Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

Posts Tagged ‘Devin Ebanks’

Big East Preview: #10-#9

Posted by Zach on October 18, 2008

10. Providence Friars– Coach: Keno Davis (1st season)

Backcourt:
The backcourt is the strength of this Providence team. They return their leading scorer from two seasons ago in Sharaud Curry, who is finally 100% healthy from his injured foot that kept him out of important action last season. Also returning is Manhattan transfer Jeff Xavier who hit 76 threes and became the Friars leading scorer last year in the absence of Curry. He also led the conference in SPG and the return of Curry running the offense should lead to more open looks for Xavier. The inconsistent and flashy Weyinmi Efejuku can certainly pile up the points on any given night and then disappear the next. Davis hopes the coaching change will help his attitude and get him motivated for every Big East game. Brian McKenzie is yet another returning double-digit scorer. He finished second to Xavier in three-pointers and will likely play more of the 2-guard spot where he’s comfortable. With Dwain Williams transferring, sophomore Marshon Brooks should get more playing time. Grade: B+

Frontcourt: The frontcourt is boosted by box score filler Geoff McDermott. He’s one of the best passing big men in the country while also attacking the boards with ferocity, evidenced by his 6’8 frame becoming the only player in team history to grab 250+ rebounds and dish out 150+ assists in the same season. An improvement in scoring for McDermott would vault him into elite forward status. 6’11 Randall Hanke is a mystery for the Friars. He displays an accurate scoring touch and possesses a center’s frame, but refuses to maintain any sort of aggressiveness on the boards and plays defense scared. A breakout year is possible if Hanke can harness his abilities. Jamine Peterson is a wild card; his athleticism is unmatched and Peterson flows well with an up-tempo approach on the floor. While his defense desperately needs improvement, Peterson is the type of high-energy player every team needs. The question up front for Providence is depth and defense. They hope to get instant help from incoming freshman Bilal Dixon, who provides bulk for Keno Davis. Grade: C+

Bottom Line: Keno Davis knows how to coach. He proved himself molding a mediocre Drake team into the story of the year in college basketball and a 5-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Now he walks into a situation in Providence where the fans are tired of the underachieving Tim Welsh and need a change. With eight of your top nine scorers returning and plenty of experience, I feel Davis can transform the program in just months time. I feel like this conference could get a record ten teams into the Big Dance, and Providence would be the tenth selection.

Starting Lineup:

G- Sharaud Curry (JR)
G- Jeff Xavier (SR)
G- Weyinmi Efejuku (SR)
F- Geoff McDermott (SR)
F- Randall Hanke (SR)

Key Non-Conference Games: Anaheim Classic, 11/15 vs. Northeastern, 12/20 @ Boston College
Key Conference Games: 1/10 @ Georgetown, 1/28 vs. Syracuse, 2/7 @ West Virginia, 3/5 @ Villanova
Most Valuable Player: Geoff McDermott
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA (One and done)

9. West Virginia Mountaineers
– Coach: Bob Huggins (2nd season)

Backcourt: They’ll have a difficult time dealing with the loss of steady point guard Darris Nichols, who finished second in the Big East in assist-turnover ratio, but I feel Joe Mazzulla has the goods to step in right away and contribute. Mazzulla, who really came on in the NCAA Tournament and in their stunning win over Duke in the second round, distributes the basketball fairly well and shows a keen shooting touch from mid-range. More of those point guard instincts will be smoothed over with increased experience. The backcourt is also boosted by the outside shooting of Alex Ruoff. Coach Bob Huggins wants Ruoff to attack the basket with more frequency, but I’d prefer it if he remains near the perimeter where he sunk 41% of his threes. Freshman Darryl Bryant is a hard-nosed point guard like most that come out of the Bronx (except Sebastian Telfair, he’s just dumb). Huggins may try to play Devin Ebanks at shooting guard at some points, and Da’Sean Butler is more than capable of playing the 2. The flexibility of the West Virginia roster is a big reason why I have them pegged for the NCAA Tournament once again. Grade: B-

Frontcourt: Da’Sean Butler has the chance to step into the spotlight with Joe Alexander departed. Butler can play both inside and outside, is the teams strongest rebounding presence, and also added a 37% three-point accuracy to his resume. The junior made strides as a sophomore to reach double-digit scoring; Huggins hopes Butler can excel to more of a 14-15 PPG threat and continue to create matchup problems. The former Indiana commit turned Mountaineer Devin Ebanks is a force to be reckoned with- a super athlete with great driving ability with an advanced jump shot for his age. He can sink it from anywhere on the floor and may be WV’s best player from day one. Fellow freshman Kevin Jones is another top-75 recruit with versatility with great size and length. Wellington Smith saw increased playing time in March and showed he can take it to the rim and finish, but he’s still nothing more than a seventh or eighth man. Huggins hopes Demetrius Proby or freshman Roscoe Davis can emerge at the five. Grade: B

Bottom Line: Bob Huggins may be a polarizing figure, but the job he did last season taking John Beilein’s system and his players and molding them into a tough, rebound-first, man-to-man, Elite Eight team was a sight to see. Huggins lost his do-everything glue guy in Joe Alexander and point guard in Darris Nichols, two components it takes more than a blink of the eye to replace. Once Joe Mazzulla shows he can be a steady force at point guard and Devin Ebanks takes off in his first season in Morgantown, this is a bubble-in team that could be the eye of much debate on Selection Sunday.

Starting Lineup:

G- Joe Mazzulla (JR)
G- Alex Ruoff (SR)
G/F- Da’Sean Butler (JR)
F- Devin Ebanks (FR)
F- Wellington Smith (JR)

Key Non-Conference Games: 11/28 @ Iowa, 12/3 @ Mississippi, 12/9 vs. Davidson, 12/27 @ Ohio State
Key Conference Games: 1/3 @ Seton Hall, 2/7 vs. Providence, 2/13 vs. Villanova, 2/26 @ Cincinnati
Most Valuable Player: Devin Ebanks
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA (One and done)

#8 Villanova and #7 Syracuse will be up on Monday.

Posted in Big East Report, Conference Previews | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

NCAA Position Rankings: Top 10 SF

Posted by Tommy on July 24, 2008

Small Forwards, also referred to as “wings,” are often the most versatile players on the floor. They possess the perimeter abilities of a guard, but have more size and usually more ability to create offense on their own. Their combination of length and athleticism usually makes them tough defenders as well. So to be a great small forward, you need to be able to do a little bit of everything on the court. Oh, and being an athletic freak might help a little bit too. This year’s class of small forwards was tough to rank, partially because all of these players have different playing styles, but mostly because there isn’t a Michael Beasley or a Kevin Durant to be a clear-cut number one.

1. Robert Vaden: In one of the most stunning single half performances of the year (second only to Tyrese Rice’s 34 point half vs. UNC), Vaden put up 28 points in the second half for the Blazers in their non-conference victory against Kentucky. Vaden took the C-USA by storm last year by increasing his PPG to 21.1, up almost 8 points from his 13.5 PPG the year before. One thing that really stands out about Vaden is that he isn’t afraid to shoot the ball. He had 10 or more field goal attempts in every game he played in except for one last season, in which he shot eight. He shoots 40 percent from beyond the arc, which is good, but what I’d like to see him improve on his his overall field goal percentage. He shot 40.8% from the field last year, meaning he wasn’t much more effective inside the arc than he was from outside. If he improves his slashing ability, he could very likely be C-USA’s leading scorer next season, as well as a nationally known star.

2. Sam Young: Last year, Young took on a much bigger roll for Jamie Dixon and the Panthers and performed very well throughout the season. He won Big East’s Most Improved Player, and returns to lead Pitt in what looks to be a very promising season. Young averaged 18.1 PPG last season, 11 more PPG than the previous season, and his only single digit scoring game came against Georgetown when he scored nine points. Young is a very smart, hard working player that has great fundamentals. Also, he can post up or drive and shoot, making him very tough to guard. Since he doesn’t possess blazing speed, he uses his high basketball IQ, strength, and his plethora of tools to beat his opponents.

3. Chase Budinger: Budinger has tested the NBA waters after each season of his college basketball career, but has decided to come back to Arizona each time. To me, this is the right decision because Budinger has some things to work on in his offensive game. His combination of height and athleticism makes him a dangerous wing player, but he’s a streaky shooter and needs to work on his dribble penetration ability. He’ll get plenty of chances to showcase his ability next season as the Wildcats’ main offensive threat. If he becomes a more consistent shooter and a better penetrator, Budinger can be a late lottery to early second round pick next year.

4. Tyler Smith: After garnering First Team All-SEC and Honorable Mention All American, Smith returns to the Vols as a leader for the 08-09 season. Last season, Smith led the Vols in rebounding (6.7 RPG), assists (3.4 APG) and in field goal percentage (53.6% from the field) and was third on the team in scoring with 13.6 ppg. He will see a much bigger offensive role for Bruce Pearl with the departure of leading scorer Chris Lofton. Look for Smith to continue filling up the stat sheet, to keep his high field goal percentage and to keep up his great defense next season.

5. Al-Farouq Aminu: Dino Gaudio landed one of the most versatile freshman of the 2008 class in Aminu. At 6’8″, he has great size for a small forward and he possesses the ability to effectively face up on the perimeter. He has a good shot, can penetrate pretty well, and could potentially post up his smaller opposition at the small forward. If he develops his inside and mid-range games, he will be able to score in a number of ways for the Demon Deacons.

6. Nick Calathes: Calathes was forced into a leadership role for Billy Donovan’s baby Gators last season because there was next to no experience around him. He can do everything on the floor: he averaged 15.3 ppg, 6.1 assists/game and 5.2 rebounds/game last year as a freshman but he’s a bit inconsistent. He’ll have to improve on his scoring ability as well as his consistency if he and the Gators are to be successful. I think Calathes will step up to the challenge as the leader of the Gators.

7. Devin Ebanks: Ebanks joins a free-flowing Mountaineer offense in which he should flourish. He has a great ability to create offense on his own, meaning he has a pretty good perimeter shot, has good penetration skills and can score around the rim. His size at 6’8″ will help see the rim over his opponents and his length makes him deceptive when he drives the basketball. Huggins brought in a freshman with plenty of raw talent and scoring ability, and I think Ebanks will turn into a great scorer in the Big East.

8. K.C. Rivers: Rivers does a lot of different things for Oliver Purnell. He plays the wing, as well as some guard, and can score, rebound and is one of the best defenders in the ACC. He averaged 14.7 ppg last year, 6.8 rebounds/game, which is very impressive for a 6’6″ wing, and 1.9 steals/game. Rivers is a good 3-point shooter at 40.2% from the beyond the arc, and plays bigger than his size might indicate. Rivers will be the leader for the Tigers next season and will be the source of a lot of their offense, whether it be from beyond the arc or in the paint.

9. Austin Daye: As a huge recruit, everybody expected Daye to come into Spokane and perform right away for the Zags. The 6’10” freshman only averaged 18.5 minutes/game last year, in which he scored 10.5 PPG and grabbed 4.7 rebounds/game. This year, Daye may see almost double the minutes he did last season, meaning theoretically, he should double his statistics. He was a raw talent as a freshman, but after an off-season with Mark Few and company, I think Daye will vastly improve his game and see more time on the court during the season.

10. Earl Clark: Clark is a very athletic forward for Rick Pitino and has a very strong game in the paint. He averaged 11.1 PPG and 8.1 rebounds/game in 28.5 minutes/game. He is a great player off the dribble and uses his strength to finish round the rim. If Clark can add a mid-range and perimeter game, he is a lock for an NBA lottery pick because of his athleticism. He can defend well and can block shots (1.7 blk/game), but turns the ball over too much. Clark will see more time next season as an upperclassman and I think will attract a lot of NBA scouts with his scoring ability.

Also Considered: Wes Matthews, Josh Shipp, Terrence Williams, Danny Green, Delvon Roe, Robbie Hummel.

Posted in Player Rankings | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »