[B]Georgia Tech Preview-Capsule
October 31, 2017[/B]
Last season: 21-16, lost in final of NIT.
Nickname: Yellow Jackets.
Coach: Josh Pastner.
Conference: Atlantic Coast.
Who’s gone: G Josh Heath, F Quinton Stephens, G Corey Heyward, F Christian Matthews, F Kellen McCormick, G/F Jodan Price, F Rand Rowland.
Who’s back: G Josh Okogie is coming off a brilliant freshman season in which he averaged 16.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. C Ben Lammers (14.2 ppg, 9.2 rpg) and guard Tadric Jackson (12.1 ppg) provide senior leadership. G Justin Moore, who started 18 games, figures to play a much bigger role in his sophomore year.
Who’s new: Pastner whiffed on several high-profile prospects but landed four recruits. F Curtis Haywood II, G Jose Alvarado, F Moses Wright and F Evan Cole will all get a shot at significant playing time. Ditto for G Brandon Alston, who came aboard as a graduate transfer after playing two seasons at Lehigh.
The Skinny: After a much-better-than-expected showing in Pastner’s first season, the Yellow Jackets return their top three scorers and facing greater expectations. But it may be a little soon to expect a run at the NCAA Tournament. Pastner has yet to land a top-notch recruiting class and said all along that turning Georgia Tech around would be a multi-year process. But at least the Jackets are generating some excitement on campus after a long dry spell.
[B]Virginia Tech Preview Capsule
October 31, 2017[/B]
Last season: 22-11, lost to Wisconsin in first round of NCAA Tournament.
Coach: Buzz Williams.
Conference: Atlantic Coast.
Who’s gone: F Zach LeDay, G Seth Allen, G Ty Outlaw, Khadim Sy
Who’s back: G/F Chris Clarke, eventually. The Hokies’ most athletic player sustained a torn ACL last season and, depending on who you talk to, could be ready for the start of the season, or not at all. He averaged 11.4 points and 7.3 rebounds and provides boundless energy. G Ahmed Hill. He also averaged 11.4 points and was second on the team with 59 3-pointers, which have always been a big part of the offense for what always seems to be a undersized team, and is again.
Who’s new: True freshmen Wabissa Bede, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and P.J. Horne and redshirt freshman Tyrie Jackson are all being counted on to boost the Hokies’ outside shooting and provide depth to a team that has only six returnees with experience in the rigors of ACC play.
The Skinny: Virginia Tech basically outscored people last season, but is less likely to be able to do that this year. Williams has pledged an increased emphasis on defense, and while his players seem on board, the absence of experienced depth or proven defensive stoppers will make last year’s success hard to replicate.
[B]Boston College Preview Capsule
October 31, 2017[/B]
Last season: 9-23, lost last 15 games.
Coach: Jim Christian.
Who’s gone: Graduate transfers Mo Jeffers and Connar Tava, along with A.J. Turner, were three of the five players – and the only big men – who started more than seven games for BC. They accounted for more than 14 rebounds per game on a team that already struggled to rebound.
Who’s back: G Ky Bowman (14.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists). After making the ACC’s all-freshman team, the 6-foot-1 guard forms one-half of what Christian thinks could be the best backcourt in the conference. G Jerome Robinson (18.7, 3.9, 3.4) was the leading scorer last year. G Jordan Chatman was the third-leading scorer (8.6 points) despite coming off the bench in all but seven games.
Who’s new: Graduate transfer Deontae Hawkins was the leading scorer on an Illinois State team that won 28 games and tied Wichita State for the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title last year.
The Skinny: Boston College hasn’t finished above .500 since 2011. Christian will need to show improvement over the team that went 2-16 in the ACC last year to get a fifth season.
Last season: 19-13, lost to South Carolina in first round of NCAA Tournament.
Nickname: Golden Eagles.
Coach: Steve Wojciechowski.
Conference: Big East.
Who’s gone: Team will miss post presence and leadership of C Luke Fischer (10.9 points, 5.9 rebounds). Second-leading scorer and fellow senior starter Jajuan Johnson (12.0 points) is gone too, along with G Katin Reinhardt, who scored 10.8 points off the bench. G Duane Wilson (4.8 points) transferred to Texas A&M.
Who’s back: Gs Markus Howard (13.2 points) and Andrew Rowsey (11.6 points) might be one of the best shooting backcourts in the country from the 3-point line. Howard led the nation in 3-point shooting (54 percent) as a freshman. F Sam Hauser (8.8 points, 5.0 rebounds) showed impressive poise as a freshman. F Haanif Cheatham (8.7 points) is a full go again following a preseason shoulder injury. C Matt Heldt (2.3 points, 2.9 rebounds) must step up with Fischer gone.
Who’s new: Marquette adds four freshmen, including three forwards at least 6-foot-7 or taller. Six-eleven C Harry Froling, a transfer from SMU, is eligible in mid-December, while sophomore swingman Sacar Anim returns after redshirting last year. Wojciechowski will eventually have more length on defense after playing much of last season with four guards surrounding Fischer.
The Skinny: A former point guard, Wojciechowski is looking for Howard to become a more all-around player, which should be important since defenses won’t sleep on his 3-point prowess. Establishing a post presence to complement the shooters will be important. A return to NCAAs may depend on whether the added length helps tighten the defense.
Who’s back: Guard Trevon Bluiett considered the NBA before deciding to return for his senior season, giving Xavier one of the top scorers (18.5 points per game) in the Big East. Senior guard J.P. Macura was the only player to start every game during Xavier’s injury-riddled season and had his best moments in the NCAA Tournament, averaging 13 points. 4.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Forward Sean O’Mara emerged during the tournament, including an 18-point game against Maryland. Point guard Quentin Goodin took over after Sumner tore an ACL and averaged 5.3 assists in 17 starts as a freshman. Forward Tyrique Jones started 13 games as a freshman and averaged 4.2 points. Forward Kaiser Gates overcame injuries and started four games as a sophomore, averaging 5.8 points.
Who’s new: Forward Kerem Kanter transferred from Wisconsin-Green Bay, where he averaged 11.3 points and 6.3 rebounds. He’s expected to step into a big role with his ability to shoot from the outside and push the ball up the floor.
The Skinny: The Musketeers have never reached a Final Four, losing to Gonzaga in the Elite Eight last season to miss out again. They’ve got one of their most balanced and experienced teams heading into Mack’s ninth season at his alma mater.
[B]Cincinnati Preview Capsule
October 31, 2017[/B]
Last season: 30-6, finished second in American Athletic Conference.
Coach: Mick Cronin.
Conference: American Athletic.
Who’s gone: Point guard Troy Caupain, guard Kevin Johnson, forward Quadri Moore.
Who’s back: Guard Jacob Evans III averaged 13.5 points, tops on the team. Forward Kyle Washington was hard to stop with his one-handed shot and averaged 12.9 points, 6.8 rebounds. Forward Gary Clark had a breakout season, averaging 10.8 points and a team-high 7.9 rebounds. Guard Jarron Cumberland was an erratic shooter as a freshman, averaging 8.3 points, and is expected to move into a bigger role. Point guard Justin Jennifer averaged 2.8 points and 1.9 assists as Caupain’s backup.
Who’s new: Point guard Cane Broome sat out last season after transferring from Sacred Heart, where he averaged 23.1 points. He’s quick and streaky as a shooter. The Bearcats are looking to use his speed on defense initially.
The Skinny: The Bearcats won the second-most games in school history but finished behind SMU in the American Athletic and lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. They’re looking to win the conference and go deeper in the tournament with their most balanced team in Cronin’s 12 seasons. They’re playing home games at Northern Kentucky University this season while their on-campus arena is renovated.
[B]The Top Twenty Five
November 6, 2017
The top 25 teams in The Associated Press’ preseason 2017-18 college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, final 2016-17 records, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last year’s final ranking:
[B][I]Michigan State’s Bridges tops AP preseason All-America team
November 6, 2017[/I][/B]
Michigan State’s Miles Bridges has everyone’s attention.
The 6-foot-7 sophomore headlines The Associated Press preseason All-America team as the leading vote-getter by a wide margin for the five-player squad. Bridges received 61 votes from the 65-member national media panel that selects the weekly AP Top 25 poll, 14 more than Notre Dame senior forward Bonzie Colson – the preseason Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year and the No. 2 vote-getter.
Arizona junior Allonzo Trier, Villanova junior Jalen Brunson and Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. rounded out the rest of the five-man team released Monday.
Bridges was forced to play inside last season for the undersized Spartans, but averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks. Second-ranked Michigan State has more size and depth this season, so Bridges will likely see more time at small forward on the perimeter.
”He’s got some things he’s got to get better at,” coach Tom Izzo said. ”He’s going to be moving around different positions. Got to get better with the ball, better guarding. There are going to be some things that are more difficult for him. I can’t think of a guy that’s worked harder all summer to make sure he’s ready. I think he’ll be more than ready for an incredible season.”
The 14-vote gap between Bridges and Colson marked only the third time there was a double-digit difference between the top two vote-getters since the AP preseason All-America team launched for the 1995-96 season. The last time was in 2003-04.
The 6-6 Colson averaged 17.8 points and an ACC-best 10.1 rebounds to go with a league-best 19 double-doubles. He knows that he’ll wear a target this season; assistant coach Ryan Humphrey recently gave him a poster featuring Colson sporting a photoshopped bullseye on his chest and the message of ”Every game.”
”I’m always going to be humble and hungry,” Colson said. ”That’s just who I am, that’s just how my parents raised me. Just going out there every day and playing loose.”
The 6-5 Trier was third with 39 votes. He opted to return to the third-ranked Wildcats instead of entering the NBA draft after averaging 17.2 points and 5.3 rebounds last year despite missing the first 19 games due to a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.
”Allonzo has a special place in my heart because I don’t know if I’ve been around a player that has overcome so much adversity and at the same time continued to be an outstanding player,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said, adding: ”He’s had a terrific offseason, and I think all of us are hoping that he can do it from start to finish, from the first game to the end.”
The 6-3 Brunson, who earned 33 votes, averaged 14.7 points and 4.1 assists while shooting 54 percent last year for the Wildcats.
”Last year he stepped up a little bit more,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. ”But this year, he’s stepped up to become the player and leader that he is. He’s just a natural born leader.”
The 6-10 Porter earned 30 votes for the final spot, making him the fifth freshman to make the preseason AP All-America team – joining North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins, Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and LSU’s Ben Simmons.
”I feel there’s a lot of people that would like to be in my situation,” Porter said. ”But I try to stay grounded, stay humble and realize I’m nowhere near where I want to get to, so I just have to take all the attention with a grain of salt and just keep getting better and better.”
North Carolina senior Joel Berry II, last year’s Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four for the reigning national champions, was the top vote-getter who missed the squad. Berry, who had 25 votes, is recovering from a broken bone in his hand that could sideline him for the start of the season.
Duke senior Grayson Allen, a preseason AP All-American last season, had 20 votes.
The Associated Press’ 2017-18 preseason All-America team, with school, height, year and votes from a 65-member national media panel (key 2016-17 statistics in parentheses):
[B][I]UCLA’s Ball, two teammates out on bail after arrest in China
November 8, 2017[/I][/B]
Freshman LiAngelo Ball, the younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, and two UCLA men’s basketball teammates were released on bail early Wednesday morning in Hangzhou, China, after being arrested the previous day for allegedly shoplifting.
Ball and freshmen Cody Riley and Jalen Hill remained at a luxury hotel in Hangzhou , a source told ESPN. The three athletes were questioned and arrested by police on Tuesday about allegedly stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team’s hotel in Hangzhou, where the Bruins had been staying before leaving for Shanghai on Wednesday.
The trio is being required by local police to stay at the hotel until the legal process is complete while their Bruins teammates traveled to Shanghai for the team’s season opener Friday (American time) against Georgia Tech, according to ESPN. They will not play against the Yellow Jackets.
“The players were treated with the utmost respect, kindness and professionalism at all times by the Hangzhou police,” the source, who had firsthand knowledge of the release, told ESPN. “The players questioned were respectful at all times. None of this was confrontational.”
Police arrived early Tuesday morning at the Hyatt Regency in Hangzhou, where both UCLA and Georgia Tech were staying ahead of their matchup in Shanghai. Three players were questioned from each team.
Ball, Riley and Hill were taken to the police station in Hangzhou, where they were kept for a number of hours, according to ESPN. UCLA representatives, including coach Steve Alford, were at the police station along with Ball, Riley and Hill before they were released around 4 a.m. ET Wednesday
Alford rejoined the rest of UCLA’s team in Shanghai on Wednesday morning after the players were released. The Bruins practiced Wednesday before visiting Shanghai Disneyland.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said the conference was directing specific questions about what transpired to UCLA.
“We are very disappointed by any situation that detracts from the positive student-athlete educational and cultural experience that this week is about,” Scott said in a statement. “Whether in the United States or abroad, we expect our student-athletes to uphold the highest standards. We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
LaVar Ball, his wife Tina and son LaMelo had breakfast with the UCLA team in Shanghai on Wednesday morning. As he was leaving the hotel, LaVar Ball downplayed LiAngelo’a arrest, telling ESPN: “He’ll be fine. He’ll be fine. Everybody making it a big deal. It ain’t that big of a deal.”
LaVar Ball later released a statement about the allegations against LiAngelo: “It is a very unfortunate situation that the Ball family and UCLA has to deal with at this particular time. We will comment shortly.”
LiAngelo Ball is the younger brother of Lonzo, who starred at UCLA last season before being the No. 2 overall NBA Draft pick by the Lakers.
[B][I]Scandal hangs over college basketball headed in 2017-18
November 8, 2017[/I][/B]
College basketball is better than ever on the floor. Scoring is up, stars players fill every corner of the country and fan support is sky high.
Off the floor, it has an image problem.
A federal probe this summer uncovered the dark underbelly of college basketball, revealing a web of bribes and kickbacks from shoe companies funneled toward recruits. The arrests of 10 people, including assistant coaches at four prominent schools, casts a shadow over the sport heading into the 2017-18 season – and likely beyond.
”It’s a big egg on a lot of our faces,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. ”It kind of speaks for the entire entity, and we’re part of it.”
The federal investigation led to the arrests of assistant coaches from No. 3 Arizona, No. 10 Southern Cal, Oklahoma State and Auburn, along with an Adidas marketing executive. The probe has already taken down No. 16 Louisville coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich, and more shoes could drop as the investigation digs deeper.
The teams already in the crosshairs – Miami is also among them – will play with uncertainty; whether its players will remain eligible, if the investigation will reach all the way to the head coach, if NCAA sanctions are on the horizon.
The other major programs, particularly those with high-end recruits, could be looking over their shoulders all season to see if they will become ensnared.
”You have to eliminate the clutter and understand the class has to be tight,” Arizona coach Sean Miller. ”You have to talk to people, but only we know what happens on a daily basis in our program.”
On the court, Miller has the type of team that could end his Final Four-less run. The Wildcats have a solid core of experienced players returning from last year’s Elite Eight team – preseason All-American Allonzo Trier among them – to go with a stellar recruiting class, highlighted by athletic big man Deandre Ayton.
Of course, there are plenty of deep, talented teams capable of making a run to San Antonio.
Duke is the preseason No. 1 for the second straight season with senior Grayson Allen back and the addition of Marvin Bagley III, coach Mike Krzyzewski’s latest one-and-done wonder.
Michigan State’s Tom Izzo always seems to get the most out of his team in March and has plenty to work with this season, playing with a stacked deck bolstered by the return of preseason All-American Miles Bridges.
No. 4 Kansas has reloaded and is gunning for Big 12 title No. 14 in a row. So has No. 5 Kentucky, but you knew that already; Coach Cal is never without a roster full of future NBA players.
Defending national champion North Carolina lost a lot from a year ago, but the return of point guard Joel Berry II was huge for the Tar Heels, even if he will miss the start of the season after breaking his hand punching a door.
”We’re not defending (the national championship) because it’s not the same team playing against the same teams, but we’re the only team that can go out and say we could do this a second year in a row,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said.
Don’t count out the mid majors, who have been major players since Butler reached consecutive Final Fours from 2010-11.
Gonzaga reached the title game a year ago and took the Tar Heels to the wire. The Zags lost a lot from that team, but came in at No. 18 in the AP preseason poll and coach Mark Few has another talented group.
This year it could be Wichita State. Coach Gregg Marshall, who has spurned offers from other schools to remain in Wichita, has his entire starting five back and a stronger schedule – for NCAA Tournament seeding purposes – after the Shockers’ move to the AAC.
”My job got better in terms of the profile of the league and the opportunity to get in the NCAA Tournament,” Marshall said.
And don’t forget about the freshman. Every year seems to bring bigger, more athletic players straight out of high school, and this season is no exception.
Bagley is 6 feet, 11 inches of do everything, making a good Duke team even better. Same thing with Ayton, though at 7-1, 260 pounds. Kentucky has five high school All-Americans.
The best of the bunch could be Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. He’s 6-10, can shoot, score off the dribble, is a preseason All-American, the projected No. 1 NBA draft pick and has been compared to a young Kevin Durant. He’s going to get plenty of shots in Columbia, too.
”He’s long and fast and skilled, got tremendous feel, I.Q.” Florida coach Mike White said. ”He’s going to be a really good player.”
The 2017-18 season will be filled with them. Whether they’ll be enough to pull the sport from under the dark cloud hanging over it remains to be seen.