Vegas is a lot of things to a lot of people, but it also happens to currently be a recruiting hotspot for the Class of 2012. According to a published report from Five Star Basketball, the nation’s #1 and #8 recruiting targets (Shabazz Muhammad and Anthony Bennett) are both strongly considering Kentucky and UNLV, causing the hearts of many Wildcat and Rebel fans to flutter with the possibility of a package deal involving two of the very best talents the prep ranks have to offer. This is nothing more than wild speculation at this point, as the two players suit up for different high schools (Bishop Gorman and Findlay Prep, respectively) and have kept their cards close to the vest, but those two schools are the only overlaps on each player’s list of his final five candidates. The two will face off on January 21 in a nationally televised game — something tells us that ESPN’s ratings will spike in and around central Kentucky and southern Nevada on that particular evening.
In the wake of the BCS National Championship snoozer on Monday night, several college basketball writers have put together their “half-year” awards, with the emphasis on half. Mike DeCourcy at TSNstarts us off with several lists that may or may not surprise you with his current choice for NPOY (think Valley), Most Improved Player (think gunner), and Toughest Team to Judge (think #1). Jason King at ESPN.com takes it a few thousand words further with his analyses, but he details the teams that he feels you should hold on to and fold on to. Perhaps the most interesting piece of King’s article is where he lists a number of coaches who he feels deserves a raise at this point in the season. Rick Pitino? Really? We really hope that he wrote that prior to Louisville’s last two games.
Regardless of losing a hard-fought game last night against Temple, St. Louis has been one of the feel-good stories of the season, as Rick Majerus’ Billikens have seemingly gotten past the rebuilding stage and moved into the era where they will regularly start competing for Atlantic 10 championships and NCAA Tournament bids. It didn’t start out so smoothly, though, as the Cleveland Cavaliers swooped in and, as Majerus puts it, “LeBron’d” him by grabbing one of his top assistants, Alex Jensen, a mere four days before practice was set to begin in October. According to the coach, the Cavs organization never so much as contacted him about their outreach to Jensen, but the Billikens have managed to put that behind them en route to a 13-4 start this season.
It’s a rather light news week so we’ll throw this up for some mid-season levity. We don’t at all understand the context behind this website built about North Carolina (basketball? football?), but it was passed along to us, so here it is. A quick whois search shows that the owner of the site is someone named Matt Hisamoto, a programmer at McKinney in Durham, NC, and a 2008 graduate of NC State. Hatred runs deep in those parts, that’s for sure.
This trailer debuted last week but we’d missed it to this point. For a period in the early-to-mid 1990s, Arkansas basketball — or more colloquially, Forty Minutes of Hell — was just as big a name as some of the other blue-bloods in the sport such as Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and UCLA. Nolan Richardson, the second black head coach to win a Division I men’s basketball championship in 1994, was a lightning rod with his outspoken demeanor and freewheeling style of play. But he was a winner at Arkansas, and he won big. This documentary about Richardson and the rise of his program, entitled Forty Minutes of Hell, will debut on February 11 on ESPNU as part of its “Storied” series. The film purports to delve into the makeup of the man that led him to such great heights, along with his inevitable downfall at the university after his teams stopped winning. For college basketball fans of all ages, it’s sure to be a must-watch.