ACC M5: 12.12.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 12th, 2012

  1. Cincinnati Enquirer: One thing is sure about conference realignment: Nothing is certain until the press conference. It’s been like coaching searches on speed the past two years with rumors flying every which direction. Add Twitter and several accurate reports originating from blogs and message boards and the chaos starts to make sense. This article though shows some 20/20 hindsight in looking at Cincinnati‘s effort to attract the ACC during the most recent round of realignment. The Bearcats sent brochures, they talked up their contacts within the ACC — including asking former coach Urban Meyer to back the Bearcats for a move to the ACC (which is totally bizarre: first, why would Meyer’s opinion matter to the ACC?; and second, why would Meyer presumably strengthen the league his conference expands from in the future?).
  2. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Tech is about to add two Pooles to its lineup. Stacey Poole, a transfer from Kentucky, is eligible to start playing Monday. His younger brother, Solomon, graduated high school early and will be joining the Yellow Jackets as soon as the NCAA sorts out his eligibility, which isn’t expected to be an issue. Solomon should help spell Mfon Udofia at the point guard position (he’ll probably start as the third guy in line, but I expect him to see significant minutes by conference play). Solomon Poole will be one of the more athletically gifted guys on the team right away, but how long will it take him to get used to the college game?
  3. Run the Floor: I was low on Virginia coming into this year because I loved Mike Scott. He had one of the prettiest mid-range games I can remember and was one of the few reasons to get excited by the Wahoos. But shockingly, Virginia’s offense hasn’t really missed a beat. They’ve effectively “replaced” Mike Scott with a combination of Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell. Mitchell in particular is the guy to watch — he’s a totally different player this season. He’s significantly more efficient in almost every respect. You want the front-runner for Most-Improved? It’s Mitchell.
  4. Streaking the Lawn: Weighing expectations and teams on paper against performance is tough early in the season. For one, the sample size is small. Secondly, schedules are wildly different. Duke has three top-five wins (even if one of those teams was overrated); Virginia Tech only has one loss itself but hasn’t really gotten to prove much past a great win against Oklahoma State. Brian Schwartz does a good job balancing expectations with performance — though calling Erick Green‘s performance so far “potential first-team All-ACC” is dangerously close to trolling.
  5. Charlotte Observer: This look at ACC coaches and how they stay healthy is fantastic, and it’s probably worth dissecting a little bit. What does a workout regimen say about each coach? Brian Gregory and Tony Bennett both do P90x. The most tenured (Coach K, Leonard Hamilton and Roy) all do some combination of weights, walking and either treadmill, stationary bike or yoga. The Marks (Turgeon and Gottfried) hit the elliptical. Jeff Bzdelik just sticks to yoga.
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ACC Summer Recess: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Posted by KCarpenter on July 12th, 2012

Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s target: Georgia Tech.

Where They Stand Now

Georgia Tech Head Coach Brian Gregory Has His Work Cut Out In Atlanta

Last season was a season of transition for Georgia Tech. After the firing of longtime coach Paul Hewitt, Brian Gregory took over a program that had spent the last few years slowly slumping to the bottom of the ACC. As the Yellow Jackets prepared a new home court, his team was left without a true home, forced to make use of Phillips Arena along with a few other venues. A new coach, no home court,  and a legitimate talent deficit made it no surprise that Georgia Tech faltered. In a season when their best moments come in December and January, Georgia Tech didn’t have a lot to celebrate as conference play went on. Still, the future seems promising for Georgia Tech: McCammish Pavillion is finally set to open and Gregory will better know what to expect from his team in the second year.

Who’s Leaving?

The nice part about having a young team is that you don’t have to worry about losing a lot of players to graduation. The Yellow Jackets will lose Pierre Jordan and Nick Foreman, a pair of back-up guards who each averaged about 10 minutes a game in the past season, but that’s the only toll from graduation. Sophomore big man Nate Hicks has transferred to Florida Gulf Coast University. Hicks didn’t get a lot of playing time in Atlanta, averaging a paltry 7.7 minutes per game. The biggest departure is the dismissal of Glen Rice, Jr., from the team. The troubled swingman was benched at the end of his freshman season by Paul Hewitt and served a pair of suspensions last season under Gregory. He was finally dismissed from the team after a run-in with the law that featured Rice driving under the influence while one of his passengers discharged a gun.  Rice was the leading scorer and rebounder for Georgia Tech, but his off-the-court troubles certainly seem serious enough to make his departure seem like the best option for Rice and the team.

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Who’s Got Next? Top 75 Guard Monte Morris Chooses Iowa State, Zach LaVine To UCLA

Posted by Josh Paunil on June 29th, 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: Class of 2013 Point Guard Monte Morris Commits To Iowa State

Floor General Monte Morris Is Iowa State’s Second Top-100 Guard For the Class of 2013.

Point Guard Gives Cyclones Second Top 100 Guard in Class of 2013. The only person who may have enjoyed Class of 2013 point guard Monte Morris‘ 17th birthday Wednesday more than the Michigan native is Fred Hoiberg as the four-star floor general committed to Iowa State. Morris is Iowa State’s second top 100 guard commitment in the Class of 2013, joining shooting guard Matt Thomas. Morris spurned offers from the likes of Indiana, Georgia Tech and USC to play at a less prestigious school although the Cyclones’ national profile has been improving because of Royce White (who in RTC’s NBA Draft Profile projects as a late first round pick) and Hoiberg’s success in the Class of 2012 with power forward Georges Niang (#52) signing. Morris is a big-time pick-up because of his ability to create scoring opportunities for both himself and his teammates. He is a smooth floor general with a good basketball-IQ and pretty good range beyond the three-point line. He has been improving his mid-range game as well but Hoiberg is turning Iowa State into a legitimate player for top 100 prospects year in and year out.

What They’re Saying

  • Senior Greg McClinton on deciding on Wake Forest: “I grew up a Wake kid and it has always been a dream of mine to play there. It is always great to be in front of friends and family and play close to home.” Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC Weekly Five: 06.18.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on June 18th, 2012

  1. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: In January, when Georgia Tech ended up as the landing place for former Kentucky player Stacey Poole, it was a nice get for the beleaguered Yellow Jackets, but not a game-changer. However, taking on Stacey has paid dividends in the form of a younger brother, Solomon Poole. Stacey’s little brother is a five-star point guard for the Class of 2013 and he is headed to join his older brother in Atlanta. Solomon admits that his brother’s presence was a major factor in his decision to attend Georgia Tech, and I doubt if Brian Gregory could be much happier with this turn of events.
  2. Duke Basketball Report: Though conference schedules have yet to be officially released, tidbits about the schedule have been making their ways into various reports. The good folks at DBR have taken it upon themselves to round up the reports (which are focused on Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College, and North Carolina). You can also see the match-ups for Florida State on the school’s athletic department website. Though it’s probably a little early to make assessments about the difficulty of a given schedule, it looks like the Tar Heels may have a rough season ahead.
  3. Durham Herald-Sun: Speaking of rough seasons for North Carolina, the troubles of  2010 and 2011 are still haunting the team, albeit in a fairly minor way. North Carolina’s streak of six years of APR Public Recognition Awards for the men’s basketball team has ended and it’s all UCLA’s fault or something like that. The APR is a simple measure of the academic status of a given collegiate athletic program. Though North Carolina has typically fared pretty well by this measure, transfers count against the school’s retention rate, and the defections of David Wear, Travis Wear, and Larry Drew to UCLA, in addition to the dismissal of Will Graves means that UNC has one really ugly looking APR season on it’s record. While complete APR scores are slated for a Wednesday release,  it bears mentioning that Duke paced the ACC with the most awards, including one for the men’s basketball team.
  4. Kansas City Star: Missouri will continue it’s reign as a landing spot for ACC coaches who enjoyed success and then moved on. Former Miami and current Missouri head coach Frank Haith has hired Dave Leitao as an assistant. Leitao, before a stint leading the Maine Red Claws of the NBDL, was of course the head coach at Virginia and the ACC Coach of the Year in 2007.  It’s a good hire for Missouri and a nice move for a guy who is good enough to be a college head coach just about anywhere.
  5. Washington Post: The situation of recently appointed Virginia Tech coach James Jones is as interesting as it is difficult . Former head coach Seth Greenberg left behind a legacy of confusion and accusations that seemed to undermine the program at every turn, nearly undoing all the building that Greenberg had accomplished during his tenure. This profile takes some time getting to know the ACC’s newest head coach and exploring the major task he faces in rebuilding a  basketball program that took some major blows in Greenberg’s wake.
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Most Impactful Incoming Transfers For Next Season

Posted by EJacoby on April 18th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

As most of the top high school recruits have signed their letters of intent and the NBA Draft early entries finish piling up (official deadline: April 29), we’re starting to get a much clearer picture of next season’s rosters. But the other huge factor to consider is the transfer ‘market,’ in which hundreds of players decide to change schools every offseason. Always an unaccounted-for variable in recruiting, certain transfers can drastically change programs. The majority of names on the transfer list each season are players that won’t leave significant dents in a program (coming or going), but there are always some notable departures. Here we lay out the transfers that will have the most significant impact for next season. In that context, this list only includes top incoming players that will be eligible in 2012-13. Most players must sit out for a full year after a transfer, so many of these guys have not been in the news for over a year. We haven’t forgotten about them, and neither should you.

Alex Oriakhi Won a National Title at UConn and Gets to Play Next Season for Missouri (Getty Images/R. Martinez)

INCOMING – These players will be eligible next season for their new teams.

  • Jared Swopshire, Northwestern – He’s taking advantage of the ‘graduate program’ rule in which he can play immediately next season after transferring this offseason, thanks to having graduated from his former school (Louisville) with a year of basketball eligibility still remaining. Despite limited playing time at Louisville, Swopshire is a versatile and talented forward that will look to replace the departed star forward John Shurna and lead Northwestern to its first-ever NCAA Tournament, which is still possible with several returning starters.
  • Alex Oriakhi, Missouri – And the run of Missouri Tigers begins. Oriakhi is eligible immediately next season for a different kink in the rules (UConn being postseason-ineligible), and he fills an important role as a big man for a talented team that lacks size. Laurence Bowers returns from injury next season and Oriakhi steps in as another experienced forward for Mizzou.
  • Jabari Brown, Missouri – This top 20 recruit left Oregon and will be a huge get for Mizzou. The very talented 6’5” guard Brown will help replace the scoring void of departed shooter Marcus Denmon.
  • Earnest Ross, Missouri – Another 6’5” guard, Ross was the leading scorer at Auburn two seasons ago and will step in as another talented scorer for Frank Haith’s Tigers. He can help replace another departed star in Kim English.
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SEC Morning Five: 11.15.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 15th, 2011

  1. We are in the midst of the 24-hour hoops marathon, a must for all serious college basketball fans. If you are loaded up on coffee, Mountain Dew, and multiple bags of chee-tos then it is likely you have made it through the entire night. Congratulations. But if not, don’t worry. There is still plenty of great hoops remaining. RTC has your guide to all the top games. Oh, maybe it’s not proper etiquette to link to your own website. Well, NBC Sports has a great breakdown of all the best action, as well as a live chat for the entire 24 hours. Seriously, they are going to try and make it through the whole marathon. Should be worth a stop by for the comedy alone. Are you hitting that wall and not sure you can make it any longer? Here are five steps to survival. Read them now. Before you fall asleep. And then come back to reading the Morning Five. This definitely won’t make you snooze.
  2. The Florida Gators are preparing for its Top 10 matchup with #3 Ohio State on Tuesday night by talking about the key matchup at the center position. Sophomore Patric Young recorded the first double-double of his career in the Gators’ season opener against Jackson State, but he wasn’t doing battle in the post with first team All-American Jared Sullinger either. “His size is a really big advantage that he has. He has a really big butt,” Young said of Sullinger. “It really helps him. He gets really good position. Once he ducks you in, you can’t get around him.” Sullinger has a big butt. So many jokes… so little time.
  3. Kentucky coach John Calipari announced today via his website that 6’4″ sophomore guard Stacey Poole will transfer. ” We do everything we can to make sure no one is lost in the shuffle because this program is about every player from top to bottom,” Calipari said. “In Stacey Poole’s case, I feel if he would have stayed, eventually he would have had a breakthrough and had his opportunity.” In a program the magnitude of Kentucky, transfers of seldom-used role players will occur. Although Kentucky’s players and coaching staff are upset about losing a member of the team, this loss will not result in any change on the court. Poole was not likely to play this year, and with the addition of another strong recruiting class imminent at UK next year, he likely would not have seen much action then either.
  4. The fallout from Vanderbilt‘s loss to Cleveland State over the weekend continues, as ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan questions why the Commodores didn’t fall further in the polls. The ESPN/USA Today poll, released on Monday, has Vandy ranked #20. Brennan’s dispute with the ‘Dores ranking has as much to do with the teams below Vandy in the polls as it does with its terrible play against CSU.  Or maybe Vandy’s clinging to the Top 25 could be “more a sign of respect for a tough Cleveland State team,” per Brennan. Regardless, there was no more polarizing team in the preseason than the Vanderbilt Commodores, and with play like what we witnessed on Sunday, it is tough to argue that the ‘Dores should have a spot at all in any poll. Vandy looks to rebound tonight at home against Bucknell.
  5. The Mikan Drill has a great breakdown of one reason why Vanderbilt struggled against Cleveland State. Many questioned how Vanderbilt would play with the absence of a post game until Festus Ezeli returns, but the offense struggled in part due to the frustration that the Viking defenders caused Commodore star John Jenkins. Jenkins was fronted by the defense the entire game. Cleveland State even gave up the occasional backdoor cut to Jenkins in order to limit his outside shooting. When Jenkins struggles to get an open look from outside, the entire Vandy offense has difficulty establishing a good rhythm. Check out the X’s and O’s breakdown for more on the defensive strategy CSU employed in containing Jenkins.
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SEC Morning Five: 11.11.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 11th, 2011

  1. Alex Poythress surprised the recruiting world by choosing the Kentucky Wildcats yesterday. The 6’8″ forward, ranked #16 in the class by Scout.com, also considered Memphis, Vanderbilt and Florida. Experts were stumped as to where the third best small forward prospect in the 2012 class would choose to take his talents. When asked about his decision, Poythress said, ““I just wanted to go to a place where I can get better and a place I feel comfortable at.” Kentucky has had the number one class three years in a row dating back to John Calipari’s first year in Lexington. Poythress’ commitment brings the Cats up to number two in Scout’s team rankings, with the Wildcats in hot pursuit of a couple of other top prospects. Never count out Calipari when it comes to recruiting.
  2. The Vanderbilt blog Anchor of Gold let out a little frustration after Kentucky nabbed Poythress. The Dores’ website vented about the rigorous academic standards of Vanderbilt University as compared to its competitors, the inconsistencies of the NCAA in handing out punishments against wrongdoers and the “it’s better to get forgiveness than permission” attitude of big time college athletics. The author points out that Vanderbilt is the only football program in the SEC without a major violation on its record and boasted that the Commodores have “graduated every men’s basketball player who exhausted his eligibility for thirty years.” Sometimes you just have to get things off your chest. It sounds like Vandy fans may not just want a good season this year for their men’s basketball program, but they may need it more than we thought.
  3. John Calipari spoke with the media on Thursday and indicated he will sit down with sophomore guard Stacey Poole some time in the next day or two. Poole has considered a transfer from Kentucky in reports according to his father. Calipari wants to give Poole all the time he needs to make a decision. “You want every player to stay, fight through it, learn not to run,” Calipari said before adding, “but if a young man doesn’t think his opportunity is here – they all want to play. I will support him.” The issue for Poole seems to be a lack of playing time. Getting on the court doesn’t appear to be in Poole’s future as long as Calipari continues to bring in top shelf talent at the guard position. Kentucky begins the season on Friday night against Marist, and it says here that Poole will most likely not be with the team.
  4. Nothing gets me pumped up for the basketball season like a YouTube video. Ole Miss basketball has created a preview video complete with player interviews, highlight footage and team goals for the season. The video is very well done. Coach Andy Kennedy needs to complete a few of these team goals in order to save his job. If the Rebels play half as well as the production of this video, then Kennedy might be able to stick around again next year.
  5. There’s at least one website that doesn’t think Kennedy is at the top of the SEC pecking order to get canned. CBS Sports published a list of the twelve coaches on the hot seat this year, and unfortunately two SEC coaches made the list. According to the report, South Carolina’s Darrin Horn and LSU’s Trent Johnson need a strong 2011-12 campaign in order to secure their jobs. Horn’s Gamecocks have been under .500 in winning percentage in each of the past two years, while the Tigers have won only 11 games in each of the past two seasons. This is certainly one list these guys don’t want to be on much longer.
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SEC Morning Five: Opening Night Edition

Posted by Gerald Smith on November 7th, 2011

  1. Feeling a bit more chipper and joyful than usual? It wasn’t that extra hour of sleep Sunday morning; it’s because today is the start of the 2011-12 basketball season! Tonight Mississippi State will face Eastern Kentucky in a game that actually counts! Tonight’s untelevised matchup is part of a regional round of play for the 2011 2K Sports Classic. Even though you can’t see the Bulldogs play until their ESPNU appearance against Akron on Wednesday, your basketball-loving soul should be soaring.
  2. At long last, the adoption is official: The SEC has new brothers in the Missouri Tigers. The latest school to be nabbed in SEC Expansion 2011: ALL YOUR TEAMS ARE BELONG TO US, Missouri made the official announcement with SEC Commissioner Mike Slive yesterday. Slive said that effective July 1, 2012, the Tigers would compete in the SEC East division. Parting is not such sweet sorrow for the Big 12: Interim commissioner Chuck Neinas said in a statement that Missouri’s decision was, “disappointing… I personally believe this decision is a mistake.” By leaving the Big 12, the long-standing rivalry game between Mizzou and Kansas may be dropped.We hope that Jayhawks and Tigers can overcome their differences and continue the Border War Border Showdown.
  3. But why stop at just 14 teams? That’s what Kentucky coach John Calipari has been asking this whole time of SEC Expansion. Coach Cal told ESPN’s Andy Katz that the SEC should just go ahead and grab two more teams for a total of 16 since he expects other major conferences to do the same. We’re not for sure which schools would be the next two schools to join the SEC since the Big 12 & Big East have raised their conference exit fees. The Big East is also attempting to force West Virginia to fulfill its 27-month exit period. Perhaps the SEC should just wait until things settle down before grabbing another group of teams.
  4. There is one place that is not expanding currently in the SEC: basketball rosters in the state of Mississippi. Ole Miss will be without the services of freshman guard LaDarius White until at least the end of the fall semester. White has not met NCAA academic standards and will be ineligible for competition until he’s brought his grades back up. Mississippi State’s Kristers Zeidaks was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for the entire 2011-12 season and the first 11 games of the 2012-13 season. The suspension is two games longer than the one imposed on current MSU forward Renardo Sidney for when he had to sit out the entire 2009-10 season.
  5. One roster change may be imminent in the former SEC East. As we mentioned Wednesday morning, Kentucky sophomore Stacey Poole is considering a transfer to another school. Poole sat out of the Wildcats’ exhibition game last week but remains on campus. Theoretically if Poole can complete his coursework for the fall semester he will become eligible for basketball in the spring semester of 2012-13 and have two more seasons of eligibility. The 6’4″ guard is behind Doron Lamb, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Darius Miller on the Wildcats’ depth chart. For his part Kentucky coach John Calipari said he would support Poole even if he decides to transfer: “I don’t blame him,” Calipari said. We hope for either a happy ending of Poole’s career at Kentucky or a happy new beginning.
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SEC Morning Five: 10.26.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on October 26th, 2011

  1. Mississippi State’s big man Renardo Sidney is still talking about his transformation into a good citizen. He spoke to the Starkville media and had this to say, “I think I’ve done changed more than I ever did since my first two years. Attitude’s done got better, my work ethic’s gotten better.” Everyone rest assured, Renardo Sidney has “done got” better. Sidney has even seen a counselor to help with anger issues. He said, “they taught me how to keep my anger inside, count to ten. I’m not crazy, but sometimes I get overheated.” If you don’t trust Sidney then just listen to Arnett Moultrie, who had this to say about his teammate, “he’s like a whole new different person. His attitude has changed a whole 360.” See, I told you so… Sidney is back to his old ways. Although a 360-degree change is probably more accurate, I believe Moultrie probably meant to say that Sidney has done a 180-degree turnaround.
  2. Expansion-apocalypse is still upon us. With Missouri heading to the SEC and West Virginia heading to the Big 12, nobody seems to be sure what will happen next. But if you find yourself complaining about conference realignment, just think, at least the SEC doesn’t have to endure TCU basketball. A TCU to the SEC discussion is an interesting tidbit that came from Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in his article entitled “Missouri needs to say no the SEC.” Engel cites “a couple of TCU sources” as saying, “the SEC inquired about TCU.” Really? Why? As if he could read my mind, Engel goes on to say, “seriously. Not kidding.” Still don’t believe him? Not sure I do either, but you can check out the article here for further confirmation.
  3. Ballin’ is a Habit released their much anticipated “All-Name Teams” and the SEC had a significant amount of representation. Congratulations to Vanderbilt’s Festus Ezeli for making the All-Name Team Honorable Mention. In the “That’s-Not-a-Real-Name Team” category, Mardracus Wade of Arkansas made the first team while his teammate Julysses Nobles made the fourth team. The SEC must be disappointed to not be represented on the “All-Sounds-Like-a-Disease Team” or the “All-SEC Frathouse Team,” despite the award being named after the conference. Also, special shout-outs to Stacey Poole of Kentucky for making the Second Team “All Gender Confusion” list and Steve Tchiengang of Vanderbilt for Second Team “All-Awesome-Last-Name-Team.” Congratulations to all award winners, including several other SEC players. Please leave your snubs list in the comments section for the ultimate nerdfight.
  4. The Lexington Herald Leader‘s Jerry Tipton spoke with Kentucky sophomore Doron Lamb who said he is playing as a backup point guard in practices. Lamb said, “I like it. I’m getting better at it.” Teammate Terrence Jones noted Lamb’s improved ballhandling skills while endorsing him as the leading candidate to relieve freshman Marquis Teague. Lamb is working hard to improve his game. He said, “I’m working way harder after practice, before practice. I get here an hour early before practice. After practice I’m the last one to leave.” That is exactly what Kentucky fans want to hear.
  5. Set your DVR’s for HBO. Kentucky freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is featured in an HBO Sports Documentary called “Prayer for a Perfect Season.” His high school basketball team, the St. Patrick’s (NJ) Celtics, were the subject of the documentary because of their quest for an undefeated 2010-11 season. The film, which premiered last night, focuses on the lives of Kidd-Gilchrist and Derrick Gordon, a Western Kentucky University commitment, as well as the pressure and difficulties of playing for a team in search of the perfect season.  It’s the perfect movie to pass the time while waiting for college basketball to begin.
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RTC Conference Primers: #5 – Southeastern Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 2nd, 2010

Jared Quillen of BigBlueCats.com is the RTC correspondent for the Southeastern Conference.

Predicted Order of Finish

SEC East

  • T1. Florida (11-5)
  • T1. Kentucky (11-5)
  • T1. Georgia (11-5)
  • 2. Tennessee (10-6)
  • 3. Vanderbilt (7-9)
  • 4. South Carolina (4-12)

SEC West

  • 1. Mississippi State (12-4)
  • 2. Mississippi (9-7)
  • T3. Alabama (7-9)
  • T3. Arkansas (7-9)
  • 4. LSU (4-12)
  • 5. Auburn (3-13)

All-Conference Team

  • G Brandon Knight – Kentucky
  • G Chris Warren – Mississippi
  • G Kenny Boynton – Florida
  • F Enes Kanter* – Kentucky (if eligible)
  • F Trey Thompkins – Georgia

6th Man

Travis Leslie – Georgia

Impact Newcomers

  • G Brandon Knight – Kentucky
  • G Gerald Robinson – Georgia
  • F Patric Young – Florida
  • F Tobias Harris – Tennessee
  • C Renardo Sidney – Mississippi State

Kentucky's Brandon Knight was a hot commodity as a late signee.

What You Need To Know

  • There are a few things that the casual observer of the SEC may not be aware of but should consider:  Mississippi State in November is not the same Mississippi State that you will see in December, nor the one that you will see in January.  The Bulldogs will play their first nine games without Renardo Sidney, who will have waited out a lengthy suspension by the time he plays his first game.  Then, after five more games, Dee Bost will return to the lineup. You recall that he declared for the NBA Draft, failed to pull out by the NCAA’s deadline, lost his eligibility, went undrafted, and subsequently was reinstated with a 14-game suspension.  Don’t be surprised if the Bulldogs drop a game or two early in the season to a team they should beat.  It means nothing.  This will be a very good team that will be fun to watch as the season progresses.
  • Florida brings back a lot of experience.  That would be all five of Florida’s starters, to be exact, plus they add the very talented McDonalds All-American Patric Young.  Young will provide the size inside that Florida lacked last year.  That said, count me as one who is still a little skeptical of Florida’s chances at winning the league.  Lest we forget, Florida was not one but two Chandler Parsons prayers from missing the NCAA Tournament for a third straight year.  Furthermore, Florida lost in the first round to a good but not great BYU team that played a good but not great game.  Will Florida be good?  Definitely.  Great?  Well, that remains to be seen.

  • For those expecting Kentucky to repeat what they did last year because they replaced four freshmen stars with four new freshmen stars — think again.  This team is even younger than last year’s and noticeably smaller.  Look for the Wildcats to play much faster than last year and shoot better.  But DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe, and John Wall are hard to replace.  If Enes Kanter becomes eligible (as most believe he will) by conference play, then they will challenge for the league title; if not, they fight for second or third in the SEC East.  It all comes down to Kanter.

  • The SEC East is going to be very good this year.  Mississippi State gets the nod as champion simply because the East teams are going to beat up on each other like no other group of six teams in America.  I could see any one of Florida, Kentucky, Georgia or Tennessee winning the East.  I hate predicting only seven conference wins for a talented Vanderbilt squad, but I just don’t know where to place them when they have to play eaach of Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky twice, plus Mississippi State.

Predicted Champion

Mississippi State (NCAA #2-Seed) – Mississippi State is the favorite by default as the East is going to be a bloodbath and the Bulldogs only play each Eastern division team once.  Playing in the weaker West division is certainly going to benefit Mississippi State as they won’t have to play Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky and even Vanderbilt but once.  Renardo Sidney is going to be a force, especially in a conference light on dominant big men this year.  Add Dee Bost and Ravern Johnson in the back court to an improving Kodi Augustus and that’s a team that easily wins the West.  If the Bulldogs manage to win half of their games against the East, they probably win the overall league crown.

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RTC’s Top Ten Recruiting Classes of 2010

Posted by zhayes9 on October 13th, 2010

Zach Hayes is RTC’s resident bracketologist and a frequent contributor.

For the college basketball fanatic, incoming freshman are like shiny, new toys. It’s one of the true pleasures of following the sport religiously and a benefit of the current one-and-done era: every talented prospect from all reaches of the nation must compete on the college hardwood for at least one season. It gives us a chance to enjoy John Wall’s end-to-end speed, Kevin Durant’s heroics and Michael Beasley’s scoring prowess, even for just five months. A handful of  coaches have assembled an accomplished group of these freshmen, whether as a complete annual overhaul (Kentucky) or an influx into an already stable core (Duke). Here are the top ten freshmen classes around college basketball this season and a preview of what fans that may not follow the ins and outs of recruiting can expect from these all-world talents:

1. Kentucky - G Brandon Knight, C Enes Kanter, F Terrence Jones, G Doron Lamb, F Stacey Poole, F Eloy Vargas

Calipari's Newest Band of Merry Freshmen

Let this sink in: John Calipari’s 2010 class is good for tops in the nation, yet his 2011 group is even better with arguably three of the top five prospects next year. This year’s collection is highlighted by Knight, Gatorade’s National High School Player of the Year as a junior and easily one of the nation’s top prospects. In fact, he’s even further along as a pure scorer than his predecessor at the point for Kentucky, with a more reliable jumper and the ability to carry his team offensively. Maybe more importantly, Knight has the mentality, toughness and competitive nature to take on the burden of leading a program of Kentucky’s stature with such lofty expectations. The class would take a considerable blow if Kanter, a Turkish import dealing with eligibility concerns, can’t take the Rupp Arena floor at any point this season. Kanter plays in the post with high efficiency and an array of advanced moves, making him the ideal replacement for the ultra-productive DeMarcus Cousins. Kanter is talented enough to be a First Team All-America candidate if he plays an ample amount of games. Like Kanter, Jones is a former Washington commit that features a tremendous outside jumper and a hard-working mentality on defense, a trait that will endear him to Calipari immediately, a coach that has always demanded equal effort on both ends of the floor. Lamb is another gifted scoring two-guard that would be the highlight of nearly every other recruiting class in the nation, while Poole is more of a slashing wing with supreme athleticism. Look for Florida transfer Eloy Vargas to earn playing time immediately for what could be a relatively thin Kentucky frontcourt.

2. North Carolina - F Harrison Barnes, G Reggie Bullock, G Kendall Marshall

This three-man class continues the steady stream of Roy Williams recruiting coups, although the Hall of Fame coach hopes that this trio has more of an immediate impact than his 2009 unit of John Henson, Dexter Strickland, Leslie McDonald and the Wear twins. Barnes is the near-unanimous choice for the best all-around player in the 2010 class and the prohibitive favorite to take home Freshman of the Year honors this season. Good luck finding easily noticeable flaws in Barnes’ game. He excels in the mid-range, can score in a multitude of ways, has an excellent perimeter shot, shows unwavering effort on the glass and plays with an IQ off the charts for an 18-year old. Williams hit the jackpot when he convinced Barnes to spurn Duke (can you imagine Barnes with Irving and that returning team?) and spend his one year in college at Chapel Hill. He’s a phenomenal student and a coaches’ dream, always willing to listen to advice to improve this game. The Heels backcourt is somewhat crowded with Larry Drew, II, also expected to see heavy minutes, but both Bullock and Marshall are way too gifted to keep on the bench. Bullock features a pinpoint outside jumper — possibly the best in the entire class — and has a true offensive mentality as a two-guard in Williams’ offense. Marshall is more of the pure point guard, a phenomenal distributor blessed with uncanny court vision. He could be an upgrade over Drew in a short period of time. Marshall will need to improve his shooting range to avoid defenses sagging off of him late in games.

3. Ohio State - C Jared Sullinger, F DeShaun Thomas, G Aaron Craft, G Jordan Sibert

Sullinger is Reminiscent of Zach Randolph in the Paint

Nobody would be shocked to see Sullinger challenge Barnes for top freshman in the country this season. What makes him so effective in the post is a rare combination of brute strength and touch around the rim. Always playing with confidence and a high motor, Sullinger can score in a multitude of ways down low that make him nearly impossible to guard. Expect the Columbus native to step in immediately at the center position as an upgrade from the incumbent Dallas Lauderdale. Thomas is one of Indiana high school’s top all-time scorers, a versatile southpaw forward that can finish anywhere on the floor and has the strength/athleticism to guard power forwards. Due to the return of David Lighty, Jon Diebler and William Buford, along with Sullinger entering the fray and the question mark at point guard, Ohio State has enough depth that Thomas may prove Matta’s ace in the hole off the bench this season.  Craft could end up winning that open point guard competition. While his offensive game needs improvement, all Matta will need from his freshman is the ability to find his plethora of talented teammates and play capable defense against opposing point guards, two areas where Craft is very capable. Sibert could also see chunks of minutes as a freshman. The Cincinnati product is still inching back to 100% following a leg injury, but when healthy will provide the Buckeyes with another slashing wing with a scorers’ mentality.

4. Memphis - G Will Barton, F Jelan Kendrick, G Joe Jackson, F Tarik Black, G Chris Crawford

Hopefully UTEP, UAB and other Conference USA foes enjoyed one year of lackluster Memphis basketball. That brief spell is about to come to a quick and decisive end when this prized recruiting class takes the floor at FedEx Forum. Barton has the highest ceiling — a 6’6 shooting guard that can score at virtually any spot inside of halfcourt, uses his size to lock down defensively and finishes smoothly at the rim. He should start immediately alongside Wesley Witherspoon, giving head coach Josh Pastner plenty of height and versatility around his perimeter. Kendrick is another 6’6 prospect with point guard skills. He has the vision and distributing skills to direct traffic late in games for Pastner, but can also step in at the shooting guard or small forward. Local product Joe Jackson could win the point guard job immediately as another phenomenal scorer with an offensive repertoire that reaches far beyond his years. He’s been seemingly unstoppable late in games scoring the basketball, although his progress running the Tigers attack as a pure point is something to keep an eye on. Black is the top post player in this class, another Memphis kid that’s virtually unguardable with the rock deep in the paint. He should see immediate minutes alongside Will Coleman and Angel Garcia on the Tigers frontline.

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SEC Media Notes: 06.29.10

Posted by nvr1983 on June 29th, 2010

As part of our attempt to continue to provide you with the best independent college basketball information on the Internet we will periodically bring you information from conference media calls. Today’s entry comes from the SEC, which amazingly was not affected what could have been a massive conference shake-up.

Ed. Note: The conference call actually took place on Monday, but I had an ophthalmologist appointment and I’m pretty sure that they used just about the entire bottle of eye drops to dilate my eyes so I’m just starting to see straight again. The below entries are my some of the key points the coaches made, but are not direct quotes. If you want to listen to the coaches speak directly, click on the link next to their name.

Anthony Grant (Alabama)Audio
- Defense: Last year their defense gave them a chance to be in every game that they played, but they had to have that solid defense because their offense was not always there.
- Returning players: Senario Hillman one of elite athletes in the SEC and can guard multiple positions. He will need to improve shot selection and decision-making, but is making strides. JaMychal Green adds size and strength to the frontcourt, which is as good as any team in the SEC. Should improve with an extra year of experience. Tony Mitchell had a very good freshman year and being named to SEC All-Freshman team was an accomplishment. Grant is looking for the players to make a jump between their first and second year in the Alabama program.

Tony Barbee (Auburn)Audio / Key Quotes
- Lack of Experience: Starting over is exciting because you get to mold a new group of players. It will be hard to judge what he has until he sees the team together in the Fall.
- Plan: Focus on defense because they could be “offensively challenged” because they don’t know what they have outside of Frankie Sullivan. Given their lack of size on the inside they might have to focus on their offense around the 3-point line.

John Pelphrey (Arkansas)Audio
- Frontcourt: They have Marshawn Powell on the inside, but will need to develop more on the inside to help support him.
- APR: We’re all working very hard. We want to see these young men improve in the classroom and on the court. He isn’t sure statistics over the short-term can adequately reflect the academic performance of a program, but is open to more long-term measures.
- Andre Clark: Aware of the transfer to TCU and does talk with players who have transferred if they contact him about an issue.

Billy Donovan (Florida)Audio
- Backcourt: Didn’t know what to expect coming into last season having lost Nick Calathes. Irving Walker played his freshman year at 2 guard spot. Kenny Boynton came in with huge reputation out of high school, but you’re never sure with them making the jump. Limited depth in the backcourt meant those two played more minutes than they probably should have, which meant they couldn’t do some of the stuff they would have otherwise done such as press. Coming into this year with the experience should be helpful for those two coming into this season. Still some issues with depth in the backcourt this year although they are adding freshmen Scottie Wilbekin and Casey Prather to the backcourt.
- Alex Tyus: First UF player to put his name in the NBA Draft and return to UF. It was Alex’s decision. He worked out with a couple of NBA teams and listened to what NBA had to say about where he might go. No pressure from UF to come back. Donovan feels that process is only going to help the Gators going forward.
- Patric Young: Very physical and aggressive player, but needs some work on the inside. In the near term he will bring energy and a great rebounding presence to the Gators.

Mark Fox (Georgia)Audio
- Marcus Thornton: Really big boost after picking him up following his release from his letter of intent from Clemson. Gives Georgia a lot of options because of his versatility.
- Trey Thompkins: Had discussion with family and got info from NBA. Felt it wasn’t appropriate. Only would be able to work out for 1 or 2 days due to final exams and the new NBA Draft withdrawal deadlines.
- Turnovers: Feels they will take better care of the ball and they should also be able to create more turnovers on the defensive end, which should create more easy baskets.

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