Rushed Reactions: #4 Kansas 65, #7 Kentucky 61

Posted by Walker Carey on November 15th, 2017

RTC is providing coverage of the Champions Classic in Chicago.

Three Key Takeaways.

Kansas and Kentucky Battled It Out in Chicago Tonight (USA Today Images)

  1. This was the very definition of an early season college basketball game. After the first game of the Champions Classic exhibited two elite teams duking it out to the end in very exciting fashion, the second game between Kansas and Kentucky — while also close — left something to be desired. The Jayhawks earned the 65-61 victory despite shooting just 35.3 percent from the field, 28.6 percent from the three-point line, and 56.3 percent from the charity stripe. The starting backcourt was even worse — Devonte’ Graham, LaGerald Vick and Malik Newman shot just 11-of-41 for the game. Kentucky shot the ball somewhat better –finishing at 41.8 percent from the field — but torpedoed its chance to win with 18 turnovers. These ugly performances certainly make sense when you consider Kansas is clearly still adjusting to life without Frank Mason II and Josh Jackson, and Kentucky is once again breaking in an entirely new rotation. There are more growing pains coming for both teams as they maneuver through the regular season, but the talent is definitely there for each team to be a factor in both its conference and the national landscape.
  2. Hamidou Diallo and Kevin Knox gave Kentucky fans a glimpse of the future. While several Kentucky freshmen struggled on the big stage in Chicago tonight, Diallo and Knox showed flashes of what made them such highly-sought recruits in the first place. Diallo’s speed and athleticism were on full display, as his tenacious defense bothered the Kansas backcourt all night and led to several difficult shots. The Wildcats, on the other hand, needed someone to step up offensively and Knox provided that boost. The freshman scored a game-high 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting (3-of-6 from the three-point line). Freshman growth is not linear, but both Diallo and Knox took substantial steps in the right direction in tonight’s defeat.
  3. Kansas needs to find a way to get Udoka Azubuike more touches. In a game where Kansas struggled to get normal production from its backcourt, it instead found great success in pounding the ball inside to sophomore seven-footer Azubuike. The big man finished the game with 13 points and eight rebounds while making all five of his shots from the field. It was baffling to understand how he only got five shot attempts in 34 minutes — especially considering how poorly Kansas shot from the perimeter — but Bill Self made it known in his postgame remarks that his guards need to do a better job of getting the ball to Azubuike.

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Introducing the RTC Preseason All-America Teams

Posted by Walker Carey on November 8th, 2017

With the season tipping off on Friday, there’s no better time to roll out our 2017-18 RTC Preseason All-America Teams. More than anything, these three groups of outstanding players are here to foster and encourage discussion over the next four months. Our crack panel of 10 writers provided their ballots over the last week and this is where we ended up.

First Team All-Americans

  • Jalen Brunson, Villanova – There are few things more daunting in college basketball than a talented team with a heady, veteran playmaker at the point guard position. Brunson certainly fits that bill, as he enters the season with great expectations following a sophomore campaign where the point guard earned unanimous all-Big East honors while averaging 14.7 points and 4.1 assists per game. Villanova is the preseason favorite to win the Big East title — and if that prediction comes true, it will be Brunson’s third in three years running the show for Jay Wright’s squad. Factoid: Many players with Brunson’s pedigree would at least test the NBA Draft waters either after their freshman or sophomore seasons, but Brunson is different, stating, “The NBA is not going anywhere. I can wait. I can still get better. I can still get my degree. That’s the approach I had. I talked it over with my parents, and they’re just 100 percent fully supporting me. So that’s where I am.”
  • Allonzo Trier, Arizona – Arizona experienced some offcourt drama late in the offseason when longtime assistant Book Richardson was arrested by the FBI on charges of bribery, corruption, conspiracy, and fraud stemming from improper conduct on the recruiting trail. That news figures to overshadow much of Arizona’s early season — which is a real shame, as the Wildcats are projected to be among the nation’s best teams. A major reason for that is the return of Trier for his junior year. The talented wing returned from a 19-game performance enhancing drug suspension during his sophomore season to lead the Wildcats to the Pac-12 regular season and tournament titles. Many were surprised when Trier opted to return to Tucson in lieu of entering the NBA Draft, but he has acknowledged that last season’s suspension definitely factored in his decision to come back to school. Factoid: Trier was the subject of a New York Times Magazine feature when he was in sixth grade that highlighted his precocious basketball ability at a young age with an introduction to the AAU scene.
  • Michael Porter Jr., Missouri – A coaching change can often make a massive difference in a program’s fortunes. That was definitely the case with Missouri when the Tigers fired Kim Anderson in March after an underwhelming tenure and replaced him with Cal’s Cuonzo Martin, a coach who has long enjoyed a sterling reputation for his ability to recruit at a high level. Martin hiring paid off almost immediately when he secured the services of Porter, who was listed by 247Sports as the third-best player in the Class of 2017. The 6’10” forward will provide Missouri with scoring on the wing and has the versatility to defend a variety of positions. The Tigers are projected as one of the most improved teams in the country — and with Porter now in the fold, it will be intriguing to see just how far they can advance in the postseason. Factoid: It is a family affair for the Porters in Columbia this year, as Michael Porter, Sr. is an assistant coach, Jontay Porter reclassified to play with his brother, sisters Bri and Cierra Porter play for the women’s team, and aunt Robin Pingeton is the head coach of that women’s team.
  • Miles Bridges, Michigan State – Michigan State was the recipient of one of the best offseason surprises when the sure-fire lottery pick Bridges decided to return to East Lansing for his sophomore year. Once the national shock of the decision wore off, it became clear the Spartans would be one of the teams to beat in college basketball this season. Bridges will look to build on a terrific freshman year where he averaged 16.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. With a strong supporting cast in tow and uncertainty with many teams in the Big Ten, the star sophomore should lead the Spartans to a prosperous season on both the conference and national landscapes. Factoid: Like most of us, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo assumed Bridges would be a one-and-done player, going so far as to joke about how Bridges will have to carry bags this year as an NBA rookie. In response, Bridges may have hinted at his ultimate decision by questioning, “Coach, why you always trying to get rid of me?”
  • Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame – It is not a stretch for anyone to reference Colson as the most unique player in college basketball. After a turn as a significant role player on Notre Dame’s Elite Eight teams in 2015 and 2016, Colson became The Man in South Bend during his junior season. Standing at just 6’6″, Colson was the only ACC player last year to average a double-double — 17.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Notre Dame currently finds itself in one of the most successful stretches the program has ever had, and with the talented and experienced Colson as its go-to guy, look for the Irish to continue that run this season. Factoid: Throughout Colson’s career, he has stayed true to two beliefs: play hungry and stay humble. The ACC Preseason Player of the Year vows that will not change as he enters his senior season as one of the country’s top players.

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Seven Sweet Scoops: Ferguson Decommits, Thon Maker Visits Kansas & More…

Posted by Sean Moran on March 7th, 2016

7sweetscoops

Seven Sweet Scoops is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week throughout the season he will bring you seven notes from the high-stakes world of college basketball recruiting. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Fouldedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date 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.

Note: Scout.com used for all player rankings.

1. Five-Star Senior Decommits From Alabama

Small forward Terrance Ferguson had been the biggest commitment in Avery Johnson’s short tenure at Alabama, but the No. 13 player in the senior class decided to re-open his recruitment last week. Questions circulated in November regarding the strength of Ferguson’s commitment when he failed to sign a National Letter of Intent with the Crimson Tide on signing day. At the time his mother referenced a possible signing ceremony as the reason for the delay, but that never came to fruition. Schools like Kansas and Baylor were heavily involved in Ferguson’s recruitment and both will certainly try to get back into the picture. One school that was not involved was St. John’s, but members of the Red Storm coaching staff watched the 6’7″ high-flyer play last week. The five-star wing has a game ready-made for the NBA. With a picture perfect jump shot and explosive leaping ability, Ferguson’s strengths are hitting deep jumpers and finishing at the rim with highlight reel dunks. Ferguson has also been a mainstay in USA Basketball circles, winning gold medals on the U-16, U-17, and U-19 teams the last several years. Ferguson currently plays for Advanced Prep International (API) in Dallas, which has a similar make-up to the old Prime Prep teams.

2. Kevin Knox Watched Duke-North Carolina Saturday

Just one year ago, Kevin Knox was a lightly regarded sophomore at Tampa (FL) Catholic; now a junior, the 6’7” forward has risen up the rankings so fast that he is in the midst of a big-time recruiting battle between two of college basketball’s biggest blue-bloods. Knox made a weekend trip to North Carolina a few weeks ago where he split time between the Duke and UNC campuses, and he was back in the area on Saturday to catch the rivalry game in Durham. Knox, an athletic power forward with nice touch out to the three-point line, ranks as the No. 6 prospect in his class. Coach K is selling him on being the school’s next Brandon Ingram, but Kansas — the latest school to offer Knox –and Kentucky are also showing interest. Knox’s father played football at Florida State, so the Seminoles are a dark horse school in this recruitment.

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Sweet Seven Scoops: Andrew Jones Playing for 5-Star Status, Shoe Rivalries, & More

Posted by Sean Moran on December 9th, 2015

7sweetscoops

Seven Sweet Scoops is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week throughout the season he will bring you seven notes from the high-stakes world of college basketball recruiting. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Fouldedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date 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.

Note: Scout.com used for all player rankings.

1. Andrew Jones Makes a Play for 5-Star Status

Shooting guard Andrew Jones was one of the hottest names on the summer AAU circuit and his rise is still going strong with the tip of the high school basketball season. The wiry point guard from Texas recently averaged 33.0 points and seven rebounds over two games in the prestigious Thanksgiving Hoopfest against two of the top guards in the country. In his first game, Jones dropped 37 points against 2017 guard Trae Young and then in a mano y mano battle against future Kentucky guard De’Aron Fox, he scored 29 more. When offers started pouring in last summer, it looked like Jones’ recruitment was going to end quickly with official visits to Arizona and Louisville. Now, Jones is also considering SMU, Baylor and he has an official visit next weekend in Austin when Texas takes on North Carolina. The Irving, Texas, native is currently ranked No. 30 in the 2016 class and will make a strong push for McDonald’s All-American status as his senior season progresses.

2. Shoe Wars: Getting Ready for 2016

All eyes will be on New York City come the weekend of April 15-17. That weekend marks the first live recruiting period for college coaches and both Nike and Under Armour will be hosting their inaugural AAU events in the basketball mecca. This will be Nike’s first foray into New York City since the company kicked off its Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) and will coincide with the Jordan Brand Classic, an All-Star event at the Barclays Center for some of the top players in the class of 2015. Last year, Under Armour had one of their AAU weekends just outside of New York City, but two of the main players in grassroots basketball are raising the bar this year. You can certainly bet that all of the college coaches that will be out on the road in April will appreciate both rivals hosting their events within easy driving distance of each other. Read the rest of this entry »

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