No matter how established the program, every college basketball coach eventually takes a chance on a transfer. Jim Boeheim, for example, plucked Wesley Johnson from Iowa State and turned him into the Big East Player of the Year in 2009-10. Tom Izzo and Mike Krzyzewski’s current rosters both include transfers with Brandon Wood (Valparaiso) and Seth Curry (Liberty), and in 1979, a former Indiana Hoosier named Larry Bird nearly won a title with Indiana State just a few years after quitting basketball (and Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers) altogether.
Hoiberg and Haith Are Recruiting Transfers Heavily to Their Programs
Normally, coaches take one or two transfers at a time to fill immediate holes, but that’s not everybody’s philosophy. Meet Missouri’s Frank Haith and Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg, a pair of coaches who have abandoned traditional recruiting methods at their new schools in favor of Division I transfers. Haith, hired in April to replace Mike Anderson, is using three open scholarships in 2011-12 on players who will not appear in a single basketball game this season by signing Keion Bell (Pepperdine), Earnest Ross (Auburn) and Jabari Brown (Oregon). Hoiberg, on the other hand, has four transfers on his roster in his second year with the Cyclones: Chris Allen (Michigan State), Chris Babb (Penn State), Royce White (Minnesota), and Anthony Booker (Southern Illinois). The two coaches have energized their fan bases by signing big names from major schools, but Haith and Hoiberg’s recruiting tactics cannot be accurately judged at this point. Iowa State’s Fab Four will begin Big 12 play next month, and Missouri’s three transfers will not all be eligible until December 2012.
Instead of speculating as to whether the two teams will suffer from dreaded chemistry problems with so many transfers, why not crunch the numbers to see if The Transfer Effect really exists? Although finding aggregate data for Division I transfers is virtually impossible, recent anecdotal evidence shows that the recruiting strategy is an enormous risk for both coaches. Seven teams from both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons welcomed three or more transfers to their programs at the same time, and only two teams (San Diego State and UNLV) finished above .500 in league play. Seton Hall, the only power conference team in the group, missed the NCAA Tournament.
Typically, the announcement of preseason All-Americans is something that we pass over, but when today’s list was announced it caught our eye. It appears that the Associated Press has decided to get with the 21st century and named Harrison Barnes as a 1st team preseason All-American making him the first freshman to receive the honor since the AP began bestowing the honor before the 1986-87 season. Although Barnes was technically the last man on the team with 17 out of 67 possible votes, by far the fewest of any member of the 1st team, it is remarkable that he achieved recognition that players such as Carmelo Anthony, Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose, and John Wall never did. Still, Barnes, who like every other freshman, was left off the preseason Wooden Award list will have his work cut out for him trying to match the production of some of the most prolific freshman (many of whom made the final All-American team), but based on what we have heard out of Chapel Hill he might have a chance.
Barnes: The 1st AP Preseason All-American Ever
Here is the rest of the first team with the number of votes out of 67 possible votes that they received from the AP voters:
Kyle Singler, Duke (65)
Jacob Pullen, Kansas State (53)
Jimmer Fredette, BYU (49)
JaJuan Johnson, Purdue (46)
Harrison Barnes, UNC (17)
Singler, the top vote-getter, is the lone returning AP preseason 1st team All-American although he was only honorable mention when the end-of-season picks were made last year. It is worth noting that none of the members (John Wall, Evan Turner, DeMarcus Cousins, Wesley Johnson, and Scottie Reynolds) from of last year’s All-American team returned to school and none of them were on the preseason All-American team from a year ago so keep that in mind although we have a feeling we will be seeing a few of this year’s preseason All-Americans on multiple All-American lists at the end of the season.
Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.
Now that the Draft is complete, time to look back at Thursday night’s winners and losers, from coaches to NBA teams to players to conferences and everything in between:
Paul George saw his stock skyrocket all the way to #10 and the Pacers, Al Bello/Getty Images
Big 12 – One of the premier college basketball conferences has gained quite a surge of momentum in the last few weeks. Big 12 commish Dan Beebe convinced Texas it was in their best interests to keep the league in tact even after the defections of Colorado and Nebraska, two of the more downtrodden BCS-conference hoops programs in the country. After chopping off those two anchors, a ten-team, 18-game round robin format has been agreed to starting in 2012. The Big 12 momentum only continued at the draft on Thursday where an astonishing seven of the top 24 selections reside from the conference (and Kentucky isn’t even a member). Baylor’s Ekpe Udoh, Kansas’ Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry, Texas’ Avery Bradley and Damion James, Oklahoma State’s James Anderson and Iowa State’s Craig Brackins, not to mention Cyclone transfer Wes Johnson, were all nabbed in the first 24 picks. The Big 12 barely trailed the ACC in terms of overall conference strength last season and the results of the first round only confirmed those numbers.
John Calipari – As Fox Sports Jeff Goodman astutely pointed out, expect plenty of John Calipari mug shots in near future drafts unless he bolts for a dream NBA job. Five of his Kentucky Wildcats from one recruiting class were taken in the first round on Thursday, from John Wall at #1 overall to Daniel Orton at #29. Next year could see two more Kentucky players announced early in the draft in center Enes Kanter and point guard Brandon Knight with forward Terrence Jones another potential first rounder. In 2011-12 when Marquis Teague, Michael Gilchrist and another top ten recruit TBD join Big Blue Nation, it’ll be the same Calipari hugging his revolving door of players on a June night in NYC. Don’t think this is just Calipari doing this for his departing players or that recruits are not noticing. He’s fully aware of what his face constantly showing up on ESPN’ s cameras means: furthering his reputation of sending talented players to the riches of the NBA. And quickly.
Paul George – It’s been a quick ascension for George, a workout wonder who saw his draft stock shoot up in the last few weeks until he landed to Indiana at #10. It’s doubtful even George saw this coming after being lightly recruited out of Palmdale, Calif, and settling on Fresno State for his college choice. George saw both his FG% and 3pt% plummet from his freshman to sophomore seasons and he only upped his PPG by 2.5 and RPG by 1.0 along with very low assist totals. He also played for a 15-18 WAC team against far more inferior competition than, say, Kansas’ Xavier Henry, who went one pick later to Memphis. Henry averaged 13.5 PPG, shot 46% from two and 42% from three on a team filled with players who needed touches.
Greivis Vasquez’ reaction – I don’t think anyone who watched Greivis Vasquez play four years at Maryland was surprised when they saw the emotional Venezuelan surrounded by family and friends in the crowd at Radio City Music Hall waiting for his name to be chosen. Vasquez has been projected as an early-to-mid second round pick- a scorer, leader and improved floor general that simply lacks the lateral quickness to defend NBA guards. Yet rumblings surfaced that Memphis loved Vasquez at #28. Sure enough, when he was pegged at that exact spot, the only outward, raw emotion we saw Thursday night emerged as Vasquez pumped his fist, hugged his family and practically sprinted to shake David Stern’s hand on the draft stage. Congratulations to Greivis.
In less than 48 hours, our televisions will be taken over by the biggest sporting event the world has to offer. Your TweetDeck (or whatever Twitter application you use) will be lousy with friends, celebrities, and sportswriters tweeting about it. Your Facebook friends will be centering their status updates about it. And, for the next five weeks, when you walk into your favorite sports bars, as you peer at the flat-screens you’ll notice an increased presence of a game to which you might not be accustomed.
It’s World Cup time.
Like the Olympics and the Fields Medal, this is an every-four-year event. It pits nation against nation in the sport that still stirs up the most passion among its fans on a worldwide scale. Imagine if we only got one NCAA Tournament every four years. Well, this is the one summer in four that soccer (the word we’ll use for this article, though we’re aware that most of the world calls it football) lovers get to enjoy their chance to crown a champion. If you follow RTC on Twitter (if you don’t, shame on you, and go click our logo at right), you’ve probably been impressed by our occasional tweet about other sports or even current events. It’s not exactly a long limb we’d be going out on for us to assume that if you’re a college basketball fan, you’ve probably got an interest in other sports, too — though international soccer might not be one of them.
Want to talk to her? Know your World Cup. Yeah, we thought that'd keep you reading.
Worry not, our fellow college hoopheads. We’ve got you covered. We want you to be able to hang in those conversations at those sports pubs. We want you to be able to approach that lovely blonde bespectacled German girl wearing her Deutschland jersey in the supermarket (this actually happened to us a week ago). We want you to impress your friends with your world vision and increased overall sports knowledge. You think those kids in the stands at Duke or Xavier or Utah State are both well-prepared and berserk? Wait until you hear the crowd at a World Cup soccer match. We want you to enjoy that vital aspect of it all, as well. We’re by no means experts on the subject, but to those ends, we give you — trumpet flourish — Rush The Court’s College Basketball Fan’s Guide to Watching the World Cup.
If this England squad is like Kentucky, then Wayne Rooney is their John Wall.
First, let’s list some of the participating teams and define those squads in terms familiar to college hoop fans. As you’ll see, by the way, national soccer teams have some of the best nicknames you’ll ever hear. The best? Cameroon. The Indomitable Lions. I mean,COME ON…
Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 24, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 30-35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.
Player Name:Wesley Johnson
Height/Weight: 6’7, 206
Projected Draft Range:Top-5 pick
Overview: Johnson was the biggest impact transfer of last year’s college basketball season, living up to the hype bestowed on him by head coach Jim Boeheim. His Orange flew under the radar as the campaign began, barely ranked in the top-25 and not expected to provide much of a threat to Villanova, Georgetown or West Virginia atop the Big East. Little did the prognosticators know that Wesley Johnson would immediately become the best all-around player in the conference and a projected top-five pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Johnson was viewed as a sleeper by most scouts following two solid years at Iowa State, but he really exploded on the national scene during the 2K Sports Classic at MSG in November when he posted 17/11 against California and 25/8 against North Carolina. As his Orange vaulted up the polls, the highlight reel dunks and smooth mid-range pull-ups kept coming in waves from the uber-athletic Johnson. His finest all-around performance may have come in a second round blowout of Gonzaga when Johnson scored 31 points and grabbed 14 rebounds on a wildly efficient 11-16 FG and 4-6 3pt performance. The scariest part is that this gifted junior has not even approached his ceiling yet.
Johnson Intro'd Himself to America vs. UNC
Will Translate to the NBA: Johnson possesses all of the raw skills to be an effective and consistent scoring small forward at the next level. His signature move worked wonders at the collegiate level and should translate to the NBA — a one-dribble pull-up with tremendous elevation that’s nearly impossible to block. Johnson is also extremely effective in transition, running like a gazelle in the open floor and blessed with phenomenal athleticism and leaping ability. A big reason Syracuse was so effective last season was their unselfishness and passing prowess. Johnson was a big reason for that success — the ball doesn’t die when it’s in his hands; in fact, he’s a tremendous passer that loves to get teammates involved. Johnson’s incredible wingspan, quickness and intelligence also makes him a solid defender either in one-on-one or help situations.
Needs Work: There’s some question regarding Johnson’s ability to score on dribble penetration. Sometimes when he’s being guarded by bulkier, stronger defenders, Johnson is stubborn about shooting his mid-range jumper and he can morph into an ineffective player for long stretches. Overall, Johnson absolutely needs to improve on his penetration to draw fouls on a more consistent basis. It would make him a much more dynamic player if defenders couldn’t just focus on his usual one-dribble jumper move. Johnson attempting just 145 free throws in 1224 minutes last year is evident that he needs to improve this facet of his game.
Comparison Players: Shawn Marion immediately comes to mind as an apt comparison for Johnson. His defense and rebounding skill, that accurate mid-range jumper, ability to run in transition, the athleticism and lengthy wingspan and All-Star level ceiling all remind us of Marion’s game. If anything, Johnson is slightly more smooth and polished, even at 23 years old.
Syracuse all-american forward Wes Johnson will enter the NBA Draft after one season with the Orange. He burst onto the national scene with two scintillating performances in Coaches vs. Cancer games versus California and UNC at Madison Square Garden, and for a few fleeting moments in November and early December he was considered the frontrunner for NPOY. Prior to February injuries to his back and shooting hand, Syracuse was playing as well as anyone in the country. He will sign with an agent, a good move considering that he will likely become a high lottery pick in June. He also expects to graduate later this summer.
UNC forward Ed Daviswill also enter the NBA Draft. After a superb freshman campaign where he was a key contributor to the 2008-09 national championship Tar Heels, Davis had an up-and-down sophomore year that ended with a broken wrist suffered in a game against Duke. He averaged 13/9/3 blks per game prior to that injury, but there was a lingering feeling among folks that he could be doing more with his ample athletic gifts. Nevertheless, he is still viewed as a lottery pick in the draft. Finally, remember the flap about Davis supposedly signing with an agent back in February? Trust us, today’s news shocked nobody.
It’s draft day for forwards apparently, as West Virginia’s Devin Ebanksalso declared his intention to go pro today. The 6’8 swing player who averaged 12/8 in his sophomore year really distinguished himself as an elite defender this season, and could probably play at the next level on that talent alone for many years. Mock drafts have Ebanks falling into the middle of the first round at this point. He plans to sign with an agent.
In a mild surprise, Purdue center JaJuan Johnson is reportedly planning to announced that he too will enter this year’s NBA Draft but he will not sign with an agent, leaving the door open for a return to school next season. Boiler Nation awaits his final decision (by May 8) with baited breath. Unless JJJ is dead-set on going pro, he’s a likely candidate to return because most experts have him as a late first-rounder at this point.
Mountain West POY and New Mexico guard Darington Hobson also plans on evaluating himself over the next few weeks before making a final decision as to whether to enter the draft, as ESPN.com reports that he will make a formal announcement tomorrow. He has some work to do, as he’s considered a second rounder by most experts, and could stand to spend another season honing his game (particularly strength) in Las Cruces.
Memphis guard Elliot Williams‘ strong sophomore season (18/4/4 assts) has resulted in his decision to declare for the draft today as well. We suppose it was not only a good decision to leave Duke for his family concerns but also for his professional career — he is projected as a mid-first rounder.
Finally, Illinois junior guard Demetri McCameyalso declared today, but he is expected to be only testing the waters as he will not sign with an agent. He is currently projected as a late first/early second round pick.
Another going involves two Missouri players — Miguel Paul and Tyler Stone — who are transferring out of the program. Neither player saw much run for Mike Anderson, averaging sixteen minutes per game combined in 2009-10. With the spring signing period starting later this week, we’re sure Anderson has a couple of athletic replacements already in mind.
It’s not a coming or a going, rather a staying, but Mississippi State’s Rick Stansbury has reportedly turned down the Clemson job vacated by Oliver Purnell. This is interesting given that the ACC is more prestigious in basketball than the SEC West, but Stansbury has built a solid program in Starkville and he may have the services of Renardo Sidney next year at his disposal.
In a ceremony at the Los Angeles Athletic Club earlier tonight, Ohio State’s Evan Turner was presented with the 2010 John R. Wooden Award as the men’s college basketball player of the year. With this one, he is 6-of-6 in player of the year awards, taking the Associated Press, Naismith, National Association of Basketball Coaches, Sporting News, and US Basketball Writers Association honors as well.
Turner, Syracuse’s Wesley Johnson and Kentucky’s John Wall were also in attendance at the ceremony, with the former two making an in-audience appearance on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live last night. Wall was also scheduled to appear on the show, but missed the taping due to an exam.
With all the talk about the coming 96-team tournament, many in the sports media have forgotten that there is already another ridiculous major college sport championship in place: the BCS. We took you through this process in a post last year, but it’s worth going over again as the blogosphere is ablaze with opinions on changing our beloved NCAA Tournament.
Here are the basic ground rules:
We are following the BCS Football guidelines as closely as possible. Obviously there are some differences. A college basketball team is expected to win more than 9 games (we kept a cut-off at a 75% winning percentage). We replaced the Notre Dame rule with the Duke rule since they both have sketchy TV contracts (Notre Dame with NBC and Duke with ESPN).
I used the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls as the human polls and ESPN.com’s InsiderRPI, KenPom.com, and Sagarin’s ratings as the computer polls. The computer polls include data from the NCAA Tournament, but as you will see it didn’t affect the results that significantly.
We used the traditional BCS calculations for determining each team’s score weighing the two human polls and the combined computer poll average as 1/3 of a team’s total score each.
Here are the results:
We will let you digest that for a minute and will provide more information/analysis and the BCS Bowls after the jump.
Another great Thursday night, with the West Region in particular providing loads of excitement with another #1 seed falling by the wayside and arguably the best game of the entire Tournament in the nightcap.
J. Pullen and J. Crawford Went Back and Forth Down the Stretch (AP/C. Braley)
What. A. Game. #2 Kansas State 101, #6 Xavier 96 (2OT). With around four minutes remaining in this game and K-State up three points at 64-61, a public service announcement flashed across the jumbotron in the middle of the arena. Paraphrasing, it stated that the regional final game between Kansas State and Butler would begin at 2 pm on Saturday afternoon. Read that again: between Kansas State and Butler… with four minutes remaining in a three-point game. Notwithstanding whether some gun-jumping intern was immediately drawn and quartered by the Energy Solutions Arena staff, the Xavier fans unilaterally roared their disapproval at such a public slight, and within a minute the game was tied again. Whether this scoreboard mishap actually energized the XU players is up for debate, but there should be no debate about whom the two best players on the floor were tonight. KSU’s Jacob Pullen (28/4/3 assts including six treys) and Xavier’s Jordan Crawford (32/2/2 assts) played a game of who can top whom in the last few minutes of regulation and through two overtimes before it was finally decided that K-State would meet the unanticipated scoreboard premonition and move on to face Butler on Saturday afternoon. From the moment mentioned above, the two players combined to score 31 points, including several clutch threes that kept the game alive for longer than anyone imagined possible. After K-State fouled Terrell Holloway (26/4/6 assts and 4 treys himself) as he dribbled into a long jumper with six seconds remaining and XU down three, the sophomore guard nailed all three to send the game into overtime. Back and forth each team went and again K-State looked like they were safely in position to win the game with a single stop. Instead, Jordan Crawford failed to find room near the three-point line, so he dribbled far enough away until there was space at which time he rose and fired from 35 feet to send Gus Johnson on CBS into a fit of apoplexy.
From there it was back and forth again until KSU’s Jacob Pullen decided enough was enough, hitting back to back bombs in the final minute-plus of the second overtime to finally create enough separation to make the fouling game work for Frank Martin’s team. The Wildcats will move on to face Butler on Saturday after all. This was only the second double-overtime game in the last thirteen years of Sweet Sixteen action, and the fans who attended the West Region tonight surely got their money’s worth. It’s not often that Kansas State gets outbattled on the boards, but tonight Xavier was +2 in that category. This was probably the game of the Tournament so far, and we wonder if the physical battle with a Xavier team that just would not quit will impact the Wildcats in their next game with Butler. As we saw tonight, Butler isn’t the kind of team you want to get down early to — they know how to play with a lead.
Butler Survives and Advances to One Win From Indy (Indy Star/S. Riche)
Butler One Win From Home. #5 Butler 63, #1 Syracuse 59. We’re now left with two #1 seeds as Kentucky advanced to the Elite Eight in the East Regional and Duke plays for that prize tomorrow night, but Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse Orange will be heading home after an uncharacteristic scoring drought at the end of the game did them in tonight. With a little more than five minutes remaining in the game, Syracuse looked to have regained control of a low-scoring closely contested battle, 54-50. Cuse would not score again until there were thirty-four seconds left and Butler had effectively put things away. It was Willie Veasley’s “HORSE” style three from the corner that put the Bulldogs in control with 1:50 left as the strong crowd of orange-clad fans stood and watched in amazement. For Brad Stevens’ team, this is the kind of victory that can define and sustain a high-mid like Butler for a long time. His recruiting for the next five years is already done — what can a program like Indiana give a player that Butler cannot at this point? A chance to play in the NCAAs? A chance to advance? How about a chance to go to the Final Four? Because that’s the cusp upon which his team is standing, merely forty more minutes of superb defense away from returning home with games still to play. And when we say home, we really mean it. Not like ‘Cornell home’ tonight or ‘Baylor home’ tomorrow night, but really, actually home — the Butler University campus is a mere 5.4 miles in Indianapolis from Lucas Oil Stadium, site of the Final Four. Talk about Hoosiers on the grandest scale of all. It’s so ridiculous we can hardly comprehend it. As for Syracuse, the Orange struggled with unforced turnovers all night long (18 total), and many of those were expended in trying to get the ball inside to Rick Jackson and Kris Joseph. It’s easy to place the blame for SU’s ‘early’ loss on the injury to Arinze Onuaku and his missing three games in this year’s Tournament, but we wonder if his offensive production would have helped take some of the pressure off Wes Johnson (17/9) and Andy Rautins (15/5) tonight had he been available. We also wonder if Boeheim’s team didn’t wear down a little at the end of this year — even prior to Onuaku’s injury in the Big East Tournament, the Orange had dropped two games to rather pedestrian Louisville in previous weeks. He was only playing seven players substantial minutes, and with Onuaku out of the lineup, he was forced to surrender minutes to unproven and untested DaShonte Riley (0/1 in 5 minutes) tonight, for example. His six ‘starters’ played every other minute of the game. Were the Orange players spent during those last five minutes? You won’t hear Boeheim use that crutch, but it would certainly be a reasonable excuse.
Each day this week during the regional rounds of the NCAA Tournament we’re asking some of our top correspondents to put together a collection of notes and interesting tidbits about each region. If you know of something that we should include in tomorrow’s submission, hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Midwest Region (Tom Hager)
One of Michigan State’s big advantages may be in their bench production, which has been averaging nearly 25 points per game lately and runs 11 players deep.
According to Northern Iowa head coach Ben Jacobson, the decision to sign the contract extension was a no-brainer. He signed a 10-year deal that will pay well over $400,000 per season.
The Washington Post notes that one of the major differences in the absence of Kalin Lucas is the contrasting and free flowing style that Korie Lucious plays at. Lucious’ 13-point total in MSU’s game against Maryland was his highest total of the season.
Everybody knows Ohio State’s Jon Diebler has an incredible range, but not many people know that he used to shoot for dollar bills to hone his skills.
Michigan State is known for being mentally tough, but Northern Iowa is not used to the national exposure they have received from their trip to the Sweet Sixteen. Although Ali Farokhmanesh has said that the confidence he receives has always been there, he admits that the media exposure has been overwhelming.
With Butler knocking off Syracuse on Thursday night, they are now one game away from playing in the Final Four in their hometown, and regardless of the outcome on Saturday, they’ll be heading back to Indianapolis. The Bulldogs got several huge (and somewhat fortunate) plays by senior Willie Veasley down the stretch.