SEC M5: 01.13.14 Edition

Posted by Greg Mitchell (@gregpmitchell) on January 13th, 2014

SEC_morning5

  1. Missouri, LSU, and Arkansas all took hits to their tournament resumes in their first SEC games. Tennessee now belongs on that inglorious list after blowing a 14-point first half lead and losing to Texas A&M. The Aggies have thrown a wrench into both the Vols’ and Razorbacks’ tournament hopes in less than a week. Alex Caruso is off to a scorching start in SEC play, with 19 assists against 4 turnovers in the Aggies’ two wins. As the folks at Good Bull Hunting write, Texas A&M should continue to cause problems because of their defense. “The season may be pretty ugly thus far, but with A&M’s play on defense, they can never be taken lightly, as Arkansas just experienced.” That was on display in Knoxville, as the Aggies held both Jordan McRae and Jarnell Stokes in single figures. Billy Kennedy’s squad is the early leader for SEC Spoiler of the Year.
  2. Starkville hasn’t been kind to Ole Miss, where they’ve now lost 15 of their last 16 game against their biggest rival. For the Rebels it was yet another close game they weren’t able to close out, similar to losses against Kansas State, Oregon, and Dayton. ”Our guys scrap and fight and it’s not always the most pleasing to watch from any vantage point, but we stay in games,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “Then it comes down to the stretch and you’ve got to make plays. The games we’ve made plays — like (Auburn on Thursday) — we win. The games we don’t make the plays and Mississippi State does, they win.” At this point the Rebels simply aren’t in the NCAA tournament conversation, especially after losing to RPI #156. For Mississippi State, the win moved them to 11-4, surpassing their win total from last season. Even though their fans didn’t get a chance to boo the suspended Marshall Henderson, the win still must have been satisfying.
  3. Julius Randle was limited to 25 minutes in Kentucky’s win against Vanderbilt because of cramping, which he struggled with against Louisville as well. Randle has the Wildcats’ highest usage rate (27.9%) and is the focus of every opposing defense. John Calipari talked about the toll this is taking on the freshman. ”You have to understand, he’s in a dogfight,” Calipari said in his post game news conference. “I think he is the only college player when he catches the ball, he’s got three guys on him. He’s not just running up and down the court. He’s, like, in a football game.” Randle’s conditioning will be something to watch going forward, and the onus falls on Alex Poythress, among others, to keep the power forward position afloat. Poythress has played reasonably well in the 41 minutes he’s logged in SEC play (21 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks).
  4. Missouri‘s front court rotation has suddenly grown since the Tigers entered SEC playTorren Jones (13 minutes) and Keanau Post (14 minutes) saw extended minutes against Auburn after both played sparingly during the non-conference season. They combined for 17 rebounds, and this was important because senior Tony Criswell was benched for an undisclosed team violation. Criswell began the year suspended so his absence could easily snowball into more games, and Frank Haith will need to keep relying on Jones and Post. Starting center Ryan Rosburg was in foul trouble much of the game, so it’s encouraging for Missouri that they were still able to win the rebounding battle (44 to 28).
  5. Scottie Wilbekin says his ankle is feeling good, and that’s obviously great news for Florida. “I think (I was) 100 percent, maybe 90 percent, 85,” Wilbekin said. “It wasn’t really hurting that bad. It was just range of motion. It was good. It was all right.” The senior point guard was able to play 35 mostly effective minutes in the Gators’ overtime time in Fayetteville. Injuries appear to be an inevitable part of Florida’s 2013-14 season after early ankle injuries to Wilbekin and Kasey Hill, and the current injuries faced by Wilbekin, Patric Young and Casey Prather. Young was able to play 21 minutes despite knee tendinitis, but Prather sat out and is the major concern for Billy Donovan. It’s always hard to lose a senior starter, but Prather is a little different because, foremost, he’s having a SEC POY-type season and no one else on the roster has his combination of size, length and ball-handling. The status of his knee has become a key to Florida’s season.
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Who’s Got Next? Wainright Opts For Baylor; Missouri Adds Two…

Posted by CLykins on October 25th, 2012

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting guru. 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 discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking 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.

Scott Drew Hauls in Wainright

After making an official visit to the Baylor campus for their “Midnight Madness” festivities nearly two weeks ago, small forward prospect Ishmail Wainright made it official last Thursday evening by verbally committing to the Bears. Wainright, the No. 26 ranked prospect in the ESPN 100, picked Baylor over Ohio State, St. John’s and Texas.

Scott Drew Continues to Pile Up the Top Recruits at Baylor

A Missouri native, the 6’6″ Wainright was formerly a Missouri commitment back in May 2011. At the conclusion of that summer, he decided to reopen his recruitment after a successful AAU campaign. As Wainright began the recruiting process all over again, over 30 of the top schools in the country reached out to the Missouri small forward. With his recent commitment to Baylor, Wainright will join power forward Jonathan Motley as the only two commitments for the Bears from the class of 2013.

When describing Wainright’s overall game, he is a tremendous athlete and one of the most physically imposing small forwards at the high school level. On the offensive end, Wainright does most of his damage scoring around the rim, either in transition or driving to the basket when creating for himself off the bounce. He is also a great passer with even better court vision. He has a knack for making the right play at the right time when creating opportunities for his teammates to make plays. A glaring weakness of his offensive game, however, has been his shooting. Prior to the summer, Wainright was not a good shooter. Most defenses took note of that fact by playing him loosely, forcing him into taking shots from the outside. As exhibited during the early recruiting period in the summer, though, Wainright showed an ever improving jump shot. To round out his game, Wainright needs to make it a point to continue working on his shooting touch before ending up on the Baylor campus. On the defensive end, Wainright is as good as they come. With great length, strength and athleticism, Wainright is arguably one of the best defenders from the class of 2013. He can guard multiple positions on the floor in part due to his great frame. He is a nightmare for the opposition and will continue to be well into his college career.

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SEC M5: 10.23.12 Edition

Posted by DPerry on October 23rd, 2012

  1. The SEC media’s preseason predictions were revealed Monday, and it’s clear that members of the press see a gap between the top four and the rest of the conference. Kentucky, Florida, Missouri, and Tennessee all received at least one first-place vote in addition to two representatives on the all-SEC teams. If you’re looking for a team to try to break into the upper tier, look no further than Arkansas, the only other school with two all-SEC representatives. Sophomore BJ Young had a stellar freshman campaign, but he was overshadowed by the young stars at Kentucky. Consider him the favorite for the league scoring title. Add in Marshawn Powell and a deep recruiting class, and Mike Anderson’s team should be in position to challenge if one of the top four slips up.
  2. Monday was a big day for newly minted preseason SEC player of the year Phil Pressey. The conference media wasn’t the only source praising him as CBS Sports released its preseason list of the top 50 point guards, ranking the Tigers floor general second only behind Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan. Pressey and Canaan are hardly the only two candidates who can make a claim for that top spot, but striking differences in their respective styles of play make comparisons tough. Pressey barely averaged double-figure points last season, and because of the talent around him, there are no guarantees he’ll improve those totals. Canaan, however, is a point guard in name only. The senior averaged fewer than four assists per game last season, and with his three highest scoring teammates departing, he’ll have even less of a reason to pass. The casual fan may take a quick glance at Canaan’s numbers and see the superior player, but Pressey’s multi-faceted game shouldn’t be ignored.
  3. Power forward recruit Torren Jones committed to Missouri on Monday, adding to an already impressive 2013 class. Frank Haith has shown a deft recruiting touch in his short time in Columbia. This past spring, he utilized the transfer market for short-term fixes that will keep his team competitive despite losing stars such as Kim English, Marcus Denmon, and Ricardo Ratliffe to graduation. However, his efforts in the 2013 high school recruiting class are much more important to the long-term health of the program. Missouri enters the SEC as a title contender in their first season, and if Haith maintains his momentum, the Tigers will be a mainstay in the top tier of the conference for years to come.
  4. Vanderbilt isn’t short on question marks entering the new season, but finding a replacement for center Festus Ezeli may be the most pressing. 6’11” sophomore Josh Henderson was expected to fill the role, but after experiencing problems in his recovery from foot surgery, the Virginia native won’t be ready for the start of the season. According to the Tennessean, Shelby Moats is next in line. The 6’8” sophomore isn’t criminally undersized, but as a perimeter-oriented big man, he could have trouble adjusting to a new role focusing on the paint. Henderson should return in time for conference play, but we’ll see if head coach Kevin Stallings can keep his team afloat through the first few weeks with a severely limited frontcourt rotation.
  5. With the football team mired in its worst season in over a half century, will Auburn fans turn their attention to basketball? Unlikely, but Tony Barbee and his team are doing all they can to drum up some excitement. The Tigers basketball squad will host a pep rally this Friday, and are even providing free food to early-arriving fans, with an intrasquad scrimmage will be open to the public on Saturday. Auburn boasts a talented freshman class and could surprise a few teams, but complimentary refreshments may be necessary to fill Auburn Arena after the Tigers inevitably once again fall out of contention.
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