiming to be the accountant. The size of the fraud may pale in comparison to some more famous recent cases, but the fame of the individuals involved–especially in Connecticut–should make this front page news there for some time to come.
  4. We have posted quite a few links to articles about the relationship between higher education and the NCAA’s mission during our six and a half years of running the site, but I don’t think we have ever posted anything about the same relationship between high school education and sports. That is until The Atlantic published an article questioning how we as a country distribute our money and focus in high schools. The primary focus of the article is on high schools since they are a bigger part of American culture and learning, but the same argument can probably be made about college sports and how we allot our educational resources. As the article notes, organized sports are offered to school-aged individuals, but in the form of a club system rather than being integrated into schools. We have seen some suggestions of moving college sports to a club model and with the reported push towards a “Division 4″ model we would not be surprised if this model is advocated in the future.
  5. Grantland’s feature on Korleone Young might fall outside of our usual realm of college basketball, but as one of the more prominent prep-to-pro busts in history it is certainly worth a read if only as a cautionary tale. Perhaps the most interesting part to college basketball fans is the part in the middle of the piece about Myron Piggie, who has become an infamous figure in AAU and NCAA lore. Piggie is most well-known for his relationship with Corey Maggette and JaRon Rush and his payments to the team’s players. You may remember Piggie from the prank that Maryland pulled on Duke in 2005 or the outrage at Duke walking away from the scandal unpunished.
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Morning Five: 07.01.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 1st, 2013

morning5

  1. We have expressed our feelings about the use of family hardships waivers by players to avoid having to sit out a year, but the case of Joseph Young may raise the stakes. Young, who led Houston in scoring last season with 18 points per game, left the program after his father decided to quit rather than be reassigned within the program. On Friday, Young announced that he will be transferring to Oregon and there is some speculation that he will apply for a hardship waiver because his father is no longer at Houston. As we have noted before we have our qualms about the use of hardship waivers to be able to play right away, which go beyond the scope of this space (as would our commentary on whether players should have to sit out at all when transferring when their coaches can move around without suffering any adverse consequences), but letting a player get a waiver because his father did not like taking a different job with the same pay seems like a stretch in terms of family hardship no matter what your perspective is.
  2. We usually see transfers going up or down a level, but the move to a program of similar caliber is much less common. So the move by Zach Price from Louisville to Missouri is somewhat unique, but given the circumstances should not be that surprising. Price, who entered Louisville as a highly touted big man, only averaged 1.7 points per game as a sophomore as he was stuck behind a rotation of solid frontcourt players and saw limited playing time. Price will join a growing contingent of transfers at Missouri which is quickly becoming Transfer U with its lineup largely built around transfers.
  3. Thursday night was a big night for many former high school stars, but it was also a disappointing for many who had what were considered legitimate NBA dreams a few years ago. Perhaps the best example of this is Renardo Sidney, who was considered a can’t miss prospect coming out of high school, but had a complicated and disappointing college career to put it mildly. Following the NBA Draft Dana O’Neil tried to track down the enigmatic Sidney and while she was unsuccessful her inability to even find out where he was living should serve as a cautionary tale to the next sure thing.
  4. Package deals are not a particularly novel idea in the world of college recruitment, but the manner in which Isaiah Whitehead and Ja’Quan Newton announced the possibility that they would be a package deal–through a series of tweets–is somewhat unique. Whitehead, a five-star  shooting guard, and Newton, a four-star point guard, are reportedly looking at several schools with Minnesota and Syracuse being the leaders. With the possibility of adding two top-50 players you can be sure that the recruitment of these two players will heat up.
  5. When the NCAA announced this spring that it was banning several schools from postseason play it led to outrage among some individuals as it appeared to primarily affect schools with less resources in particular historically black colleges. Now at least one of those schools–Alabama State–has been declared eligible for postseason play after the school submitted additional data leading the NCAA to withdraw its initial sanctions. One of the more interesting aspects of this announcement is how it will affect the players who transferred from Alabama State with the expectation that they would be able to play next year as the NCAA grants a waiver to athletes transferring from a school banned from the postseason due to a low APR score. Now that Alabama State’s postseason ban has been overturned the NCAA will have to make a decision on how to proceed with determining the eligibility of those players.
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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? 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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Big East Morning Five: 11.21.11 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on November 21st, 2011

  1. The biggest basketball-related story in the conference is still the allegations that Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine molested two former ball boys, but we would prefer to cover the reactions in more depth in a post to run later this morning. That said, it is worth noting that recruiting has already been affected as highly regarded Class of 2014 prospect and New York native, Isaiah Whitehead, dropped the Orange from his list of schools. It’s worth pointing out that Whitehead won’t be matriculating anytime soon, so plans could change based on how the story develops, but in reading the quote from Whitehead’s mother, she didn’t exactly leave the door wide open. Whitehead’s high school coach later told ESPN New York that Whitehead’s mother was confused and thought the allegations were about head coach Jim Boeheim. Regardless of the truth, the rumors and accompanying misinformation are indicative of the fact that Boeheim will have his work cut out for him on the recruiting trail as these allegations continue to swirl.
  2. It was a rough weekend in their home gym for Steve Lavin and St. John’s. Hosting the 2K Sports Classic, the Johnnies held Arizona to 41% from the floor but turned the ball over 17 times in an 81-72 loss to the Wildcats in the semifinal. Then, in the third-place game against Texas A&M, Lavin’s young club went just 22-38 from the free-throw line including two missed by Nurideen Lindsey with 2.3 seconds left that made the difference in a 58-57 loss. But the low point was undoubtedly having Anna Cate Kennedy — daughter of Aggies’ new coach Billy Kennedyreceiving her fair share of credit for the win for her ear-splitting screams during St. John’s free-throw attempts. The story is old by now so not much else needs to be said, but it can never be fun when the media only half-jokingly claims you were beaten by a seven-year-old girl.
  3. While some Big East teams have struggled against lesser opponents in the early going, Marquette has not been one of them. The Golden Eagles scored their third 30-point win last night, a 96-66 win over Mississippi in the Paradise Jam semifinals, to improve to 4-0 on the season. The hometown Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quotes head coach Buzz Williams in saying “we have struggled defensively.” I am not sure what numbers he is looking at, because the Golden Eagles currently rank No. 22 in defensive efficiency, but since they are No. 6 in offensive efficiency, I guess defense is the “problem.” The real issue will be deciding on a starting point guard, where Vander Blue and Junior Cadougan are battling for the majority of the minutes.
  4. As if the country needed any more proof about the ability of Connecticut sophomore Jeremy Lamb, the All-American candidate sprained his ankle in Saturday’s practice and still scored 25 points in 37 minutes against an overmatched Coppin State team. Coppin State is not very good, but Lamb was apparently touch-and-go for the game even as he arrived at the arena. There are still some doubters who think UConn can’t repeat without star guard Kemba Walker. Those people need to start watching Lamb because as good as he was last year, he is going to be a different player this year.
  5. There was lots of high praise for the Cincinnati Bearcats heading into the season. Letting an underwhelming Presbyterian team rally for a 56-54 win after being down 15 points with less than eight minutes to play is the kind of dud to make that praise look foolish. CBS Sports columnist Gary Parrish gave the loss his “loss to hide from” this weekend and deservedly so. Mick Cronin‘s team better hope they don’t end up on the bubble when February rolls around, because that kind of embarrassing loss, even early in the season, won’t look great in the eyes of the tournament committee.
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