Last Week’s Villanova and Marquette Tournament Runs Spurred by Freshmen

Posted by George Hershey on December 4th, 2013

The college basketball world was amazed by Villanova’s surprising run to the Battle 4 Atlantis championship last weekend. After having a relatively easy start to the season, the Wildcats landed in the Bahamas and beat USC prior to a match-up with the #2 ranked team in the nation, Kansas, followed by a battle against #23 Iowa in the title game. Seasoned veterans James Bell, JayVaughn Pinkston and Ryan Arcidiacono helped lead the team on its stunning run, but the play of freshmen Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins, especially in the championship game, was instrumental and a major reason the Wildcats came out on top.

Josh Hart helped secure the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship (Tim Aylen/AP)

Josh Hart helped secure the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship
(Tim Aylen/AP)

Marquette also made a run to the championship game of the Wooden Legacy tournament in California. Although the Golden Eagles lost to San Diego State in a tight championship game on Sunday night, leading scorer Davante Gardner played with the flu and Derrick Wilson looked to have hurt his groin, rendering him mostly incapable of playing in the second half. Despite those problems, Buzz Williams’ team was able to make it a close game and had a chance to win at the end because of the remarkable play of freshman Deonte Burton. Fellow freshman JaJuan Johnson also was instrumental in beating Cal State Fullerton and played well against Arizona State in the other two games.

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Season In Review: Villanova Wildcats

Posted by mlemaire on May 6th, 2013

After an incredibly disappointing 13-19 finish to last season, coach Jay Wright was starting to hear murmurs of discontent from a Wildcats’ fan base that had watched their team slowly fade into obscurity following a 2009 run to the Final Four. Entering this season the pressure was on Wright to prove that he could get the program headed in the right direction again, and he rose to the challenge… barely. The Wildcats finished 20-14 on the season and 10-8 in conference play, which was good enough to slot them eighth, but they made the NCAA Tournament on the backs of three wins over the conference’s three best teams — Louisville, Georgetown, and Syracuse — and there was still plenty to be concerned about in Nova Nation. They will be looking to take another step forward next season, but first let’s take a trip back and review Villanova’s 2012-13 season.

Preseason Expectations

Coming off that ugly season and losing their two best offensive players — Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek — the Wildcats were not expected to make a lot of noise this year. Both the coaches in the conference and our writers here at the microsite pegged Villanova as the 12th-best team in the Big East because of question marks about where the offense would come from and how quickly the new faces would get adjusted. Most who followed college basketball knew that the Wildcats had more veteran talent than some of the other squads ranked ahead of them, but after watching them falter with much of the same talent the year before, it was tough to believe that Villanova was capable of finishing in the top half of the conference.

Freshman Guard Ryan Arcidiacono Was Instrumental In Getting Villanova Back To The NCAA Tournament (U.S. Presswire)

Freshman Guard Ryan Arcidiacono Was Instrumental In Getting Villanova Back To The NCAA Tournament (U.S. Presswire)

The Good

There were plenty of positives for both individuals on the Villanova roster and the team itself, but if we were ranking them in order of their importance, the two-game stretch where they beat Louisville and then Syracuse in late January basically saved the Wildcats’ season. They had lost three straight conference games heading into that brutal stretch, and even though they were both home wins, they were still crucial to making ‘Nova believe they could hang with anyone. The team itself had its good pieces and its bad ones. The defense ranked in the top 30 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency and the offense got a boost from the fact that the Wildcats were the very best in the country when it came to free throw to field goal ratio. Wright also knew that certain players would need to step up if the Wildcats were going to be a factor this season, and luckily some players rose to the occasion. Senior center Mouphtaou Yarou (9.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 47.8%FG) capped a solid career on the Main Line with a dependable senior campaign, improving his free-throw shooting by nearly 10 percentage points and crashing the boards even harder in conference play (9.7 RPG). It took sophomore JayVaughn Pinkston (13.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 46.6 FG%) half a season to find his footing,  but once he did, he consistently scored in double figures and became a match-up nightmare for opposing teams. Freshman point guard Ryan Arciadiacono (11.9 PPG, 3.5 APG, 34.3% FG) averaged 34 minutes per game and proved he was more than capable of being a Big East point guard.

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Who’s Got Next? Kentucky Adds Two More Studs; Selden Decides For Kansas…

Posted by CLykins on October 17th, 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 who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. 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.

Young and Lee Join Historic Kentucky Class

Young’s Addition Bolsters UK’s Already Star-Studded Class (US Presswire)

If your familiar with the phrase “the rich get richer”, that describes Kentucky basketball recruiting. After landing a pair of top-five prospects from the class of 2013, twin brothers Aaron and Andrew Harrison, the Kentucky Wildcats received verbal commitments from two more highly ranked 2013 prospects, in the form of James Young last Thursday and Marcus Lee on Wednesday afternoon. Young is a 6’6″ shooting guard out of Rochester High School (Michigan) and is the No. 5 ranked prospect in the ESPN 100. Lee, a 6’9″ power forward out of Deer Valley High School (California), is the No. 28 ranked recruit. Along with Kentucky, Young listed Kansas, Michigan State and Syracuse in his final four while Lee had just listed California as his only other possible destination. Young and Lee will now join the Harrison twins and unranked prospect Derek Willis as a part of Kentucky’s 2013 recruiting class.

“Kentucky has always been my dream school,” said Young, who revealed his choice by holding up a “Kentucky Bound” blue T-shirt. “I’m not just looking for the NBA. I’m looking for an education and a national championship and that’s about it.” Young emerged as a prime recruiting target for the Wildcats in the spring and had listed Kentucky as the team to beat for his services since the summer. Young has made two consecutive visits to Lexington, once for Kentucky’s alumni weekend and the other this past weekend for “Big Blue Madness.”

Kentucky will now possess the most lethal perimeter trio in all of college basketball for the 2013-14 season with the addition of Young to complement the Harrison twins. In the left-handed Young, the Wildcats are getting one of the best pure scoring guards in the country. An aggressive scorer who can stroke it from deep or utilize his mid-range game, Young is exceptional at scoring off the catch and has a plethora of moves to get to the rim. On the defensive end, he uses his athleticism and length well to disrupt the opposition. The one aspect of his game that needs the most work is his ball-handling. In transition, he can fill lanes but with improved ball security, he could be even more deadlier running the fast break and making plays for either himself or his teammates.

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Big East M5: 10.11.12 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on October 11th, 2012

  1. Louisville coach Rick Pitino went on the radio earlier this week to talk about all things Cardinals’ basketball and The Card Chronicle was generous enough to extract the key points from the conversation. The most interesting tidbit for us was Pitino’s praise of sophomore guard Kevin Ware. Ware landed at Louisville last season after a mini-recruiting scandal involving his courtship to Central Florida but he struggled picking up the offense after only gaining his eligibility in December and he was asked to play out of position as a backup point guard. Now, according to Pitino, he has worked hard to improve his shot and his athleticism and has stood out so much in practice that Ware is currently the team’s starting shooting guard… ahead of the mercurial Russ Smith. Of course you will probably see a lot of Smith this season, but if Ware starts living up to his vast potential, Louisville will be scary good this season.
  2. The list of College Basketball’s Top 100 players from CBSSports.com came out Monday and while we don’t want to spend too much time trading in irrelevancies, we do want to talk about how happy we are to see that the Big East’s top representative is Georgetown sophomore Otto Porter, who checked in at No. 16, ahead of the more recognizable and popular picks, Gorgui Dieng and Peyton Siva. You will see next week that we didn’t pick Porter as our preseason player of the year, but some of us feel like we may regret that choice as the season goes on. Porter is still relatively unknown on the national scene, but you can expect that to change quickly now that he is the focal point of the Hoyas’ offense.
  3. Apparently Villanova‘s recent on-court struggles have not adversely affected Jay Wright’s ability to recruit, especially in Washington, DC. The Wildcats recently collected a commitment from 6’5″wing Josh Hart who couples with 6’6″ power forward Kris Jenkins to give the program a pair of top-100 recruits from the District. Jenkins is an undersized bruiser in the mold of a less-skilled, more physical JayVaughn Pinkston. Hart will likely play on the wing, but he is versatile and athletic enough to play multiple positions. If he can become more aggressive offensively and continue to develop his outside shooting, he will be a big-time, multi-year contributor for Wright.
  4. Early in September we learned that precocious Providence freshman Ricky Ledo would only be allowed to practice with the Friars this season, not play. While the NCAA isn’t going to tell the public why Ledo is only a partial-qualifier, it seems pretty clear to those in the know that Ledo’s one semester stint at Notre Dame Prep played a role in the NCAA’s decision. The NCAA is investigating the Massachusetts prep school for shady academic and financial issues, and as a result, a number of Division I recruits, including Ledo, were ruled ineligible to play this season. The good news for Friars’ fans is that Ledo plans to stick around and play next season as a redshirt freshman, which will be a small consolation for fans hoping to see the program’s fabulous recruiting class in action next month.
  5. For many teams in the conference, Midnight Madness kicks off this Friday. Every school takes a different approach to this event but it is always fun to see which coaches get dressed up, which musical stars show up to perform, and which walk-on will dump 18 points on his teammates in the intrasquad scrimmage. While we like to think of ourselves as analytical minds here at the Big East microsite, that doesn’t mean we don’t love the occasional dose of frivolity either, especially when it is guaranteed to involve Doug E. Fresh. Check back tomorrow morning as we run with a light-hearted but essential guide to Friday’s Midnight Madness festivities.
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Who’s Got Next? Gathers Commits, McDonald’s All-Americans Announced And More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on February 10th, 2012

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. 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 who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. 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.

Lead Story: Ricardo Gathers Chooses Baylor — Big Get For Bears

Ricardo Gathers Is A Huge Get For Baylor Head Coach Scott Drew.

Top-50 Power Forward Gives Scott Drew A Top-Five Recruiting Class. Three months after backing off his commitment to St. John’s, Class of 2012 power forward Ricardo Gathers committed to Baylor, joining point guard L.J. Rose and centers Isaiah Austin and Chad Rykhoek. The Louisiana native is a terrific fit for Baylor because he’s a double-double machine who can get it done on both ends of the court. He was second in scoring during the Nike EYBL last summer, averaging over 20 points a game while leading the EYBL in rebounding with about 12 a contest. He also recorded 20.7 PPG, 16.2 RPG, 3.9 BPG and 2.3 APG as a junior en route to winning the 2011 Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year award. An interesting story that has unfolded recently is that Gathers de-committed from St. John’s in the first place to give LSU a chance to land him. According to the player, Tigers’ head coach Trent Johnson didn’t recruit him very hard which turned him off to the program. With the new addition of Gathers, Baylor has a top-five recruiting class featuring two of the best big men in the country (between Gathers and Austin).

What They’re Saying

  • Senior Ricardo Gathers on committing to Baylor: “The coaching staff made me feel like I was a main priority, and with the signing class they have coming in, we have a really good chance of being a potential national champion. That was one of the biggest things for me.”

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Big East Recruiting Round-Up: Volume Three

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on December 8th, 2011

Big East Recruiting Round-up is a recurring feature that will focus on, well, recruiting.  Rumors, buzz, rankings…..everything potentially shiny and new. 

Deck the Halls

Seton Hall has been busy looking for some holiday cheer to add to its roster.  They were in the house to see Aquille Carr (’13 – 5’7″ point guard – Patterson– MD – Ranks: Rivals: 26 , ESPN: 59) play his first game of the season, according to Alex Kline of The Recruit Scoop.  Carr, affectionately known as “The Crime Stopper” because the crime rate in Baltimore plunges when he plays, also has Big East interest from Louisville, Connecticut and Syracuse.

Carr is Being Looked at by a Number of High Majors (Photo Credit: Kelly Kline, ESPNHS)

The Pirates also offered Kris Jenkins (’13 – 6’5″ power forward – Gonzaga– DC – Ranks: Rivals: 26 , ESPN: N/R) per William Gunter via Twitter (@willgunter247).  Jenkins holds an offer from Rutgers per ESPN.com and has interest from Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Marquette and Villanova per Rivals.com.

The Hall has also experienced recruiting success through an unexpected resource called Canarias Basketball Academy in the Canary Islands.  The academy has produced three current Pirates: Patrick Auda, Haralds Karlis and Aaron Germaipoor and coach Kevin Willard is reported to be mining Canarias for a class of 2012 point guard according to southorangejuice.com via Twitter (@SOrangeJuice).

Johnson Headed Back East?

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