Will Josh Smith’s Fresh Start at Georgetown Equal Success?

Posted by Todd Keryc on October 28th, 2013

The NCAA granted a waiver to Georgetown big man Josh Smith last week, making the junior center eligible for the start of the season. The decision elicited questions around the country, shocking seemingly everyone who covers the sport. Smith played six games last year for UCLA yet will start with the clean slate he was seeking in transferring to Georgetown, with two full years of eligibility remaining.

Former UCLA big man Josh Smith's fresh start begins asap. (AP)

Former UCLA big man Josh Smith’s fresh start begins ASAP. (AP)

Yes, the questions emerging out of the NCAA’s decision are fair. But Smith is eligible and this has a major effect on the upcoming season for Georgetown. Before wearing out his welcome with a reportedly substandard work ethic, Smith showed legitimate promise with UCLA. In his first two seasons, he averaged more than 10 points and five rebounds per game while playing fewer than 20 minutes. He also shot better than 56 percent from the floor. The numbers show a productive player in limited minutes. Yet it was the minutes, or lack thereof, that ultimately caused Smith’s demise and transfer from UCLA. Read the rest of this entry »

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Josh Smith’s Clearance a Game-Changer On and Off the Court

Posted by Bennet Hayes on October 26th, 2013

When news broke Wednesday of Josh Smith’s accepted waiver and immediate eligibility for Georgetown, the bulk of the media reaction constituted pure shock. After all, without any known medical issues or hardship concerns facilitating the transfer, there was no indication that Smith would recoup two full seasons of eligibility after playing in six games as a junior at UCLA. The decision marks the latest puzzling chapter in the transfer waiver saga that unfolded over the offseason, and has left nearly everyone (outside the NCAA offices – or maybe not?) as confused as ever about the process – including CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish. The folks at Georgetown may or may not be surprised by the news as well, but they are surely excited to have their big man ready for the season opener. As for the rest of us, the state of confusion we currently find ourselves in is understandable, but perhaps it’s time to give the NCAA the benefit of the doubt. They may have finally figured out that more leniency with the transfer policy benefits both the kids and the sport. Increased transparency from the governing body will be necessary at some point, but for now, I’ll take Smith’s immediate eligibility as a sign of changing times.

Thanks To A Generous NCAA Ruling, Josh Smith Will Be On The Court When Georgetown Kicks Off Their Season In Seoul, South Korea On Nov. 8 (Harry How/Getty Images)

Thanks To A Generous NCAA Ruling, Josh Smith Will Be On The Court When Georgetown Kicks Off Their Season In Seoul, South Korea On Nov. 8 (Harry How/Getty Images)

When the NCAA overturned its own decision to deny Kerwin Okoro’s waiver request a month ago, we had to know then that the organization was finally beginning to hear the vitriol of fans and media surrounding the transfer issue. The Smith ruling may be a more subtle version of that phenomenon. Jay Bilas tweeted that the Smith ruling was “not objectionable,” but that what is objectionable is that “the NCAA rejects so many others, with no coherent policy.” Agreed, and while we have no coherent policy in place, the Smith decision certainly feels like the waving of the white flag. If the NCAA is going to set such a clear precedent with a case like Smith’s – after all the discussion on the waiver issue this offseason – we have to assume enough self-awareness on the part of the NCAA to presume that they are going to be taking a far softer approach to the issue. We can hope for a definitive public stance on the issue before next offseason, but the blatant nature of this case should mean we are headed for fewer denied waiver requests, and eventually, perhaps none.

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Big East M5: 10.25.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on October 25th, 2013

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  1. Change is in the air at Creighton, and not just in terms of the league in which the Bluejays will compete this year.  The school recently held an open house to unveil a new court, featuring a revised logo.  Replacing the ‘Jays’ that once adorned the hardwood is a new Billy Bluejay head design over a bold capital ‘C’.  This unveiling is a part of a full branding initiative by Creighton, which will include a new Billy Bluejay mascot design, in an effort to solidify the school’s visibility in the college basketball world.  Associate athletic director Mark Burgers referred to the branding of two new hoops rivals as a reason for the change in conjunction with a move to the Big East: “If you look across the Big East schools and the benchmarking, Villanova has the ‘V’ and Xavier has the ‘X’ and you go down all the schools; we incorporated the ‘C’ because we thought that was important.”
  2. Earlier this week, we found out that Marquette’s Jameel McKay was planning to transfer, an announcement that came as a surprise to many in the Golden Eagles community. According to Marquette basketball blog Paint Touches, McKay’s decision is largely due to his position and role on the team: “(It was) just disagreements on things, is as simple as I can put it. Playing out of position was a part of it. I wasn’t comfortable (in the role they had him in).”  McKay has been contacted by a number of strong high major programs, and will look to make a decision soon, but he plans to finish out the semester at Marquette.
  3. Butler is looking for a bump in recruiting now that it has joined the Big East, and may be on the verge of landing a few prized players.  Four-star guard K.J. Walton was on campus this week.  The high school junior is still looking for an offer, but according to Zak Keefer at IndyStar.com, he is high on the Bulldogs, and has a strong relationship with new head coach Brandon Miller, who he has known since he was 13.  Butler also hosted Covington, Kentucky guard James Bolden at practice this week, as well local product Kyle Guy, who is already on Indiana’s radar.
  4. Josh Smith is one of the most ballyhooed additions to the Big East this year, and as of Thursday, he has been cleared to play for the start of the upcoming season for Georgetown.  Smith, who transfers to the Hoyas after leaving UCLA six games into the 2012-13 season, has received fairly unprecedented treatment in his transfer appeal from the NCAA according to ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan, who was incredibly surprised by the NCAA’s decision.  Despite not fitting into the general outlines for a hardship waiver, and not moving schools to be closer to home, the NCAA will allow Smith to play without sitting out for a full season, where it has neglected to do so for countless other players over the years. [Ed. Note: There has been some speculation that the NCAA granted the waiver due to the way Smith was treated by the UCLA staff while dealing with his ongoing weight issue.] Brennan believes this decision is another in a long line of strange moves by a rattled NCAA that has been heavily scrutinized on numerous levels: “I think college players should be able to transfer with far fewer restrictions and wait times than currently exist — but that doesn’t make the ruling consistent with any past precedent. What about every kid in the past five years with a legitimate appeal who was denied on technicality? Is the NCAA really that rattled?”
  5. Buzz Williams sat down with CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein to discuss the Marquette program and his outlook on the upcoming season, and as usual, he was incredibly insightful and honest about his team.  He believes that Derrick Wilson is ready to step into the leadership role left vacant by Junior Cadougan‘s graduation: “…to be honest, I think that the roster has played out perfectly for Derrick Wilson’s career. I do think that he’s ready for the next step, and I think he’s as prepared as you can be having never been in that role to be ready for that role.”  Williams is very high on his freshmen, who he calls the best recruiting class he’s had since becoming the head coach at Marquette, especially guard Deonte Burton, whom Rothstein refers to as a  “Buzz Williams type of player.” He also states that he believes Jamil Wilson‘s talent measures up against that of former Golden Eagles stars Jae Crowder and Lazar Hayward, and has similar ability to Jimmy Butler: “Those other guys were every-day, hard core guys and I think that’s what Jamil has to get to and I think he’s working really hard to be that guy. He’s always been talented. He’s extremely intelligent. He’s got some Jimmy Butler qualities. Jimmy could do multiple things, guard multiple guys. So can Jamil.”  While Williams is humble as always, and downplays the preseason hype that his team has garnered a bit, the interview should make Marquette fans feel good about their squad heading into the season.
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Pac-12 M5: 10.24.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on October 24th, 2013

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  1. When Oregon faces Georgetown on November 8 in Seoul, South Korea, there will be a familiar face on the other side. The NCAA has cleared former UCLA center Josh Smith to start playing immediately for the Hoyas. In addition, Smith now has two years of eligibility remaining after being granted a waiver by the NCAA, since he only played six games last season. Head coach John Thompson made it clear Smith’s old problems in Los Angeles would be a thing of the past, saying he “has to maintain a high level of commitment on and off the court.” The Ducks and Hoyas will meet at 5:00 PM Pacific on that opening Friday in a game televised by ESPN.
  2. “We don’t view Arizona as the top, the cream, and everybody is the rest. We view ourselves as the cream and everybody else can fight for the rest of the spots.” Those are the words of junior Colorado guard Spencer Dinwiddie speaking at last week’s Pac-12 Media Day. Head coach Tad Boyle says he’s preaching for his team to ignore the preseason expectations and to be “humble and hungry”, which is easier said than done after a 20-win season last year and most everyone picking CU to make its third straight NCAA Tournament. The Buffaloes get all the chances they could every want in non-conference play to prove they are legit with a road game at Baylor, home games against Harvard, Kansas, and Georgia, and a meeting with Oklahoma State in Las Vegas.
  3. Four-star power forward Michael Humphrey (AZ) has narrowed his impressive list of offers down to two, but the Arizona Daily Star reports that there is no timetable for a decision from the Class of 2014 big man. Humphrey visited Arizona over the weekend, and Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins made an in-home visit with him on Monday. It appears that Notre Dame, UCLA, and Vanderbilt, who had offers on the table, are now out of the running.
  4. In the “down the road” department of recruiting, Craig Robinson and Oregon State landed a verbal commitment from Class of 2016 shooting guard JaQuori McLaughlin (WA). Citing his long relationship with the coaching staff at Oregon State and their man-to-man defense, McLaughlin wanted to jump aboard early. He averaged 13 points per game in his freshman season at Peninsula High School, but hopes to raise that average to 25 this year. Whether McLaughlin sticks with his commitment (and whether Robinson is still in Corvallis when McLaughlin finally graduates high school) remains to be seen.
  5. We keep it in Corvallis to close things up, as we learned yesterday they would be holding the annual “Nike N7 game” on November 26 against SIU-Edwardsville. This is the game where Oregon State wears the turquoise jerseys to bring attention to the initiative that helps Native communities across the country get access to products that encourage participation in sports. It is nice to see the tradition continue even after Joe Burton, who grew up on the Soboba Reservation in Southern California, graduated after last season.
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Morning Five: 10.24.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 24th, 2013

morning5

  1. The last time anyone saw UCLA’s mammoth center Josh Smith, this equally hilarious but also pathetic GIF was the result. To everyone else, the Airball Layup Incident may have been just another amusing moment during a somewhat meaningless Bruins’ home opener against Indiana State, but to College Basketball Nation it was a spot-on encapsulation of Smith’s disappointing career. In two up-and-down years in Westwood, nobody had denied the 6’10″ center’s soft hands and nice touch around the basket — the problem was that, because of his — how should we put this? — excessive weight problem, he simply could not get up and down the floor. In his freshman and sophomore seasons, he hovered around 20 MPG despite logging solid offensive ratings and commanding the offensive glass (top 15 nationally in offensive rebounding percentage both seasons). Shortly after the ALI, Smith decided to transfer to Georgetown, and yesterday the NCAA handed down its decision on his eligibility request to play immediately. Shockingly, despite that fact that Smith played in six UCLA games before his transfer and didn’t move closer to home to care for an ailing family member (he’s from Seattle), the governing body decided to give him two full years, effective immediately, to play for the Hoyas. As Gary Parrish writes in comparing the Smith decision with NCAA precedent, “For now, though, I’ll just sit here baffled.”
  2. Speaking of baffling, the narrative coming out of preseason practices and scrimmages is sounding off like a fog horn at this point. The new officiating points of emphasis suggest that hand-checking on the perimeter will be called early and often, and if you believe the buzz around the country, some coaches are downright terrified. ACC microsite writer Brad Jenkins wrote last week that his viewing of the scrimmage during Duke’s Countdown to Craziness was “foul-plagued,” and if this box score from a recent secret scrimmage between Xavier and Ohio U. is any further indication — there were 71 fouls and 91 free throw attempts in that game — they should be. It got so bad that two players were whistled for seven fouls in that contest, while a third was called for six. The process of re-learning how to defend on the perimeter is not something that many players can solve overnight, so although the college basketball product should be more free-flowing and ultimately better in the long run, the first month of this season could have more than a few games where the second units are playing in crunch time.
  3. It’s the classic deal with the devil: At what point does a person’s value to an organization no longer outweigh the trouble that he causes? In the case of Maryland assistant coach Dalonte Hill, the answer has until now remained on the positive side of the ledger. After Hill’s third DUI arrest in the last five years (and second while employed under Mark Turgeon at Maryland), the 34-year old who is reportedly the highest-paid assistant coach in the country, is certainly testing the integrity of that question. Since Hill’s Sunday night car crash and arrest, he is taking a leave of absence from the program, but the underlying issue that is surely on the minds of his employer is that he is one of the very best (and connected) recruiters in the sport. His ties to the Washington-area AAU program called DC Assault has allowed the Terps to get involved with local prep products that simply weren’t available to them under Gary Williams. It will certainly be interesting to see how Maryland brass decides to handle this, but there’s absolutely no way that they’ll completely remove him. He’s not quite below the horizontal line just yet.
  4. Notre Dame is one of the three new teams joining the ACC this season, and the whole conceptual framework behind it still feels a little unreal. But playing the likes of Duke, North Carolina and Maryland to go along with former Big East foes Syracuse and Pittsburgh will certainly feel real enough to Mike Brey in short order. In this article from Matt Fortuna at ESPN.com, Brey discusses the hoop-jumping and maneuvering that his program had to do to get into the basketball league of his wildest dreams, the ACC. Dreams do come true, apparently, as a rumored possible move to the Big 12 a couple of years ago would have been Brey’s “worst nightmare.” With an experienced and talented backcourt returning for the Irish to go along with Brey’s proven ability to get the most from his players, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see him challenging those schools near the top of his new league’s pecking order as soon as this winter.
  5. To most fans in today’s college basketball environment, a scheduled game three years away between Kentucky and UTEP would be virtually meaningless. But to fans of the sport who know their history and are aware that in 1966 UTEP was called Texas Western, such a potential game raises more than a few eyebrows. Current UTEP head coach Tim Floyd told a tipoff audience on Wednesday that his school and Kentucky are exploring a rematch of the most historic college basketball game of all-time — the Brown vs. Board of Education of college basketball — Texas Western vs. Kentucky, in 2016. The date would signify the 50th anniversary of the first game where an all-black Texas Western starting lineup knocked off favored and all-white Kentucky in the national championship game in College Park, Maryland. If things go right with this idea, they will hold the game on MLK Day in Cole Field House, the exact site of the start of the cultural revolution in college basketball.
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Big East M5: 10.23.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on October 23rd, 2013

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  1. Just weeks before the start of the 2013-14 season, Marquette forward Jameel McKay has decided to leave the Golden Eagles to pursue his college basketball career elsewhere. Marquette Tribune writer Patrick Leary was especially taken aback by the announcement, based on a conversation he had with McKay just days earlier, when he “raved about how excited he was to play for Buzz and the Golden Eagles.” McKay, a junior college transfer who did not log any time for Marquette last season, was expected to be behind forwards Davante Gardner, Chris Otule, and Jamil Wilson at the forward spots. Leary speculates that playing time may have been a concern for the junior, although time would have opened up next season when all three of those players will have graduated. There do not seem to be any hard feelings between McKay and the program, at least based on his Twitter feed where he stated: ““I appreciate the coaching staff and fans no hard feeling at all GoodLuck to them this year!” shortly after announcing the transfer.
  2. Another day,another transfer player is being held up in the vortex that is the office where the NCAA clears up these matters. Today, Georgetown awaits the fate of UCLA transfer Josh Smith. Coach John Thompson III acknowledges that waiting is, in fact, the hardest part: “It’s the nature of the beast. It’s the nature of the system. Would I prefer it not be this way? Probably. But at the same time, I understand it takes time.” Smith would be a big addition to a Hoyas frontcourt that is already without forward Greg Whittington, who tore his ACL this spring after missing most of last season with academic concerns. Like Smith, Thompson doesn’t have a substantive update on Whittington’s status: “Only God knows when Greg’s going to be able to play. I have no idea when he will be able to get back on the court.”
  3.  Even within a largely new conference, DePaul‘s status remains the same. The Blue Demons have once again been voted to finish last in the league, but the players are excited for what the future holds in the Windy City. The team returns two stalwart seniors who have averaged double figure points in each of their first three years in forward Cleveland Melvin and guard Brandon Young, and adds an exciting freshman class highlighted by guard Billy Garrett Jr. To his credit, Garrett looks forward to playing on the big stage: “Playing with expectations is something I’ve gotten used to. It’s something I don’t pay that much attention to because you have to go out there and perform.” While many bemoan the loss of former conference rivals to the AAC and ACC, DePaul and other members of the Big East who struggled against the UConns and Syracuses of the world may welcome the change simply because it makes things a bit more manageable. The new league, combined with a roster that features both stars of years past and new players who are not used to all the losing years that DePaul has experienced, could make for a fresh start for a once proud program.
  4. A new league means a new court for Providence, who is set to unveil Dave Gavitt Court this season. The Friars’ new hardwood moves away from the old design, which heavily featured black, with a cleaner silver and gray look around the perimeter, and is adorned by former Providence coach, athletic director, and first Big East commissioner Dave Gavitt’s name at center court.  With so many other programs installing crazy court designs in recent years, this sleek, streamlined design is much appreciated. Now if they can just do something about the total nightmare-fuel giant inflated Friar near the tunnel at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center…
  5. As a Syracuse fan, it was hard to get excited about Hilby the German Juggle Boy as the main source of extracurricular entertainment at this year’s Midnight Madness in the Carrier Dome. Take note, Syracuse, as Seton Hall has this Midnight Madness entertainment thing figured out. During this Friday night’s event in South Orange, head men’s coach Kevin Willard and women’s coach Tony Bozzella will participate in a hot dog eating contest against the infamous Kobayashi.  If you’re a Seton Hall fan, you too can compete by entering an Instagram contest describing why you should be given a shot against Willard, Bozzella, and Kobayashi. So good luck to you, intrepid Pirates fans. I am incredibly jealous that Jim Boeheim is not participating in this one.
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Morning Five: 10.16.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 16th, 2013

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  1. Maybe we should just start calling this post the Wiggins Five, given how often Andrew Wiggins is finding his way into it without having played a single minute of college basketball. But yesterday’s news regarding the precocious Kansas freshman was more than just standard hyperbole and filler, as Bleacher Report‘s Jared Zwerling (yes, this is a first for this site; we’re just as astonished as you are) reported that the shoe giant adidas is already estimating a deal of $140-$180 million over 10 years to sign Wiggins to pitch its brand next spring (and that Nike is set to match it). By way of a comparison, Nike signed LeBron James to a then-ridiculous $93 million deal a decade ago, and that was without the benefit of ubiquitous social media tracking his every dunk, quip and Hummer purchase. Nor did James have a year of nationally-televised college basketball games to help build his overall branding — can you imagine how high the number could get if Wiggins dominates the season and leads Kansas to a national title next April — is a quarter-bill out of the question?
  2. A different class of 2013 prep star may not be looking at a nine-figure endorsement deal like Wiggins in several months, but he’s poised to make more money than the Kansas freshman (and every other freshman) for the duration of the 2013-14 season. Aquille Carr, a top 100 recruit at the point guard position, is reportedly taking David Stern’s “sage” and controversial advice about getting a better education in the NBA Development League than at one of America’s colleges by entering his name into next month’s NBADL Draft. The 5’7″ prospect from Baltimore originally committed to Seton Hall but decided to go pro before ever making it to campus, briefly entertaining the idea of playing in China before settling on his decision to come back home and settle into a year of long bus rides between Frisco, Texas and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. While we don’t know Carr’s specific issues with respect to skipping out on a subsidized education at Seton Hall, his dream of getting picked up in next year’s NBA Draft as a waterbug distributor is probably a significant long shot. For the next six months, though, he should take solace in all the pocket change that his pay scale of $13,000 to $25,500 (2013 numbers) will give him over the chumps playing for free in college.
  3. For some strange reason, four of the seven power basketball conferences have decided to have their annual media day on the same day, that is, today. The ACC (Charlotte), AAC (Memphis), Big East (New York) and SEC (Birmingham) will all introduce their coaches, players and teams at overblown events Wednesday, with the SEC taking an extraordinary two days (Wednesday and Thursday) to sell the world on its mediocre basketball product. The Pac-12 will have its annual event in San Francisco on Thursday, while the Big 12 and Big Ten had enough sense to space theirs out into later weeks. As ESPN.com‘s Dana O’Neil writes, this week’s events in Charlotte, Memphis and NYC should make for some world-class awkwardness as coaches try to size each other up and figure out who is staying and leaving. #awkwardconferencemeetups, anyone?
  4. Officiating is always going to be a point of contention among coaches, fans and media in large part because there are so many different leagues and organizations supporting the 838 Division I referees calling games across America. Inconsistency (along with its cousin, general incompetence) is the most common complaint, as people have trouble understanding how a touch foul in the ACC can be called while a mugging in the Big Ten is ignored. The NCAA has made some strides in trying to normalize the rules and criteria for calling fouls, for example, but it often seems as if the referees spend the non-conference season making calls the new way only to revert back to the old way by conference play. This year is no different. Preseason points of emphasis on hand-checking and the incomprehensible block/charge rule are the talk of coaches around the country, but as ESPN.com‘s Jeff Goodman writes, there remains a great deal of apprehension over the effect of the changes. One thing we suppose that most people can agree upon, though, is that it surely can’t get much worse?
  5. Let’s end things with some fun today. NBCSportsCollege Basketball Talk released its list of the top 20 dunkers in the game yesterday, and although you can nitpick around the edges of  any ranking like this, you’ll have a whole lot more enjoyment by just sitting back and watching the clips. It really must be the Year of the Freshman, as CBT selects two rookies among its top three (it’s not difficult figuring out who they might be). Our one quibble might be that they left out a transfer student who became infamous for perhaps the greatest missed airballed dunk layup of all-time last season — Georgetown’s Joshua Smith. But no worries — the 6’10″ jumping jack of a center will be tearing down rims at a DC-area arena near you soon.
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Pac-12 M5: 01.03.13 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on January 3rd, 2013

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  1. Despite being a senior, Kevin Parrom doesn’t mind that he’s coming off the bench for Arizona. Even though Parrom isn’t starting, he’s still averaging over 21 minutes per game and has been a key contributor thus far for the Wildcats, most notably in his last game where he had 17 points in the Diamond Head Classic final against San Diego State. As long as the Wildcats keep winning, Parrom will continue to be happy coming off the bench.
  2. For Utah, there are no more easy games. In the non-conference season, the Utes played teams like Wright State, Texas State, and Idaho State, but that won’t be happening in conference play. The Utes fell on the road to Arizona State last night in overtime, and it won’t get any easier going forward as they will take on a top five Arizona squad on Saturday. If Utah wants to have some success in conference play, they will have to continue to get impressive games out of Jordan Loveridge and Jason Washburn while continuing to play strong defense.
  3. Now that non-conference play is over in the Pac-12, CBS Sports‘ Jeff Goodman believes that it’s clear that the Pac-12 has certainly improved from last year. Arizona is back to being nationally relevant and has a chance to earn a #1 seed come March, while UCLA, Colorado, and Oregon all look poised to receive at-large bids. Stanford and Cal have been inconsistent and will need to prove themselves more in the conference season in order to be in the discussion on Selection Sunday. There still are the disappointments such as Washington and USC, but overall, the conference as a whole has much more respect than it did at this time last year.
  4. Kameron Rooks, a seven-foot center and the son of former Arizona player Sean Rooks, announced Tuesday via Twitter that he has committed to California. Besides the Golden Bears, Rooks had received offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Washington, and Connecticut. Cal could end up being the best fit for him, though, as they don’t have a trio of developing big men like Arizona and will most likely need Rooks’ play right away next year. He is listed as a three-star recruit according to Scout and Rivals, but like most seven-footers he is mostly potential at this point in his career. For Mike Montgomery, Rooks adds to a class already featuring top 25 prospect Jabari Bird and should help Montgomery continue his success at Cal.
  5. Former UCLA center Josh Smith is transferring to Georgetown. It’s no secret that Smith had a troubled career at UCLA in battling weight issues and dealing with criticism from Ben Howland. He averaged 10.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game his freshman year, but saw his numbers decline with 9.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game during his sophomore year, followed by a 5.2 point, 4.2 rebounds per game stat line in six games this season. Smith decided to go with Georgetown over Kansas, but if the talented but troubled big man cannot control his weight, it won’t matter whose uniform he puts on next season.
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Morning Five: 01.03.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 3rd, 2013

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  1. After a disappointing two-plus seasons at UCLA ended in his decision to leave the team a little over a month ago Josh Smith has decided to transfer to Georgetown. As we mentioned yesterday Smith could be a huge asset for the Hoyas if he can get his act together and lose the weight he needs to in order to become the player that many expected him to become after an outstanding freshman season. We still are not sure how Smith will fit into Georgetown’s Princeton offense, but Smith is talented enough that if he gets in shape John Thompson III will have to adjust the offense to utilize his unique skills. We are not optimistic that Smith will be able to turn his career around, but a change of scenery is probably the best thing that Smith could have if he wants to succeed.
  2. Michigan and Wisconsin are starting Big Ten play tonight, but both teams may be without key pieces in their backcourt. Michigan may be without the services of Tim Hardaway Jr., who is recovering from an ankle injury that forced him to miss the Wolverines’ game last Saturday against Central Michigan and he remains a game-time decision for their game at Northwestern. The status of Wisconsin guard Ben Brust for the Badgers’ home Big Ten opener against Penn State is also unknown after he sustained a lower leg injury during Wednesday’s practice. Very few details have been released about the extent of Brust’s injury, but the general sense that we get from what has been reported is that is not particularly severe, but more information should become available later today.
  3. In this week’s installment of Luke Winn’s Power Rankings, he takes a look at a variety of interesting statistics for his top 16 teams including our personal favorites this week–free throws per turnover for team’s that force the greatest percentage of turnover and Michael Carter-Williams’ assist distribution. The Carter-Williams graphic is something that we have seen before in various forms including last season when Winn employed it to look at how North Carolina functioned with Kendall Marshall at the point. The free throws per turnover ratio, which Winn used to point out just how effective Louisville is on defense is something we have not seen before, but at first glance appears to be an interesting stat especially when you are looking at teams that apply similar levels of pressure. As we have said before this is not a widely used stat, but don’t be surprised to see it used in March when we are trying to pick an upset where a great defensive team is facing a young point guard.
  4. Hardcore Tennessee fans may remember Tyler Summitt as a seldom used guard on Volunteer teams the past two seasons, but they most likely remember him from being around his mother, the legendary Pat Summitt (the subject of an awesome last sentence in the “Personal” section of his Tennessee player profile). After graduating from Tennessee,  Summitt headed straight into coaching as many would expect a player of his caliber, but with his coaching genes to do. What is slightly more surprising is that he went straight into coaching women’s basketball, which he is coaching at Marquette as an assistant in his first year out of college. Mechelle Voepel of ESPN has a great piece on Summitt and his life’s path that has led him to become a women’s basketball coach. It is unlikely that Tyler will ever approach the success of his mother, but if the Tennessee women’s job becomes open in a couple of years the school’s athletic director could have a very interesting decision to make.
  5. And now for our daily legal update… As we mentioned on Monday, the state of Pennsylvania has decided to file a lawsuit against the NCAA challenging the organization’s legal right to impose such severe sanctions against Penn State. Plenty of solid pieces have been written about, but the best summary we have seen comes from Michael McCann, who provides a solid breakdown of the key issues. We have already stated our issues with the NCAA in this case on Twitter and in this space before (essentially that the NCAA is overstepping its authority in dealing with these issues). Meanwhile, the Big East is attempting to move the lawsuit by Rutgers, which is attempting to get out of paying the $10 million exit fee it owes the conference on the basis that the fee has been applied unevenly. The Big East is trying to move the case from a New Jersey state Superior Court, which would presumably be sympathetic to Rutgers, to a US District Court. Rutgers can challenge the move, but the Big East’s motion seems like a perfectly reasonable request to us although that has not stopped lawyers from contesting issues in the past.
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Wrapping Up Pac-12 Non-Conference Play By Reassessing Our All-Conference Selections

Posted by AMurawa on January 2nd, 2013

Later tonight, the second leg of the Pac-12 college basketball season begins as conference play tips off with the Battle of the Bachynskis, when Utah travels to Arizona State. After last year’s nightmare of a non-conference slate, this season the conference took major strides, with Arizona’s win over Florida, UCLA’s win over Missouri, Colorado’s win over Baylor, and Oregon’s win over UNLV making up the top tier of the best wins for the conference. Before we turn our complete attention to conference play, we thought we’d hand out some awards based on the season to this point, so Connor Pelton, Parker Baruh, Pachoops’ Adam Butler and myself voted and came up with the following results.

Player of the Year

Allen Crabbe, Jr, California – Crabbe’s 20.9 PPG and efficient all-around offensive game earned three of the four votes for our player of the year, with UCLA’s Jordan Adams receiving the other vote from me. Crabbe has been a rock for the Golden Bears (well, aside from that Creighton debacle, at least), scoring in double figures in every game, helping out on the glass and, thus far, knocking down better than 38% of his shots from deep.

The Pac-12's Leading Scorer, Allen Crabbe Takes Down The Mid-season POTY Award (credit: Jeff Gross)

The Pac-12′s Leading Scorer, Allen Crabbe Takes Down The Mid-season POTY Award (credit: Jeff Gross)

Coach of the Year

Dana Altman, Oregon – Despite losing three of last year’s top four scorers, and having the other guy in that quartet – E.J. Singler – struggle through the early part of this year, the Ducks have reeled off wins in 11 of their 13 games. Altman has gotten great production out of his freshman backcourt of Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson, has folded Rice transfer Arsalan Kazemi into the mix seamlessly, and coaxed great improvement out of senior center Tony Woods. As a result, he earned three of our four votes for the COY, while Arizona State’s Herb Sendek got my support.

Freshman of the Year

Shabazz Muhammad, Fr, UCLA – After missing the first three games of the season due to an NCAA investigation into his eligibility, Muhammad has come on strong for the Bruins, scoring in double figures in all 10 of the games he’s played in on his way to 19.6 points per night. He’s just beginning to ease into the best physical shape of the season, so the expectation is that conference play will see an even better version of Shabazz. Once again, Shabazz earned three of our four votes for FrOY, with the lone dissenter (again, me) nabbing teammate Jordan Adams.

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Josh Smith Headed To Georgetown

Posted by nvr1983 on January 2nd, 2013

According to a report from Jeff Goodman, former UCLA center Josh Smith is heading to Georgetown. The talented big man, who had seen his minutes and production fall during his two-plus years at UCLA, left the school at the end of November and was reportedly also considering transferring to Kansas or Washington before on heading to Georgetown. There are plenty of questions surrounding Smith and whether or not he will ever become the player many hoped he would become, but they all are centered around one overriding theme: his weight.

Smith Could Be A Big Asset For Georgetown If They Can Keep His Weight Down

Anybody who has seen Smith play is aware of his talent and after averaging 10.9 points and 6.3 rebounds in 21.7 minutes per game as a freshman (when he was still overweight) many expected Smith to become a force on the national scene, but that never happened as he was unable to keep the weight off and his minutes decreased from 21.7 as a freshman to 17.2 as a sophomore and finally 13.5 this year as a junior. Smith’s arrival in Washington, DC will raise questions about where he will fit in Georgetown’s offense, but with his skill–he is still a potential NBA player if he gets his act together–he could be an asset for the Hoyas in his remaining year and a half of eligibility. Of course, the biggest question for John Thompson III and company is not where or how Smith will fit into their system. Instead, the question is one of Smith’s motivation and whether he is willing to work at getting in shape and keeping the weight off, which would allow him to become the superstar that many expected him to become after his freshman season.

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Big 12 M5: 12.27.12 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on December 27th, 2012

morning5_big12

  1. If the annual conference realignment fiasco has taught us one thing, it’s that the NCAA doesn’t have as much power as it once did. Coaches and media members have hinted at the idea of the major conferences and schools eventually breaking away and doing things their way, without the dozens — hundreds in basketball’s case — of small schools taking a piece of the pie. When that time draws near, stories like the Myck Kabongo investigation will not help the NCAA’s case. The NCAA is more inconsistent than midwestern weather. One player accepts cash from a booster and gets a 10-game suspension. Another player catches a ride from someone and has to sit out three games. Kabongo took a flight and worked out with NBA personnel and is suspended for 23 games. Some coaches are punished for putting schools on probation. Other coaches bolt to different jobs and win championships at blue bloods without a scratch.
  2. If you want to see what some of your favorite former college players are up to, go watch an NBA D-League game sometime. It’s a great place to pick up some “Where Are They Now” trivia questions. If you can’t stomach that (I wouldn’t blame you) take a look at the end of a college team’s bench and you might recognize a few young coaches who were recent players. Former Oklahoma State guard Keiton Page turned down the chance to play professionally overseas to begin his coaching career on the ground floor. He’s now the Cowboys’ assistant strength and conditioning coach, a title that wouldn’t surprise me if told it was created just for him. He seems to be using the opportunity as an internship for a coaching career, and this opportunity should provide him plenty of experience in the next few years.
  3. Gary Parrish’s Poll Attacks is back this week, and he doesn’t like the fact that Bruce Weber’s Kansas State team is still unranked in the Coaches poll. It’s hard to argue with any of Parrish’s points on the Wildcats, either. I figured they would debut in both polls after beating a top 10 Florida team in Kansas City last Saturday night. They got the 25th spot in the AP Poll, but are still behind New Mexico and North Carolina in the “Others Receiving Votes” category of the Coaches poll. As Parrish points out, it is hard to find a reason to put North Carolina ahead of Kansas State right now. Luckily, we have this tournament at the end of the year to settle things.
  4. Former top-rated recruit Josh Smith seems to have eaten his way out of UCLA. He struggled with his weight during most of his career with the Bruins and looked to be north of 300 pounds most of the time. He left the school not too long ago and is looking to end his career at one of three schools: Georgetown, Washington, and Kansas. Bill Self has been churning out NBA big men for years now and Kansas strength coach Andrea Hudy is one of the best in the country. Self and Hudy (and former assistant Danny Manning, too) turned Marcus and Markieff Morris from skinny reeds to solid NBA scorers. Cole Aldrich went from a clumsy tall guy to a lottery pick, and current center Jeff Withey is only the best defensive player in the country. If anyone can get Smith’s weight down and turn him into a legitimate player who can stay on the court, it is the duo of Self and Hudy.
  5. Luke Meredith of the Washington Times finally noticed what we have been saying here at RTC for a while now: The Big 12 is anything but deep this season. Can Oklahoma State challenge Kansas for the regular season conference title? That is about the only compelling discussion around the league right now. West Virginia and Baylor have underperformed. Texas has, too, but at least the Longhorns have a good reason. Kansas State looks to be good for a few upsets this season but that might be it. None of the middle-of-the-road teams like Iowa State or Oklahoma have surprised anyone either, leaving us with the Jayhawks on track to win their ninth consecutive conference title and roll to another top seed in the NCAA Tournament. Someone feel free to make things interesting.
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