Welcome to the Show, Part II: Breakout Newcomers in the Former SEC West

Posted by Christian D'Andrea on November 18th, 2014

Last week, we sorted through Kentucky’s latest five-star recruiting haul and delved into Frank Martin’s latest freshman class to determine who the SEC East’s breakout newcomers would be in 2014-15. Today, we’ll take a closer look at the first-year players who are ready to make a splash in the division once known as the SEC West. A number of high-profile junior college pickups will help teams like Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, and Mississippi replace departing talent and reload en route to a potential NCAA Tournament bid.

Alabama: Justin Coleman. Coleman was a big pick-up for Anthony Grant, and the embattled Alabama coach may need his four-star freshman to come through in a big way if he’s going to keep his job. Coleman started the Crimson Tide’s sole exhibition game and had six assists (and four turnovers) in 31 minutes as the team’s floor general. He’ll cede minutes to Ricky Tarrant – an explosive scorer from the same spot – but it looks like Coleman will have every opportunity to remain his team’s primary option at the position. He’s a diminutive player at just 160 pounds, but he has the passing instincts and shooting range to make an impact against SEC opponents as a true freshman.

Justin Coleman Can Fly (Al.com)

Justin Coleman Can Fly (Al.com)

Arkansas: Anton Beard. Beard is one of two solid point guard prospects in Fayetteville. He’s currently locked in battle with junior college transfer Jabril Durham for a role behind or alongside Rashad Madden, who can handle either guard spot. As a result, this prediction could change as the season wears on. Beard grew two inches in his senior year of high school to bolster his solid man-up defense and develop into a high-major recruit. However, he struggled to find his shot in exhibition play (25% FG). Durham had similar issues, but his JuCo experience and stronger passing from the point carried him to a start in the Hogs’ season opener last weekend. The two newcomers will see their roles expands and contract based on Mike Anderson’s offensive and defensive strategies and Madden’s availability this winter.

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Morning Five: 01.04.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 4th, 2012

  1. Kids seem to love texting these days. Almost every time I see someone college age or younger they seem to be texting someone on their phone. I am not sure why they have so much to say, but they seem to need to tell somebody something. Of course, most of them realize that there are sometimes where it is not appropriate to be sending texts. Marshall‘s Justin Coleman does not appear to be one of those people as the freshman guard was suspended indefinitely for using his cell phone to text during a loss to Belmont on Sunday. Coleman, who was a top 50 recruit and had an offer to go to Louisville before failing to qualify academically, was averaging 6.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game on a very solid Marshall team. While using a texting seems like a very minor offense doing so during a game is so idiotic that we have no idea how long Coleman will be suspended for before he is let back on the team.
  2. Missouri may have improved to 14-0 last night, but their shrinking roster has to be of some concern to their fans as they lost Kadeem Green yesterday when the redshirt freshman announced that he would be transferring. While the Tigers appear to be firing on all cylinders although against an admittedly weak schedule it has to be concerning that they now only have seven scholarship players and only two of those players are taller than 6’6″. We have been impressed by what the Tigers have done so far, but with their lack of size and depth we cannot imagine that their torrid shooting (#1 in the nation in effective field goal percentage at 59.6% at the time this was posted) will keep up and suspect that those shortcomings may rear their ugly head at an inopportune time later in the season.
  3. Yesterday, we brought you an annual stock report from Seth Davis where he rated teams based on buy, sell, and hold ratings. That was followed up by column from his colleague Luke Winn revising some of the predictions that Winn had made back in October. Winn touches on everything from the surprising/disappointing teams, players  living up to or falling short of expectations, and overall conference strength. While it lacks the fancy graphs and volume of advanced statistical analysis we usually see from Winn it is a solid accompaniment to the Davis stock report from the day before.
  4. Have you ever really hated an opposing player? All of us have had at least one experience where we grew to hate a rival player. However, most of us do not go to the lengths that Iona point guard Scott Machado did growing up. In a profile in The Wall Street Journal, Machado discusses his hatred of Michael Jordan, who tortured Machado’s favorite NBA team the New York Knicks. He grew to despise Jordan so much that Machado, born Michael Scott Machado, told people to stop calling him Michael, Mike, or any variation of it. In addition to that amusing anecdote, the piece also discusses Machado’s growth as a player and how his experience playing for Brazil in the World University Games this past summer helped raise his game to another level.
  5. One of the ongoing debates in the college basketball world is the place of advanced statistics versus going by what you see on the court. As we have said before in this space, we like to adopt a hybrid approach where we combine the two. Kevin Pelton of  Basketball Prospectus appears to feel the same way and explains his thought process Venn diagrams to show the intersection of scouting, individual stats, and plus-minus stats. The first two categories are probably what you would consider traditional scouting categories while the third would presumably fall under the sabermetric category although it is used so frequently and is so basic in its original form that some would almost consider it antiquated. Using various college and NBA examples, Pelton argues that while we should consider all three areas we also need to consider context adjusting for sample size and at times we need to weigh some categories as relatively more or less important than other categories. We think that this something that all but the most ardent traditional or advanced sabermetric practitioner can agree upon.
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The 13 Best Midnight Madness Dunks of 2011

Posted by rtmsf on October 16th, 2011

It wouldn’t be Midnight Madness without a dunk contest (or a hundred), so we fished around to find the 13 best dunks from the opening weekend’s many extravaganzas.  There are some impressive flushes here, but nothing like Keion Bell’s record-breaker from last season, so if you know of something better send it to us @rushthecourt or rushthecourt@yahoo.com for inclusion.

#13.75.  Another late addition — Rhode Island’s Jonathan “Sponge” Holton soaking up all kinds of nasty with this 360.

#13.5.  A late addition (sent from reader, Dennis) — Reggie Smith of UNLV uses all 5’9″ of his frame to get after this one.  Unreal.

#13. Mitchell Watt of Buffalo Performs the Very Difficult Two-Ball Dunk.

#12. Marshall’s Justin Coleman Completes an Impossible Side-Backboard 360 (stick with it).

#11. White Men CAN Jump! (Duke’s Miles Plumlee Over His Brother).

#10. The Involvement of People in Farm Animal Costumes is Always Worthwhile (Minnesota’s Rodney Williams).

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RTC Summer Updates: Conference USA

Posted by Brian Goodman on July 18th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our newest update comes courtesy of our Conference USA correspondent, Steve Coulter.

Reader’s Take I

Summer Storylines

  • Joe Jackson Goes Patriotic: The Memphis guard and MVP of the CUSA Championship was selected as a member of USA Basketball’s U-19 Would Championship squad on June 23. After a week of training camp, Jackson was among the final twelve players selected by the USA Basketball committee. The squad left for Europe on June 30 and returned July 10. While Team USA disappointed in finishing fifth, Jackson more than held his own against some of the top international talent in the world, averaging over 11 points and 4 assists in 9 games. Jackson was accompanied to Latvia for the competition with eleven other collegiate sophomores including Michigan State’s Keith Appling, Villanova’s James Bell, Stanford’s Anthony Brown, Arizona State’s Jahii Carson, Michigan’s Tim Hardaway, Jr., Connecticut’s Jeremy Lamb, Illinois’ Meyers Leonard, Creighton’s Doug McDermott, North Texas’ Tony Mitchell, Butler’s Khyle Marshall and Florida’s Patric Young.

Memphis guard Joe Jackson was a bright spot for Team USA in Latvia, despite a fifth-place finish in the FIBA U-19 World Championships. (Vytautas Mikaitis)

  • Thundering Herd Runs Deep: Marshall already had one of the more loaded backcourts heading into the 2011-12 season with stars Damier Pitts and DeAndre Kane, but with the addition of Justin Coleman, a one-time Louisville commit, the Thundering Herd will certainly have the deepest backcourt the conference has to offer. Coleman sat out last year, but he will be coming off the bench as a shooting guard this season. Along with Coleman, junior college transfers Robert Goff and Dennis Tinnon will be new faces for the Herd. Goff and Tinnon are strong power forwards, looking to aid a weak Marshall frontcourt.
  • Memphis Coaching Legend Larry Finch Passes Away: Former Memphis coach Larry Finch passed away from natural causes at Saint Francis Hospital in Memphis on April 2 at the age of 60. Finch finished his career with the most wins in Tiger basketball history, a record he still holds today. Before leading the Tigers from 1986-97, Finch was a player at Memphis from 1970-73 and worked as an assistant at his alma mater from 1979-86. He passed away as not only a celebrated coach of the game, but a rare influence at the collegiate level. During his 11-year stint as head coach, Finch had seven 20-win seasons, made six NCAA appearances, amassed 220 wins and propelled 7 former players into NBA Draft selections. He finished his career with a loaded resume, having taken his alma mater to the Final Four, getting his jersey retired by the program and becoming the school’s all-time winningest coach.

Power Rankings

  1. Memphis: Freshman swingman Adonis Thomas, the No. 16 ranked prospect on Scout Inc.’s Top 100, is the conference’s best newcomer and he joins the already lethal Wesley Witherspoon as a scorer on a loaded Tigers roster that includes two of the nation’s best young guards in Joe Jackson and Will Barton. Head coach Josh Pastner can continue his Conference USA dominance this season, but the Tigers need to play solid defense and claim more out of conference wins then they did last season. Otherwise, they will be playing for their NCAA Tournament lives again come March.  As of now, Witherspoon and Barton are two of only four Conference USA prospects in the Top 100, ranking in at No. 79 and No. 80, respectively. Read the rest of this entry »
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Morning Five: 08.30.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 30th, 2010

  1. It’s been a rough summer for Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, and things haven’t gotten any better as we head into the upcoming Labor Day weekend.  Two players expected to contribute on the wing for the 2010-11 Cardinals will not be eligible.  The biggest hit comes in the form of Memphis transfer Roburt Sallie, who was attempting to take advantage of a transfer rule that allows a player to play immediately at his new school if he has already graduated and his school does not offer post-graduate training in his area of study (see: Alabama’s Justin Knox to UNC as but one example).  Well, Sallie failed to graduate from Memphis over the summer in time to enroll at Louisville, so he will not be allowed to utilize the rule.  Additionally, incoming freshman Justin Coleman, a top fifty scoring guard from Huntington, WV, is also ineligible.  Louisville clawed its way to a mediocre season by its lofty standards last year (20-13, 1st round NCAA loss), but frankly, we’re having trouble seeing how Pitino is going to coax his current roster back into the Big Dance.
  2. Meanwhile, a little farther east on the interstate, John Calipari continues to enjoy the Midas touch with his recruits.  Despite Mike Gilchrist’s tweeting about taking three official visits on Friday night, conventional wisdom is that he’s still strongly committed to Kentucky and will end up in Lexington a year from now.  On Saturday, UK received a commitment from another elite player in the Class of 2011, Kyle Wiltjer, a 6’9 forward from Oregon who proves that Calipari is keeping that Pacific Northwest pipeline greased and fertile.   Additionally, 6’11 transfer forward (and former Florida Gator) Eloy Vargas was declared eligible over the weekend and will have two seasons remaining with the Wildcats.  The only missing piece for Cal’s 2010-11 team remains the eligibility limbo that Enes Kanter is in over questions about his amateur status.  The way things are going in Lexington these days, expect him to be declared eligible by Midnight Madness.
  3. Ray Holloman at Fanhouse deconstructs the Big East’s decision to continue with the double-bye system for the top four seeds of the Big East Tournament.  The basic premise: the Big East is loaded in positions one through eight, much more so than any other conference.  No wonder the coaches unanimously voted for a sixteen-team bracket scenario — it gives those at the top an opportunity for an easy first-round win before getting down to serious business among the quarterfinal teams, most of whom are NCAA-caliber in a given year.  Great analysis.
  4. LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent-St. Mary (OH), Dru Joyce, stated late last week that Xavier University is now his “enemy,” and that the school would no longer be allowed to recruit his players after what he describes as the unnecessary pushing of one of his stars to a prep school for 2010-11.  JaKarr Sampson is a rising senior who shot up the summer recruiting rankings after a strong showing at LeBron’s Skills Academy, but according to his mother, it is she, not XU, who is responsible for sending her son to prep school Brewster Academy (NH) because of his lackluster academic record.  Weird situation, there.
  5. This BYU to the WAC or WCC thing is getting even more fascinating than we thought possible.  As the Salt Lake Tribune reported on Sunday, BYU is expected to announce complete independence in football and a move to one of the other “W” conferences in all other sports as soon as today.  The deadline that the school has to inform the Mountain West Conference if it plans to leave is Wednesday of this week, and all indications are that it will take that step despite the MWC’s counter-poach of two of the more valuable properties in the WAC, Fresno State and Nevada.  Open records requests revealed that “The Project” to target BYU was originally a WAC retaliatory measure for the MWC’s nabbing of Boise State during the early-summer conference realignment madness.  Ironically, Nevada president Milt Glick was the first person to use the code name to target BYU on the record, yet it was his school in Reno that jumped at the chance to join the MWC within mere hours of the offer.  Wild stuff going on out there in the Great Basin.
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Marquis Teague To Kentucky

Posted by jstevrtc on April 22nd, 2010

Marquis Teague, the top-rated point guard and fourth-ranked player overall in the high school class of 2011, announced moments ago that he planned to attend Kentucky and play for John Calipari a couple of autumns from now.  This news had been unofficially broken on Twitter yesterday by Teague’s friend Tony Wroten, Jr., another highly ranked (and still undecided) PG prospect in the class of 2011, so today’s announcement came as little surprise.

Teague is the latest Kentucky commit. There will be more. (IndyStar)

This verbal gives Calipari his second top 5 prospect for 2011 in the last week.  The top-ranked player in that class, 6’7 SF Michael Gilchrist, committed to Kentucky last Wednesday, the same day that big-time PG prospect Brandon Knight decided to bring his skills to Lexington for next season.  As if that week weren’t good enough, at Saturday’s Jordan Brand Classic (so-called) in New York City, Doron Lamb, a 6’4 shooting guard ranked in the top 30 for 2010, also pledged to Kentucky.  And the commitments — for both 2011 and 2010 — don’t look to be done, yet.

Despite the lack of surprise, Teague’s verbal today is also noteworthy because of where he isn’t going.  Hoop fans know all about Marquis’ brother Jeff Teague, the former star at Wake Forest and current Atlanta Hawk, but Teague’s father Shawn played for Rick Pitino at Boston University.  Like Jeff before him, Marquis stars for Pike High School in Indianapolis, not even a two hour drive from Louisville.  The Cardinals could use a point guard now that Edgar Sosa’s gone.  We’re not saying the two things are related or how much effect it ever really could have had, but as of late last season Pitino’s staff at Louisville includes a former assistant at Pike High School named Shabaka Lands, hired as “special assistant to the head coach.”  It’s easy to see how badly Pitino wanted Teague, and with the Cardinals having only (as of now) one verbal commitment from a player within the ESPNU-100 — 6’5 SG Justin Coleman, from Huntington WV — and considering that Teague was at one time considered a virtual lock for Louisville, Cardinal supporters are worried that Teague’s verbal commitment today is an indicator of how highly-ranked high school prospects regard these two programs in the Bluegrass State.

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