Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stephenson to Cincinnati; Henry to Kentucky?

The Lance Stephenson Saga is finally over. Apparently, that of Xavier Henry might not be.

Stephenson, one of the most talented high school players in the country throughout his career, has committed to Cincinnati after visiting the Big East school over the weekend. The story was first broken by Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv and Zagsblog.com.

"We are very excited about Lance's decision to become a Bearcat," head coach Mick Cronin said in a statement. "Lance has terrific talent as a basketball player and is also a fierce competitor on the court. His desire to win will help us compete for a Big East Championship.

"As a big guard, Lance brings playmaking ability and versatility to our team, along with his talent for scoring. We look forward to getting Lance here for summer school and building our team for the upcoming season."

Prior to his visit to Cincinnati, which seemingly came out of nowhere, Stephenson was in a holding pattern regarding his recruitment. Programs such as Kansas, St. John's, Maryland, Florida and Arizona had essentially rescinded their scholarship offers, and the Stephensons were not interested in the advances of Memphis.

There are many questions regarding Stephenson's eligiblity and attitude, as well as the involvement of his father, Lance Sr. One, there is the issue of his sexual assault case, which was adjourned for the second time on Monday morning. Secondly, his BornReady.tv series has some concerned regarding its potential to affect Stephenson's eligiblity. There are also concerns about Stephenson's grades and whether he would be eligible to play next season. His selfishness and attitude also raise concerns for many people, as does the constant involvement of Lance Stephenson Sr., better known as "Stretch."

However, with his decision today to commit to Cincinnati, everyone can now move on. Well, until the NCAA begins looking into everything or his sexual assault case is decided.

Henry to Kentucky?

With Stephenson committing to Cincinnati, we can just about close the book on the Class of 2009, right? Not so fast.

Xavier Henry, a top-five recruit nationally who signed a letter-of-intent to play for Kansas, is possibly re-thinking his decision.

Carl Henry, Xavier's father, told a Kansas City radio station today that Xavier could potentially change his mind.

"If it wasn't for his momma saying that 'I would not go to Kentucky, I would not move down to Kentucky,' Xavier would have been at Kentucky,'" Carl Henry said. "He would have been at Kentucky. So Xavier says, 'I'm going to go to Kansas.' Even though that's what he wanted to do is go to Kentucky, play under Coach Cal. That's what he wanted to do. I expressed this to [Kansas] coach [Bill] Self. I told him."

According to Carl, Xavier's mother, Barbara, no longer wants to be a factor in his college decision.

"So guess what? Kid might have a change of mind," Carl said. "That's what I tell coach Self. If he has a change of mind, so what? So be it. He has a change of mind."

Carl Henry expressed displeasure at an article in the Kansas City Star that depicted the Henrys in a negative light.

"The guy who wrote that story kind of betrayed my whole family and kind of made us look bad, like my kids are prima donnas, all I do is talk," Henry said.

Kansas head coach Bill Self responded to Carl Henry's comments earlier this evening to the Lawrence Journal-World.

"I'm still looking into this," Self said. "I am ready for the finality of it [on where Henrys are going to school]. I believe that will occur very soon."

He added that he is "past the point of being concerned with [their] recruiting. Either they are coming or not coming. There's no reason for fans or people who support the university to be concerned. They gave us their word they are coming. If an article keeps them from coming, of course it'd be disappointing but it's not anything I can control."

Shay Wildeboor of JayhawkSlant.com, the Kansas site on the Rivals.com network, is reporting that Self and assistant coach Danny Manning are heading to Oklahoma City tonight to meet with the Henrys. Xavier and his brother C.J., who also committed to Kansas this spring, are working out in Oklahoma City and not in Lawrence with the other Jayhawks newcomers.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Jack of all Trades

Note: This article was originally posted at NBE Basketball Report.

By his own count, Kadeem Jack had zero colleges looking at him heading into his sophomore year. Now, in the summer before his senior season, Jack has major programs from across the country showing interest.

Jack is a 6-8 forward from Rice High School (N.Y.) who plays with the New York Gauchos for AAU ball. He is also one of the fastest rising players from the New York City area in the class of 2010.

He currently holds offers from St. John’s, Seton Hall, George Mason and Drexel, and is getting interest from Rutgers, Miami (Fl.), Arkansas (where former Gauchos assistant coach Chad Babel is now a graduate assistant), Siena, Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

“I was supposed to visit Pittsburgh this weekend, but coach [Jamie Dixon] wasn’t going to be there,” Jack said. Dixon is currently coaching the Under-19 national team in Auckland, New Zealand, where they are preparing for the World Championships that begin next week. “One of the assistant coaches is supposed to call me so we can reschedule.”

Other schools he plans on visiting in the coming weeks include Seton Hall, Syracuse, St. John’s and Drexel.

On the topic of St. John’s, said Jack: “They’re right in my backyard.” Jack will be playing at the top-30 camp at St. John’s on Wednesday.

As for Drexel, former Rice teammate Chris Fouch is a rising sophomore with the Dragons. “He told me to come through and check it out,” Jack said.

He also said that Syracuse has been showing a little bit of interest lately and he wants to visit the school “no matter what.”

One school that could throw a curveball into Jack’s recruitment is Connecticut.

“UConn just started showing interest last month,” he said. “I have to say I was really happy to hear that. I want to go visit there.”

However, when naming his top three at the moment – an all-Big East trio of Pittsburgh, Seton Hall and St. John’s – he conspicuously left out the Huskies.

“I would like to say UConn, but they’re not showing enough interest yet,” Jack said. “I think it would be a dream to go there. Kemba [Walker] went there and had a great freshman year, and I think I could do the same thing.”

Another potential wrench in the equation is Jack’s age. He is currently just 16 heading into what would be his final year of high school. As a result, he is considering reclassifying to the class of 2011. Jack said he would base his decision on how he plays this upcoming season.

“I’m confused as to what I want to do,” he said. “But if I do well, I’ll just go to college.”

Jack, who is very athletic and can run the floor well for a big man, wants to play in an up-tempo, fast-break system, similar to Syracuse.

“My game is the full-court, run up-and-down type,” he said. “I don’t think I would do that good in a half-court system.”

Although most of his potential schools are in the area, Jack said he is not opposed to moving far away from home for college.

“It doesn’t really matter to me,” he said. “I don’t care if it’s in Texas.

“I just want to make sure it’s the right school for me.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cartwright Considering Cougs

Note: This article was originally published at Rivals.com.

One would think that playing on the California Supreme AAU team would often leave Miles Cartwright overshadowed.

With teammates committed to USC (Gary Franklin, Dwayne Polee -- for now, at least) and UCLA (Tyler Lamb), and others being recruited by a who’s who in college basketball (Keala King, James Johnson, Kevin Johnson), it might seem difficult for Cartwright, a 6-3 guard from Loyola High School in Los Angeles, to really make an impact.

However, he has certainly made an impression on anyone who has seen him play.

Cartwright helped lead Loyola to the state regional finals this past season, leading the team in scoring, and has also seen his production with Cali Supreme increase this summer. Without Franklin, Lamb and the two Johnsons, Cartwright played a key role in helping Supreme reach the finals of the Rumble in the Bronx before falling to Team Final. At one point, he knocked down
three consecutive three-pointers to give Supreme an early lead.

“It’s great when they’re not there, because we can show everybody that they’re not the whole team,” Cartwright said. “I mean, I love playing with them, I’ve learned a lot from playing with Gary, but people label us when we’re playing without them, and we can really show everybody they’re not the whole team.”

The 2010 prospect has a growing list of schools, including Ivy League institutions Penn and Princeton, as well as Pac-10 programs Stanford, California, Washington State, Oregon State and Oregon. Recently, he added Utah and Portland State to his list. Cartwright attended the Pennsylvania Elite Camp this past weekend, and has also attended the Princeton and Stanford Elite Camps. He plans to see Utah on July 1.

Cartwright planned on going to the Washington State Elite Camp, but said it conflicted with some other things at the time. He hopes to see it in the fall.

“I like the way they play,” Cartwright said. “Tony Bennett implemented a system there where they can score. They always get good players, and play as a team.

“I’ve talked to [current Cougars swingman] Klay Thompson about it. He’s a Los Angeles guy, and I played against him in high school and we kept in touch after that. I see him working out around here, and he says he loves it [at WSU].”

Cartwright also said that new head coach Ken Bone recruited him while Bone was at Portland State, so he is familiar with him.

Although he says that his top three right now would be Stanford, Penn and Princeton, he says he has no favorite and does not plan on making a decision this summer. Ideally, he says, he wants to make up his mind by November – at the latest, by Christmas.

Despite having Penn and Princeton among his favorites, Cartwright seems to be leaning towards staying on the West coast.

“I’d like to stay close to home, so my family can watch me play,” he said. “I’m not opposed to going to the East coast because I like their brand of basketball, but I want to play where the best fit is.”

Cartwright, who holds a 3.7 GPA, plans on getting involved in the Communications field after school. Not surprisingly, because it runs in the family. His mother works on Judge Joe Brown, and his sister worked on Judge Judy. As a result, scholastic reputation of his college choice is very important.

“Academics come first with the schools,” he said. “I also have to fit in with the players and the coaches. I’m going to live there for four years – the other students, location, city and school support has to be right.”

Unlike most high school players, who want to go to a school where they can run and gun and play in an up-tempo offense, Cartwright understands that playing up-and-down basketball all the time is not realistic.

“I want to play in a balanced system,” he said. “I play up-tempo with my school team and my AAU team, but it doesn’t really matter to me. I like to run, but I also like a half-court offense with a good big man.

You can’t run against every team, and the ends of games are going to be in the half-court, so I want it to be balanced.”

Cartwright envisions himself as a combo guard who can do a little bit at both positions. He gets the best of both worlds, as he is the go-to-guy at Loyola but a role player on California Supreme.

“I can score, shoot and facilitate for other players,” he said. “I play the point at school and off the ball with Cal Supreme.

“I’m a player who likes to play and play hard. I’m a good complement, a scorer who plays hard. At school, I’m the main guy, but with Cal Supreme, I’m more of a complement for the better players.

“I get my opportunities, and I take advantage of them.”

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Polee Unsure About USC

Dwayne Polee committed to USC before he even played a high school game. However, with the recent turmoil within the Trojans' program, the 6-7 forward is undecided about his future.

Over the weekend, USC announced the hiring of former NBA head coach Kevin O'Neill to replace Tim Floyd, who resigned in the wake of NCAA allegations and potential investigation.

Polee, a 2010 prospect from Westchester High School in Los Angeles and the son of former NBA player Dwayne Polee Sr., said he will not make a decision before meeting with O'Neill.

"Well my mom is going to set up a meeting with him and we're going to go off that," Polee said in a text message Sunday night, "but right now my options are still pretty open."

Polee said he does not know when the meeting will occur, but he did reveal what it would take to keep him committed to the Trojans.

"Basically him wanting to run and gun and what position he'll have me at," said Polee, who wants to play the small forward position in college.

Although Polee has not decommitted from USC, he said he is looking at Arizona, Oklahoma State and UNLV.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rumble in the Bronx School Lists

Considering all of the teams from New York City, New Jersey and New England at the Rumble in the Bronx this past weekend, one might be surprised that not one team from the aforementioned areas reached the semi-finals of the U-17 playoffs. Team Final, a Philadelphia-based team, took the title, defeating California Supreme in the championship. Nike Team Florida and the Albany City Rocks -- the tournament's host -- were knocked out in the semi-finals.

Connecticut Basketball Club won the U-17 Silver playoffs, while New Heights took the U-16 championship, beating a loaded Playaz team that was without Myles Mack and Desmond Hubert.

While at the Rumble, I evaluated and spoke to dozens of players. Here are the school lists for many of them; stay tuned to March Madness All Season and the NBE Basketball Report for more coverage of the 2009 Rumble in the Bronx.

Also, if you missed the live-blog over at NBE for the Rumble, here are links to them:
Friday Night
Saturday, Part I
Saturday, Part II

Dwayne Polee, California Supreme, 2010: Committed to USC, but is reconsidering. Also looking at Oklahoma State, Arizona and UNLV.
- Said AAU teammate Gary Franklin, also a USC commit, is in the same boat as him: waiting to see what happens with the USC coaching situation before making a decision.

Keala King, California Supreme, 2010: California, Oregon State, Arizona, Connecticut, Kentucky, Washington, Stanford, Oregon.
- Top three are California, Arizona and Stanford.
- Went to Stanford for its Elite Camp, but has not taken an official visit.

Kyrie Irving, NJ Roadrunners, 2010: Duke, Virginia, Indiana, Notre Dame, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Connecticut, two others he could not remember.
- Has visited Connecticut and Indiana, would like to visit Texas A&M and Notre Dame.
- His dad was spotted wearing an Indiana hat and sweatshirt on Sunday.

Michael Gilchrist, Team Final, 2011: Villanova, Memphis, Indiana, Georgetown, Kentucky, Syracuse, Louisville, Seton Hall.
- Visited Villanova and loved it.

Tyrone Garland, East Coast Elite, 2010: Offers from Temple, La Salle, Nebraska and St. Bonaventure, with interest Virginia Tech, Virginia, Maryland, Memphis, Western Kentucky, Seton Hall and Rutgers.
- Has visited Temple, La Salle, Maryland and Virginia Tech.

Rod Odom, New York Panthers, 2010: North Carolina, Louisville, Florida, Stanford, Georgia Tech, Boston College, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Arizona.
- Has visited Boston College, Georgia Tech, Xavier.
- Plans on visiting Stanford, Arizona and Florida. In a text message earlier this evening, he also mentioned wanting to see Rutgers, Seton Hall, Arkansas and Oklahoma State.

J.J. Moore, New York Panthers, 2010: Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Marquette, Louisville, St. John's, Oklahoma, Florida.
- Said his favorites are Louisville, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Syracuse, Marquette.
- Plans to visit Louisville, Connecticut, Marquette, Providence.

DeJuan Coleman, New England Playaz, 2012: Syracuse, Ohio State, Georgetown, Rutgers, Kansas, Kentucky, LSU.

Shabazz Napier, New England Playaz, 2011: Syracuse, Connecticut, Memphis, Kansas, Kentucky
- Said those are his top five.
- Is heading to the Virginia and possibly Xavier elite camps.

Jaylen Bond, East Coast Elite, 2010: Florida State, Florida, West Virginia, Temple, La Salle, Saint Joseph's, Villanova.
- Has taken unofficial visits to Florida, Virginia and La Salle.
- Plans to reschedule a visit to Florida State, which he missed because he needed to study for finals.

Carson Desrosiers, Mass Rivals, 2010: Told NBE earlier in the week that his list includes Purdue, Marquette, Arizona State, UNLV, Stanford, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Providence and added Florida to his list at the Rumble.

Josh Turner, Connecticut Select, 2010: Providence, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Massachusetts, according to NBE's Matt Whitfield.

Matt Brown, Mass Rivals, 2010: Fordham, Stanford, Marquette, Providence, Kansas State, Davidson, Notre Dame, Miami, South Carolina, according to Brian Crownover.
- Checked out the Virginia elite camp on Sunday, according to NBE's Matt Whitfield.

Fuquan Edwin, Playaz, 2010: Narrowed his list to Seton Hall and Providence, according to Alex Schwartz.

Doron Lamb, New York Gauchos, 2010: Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, St. John's, Connecticut, Louisville, Arizona, UCLA, Rutgers.
- Has visited Louisville.
- Plans to visit Kansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma in late June.

Kadeem Jack, New York Gauchos, 2010: Seton Hall, Pittsburgh, St. John's, Rutgers, Miami (Fl.), Arkansas, George Mason, Albany, Siena.
- Top three are Seton Hall, Pittsburgh and St. John's.

Mohamed Lee, New York Gauchos, 2011: Marquette, Xavier, Arkansas, Pittsburgh and Miami (Fl.).

Shane Southwell, New York Gauchos, 2010: Marquette, South Carolina, Providence, St. John's, Xavier, Miami (Fl.), Kansas, Kentucky, Georgetown, Cincinnati.

Alex Murphy, Expressions Elite U-16, 2012: Florida, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Rutgers, Boston College, Providence, Arizona, Connecticut.
- Has seen Florida, Providence and Connecticut.

Wilfried Yaguete, Nike Team Florida, 2010: South Carolina, Auburn, Virginia Tech, and Alabama.

Isaiah Epps, Playaz, 2010: Committed to Pittsburgh.
- Said he is deciding between Hargrave Military Academy and National Christian as a destination for next season.

Tyreek Duren, Team Final, 2010: Virginia Tech, Baylor, Miami (Fl.), Temple, La Salle, St. Bonaventure, Providence, Virginia.
- Favorites are Virginia Tech and Baylor.
- Has visited La Salle, will visit Temple next week.

Shaquille Thomas, Playaz, 2011: Syracuse, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Florida, Providence, Hall, Rutgers.
- Will likely decide on a college this August.
- Reclassifying to 2011, has not decided on a destination for next season.

Aishon White, Playaz, 2010: Houston, Fordham, Robert Morris, Florida, Siena, according to Alex Schwartz.
- Favorite is Houston.

Aaron Brown, Metro Hawks, 2010: Harvard, Penn, Auburn, Miami (Fl.), Providence, Virginia Tech, Penn State, according to Alex Schwartz.
- Favorites are Harvard and Penn.

Denzel Brito, New England Playaz, 2010: Stanford, Kentucky, Duke, Providence, Connecticut, Davidson, according to NBE's Zach Smart.

Pe'Shon Howard, Team Odom LA, 2010: Stanford, Arkansas, Harvard, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Virginia, Rutgers, South Carolina, Arizona, Xavier.

Russ Smith, Juice All-Stars, 2010: Notre Dame, St. John's, Connecticut, Louisville, Providence, Seton Hall, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Stanford, South Carolina, UCF, South Florida, La Salle, George Mason, VCU, Iona.
- Has taken an unofficial visit to La Salle.

Anthony Lee, Nike Team Florida, 2010: South Carolina, North Carolina State, Iowa, Virginia Commonwealth, Auburn, Florida State, Tennessee Clemson, Temple, Florida Atlantic, Murray State, Northwestern, Marquette, Louisville, Ole Miss, Alabama, Saint Joseph's, Xavier, according to Alex Schwartz.
- Top three is South Carolina, Temple and Tennessee.

Will Regan, Albany City Rocks, 2010: Providence, Virginia, Arizona State, Stanford, Maryland

Tyler Olander, Expressions Elite U-16, 2012: Vanderbilt and Providence

Majok Majok, CBC, 2010: Stanford, Marquette, Missouri, Arkansas, Minnesota, Oregon State, Providence, St. John's, Harvard.
- Favorites are Stanford, Harvard and Marquette.
- Wants to visit Stanford.

Ronald Roberts, Playaz, 2010: Maryland, Villanova, George Mason, Notre Dame, according to NBE's Matt Whitfield.

Jordan Allen, Playaz U-16, 2011: Illinois, Florida State, LSU, Pittsburgh, according to NBE's Matt Whitfield.
- Invited to Clemson elite camp.

Derrick Williams, Sports University, 2010: Virginia, Hofstra, Richmond, Seton Hall and Marquette, according to NBE's Matt Whitfield.
- Favorite is Virginia.
- Heading to Penn State elite camp this summer.

Ashton Pankey, New Heights, 2010: Providence, West Virginia, St. John's, Connecticut and Pittsburgh, according to NBE's Matt Whitfield.

Devon Collier, New Heights, 2010: West Virginia, St. John's, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Seton Hall, according to NBE's Matt Whitfield.

Jayvaughn Pinkston, New Heights, 2010: Marquette, Villanova, Arizona, St. John's, Tennessee, said Kimani Young, Pinkston's AAU coach.
- Favorite is St. John's.

Trevor Cooney, Team Final, 2011: Boston University, Delaware, Syracuse, Villanova, Ohio State, Rutgers, Texas, Maryland, Rutgers.
- Has been to Delaware, Syracuse, Villanova and Maryland.
- Would like to see Ohio State in order to get a feel for a Big Ten school.

Jermaine Sanders, New Heights U-16, 2011: Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Seton Hall, St. John's.
- Visiting Virginia this weekend.

Joey de la Rosa, New Heights U-16, 2011: Fordham, Georgetown, Hofstra, West Virginia, Providence.
- Favorite is Georgetown.

Vaughn Gray, Playaz U-16, 2011: Delaware, Providence, Massachusetts, Temple, Saint Joseph's, Villanova.
- Hopes to see Providence and Villanova soon.

Myles Davis, Playaz U-16, 2011: Virginia, Marist, Pittsburgh, Kentucky, Louisville, Wake Forest, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Arizona.
- Hopes to visit Virginia and Pittsburgh.

Charles Hankerson, Florida Gulf Coast, 2010: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Virginia, Florida State, and Rice, according to Alex Schwartz.

Miles Cartwright, California Supreme, 2010: Penn, Princeton, Stanford, California, Washington State, Oregon State, Oregon.

Joel Brokenborough, East Coast Elite, 2010: Boise State, George Washington, Old Dominion, Fairfield, Robert Morris, Oberlin (D-II), Buffalo, and Philadelphia University (D-II), according to Alex Schwartz.
- Favorite is George Washington.
- Is hoping to reclassify to 2011.

Committed Players Evaluated:
Nate Lubick, New England Playaz, 2010: Georgetown
Isaiah Epps, Playaz, 2010: Pittsburgh
Keith Shamburger, California Supreme, 2010: Portland
Markus Kennedy, Team Final, 2010: Villanova
Okaro White, Nike Team Florida, 2010: Florida State
Darius Quarles, Team Final, 2010: Saint Joseph's
Taran Buie, Albany City Rocks, 2010: Penn State
Evan Smotrycz, Mass Rivals, 2010: Michigan

Others Evaluated:
Rakeem Christmas, Team Final, 2011
Keith Lumpkin, Playaz, 2010
Brian Wilson, New York Panthers, 2010
Austin Carroll, New England Playaz, 2010
Melsahn Basabe, New York Gauchos, 2010
Antonio Bigelow, Team Odom LA, 2010
Dave Coley, Juice All-Stars, 2010
Isaiah Morton, Juice All-Stars, 2010
Shaq Stokes, Juice All-Stars, 2010
Keith McDouglad, Nike Team Florida, 2010
Kyle Anderson, Playaz U-16, 2012
Eli Carter, Sports University, 2010

Monday, June 15, 2009

Draft Decision Deadline: Returning to School

With the deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the NBA Draft passing just a few minutes ago, let's take a look at the key decisions of the day:

Click here for a look at the players who decided to keep their names in the draft.

- Heading into today, many of the players who were on the fence were clearly leaning one way or the other. Notre Dame's Luke Harangody was certainly not one of them. He was up in the air until just a couple of hours before the deadline. However, he made his decision today (story first broken by head coach Mike Brey's Twitter, of all places) to return to the Fighting Irish. Although Notre Dame don't return many players from last season, Harangody's return means it will still have an excellent inside-outside combo with Tory Jackson and Harangody. Furthermore, Purdue transfer Scott Martin and Mississippi State transfer Ben Hansbrough are eligible -- they will both start immediately. Jonathan Peoples and Tyrone Nash both played double-figures off the bench last season and will see their roles increased drastically, while a frontcourt-laden recruiting class will make an impact.

- After looking like a player who was likely to either keep his name in the NBA Draft or pursue a career overseas, Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez decided to return to the Terrapins for his senior season. One of the most productive and best all-around guards in the country, Vasquez's return means Maryland could be one of the top teams in the ACC. The Terps lose only two players, starter Dave Neal and role player Braxton Dupree, off of last season's second-round team. Guards Eric Hayes and Adrian Bowie will flank Vasquez on the perimeter, while Landon Milbourne will get help up front with the arrival of freshmen forwards Jordan Williams and James Padgett. Furthermore, Maryland is in the hunt for unsigned prospect Lance Stephenson.

Draft Decision Deadline: Staying in Draft

With the deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the NBA Draft passing just a few minutes ago, let's take a look at the key decisions of the day:

- Earlier, we discussed Kentucky's Jodie Meeks and his decision to keep his name in the NBA Draft.

- Also staying in the Draft was Wake Forest's Jeff Teague. Teague was the second Demon Deacons player to leave early this offseason, following forward James Johnson. With those two gone, but Al-Farouq Aminu returning, Wake Forest should stay in the mix in the ACC. The Deacons still have plenty of frontcourt talent in Aminu, Chas McFarland and Tony Woods. Replacing Teague will likely be former starter Ish Smith.

- Although Saint Mary's guard Patty Mills said recently that he was committed to staying in the NBA Draft, he had still not signed with an agent and was therefore on the fence. Today, he made it official. If Mills had returned to the team, St. Mary's would still have one of the inside-outside duos in the country in Mills and Omar Samhan. Without Mills and senior Diamon Simpson, the Gaels will likely not be able to end Gonzaga's reign atop the West Coast Conference, despite a depleted Bulldogs' roster next season.

- Signs have pointed to it for a couple of weeks, but Gonzaga forward Austin Daye made it official today that he would be keeping his name in the draft. The Bulldogs lose several key players from last season, including starters Jeremy Pargo, Josh Heytvelt, Micah Downs and now Daye. Guards Matt Bouldin (the team's lone returning starter), Steven Gray and Demetri Goodson will have to shoulder most of the offensive load. In the frontcourt, freshman Sam Dower will have to make an impact immediately, along with seldom-used big men Will Foster and Robert Sacre.

- Not surprisingly, USC's Taj Gibson decided not to return to the mess that will be the Trojans' basketball program. No one can really blame him for not wanting to come back, considering USC does not currently have a head coach. With four players leaving school to play professionally -- Gibson, DeMar DeRozan, Daniel Hackett and Marcus Johnson -- and nearly every recruit asking out of their letter of intent or going elsewhere, the Trojans are going to have trouble next season. Dwight Lewis, North Carolina transfer Alex Stepheson, Marcus Simmons and Leonard Washington will carry the load.

- Texas A&M received good news over the weekend when Bryan Davis and Donald Sloan informed head coach Mark Turgeon they would be returning to College Station. However, the third of the Aggies' early-entry trio, Chinemelu Elonu, decided to forgo his final season and stay in the draft. The 6-10 big man leaves a void in the middle, a hole that will be filled by returnee David Loubeau and freshman Kourtney Roberson. The Aggies return plenty of solid role players, in addition to Davis, Sloan and a very good recruiting class.

Official: Meeks Not Returning

As I reported last week, Jodie Meeks will keep his name in the NBA Draft and not return to Kentucky. He made it official earlier today. "I want to thank the fans and the city of Lexington. They have been great and I will always be a Kentucky Wildcat," Meeks said in a statement. "I feel comfortable with my decision and I’m confident in my ability. My family and I talked over the weekend and decided this was the best decision." Meeks is a likely second-round pick.

If Meeks had decided to return, Kentucky could make an excellent case for being ranked No. 1 heading into the season. However, with him now out of the equation, the Wildcats could drop a notch or two. Still, John Calipari has one of the most talented teams in the country, with All-American Patrick Patterson returning to go with four five-star recruits, namely John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Decisions, Decisions, Part Four

With about 19 hours until the deadline for players who entered their names into the NBA Draft but did not sign with an agent to withdraw, it's time to take a look at some of the decisions that occurred over the weekend, and then who has yet to make a final decision.

- Arguably the biggest decision of the weekend was Texas' Damion James choosing to come back to school instead of keeping his name in the draft. With him back in the fold, the Longhorns could be a top-five team next season. Five-star freshmen Avery Bradley and Justin Hamilton and Florida transfer Jai Lucas come into the program to join returning starters Dexter Pittman, Justin Mason, along with James. Guard Dogus Balbay and forward Gary Johnson also averaged more than 20 minutes per game last season. Texas and Kansas should have some epic battles in the Big 12.

- Another big return was that of Georgia Tech's Gani Lawal. Lawal is a very athletic forward who is a 15-10 lock every night out. The Yellow Jackets were going to be talented without him, as they bring in an excellent recruiting class, led by Scout.com's No. 1 prospect, Derrick Favors. Lawal and Favors will be one of the best interior duos in the country. Throw in sophomore Iman Shumpert and freshman Mfon Udofia in the backcourt, and this team should be one of the most improved in the ACC. If Paul Hewitt does not win with this team, his days could be numbered in Atlanta.

- Not surprisingly, UCLA freshman Jrue Holiday signed with an agent and will stay in the NBA Draft. Everyone saw this coming, as he is expected to be drafted in the lottery when June 25 rolls around. Holiday is the fourth UCLA starter lost from last season's team, as Nikola Dragovic is the lone returning starter. Replacing Holiday -- and Darren Collison -- in the backcourt will be rising sophomores Jerime Anderson and Malcolm Lee, with Michael Roll providing shooting from the wing. The Bruins will definitely be a down a notch next season, although the frontcourt has a ton of talent coming in, namely top-50 freshmen Tyler Honeycutt and Brendan Lane.

- According to Jeff Goodman of FOXSports.com, Connecticut forward Ater Majok informed head coach Jim Calhoun that he would be withdrawing his name from the draft and playing for the Huskies. Majok hasn't played a minute for UConn yet, sitting out last season after not being cleared to play. If he does indeed return, he and Stanley Robinson will team incoming freshman Alex Oriakhi to form an outstanding frontcourt. Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson will form one of the best guard duos in the Big East.

- South Carolina got its second bit of good news in the span of a couple days when guard Devan Downey announced he would return to the Gamecocks for his senior season. On Thursday, forward Dominique Archie had also said that he would be coming back. Downey provides an All-America-caliber option in the backcourt, while Archie and Mike Holmes are a very solid duo up front. Even though the Gamecocks might be a step behind Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida, they will be in much better position to contend with Downey's return.

- DePaul received both good news and bad news on Saturday, although nearly everyone saw the bad news coming. On the positive side, rising junior Mac Koshwal announced he will be coming back to the Blue Demons. He is a double-double machine, but may need to improve his number if DePaul is going to be drastically improved after its 0-18 Big East campaign. On the other side, Dar Tucker said that he will be hiring an agent and keeping his name in the Draft. When he originally announced he would enter the Draft, he made it clear that it was very likely he would not be returning. DePaul still won't be a contender in the conference, but Koshwal gives them a talented option down low.

- Texas A&M's Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis have decided to return to the Aggies, not surprisingly. They entered their names into the NBA Draft to get additional exposure and fully expected to come back. If Chinemelu Elonu also withdraws his name, A&M could be a solid team in a loaded Big 12. They only lose Josh Carter, and freshman Naji Hibbert should be able to replace him.

- Incoming San Diego State forward Malcolm Thomas, a junior college transfer, withdrew his name from the Draft and should be eligible to play for the Aztecs. He could be an immediate impact player in the Mountain West.

- Illinois State guard Osiris Eldridge informed the coaching staff that he would be returning to the Redbirds. The Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year will hope to lead ISU to the NCAA Tournament after it fell just short last season.

Who's Left on the Fence?

- Jodie Meeks, Kentucky
- Jeff Teague, Wake Forest
- Patty Mills, Saint Mary's
- Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
- Austin Daye, Gonzaga
- Greivis Vasquez, Maryland
- Taj Gibson, USC
- Chinemelu Elonu, Texas A&M

Stay tuned to March Madness All Season throughout the day for all the latest on draft decisions.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Rumble in the Bronx

To kick off the summer AAU season, I will be heading out to Fordham University tonight for the Rumble in the Bronx, which runs until Sunday.

Several of the top AAU teams in the country, including Team Final, California Supreme, New York Gauchos and many more, will be in attendance. As a result, there should be a plethora of top prospects playing at all times.

Here is the official press release from Jim Hart:

"This years RUMBLE in the BRONX features the best collection of 17U teams in the events 10 year history! Need evidence, how about the winner of Bob Gibbons - Team Final, got em. The winner of the NIKE MDC - California Supreme, got em. The winner of the King James Classic - New York Gauchos, got em. How about the Wallace Prather - Nike Team Florida, got em. THe Playaz Spring Fling - New England Playaz, got em. Everywhere you look their are talented Teams. Did I mention Nike Baltimore Elite, Louisiana Select, Albany City Rocks, Juice, NY Panthers, Team Odom LA, New Heights - all coming,

If your looking for individual talent, we have plenty. Jared Sullinger, Adreian Payne, Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Mike Gilchrist, Will Barton, Josh Selby, Gary Franklin Jr., Tobias Harris, Taran Buie, Will Regan, Doron Lamb, Jason Morris, Shane Southwell, Langston Galloway, Evan Smotrycz, Jayvaughn Pinkston, Devon Collier and many others.

THis is the last Big team event before July that promises to have some elite level showdowns between great individual players, but more important for the Team Hardware."

For constant updates and analysis from the tournament, check out the NBE Basketball Report all weekend.

Who's In, Who's Out?

Although the term "Who's In, Who's Out" normally goes hand-in-hand with Selection Sunday and the NCAA Tournament, in can certainly apply to the final days before the NBA Draft withdrawal deadline. Players who have entered their names into the NBA Draft but have not hired an agent have until June 15 to withdraw their names and return to school.

Here is a look at some of the notable players remaining, and where they currently stand:

Jrue Holiday, UCLA: Hasn't made a decision yet, but considering he is expected to be chosen in the top-10, it wouldn't make sense for him to return. (Los Angeles Times)

Austin Daye, Gonzaga: Leaning heavily towards keeping his name in the Draft. (Associated Press)

Luke Harangody, Notre Dame: Said he was "50-50" on staying in the Draft. (Northwest Indiana Times)

Taj Gibson, USC: Prior to Tim Floyd's resignation, he was still on the fence. I can't see him returning to the Trojans anymore. (FOXSports.com)

Greivis Vasquez, Maryland: Report on SI.com said that he was staying in the Draft, but he denied that. Might head overseas to play.

Damion James, Texas: NBA personnel think James should go back to school, but he seems likely to stay in the Draft. (Hoops World)

Devan Downey, South Carolina: Told his high school coach that he was "50-50" on whether to return or not, but those close to him expect him to stay in the Draft or play in Europe. (The State)

Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech: Completely undecided. Projected as a first-round pick, but thinks he can raise his stock by returning to school.

Jeff Teague, Wake Forest: Strained his MCL in early June and shut down workouts, but will workout Monday with Indiana. Was leaning towards staying in the Draft, and his father told FOXSports.com that the injury likely wouldn't affect that.

Jodie Meeks, Kentucky: As I reported earlier, his teammates don't think that he is returning, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. However, he has said that he will return to school if he doesn't get a first-round guarantee -- which he is not likely to get.

UT's Smith, SC's Archie Both Returning

After a season in which the SEC was constantly discussed as being "down" and by far the worst of the six "BCS" conferences, the offseason has been excellent to the league.

The good news continued on Thursday, as Tennessee's Tyler Smith and South Carolina's Dominique Archie both withdrew their names from the NBA Draft and will return for their senior seasons.

Smith wanted a first-round guarantee but never got it, and also decided not to seriously pursue a potential career in Europe despite considering it initially.

“I thought it would come down to my gut feeling, but my gut was leaning toward leaving,’’ Smith said. “But then in talking to my family, friends and teammates these past few days, I’ve decided to return for my senior year.’’

With Smith back in the fold, Tennessee returns every key player from last season's team, and also welcomes power forward recruit Kenny Hall into the fold. Smith and Wayne Chism form a very good frontcourt tandem, while Scotty Hopson should develop into a solid scorer on the perimeter. J.P. Prince and Bobby Maze also return as starters.

As for Archie, the 6-7 forward was not projected to be drafted and many were caught by surprise when he announced that he would be entering the draft. However, in recent days, rumors grew that he was likely not returning to the Gamecocks and could even attempt to play in Europe. Those rumors were clearly not true.

"Going into the process I fully expected to come back to school, but it was good for me to get insight and feedback throughout the workouts," he said. "I'm very excited about my senior season and the direction that our team is headed."

Even with Archie back, head coach Darrin Horn is still awaiting point guard Devan Downey's decision. He entered his name into the NBA Draft, but did not sign with an agent and has until Monday to withdraw. Reports this week indicate that Downey is undecided, but is leaning towards pursuing a professional career. As of now, Archie and Mike Holmes are one of the better frontcourt duos in the conference, but Downey would provide an All-American talent on the perimeter. Horn does bring in two quality recruits in Ramon Galloway and Lakeem Jackson.

The decisions by Smith and Archie to return are the latest in a string of choices by SEC players to come back next season. Mississippi State's Jarvis Varnado, Kentucky's Patrick Patterson, Arkansas' Michael Washington and LSU's Tasmin Mitchell have each already announced their decisions to return. Florida's Nick Calathes is planning to play in Europe next season, while Downey and Kentucky's Jodie Meeks are still undecided.

No matter what, it looks like next season in the SEC is going to be much better than this past campaign.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Meeks Not Returning?

With the news that Matt Pilgrim and Kevin Galloway were both leaving the Kentucky basketball program -- and thereby dropping the number of Wildcats on scholarship to 12 -- many thought that could signify Jodie Meeks withdrawing his name from the NBA Draft and returning to Lexington.

In an offseason that has otherwise been perfect for Kentucky, it might not end on a good note.

According to a source with knowledge of the situation, Meeks could be leaning towards keeping his name in the draft pool.

"[The] players think he won't come back," the source said. "He should come back, [but] I have no idea. [He's] unpredictable."

If Meeks does return, Kentucky will fight with Kansas for the preseason No. 1 ranking in the country. He is a potential All-American and would form a dynamite backcourt tandem with incoming freshman John Wall.

Wall and fellow five-star recruits DeMarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton and Eric Bledsoe will all play under new head coach John Calipari next season. In addition to the recruiting coup, potential All-American Patrick Patterson withdrew from the NBA Draft and returned to the Wildcats.

Meeks, a 6-5 guard, averaged 23.7 points and 3.4 rebounds per game last season, shooting nearly 41 percent from three-point range. He scored 54 points against Tennessee in January, and scored more than 30 points in a game on five other occasions. If he does stay in the Draft, he is projected as a mid-second round pick.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Momo Jones Has Made Up His Mind

...he's just not telling anyone yet.

With USC head coach Tim Floyd resigning yesterday, attention turned to the remaining recruits that the Trojans had coming in next season. Would they leave, like so many other USC players had done so far this offseason?

One of those recruits, Lamont "Momo" Jones, was rumored to be reconsidering his commitment to the Trojans over the past couple of weeks.

Tony Bergeron, his former coach at American Christian (Pa.), said that Jones has made his decision but he and those closest to him are not ready to let everyone know.

"I do know, but we aren't releasing it just yet," Bergeron said in a text message.

Jones has already decommitted twice from schools, first reneging on his commitment to Louisville in February of 2008, then doing the same to Virginia Tech this past March.

He attended three high schools, starting at Rice High School in New York before heading to American Christian. After American Christian closed down, he finished his high school career at Oak Hill Academy (Va.). Jones helped lead the Warriors to the No. 1 spot ranking in the country before falling to Findlay Prep in the National Championship game.

Jones is ranked as the No. 11 point guard, and No. 68 prospect overall in the Class of 2009, by Rivals.com.

Transfer Turnstyle and Commitment Craze

No matter what time of year it is, the transfer mill is always going non-stop. Here are several of the latest announcements and decisions from across the landscape:

- America East Rookie of the Year Jake O'Brien might leave Boston University for another school. He has looked at Xavier and St. Joseph's, but has also not ruled out a return to the Terriers.

- As reported by Jeff Goodman of FOXSports.com, former Oklahoma junior forward Juan Patillo has transferred to Western Kentucky after being dismissed from the Sooners in May.

- Former Kansas State forward Ron Anderson will suit up for South Florida in 2010-2011. He should make an immediate impact in the Big East once he becomes eligible.

- Former Nebraska guard Cookie Miller has decided to head to Miami (Ohio). The Cornhuskers starter will be a solid performer for the RedHawks.

- Connecticut shooting guard Scottie Haralson has announced that he will be leaving the Huskies and playing for Tulsa. The Huskies won't miss him that much.

- Seton Hall forward Brandon Walters announced that he will be leaving the Pirates.

- Washington transfer Joe Wolfinger has decided to play for The Citadel.

- Landon Slone, a former Kentucky walk-on under Billy Gillispie, will play for Morehead State.

- Jared Carter, A.J. Stewart and Donald Williams all have announced their departure from Kentucky.

Despite the fact that the spring signing period ended May 20, there have been plenty of commitments and signings over the past couple of weeks. Here is a recap of some of the noteworthy ones:

- Will and Antonio Barton both committed to Memphis on Friday. Will is a highly-touted 2010 forward who was long thought to be headed to Kentucky, while Antonio is a solid point guard who also had offers from Syracuse and Miami.

- Former Tennessee commit Aaron Craft decided to stay closer to home and play for Ohio State. The 2010 point guard will give the Buckeyes a much-needed lift in two seasons.

- In an interesting move, 2010 point guard Kyle Fuller decided to leave the state of California and play for Vanderbilt. UCLA and Cal were also after Fuller.

- For next season, 6-4 Jaquan Parker, a former Old Dominion commit, will head to Cincinnati. He is a versatile guard who will be a solid piece for Mick Cronin and the Bearcats.

- Southern Illinois looks like it will continue to be a factor, as it picked up Jack Crowder, a top-25 JC player according to JucoJunction.com.

- Josh Pastner showed his ability to recruit translated to his head coaching position, as he received a potential sleeper commitment from Martin Ngaloro, a 6-8 forward from France.

- Eric Gordon's brother, Evan, chose to play for Liberty.

- Kevin Laue, a one-handed center from Virginia, will play for Manhattan next season.

- Tevin Baskin, a player who was formerly receiving plenty of Big East interest and was getting a lot of hype in New York recruiting circles, ended up choosing Quinnipiac.

- Western Kentucky is doing an excellent job of picking up some quality players from different areas. The newest commit is Derrick Gordon, a 2011 guard from St. Patrick's in New Jersey. He is going to be an impact player in the Sun Belt in a couple of years.

Patillo to Western Kentucky?

Jeff Goodman of FOXSports.com is reporting that former Oklahoma forward Juan Patillo is transferring to Western Kentucky. Patillo was dismissed from the Sooners in May for a violation of team rules.

However, Patillo's former junior college coach at the College of Southern Idaho, Steve Gosar, could neither confirm nor deny the rumor.

"I know he was visiting there this last weekend, but I can't tell you what he's going to do," Gosar said last night in a phone interview. "I don't know, I just know he was visiting there, but I cannot confirm that [he signed with WKU]."

Patillo averaged 6.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots per game for Oklahoma this past season.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Floyd Resigns at USC

In yet another blow to the USC basketball program, head coach Tim Floyd has resigned after four years with the Trojans.

The story was reported first in The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Miss.). The paper obtained the letter of resignation that Floyd sent to athletic director Mike Garrett.

"As of 1:00 p.m. today, I am resigning as head basketball coach at the University of Southern California. I deeply appreciate the opportunity afforded me by the university, as well as the chance to know and work with some of the finest young men in college athletics. Unfortunately, I no longer feel I can offer the level of enthusiasm to my duties that is deserved by the university, my coaching staff, my players, their families, and the supporters of the University of Southern California. I always promised myself and my family that if I ever felt I could no longer give my full enthusiasm to a job, that I should leave it to others who could. I intend to contact my coaching staff and my players in coming days and weeks to tell them how much each of them means to me. I wish the best to USC and to my successor."

Statements from Garrett and Senior Vice President of Administration Todd Dickey were brief.

Said Garrett: "I accept Tim's decision and wish him well."

"The University is cooperating fully in the continuing investigation with the NCAA and Pac-10 into all allegations of NCAA and Pac-10 rules violations at USC. The University, the NCAA and Pac-10 have jointly conducted interviews of approximately 50 witnesses. No conclusions have yet been reached," Dickey said. "At this point, it would be both inappropriate and premature to comment further."

A report on Yahoo! Sports last month alleged that Floyd had made a $1,000 cash payment to Rodney Guillory, who played a major role in bringing O.J. Mayo to USC two years ago. The allegations were based off testimony and information from Louis Johnson, who used to be a member of Mayo's entourage. Johnson had previously said that Guillory received thousands of dollars from Bill Duffy Sports Agency in hopes that Mayo would sign with agent Bill Duffy after college.

Floyd's resignation is the latest in what has been a terrible offseason for USC. Since the season ended in the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a loss to Michigan State, the Trojans saw DeMar DeRozan, Daniel Hackett and Taj Gibson enter the NBA Draft. Gibson was the lone one not to hire an agent. Highly-touted high school senior Renardo Sidney is now with Mississippi State after originally committing to USC. Fellow recruit Solomon Hill reneged on his commitment and signed with Arizona, while Noel Johnson recently asked out of his letter-of-intent and is now exploring his options. Furthermore, Marcus Johnson decided to pursue a professional basketball career despite receiving a fifth year of eligiblity.

With Floyd now resigning, Lamont "Momo" Jones is now likely to ask out of his letter of intent, and remaining recruit Derrick Williams is following the situation closely and could be gone as well.

Floyd was reportedly offered head coaching positions at both Arizona and Memphis during the early part of the offseason, but declined both. He likely regrets that now.

Reynolds Back to Nova

Villanova junior guard Scottie Reynolds will withdraw his name from the NBA Draft and return to the Wildcats for his senior season, the school announced in a statement Tuesday morning.

"The best decision for me is to return to Villanova for my senior year," Reynolds said. "I'd like to thank everyone who put their time into helping me get better during these NBA workouts. I especially want to thank my teammates and coaches here for all of their support. I felt like I learned a great deal from this process. I'm blessed to be in the situation I am in. I'm happy to be back at Villanova."

Reynolds averaged 15.2 points per game last season, along with 2.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 steals per contest. He had nine games of over 20 points, including a 40-point performance against Seton Hall in January. The highlight of this past season for Reynolds was undoubtedly his weaving lay-up with less than one second left to defeat Pittsburgh in the Elite Eight. Despite that, he did struggle in the NCAA Tournament, averaging just 13.4 points on 35 percent shooting from the field and 24 percent shooting from three-point range.

With Reynolds back, Villanova will be right back in the hunt for a Big East championship and a repeat Final Four appearance. Jay Wright lost Dante Cunningham, Shane Clark and Dwayne Anderson from last season's frontcourt, but the perimeter should be outstanding. Reynold and fellow returnees Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes and Reggie Redding will combine with freshmen Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek in a deep and talented guard group. Up front, Antonio Pena is the lone key returnee, but Duke transfer Taylor King and freshmen Mouphtaou Yarou and Isaiah Armwood will make an immediate impact. This team will be tough to beat once again.

No Update on Melo

I spoke to Sagemont Academy (Fla.) head coach Adam Ross yesterday regarding 7-foot Fabricio de Melo, a 2010 prospect quickly rising in the rankings. Better known as Fab Melo, the big man has visited Connecticut, Louisville, Syracuse and Florida. When I wrote a feature on Melo in late May for NBE Basketball Report, Ross told me that those four were the finalists for Melo's services.

According to Ross, there are no new updates on Melo, and he has not visited any other schools. There are rumors that he plans to make a decision before July, but Ross said there is no timetable for Melo to pick a school.

"At this point it's day to day," Ross said in a text message. "I'm anticipating a decision soon but it's possible that he waits until the fall."

Melo is ranked as the No. 3 center in the class of 2010 by Rivals.com, and the No. 23-ranked prospect overall. Scout.com has him ranked No. 5 and No. 25, respectively.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Decisions, Decisions, Part Three

Over the past weekend, there were several important personnel decisions that will have an impact on next season. Let's take a look at those decisions, and the potential effect of each.

Mills Not Returning to St. Mary's: One of the best players in college basketball, sophomore guard Patty Mills, has announced that he plans to hire an agent and keep his name in the NBA Draft. The St. Mary's product missed much of the West Coast Conference season after injuring himself in January; the Gaels were one of the last teams left out of the NCAA Tournament, and many people point to Mills' injury as the main reason. If Mills had returned to the team, St. Mary's would still have one of the inside-outside duos in the country in Mills and Omar Samhan. Without Mills and senior Diamon Simpson, the Gaels will have trouble competing with Gonzaga for the league crown.

Wise Returns to Arizona: Junior guard Nic Wise announced over the weekend that he will withdraw his name from the NBA Draft and return to Arizona. With Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill already in the Draft, Wise's return is huge for new coach Sean Miller and the Wildcats. With a solid recruiting class coming in, led by Kevin Parrom and Solomon Hill, Arizona is in a much better position than it was just two months ago. If Miller lands Lance Stephenson, the Wildcats will have plenty of talent. Wise could be poised for a first-team all-conference campaign.

Taggart Staying in the Draft: More bad news for Memphis, as junior big man Shawn Taggart hired an agent and will keep his name in the NBA Draft. Taggart will be the fourth starter gone from last season's Sweet Sixteen team. The Tigers will now have to rely heavily on newcomers Will Coleman, Latavious Williams and Martin Ngaloro, as well as redshirt freshman Angel Garcia and returnee Pierre Henderson-Niles. Taggart would have provided experience and athleticism up front, but without him, the perimeter will have to produce most of the offense next season.

Mitchell Heading Back to LSU: Junior forward Tasmin Mitchell announced on Sunday that he will not forgo his final season with the Tigers, and will return to school. This is great news for Trent Johnson, who had already lost Marcus Thornton and two other starters from a season ago. Mitchell and Bo Spencer return in the starting lineup, and both could be all-conference performers. The SEC will be better next season, although the West division does not have a clear favorite. If LSU can get some production from other returnees and the newcomers, it will be right in the mix.

Collins Returning to Miami: Junior forward Dwayne Collins made a very smart decision when he removed his name from the NBA Draft and announced he will return to Miami (Fl.) for his senior season. He's a very athletic inside player who can score and rebound, and will be a go-to-guy for the Hurricanes next season. Villanova transfer Malcolm Grant will be eligible in the backcourt, while James Dews and incoming freshman Durand Scott will also anchor the perimeter. With the return of Collins up front, Miami (Fl.) has the inside-outside balance necessary to contend in the ACC.