SEC M5: 04.04.14 Edition

Posted by Greg Mitchell on April 4th, 2014

SEC_morning5

  1. Arizona had no answer for Frank Kaminsky despite an athletic frontcourt and defensive wunderkind Aaron Gordon. Kentucky must now deal with the Badgers’ seven-footer without Willie Cauley-Stein in the lineup. Not only is Cauley-Stein the Wildcats’ best interior defender, his feet are quick enough to stay with Kaminsky when he fades out to the perimeter. “Oooh. … tough match-up for us,” John Calipari said on Thursday. “Really skilled. … He’s going to be a handful. Wish we had Willie.” Of all the great individual match-ups this weekend, how Kentucky handles the versatile Wisconsin center without Cauley-Stein available might be the most intriguing.
  2. Some of that responsibility with fall on Marcus Lee, Kentucky’s “forgotten All-American” who came out of nowhere to contribute in a big way against Michigan. As skilled and as big as Dakari Johnson is, it is Lee who has the quickness to better deal with Kaminsky. One scout told SI.com that he is the “X-factor” in Saturday night’s game against Wisconsin. Lee has a decent block rate (5.2%) in very limited time this year, and given his athletic reputation, it’s not likely that the 10 points, eight rebounds and two blocks he posted against the Wolverines were a fluke. If Lee ends up playing a big role in one or more Kentucky wins this weekend it’ll be an incredible story for a guy who logged all of 39 minutes in SEC play. It would also be a great launching pad to a starting spot on next season’s team.
  3. If Kaminsky vs. the Kentucky frontcourt isn’t this weekend’s top match-up, then Scottie Wilbekin vs. Shabazz Napier must be. Napier dropped 20 points on Florida before the then-on-the-mend Wilbekin got injured in the first meeting between the teams. Prior to the SEC Player of the Year trying to lock down the NCAA Tournament’s hottest player, the Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway took a look back at Wilbekin’s “unlikely road” to the Final Four. It’s almost unbelievable to think that just under a year ago Billy Donovan asked Wilbekin to transfer. “He needed to build his credibility back with the rest of our team,” Donovan said. Kasey Hill has shown that Florida would have still been dangerous had things turned out differently, but there’s no chance the Gators would be entering the final weekend as the favorites to win it all without their rock solid senior point guard.
  4. The players slotted in picks #43 to #45 in DraftExpress’ latest mock draft have something in common: They’re all SEC juniors who are leaving early. Missouri’s Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown, and LSU’s Johnny O’Bryant are all expected to go pretty deep into the second round, which makes you wonder if staying another year would have been beneficial for each player. To be fair, telling someone to pass up the chance at bundles of money is foolish, and there very well could be family issues at play for any one of these players. But leaving early when you are not guaranteed to become a first round pick is a big risk, especially for players who stand to improve and enter a supposedly weaker 2015 draft. O’Bryant showed significant growth in the range of his jump shot this year and could keep that up if he stayed another season. Brown similarly looked more comfortable attacking the basket, and Clarkson would make himself infinitely more valuable as a big, athletic point guard with more refinement at the position. As of now, we’ll just have to wait until June and hope it works out for each player.
  5. Talk about a busy day. Missouri junior forward Zach Price, who sat out after transferring from Louisville last year, managed to get arrested not once but twice on Thursday. Right now it doesn’t appear that any of Price’s charges are felonies, so if he is convicted it won’t result in an automatic removal from the team. Still, Frank Haith may need to take extreme measures to get his team in line. The Tigers’ offseason has been about as disastrous as the end to their season. Price is now the third Tiger to be suspended after Shane Rector and Wes Clark were caught with marijuana before Missouri’s NIT opener. This isn’t the type of movement Haith needed in what will be a crucial 2014-15 season for him in Columbia.
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Morning Five: 04.04.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 4th, 2014

morning5

  1. After being rejected by Harvard coach Tommy Amaker and deciding against Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins (possibly the most sought-after assistant in the country), Boston College announced that they were hiring Ohio coach Jim Christian to replace Steve Donahue. Christian was 49-22 at Ohio after taking over for Jim Groce, who left for Illinois. The move is an interesting one is that despite his relative success in stops at Kent State, TCU, and Ohio, Christian has only made two NCAA Tournament appearances in twelve seasons and never got past the first round.
  2. Few players have seen their NBA Draft stock drop as much as James Michael McAdoo during his three years at North Carolina. Coming in as a top-10 recruit, he was still a lottery pick, but decided to come back to school. Despite boosting his production significantly between his freshman and sophomore year, McAdoo returned to school yet again. Now after his junior year, McAdoo has finally decided to enter the NBA Draft. At this point, he is a mid- to late-second round pick. Financially it would have been better for McAdoo to enter after his freshman year and get at least one NBA contract, but in the end he probably would have ended up with the same fate: playing overseas.
  3. T.J. Warren‘s NBA prospects are significantly brighter than McAdoo’s, but he has not decided on whether he will enter the Draft or not. According to Warren’s father, T.J. will probably make his announcement on Tuesday. Warren won ACC Player of the Year honors while leading the conference in scoring (24.9) and shooting (52.5%) and ranking in the top in steals and rebounds. Warren is a borderline lottery pick so at this point we would be surprised to see him return for another season in Raleigh, but stranger things have happened.
  4. St. John’s has had a tough off-season so far. They already had JaKarr Sampson declare for the NBA Draft and now Chris Obekpa has decided to transfer. The 6’9″ sophomore might not be the college player that Sampson is, but he is a better NBA prospect because of his ability to block shots as he averaged 4 blocks per game as a freshman despite playing just 26 minutes per game. He saw his minutes and blocks drop this season, but still had a similar blocked shot percentage (15.7%) putting him among the best in the country. He is believed to be looking at Oregon and Baylor as potential transfer destinations.
  5. It takes a special kind of stupid to get arrested twice in one day, but that is what (former) Missouri player Zach Price did yesterday. Price was arrested early yesterday morning after assaulting his roommate and his roommate’s girlfriend. Price was released a short time later and managed to get arrested yesterday afternoon although the details of that arrest remain unclear. Missouri had already suspended Price following his first arrest so we would not be surprised to see them dismiss him from the program in the near future.
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Morning Five: 07.01.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 1st, 2013

morning5

  1. We have expressed our feelings about the use of family hardships waivers by players to avoid having to sit out a year, but the case of Joseph Young may raise the stakes. Young, who led Houston in scoring last season with 18 points per game, left the program after his father decided to quit rather than be reassigned within the program. On Friday, Young announced that he will be transferring to Oregon and there is some speculation that he will apply for a hardship waiver because his father is no longer at Houston. As we have noted before we have our qualms about the use of hardship waivers to be able to play right away, which go beyond the scope of this space (as would our commentary on whether players should have to sit out at all when transferring when their coaches can move around without suffering any adverse consequences), but letting a player get a waiver because his father did not like taking a different job with the same pay seems like a stretch in terms of family hardship no matter what your perspective is.
  2. We usually see transfers going up or down a level, but the move to a program of similar caliber is much less common. So the move by Zach Price from Louisville to Missouri is somewhat unique, but given the circumstances should not be that surprising. Price, who entered Louisville as a highly touted big man, only averaged 1.7 points per game as a sophomore as he was stuck behind a rotation of solid frontcourt players and saw limited playing time. Price will join a growing contingent of transfers at Missouri which is quickly becoming Transfer U with its lineup largely built around transfers.
  3. Thursday night was a big night for many former high school stars, but it was also a disappointing for many who had what were considered legitimate NBA dreams a few years ago. Perhaps the best example of this is Renardo Sidney, who was considered a can’t miss prospect coming out of high school, but had a complicated and disappointing college career to put it mildly. Following the NBA Draft Dana O’Neil tried to track down the enigmatic Sidney and while she was unsuccessful her inability to even find out where he was living should serve as a cautionary tale to the next sure thing.
  4. Package deals are not a particularly novel idea in the world of college recruitment, but the manner in which Isaiah Whitehead and Ja’Quan Newton announced the possibility that they would be a package deal–through a series of tweets–is somewhat unique. Whitehead, a five-star  shooting guard, and Newton, a four-star point guard, are reportedly looking at several schools with Minnesota and Syracuse being the leaders. With the possibility of adding two top-50 players you can be sure that the recruitment of these two players will heat up.
  5. When the NCAA announced this spring that it was banning several schools from postseason play it led to outrage among some individuals as it appeared to primarily affect schools with less resources in particular historically black colleges. Now at least one of those schools–Alabama State–has been declared eligible for postseason play after the school submitted additional data leading the NCAA to withdraw its initial sanctions. One of the more interesting aspects of this announcement is how it will affect the players who transferred from Alabama State with the expectation that they would be able to play next year as the NCAA grants a waiver to athletes transferring from a school banned from the postseason due to a low APR score. Now that Alabama State’s postseason ban has been overturned the NCAA will have to make a decision on how to proceed with determining the eligibility of those players.
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Big East Burning Question: Who is the Conference’s Best Team?

Posted by mlemaire on December 11th, 2012

We admit it. We blatantly stole this topic idea from our colleagues over at the Pac-12 microsite but hopefully they’ll view this as somewhat of an homage to their creative topic ideas rather than lazy theft. Anyway, the season is more than a month old and there is a logjam near the top the Big East conference standings. Cincinnati and Syracuse are the last unbeaten teams, but are they truly the best?

 

Mike Lemaire: While I recognize that Cincinnati and Syracuse are the last two unbeaten teams in the conference, I still find myself gravitating to Louisville when I think of the conference’s best teams. The Bearcats have played almost nobody of note (does a buzzer-beating win over Alabama count?) and while the Orange throttled a solid San Diego State squad in the season opener, I wonder whether all of that young depth will hold up as the schedule gets more difficult and players start to wear down. Pittsburgh’s depth and incredibly efficient offense make them an excellent team, but their best win is against Lehigh and with the exception of the game against Michigan, their non-conference schedule has been embarrassingly easy (No. 257 in the country, according to KenPom). I recognize that Georgetown’s only loss was to the best team in the country and that Notre Dame has been excellent since losing to Saint Joseph’s, but the Hoyas’ offense is a mess and the Fighting Irish don’t play defense the same way that the Orange and Cardinals do.

Russ Smith Has Been Superb This Season (C. Hanewickel, US Presswire)

Meanwhile, Louisville boasts the nation’s most efficient defense, a top-25 offense in terms of efficiency, and its only loss came against Duke, who has been soundly beating everyone, and they were playing without defensive star Gorgui Dieng. Of course it hurts the Cardinals’ case that one of the best defensive players in the country will miss some time, but coach Rick Pitino expects him back before the new year, and a broken wrist, while probably painful, is not nearly as bad as an ACL or another knee injury. Even without Dieng, the Cardinals have depth on par with Syracuse and their bench is far more battle-tested. If mercurial scoring guard Russ Smith comes back to earth a little, Pitino’s offense might see a bit of a backslide, but until the Orange can sustain their success against better opponents, the Cardinals remain the class of the Big East.

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What Does Gorgui Dieng’s Injury Mean for Louisville and the Big East Race?

Posted by Will Tucker on November 27th, 2012

After hanging tough with Duke for 39 minutes without Gorgui Dieng, Louisville only trailed by three as the Blue Devils milked their last possession. Thirty-two seconds and six ticks on the shot clock remained when Quinn Cook baited Russ Smith into lunging for a steal beyond the three-point line. With a head of steam and the middle of the floor cleared out, Stephan Van Treese was the only thing with a pulse separating Cook from the basket. The 6’1″ Duke sophomore charged a responsible distance into the lane, pulled up, and effortlessly delivered a floating dagger that put a nail in the coffin of the Cardinals’ comeback.

Winning without Gorgui Dieng will require creativity from Rick Pitino

Simply put, that shot from Cook isn’t there with Gorgui Dieng in the game. The 6’11”, 245-pound defensive juggernaut had broken his wrist the night before in Louisville’s win against Missouri –– appropriately enough, taking a charge. Though Peyton Siva was the preseason favorite for Big East Player of the Year, Dieng is the safety valve that makes it possible for Siva and Smith to play tenacious, often reckless, defense, which yields 5.8 steals per game between them. Louisville’s guards had grown accustomed to being bailed out by Dieng, and on Saturday night they got a taste of life without one of the country’s pre-eminent big man around to anchor its defense. Without Dieng lording over the paint, the psychology of his shot-blocking reputation looming larger even than his 194 career rejections, Quinn Cook pulled up without hesitation, and the rest is history.

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Who’s Got Next? Recruiting Model Changes, Coleman Commits…

Posted by Josh Paunil on October 27th, 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. 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’re missing or different things you’d like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Lead Story: Proposed Rule Changes Will Open Up Contact Between Recruits and Coaches

College Coaches Would Be Able To Contact And Evaluate Prospects More Under the Proposed Rules Change.

NCAA To Vote On Potential Changes Today. The NCAA Leadership Council will vote on a number of proposals today that could change the recruiting model and deregulate much of the communication between prospects and coaches. One of the biggest proposals is a change in policy that will make texts, calls, e-mails and the like unlimited beginning on June 15 of a recruit’s sophomore year. Currently, texts aren’t allowed, phone calls are limited, and e-mails unlimited. Two other proposed changes that involve communication between players and coaches include allowing contact with juniors at the prospect’s school in months other than April.  During April, college programs could do in-home visits with prospects. Another potential change worth noting is the rule that would let prospects take official visits beginning January 1 of their junior year, including paid travel expenses for the recruit and his two parents or legal guardians. Although the most significant changes would be with respect to the contact period, the evaluation period would be significantly affected as well. Coaches would be allowed to go to sanctioned events in April, although the dates have not been determined.  The thought is that the April evaluation periods will constitute two weekends beginning on a Friday evening and running through Sunday afternoon. Also, the July evaluation period will be narrowed into three four-day periods. The periods will run from Wednesday at 5 PM to Sunday at 5 PM. However, the dates have not yet been specified.

What They’re Saying

  • Senior stud Alex Poythress on his Memphis visit: “It was really good; I enjoyed it. We got here and watched practice. I hung out with the players. I got to watch [strength and conditioning coach] Frank [Matrisciano] work out Z-Bo (Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph) and another NBA player. I went to [head] coach [Josh] Pastner‘s house. I enjoyed it overall.” Read the rest of this entry »
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Analyzing the Top Ten Recruiting Classes of 2011

Posted by zhayes9 on October 7th, 2011

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

In this era of one-and-done, where every touted freshman and blue-chip prospect must lace up the sneakers in college for at least a season, recruiting has never been more important.

As recently as a decade ago, programs were built, legacies were formed and trophies were hoisted on the basis of developing and grooming four-year players. In 2003, freshman Carmelo Anthony bucked that trend by carrying his Syracuse team to a national title. When David Stern instituted an age limit to participate professionally, impact players such as Greg Oden, Kevin Love and Derrick Rose may have only dipped their toes in the collegiate water, but the Final Four berths won’t soon be forgotten.

This upcoming season, college basketball hasn’t been gutted as dramatically as in the past. Assumed lottery picks passed on the immediate NBA riches whether in fears of a prolonged lockout or simply to accomplish goals left unmet. A plethora of battle-tested seniors also make their dramatic return. Despite this welcomed development, freshmen will still have their say in who grabs the four all-important #1 seeds and who ultimately graces the hardwood in Indianapolis next April.

Here are the ten teams primed to receive a substantial contribution from their talented newcomers this upcoming season:

1. Kentucky- Brandon Knight is the latest Calipari-coached freshman to bolt early for the pros. Luckily for Big Blue, their coach’s recruiting skills hasn’t eroded in the least bit. In pretty much any other freshman class in the country, Kyle Wiltjer would top the list; in Lexington, he’s easily the fourth-best rookie on the squad. The headliner is center Anthony Davis, the early favorite to be selected first overall in the 2012 NBA Draft.  The Chicago native reminds many scouts of a young Kevin Garnett with his tremendous versatility, remarkable athleticism and exceptional rebounding abilities. Formerly a lightly-recruited guard prior to a timely growth spurt, Davis is more than comfortable handling the ball around the perimeter. Taking over at point guard for Knight is Marquis Teague, a lightning-fast lead guard and the younger brother of former Wake Forest and current Hawks reserve Jeff Teague. Teague is a better fit for Calipari’s preferred dribble-drive motion offense than the ball-screen dependent Knight. The third potential freshman starter is St. Patrick’s own Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Gilchrist is an intense competitor and will be absolute joy for Calipari to coach. Witjer should prove a valuable backup big man with a refined perimeter game.

Anthony Davis/kentuckysportsradio.com

2. Duke- Losing your three most productive players – two face-of-the-program seniors and a point guard that just happened to be chosen #1 overall — would result in a multi-year rebuilding process at most schools. Most schools aren’t Duke, and the Blue Devils are once again expected to compete in the top ten. The biggest reason why is Austin Rivers. Easily the best scoring guard in the freshman ranks, Rivers is a legitimate threat to average 17-20 PPG during his first (and likely only) season in Durham. Rivers does possess the ability to create his own shot, but could struggle to get opportune looks until Seth Curry develops a comfort level at point guard. Oak Hill’s Quinn Cook is expected to compete for minutes at the point once he recovers from a knee injury. He appears destined to be Duke’s floor general of the future. Cook is a born leader that has one priority: to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. How deep Coach K opts to utilize his bench will determine the playing time of wings Michael Gbinije and Alex Murphy, along with the third Plumlee brother, Marshall Plumlee. All three will be regular contributors down the road. Once Murphy develops some strength, he could be the best of the lot as a scoring threat with sneaky athleticism.

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Who’s Got Next? Nike EYBL, Kevin Ware, New Lists and More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on May 31st, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a bi-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. Twice 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 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

Try saying Nike EYBL five times fast — it’s tough, but after this past weekend, it’s fairly easy to write. When the best players in the country come together for a three-day weekend leaving everything on the court because a Peach Jam appearance is on the line, you get the best prep basketball in the country. From excellent shooters to freak athletes to dominant big men, the Los Angeles EYBL had it all this weekend and it also gave us a chance to get some updates from prospects regarding their recruitment. And remember that guy Kevin Ware (yes, this Kevin Ware)? Well, he committed… again.

What They’re Saying

  • Josh Gershon on L.J. Rose‘s (#20) recruitment: “L.J. Rose says UCLA and Texas lead. He’ll visit UCLA on Monday and also check out UT again.”
  • Junior Rodney Purvis (#7) on adding a school to his list: “Adding Coach [Josh] Pastner and the Memphis Tigers to my list of schools….” On the best player in the Class of 2013: “[Power forward] Julius Randle (Watch List) is way better then advertised. Hands down best player in country in his class!.”
  • Lis Mack, mother of senior Kevin Ware, on her son’s commitment to Louisville: “The visit was pretty much the deal closer. We had a comfort level that he developed and he thinks it’ll be a great place for him. On top of the ability to learn and they have a great fan base.”
  • Sophomore standout Jairus Lyles on his favorite school: “I wanna go to Wake Forest… that’s my dream school.”
  • Senior Sidiki Johnson (Arizona) on who he’s recruiting among the sophomores and juniors: “[Class of 2013 shooting guard] Chris Thomas (Watch List), he’s a great player… [Class of 2012 power forward] Danny Dingle out of New York, he’s pretty good… and this kid from California, [Class of 2012 small forward] Shabazz Muhammad (#3), that’s about it.”
  • Sophomore sensation Kuran Iverson (Watch List) on location factoring into his recruitment: “Well, my mom may say something about it, but I don’t really care.”

What We Learned

Kevin Ware Commits… Again. With the drama from the Central Florida recruiting scandal dying down, Class of 2011 shooting guard Kevin Ware committed to Louisville over the weekend. After de-committing from both Tennessee and UCF in the past couple of months, Ware joins a Cardinal class that includes shooting guard Wayne Blackshear (#22), small forward Angel Nunez, power forward Chane Behanan (#35) and center Zach Price. With this addition, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino now has a top ten class and will be moved into either the #8 or #9 slot when I update my 2011 Class Rankings later this week. However, keep in mind that Ware cannot make a binding agreement since the spring signing period ended and what he will be signing is non-binding grant-in-aid papers until he enrolls in classes. This means he has the opportunity to de-commit again without penalty if he chooses to do so (but to see why it’s likely that Louisville is where he’ll attend college, check out what his mother had to say in the “What They’re Saying” section above). Ware is a great athlete who excels in transition and is a tremendous finisher above the rim. He is a spectacular slasher from the wing and has improved his perimeter shooting so it too is respectable now. However, he needs to continue to get better at shooting in both catch-and-shoot situations and off the dribble so he can be a scoring threat in a variety of ways on offense. He can also become a better ball-handler since he commits too many turnovers as the secondary ball-handler. Look for him to be a three to four year player for the Cardinals since despite his fantastic athleticism and raw talent, Pitino could really help him develop into an elite player when he’s an upperclassman. 

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