Your Way Too Early 2014-15 AAC Preview

Posted by Mike Lemaire on April 7th, 2014

As we anxiously wait to see whether UConn can deliver a title to the American Athletic Conference in its very first season of existence, it’s important to take some time to wildly speculate about how the conference will shake out next season. We don’t yet have a complete list of who is heading to the NBA Draft and we haven’t watched even one minute of East Carolina or Tulane basketball this season, but that won’t stop us from sticking our necks out with everyone’s predicted finish for next season.

With Larry Brown Back, SMU Will Push Forward (Photo credit: LM Otero/AP).

With Larry Brown Back, SMU Will Push Forward (Photo credit: LM Otero/AP).

  1. SMU. Every top team in the conference is losing at least two important pieces except for the Mustangs. Graduating senior Nick Russell was a valuable contributor this season, but SMU has guys like Keith Frazier and Sterling Brown waiting in the wings. Markus Kennedy and Nic Moore will continue to get better and don’t forget about incoming uber-recruit Emmanuel Mudiay who could be in the starting lineup from Day One.
  2. Connecticut. People thought Kemba Walker was irreplaceable until Shabazz Napier stepped up, but unfortunately, it doesn’t appear the Huskies have another superstar guard ready to fill the void. Napier’s departure will leave the biggest hole, but Niels Giffey was an efficient offensive player and Lasan Kromah was dependable as well. The team’s success will likely hinge whether DeAndre Daniels decides to turn pro. If he stays for his senior season and Omar Calhoun turns around a once promising career, those two and Ryan Boatright form a solid nucleus to rebuild around. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

USF Lures Orlando Antigua in Hopes of Bringing In Florida Talent

Posted by CD Bradley on April 2nd, 2014

USF has its man, again. The school on Tuesday announced the hiring of Kentucky assistant Orlando Antigua as its new head coach, less than a week after it nearly hired Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello. “I think I was my wife’s second choice too, but that’s worked out; we’ve been together for 20 years,” Antigua said during an introductory news conference held during his brief stay in Tampa. Just hours after landing, he took off again, returning to Lexington for a practice ahead of this weekend’s Final Four. He will return to Tampa for good once the Wildcats’ season ends.

Orlando Antigua will try to bring a bit of his UK success to the top job at USF.

Orlando Antigua will try to bring a bit of his UK success to the top job at USF.

When he gets back to Florida, he will have something to work with despite USF’s back-to-back 3-15 conference records. Returning are two freshmen bigs – 6’10″ John Egbunu and 6’8″ Chris Perry – and junior point guard Anthony Collins, who helped lead the team to two NCAA Tournament wins as a freshman but missed most of this season with a knee injury. The biggest reason Antigua got the job, though, is not because of what he’ll do with the players already in Tampa, but with the players he will be expected to bring to Tampa. Antigua has been a key recruiter for John Calipari over the last six years, one at Memphis and five at Kentucky (those stints follow five years on the staff at his alma mater, Pittsburgh, and some previous run as a Harlem Globetrotter). Some of those massive recruiting hauls included Floridian Brandon Knight, who led the Wildcats to the 2011 Final Four before being drafted by the Pistons. The Bulls’ talent deficit has been a major reason for it recent woes, and Antigua’s first job will be to close that particular gap with his AAC foes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 04.01.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 1st, 2014

morning5

  1. South Florida appears to have its next coach and hopefully he has completed the coursework that he says he has. Yesterday, the school announced that Orlando Antigua would be its next head coach. Antigua is expected to continue to serve as an assistant at Kentucky through their Final Four run. The deal, which is reportedly five years, adds Antigua to a growing Calipari coaching tree that already includes Josh Pastner, Derek Kellogg, and Bruiser Flint. Antigua is best known for spearheading Kentucky’s recent ridiculous recruiting run. He will not be recruiting anything close to the same caliber of player in Tampa, but getting better players into the program will be the first step in making it respectable.
  2. Antigua is just getting his head coaching career started while across the country Mike Montgomery appears to have decided to end his. Yesterday, Montgomery announced that he would be stepping down as the coach at California and retiring. Montgomery coached at three schools–California, Stanford, and Montana–for 32 seasons and in the NBA for the Golden State Warriors for two seasons. Outside of his time in the NBA during which his teams went 34-48 in each of his two seasons, Montgomery was very successful at all three schools he coached at going 677-317, but will be best remembered for making Stanford into one of the top programs in the country before he left the Farm to head to the NBA.
  3. Staying in the Pac-12, Washington State announced that it hired former Oregon coach Ernie Kent to be its next head coach. After having a degree of success under Tony Bennett (not exactly shocking anymore) the Cougars went through a rough patch with Ken Bone, who was fired after five seasons. With his 13 seasons at Oregon, which included two Elite 8 appearances, Kent would appear to be ideally suited to compete in the Pac-12. Having said that perhaps the biggest key for Kent was his relationship with athletic director Bill Moos, who had hired Kent to his first head coaching position at St. Mary’s.
  4. Former Arizona star Jason Gardner (last seen having this done to him by Jason Williams–seriously, no foul was called on that) was named as the new coach at IUPUI yesterday. Gardner is best known for his time at Arizona, but he subsequently played overseas before serving as an assistant at Loyola then Memphis. Outside of his professional experience and name recognition, Gardner also was a Mr. Basketball in Indiana in 1999, which could serve him well as he tries to recruit within the state although he will have an uphill battle trying to get recruits over much more well-known in-state schools.
  5. We had two players announce that they were entering the NBA Draft yesterday. One had been expected for over a year while the other one was a bit of a surprise. The first (and obvious) one was Andrew Wiggins, who announced that he would be leaving Kansas after his freshman season. Wiggins’ draft stock may have dropped from what it was before the season (an unquestioned #1 overall pick), but he is still a top-five pick at worst. The announcement out of Missouri was a little more surprising as Jordan Clarkson has elected to enter the NBA Draft after his junior season. While Clarkson’s numbers this season may have been close to what Wiggins put up, he is closer to a late first round pick at best so this might end up backfiring on him if he were to slip into the second round.
Share this story

Morning Five: 11.07.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 7th, 2013

morning5

  1. We are used to successful players transferring, but the timing of Dewayne Russell‘s announcement that he was transferring from Northern Arizona just before the start of the season seems very strange to us. Last season, as a freshman, Russell averaged 14.4 points, 3.2 assists, and 1.5 steals per game so we would expect that he will be transferring to a power conference school. Russell’s departure is obviously a big blow to Northern Arizona with its season starting on Saturday, but given the timing we have a feeling that there is more to this story than just Russell having a change of heart.
  2. The start of the season is on Friday, but we are going to go ahead and assume that Providence coach Ed Cooley just wishes this week would end. After potentially losing Kris Dunn to another shoulder injury early in the week, Cooley suspended freshmen Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock indefinitely for “not upholding their responsibilities as student-athletes.” The loss of Austin will be particularly significant as he was a top-50 recruit coming out of high school last year and had the potential to help ease the load on Bryce Cotton while Dunn recovers. We have not heard a good explanation of why the two have been suspended, but for Providence’s sake we hope it isn’t for very long as they have a fairly challenging schedule early in the season.
  3. Most of the eyes of casual fans watching college basketball this season will be fixed on Andrew Wiggins, but many of the more hardcore fans will be directing their attention to Lexington and the impressive collection of talent that Kentucky has put together yet again. Most people will point to John Calipari as the architect, but as Tim Keown notes Orlando Antigua should certainly be recognized for his contribution. Antigua’s influence and his fascinating story stretch well beyond whatever the Wildcats manage to do this season. With the way that Antigua’s teams have performed and how successfully he has recruited we would not be surprised to see Antigua putting together his own college team in the near-future.
  4. After almost seven months of silence, Mike Rice finally decided to give an interview to Jonathan Mahler of The New York Times as part of a piece that serves to explain some of the reason for why Rice is the way he is, what he has learned from his public shaming, and what he still need to learn. We will give Rice credit for being willing to discuss his troubled past with a reporter particularly one who wouldn’t produce a PR fluff piece for him that many individuals who are publicly shamed want. Our guess is that Rice will eventually get back into coaching, but his best bet is as an assistant coach with his best-case scenario probably being a NBA assistant unless some small school is willing to take a chance on him (and he is willing to go to a non-power conference school).
  5. In August, the NCAA found a case–that of former Marine Steven Rhodes–in which their ruling was so ridiculous that the public sentiment against them was so strong that they actually reversed an awful ruling. The case of Nathan Harries might not generate the same level of controversy that Rhodes’ did, but it might come close. Harris, who spent two years after high school working on a Mormon mission, received a scholarship from Colgate, but will have to sit out this season after he admitted to the NCAA that he played in three church league games. The ridiculousness of the ruling will most likely lead to enough criticism that the NCAA will take a longer look at the ruling (instead of just rubber-stamping the denial) and we suspect that Harries should be eligible in the very near-future.
Share this story

Who’s Got Next? Domingo A Hoya, Robinson A Hoosier And More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on May 25th, 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: Georgetown Reels In Top-50 Junior Wing

Domingo Is A Great Pick-up For Head Coach John Thompson III And Georgetown.

Domingo A Big Pick-up For the Hoyas. Georgetown has been working hard on local guys in the Class of 2013 such as point guard Rysheed Jordan, shooting guard Davon Reed and center BeeJay Anya, but the Hoyas went to the opposite end of the country to pick up their first commitment in the junior class as small forward Stephen Domingo, a California native, made a verbal to head coach John Thompson III. Domingo is actually the second California wing to commit to Georgetown as Hollis Thompson a Los Angeles native. Domingo also has ties to the nation’s capital since his grandparents are D.C. residents and his mom is a District native. Domingo is a great pick-up for the Hoyas since he is a great shooter with terrific range and a smooth stroke. He can knock it down off the bounce or in catch-and-shoot situations and has great height and length. Georgetown is also chasing after point guard Tyler Ennis, small forward Nick King and power forward Jermaine Lawrence in the Class of 2013 although they may be out of the race for top-100 small forward Josh Hart now.

What They’re Saying

Junior Juwan Parker on where each school stands in his recruitment: “I’m considering three schools right now: Memphis, Georgia and Stanford. I would rank them in that order.”

Memphis Leads For Junior Standout Juwan Parker. (Daryl Paunil/National Recruiting Spotlight)

Junior Stanford Robinson on why he committed to the Hoosiers: “[Indiana head] coach [Tom] Crean, we connected very, very quickly. We shared a lot of laughs, he presented his plan of where he sees me fitting in and how I could play a part in it.

Junior Stephen Domingo on choosing Georgetown: “It was really the relationship I developed with coach [John Thompson III] and the way they promote the versatility of their wings. They rely on their wings a lot and they use their wings in a way I can be productive offensively and defensively.” Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Who’s Got Next? NCAA Investigates Noel, Bennett Down To Two And More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on May 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: NCAA Investigating Top Big Man Nerlens Noel

Nerlens Noel Is Being Investigated By the NCAA.

Big Blue Nation Has Little To Worry About. According to a New York Times article yesterday, the NCAA sent two members of its enforcement staff to Massachusetts this week to inquire about Class of 2012 star center Nerlens Noel. The members went to Everett High School Tuesday, where Noel spent his first two years of high school before transferring to the Tilton School, to meet with school officials about Noel. According to Everett High School principal Louis Baldi, the meeting lasted an hour and 15 minutes and centered on “concerns we had as adults” for Noel. In case you missed Pete Thamel‘s earlier article on Noel in March, he wrote about all of the influences surrounding Noel, which may or may not have brought on this “inquiry.” Here’s the thing, even though Kentucky haters will latch on to this story as just another scandal linked to head coach John Calipari, this whole story really isn’t that big of a deal. It’s nothing new that the NCAA is investigating a top recruit with many people trying to influence his every decision and honestly, if it wasn’t Kentucky, the New York Times probably wouldn’t have even reported about it. Drawing on all of the information that has been published, neither Noel nor Kentucky has done anything wrong and I doubt anything will result from this. Kentucky fans should just be happy about their National Championship and look forward to making flat top t-shirts next year in honor of the top big man in the Class of 2012.

What They’re Saying

Junior star Troy Williams on a timetable, adding schools to his list and his favorite coaching staff: “We’ll probably let two more schools back in, just to see what else is out there… it will probably be Georgetown and Florida. That’s the deciding factor, which head coach I like more. It (my favorite coaching staff) would be the Kentucky coaches because before the dead period I stayed in touch with [Kentucky assistant] coach Orlando [Antigua] the most.”

Troy Williams Revealed A Lot Of New Information About His Recruitment.

Junior stud Allerik Freeman on his final five schools: “My final five is Kansas, Ohio State, Duke, Villanova and UCLA,” Freeman said. “They’ve been recruiting me the hardest, all of them are good programs, I can see myself fitting in at all of those schools and those are the five schools that I can see myself playing at for all four years.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Who’s Got Next? Muhammad & Noel Commit, Updates On Elite Recruits…

Posted by Josh Paunil on April 12th, 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: Top Recruit In the Country Chooses Kentucky

Noel's Commitment Gives UK the Number One Recruiting Class. (Sports Illustrated)

Noel’s Commitment Gives Wildcats Top Recruiting Class. Class of 2012 center Nerlens Noel, the best player in the high school ranks, committed to Kentucky yesterday over Georgetown and Syracuse. Noel joins shooting guard Archie Goodwin, small forward Alex Poythress and center Willie Cauley-Stein to give head coach John Calipari the best recruiting class in the country again. Goodwin and Poythress are both top-15 guys whereas Cauley-Stein is a top-50 recruit. Noel, a 6’11″, 216-pound big man, is the only person on this planet capable of filling Anthony Davis’ shoes at Kentucky and will provide an even better defensive presence and a great target in transition. The Massachusetts native is an excellent finisher and has good explosiveness and athleticism all over the court. He also has done a great job developing his offensive game and has shown an improved 15-foot jumper as well as better interior scoring moves. His rate of development is an extremely good sign for Kentucky fans since he’s already very talented. The good news for Wildcat fans doesn’t stop there since Coach Cal isn’t done yet in the Class of 2012. They’re still after power forward Anthony Bennett, a top-10 recruit, and have a very realistic shot at landing him too. The addition of Bennett would put this Kentucky recruiting class in the conversation of one of the greatest recruiting classes of all-time.

What They’re Saying

  • Anthony Bennett on how he would fit in at Kentucky: “I can see myself fitting in [with] all schools but Kentucky, they produce great players. Coach Cal produces them to the league and makes them better and also they win national championships on top of that so it’s a great fit.” Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

SEC Morning Five: 10.27.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on October 27th, 2011

  1. In last night’s annual Kentucky Blue vs. White game, Sophomore Terrence Jones went off for 52 points setting a record for most points scored in the intra-squad scrimmage. While just an exhibition game, the barrage of points has to be encouraging for Wildcat fans hoping for a new and improved Jones. Freshman Anthony Davis guarded Jones for most of the evening, but it didn’t seem to matter who was on him as he scored from just about everywhere on the court. Jones was 24-31 from the field, finishing with 16 rebounds and six assists. Scrimmage or not, 52 points is impressive. Jones displayed an ability to score in a variety of ways — knocking down threes, taking it strong to the rim and even finishing with his much-discussed right hand. Eight Kentucky players scored in double figures overall as freshman Kyle Wiltjer finished with 27 points on 5-8 shooting from beyond the arc and sophomore, Doron Lamb also scored 31 points.
  2. Memphis coach Josh Pastner has a message for all SEC teams — don’t ask to play his Memphis Tigers in a non-conference game. Pastner says it won’t happen on his watch. He singled out Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Florida as teams he does not want to play in order to avoid giving a recruiting advantage for those looking to recruit in Memphis. He says the solution, however, is simple. Invite Memphis to play in the SEC. Pastner says, “That will solve everything. You don’t have to ask me; we would play twice. If you’re coming in here, if you want to play Memphis, go to your presidents and vote Memphis in the SEC. That’s the easiest way to do it. If you’re asking me for a non-conference game, it’s not going to happen.” Pastner is either making a good case for Memphis to be considered for expansion to the SEC or he is setting the Tigers up to be the most hated non-conference rival by the entire league.
  3. Several SEC teams will be taking part in secret scrimmages over the next couple of weeks to prepare for opening games. Why the secrecy? Well, nobody seems to know, but you may want to delete your browser history if you click on the link. Better safe than sorry. The SEC teams taking part in the secrecy and their mysterious opponents are: Virginia @ Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech @ South Carolina, LSU @ Rice, Arkansas-Little Rock @ Ole Miss, Georgia @ Clemson, UCF @ Florida and Western Kentucky vs Alabama. Anybody with super-spy abilities, we need video and/or pictures. This message will self-destruct in five seconds.
  4. Ole Miss junior Murphy Holloway has been cleared to play immediately for the Rebel Black Bears. Holloway played two seasons for the Rebs before transferring to South Carolina to care for his daughter. After sitting out a year with the Gamecocks, Holloway decided to transfer back to Mississippi. He had to apply for a waiver with the NCAA to avoid having to sit out another year. The waiver was granted and Holloway will be allowed to play this season. He provides an immediate post presence for Ole Miss as he averaged 10.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in his sophomore year. Andy Kennedy’s squad will get an impact player with SEC experience.
  5. Tennessee‘s athletic program boasts that their men’s basketball coaching staff has more than 5,000 career college basketball points during their playing careers. In fact, they claim to have more than 1,000 more college points than any other Division I staff. Here’s to hoping that this sets up an SEC coaching staff battle between former players. Rod Strickland vs. Anthony Grant. Orlando Antigua vs. Cuonzo Martin. Billy Donovan vs. John Calipari. John Pelphrey vs. Darrin Horn. Tony Barbee vs. Tracy Webster. Rick Stansbury vs. Kevin Stallings… Okay, maybe not that last one. Having a coaching staff with this much experience can give the Tennessee players a slight boost of confidence, but shouldn’t be much of an advantage otherwise. It is fun to think about a pick-up game of epic proportions at the next SEC media days. Battle royale style.
Share this story