Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘Jrue Holiday’

Pac-10 Preview (#1): UCLA Bruins

Posted by Patrick on November 8, 2008

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#1-UCLA Bruins: Coach-Ben Howland (6th year)

PG-Darren Collison (Sr.)- For the past two seasons Collison has been one of the best point guards in the nation and this year I expect that he’ll pick up just where he left off.  Collison has a young and talented group of players to pass the ball to, and also can take the ball to the basket himself. Sometimes people overlook Collison’s ability to shoot the ball, but last year he shot 52% from behind the arc on 101 attempts. If Collison can shoot the three like that this season, UCLA should compete for a national championship.

SG-Jrue Holiday (Fr.)- The most complete freshman in the nation makes his way over to Los Angeles to become part of a Bruins team that is looking to make yet another consecutive Final Four.  Holiday has great fundamentals, plays superb defense, knows how to score, shoots a consistent three ball, and is very athletic. He may be UCLA’s leading scorer this season, and will easily be one of the top players not only in the Pac-10 but in all of college basketball.

G/F-Josh Shipp (Sr.)- While a lot of people think that freshman Drew Gordon could be starting at this spot by season’s end, Howland will most likely give the nod to Shipp who was a major part of their Final Four run last season. He is a great shooter and a strong defender, hurting the opposition inside and out. Plus, who can forget his performance at Cal last season. Shipp is a vital part of this team and he could be a major factor if this team wants to win a national championship.

PF-Drew Gordon (Fr.)- Like I said, some people may think that Gordon will be better suited at SF instead of PF, but if you have a guy like Shipp already on your team you have to move Gordon to a different position. Gordon will fight for rebounds, and he definitely has the ability to post up and score.  He’s the wild card of the Bruins starting lineup; he could become a great player immediately, or he could fold under the pressure and UCLA fans will see more Alfred Aboya.

C-J’Mison Morgan (Fr.)- Morgan would be the best center in this year’s class if not for B.J. Mullens. Morgan is a force on the inside that can compete at the high-major level, matching up well with every other center in the Pac-10 right away.  Morgan is also a tremendous rebounder and blocks shots like its nobody’s business. If he can continue these trends in college, Morgan’s play will vault UCLA from a very good team to an elite team.

Bench: Malcolm Lee and Jerime Anderson are two stellar recruits that will be great bench players for UCLA. Anderson will be the back-up point guard. Alfred Aboya and Michael Roll round off the 9-man rotation that will be on the court for the Bruins this season. The bench provides talent, experience, and athleticism that will take UCLA a long way come March.

Bottom Line: This team reminds me of a worse version of last year’s Memphis. They are quick, athletic, and like to get into the fastbreak. They also are young but have experience where it counts. This team has the ability to get back to the Final Four, but most of the production depends on three freshman who I just don’t see getting the job done in March. UCLA is a stellar team this year and will win the Pac-10, but I see them falling in the Elite 8.

Backcourt: A

Frontcourt: B+

Bench: B

Coaching: A

Projected Post-Season Tourney: NCAA (Elite Eight)

Key Non-Conference Games: 2K Sports Classic (11/20-11/21), at Texas (12/4), Notre Dame (2/7)

Key Conference Games: at USC (1/11), Arizona State (1/17), USC (2/4), at Arizona State (2/12)

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Top 15 Freshmen; Friday News And Notes

Posted by Zach on October 31, 2008

One of the best parts of opening a new college basketball season is seeing the fresh crop of freshmen in action for the first time. Two years ago, Kevin Durant surpassed any expectation and became the best player in the country. Last year, the likes of Michael Beasley, O.J. Mayo and Kevin Love highlighted the deepest and most talented freshman class ever assembled. What’s in store for this year? Most prognosticators suggest this class is much weaker and supremely less talented. I respectfully disagree. This year’s freshman crop has athletes, scorers, dominating big men and all-around superstars who will shine for prominent national programs. Here’s my top 15 from the list:

1. DeMar DeRozan, USC:
I have high expectations for the young DeRozan out of Compton, a player whose highlight-reel athleticism and scoring ability is unmatched among his peers. If DeRozan plays to his potential, I feel he can match the production of O.J. Mayo last season and team up with Taj Gibson and Daniel Hackett in bringing USC back to the top of the Pac-10.

2. Jrue Holiday, UCLA: Holiday is a 6’3 combo guard with an exceptional all-around game who does nothing but win. He’s the perfect Ben Howland player in that he’s smart on the floor and is advanced defensively for an incoming freshman. He could start immediately for the Bruins and headlines their impressive recruiting class.

3. B.J. Mullens, Ohio State:
Mullens is a versatile 7-footer (yes, it’s possible) who can face the basket or mix it up inside with his steady frame. He could be an impact double-double man right away for Thad Matta, and his upside is so high some have him pegged as the #1 pick in the next NBA Draft.

4. Samardo Samuels, Louisville: Samuels is a gem for Rick Pitino in a conference where you need a scoring big man. He’s an aggressive forward with great instincts and a knack for the rim. Samuels is extremely powerful for a freshman and will challenge players like Luke Harangody immediately.

5. Tyreke Evans, Memphis: Evans has to be Memphis’ best player from day one if John Calipari wants to return to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Thing is, he very well could be. The dynamic Evans is a confident scorer with excellent range and finishing ability.

6. Greg Monroe, Georgetown: Monroe has dropped on some recruiting charts, but I still feel he’s a perfect player for Georgetown and will shine. He’s blessed with a wide frame and tremendous rebounding skills under the rim. It might take Monroe a year to mold into a feared scorer in the Big East.

7. Willie Warren, Oklahoma:
Warren is a huge reason why I feel Oklahoma can be a top ten team right away. This versatile guard simply has a knack for scoring and should be that second impact players Jeff Capel needs beside Blake Griffin. Warren does need to improve his defense, though.

8. Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest:
I love what Aminu brings to the table for a rising Wake Forest team. He’s an excellent perimeter scorer who can face up mid-range and hit shots. Also, not many can match his athleticism and drive on the court. You don’t find scoring 6’8 small forwards every day.

9. Kemba Walker, Connecticut:
Walker is such an advanced point guard at his age, it’s silly. He reminds of Derrick Rose with his court vision, toughness and leadership. He’s also stout defensively and should see extensive minutes right away for a loaded Connecticut team.

10. Scotty Hopson, Tennessee:
Hopson is an extremely talented prospect who originally signed with Mississippi State. He rebounds well for a guard and can also score consistently. The talent is certainly there, and he’ll provide a steady duo with Tyler Smith in Knoxville this season.

11. Luke Babbitt, 12. Iman Shumpert, 13. Devin Ebanks, 14. Delvin Roe, 15. JaMychal Green

Some quick news and notes on this Friday:

– Roy Williams is planning a news conference today to give us more information regarding the Tyler Hansbrough injury. My guess: Williams estimates they’ll be without Hansbrough for the entire month of November and set a best-case scenario for December 3 vs. Michigan State in Detroit. What the Tar Heels cannot afford to do is rush the ultra-competitive Hansbrough back to action too quickly, because then the stress “reaction” can turn into a Marcus Ginyard stress “fracture.” Then, you’re talking about being without Hansbrough for the entire season, and the entire goal is to have him 100% for March.

– The NCAA has passed legislation disallowing those early practices that Kentucky and Illinois enjoyed as a way to kick off their season because it gives them a recruiting advantage. Maybe so, but, as Gary Parrish so accurately describes, doesn’t the NCAA have more important things to take care of? Like, coaches hiring AAU coaches of their top recruits as an advantage a la John Wall? Taking care of that loophole instead of eliminating early practices for next October seems to make sense.

– Arizona lost their top incoming freshman for this season, Jeff Withey. As I’ve stated before, Arizona could have a mini-Indiana on their hands next season if Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill enter the NBA Draft. They have zero recruits for 2009 because their Pac-10 rivals are stealing them all. Withey, a 6’11 center, was ranked as the #35 overall player by Scout.com. He joins Brandon Jennings and Emmanuel Negedu as 2008 recruits that have jettisoned from Tuscon.

– Some surprising news out of Tennessee as J.P. Prince will miss 3-5 weeks with a shoulder injury he suffered in practice. If Prince cannot return in time for the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Siena’s chances of pulling an upset just went up a few notches. And if you don’t think it can happen….it can happen. Siena returns everyone from that thrashing of Vanderbilt.

– Prep star Kenny Boynton made his decision yesterday and will attend the University of Florida. Billy Donovan is assembling an impressive recruiting class for 2009, rebuilding quite successfully after losing that national championship core. He chose Florida over USC, Duke and Texas. Boynton might be the quickest and purest scorer in the entire class, ranked as the #2 SG by Scout.com. He’s an absolute gem in what should be a tremendous backcourt for the 2009-10 Gators.

Andy Katz has a piece on new California coach Mike Montgomery. I thought that was a great hire by Cal. It’ll stir up the Stanford rivalry again and Montgomery is a proven college coach with a track record. His failures at Golden State are irrelevant to whether he can get the job done at Berkeley.

– Nevada all-WAC guard Brandon Fields petty larceny charge has been dropped, but he remains suspended by coach Mark Fox. Don’t expect Fields to miss any significant action. Nevada should be the WAC favorite with Fields, Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson.

– What to expect from this site the next week or so: Big East #1, Pac-10 Preview, Big-12 Preview, ACC #5-1, Preseason Bracketology, Awards, Top 25, Games to Watch and possibly some more as we gear up for the start of college basketball.

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NCAA Position Rankings: Top 10 SG

Posted by Tommy on July 20, 2008

I’m not a big fan of the term “shooting guard” because it makes it seem like the only job of these players is to shoot. I prefer two guard or off-guard because these days, guards are becoming much more explosive and versatile and are learning to score in many different ways. The two guard is the predominant scorer from the backcourt, and is often the best athlete on the team. This year, there are plenty of guards in all shapes and sizes that can score points in bunches with different styles of play.

1. James Harden: Exploding onto the scene last year, Harden showed college basketball fans what he is capable of. He’s a big, athletic guard that can do a lot of different things on the court. He averaged 17.8 ppg last year, which is good but not overly impressive. What does impress me is how he shot nearly 53 percent from the field last season, and over 40 percent from beyond the arc. He also averaged 2.1 steals/game last season, meaning he doesn’t slack off on the defensive end like a lot of these superstar scorers like to do. If Harden improves his consistency, which I think he will as he matures next season, he could make a surprise run for the Naismith.

2. Demar DeRozan: As a freshman, DeRozan will be a raw talent for Tim Floyd and the Trojans, but this year’s McDonald’s All-American dunk contest winner is a superstar athlete. He’s listed at 6’6″ and can jump out of the gym, making him a tough match-up for any guard/wing. He has tremendous upside, especially if he develops his outside shot, but this kid can make a living within 15 feet of the basket at any level of play. Look for DeRozan to put up plenty of shots, draw plenty of fouls, and put up big point numbers throughout the season.

3. Jack McClinton: Last season McClinton was a very deadly shooter from beyond the arc, shooting 42.7 percent from deep, and was a very good dribble penetrater. His 38 points versus St. Mary’s in the first round of last year’s tournament showed basketball fans his versatility. He was 12-19 from the field in that game, including 3-6 from deep, showing that he can shoot the three with efficiency, but doesn’t have to rely on the three ball for his scoring. McClinton has such great range on his jumper that the moving back of the three-point line won’t affect his shooting percentage from deep too much. McClinton’s supporting cast at Miami will be much improved for the 08-09 campaign, which will enable him to take better shots and put up big numbers.

4. Lester Hudson: Many basketball fans have never heard of Lester Hudson and are wondering why  he’s one of the Top 5 two guards in the nation. Well, to put it simply, Hudson was the 4th highest scorer in the country last season with 25.7 ppg, and is the highest scorer returning to the NCAA for this season. Yes, he does play for Tennessee-Martin in the OVC, but he would be a prolific scorer in any conference. Don’t believe me? Well, last year he scored 27 at Mississippi State, 26 at UNLV, and dropped 36 points at Vandy. Hudson isn’t just an offensive threat, he averaged 2.8 steals/game, which was also fourth best in the country last year. Hudson’s huge numbers, even agaisnt opponents from top tier conferences, are extremely impressive and he’s my pick for this year’s leading scorer.

5. Jrue Holiday: UCLA lands its second consecutive Gatorade National High School POY in Holiday after Kevin Love won it in 2007. This kid has great upside because he’s a very smart, coachable freshman and has good athleticism: a combination that will make the transition into college ball much easier for Holiday. I can’t wait to see him develop under Ben Howland, one of the best coaches in the country, and play in a back court with seniors Darren Collison and Josh Shipp. At only 180 pounds, it would be nice to see Holiday add some muscle mass to really fill his 6’3″ frame and improve his ability in the paint; but other than that Holiday is a well-rounded player with plenty of talent.

6. Lee Cummard: Cummard tested the NBA waters this season, but ultimately decided to come back to BYU for the 08-09 season. Cummard averaged 15.8 ppg last season, which doesn’t jump off the page in the least bit, but his consistency is remarkable. He scored in double digits in every game except for three last year, and made a three pointer in every game but three. He sank a deadly 47.2 percent of his three pointers last season and was especially lights out in the second half of the year from beyond the arc. His size at 6’7″ and shooting ability make him a very tough match-up for any opponent.

7. Marcus Thornton: Last year was a forgettable year for the LSU Tigers as a whole, but it was also a coming out party for Thornton. In his first season with LSU, the Kilgore College transfer averaged 19.6 ppg, which was second in the SEC last season. His shooting percentage numbers aren’t great at 43.6 percent from the floor and 37.7 percent from three, but those numbers are pretty impressive considering the lack of talent around him. If Thornton keeps his numbers up, he could be the leading scorer in the SEC, and maybe he could even lead LSU like Sundiata Gaines led Georgia to an improbable NCAA Tournament bid.

8. Wayne Ellington: Ellington’s offensive game is one of the most well-rounded in the country. He doesn’t have the height of a Cummard, the athleticism of a DeRozan, or even the shooting ability of a McAlarney, but he can score in a number of ways. He averaged 16.6 ppg and scored in double digits in all but five games for the Heels last season, and shot 40 percent from beyond the arc. Ellington is a very smart player that plays within his limits; he doesn’t chuck up threes with 28 seconds left on the shot clock, he doesn’t try to make passes through 3 defenders, he just seems to make the correct decisions and he lets the game come to him.

9. AJ Abrams: Last season, Abrams’ 3-point shooting percentage was the lowest of his Longhorn career at 38.2 percent. When I watched him play, it seemed like he would often force up shots he wasn’t capable of making. I can’t explain why he did this, but if he just let the shots come to him, as apposed to forcing the issue, I think we would see his numbers jump way up. He’s the main offensive threat of this Longhorn squad, so Barnes will get him plenty of shots, Abrams just has to take the right ones. He showed us his incredible range as a sophomore, and I think he will improve on last year’s numbers, making him one of the biggest scoring threats in the Big XII.

10. Josh Akognon: In the first round of the NCAA tournament last year, Cal State Fullerton drew one of the best defenses in country in the Wisconsin Badgers, but this didn’t intimidate Akognon in the least bit. He put up 31 points in that game, more points than any other player did vs. Wisconsin that season, and awed everybody who watched that game. At only 5’11”, Akognon isn’t the biggest of guards, but his unbelievable quickness allows him much-needed separation. Akognon has shown he can put up big numbers with the best of them, so look out for him and the Titans in next year’s NCAA Tournament.

Also Considered: Kyle McAlarney, Ricky Harris, Eric Devendorf, Jerel McNeal, Gerald Henderson, Alex Ruoff, Patrick Beverly.

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Top Ten 2009 Prospects

Posted by Zach on June 28, 2008

Demar Derozan/ Nike Hoop Summit

The 2008 NBA Draft ended late Thursday night, and while it seems that the 2009 Draft won’t feature as many star-studded, one-and-done freshman like Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley and O.J. Mayo, the top prospects for next June are immensely talented and feature their own unique skill sets. More experienced college players like Darren Collison, Earl Clark, Ty Lawson and Stephen Curry will be featured, along with still a fair amount of freshman like Tyreke Evans, B.J. Mullens and Brandon Jennings.

I’ve narrowed down the expected class to my Top 10 players for the 2009 draft:

1. Demar DeRozan, SG, Southern Cal

Most experts have Blake Griffin pegged as their #1 prospect, but I’ll opt for DeRozan, an unbelievably athletic shooting guard from Compton projected to make an immediate impact as Southern Cal in his one year. He’s an explosive, quick scorer with NBA size and leaping ability that will make scouts drool, but has more of a complete repertoire than just highlight dunks. His shooting range and skilled rebounding also are very impressive and worth being the number one overall selection.

2. Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma

Griffin appears to be a Carlos Boozer clone, someone that will average 20 and 7 at the NBA level. His polished skill set around the rim is more developed than most professional players, and he’s extremely difficult to keep from scoring in the paint. The most impressive facet of Griffin’s game is his rebounding ability, both offensively and defensively. Defense needs to improve, but the toughness is there.

3. B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State

As you’ll see soon enough at Ohio State, Mullens is an enigma that needs motivation and polish. Nobody possesses as much pure upside and potential to dominate as Mullens, but the seven footer can often lack discipline and motivation. He’s very athletic, the opposite of a usual stiff even given his size. Mullens is a gifted rebounded and finisher with a strong NBA frame. Defense also needs refining.

4. Brandon Jennings, PG, Arizona

The rumors are afloat that Jennings may opt to play in Europe. Regardless, his stock as an NBA stud will not decline with this decision. At Oak Hill Academy this past year, one of the most distinguished programs in the nation, Jennings averaged 35 points and 8 assists per game. He has top notch athleticism and quickness to the rim, an excellent jump shot and court vision similar to a young Chris Paul. If he decides to play in Tucson, Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill will love to play with him.

5. Hasheem Thabeet, C, Connecticut

NBA scouts have been drooling over this kid’s potential for years now. His offensive game needs plenty of molding and development before he can become a threat on both ends of the floor at the next level, and even in the loaded Big East. But this kid is the best pure defender in the nation. His shot-blocking ability is off the charts and explosive leaping ability controls games in the paint.

6. Jrue Holiday, PG, UCLA

Many scouts believe Holiday is a more talented Russell Westbrook, the same Westbrook that just went fourth overall in the 2008 Draft. Holiday is versatile at both guard positions, but excels controlling the offense, both with his passing and court vision, and excellent motor to the basket. He’s also the most developed defender of the class at the guard position- his aggressiveness leads to steals and Holiday is committed equally on the defensive end.

7. James Harden, SG, Arizona State

If you asked a college basketball fan who the Freshman of the Year in the Pac-10 was last season, most would say O.J. Mayo, or Kevin Love, or Jerryd Bayless. They’d all be wrong. James Harden took the crown as a freshman in 2007-08, scoring 17.8 per contest while shooting 53% from the floor. Harden is a flat out scorer with an above average jumper and a knack of getting to the basket. His length and wingspan will undoubtedly impress NBA scouts.

8. Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina

Lawson is an example of someone who will shoot up draft boards because of his explosiveness and athleticism. He’s a Superman quick point guard who will lead the top team in college basketball, so scouts will know how he does playing with talent. Lawson is a blow-by scorer with plus court vision and strong finishing ability, but he badly needs to lessen the turnovers and strengthen perimeter shooting, or defenders will just play off of him.

9. Nick Calathes, SG, Florida

Calathes really flew under the radar as a freshman last season at Florida, not only for his shooting abilities (37% from 3, and he can even improve on that), but his passing ability (6.1 APG) and rebounding (5.3 RPG). Calathes is a complete player who can play three positions, possesses excellent ball handling and scouts will rave about his basketball IQ. The biggest part of his game is the three-point shooting, which has seemingly unlimited range.

10. Tyreke Evans, SG, Memphis

Evans, much like Jennings, is a super-recruit who excelled at a top high school program in the nation, scoring 33 PPG and grabbing nine boards. Evans is a flat out scorer, someone with a quick first step who nails mid-range jumpers at a consistent basis while also finishing at the rim. He’s a gifted ball handler, someone who will excel in John Calipari’s system. One negative: Evans can be a selfish player.

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