Friday, May 18, 2007

May 14-18 News and Notes

Patrick Patterson, the top unsigned player left in the Class of 2007, committed to Kentucky on Wednesday. "I wanted to stay close to home, I didn't want to have to move my family to Jacksonville," Patterson said. "The key thing was distance. I do get homesick a lot." Patterson chose the Wildcats over Florida and Duke. Coach Billy Gillespie was excited about the addition. "We're grateful he chose to extend his recruitment to the last day of the signing period because it gave us a chance to develop a relationship and that's the most important part of recruiting," he said. The 6-8 power forward was a McDonald’s All-American, and is ranked No. 19 by and No. 15 by

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader,
Kentucky coach Billy Gillespie is very excited about the addition of Patrick Patterson. "When you draw up a power forward for me, he possesses everything you need to win," Gillespie said. "Great size and ability. Extremely long arms. Really good hands. He's tougher than anything. He's tough and he's a very, very, very competitive guy. Very intelligent. He's what I always want to look for in a power forward-type player." Gillespie also discussed Patterson’s confidence and intensity, in addition to what it felt like leading up to Patterson’s announcement.

John Clay of the
Lexington Herald-Leader writes that Kentucky has its swagger back after the signing of Patrick Patterson. He discusses how the addition of Billy Gillespie has made the Wildcats a factor again in the recruiting world—an area where former coach Tubby Smith struggled during stay in Lexington. Clay writes that the fact that Patterson has been overhyped lately is irrelevant: “Doesn't matter. Not now anyway. Perception is reality. Perception was, Kentucky couldn't cut the recruiting mustard anymore. No more. When it comes to recruiting, the Cats are back.”

Eric Crawford of the Louisville Courier-Journal writes that the signing of Patrick Patterson by Kentucky is more significant than just simply getting Patterson. He discusses that, in only six weeks, coach Billy Gillespie has received commitments from Patterson and fellow Top-50 recruit Alex Legion. Crawford writes about the fact that Kentucky has not beaten anyone for a key recruit in recent years, and has let most of the talent in its own backyard go elsewhere. He also discusses that Patterson going to Lexington restores some of the glitz of the Kentucky program and, almost as important, keeps the fans happy.

Jai Lucas, one of the top unsigned players left, committed to Florida on Monday. "I loved everything about Florida," said Lucas. "When that happened, the opportunity was suddenly there for me at point guard. All the pieces of the puzzle fell into place." Lucas chose the Gators over Kentucky and Oklahoma State. "It was a very tough decision," he said. "But Florida is a great fit. The opportunity to play right away is there and Florida is an elite basketball school right in line with North Carolina and Duke.” The 5-10 point guard was a McDonald’s All-American, and is ranked No. 34 by and No. 42 by

According to the Los Angeles Times, USC junior guard Gabe Pruitt has announced that he will sign with an agent, closing the option he had of returning to the Trojans. "I just felt that it was in my best interest to move on with my basketball career and focus fully on basketball right now," said Pruitt. "I talked it over with my family and I made the final decision. I still love the Trojan family and I still will support them as if I was still there." Pruitt, who joins fellow Trojan junior Nick Young in the official early-entry pool, averaged 12.5 points and 4.3 assists per game last season. He is projected as a late first-round pick in most mock drafts.

Not surprisingly, North Carolina freshman forward Brandan Wright has announced that he will hire an agent, closing the option of returning to the Tar Heels. He will be represented by Jim Tanner of the Williams and Connolly law firm in Washington, D.C. “I felt comfortable with Jim and the Williams and Connolly team from the start, and I am confident that they will help me achieve my career goals," Wright said. Wright, who averaged 14.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game last season, is projected to be the third pick in the NBA Draft.

The Mid-Continent Conference is gone. Starting June 1, 2007, the league will change its name to The Summit League, and will also unveil a new logo. "The Summit League provides a mental image to reach for the top, both academically and athletically," Commissioner Tom Douple said. "The new name fits in perfectly with the Presidents Council's vision for continued improvement and growth of the league. Today is a monumental day in the history of our conference. As we finish the 25th year of play in our conference, we're now setting the precedent for the next 25 years." The conference was first established in 1982, known then as the Association of Mid-Continent Universities. In 1989, it changed its name to the Mid-Continent Conference. The 10-team league now consists of: Centenary, IPFW, UMKC, IUPUI, North Dakota State, Oakland, Oral Roberts, South Dakota State, Southern Utah and Western Illinois. Valparaiso is leaving for the Horizon League.

Former Vermont transfer Joe Trapani has decided to play for Boston College beginning in the fall of 2008. “I just like the school, the city of Boston, and playing for someone like Al Skinner," said Trapani. "I also had a good rapport with the guys I met on campus." Coach Skinner was excited about the new addition. "At BC, we can offer him everything he wants,” he said. “The level of competition is good as it gets and he will have a chance to show what he can do individually." Trapani averaged 11.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game as a freshman with the Catamounts.

According to Andy Katz of, Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins has been named Jim Boheim’s successor. There is no timetable for Boheim’s retirement, but he wanted a say as to who would follow in his footsteps. Hopkins has been an assistant under Boheim for twelve seasons, while Boheim just completed his 31st season with the Orange. He is 750-264 in those 31 years.

According to the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming junior forward James Spencer has announced that he will transfer. He averaged 10.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game this past season, his first year with the Cowboys after transferring from Los Angeles City College. Spencer is the third player to leave the Cowboys since the end of the season, when Heath Schroyer replaced Steve McClain as the head coach.

According to the Charlotte Observer, the ACC schedule is likely to stay at 16 games for four more seasons. Commissioner John Swofford said that ACC officials would discuss an 18-game conference schedule beginning in 2008-09. However, the league coaches unanimously endorsed keeping the 16-game format through the 2010-11 season. "I just think the prevailing wisdom was to maintain what has been successful for us for the length of the (current) contract," said Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser. "It's been applauded by people with the NCAA (selection) committee and all that." The coaches are also worried that increasing the number of conference games would force the teams to drop some of their marquee games—which could potentially lessen the league’s national appeal.

According to The State, South Carolina freshman Mike Jones has been dismissed from the Gamecocks for academic reasons. Jones had been at USC for only one semester after transferring from Syracuse midway through his freshman season. “The decision was made by the university not to re-admit him. They were the ultimate decision-maker,” Odom said. “It was not a decision that was made after the fact. It was a decision that was made as a result of what was done or not done.” Jones was a former Top-50 recruit and Mr. Basketball in South Carolina.

According to Oregon, LSU sophomore point guard Ben Voogd is transferring back home to Washington State as a walk-on. Voogd played in 63 games in his career with the Tigers, averaging 11.6 minutes per game.’s Jeff Goodman discusses the rebuilding project ahead for Billy Donovan and Florida. "No one in the country lost as much as us," coach Billy Donovan said. The Gators lose their top six scorers from their two-time national champions, but do bring in a very good recruiting class. However, Goodman does not think the Gators are just going to reload and be a contender next year. “Let's face it: The Florida Gators aren't just rebuilding. They are starting over,” he writes.

Jeff Goodman of writes about life after Kevin Durant for Texas. He discusses the development of sophomore Dexter Pittman and the fact that Damion James is going to have to step up in a big way with the loss of Durant. “If we can get Dexter to give us 10 or 11 minutes a half and build from there, it’s going to be good for us,” coach Rick Barnes said. Durant thinks that James is going to have a breakout year. “When Damion wants to play extremely hard, he can score at will,” he said. “He’s strong and athletic and it’s just a matter of him being confident and doing it.”

Jeff Goodman of writes about how
Villanova is going to be more balanced next season than they have been in recent years. In addition to Scottie Reynolds and three highly-touted freshmen on the perimeter, coach Jay Wright has Shane Clark, Dante Cunnigham, and several solid post players up front. “We have more depth and balance, but we’re young,” Wright said. “I never thought we’d have as highly touted guards as Allan [Ray], Randy [Foye] and Curt [Sumpter], but [McDonald’s All-Americans Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes, and Malcolm Grant] come in with even more accolades.”

Andrew Skwara of writes about UCLA sophomore point guard Darren Collison and his decision to return to the Bruins instead of testing the NBA Draft waters. “I still haven't reached my goal of winning a national championship," Collison told "I thought I could have done better. I could have been a better leader. Until we get a championship I haven't done my job as a point guard." Skwara also discusses what Collison is doing in the offseason as well as UCLA’s future in the 2007-2008 season. "We have a lot of good players coming back who are going to get better individually and a great recruiting class," Collison said. "I think we will be a much better team. That made my decision easy. It's a win-win situation for me."

Sid Dorfman of the Newark Star-Ledger writes that Tommy Amaker made a very smart move by accepting the coaching job at Harvard. He says that Amaker was planning on sitting out a year or two, but decided to jump on the opportunity to coach the Crimson. Dorfman writes: “At Harvard, Amaker will be able to grow old peacefully as a coach” as opposed to his situations at Michigan and Seton Hall. Furthermore, he says that Amaker is going to be able to use a special program that Harvard has: any kid of a single-parent family earning $60,000 or less gets a free scholarship from Harvard.

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