Monday, November 30, 2009

Beal to Florida; Gators Chomp in 2011?

After winning back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007, Florida could be poised to get back into the championship picture within the next two years.

No, this isn’t a huge knee-jerk reaction to the Gators’ win over Michigan State last week – although I will say that I was one of the few people to rank Florida in the preseason.

The main reason behind my above proclamation is today’s announcement by 2011 prospect Bradley Beal that he will be headed to Florida in two years. Beal is one of the top players in his class, and will make an immediate impact at both ends of the floor in the SEC.

Combine his commitment with a verbal commitment from top-five 2011 prospect Austin Rivers and the presence of freshman Kenny Boynton, and Billy Donovan will have possibly the most talented perimeter group in the country in two years.

Throw in sophomores Erving Walker, Ray Shipman, Kenny Kadji and Erik Murphy and 2010 signees Casey Prather and Patric Young, and the Gators are going to be absolutely loaded in 2011.

Of course, there are plenty of things that can go wrong with this scenario: Boynton could turn pro after this season or next, and Rivers has been rumored to be seriously considering Duke despite his verbal to Florida.

However, if Boynton returns to Florida for his junior season, and Rivers follow through on his commitment, expect the Gators to be near the top of the national rankings in 2011.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Weekend Viewer's Guide

With all the turkey and Thanksgiving festivities out of the way, most of the nation will now settle down for a nice, relaxing weekend -- filled with college basketball. Oh, sure, there's college football and NFL too, but we all know that it's going to be Texas vs. Alabama/Florida in the title game and the best pro game of the week is not until Monday night. Therefore, just kick back and watch some holiday hoops.

Marquette vs. Michigan (Friday, 12:00 PM, ESPN): Michigan is a contender in the Big Ten, and Marquette has gotten off to a surprising start in what is a rebuilding season.

Texas A&M vs. No. 8 West Virginia (Friday, 2:30 PM, ESPN): A&M handled Clemson relatively easily, while Devin Ebanks could make his season debut for West Virginia.

Xavier vs. Creighton (Friday, 2:30 PM, ESPNU): Two non-BCS teams that could be fighting for an at-large come Selection Sunday; a win here would look good.

No. 13 Connecticut vs. No. 7 Duke (Friday, 5:00 PM, ESPN): While this game might not be as important as it has in the past, anytime these two get together, it's destined to be a classic.

Siena vs. St. John's (Friday, 5:30 PM): St. John's is optimistic about the season, while Siena has the potential to be a factor in the NCAA Tournament again.

Richmond vs. Mississippi State (Friday, 6:00 PM, FCS Pacific): Both teams are in need of a win. Richmond won't get many opportunities for big wins, while MSU has been somewhat disappointing.

Nevada at VCU (Friday, 7:30 PM): Both teams are looking to continue their good starts -- Nevada has defeated Houston, while VCU beat Oklahoma.

Florida vs. No. 2 Michigan State (Friday, 8:00 PM, Regional TV): I like Florida a lot more than most, but the Gators could have trouble against MSU's experience and defense.

Old Dominion vs. Missouri (Friday, 8:30 PM, FCS Pacific): A win here for ODU would boost the CAA's profile in the early season, while Missouri is lurking in the Big 12.

Portland vs. No. 22 Minnesota (Friday, 9:30 PM, ESPNU): Portland destroyed UCLA on Thursday, but Minnesota's defense will not allow them to shoot as well as they did.

Butler vs. UCLA (Friday, 11:30 PM, ESPNU): One of these teams will exit Anaheim with at least two losses, as Butler fell to Minnesota and UCLA was rocked by Portland on Thursday.

La Salle at No. 4 Villanova (Saturday, 3:30 PM, ESPN2): Battle in Philly. La Salle is expected to be a sleeper in the Atlantic-10, while 'Nova is a Final Four contender again.

No. 16 Louisville at UNLV (Saturday, 4:00 PM, Versus): UNLV surprised Louisville by pulling the upset last season, and the Cardinals will head into Vegas for revenge.

Boston College at Providence (Saturday, 7:00 PM): Two New England teams that are headed for a down season, but could get some momentum with a win here.

76 Classic (Sunday, 2:30/5:00/7:30/10:00 PM, ESPNU/ESPN2): By far the best preseason tournament will have four marquee games on the docket, including a potential West Virginia-Minnesota battle in the title game.

Niagara at Akron (Sunday, 2:00 PM): Don't overlook this game. Akron is the favorite to win the MAC, while Niagara is one of the more entertaining teams to watch.

Nevada at No. 11 North Carolina (Sunday, 6:45 PM, FSN): Another tough battle for Nevada this week, as the Wolf Pack will face a UNC team looking to bounce back from its loss to 'Cuse.

Old Spice Classic Championship (Sunday, 7:30 PM, ESPN2): A potential Michigan-Florida State match-up could be very interesting. Marquette and Alabama are also in the mix.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday, Nov. 24 Predictions

Prediction Record: 33-10 (ATS: 21-19)
  • Maryland vs. Cincinnati (+2.5): Prediction: Maryland 76, Cincinnati 68
  • Florida State at Florida (-2.5): Prediction: Florida 79, Florida State 73
  • Cornell at Syracuse (-13): Prediction: Syracuse 77, Cornell 67
  • Wisconsin vs. Gonzaga (+1.5): Prediction: Gonzaga 68, Wisconsin 60
  • Pittsburgh vs. Texas (-8): Prediction: Texas 74, Pittsburgh 59

Monday, November 23, 2009

National Prep Showcase Recruiting Notes

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The official start to the always hotly anticipated prep basketball season is the National Prep Showcase. Held in the past at Bryant University in Rhode Island, the Showcase moved this year to Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Conn. This season, it features nine of the top 10 teams in ESPN’s Prep rankings, and several of the top players in the country. Things kicked off on Friday with six games, including a match-up between Hargrave Military Academy and Notre Dame Prep, a contest that featured more than 20 Division-I players. Here’s a look at some of the noteworthy recruiting updates gathered in New Haven. For a complete scouting report of dozens of the top players at the Showcase, check out NBE Basketball Report.

- Bryon Allen said he decommitted from West Virginia as a result of a scholarship issue. When Joe Mazzulla came back from injury, Allen decommitted because that was his scholarship spot. Now that he has opened back up his recruitment, the 6-3 guard is considering Providence, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Maryland and Charlotte, in addition to the Mountaineers. He plans to decide at the end of the season.

- Notre Dame Prep's Lamont Samuels has offers from Seton Hall and Duquesne, as well as interest from South Florida and Rhode Island.

- Former Boston College commit Danny Lawhorn decommitted from the Eagles because of a lack of interest coming from BC. “They stopped calling me,” Lawhorn said. “And they started recruiting all guards.” He said he is now getting looks from Washington, Baylor, Providence and a lot of Big East schools.

- Andre Drummond is not ready to discuss what schools he is considering, or even what he is looking for in a school. However, he did say that he has played limited minutes because of an injury to his ankle that he suffered three years ago but never got treated until recently.

- A player sure to rise in the class of 2011 rankings is Trahshon Burrell of St. Thomas More. The 6-6 swingman has offers from St. John’s and Providence, as well as interest from West Virginia, Delaware, Fordham and Xavier.

- Another prospect likely to see more interest if he continues to play like he did this weekend was Jarvis Davis of Hargrave Military Academy. Right now he only has four schools looking at him: High Point, Binghamton, UNC-Greensboro and Longwood.

- Although it is early in 2012 prospect Khem Birch’s recruitment, the 6-10 big man is getting interest from Providence, Connecticut, Arizona State and Siena. He said his favorites at this point are Providence and Siena.

- Isiah Stokley of Mack Academy (N.C.) went south to North Carolina in order to get his academics high enough to gain eligibility, and he is well on his way. Stokley said he is maintaining a 3.0 GPA. As a result, he has interest from Seton Hall, St. John’s, St. Francis (N.Y.), Fordham, Charlotte and Baylor. His favorite is Seton Hall, and he is confident that the Pirates will offer him a scholarship if he becomes eligible.

- New Hampton Prep’s Jordan Laguerre said the only schools showing him interest right now are Massachusetts and Providence.

- Jordair Jett of Notre Dame Prep has offers from Saint Louis, Nebraska and Northern Iowa, as well as interest from Baylor and Florida.

- Underrated on a national level because of his location, Canadian Yann Charles has interest from Eastern Kentucky, Akron and Notre Dame.

- Brewster Academy’s Maurice Walker has a list of Pittsburgh, Kansas, Connecticut, Georgetown, Arizona and Marquette, but he knows where he wants to go – Pittsburgh. “I like what they’ve done in the past with players like me, you know, DeJuan Blair,” Walker said. “The atmosphere there is almost like the atmosphere at home. I’ve met the coaches and I like them, I’ve met the players and I like them.” When asked why he has not committed yet, Walker responded: “I’ve been talking back and forth with the coaches there, but they haven’t gotten back to me yet.”

- Worcester Academy’s Tyler Olander has been out since late September with a broken thumb, but he should be back in two weeks. “The recovery is going well,” Olander said. As for his recruitment, he has offers from Connecticut, Wake Forest, Rhode Island, Stanford, Penn State, Vanderbilt and Oregon State, with interest from Florida.

- If NIA Prep continues to play like it did against Brewster, guard Kelvin Amayo’s recruitment is sure to pick up. Right now, he has offers from Western Kentucky, Delaware and Charlotte, with interest from Memphis, Louisville, Tennessee and Maryland.

- Although Naadir Tharpe struggled with his turnovers this weekend, the Brewster Academy guard has offers from Boston College and Providence, with interest from Virginia, Wake Forest, Indiana and UNLV.

- Bridgton Academy’s Alex Harris is a relatively unknown in New England because he just arrived from California, but several coaches in the stands this weekend were seen looking at the rosters or taking notes after Harris made yet another impressive play. Right now, though, Harris only has interest from Buffalo, Portland State, Saint Mary’s and Hawaii.

- One of the top 2010 big men left to commit to a school is Majok Majok of Northfield Mount Hermon. The big man plans to pick a future destination in December, but for now he is considering Harvard, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma, Providence, Virginia.

- Delaware native Tyshawn Bell is now at Maine Central Institute to improve his SAT scores and grades, but he has interest and/or offers from South Florida, George Washington, Siena and La Salle.

-  Aaron Cosby is primed to be one of the most heavily-recruited point guards in the class of 2011, as evidenced by his current recruiting list. The Northfield Mount Hermon junior has offers from Providence, Rutgers, Wichita State, Oklahoma state and Massachusetts, as well as interest from Stanford, Georgia Tech, Georgetown, Virginia, Pittsburgh and Penn State.

Monday, Nov. 23 Predictions

Prediction Record: 31-8 (ATS: 19-17)

Boston College vs. Northern Iowa (-2.5): Prediction: Northern Iowa 64, Boston College 60
Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt (-3.5): Prediction: Vanderbilt 76, Cincinnati 66
Purdue vs. Tennessee (+2.5): Prediction: Purdue 69, Tennessee 65
Arizona vs. Wisconsin (-4.5): Prediction: Arizona 67, Wisconsin 64

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Archie injures knee

South Carolina senior forward Dominique Archie left the championship game of the Charleston Classic against Miami (Fl.) on Sunday with an injured right knee. He came down awkwardly after dunking the ball with 13:30 left in the first half. Archie was helped to the locker room and then it was announced that Archie would not return. He was seen late in the game, walking on crutches with a brace on his right knee.

Sunday, Nov. 22 Predictions

Prediction Record: 27-6 (ATS: 18-13)
  • Morgan State at Louisville: Prediction: Louisville 79, Morgan State 62
  • Kansas State vs. Dayton (PICK): Prediction: Dayton 72, Kansas State 64
  • South Carolina vs. Miami (Fl.) (+1): Prediction: South Carolina 70, Miami (Fl.) 63
  • Tennessee vs. DePaul (+19): Prediction: Tennessee 86, DePaul 66
  • Mississippi vs. Villanova (-3.5): Prediction: Villanova 79, Mississippi 75
  • Purdue vs. Saint Joseph's (+14): Prediction: Purdue 70, Saint Joseph's 57

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Nov. 21 News and Notes: Sanders out 2-4 weeks

According to tweets by’s Andy Katz and’s Jeff Goodman, Boston College junior swingman Rakim Sanders will be out 2-4 weeks with a right ankle sprain. Sanders returned to the starting lineup for the Eagles after a two-game suspension but left after four minutes due to the injury. He averaged 12.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game last season.

UCLA’s Dragovic arrested and suspended

UCLA’s leading returning scorer from last season, forward Nikola Dragovic, was suspended for last night’s game against Cal State Bakersfield after his arrest for felony assault. The arrest stems from an incident last month at a concert in Hollywood. “This is an unfortunate situation for Nikola,” Coach Ben Howland said. “Our staff and players will do what we can to help him during this time. He made us aware of the incident when it occurred, but until this morning, we did not know charges would be filed.” Dragovic opened this season with five points and 14 rebounds in a loss to Cal State Fullerton.

Robertson out indefinitely with sore foot

California has lost back-to-back games in the 2K Sports Classic in New York, and much of it has to do with the absence of Theo Robertson. The senior forward has missed the past two games with a sore foot, and his return has yet to be determined. Seth Davis of reported on Twitter that Robertson could be out several weeks. Robertson was averaging 18.0 points per game prior to the injury.

Ebanks’ return undetermined

West Virginia sophomore forward Devin Ebanks has not played or practiced with the team since being suspended by head coach Bob Huggins prior to the season-opener against Loyola (Md.). When asked after that game, Huggins only said that Ebanks was out with “personal issues.” On Friday, Huggins claimed he was unsure of Ebanks’ timetable for a return. “I don’t know,” he said. Ebanks was expected to have a breakout season this year after averaging 10.5 points and 7.8 rebounds during his freshman campaign.

Hofstra’s Jenkins injured in win

According to the game recap on Hofstra’s website, junior guard Charles Jenkins left the Pride’s win over Farmingdale State with 6:20 left in the first half after landing hard on the floor. He did not play in the second half, but did return to the bench after going to the locker room. He had been averaging 21.7 points per game in the first three games of the season.

Saturday, Nov. 21 Predictions

Prediction Record: 24-4 (ATS: 16-11)
  • Radford at Duke: Prediction: Duke 78, Radford 63
  • Oklahoma at VCU (+4): Prediction: Oklahoma 71, VCU 64
  • Oregon at Portland (-1): Prediction: Oregon 84, Portland 75
  • Southern Illinois at UNLV (-7.5): Prediction: UNLV 66, Southern Illinois 58
  • Houston at Nevada (-2.5): Prediction: Nevada 77, Houston 69

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday, Nov. 20 Predictions

Prediction Record: 16-3 (ATS: 11-7)
  • Dayton vs. Villanova (-5): Prediction: Villanova 72, Dayton 68
  • Ohio State vs. California (+3.5): Prediction: Ohio State 75, California 70
  • North Carolina vs. Syracuse (Pick): Prediction: Syracuse 81, North Carolina 78
  • Seton Hall at Cornell (-2.5): Prediction: Cornell 66, Seton Hall 57
  • Troy at Florida (-16.5): Prediction: Florida 84, Troy 70
  • Providence at Alabama (-5.5): Prediction: Alabama 71, Providence 64
  • Kansas State vs. Mississippi (Pick): Prediction: Mississippi 76, Kansas State 69
  • South Carolina vs. South Florida (+5): Prediction: South Carolina 70, South Florida 63
  • Vanderbilt at Saint Mary's (-4.5): Prediction: Saint Mary's 73, Vanderbilt 69

Thursday, November 19, 2009

National Prep Showcase

I'm heading up to Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Conn. on Friday to watch the National Prep Showcase, easily the best prep tournament of the high school season. It features nine of the top 10 teams in the ESPN Prep Rankings, and at least 100 Division-I recruits in the 20 games. Here's a link to the match-ups: National Prep Showcase

I will be posting noteworthy updates gathered from the Showcase, and I will also be still keeping up with the latest in college basketball news. My predictions will be back Friday as well.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday, Nov. 18 Predictions

Prediction Record: 13-2 (ATS: 9-6)

Oakland at Wisconsin (OFF): Prediction: Wisconsin 66, Oakland 56
Utah State at Utah (-3): Prediction: Utah State 74, Utah 69
Butler at Northwestern (+5): Prediction: Butler 63, Northwestern 54
Nevada at UNLV (-6.5): Prediction: UNLV 76, Nevada 70

Remember to check for the latest college basketball odds and NCAA basketball point spreads.

Pinkston postponing decision

Jayvaughn Pinkston, the top player in New York City this year, was expected to make his college decision at 4 p.m. today.

However, it turns out that he will be waiting until the spring.

“Jayvaughn will not be making his announcement today,” Kimani Young, Pinkston’s AAU director, said in a text message. “He’s not 100% sure where he wants to go to school so he’ll wait until the spring to make his decision.”

A report in the New York Daily News on Tuesday stated that Pinkston was prepared to commit to Tennessee, although Young debunked that rumor.

One has to wonder, though, if this decision to postpone the announcement has anything to do with Tobias Harris’ trip to Tennessee late last night. Harris, a five-star recruit in the class of 2010, will make his decision on Thursday – and Tennessee is the rumored favorite in that race.

“No,” Young said. “Jay is concerned with his recruitment and his recruitment only.”

Despite that, signs point to the idea that Pinkston was prepared to commit to Tennessee, but had second thoughts once Harris took his last-minute trip to Knoxville – and likely cemented the fact that Harris will indeed sign with the Volunteers.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Purdue's Jackson out indefinitely

No. 7 Purdue could be without its starting point guard for the entire 2009-10 season, as Lewis Jackson is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery to repair a broken foot he suffered last week in practice.

“Hopefully, he can come back at the end of the Big Ten season, but it’s going to take some time,” head coach Matt Painter told the Journal and Courier (West Lafayette, Ind.). “He will be out for a while. He could be a redshirt candidate, because he hasn’t played this year. It would be February at the earliest. We hope it’s not season ending, but it could be.”

Jackson started 30 games for the Boilermakers last season, averaging 5.9 points and 3.3 assists per game. In the season-opening win over Cal State Northridge, Painter used guards Keaton Grant, Chris Kramer and E’Twaun Moore in the starting lineup, and D.J. Byrd and Ryne Smith for 19 minutes each off the bench.

Report: Pinkston to Tennessee

According to the New York Daily News, unsigned senior Jayvaughn Pinkston is expected to commit to Tennessee when he announces his decision tomorrow afternoon.

However, Kimani Young, the director of Pinkston’s AAU team, said that the report is not true.

“Not confirmed. Daily News is speculating,” Young said in a text message.

When asked if Pinkston was leaning towards the Volunteers, Young responded: “He will make his college decision tomorrow at 4 p.m.”

The 6-5 Pinkston is a tough, physical forward and arguably the best player in New York City in the class of 2010. His finalists are Tennessee, Villanova, St. John’s, Marquette and Seton Hall.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tuesday, Nov. 17 Predictions

Prediction Record: 0-0 (ATS: 0-0)

With ESPN kicking off its college basketball coverage with a 24-hour marathon of college hoops coverage, I've decided it's time to get started with my daily game predictions. As I did last year, I will be predicting games with the spread, and will post my prediction record, both straight up and ATS. If my score seems close to the spread, it's purely coincidence -- I type in my predictions, then add the spread at the end.

Note: For tonight, I will predicting each game in the ESPN marathon; normally, I select the top games of the night to predict.

  • Cal State Fullerton at UCLA (-15): Prediction: UCLA 76, Cal State Fullerton 64
  • San Diego State at Saint Mary’s (-6.5): Prediction: Saint Mary’s 77, San Diego State 70
  • Northern Colorado at Hawaii (-5.5): Prediction: Hawaii 67, Northern Colorado 55
  • Monmouth at St. Peter’s (-9.5): Prediction: St. Peter’s 58, Monmouth 49
  • Drexel at Niagara (-9.5): Prediction: Niagara 75, Drexel 63
  • Clemson at Liberty (+10): Prediction: Clemson 81, Liberty 61
  • Northeastern at Siena (-8.5): Prediction: Siena 73, Northeastern 64
  • Arkansas-Little Rock at Tulsa (-16.5): Prediction: Tulsa 80, Arkansas Little-Rock 59
  • Temple at Georgetown (-9): Prediction: Georgetown 77, Temple 69
  • Binghamton at Pittsburgh (OFF): Prediction: Pittsburgh 67, Binghamton 51
  • Arkansas vs. Louisville (-10): Prediction: Louisville 84, Arkansas 73
  • Gonzaga at Michigan State (-11): Prediction: Michigan State 78, Gonzaga 71
  • Northern Illinois at Illinois (-21): Prediction: Illinois 71, Northern Illinois 53
  • Duquesne at Iowa (+1.5): Prediction: Duquesne 66, Iowa 63
  • Memphis vs. Kansas (-11): Prediction: Kansas 84, Memphis 70

Parrom injured, Black to Memphis

An Arizona team that could struggle with depth this season will be even thinner for the next month or two, as freshman swingman Kevin Parrom will miss four-to-eight weeks with a stress fracture in his left foot.

"Nobody needs to practice more, and nobody needs to learn more lessons than a newcomer," head coach Sean Miller told the Arizona Daily Star. "Kevin's very talented."

"It's frustrating right now, but I'll be all right," Parrom added. "Things happen for a reason."

The 6-6 Parrom was a highly-touted newcomer from New York who averaged 8.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in the two exhibition games for the Wildcats.

Black adds to Memphis’ class           

Memphis has overtaken Ohio State for the top recruiting class heading into next season, as power forward Tarik Black committed to the Tigers earlier today.

The 6-7 Black chose Memphis over Marquette, Tennessee, Alabama and Florida.

He adds to a Memphis recruiting class that includes three five-star prospects in guards Will Barton and Joe Jackson, and forward Jelan Kendrick. Chris Crawford, Antonio Baron and Hippolyte Tsafack are also in the class. 

Pankey to Maryland

The first of two New Heights players to announce their commitment this week has popped to an ACC school, as Ashton Pankey chose Maryland on Monday afternoon.

"Ashton to Maryland," New Heights director Kimani Young said in a text message.

Pankey went on SNY to announce his decision.

“I’ll be attending the University of Maryland,” said Pankey, a 6-9 power forward from the Bronx who plays for Bob Hurley at St. Anthony (N.J.). “I felt comfortable with the coaches. Coach [Gary] Williams is a great coach. The players, I got along with them really well. And my mom enjoyed it, too, and she thinks it would be a good place for me to attend.”

Pankey chose Maryland over Houston, while also receiving offers from Rice, Drexel and Hofstra.

Pinkston to decide Wednesday; Pankey choosing today

Jayvaughn Pinkston, the top 2010 prospect in New York City, will make his college decision this week.

"Jayvaughn Pinkston will make his announcement on Wednesday at Bishop Loughlin HS," New Heights director Kimani Young said in a text message.

Additional details, including a time for the announcement, are forthcoming. 

Pankey picking school today

According to Young, another New Heights player will also make his decision public this week.

"Ashton [Pankey] will make his commitment today at 3 p.m.," Young said in a text message.

Pankey is reportedly likely to choose between Maryland and Houston.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday, Nov. 13 Observations

The first jam-packed day of the college basketball season was last night, and it was filled with interesting developments, trends and statistics. Here's a look at some of them:

- Maryland’s freshmen big man duo of Jordan Williams and James Padgett combined for 22 points and 17 rebounds. The Terrapins could be an ACC contender if they continue to get that sort of production from their bigs.

- Al-Farouq Aminu began his ascent into an All-American with 25 points and 13 rebounds against Oral Roberts. However, the Demon Deacons still had more turnovers than assists and received zero three-pointers from their guards.

- Without Corey Raji, Rakim Sanders and Courtney Dunn, Boston College’s Tyler Roche stepped up, scoring 30 points to help lead the Eagles to an easy win over Dartmouth. Tyrese Rice’s replacement, Biko Paris, had seven assists but six turnovers.

- One of the more surprising statistics I noticed was that Virginia freshman Tristan Spurlock played just three minutes and didn’t score a point. I was under the impression he would be a key secondary option to Sylven Landesberg, but apparently not.

- Look at the lineup Duke started against UNC-Greensboro: 6-5 Jon Scheyer, 6-7 Olek Czyz, 6-8 Kyle Singler, 6-8 Lance Thomas and 6-10 Miles Plumlee. It’s no surprise the Blue Devils dominated the backboards, 44-20. However, it’s obvious they need Nolan Smith back.

- Clemson forced 26 turnovers and took 30 three-pointers. Yup, some things never change.

- Vermont lost to Loyola (Md.), but not because of Marquis Blakely.  He had 26 points, seven rebounds, two assists, three steals and five blocks. Try to find a better all-around stat line; I doubt it will happen.

- Best performance of the first week? Has to go to Arkansas’ Rotnei Clarke, who scored 51 points and made 13 three-pointers. Looks like my ranking of him as the 8th best three-point shooter was too low

- Kentucky cruised to an easy win over Morehead State, but the Wildcats shot 4-19 from three and turned the ball over 24 times. Moreover, they only forced 12 turnovers. Those numbers will change as the players get more accustomed to John Calipari’s system.

- Tennessee got inconsistent point guard play last season – and it looks like it hasn’t changed. Bobby Maze had two points and five turnovers in the opener.

- If Mississippi can get anywhere close to 38 points and 17 rebounds from DeAundre Cranston and Murphy Holloway every night, they are going to be awfully tough to beat.

- South Carolina will be on the wrong side of the bubble again if it doesn’t improve its assist-to-turnover ratio. It was 12:15 against Alabama A&M.

- The biggest surprise of the early-going was Rider defeating Mississippi State – by 14. At home. Sure, Renardo Sidney didn’t play, but there’s no guarantee that he will ever suit up for the Bulldogs. Rider shot 51 percent from the field, 63 percent from three-point range and only turned the ball over six times.

- One injury to watch will be the rolled ankle of Niagara’s Tyrone Lewis. He hurt it midway through the first half against Auburn and didn’t return. Lewis averaged 16.2 points per game last season.

- Siena just plugs people in and keeps it going. Kenny Hasbrouck’s replacement, Clarence Jackson, hit four threes and scored 24 points in his first start of the season.

- It didn’t take long for the Big East to show that it’s down. Seton Hall needed a 28-footer at the buzzer by Eugene Harvey to beat St. Peter’s; Pittsburgh had to overcome a 13-point second-half deficit to beat Wofford; and Villanova was down late in the first half before turning it on against Fairleigh Dickinson.

- Jerome Dyson is clearly recovered from injury. He had 27 points, eight assists and four steals against William & Mary.

- Marquette’s rebuilding season got off to a great start, with an 85-62 win over Centenary. Jimmy Butler had 27 points and 13 rebounds, and the Golden Eagles got 30 bench points from Darius Johnson-Odom, Jeronne Maymon and Maurice Acker.

- Don’t overlook South Florida’s win on the road over SMU. Behind Paul McCoy, the Mustangs could be a sleeper in Conference-USA, but USF got 23 and nine from Augustus Gilchrist en route to victory.

- Xavier struggled with turnovers, but their new-look lineup easily got past Youngstown State. Not surprisingly, the Musketeers were tremendously balanced, with five guys scoring between 10 and 14 points.

- UAB’s transfer trio of Elijah Millsap, Kenny Cooper and George Drake combined for 33 points and 22 rebounds.

- Based on its first-half performance against St. Mary’s (the one in Texas, not California), Tulsa is not ready to take over the Conference-USA throne. However, the Golden Hurricane dominated the second half for an easy win. Jerome Jordan needs to take more than four shots, though.

- Memphis only used seven players for double-figure minutes – these aren’t the 10-deep Tigers of the past few seasons.

- Missouri Valley favorite Northern Iowa certainly did not look like a potential bracket buster come March. They had six assists against 13 turnovers, and only beat Denver (a solid Sun Belt club, mind you) by six.

- Utah State went into Weber State and came out with a six-point win, while Idaho went to Utah and beat the Utes by seven. At the other end of the ledger, New Mexico State faced a Patty Mills and Diamon Simpson-less Saint Mary’s team – and got ran out of the building, by 32. The WAC pecking order has been established early.

- Apparently Oregon State is still a few players away from being a sleeper in the Pac-10. The Beavers lost by 24 at home to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. They turned the ball over 25 times, were outrebounded, shot less than 32 percent from the field and 46 percent from the free-throw line. They need freshman Roberto Nelson to be cleared ASAP.

- Arizona State knew it would defeat Western Illinois, but the Sun Devils had several bright spots, including Ruslan Pateev and Erik Boateng each scoring nine points and nine rebounds.

- Stanford is very likely to finish last in the Pac-10, but losing by 13 to San Diego was still somewhat surprising. Not the loss, but the margin.

- Would Washington State have scored 94 points in the Tony Bennett era?

- Isaiah Thomas scored 30 points for Washington, but Quincy Pondexter was the only other Husky in double-figures. Highly-touted freshman Abdul Gaddy had just five points and one assist in his debut. They nearly gave away an 18-point lead against Wright State, but still won by five.

- Interesting stat: four Big 12 teams scored exactly 88 points on Friday, and the seven Big 12 teams in action won by an average of 28 points.

- One eye-popping statistic I noticed was South Dakota’s assist-to-turnover ratio against Texas Tech: they had three assists to go with 30 turnovers. Yes, 1:10.

- If Curtis Kelly puts together more performances like he did against Loyola (Chicago) on Friday, look out Big 12. He had 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen have to shoot better than a combined 6-for-24, though.

- Baylor’s LaceDrius Dunn is clearly ready to take on more of a role; he had 32 points in the opener.

- Impressive debut for freshman Xavier Henry: he had 27 points on five three-pointers in an easy win for Kansas.

- One player who made the most of his minutes was Texas A&M’s David Loubeau. He played 20 minutes, but had 20 points and nine rebounds in that time.

- Best free-throw shooting performance? Hard to top Colorado’s Cory Higgins going 16-16 from the charity stripe.

- Other noteworthy efforts: Mercer’s James Florence dropping 33 on Bucknell; Duquesne forward Damian Saunders going for 17 points, 19 rebounds, five assists and four steals; Georgia’s Howard Thompkins getting 25 and 12 off the bench; Art Parakhouski of Radford finishing with 20 and 13; North Texas’ George Odufuwa grabbing 24 rebounds; TCU’s Zvonko Buljan going for 22 and 16; Carl Montgomery of Chicago State finishing with 22 and 17; and Coastal Carolina’s Joseph Harris getting 21 and 17 in a surprising win over Charleston..

- A very nice head-to-head battle was witnessed in the Yale-Sacred Heart game. Yale’s Alex Zampier had 35 points and six rebounds, but Sacred Heart’s Corey Hassan had 30 points, nine rebounds and five assists – and got the win.

- In Northwestern’s first game without Kevin Coble, the Wildcats looked….eh. Sure, they beat Northern Illinois by 22, but they shot less than 40 percent from the field and 24 percent from three-point range.

- Many people pegged Durrell Summers for a breakout season, and he didn’t disappoint, scoring 17 points in a win over Florida Gulf Coast.

- Penn State might not be good as a season ago, but don’t tell that to Talor Battle. He had 27 points, 10 rebounds and four assists against in-state rival Pennsylvania.

- Minnesota needs a go-to scorer. I don’t think Lawrence Westbrook is going to score 22 every night. Without Royce White, they don’t have many explosive offensive options.

- Indiana started two freshmen in Maurice Creek and Christian Watford, and they combined for an impressive 31 points and 13 rebounds.

- Illinois returns several pieces from last season, but the Fighting Illini’s top two scorers were both freshmen – Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson. If they can continue to provide offense, Illinois could be a Big Ten contender.

- There’s not one top-25 match-up throughout the entire first week. It’s a disappointing way to start the season – marquee match-ups get everyone excited, and there’s not a single one on the docket. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Early Signing Period Coverage

Over the past few days, I've been providing up-to-the-minute updates about many of the top Big East recruits and targets over at NBE Basketball Report. Here is a recap:

J.J. Moore to Pitt
J.J. Moore burst onto the recruiting scene in a major way over the past several months, and he has decided to end his recruitment on the first day of the early signing period.

Not surprisingly, he is on his way to the Big East. The 6-5 swingman chose Pittsburgh over fellow conference programs Louisville and St. John’s.

“Yes he did,” Gary Charles, Moore’s AAU coach with the New York Panthers, confirmed to the NBE Basketball Report early Wednesday afternoon.

Moore is originally from Brentwood (N.Y.) and transferred to South Kent Prep (Conn.) for this season.

“Not only did they show him they wanted him, but they also showed that they needed him,” Charles said. “Plus, they showed his mother a lot of love and Jamie Dixon recruited him. He wanted to go away but not too far.”

Moore joins fellow Pitt recruits Cameron Wright and Isaiah Epps in the Panthers’ 2010 recruiting class.

“He will sign in the next couple of days,” Charles said.

Day One Recap

- Chip Smith, the AAU coach of the Tennessee Tigers, said that Michael Bradley signed with Connecticuttoday. “Mike was scheduled to sign at 10 this morning,” Smith said. “As far as I know, all went well.”

Cameron Wright’s high school coach at Benedictine (Oh.), Rob Stircula, confirmed that Wright did indeed sign withPittsburgh this morning.

Syracuse won’t have to wait very long for its prime recruit to sign. “Fab Melo will sign this weekend,” Sagemont (Fla.) head coach Adam Ross said.

Jeremy Lamb confirmed that he signed his letter-of-intent to attend Connecticut earlier today.

- According to press releases from Marquette SID Scott Kuykendall, the Golden Eagles received official signatures from both Vander Blue and Jamail Jones.

- New Heights coach Adam Berkowitz said that Devon Collier will sign his papers to attend Oregon State next week because he is at school this week. There was some speculation recently that Collier would verbally commit but wait to sign until the spring.

- Jimmy Salmon, who runs the Playaz AAU program, said that Fuquan Edwin’s signature for Seton Hall is coming soon. “He’s signing tomorrow at Paterson Catholic HS,” Salmon said.

- Salmon added that Pittsburgh commit Isaiah Epps will also sign in the coming days. “Don’t know the date but it’s definite,” he said.

Waverly Austin confirmed to me that both he and Lavonte Dority signed their papers for South Florida today. “South Fla. bound,” he said in a text message.

Seton Hall will not be getting an official signature from Jesse Morgan just yet, according to a source close to the program. “Morgan has a few issues that must be straightened out before he signs,” the source said.

Jerian Grant, son of former NBA veteran Harvey Grant, informed NBE Basketball Report that he, Eric Atkinsand Alex Dragicevich had all signed their letters of intent to attend Notre Dame.

Rutgers did not get its lone commitment to sign on the dotted line today, but not to worry – Austin Carroll will still be a Scarlet Knight. “Tomorrow,” Carroll said.

- New Heights director Kimani Young said that Jayvaughn Pinkston might sign during the early signing period. “Yes,” Young said. “There is a chance he signs within the next week.” He also said that Pinkston’s finalists are Tennessee, St. John’sVillanovaMarquette and Seton Hall.

- There is no update on what Ronald Roberts plans on doing. “Not that I’m aware of,” Salmon said.

Day Two Recap

Fuquan Edwin informed the NBE Basketball Report late last night that he had signed his papers to attend Seton Hall.

Cory Joseph’s recruitment is likely headed to the spring. “At this time, he does not intend on signing early,” Findlay Prep head coach Michael Peck said. Added Ro Russell, Joseph’s AAU coach with Grassroots Canada, when asked if Joseph would sign early: “Unlikely.”

Tarik Black hopes to make a decision during the early signing period. “I’m actually planning on it,” Black said. He added that his finalists are Marquette, Memphis, Tennessee, Florida and Alabama. Black does not have a favorite, but he will make up his mind very soon. “I’m gonna have one real soon,” he said.

- Former 2010 prospect and Shaquille Thomas is now officially a member of the 2011 class. “I’m definitely in the 2011 now,” Thomas said in a text message Thursday. Thomas, who at one time tried to commit toSyracuse, is still considering the Orange, in addition to Virginia Tech and West Virginia. “At this point, I’m wide-open,” he said.

- Torrel Harris, the father of Tobias Harris, confirmed that his son will be making a final decision during the early signing period.

- Another player who will be reclassifying to 2011 is Kadeem Jack, who also informed the NBE Basketball Report that he will attending South Kent Prep (Conn.) next year. He also has a long list of schools that he is considering.

“Tennessee, ConnecticutPittSeton Hall, Miami, Georgia, Arkansas, RutgersSt. John’sDePaul,Syracuse,” Jack said. “The new schools are because I said I was reclassing.” He added that Georgia, Seton Hall, Miami, Tennessee, ConnecticutPittsburgh and Syracuse were his favorites.

K.C. Moss Miller has no plans to make a commitment during the early signing period. “No, he’s going to sign late,” said his father, Tim Miller, also his coach at God’s Academy (Tex.). “January, February, March – that’s when he’ll sign. He won’t draw it out until April, though.”

Miller said his son has taken an official visit to Nevada and an unofficial visit to Baylor. Ross-Miller also plans on visiting Texas A&M and UCLA soon, as well as Big East schools CincinnatiMarquette and Georgetown. “He’s looking for the best situation for him,” Miller said. “He’s wants a chance to win, a chance to get to postseason tournaments.”

- Albany City Rocks coach Jim Hart confirmed to NBE Basketball Report in an e-mail that Hippolyte Tsafacksigned a letter-of-intent to attend Memphis.

- Another former class of 2010 prospect who is now in the class of 2011, Durand Johnson, has plenty of suitors on his tail. “Right now I’m considering PittMarquette, Florida State, Connecticut, Virginia Tech, Maryland,Georgetown,” Johnson said. “They are my tops right now.”

He added that he plans on visiting Marquette and Florida State soon, and has already taken trips toPittsburghh and Virginia Tech.

- Johnson’s teammate at Lake Clifton (Md.), Josh Selby, is one of the biggest targets still left on the recruiting scene. He is considering Kansas, Syracuse, Kentucky, Miami (Fl.) and Indiana. However, Selby has no timetable for a decision. “I’m not sure,” Johnson said. “We talk all the time, though. I’m not sure.”

Pe’Shon Howard, a native of California who now plays at Oak Hill Academy (Va.), has no plans to sign in the early period. “Nah, I’m gonna wait until late,” he said. In addition to South Florida, he is now also considering Northwestern and Massachusetts.

Day Three Recap

- DePaul expects to announce its signees on Monday – if they are all signed by then. “The plan is to announce the class at the same time on Monday,” Greg Greenwell, the director of media relations, said. “I haven’t heard from our compliance folks yet if anyone has their stuff in.” The Blue Demons received verbal commitments from Walter Pitchford, Moses Morgan and Brandon Young.

- According to an e-mailed press release from Villanova Director of Media Relations Mike Sheridan, both Markus Kennedy and James Bell have signed their letters-of-intent. “These are two outstanding young players we are excited to add to our Villanova basketball family,” head coach Jay Wright said in a statement.

- Bryan Messerly, the sports information director at West Virginia, confirmed via e-mail that Noah Cottrill has sent in his papers to become a Mountaineer. “We are excited to have Noah Cottrill join our basketball program,” head coach Bob Huggins said in a statement. “Noah is an outstanding shooter, has terrific ball-handling skills and has a tremendous ability to score. It is great to be able to sign one of our own, and Noah is excited to represent this great state on and off the court.”

- Georgetown has verbals from Nate Lubick and Markel Starks, but the Hoyas are not prepared to announce their signings just yet. "If we have a signing release, we will send it to everyone," Bill Shapland, the senior sports communication director at Georgetown, said in an e-mail.

- Syracuse has one of the top recruiting classes in the country, with verbals from Fab Melo, Dion Waiters, Baye Moussa-Keita and C.J. Fair. However, the Orange have not received any official papers from the recruits. "We have not received any NLI's yet," said Pete Moore, the director of athletic communications at Syracuse. Sagemont coach Adam Ross informed NBE Basketball Report earlier in the week that Melo would be signing this weekend.

- According to a release by the Providence athletic department, all three of the Friars’ recruits have signed letters-of-intent. Gerard Coleman, Ron Giplaye and Joseph Young all sent in their papers on the first day of the signing period. "We are looking forward to having Gerard, Ron and Joe join our squad next season," head coach Keno Davis said. "All three of these student-athletes come from highly successful high school and AAU programs. They should help us continue our quest to make our program one of the elite in the Big East."

The final letter-of-intent NBE Basketball Report was looking to confirm was that of Justin Jackson, heading to Cincinnati. Well, according to Associate Athletic Director Mike Harris, Jackson has indeed signed his papers. "Yes we have [received his letter-of-intent]," Harris said in an e-mail.