Three Takeaways from Weekend #1 in the ACC

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 13th, 2017

The ACC fared well on the opening weekend of college basketball, with only one school suffering a surprising loss as Wake Forest fell to Georgia Southern in Winston-Salem on Friday night. As is usually the case, most of the other league teams opened the season by beating inferior opponents. Here are three takeaways from the league’s first weekend of action.

1) North Carolina: No Joel Berry. No Problem.

Luke Maye was the star in North Carolina’s convincing season opening win over Northern Iowa.
(Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports)

Despite not having All-America point guard Joel Berry II (broken hand) and another starter — transfer Cameron Johnson (sprained neck) — in the lineup, North Carolina didn’t miss a beat in its 86-69 win over Northern Iowa on Friday night at the Smith Center. Freshman Jalek Felton and Seventh Woods combined for 14 points and three assists while splitting time running the team, but the Tar Heels’ primary playmaking came from the wing as Theo Pinson and Kenny Williams each logged five assists. As long as Berry is out — and maybe even when he returns — Pinson will often initiate the offense.

The most encouraging thing from the Tar Heels’ opener was the surprising performance of their untested frontline. Junior Luke Maye showed that he’s ready for a breakout season after posting 26 points and 10 rebounds on 11-of-16 shooting. Maybe even more important than Maye’s unforeseen outburst was the play of two relatively unheralded freshman big men, Garrison Brooks and Sterling Manley. The post duo combined for 23 points and 14 rebounds in 32 minutes of action. If Roy Williams can get that kind of production from his frontcourt, he can afford to maintain his preferred style of inside-out play this season.

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ACC Weekend Preview: Opening Weekend

Posted by Mick McDonald on November 10th, 2017

Teams around the ACC tip off their regular seasons this weekend with a host of games that will start the canvas to what will undoubtedly be a competitive and unpredictable conference slate. Here are the key games this weekend that will whet your appetite for the season ahead:

Friday, November 10

  • Northern Iowa (KenPom #129) at North Carolina: The Tar Heels begin the season without star point guard Joel Berry II, but the senior point guard is expected back for the PK80 event in Portland, Oregon, later this month. Until then, games like these are good opportunities for some of the younger guards like Brandon Robinson and Seventh Woods to gain some experience. Keep an eye out for freshman Jalek Felton, especially in Berry’s absence, to leap onto the scene. Northern Iowa is part of a wide-open Missouri Valley landscape that no longer includes Wichita State, but a meticulous style of play and 6’10” senior Bennett Koch (57% eFG last season) could give a young North Carolina front line some issues.

Can Bryant Crawford and a talented but crowded backcourt ease the loss of John Collins? (AP)

  • Elon (KenPom #106) at Duke: Our first chance to see Duke’s highly-touted freshman class comes against an Elon team expected to compete for the CAA championship. How will Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter co-exist in the frontcourt? Is Trevon Duval the point guard Mike Krzyzewski has been searching for since Tyus Jones left campus? Will there be any further Grayson Allen drama? Tonight gives us our first opportunity to overreact wildly. Keep an eye on Elon’s Tyler Siebring, a 6’8” forward who led the Phoenix in scoring a year ago and shot nearly 40 percent from three.

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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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ACC Offseason Storylines: Roster Changes Impacting the ACC Race

Posted by Brad Jenkins on October 19th, 2017

We are now a little over three weeks away from opening night in college basketball, so it’s time to start our preseason coverage here at the ACC microsite. Over the next several weeks we will preview the fortunes of all 15 ACC schools by projecting how each squad will maximize its strengths and mitigate its weaknesses, and we will also be reporting from ACC Operation Basketball in Charlotte later this month. But first, let’s catch up on a few of the most important storylines in the ACC since North Carolina captured its sixth NCAA Championship in Glendale last April. Here’s Part Three of our three-part series (Part One is here; Part Two is here).

Late Roster Changes

Marvin Bagley is a Game Changer in the ACC (ESPN.com)

As is usually the case, several ACC programs have experienced significant roster shakeups this offseason, with most of the departures coming from players who decided to begin their professional careers. As a matter of fact, the ACC set a new record in June with 10 players — all underclassmen — selected in the First Round of the 2017 NBA Draft. Two more early entries were selected in the Second Round. All in all, the league lost a total of 16 non-seniors to the professional ranks, including three undrafted players — Xavier Rathan-Mayes from Florida State, N.C. State’s Ted Kapita, and Jaylen Johnson from Louisville — as well as Wake Forest forward Dinos Mitoglou, who bailed on Danny Manning’s frontcourt in late July to play professionally in his home country of Greece. Three other significant ACC players decided to transfer over the summer — Taurean Thompson from Syracuse; Khadim Sy from Virginia Tech; and Pittsburgh’s Cameron Johnson, who executed the unusual intra-conference transfer, to North Carolina.

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ACC Offseason Storylines: FBI Brings the Hammer to Louisville and Miami

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on October 17th, 2017

We are now a little over three weeks away from opening night in college basketball, so it’s time to start our preseason coverage here at the ACC microsite. Over the next several weeks we will preview the fortunes of all 15 ACC schools by projecting how each squad will maximize its strengths and mitigate its weaknesses, and we will also be reporting from ACC Operation Basketball in Charlotte later this month. But first, let’s catch up on a few of the most important storylines in the ACC since North Carolina captured its sixth NCAA Championship in Glendale last April.

FBI Case Rocks the College Basketball World

Louisville’s Rick Pitino became the first major casualty of the FBI Investigation into College Hoops Recruiting. (Getty Images)

On September 26, we learned in a dramatic morning announcement that even the NCAA was not aware of that the FBI has been investigating the college basketball recruiting scene. Four NCAA assistant coaches were charged with accepting bribes to steer players to pro agents and/or financial advisors, while six other individuals were also arrested, including several Adidas employees who were accused of arranging cash payouts for recruits and their families as incentives to join their sponsored college programs. Two of the schools involved are ACC members Louisville and Miami.

As soon as the FBI news broke and the Louisville program was implicated in the report, pressure immediately began mounting on head coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich. By the next morning, we knew that neither luminary would survive this scandal, the latest in a string of sordid revelations involving the program. Pitino was officially fired yesterday. Understandably, the university could not tolerate further violations and embarrassments in the midst of a probation currently being served for 2015’s stripper scandal. Even more damning for Pitino is news that his voice is allegedly on an FBI tape as a direct participant in the pay-for-play scheme. Two Cardinals’ assistants have also been placed on administrative leave, leaving former Louisville player David Padgett to pick up the pieces this season as the school’s interim head coach. It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see the school try to get out in front of the NCAA’s inevitable return to campus with another round of self-imposed penalties that includes a postseason ban.

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Seven Sweet Scoops: Ball Brothers Shine, Marvin Bagley Finds a Home

Posted by Sean Moran on January 9th, 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. The Ball Brothers Go National

Watching Chino Hills play basketball is similar to what you would see playing a video game. Full court passes, threes splashing in from all areas of the court, pressing, trapping, and an insane amount of highlights. Led by the Ball brothers, Chino Hills is the No. 1 team in the country after winning both the City of Palms tournament in Florida and the MaxPreps Holiday Classic in California. They narrowly defeated Thomas Jefferson (NY) 91-90 before handing Montverde their first loss of the season at the City of Palms, and then went out and beat The Patrick School, coached by former Rutgers coach Mike Rice, in overtime in the championship. The team is led by five-star senior point guard Lonzo Ball who may well be the best passer in high school basketball. His younger brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo also play key roles. LiAngelo in particular impressed over the holidays in using his football physique to punish smaller defenders in the post. All three brothers have committed to play for UCLA. After dismantling teams from across the country, the Ball brothers and Chino Hills will try to run and gun their way to a California state title.

2. Name To Remember: RJ Barrett

Candian Andrew Wiggins was the top player in a loaded 2013 high school class. Now, it appears that R.J. Barrett, a 6’6” freshman wing, might be the next Canadian to top the recruiting ranking charts. The Barrett buzz began early in the Canadian circles, as his father is a former pro player and Canadian national team member. It picked up that much more when Barrett scored 13 points in the U16 FIBA America’s gold medal game against the top USA players in the 2017 and 2018 classes. Now, Barrett is at the famed Montverde Academy in Florida playing for head coach Kevin Boyle. Before Christmas rolled around, Barrett was named to the all-tournament team at the City of Palms Classic. In one of the top tournaments in the country, Barrett averaged 19.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4 assists. He also exploded for 31 points against Chino Hills, the top team in the country. Only 15, Barrett already displays a wide array of abilities. He makes three pointers as easily as he can finish with an athletic dunk, equally capable of punishing teams on attacks of the rim as he is from the perimeter. It’s very early in the young Canadian’s career, but Barrett currently sits at the top of the 2019 high school class. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sweet Seven Scoops: Top Frontcourt? Izzo’s Top Class, UNC’s Late Night & More…

Posted by Sean Moran on October 23rd, 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. Who Has the Top Frontcourt?

Who has the top frontcourt in college basketball? Gonzaga? Maryland? North Carolina? Kentucky? Iowa State? A debate could be made for a variety of teams, but the most talented frontcourt in terms of future NBA potential exists down in Phoenix where two of the most talented high school players in the country are teammates at Hillcrest (AZ) Prep. First, it was Marvin Bagley III, the top sophomore in the country who left Corona del Sol (AZ) after his freshman year to play at Hillcrest. Then it was Deandre Ayton, who left Balboa Prep in San Diego to do the same. At 6’10”, Bagley is a smooth and skilled lefty forward who is easily the top prospect in the Class of 2018. Ayton, to up the ante, was named as the top prospect in all of high school basketball by Scout. He injured his knee in the spring and had an underwhelming summer on the AAU circuit, but with great size and length, Ayton already has NBA scouts drooling at his physical tools. He put together a 17-point, 18-rebound performance against UNC last year in a scrimmage, and keep in mind that he was only a prep sophomore at the time. Bagley and Ayton still have considerable time to pass in the high school ranks, but if they were on a college campus right now their names would be mentioned among the discussion of the top college frontcourts in America.

2. Locked and Loaded in East Lansing

Tom Izzo currently has two five-star recruits and two four-star recruits committed, giving Michigan State arguably the No. 1 class at this point. It wasn’t all that long ago that Izzo had struck out swinging on three highly regarded Chicago-area players in Jahlil Okafor, Cliff Alexander and Tyler Ulis. The sky seemed to be falling on Sparty then, but Izzo pulled a few trademark March upsets and got the Spartans back to the Final Four last year and ready to contend for another Big Ten title again this year. In this year’s class, Izzo went back to his bread and butter of in-state recruiting. Miles Bridges, a top 10 prospect from Michigan, chose the Spartans over Kentucky and Indiana, and Cassius Winston, a four-star guard, hails from Detroit. Izzo also nabbed five-star Josh Langford, a 6’5” wing from Alabama, and 6’8” four-star forward Nick Ward from Ohio. Langford in particular is the ideal Izzo recruit, given his toughness and style of play. He outplayed several other highly regarded players at the USA Developmental camp during the first weekend of October, and while things were briefly looking bleak for Michigan State one year ago, the future now couldn’t be much brighter.

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Seven Sweet Scoops: Arkansas Goes Per Kapita, Dorsey to Oregon, Barcello Blows Up…

Posted by Sean Moran on February 13th, 2015

http://rushthecourt.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/7sweetscoops.png

Seven Sweet Scoops is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week 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. Ted Kapita Lands In Arkansas

Ted Kapita, a four-star center and intriguing prospect, committed to Arkansas on Thursday. The big man from Africa is ranked No. 43 in the class of 2015 but has a high upside and has slowly been improving his skill level at Huntington (WV) Prep. Kapita already has a professional body. With long arms and a chiseled frame, the 18-year old does not look like your normal high schooler. He can run the floor and throw down highlight reel dunks that will no doubt draw some “ooohs” and “aaaahs” from the Razorbacks’ faithful next year. His coordination and overall skill set are still trying to catch up to his body, though. He’s a strong rebounder in the paint but sometimes thinks too long before reacting. Kapita played with Pan Africa this past summer at the Nike Global Challenge, and in his first game in front of a plethora of NBA scouts, he put up a monstrous stat line with 36 points and 16 rebounds. Unfortunately he struggled to do much of anything the next game out. At Arkansas, Kapita will join four-star guard Jimmy Whitt, who is a smooth jump shooter. The pair will look to turn their inside/outside potential into consistent production in the SEC.

Tall and Talented: Ted Kapita is headed to play for Arkansas.

Tall and Talented: Ted Kapita is headed to play for Arkansas.

2. Oregon Lands High Scoring Tyler Dorsey

Dana Altman’s Oregon teams routinely rank among the nation’s top 100 teams in adjusted tempo. This means that the Ducks like to get up and down the court, and they recently got the perfect recruit for their style of play in four-star guard Tyler Dorsey (No. 34 – 2015). The 6’4” guard from Southern California who chose Oregon over Kansas and a host of Pac-12 suitors will look to step in and fill the shoes of Joseph Young right off the bat. Young is currently averaging 18.7 points per game and will end his Oregon career as the team’s leading scorer for the second year in a row, so it’s a good thing that Dorsey can put the ball in the bucket. A year ago Dorsey was ranked in the top 10, but after committing to Arizona early, things quickly started to go south. A disappointing spring AAU season led to rumors about the firmness of that commitment, and sure enough, Dorsey decided to look elsewhere when five-star shooting guard Alonzo Trier (No. 16 – 2015) committed to the Wildcats over the summer. In addition to looking for a new school, the rising senior was also looking to repair his reputation in the national rankings. Now at a new school this year (Maranatha (CA)), Dorsey has routinely scored 40 or more points in games, including a 48-point effort against USC-bound Benny Boatwright. After a brief dip in production and consistency, the explosive Dorsey is again scoring at will and will look to continue his productive ways in Eugene. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sweet Seven Scoops: Midnight Madness Begins, Rabb & Skal Trimming Lists & More…

Posted by Sean Moran on October 10th, 2014

http://rushthecourt.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/7sweetscoops.png

Seven Sweet Scoops is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week 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. Midnight Madness: Kansas

It’s October and that means teams are tipping off the season with their editions of Midnight Madness. Last week UNC got things started with “Late Night with Roy” and tonight Kansas takes center stage with “Late Night at the Phog.” The Jayhawks are bringing in a plethora of top-notch talent for both official and unofficial visits. Last year KU hosted Kelly Oubre and Cliff Alexander, both of whom eventually selected Bill Self’s program. Some of the top five-star seniors who will be in attendance are small forward Jaylen Brown, considered the No. 1 player in the country, 7’0″ center Stephen Zimmerman (No. 14 – 2014), fresh off a scintillating performance at the USA Developmental Camp, small forward Brandon Ingram (No. 26 – overall), and power forward Carlton Bragg (No. 11 – 2014). A few of the other visitors include the No. 1 junior recruit in Jayson Tatum and the No. 2 sophomore recruit in Troy Brown. Which players will make their pledge to Kansas as a result of this weekend’s festivities?

2. Ivan Rabb Looking to Trim List

Five-star 6’10” power forward Ivan Rabb is getting ready to trim his list. He is scheduled to have his last in-home visit at an unscheduled date with Roy Williams before making a decision on the schools he plans to officially visits. The Bay Area native has programs from all over the country in pursuit of his services, including schools close to home in California, UCLA, and Arizona, in addition to Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, UNC, and Georgetown. Due to his connection with the Oakland Soldiers AAU program, it was long thought that Arizona was the school to beat for Rabb’s services. Sean Miller has used that pipeline over the years to establish Arizona as the premier school on the West Coast, with players such as Nick Johnson, Brandon Ashley, Aaron Gordon, and Stanley Johnson arriving in Tucson over the last few years. While Arizona has been recruiting Rabb the longest, it might be a school located in his own backyard that is getting the most buzz. As soon as Cuonzo Martin got the head coaching job at California, he took a visit to Rabb’s high school to establish a relationship — he has since been recruiting Rabb hard, and the Bears could be the surprise school in a list of blue-blood basketball programs.

3. Kentucky’s Scouting Combine

This weekend, while schools such as Kansas and Missouri are having their Midnight Madness, Kentucky will instead host a two-day scouting combine where 90 NBA scouts are scheduled to watch John Calipari’s nine McDonald’s All-Americans go through drills and tests. ESPNU is set to televise this event, where freshman center Karl Anthony Towns will be the main attraction. Some consider Calipari’s latest marketing idea as brilliant, while others see it as another shameless plug, but either way, Kentucky is set to host its Big Blue Madness even next Friday, which is expected to rival Kansas in terms of sheer talent visiting campus. One thing is for sure, Calipari will be able to tell all of the recruits and their families about his first ever basketball scouting combine and the exposure that Kentucky provides to all those NBA teams.

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