RTC Summer Updates: Big Ten Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 8th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest update comes courtesy of our Big Ten correspondent, Will Green.

Readers’ Take

Summer Storylines 

  • Sully’s Back, But With Demands – In the year 2011, in the age of ‘now,’ in a profit-first educate-yourself-later society, amidst a flittering of teenage NBA draft picks, ferocious freshman phenomenon Jared Sullinger decided to stay in school. How quaint. Of course, there’s absolutely nothing quaint about Sullinger, his (rightly) assumed sense of on-court leadership, his brutally physical style of play, or that Ja Rule-esque snarl that makes him look like a squirrel who just ate a questionable nut. But seriously, it’s highly unlikely that anyone other than Jordan Taylor will stand in the way of Sullinger winning the Big Ten Player of the Year Award, and rightfully so. He has spent the better part of the off-season slimming down and getting faster. The best player on the best team in the conference simply can’t suffer a slump; he’s worked too hard and has clearly made a commitment to improving his game before leaving for the pros. The question is less about what Sullinger’s level of performance will be than it is about the effect his performance will have on other members of his team. Last year, his 17 /10 were a reflection of consistent contribution that was also part of a greater team-wide cohesion. Jon Diebler, David Lighty and even Dallas Lauderdale each had pronounced and vital roles on last year’s team. They’re all gone now. While some of the supporting cast and several new stars-in-the-making will join Sullinger, will increased reliance upon him make OSU more of a one-man show? Or will the Buckeyes continue to roll out a team-focused squad with four scorers in double figures and a core group of five guys who notch 30 minutes a game? Whatever happens, Sullinger will be back and he will be better than last year. Consider yourself warned.
  • Welcome, Nebraska – On July 1, Nebraska officially joined the B1G, an acronym whose ludicrousness we continue to subconsciously validate by pronouncing it ‘Bih-one-ggg’. If you’re scoring at home, UNL’s entry makes for 12 teams in the Big Ten, a conference that shouldn’t be confused with the Big 12, which only has ten teams now since Nebraska left it. Now that we’ve all scratched our heads for second, we should pause to consider how massive the amount of potential football revenue must have been to persuade the intransigent Big Ten to alter its ranks. The Cornhuskers’ inclusion marks only the second change in league makeup since the 1950s. So how will the other 11 schools adjust to the adjustment? Football-wise, they should all watch their backs. On the basketball court, though, it probably won’t have a big (or should we say, a ‘B1G’) impact. Sadly for Husker fans, their roundball team loses two of their top three scorers and has some major offensive issues to solve in a league whose tempo of play limits even the country’s very best offenses. Head coach Doc Sadler continues to recruit a healthy mix of transfers and high school players, but over his five-year tenure nine of them have left due to reasons other than matriculation or the NBA. Nebraska has had some encouraging moments in recent years, including a five game improvement in Big 12 play from 2009 to 2010 (from 2-14 to 7-9). The team’s defensive efficiency would’ve finished fourth and it’s adjusted tempo would’ve finished fourth slowest in last year’s Big Ten. In some respects, Nebraska feels like a perfect match for the conference. And yet, for many of those same reasons, it might be a little out-matched in its first few years.
  • Ed DeChellis Leaves For Navy – Nowadays, stories like these are rarer than that bloody slice of carpaccio you once had at a fancy restaurant: a coach leaving a higher paying, higher-infrastructure, higher strength-of-schedule situation for a middle of the pack team in a unambiguously low-major conference. Make no mistake: Ed DeChellis didn’t become the new head coach at Navy. He stopped being the head coach at Penn State. Unless they’re ousted via scandal or especially egregious results you simply don’t hear about power six coaches voluntarily leaving for a “lesser” job. And yet, that’s exactly what happened. Or is it? The answer to that question centers around just how much “less” of a job the Navy coaching position really is, and if anything DeChellis might have done warranted the move. The wink-wink nudge-nudge consensus is that while DeChellis didn’t necessarily knock anyone’s socks off, the school refuses to take basketball seriously. Some have lambasted the athletic department’s commitment to DeChellis and the program overall at a school that’s known best for intense linebackers and an 84 year-old Italian-American man. It will be interesting to observe new head coach Patrick Chambersin his first few seasons and see whether or not he runs into a similar set of struggles as DeChellis did during his tenure. If the holistic drawbacks of coaching in University Park really outweigh the benefits to the extent that someone would walk away from the position, then PSU has bigger problems to fix than figuring out how to win in the Big Ten this season. But if anyone can overcome whatever said “drawbacks” may or may not be, it’s Chambers.

    The Buckeyes, led by big man Jared Sullinger, are easy favorites in the Big Ten.

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Who’s Got Next? A Recruiting Notebook…

Posted by Josh Paunil on April 11th, 2011

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.  Each 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 in the lower levels of the sport.  If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Introduction

With this past week full of events such as the All-American Championship, Nike Hoop Summit and Nike EYBL that displayed top high school talent, there were a lot of chances to watch, analyze and talk to some of the best high school basketball players in the country of all grade levels. We were able to watch more than half of the top-50 prospects in both the classes of 2011 and 2012, and saw great match-ups such as the two best guards in the class of 2012 in Rodney Purvis (#9 – Louisville) and Ricardo Ledo (#10) going at it in the EYBL. We also saw Anthony Davis (#4 – Kentucky) go up against one of the top international big men in Bismack Biyombo (Fuenlabrada, Spain) in the Hoop Summit and two class of 2011 top-five point guards in Josiah Turner (#10 – Arizona) and B.J. Young (#22 – Arkansas).

What We Learned

Rodney Purvis, the #9 overall prospect in the class of 2012, was the best player at the Nike EYBL this past weekend in Virginia, and often required two defenders. (Credit: National Recruiting Spotlight)

Rodney Purvis Elevates to Top Guard. Purvis clearly established himself as the best guard in his class during the EYBL as he out-played the second-best guard in Ledo, hit clutch shots and scored prolifically from everywhere on the court. He is a big-time scorer who can shoot the lights out from behind the arc or take it to the rim where he can finish through contact. He is also a good ballhandler and applies great pressure defense at times which results in turnovers for his opponents. Purvis is able to keep his opponents in front of him as well on defense and has good anticipation which results in steals and easy transition baskets on the other end. Expect him to move even further up the rankings since he has started to consistently get into the lane where he can finish or dump it off to a big man. Purvis is an elite level talent who will make an immediate impact for Louisville in a couple of years.

Anthony Davis Rises to #1 Player (coming soon).  Like Purvis, Davis staked his claim as the best player at his position during the Hoop Summit. However, he went one step further and seized the title as the number one prospect in the country (our new rankings will be out next week). Saying Anthony Davis is versatile at 6’11 is an understatement. The former guard is a force down low as a tremendous shot-blocker and rebounder and is very good at guarding the perimeter against smaller players. He can also handle the ball well and is a deft passer.  Additionally, he can score off the dribble and can play either with his back or facing the basket. He is a very tough match-up due to his versatility. His shooting is respectable and he is a dominant offensive rebounder which allows him to get a lot of easy putbacks. Davis’ potential is unlimited and the sky is the limit for him, which is why he is the best player in his class. Look for Davis to dominate at Kentucky next year and to be an impact player in the NBA down the road.

A Duke Version of the Fab Five? The Fab Five documentary got a lot of press and media attention due to Jalen Rose’s remarks and Grant Hill’s response, but Duke-commit Rasheed Sulaimon took something else away from it. “I saw it and thought it would be a cool idea and I know Duke is recruiting [#5] Shabazz [Muhammad], [#19] L.J. [Rose] and [#15] Tony [Parker] hard so I thought why not put another one together,” Sulaimon said when I asked him about it. L.J. Rose also had some remarks about Sulaimon’s idea, “Him and Alex Murphy have been recruiting me, Shabazz [Muhammad] and Tony Parker hard. It would be fun, it would be a lot of fun.” Parker also smiled at the thought of the idea, “It would be fun,” he added.

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