NBE Basketball Report
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ADIDAS INVITAIONAL NOTES – DAY ONE

July 11, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

by N.D. Kendrick

Indianapolis, IN – The first July “live period” kicked off on Wednesday night and NBE Sports joined coaching staffs from numerous college programs in the Circle City to scout the prospects at the fifth annual Adidas Invitational.

This first night was highlighted by a star power match-up with Craig Victor of the New Orleans Elite going at Kevon Looney and his Milwaukee Running Rebels squad. In a sloppy contest, Victor willed his team to 60-50 win.

Standouts:

Rex Pflueger (Compton Magic 16s) – Pflueger understands how to play. He scores in a variety of ways, from three-point land, driving to the basket and getting to the free throw line by creating contact. He is a great rebounder and utilizes his court awareness to get in position for rebounds out of his area. His defense is not as advanced as his offensive game. Great frame.

Damontrae Jefferson (Milwaukee Running Rebels 17s) – Jefferson is a firecracker. He is extremely quick and makes great decisions. Despite his size he has a big heart (or mouth). He shoots the ball well, can shoot it from distance and gets the ball wherever he wants. He also defends, has quick hands and creates steals.

Ladamion Keys (New Orleans Elite 17s) – Keys is about a raw as they come with a hell of a ceiling. He is a very good rebounder and possesses nice instincts around the basket. He is capable of running the floor, but is not very fluid when doing so. He is a name to remember.

Mario Kegler (MBA Hoops 17s) – Didn’t get a great look at Kegler (2016), but in the limited viewing he was constantly putting pressure on his defender because he could get to the rim off the dribble with ease. Kegler can score in the lane with pure basketball moves. He has great touch and body control around the rim. Need a better look. Will update through the tournament.

Tyree Griffin (New Orleans Elite 17s) – Griffin has a pretty tight handle and is a creator off the dribble especially at end of clock situations where he can change speeds and directions with ease for scoring opportunities for himself or an open teammate. He is willing to battle. High motor kid.

Names to remember:

Elijah Mayes 2015 (Memphis Pure Magic)

Terrance Smith 2014 (Memphis Pure Magic)

Chase Jeter 2015 (Dream Vision)

Nnamdi Okongwu 2015 (Dream Vision)

Coaches in attendance:

John Groce (Illinois), Dave Rice (UNLV), Steve Donahue (Boston College), Thad Matta (Ohio State), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Tim Miles (Nebraska), Tom Crean (Indiana), Bob Huggins (West Virginia), Steve Lavin (St. Johns), Marty Simmons (Evansville) Tommy Amaker (Harvard), Andy Enfield (USC), Sean Miller (Arizona), Mike Krzyzewsk (Duke), Rick Pitino (Louisville) and many more.

REEBOK BREAKOUT CLASSIC – DAY I

July 11, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

by Alex Schwartz

PHILADELPHIA – The first of three July Live Periods tipped off last night and NBE Sports was in the City of Brotherly Love for the Reebok Breakout Classic. Over 100 players made their way to Philadelphia University for the camp and the first night featured three sets of games.

NBE Sports focused on the games on court one on the opening night and got to see half the teams in action, allowing us to put together notes on quite a few players.

Eric Carter, a 6-foot-9 power forward from Jackson Memorial (NJ), is surprisingly good in transition for a post player. The class of 2014 recruit has a big frame and is adept at drawing fouls, but does have to do some work on finishing. However, he did have a game-high 16 points.

Noah Blackwell of Woodcreek (CA) may not be a big name on a national level, but the class of 2015 prospect is a nice talent. The 6-foot-1 point guard is a solid all-around player who can help his team in a number of ways and has shooting ability.

Class of 2014 combo guard Jeremiah Jefferson of Triple A Academy (TX) showed some major scoring ability. The 6-foot-2 combo guard had the highest point total on Court One on Wednesday, finishing with 18. He can shoot from beyond the arc and simply finds ways to produce.
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Q&A WITH GARY HARRIS: SPARTANS SHOOTING TO WIN IT ALL IN 2013-14 SEASON

July 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Gary Harris had a tremendous freshman year at Michigan State in 2012-2013. The Fishers (IN) native was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, becoming the first Spartan to win that honor since 1986. Harris was a second-team All-Big Ten selection and was voted MSU Team MVP by his teammates after a season where he averaged 13 points a game for head coach Tom Izzo.

NBE’s Matt Whitfield caught up with the rising Spartan star at the recent Kevin Durant skills academy where he Harris talked about what it is like to play for Coach Izzo and Michigan State and also about the Michigan rivialry and the motivation that fuels his off-season seeing the Wolverines come just short of a national championship a season ago.

Read on below for our Q&A with MSU sophomore guard Gary Harris…

Matt Whitfield (MW): How do you like this camp so far?

Gary Harris (GH): It’s great. I love it. I had a good first day. I’m just thankful to be out here with some of the best players in the country and one of the best players in the world in Kevin Durant.
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MW: I noticed you and Glenn [Robinson] are pretty cool. How was it seeing the other team in the state of Michigan make it to the final last year?
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Q&A WITH MICHIGAN’S GLENN ROBINSON III

July 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

NBE’s Matt Whitfield caught up with Michigan forward Glenn Robinson III at the recent Kevin Durant Nike Skills Academy in Washington, DC. The 6-foot-6 sophomore forward averaged 11 points and 5.4 rebounds a game in his freshman season with the Wolverines, helping John Beilein’s team reach the FInal Four. On Friday he spoke with Matt Whitfield and hopes for another run this coming season…

Matt Whitfield (MW): What have you been working on this off season?

Glenn Robinson III (GRIII): Just trying to complete my overall game, from my handle to improving my jump shot, to getting in the gym every day and put up about 500 shots and especially working on my defensive [skills], that’s why I take pride in defense and I was out there guarding KD [Kevin Durant] on almost every possession I was on the court, so I take pride in that.
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SHELTON MITCHELL HOPES TO RETURN WAKE FOREST TO THEIR WINNING ACC WAYS

June 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Whitfield

One of the intriguing prospects at the NBA Top 100 Camp was WAKE FOREST commit Shelton Mitchell. Mitchell, a Class fo 2014 point guard, impressed with his nifty ball-handling skills and his ability to distribute the ball. Mitchell also showed to be athletic enough for the up and down game of the ACC.

When you think of Wake Forest point guards, you can not help but thing of Chris Paul and Mitchell has developed a relationship with Wake Forrest’s most famous basketball player to be drafted in recent years. Mitchell, also North Carolina native like Paul, however downplays the notion that Paul had anything to do with him going there.

“Part of the reason I picked Wake is because of the coaching staff, in Coach Bzdelik and Coach Battle as they’re known for getting North Carolina point guards to the league, so that’s part of the reason why I went there. Chris didn’t really have a lot to do with it. People think that he pushed me towards there, but he didn’t really have anything to do with it.”

Mitchell says that the two have formed a good relationship and that he even sees some similarities in there games.

“We’re real cool [Chris Paul and I]. We talk to each other about once every two weeks, so we’re really cool. We talk a lot on the phone. We’re good friends.”

As for their style of play Mitchell added, “I do at times [see similarities in our games] because he likes to get into the lane and shoot floaters and he’s pass first just like I am, but I like to say I’m probably a little bigger and more athletic, but I watch him a lot basically whenever I can….I grew up watching him. [I watched him] when he was with Wake Forest, when he was with the Hornets, basically everywhere. “

Wake Forest’s basketball slate will only get tougher in coming years with the ACC’s new additions, but Mitchell who will be spending his senior year at Oak Hill, just wants to come in and gel with his teammates.

“I want to just come in basically fit. I think the teams going to be great, especially with the juniors and seniors that’ll we’ll have there then. So basically just go there under their wing, listen to them, and be a leader where I can and I think we’ll be good. “

Wake Forest hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2010, but it is Mitchell’s hope while there to get Wake back their old respectable ways and to get back to the NCAA Tournament.

“[While there my goal is] just to get better and just to win as many games we can and get back to the tournament and just get Wake back to the way it used to be.”

Wake has an uphill battle to climb competing against teams like Duke, UNC, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville, and Notre Dame in the coming years, but the addition of Mitchell could be one piece in the puzzle in getting Wake back to its old ways.

2013 NBPA TOP 100 HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL CAMP — FINAL RECRUITING NOTES

June 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Whitfield, Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Analyst

The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA)’s 20th Anniversary of the NBPA Top 100 High School Basketball Camp kicked off Wednesday at the University of Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville and concluded over the weekend. Media was allowed to begin attending sessions on Thursday and NBE was back on the road and in attendence.

The NBPA Top 100 High School Basketball Camp was created by the NBPA in 1994 to assist elite high school student-athletes in the development of their basketball and life skills. Throughout the last 20 years, the Camp has grown into one of the most highly touted and renowned camps of its kind and has seen hundreds of its participants go on to successful NBA careers. You can follow the camp on Twitter @Top100Camp and be sure to follow @NBESports for all of our updates as well.

To close our recruiting updates, NBE caught up with Craig Victor, Satchel Pierce, Khadeem Lattin, Abdul-Malik Abu, Brandone Francis, Skal Labissiere, Chinanu Onuaku, Kevon Looney, Trevon Blueitt and Trayvon Reed, which you can see below…

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AVERY JOHNSON JR. READY TO MAKE HIS OWN MARK IN BASKETBALL

June 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Avery Johnson Jr. opened eyes this spring.

Avery Johnson Jr. opened eyes this spring.

By Matt Whitfield

Many kids that share the same last name or the same name as their famous successful NBA veteran dad have a good shot of getting a scholarship to D-1 school, whether the scholarship is deserved or not. Avery Johnson Jr. though has the skills to get the scholarship without his father’s name and he impressed at the NBA Top 100 Camp on Friday.

“It’s tough because everybody expects you already to be good like he was in college and expects you to go to the NBA, but I just try and stay humble and be me,” the younger Johnson told NBE on Friday. “He passed a lot. I can score, I’m a little bit better shooter. It’s just hard because everyone knows the name and they expect you to be good. Some people hate you because they think I’m only on the Texas Titans because of my dad and I’m only going to certain schools because of my dad.”
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2013 NBPA TOP 100 HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL CAMP — RECRUITING NOTES (PART II)

June 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Whitfield, Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Analyst

The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA)’s 20th Anniversary of the NBPA Top 100 High School Basketball Camp kicked off Wednesday at the University of Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville. Media was allowed to begin attending sessions on Thursday and NBE was back on the road and in attendence.

The NBPA Top 100 High School Basketball Camp was created by the NBPA in 1994 to assist elite high school student-athletes in the development of their basketball and life skills. Throughout the last 20 years, the Camp has grown into one of the most highly touted and renowned camps of its kind and has seen hundreds of its participants go on to successful NBA careers. You can follow the camp on Twitter @Top100Camp and be sure to follow @NBESports for all of our updates as well.

In our first Top 100 Camp report yesterday we had recruiting updates on Stephen Zimmerman, Malachi Richardson, Leron Black, Myles Turner, Reid Travis and Devin Robinson. In our second edition, read on below for updates on Thon Maker, Jaquan Lyle, Ja’Quan Newton and MARYLAND-commit Romelo Trimble impressed in his effort…

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2013 NBPA TOP 100 HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL CAMP — RECRUITING NOTES (PART I)

June 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Whitfield, Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Analyst

The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA)’s 20th Anniversary of the NBPA Top 100 High School Basketball Camp kicked off Wednesday at the University of Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville. Media was allowed to begin attending sessions on Thursday and NBE was back on the road and in attendence.

The NBPA Top 100 High School Basketball Camp was created by the NBPA in 1994 to assist elite high school student-athletes in the development of their basketball and life skills. Throughout the last 20 years, the Camp has grown into one of the most highly touted and renowned camps of its kind and has seen hundreds of its participants go on to successful NBA careers. You can follow the camp on Twitter @Top100Camp and be sure to follow @NBESports for all of our updates as well.

IN our first recruiting notebook we take a look at the latest from

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RECRUITING NOTEBOOK (4/16/2013): COMMITMENTS CONTINUE AS LATE SIGNING PERIOD NEARS

April 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

by Alex Schwartz

Two of the top uncommitted players in the nation made their commitments while in Chicago for the McDonald’s All-American Game and numerous other 2013 prospects also pledged in the past several days.

Elite frontcourt prospect Aaron Gordon of Archbishop Mitty (CA) announced his intentions to attend Arizona for his college ball, per multiple reports. A 6-foot-8 power forward, Gordon is one of the top ranked players in America in the class of 2013. He selected the Wildcats over Kentucky, Oregon and Washington. Gordon is the second McDonald’s All-American in Arizona’s recruiting class, joining 6-foot-7 small forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson of Chester (PA).

Keith Frazier of Kimball (TX), the best available shooting guard in the nation, committed to SMU, per his Twitter account. The 6-foot-5 class of 2013 prospect is the first ever McDonald’s All-American for the Mustangs, according the game broadcast. Frazier was also considering Texas A&M and Texas Tech, according to Scout.com’s Evan Daniels.

The top available class of 2013 guard in the nation, Rysheed Jordan of Vaux (PA), took his name off the board and pledged to St. John’s, per multiple reports. Jordan is a 6-foot-3 point guard who selected the Red Storm over Temple and UCLA.

Chris Peak of Panther-Lair.com had the news that Jamel Artis of Notre Dame Prep (MA) committed to Pittsburgh. Artis is a 6-foot-7 combo forward and a fifth-year class of 2013 recruit.

Dominique Hawkins announced his commitment to Kentucky at a press conference at his school, per multiple reports. The 6-foot point guard from Madison Central (KY) is the eighth member of UK’s 2013 recruiting class, the second of whom is an in-state prospect.

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RECRUITING NOTEBOOK (4/1/2013): RECRUITING TRAIL HEATING UP ONCE AGAIN

April 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

by Alex Schwartz

There has been a lot of news in the world of high school hoops in the past few weeks, including a few talented juniors making early commitments, an elite senior ending his recruitment and some high-profile players in setting announcement dates.

One of the best players in the nation, Julius Randle, declared his intentions to attend Kentucky. The 6-foot-9 power forward from Prestonwood Christian (TX) opted for the Wildcats over Florida, Kansas and Texas. Randle joins an absolutely loaded seven-man 2013 recruiting class for UK that many are calling the greatest group ever assembled.

Also, according to Jason Jordan of USA Today, Julius Randle has been added to the McDonald’s All-American game. He was initially ineligible since he missed more than half the season—he was injured—yet has been added anyway. Randle is one of six players in the game headed to Kentucky next year.

One-time Murray State commit Demarcus Croaker is now headed to Texas for his college ball, per Reggie Rankin. He also noted that the class of 2013 prospect selected Texas over Murray State this time around. Croaker is a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Jones (FL).

Gavin Schilling of Findlay Prep (NV) became the first member of Michigan State’s 2013 recruiting class. The 6-foot-9 power forward tweeted his commitment to the Spartans. He selected MSU over Minnesota, UCLA and Villanova.

Rutgers landed a pledge from JuCo prospect Chris Griffin of Wabash Valley College (IL), according to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com. Griffin is a 6-foot-7 small forward in the class of 2013.

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RECRUITING NOTEBOOK (3/15/2013): CATCHING UP ON THE LATEST RECRUITING NEWS & NOTES

March 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

There has been a lot of news in the world of high school hoops in the past couple weeks, including a few juniors making early commitments and some high-profile players in multiple classes setting announcement dates.

First off, beginning with 2013 commitments as usual, Texas A&M landed JuCo point guard Chad Frazier, per Alex Kline of TheRecruitScoop.com. The 6-foot-4 prospect out of Gulf Coast Community College (FL) selected the Aggies over South Carolina. According to Dave Telep, Frazier is from North Carolina and is a former Oklahoma State commit.

Future150.com had the news that JuCo recruit Deville Smith of Southwest Mississippi Community College (MS) popped to UNLV. Smith is a 5-foot-11 point guard in the class of 2013 who began his college career at Mississippi State.

Oregon also dipped into the JuCo ranks to land Elgin Cook out of Northwest Florida State College (FL), per Eric Bossi of Rivals.com. Cook is a 6-foot-6 small forward in the class of 2013. Per Dave Telep, Cook is the son of ex-NBA player Alvin Robertson and has three years of eligibility left.

Dezmyn Trent of Foss (WA) has pledged to Boise State, according to Jason McCleary of LeftCoastRecruiting.com. Trent, a 6-foot-4 small forward, is a class of 2013 prospect.

Yet another JuCo prospect, Skyler Halford, has committed to BYU, per Greg Wrubell of KSL Radio. Halford is a 6-foot-1 class of 2013 combo guard from Salt Lake Community College (UT). Jay Drew of The Salt Lake Tribune tweeted that Halford began his career as a walk-on at Utah State before going on a mission.

Alex Kline reported that Jordan Gleason of Watervliet (NY) took his name off the board and pledged to Sacred Heart. Gleason is a 6-foot shooting guard in the class of 2013.

According to the Twitter account of his AAU program, Team Loaded, Jerome Simmons committed to North Carolina A&T. Simmons, a class of 2013 recruit, is 6-foot-8 power forward out of Massanutten Military Academy (VA).

JuCo recruit Marquel Curtis opted to end his recruitment and commit to Tulsa, according to Brad Winton of JucoRecruiting.com. Curtis is a 6-foot-3 class of 2013 shooting guard out of Williston State College (ND).

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BIG SKY TOURNAMENT: COULD GRIZZLIES, WILDCATS MEET AGAIN?

March 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By Raphielle Johnson

 

Tournament Central

 

Through the use of a 20-game full round-robin schedule there’s little doubt as to who the two best teams in the Big Sky are. Montana (19-1) once again won the league’s regular season title, with Weber State’s (18-2) loss at Montana State back in late January being the difference between the two teams. As a result Wayne Tinkle’s team gets home-court advantage for the conference tournament and a bye to the semifinals as only the top seven teams in the Big Sky qualify for the event.

 

But this isn’t a group in the best of health, as leading scorer Mathias Ward is done for the season with a foot injury and senior guard Will Cherry (hopefully) returning from his own foot ailment. As a result more will be asked of league MVP Kareem Jamar, arguably the most versatile player in the Big Sky. Cherry’s probable return will definitely help Montana, but they’ll need players such as Keron DeShields, Jordan Gregory and Spencer Coleman to step up if they’re to return to the NCAA tournament.

 

Despite they’re having to win three games instead of two, and the possibility of playing Montana on the road in the title game, Weber State should be seen as the favorite to win the Big Sky tournament due to their superior depth. Randy Rahe can go eight players deep if needed, led by guards Davion Berry and Scott Bamforth and forward Kyle Tresnak. Weber State lost by just two at Montana on January 26 (76-74), blowing the Grizzlies out in their second meeting last month (87-63). Weber State’s been the best team in the conference on both ends of the floor, and unless they’re hit hard by the injury bug this weekend it’s difficult to see that changing.

 

While Montana and Weber State are the favorites to meet on Saturday night, are there any teams capable of pulling off an upset before then? Troy Huff leads a North Dakota program that won 12 conference games in its Big Sky debut, but outside of he and Aaron Anderson this is a team that can struggle offensively at times. They’ll take on fellow newcomer Southern Utah, a team few expected to even qualify for the Big Sky tournament when the season began. Northern Colorado takes on Montana State in the 4/5 matchup, and first-year coach Jack Murphy will look to pull the upset when Northern Arizona battles Weber State.

 

So who’s the pick to win the Big Sky tournament? The depth issue noted above lends itself to Weber State avenging last year’s title game loss at Dahlberg Arena, and that group was led by Damian Lillard. The Wildcats have been the conference’s most efficient team on both ends of the floor, and having to play one extra game won’t change that fact.

 

Postseason Honors (as voted by the coaches)

 

First Team

Kareem Jamar          Montana        G/F     6-5     Jr.       Venice, Calif.

Will Cherry    Montana        G        6-1     Sr.      West Oakland, Calif.

Troy Huff        North Dakota            G/F     6-5     Jr.       Milwaukee, Wisc.

Gabe Rogers            Northern Arizona     G        6-2     Sr.      Houston, Texas

Derrick Barden         Northern Colorado  F         6-5     Jr.       Detroit, Mich.

Davion Berry Weber State G/F     6-4     Jr.       Oakland, Calif.

Scott Bamforth          Weber State G/F     6-2     Sr.      Albuquerque, N.M.

 

Second Team

Mathias Ward            Montana        F         6-7     Sr.      Gig Harbor, Wash.

Aaron Anderson       North Dakota            G        5-10   Jr.       Brooklyn Park, Minn.

Tate Unruh    Northern Colorado  G        6-4     Jr.       Branson, Mo.

Jackson Stevenett    Southern Utah         G        6-4     Sr.      Kaysville, Utah

Damon Heuir            Southern Utah         G        6-2     Sr.      Townsville, Queesland, Australia

Kyle Tresnak Weber State C        6-10   Jr.       Scottsdale, Ariz.

 

Honorable Mention

Venky Jois     Eastern Washington           G        6-7     Fr.      Boronia, Australia

Chris Hansen            Idaho State   G/F     6-4     So.     Fort Collins, Colo.

Jordan Gregory         Montana        G        6-2     So.     Pueblo, Colo.

Flavien Davis            Montana State         F         6-5     Jr.       Milwaukee, Wisc.

Christian Moon         Montana State         G        6-2     Sr.      Inkster, Mich.

Stallon Saldivar        Northern Arizona     G        6-0     Sr.      Salt Lake City, Utah

Aaron Moore Portland State          F         6-8     Jr.       Riverside, Calif.

John Dickson            Sacramento State   F         6-6     Sr.      San Francisco, Calif.

Dylan Garrity Sacramento State   G        6-2     So.     Huntington Beach, Calif.

Frank Otis      Weber State F         6-6     Sr.      Oakland, Calif.

 

MVP: Kareem Jamar (Montana)

Newcomer of the Year: Davion Berry (Weber State)

Freshman of the Year: Venky Jois (Eastern Washington)

Defensive Player of the Year: Will Cherry (Montana)

BIG WEST TOURNAMENT: 49ERS LEAD COMPETITIVE FIELD

March 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By Raphielle Johnson

 

Tournament Central

 

With the addition of Hawai’i to the Big West only the top eight teams qualify for the conference tournament, and this season’s edition should be more suspenseful than last year’s. Long Beach State won the regular season title outright for the third straight season but this group isn’t as dominant as the one led by Casper Ware in 2012-13. James Ennis was named Big West Player of the Year and point guard Mike Caffey was also a first-team all-conference selection, and with some key transfers this group has plenty of talent.

 

But the 49ers are coming off of a 20-point loss at Pacific in the regular season finale, and there are four other teams with realistic hopes of winning the league’s automatic bid. The Tigers would be one, and they’re hoping to go out on top as they’re headed to the WCC at the end of the year. Pacific doesn’t light up the scoreboard as Lorenzo McCloud is the only player averaging double figures, but they shoot well from the perimeter and are solid defensively. And with this being head coach Bob Thomason’s final season before he retires, one would think that this group is motivated to send him off with a title and an NCAA tournament appearance.

 

Cal Poly has the look of a slightly higher-scoring version of Pacific, with forward Chris Eversley their lone double-digit scorer, and they’re every bit as capable of winning three games in Anaheim. Keep in mind the fact that the Mustangs won at UCLA (before the Bruins hit their stride of course) earlier in the season, and regardless of the Bruins’ struggles at the time that isn’t expected to happen. And the final quarterfinal of the day matches UC Irvine and Hawai’i, with both teams having the front court depth needed to give Long Beach State some trouble in the paint.

 

Michael Wilder, Will Davis II and Adam Folker lead the way inside for Russell Turner’s Anteaters, who frankly are a year ahead of schedule when it comes to their contending in the Big West. Freshman guard Alex Young was Big West Co-Freshman of the Year, as he’s been a valuable piece for Irvine all season long. As for the Warriors, they’ve got the other Freshman of the Year (Isaac Fotu) and two veterans (Vander Joaquim and Nebraska transfer Christian Standhardinger) in the paint. The key for Gib Arnold’s squad: guard play and taking care of the basketball. Do that and Hawai’i, which tends to struggle on the mainland, has a shot at winning the tournament.

 

As for the bottom three seeds all are dangerous, with Corey Hawkins leading the way for a UC Davis team that can shoot with the best of them when hot. First-team all-conference big man Alan Williams leads the way for UC Santa Barbara, and despite being the 8-seed Cal State Fullerton should be respected given the presence of Kwame Vaughn and D.J. Seeley. So with all of that in mind who will win the Big West tournament? Look for a dream ending for Pacific, as the Tigers will find a way to cut down the nets and return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006.

 

Postseason Honors (as voted by the coaches)

 

FIRST TEAM

Mike Caffey Long Beach State 6-0 So. G Riverside, Calif.

James Ennis Long Beach State 6-7 Sr. G/F Ventura, Calif.

Chris Eversley Cal Poly 6-7 Jr. F Chicago, Ill.

Corey Hawkins UC Davis 6-3 So. G Goodyear, Ariz.

Christian Standhardinger Hawai’i 6-8 Jr. F Munich, Germany

Alan Williams UC Santa Barbara 6-7 So. C Phoenix, Ariz.

 

SECOND TEAM

Travis Fulton Pacific 6-6 Sr. F Corona, Calif.

Lorenzo McCloud Pacific 6-0 Sr. G Los Angeles, Calif.

D. J. Seeley Cal State Fullerton 6-4 Sr. G Stockton, Calif.

Daman Starring UC Irvine 6-3 Sr. G Las Vegas, Nev.

Kwame Vaughn Cal State Fullerton 6-3 Sr. G Oakland, Calif.

 

HONORABLE MENTION

J.T. Adenrele UC Davis 6-7 So. F Roseville, Calif.

Kyle Boswell UC Santa Barbara 6-2 Jr. G Huntington Beach, Calif.

Adam Folker UC Irvine 6-9 Sr. C Markham, Ontario

Tony Freeland Long Beach State 6-7 Jr. F Los Angeles, Calif.

Josh Greene Cal State Northridge 6-0 Jr. G Los Angeles, Calif.

Vander Joaquim Hawai’i 6-10 Sr. C Luanda, Angola

Keala King Long Beach State 6-5 Jr. G Compton, Calif.

Stephen Maxwell Cal State Northridge 6-7 So. F Woodland Hills, Calif.

Chris Patton UC Riverside 6-10 Jr. F Melbourne, Australia

Dylan Royer Cal Poly 6-1 Sr. G Los Osos, Calif.

Ryan Sypkens UC Davis 6-4 Jr. G Elk Grove, Calif.

 

2012-13 BIG WEST PLAYER OF THE YEAR

James Ennis, Long Beach State

 

2012-13 BIG WEST NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR

Corey Hawkins, UC Davis

 

2012-13 BIG WEST CO-FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR

Alex Young, UC Irvine

Isaac Fotu, Hawai’i

 

2012-13 BIG WEST COACH OF THE YEAR

Dan Monson, Long Beach State

MERNAGH: WILL REGAN INTRODUCES HIMSELF IN BUFFALO’S 76-61 WIN

March 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

It looked like Ball State, behind the deep shooting and attack-dribble of Jauwan Scaife, was set on continuing their hot late season run of wins. BSU was knocking down shots–Scaife had 17 at the break — and handling Buffalo’s spread offense pretty effectively in the first half last night. Everything was working beautifully for Billy Taylor’s group but their 36-30 halftime lead felt like it should have been bigger –the Bulls had missed some point blank chances at the hoop and also turned the ball over 9 times. Then three things happened things happened that helped Buffalo finish with a comfortable 15 point win: 1) Will Regan went bananas, thus allowing Buffalo’s offense to open up even more and causing Ball State to chase them more. 2) Tony Watson, Buffalo’s fine young point guard, really got into Scaife in the second half and limited him almost completely until garbage time and 3) Ball State shot just 25% in the second twenty minutes of action while continuing to turn the ball over.

 
Regan made most of that possible by going unconscious. Regan had 11 points at halftime but was just 2-6 shooting. In the second half he was 9-11 from the floor, 9-9 from the charity stripe, and an “oh my freaking Dirk Nowitzki” 4-4 from deep. Regan gave Ball State such a 25-point-stuffing in the second stanza that it’s a miracle BSU’s players didn’t start regurgitating on the Q floor. He finished the night with 36 points, providing any MAC fan watching with a memory they’ll be recalling every March when they gather here in Cleveland. It was, in a way, Regan’s introduction to the MAC — and a performance his Bull teammates have been waiting for as the forward tried to get comfortable after sitting out his transfer year.

WAC TOURNAMENT PREVIEW: BULLDOGS, PIONEERS TOP TWO SEEDS

March 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By Raphielle Johnson

 

The time has come for the “final” rendezvous for the WAC, as the conference will look drastically different at the end of the current academic year. Six schools are leaving for other leagues, which could add to the intensity at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. On Tuesday Texas State and UT-San Antonio won their first round games, and as a result they’ll take on regular season co-champions Denver and Louisiana Tech respectively. Michael White’s Bulldogs received the top seed, but Louisiana Tech’s lost two straight after beginning WAC play 16-0.

 

Louisiana Tech’s gotten the job done on the defensive end with guard Kenneth Smith and forward Michael Kyser leading the way. The issue in their losses at New Mexico State and Denver was that those teams were able to successfully navigate the Louisiana Tech pressure, something the Bulldogs can’t afford to let happen given their offensive struggles for much of the season.

 

If you’re a believe in tempo-neutral numbers then Denver is the slight favorite this week, as Joe Scott’s team was by far the most efficient team in the WAC offensively. Denver was also the most efficient team in the league defensively, and with forward Chris Udofia and guard Chase Hallam being among the four Pioneers to receive all-conference honors this group clearly doesn’t lack for talent.

 

Outside of those two New Mexico State is another team to keep an eye on, with guard Daniel Mullings and forward Bandja Sy both playing well down the stretch. The Aggies also have 7-5 center Sim Bhullar in the middle, and his Freshman of the Year award was more than deserved. Yes Bhullar is quite the roadblock in the paint for New Mexico State, but to simply describe him as such would be to ignore his overall skill.

 

Utah State’s had to battle injuries for much of the season but Stew Morrill’s team still managed to win 21 games, which is quite the achievement when considering the loss of both Preston Medlin and Kyisean Reed. Spencer Butterfield and Jarred Shaw remain however, meaning that these Aggies have a puncher’s chance of winning the automatic bid. But they’ll have their hands full with UT-Arlington senior forward Kevin Butler, who helped lead the Mavericks to 17 wins in their first (and only) WAC campaign.

 

Of the other three teams in the field maybe Idaho has a shot with WAC Player of the Year Kyle Barone in the middle (the only player in the league to average a double-double), but it’s difficult to see the Vandals, Texas State or UTSA going on a run. Ultimately the WAC tournament will come down to the conference’s top two teams, and despite their gaudy win total Louisiana Tech is in a situation where they need the automatic bid if they’re to end up in the NCAA tournament. But look for Denver’s offensive efficiency to be the difference, and the Pioneers will be the league representative in the field of 68.

 

Postseason Honors (as voted by the coaches)

 

Player of the Year: Kyle Barone, Sr., C, Idaho

Freshman of the Year: Sim Bhullar, Fr., C, New Mexico State

Don Haskins Coach of the Year: Michael White, Louisiana Tech

 

First Team All-WAC

Chris Udofia, Jr., F, Denver

Kyle Barone, Sr., C, Idaho

Raheem Appleby, So., G, Louisiana Tech

Kenneth Smith, So., G, Louisiana Tech

Bandja Sy, Sr., F, New Mexico State

 

Second Team All-WAC

Chase Hallam, Sr., G, Denver

Daniel Mullings, So., G, New Mexico State

Joel Wright, Jr., F, Texas State

Spencer Butterfield, Jr., G/F, Utah State

Jarred Shaw, Jr., F/C, Utah State

 

Third Team All-WAC

Brett Olson, So., G, Denver

Royce O’Neale, So., F, Denver

Sim Bhullar, Fr., C, New Mexico State

Kevin Butler, Sr., F, UT Arlington

Michael Hale III, Sr., G, UTSA

 

All-Defensive Team

Chase Hallam, Sr., G, Denver

Chris Udofia, Jr., F, Denver

Michale Kyser, So., F, Louisiana Tech

Kenneth Smith, So., G, Louisiana Tech

Daniel Mullings, So., G, New Mexico State

 

All-Newcomer Team

Alex Hamilton, Fr., G, Louisiana Tech

Sim Bhullar, Fr., C, New Mexico State

Joel Wright, Jr., F, Texas State

Spencer Butterfield, Jr., G/F, Utah State

Jarred Shaw, Jr., F/C, Utah State

PAC 12 CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT PREVIEW: UCLA THE SLIGHT FAVORITE?

March 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

After ten years in Los Angeles the second edition of the Pac-12 tournament makes its move to Las Vegas, and given how unpredictable this season’s been the change in location may be appropriate. UCLA, with its mix of talented freshmen and savvy veterans found a way to win the regular season title outright but the Bruins weren’t as dominant as many expected them (and Arizona) to be during the preseason.

 

Pac-12 Co-Freshman of the Year Shabazz Muhammad leads the way offensively but classmate Jordan Adams is no slouch on the perimeter himself, and forward Kyle Anderson consistently stuffs the stat sheet. Those veterans? That’s primarily point guard Larry Drew II, who led the conference in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, and power forward Travis Wear. When focused (and healthy, in the case of Wear), UCLA is a team capable of running the table this weekend.

 

But the certainly won’t be without challengers, as the regular season race displayed. Oregon, California and Arizona also earned first-round byes but only the Wildcats enter the weekend on a win (over Arizona State last Saturday). Dominic Artis’ return certainly helps Oregon but there’s still some work to be done on the cohesion front. As for the Golden Bears the production that Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs will provide is known at this point, but how successful Mike Montgomery’s team can be depends on what David Kravish and Richard Solomon produce inside.

 

Which teams without first-round byes are most capable of winning the tournament? Look no further than Colorado, which regains the services of Andre Roberson and underclassmen Askia Booker, Spencer Dinwiddie and Xavier Johnson have all performed well for much of the season. If Josh Scott can give the Buffaloes anything inside from a defensive standpoint look out. Arizona State, led by Jahii Carson and Carrick Felix, will be formidable as well provided they avoid foul trouble with just six players averaging double-digit minutes. And Stanford is another team capable of going on a run, led by Aaron Bright and Dwight Powell.

 

So with all the possibilities who wins the tournament? The pick here is Arizona. Despite their issues with turnovers Sean Miller’s team was still the most efficient squad in the Pac-12 offensively. Mark Lyons is a playmaker at the point, and with experienced players such as Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom the Wildcats have plenty of March experience. Look for Arizona to do a better job of defending the three-pointer as well, and the end result will be the program’s first Pac-12 tournament title since 2002.

 

Postseason Honors (as voted by the coaches)

 

FIRST TEAM

Jahii Carson ASU G Fr. 5-10 160 Mesa, Ariz. (Mesa HS)

Allen Crabbe CAL G Jr. 6-6 205 Los Angeles, Calif. (Price HS)

Spencer Dinwiddie COLO G So. 6-5 190 Woodland Hills, Calif. (Taft HS)

Larry Drew II UCLA G Sr. 6-2 180 Encino, Calif. (North Carolina)

Solomon Hill ARIZ F Sr. 6-7 220 Los Angeles, Calif. (Fairfax HS)

Mark Lyons ARIZ G Sr. 6-1 200 Schenectady, N.Y. (Xavier)

Shabazz Muhammad UCLA G/F Fr. 6-6 225 Las Vegas, Nev. (Bishop Gorman HS)

Dwight Powell STAN F Jr. 6-9 225 Toronto, Ontario, Canada (IMG Academy)

André Roberson COLO F Jr. 6-7 210 San Antonio, Texas (Wagner HS)

E.J. Singler ORE F Sr. 6-6 215 Medford, Ore. (South Medford HS)

 

SECOND TEAM

Name School Pos Yr Ht Wt Hometown (Last School)

Kyle Anderson UCLA G Fr. 6-9 235 Fairview, N.J. (St. Anthony HS)

Justin Cobbs CAL G Jr. 6-2 195 Los Angeles, Calif. (Minnesota)

Carrick Felix ASU G/F Sr. 6-6 197 Goodyear, Ariz. (College of Southern Idaho)

Brock Motum WSU F Sr. 6-10 230 Brisbane, Aus. (Australia Institute of Sport)

C.J. Wilcox WASH G Jr. 6-5 195 Pleasant Grove, Utah (Pleasant Grove HS)

 

Honorable Mention (receiving at least three votes): Jio Fontan (USC, Sr., G), Arsalan Kazemi (ORE, Sr., F), Roberto Nelson (OSU, Jr., G), Jason Washburn (UTAH, Sr., C), Eric Wise (USC, Sr., F).

 

PAC-12 ALL-FRESHMEN TEAM

Kyle Anderson UCLA G 6-9 235 Fairview, N.J. (St. Anthony HS)

Jahii Carson ASU G 5-10 160 Mesa, Ariz. (Mesa HS)

Damyean Dotson ORE G 6-5 200 Houston, Texas (Yates HS)

Shabazz Muhammad UCLA G/F 6-6 225 Las Vegas, Nev. (Bishop Gorman HS)

Josh Scott COLO F 6-10 215 Monument, Colo. (Lewis-Palmer HS)

 

Honorable Mention (receiving at least three votes): Jordan Adams (UCLA, G), Kaleb Tarczewski (ARIZ, C).

 

PAC-12 ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM

Jordan Bachynski ASU C Jr. 7-2 257 Calgary, Alberta, Canada (Centennial HS)

Carrick Felix ASU G/F Sr. 6-6 197 Goodyear, Ariz. (College of Southern Idaho)

Josh Huestis STAN F Jr. 6-7 225 Great Falls, Mont. (C.M. Russell HS)

Arsalan Kazemi ORE F Sr. 6-7 222 Esfahan, Iran (Patterson HS)

André Roberson COLO F Jr. 6-7 210 San Antonio, Texas (Wagner HS)

 

Honorable Mention (receiving at least three votes): Nick Johnson (ARIZ, So., G), Eric Moreland (OSU, So., F)

 

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Allen Crabbe, California

CO-FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Jahii Carson, Arizona State; Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: André Roberson, Colorado

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Dwight Powell, Stanford

COACH OF THE YEAR: Dana Altman, Oregon

MOUNTAIN WEST TOURNAMENT PREVIEW: LOBOS HOPE TO REPEAT

March 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By Raphielle Johnson

 

Mountain West tournament bracket

 

After a regular season that began with high expectations for UNLV and San Diego State finished with New Mexico winning the title by two games, the Mountain West is back in Las Vegas with the expectation of grabbing five NCAA tournament bids. The fun begins on Tuesday night in the 8/9 game, which matches Wyoming and Nevada. The winner will take on the Lobos on Thursday afternoon, and that’s the day that will loom large when discussing the league’s national hopes.

 

Steve Alford’s team features the conference Player of the Year in junior guard Kendall Williams, and in a season that didn’t have one single star (but rather multiple stars) to the victor went the spoils. But the Lobos aren’t solely about Williams, as guard Tony Snell has expanded his game to not only be an excellent shooter but also the player normally assigned the task of guarding the opposing team’s best perimeter scorer. Add in center Alex Kirk, whose production after missing last season due to back issues exceeded the expectations of many, and a solid rotation of players who accept their individual roles and it shouldn’t be a stunner that UNM won the league.

 

Who are the other contenders this weekend? Colorado State merits consideration based on their 11 league wins, experience and having two of the league’s top newcomers in senior center Colton Iverson and junior guard Daniel Bejarano. Guards Wes Eikmeier and Dorian Green (dealing with an ankle injury) lead the way on the perimeter, and veteran forwards Pierce Hornung and Greg Smith are both tough as nails. Larry Eustachy’s taken a team that reached the NCAA tournament last season and turned into a group capable of winning games once they get there next week.

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LEFT COAST LAYUPS (3/6/2013): PAC 12 RACE STILL TO BE DECIDED

March 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By Raphielle Johnson

 

With one final weekend of regular season play left to be completed the Pac-12 race is still up in the air, with two of the three teams involved being unexpected participants based on the preseason poll. UCLA, with its combination of elite young talent and veterans looking to make good on a second chance, is the one team expected to be a part of the title chase. After wins over Arizona State and then-No. 11 Arizona, Ben Howland’s team is 12-4 in conference play and re-entered the AP poll on Monday.

 

While freshmen Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad get the majority of the ink the contributions of senior point guard Larry Drew II should not be overlooked. Drew leads the Pac-12 in assists with an average of 7.8 per game, and he’s also got a conference-best assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.4. With the Pac-12 Player of the Year race considered to be wide-open the Drew’s name has to be in the conversation.

 

The other two teams, Oregon and California, were considered in the preseason to be teams capable of making a run but not held in the same light as UCLA or Arizona. The Ducks received a boost last week with the return of freshman point guard Dominic Artis, who missed more than a month due to a foot injury. Artis played just 12 minutes in Oregon’s home win over Oregon State, but his return makes the Ducks a much better team especially when considering how they take care of the basketball.

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RECRUITING NOTEBOOK (3/6/2013): JUSTON JACKSON POPS FOR NORTH CAROLINA

March 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

by Alex Schwartz

While the last few days have not had too much news, some of what has happened has involved a few of the nation’s top players and high-major programs.

First off, beginning with 2013 commitments as usual, Texas A&M landed JuCo point guard Chad Frazier, per Alex Kline of TheRecruitScoop.com. The 6-foot-4 prospect out of Gulf Coast Community College (FL) selected the Aggies over South Carolina. According to ESPN.com’s Dave Telep, Frazier is from North Carolina and is a former Oklahoma State commit.

Another JuCo prospect, Skyler Halford, has committed to BYU, per Greg Wrubell of KSL Radio. Halford is a 6-foot-1 class of 2013 combo guard from Salt Lake Community College (UT). Jay Drew of The Salt Lake Tribune tweeted that Halford began his career as a walk-on at Utah State before going on a mission.

Alex Majewski out of Brother Rice (IL) has popped to Texas-Pan American, per Victor Agapay. A class of 2013 prospect, Majewski is a 6-foot-7 small forward.

Alex Kline reported that Jordan Gleason of Watervliet (NY) took his name off the board and pledged to Sacred Heart. Gleason is a 6-foot shooting guard in the class of 2013.

Owens Community College (OH) head coach David Clake tweeted that a member of his team, Justin Edmonds, committed to Marshall. Edmonds, a class of 2013 JuCo prospect, is a 6-foot-4 shooting guard.

The biggest news of late came from the 2014 class, as Justin Jackson of HCYA (TX) made the decision to attend North Carolina, according to Scout.com’s Evan Daniels. A 6-foot-7 small forward, Jackson is one of the top players in the nation in the junior class. He officially visited UNC this past weekend and opted to pledge to the Tar Heels on Monday night. He joins Joel Berry of Lake Highland Prep (FL) in a big-time early duo for Roy Williams in the class of 2014.

Another quality 2014 prospect to make his decision of late is Jarvis Calhoun, who popped to UAB, per Shun Williams of On the Radar Hoops. Calhoun is a 6-foot combo guard out of Hewitt-Trussville (AL).

Continuing with the theme of talented 2014 prospects making commitment, Jonathan Williams of St. Benedict’s (NJ) pledged to VCU, in news that looks to have been first mentioned by @DistrictBaller on Twitter. The future Ram is a 6-foot point guard.

Julius Randle, one the best players in the nation in the class of 2013, tweeted that he will make his college choice on March 20. Randle, a 6-foot-9 power forward, is considering six schools. Those in the mix for the Prestonwood Christian (TX) star are Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina State, Oklahoma, and Texas.

One of the top players in the 2014 class is also set to make his decision soon. Dwayne Morgan of St. Frances Academy (MD) tweeted that he will declare on April 5. Morgan is an athletic 6-foot-7 small forward.

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