Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina Tar Heels’

Tyler Hansbrough Out Indefinitely

Posted by Zach on October 31, 2008

Put those undefeated talks on hold. On the same day North Carolina was rewarded with a unanimous number one ranking by the coaches, the best player in college basketball and most celebrated Tar Heel in years- Tyler Hansbrough- discovered he has a stress reaction in his left shin and is out indefinitely.

He joins Marcus Ginyard and Ed Davis as players hurting right now for coach Roy Williams. But this Hansbrough injury trumps any that may occur in college basketball this season if it turns out to be majorly serious. The Heels are partially relieved because they caught the injury before it became a stress fracture, which probably would have ended his season. Williams will address the problem in a press conference Friday.

It’s hard to tell how long North Carolina could be without their preseason All-American. The best medicine for this type of injury is rest and more rest, and UNC has already released a statement saying Hansbrough will be “out for a while.” Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports estimates he might not see the court until mid-December. It’s really unpredictable at this point.

True college basketball fans have to feel sad for the senior forward. Here’s a player who is ultra passionate about basketball and his team, one of those rare gems that stays in college for all four years. It would have been exciting to see this loaded North Carolina team at full strength for the entire season. Now they could very well be without Hansbrough for a Maui Invitational with Texas and Notre Dame (who is going to contain Harangody now? Deon Thompson?) as well as a Ford Field battle with Michigan State. It’s still too early to tell, though.

Hansbrough averaged 22.6 PPG and 10.2 RPG for the Final Four Tar Heels last season. He won National Player of the Year in his junior season and is the favorite to defend that honor this year. The Tar Heels open November 15 against Penn at home.

Gene Hansbrough, Tyler’s father: “He’ll be OK. His leg’s been bothering him for a couple of weeks. It’s a stress reaction and he needs to rest a bit. He just needs time to let it heal. There is no reason for him to limp through it.”

“I just hope he recovers soon.”

So do the Chapel Hill faithful.

Posted in Injuries, Quick Posts | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

First ESPN/USA Top 25 Released

Posted by Zach on October 30, 2008

You know college basketball is approaching when the first preseason poll (as meaningless as they may be) is finally released. There’s not many surprises on this list and North Carolina was a unanimous #1:

1. North Carolina, 2. Connecticut, 3. Louisville, 4. UCLA, 5. Duke

I can’t take much issue with this top five. In fact, this is what my preseason top four will look like, and I wouldn’t be surprised if AP’s poll has the same order, as well. The coaches realize the influence Jrue Holiday and that outstanding recruiting class will have to counter the losses of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love. Duke may be getting a tad too much love here. Still plenty of question marks in their frontcourt.

6. Pittsburgh, 7. Michigan State, 8. Texas, 9. Notre Dame, 10. Purdue

Texas at #8 is a bit puzzling. I love James and Abrams, but the point guard situation keeps them out of the preseason top ten for me. I also agree with the Michigan State over Purdue pick. They’re deeper, more athletic and more talented than Purdue in what will be a very tight Big Ten race. If you’re keeping track, 40% of the top ten are from the Big East.

11. Gonzaga, 12. Memphis, 13. Tennessee, 14. Oklahoma, 15. Arizona State

This is a great place for Tennessee and Oklahoma. I’m not as high on Memphis, though. Evans could be a special player, but until I see one of their complimentary players make the leap to stardom (Taggart, Dozier, Anderson, even Evans), I wouldn’t put them in my top 15. Plenty of casual fans will see Gonzaga here and scream “overrated”. Their non-conference schedule is brutal, but if they can survive, they’ll finish the year right around this spot.

16. Miami (FL), 17. Marquette, 18. Georgetown, 19. Florida, 20. Davidson

No issues with Marquette or Georgetown here, these seem like perfect spots for those two teams. I take issue with Miami over Wake Forest in the ACC, even with Jack McClinton. That isn’t a huge omission, but I’d have Wake Forest higher than #24. Davidson earned their spot in the preseason top 20.

21. USC, 22. Wisconsin, 23. Kansas, 24. Wake Forest, 25. Villanova

(#26 UNLV, #27 Saint Mary’s, #28 Ohio State, #29 Baylor, #30 Xavier, #31 Syracuse, #32 Texas A&M, #33 LSU, #34 Arizona, #35 Virginia Tech, #36 BYU, #37 West Virginia, #38 Washington, #39 Siena, #40 Kentucky)

USC and Wisconsin is actually tied for the 21st spot. Notably left out of the top 25 were UNLV, Saint Mary’s and Baylor, three teams you could make a strong argument for to replace Florida, Davidson and Kansas. I have no issues with Wisconsin over Ohio State. I think Syracuse is slightly stronger than Villanova, but the difference is very small.

The first matchup that could pit two Top-25 teams is Oklahoma vs. Davidson (assuming neither is upset) n Norman, Oklahoma in mid-November.

Louisville preview later today, and possibly Tommy’s #5 ACC team.

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Chase For Perfection: UNC Tar Heels

Posted by Zach on October 14, 2008

Unlike past Octobers, there is no debate over who should be deemed the preseason #1 team in the nation. In a near consensus for anyone with their head screwed on properly, North Carolina takes the honor.

Most major programs in BCS conferences would kill to have just three or four players on North Carolina’s roster for their own squad. Never before in my short life following college basketball can I recall a team so loaded in every capacity of the game. They tout the reigning national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough, a dominant power forward in Deon Thompson, the best sixth man in the country in Danny Green and two top-15 recruits in Ed Davis and Tyler Zeller. And that’s just the frontcourt. Don’t forget about the best guard duo in the nation- Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington- to go along with former starter and pinpoint shooter Bobby Frasor and, you guessed it, another five-star recruit in Larry Drew. It’s simply unfair.

For a college basketball team so completely stacked, the one question remains: can they do it?

And by do it, I mean finish the regular season undefeated. People thought going 16-0 in the NFL was a near impossibility until the Patriots pulled it off. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that this North Carolina team finishes the regular season with a perfect record. Not when I look at that roster.

Here are some of the roadblocks that UNC might run into on their path to immortality in 2008-09. Since college basketball is so damn unpredictable, this may be a futile exercise (anyone remember a certain Maryland team going into Chapel Hill and stunning these Heels?), but I figure this roster is so talented, a stunning upset at the hands of, say, Boston College or Virginia Tech will likely be avoided.

11/15 vs. Pennsylvania

Don’t underestimate the Quakers. This team can play with anyone in the country.

(Kidding, of course. Just wanted to see if you were still paying attention.)

11/26 vs. Texas/Notre Dame (Maui Invitational)

This is the second stiffest non-conference test for the Heels. They’ll face either a Texas team led by A.J. Abrams, Damion James and Justin Mason or a Notre Dame team with the dynamic inside-outside duo of Harangody and McAlarney. Notre Dame could give them the toughest test if Harangody handles Hansbrough and cancels out North Carolina’s best player. Tory Jackson can also match the speed of Ty Lawson. On the other hand, UNC can put up 100 points on Notre Dame’s often lackluster defense. Both of these finals could be classics, but it’s hard to say either of these teams are great matchups against the Tar Heels, especially on a neutral court.

12/3 @ Michigan State (Detroit)

North Carolina and Michigan State, the respective favorites in each of their conferences, were pitted to face off in the ACC-Big Ten challenge this season. Michigan State will enjoy a home-court feel with the game in Detroit, although the spacious facility (to say the least) may prove any sort of Spartan advantage moot. This game matches the quickest guards in the country, Kalin Lucas and Ty Lawson. Also, with Ginyard injured, Raymar Morgan may have a breakout performance. Still, who is guarding Hansbrough? Freshman Delvon Roe? Goran Suton? I don’t think so. Michigan State will test UNC but falter in the end.

1/11 @ Wake Forest

If everything comes together quickly for the youthful Demon Deacons, they could challenge North Carolina. Wake would need to perform like they did against Duke at home last season. That means depending on their stout freshmen and sophomores for a near-perfect performance. I wouldn’t count on it all coming together against Carolina, even at home and even relatively early in the conference season when Roy Williams may not know the Wake freshman so well. This is a definite test, though.

2/11 @ Duke

As much as the Cameron Crazies would give their future first-born to defeat undefeated North Carolina in Durham and end their undefeated ride (or beat them with one or two losses, like it matters), I don’t feel Duke matches up well with North Carolina at all. Unless Paulus, Singler and Scheyer put on a show from behind the arc like they showed they’re capable of back in Chapel Hill last season, you’ll see this contest finish more similarly to the game in Cameron. Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek are way too soft to handle Hansbrough and Thompson, so they’d have to win in a shootout, which I don’t see happening.

2/15 @ Miami

Miami, usually reserved for the middle ranks of the ACC, are contenders for a second place finish this season. Led by one of the top players in the nation in Jack McClinton and freshman stud Dequan Jones, the Canes have a chance. The depth of the Heels is the difference and the ultimate reason why they’ll take care of Miami.

So, what do you readers think: Which game poses the biggest threat to North Carolina? If I had to choose one loss, I’d say the Spartans. But in the end, my inclination remains that UNC does not lose this season.

The NCAA Tournament? That’s a whole different story.

Posted in Features | Tagged: , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Top Ten Backcourts/Frontcourts

Posted by Zach on October 14, 2008

Much like Luke Winn and Jeff Borzello have done, here’s my take on the top backcourts and frontcourts in the nation:

Top Ten Frontcourts

1. Louisville- Terrence Williams, Earl Clark, Samardo Samuels, Terrence Jennings
2. North Carolina- Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green, Deon Thompson, Marcus Ginyard, Ed Davis
3. Pittsburgh- DeJuan Blair, Sam Young, Gilbert Brown, Tyrell Biggs
4. Connecticut- Jeff Adrien, Hasheem Thabeet, Stanley Robinson*, Gavin Edwards
5. Michigan State- Goran Suton, Delvon Roe, Raymar Morgan, Marquise Gray, Idong Ibok
6. Texas- Gary Johnson, Connor Atchley, Damion James, Dexter Pittman
7. Duke- Gerald Henderson, Kyle Singler, Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek, Miles Plumlee
8. Wake Forest- James Johnson, Al-Farouq Aminu, Ty Walker, Tony Woods
9. Arizona- Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, Jamelle Horne, Bud Withey
10. Oklahoma- Blake Griffin, Taylor Griffin, Ryan Wright

The call for Louisville over North Carolina was a difficult one. Tyler Hansbrough nearly single-handedly bumps Carolina to #1. I love the overall depth of the Cardinals frontcourt, led by freshman sensation Samardo Samuels, triple-double threat Terrence Williams, and the most complete player of the group- Earl Clark. Connecticut would get a big boost if Stanley Robinson is deemed eligible for the second semester. Pittsburgh has the most dependable player of the entire list- Sam Young. I also can see Texas making a giant leap throughout the year as Damion James emerges as one of the top players in the Big 12. The consensus preseason top Big 12 player, Blake Griffin, bumps Oklahoma to #10 by himself.

Top Ten Backcourts

1. North Carolina- Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Bobby Frasor, Larry Drew
2. Connecticut- A.J. Price, Jerome Dyson, Kemba Walker, Craig Austrie
3. Gonzaga- Jeremy Pargo, Matt Bouldin, Stephen Gray
4. UCLA- Darren Collison, Jrue Holiday, Malcolm Lee, Jerime Anderson
5. Marquette- Jerel McNeal, Dominic James, Wesley Matthews, Maurice Acker, David Cubillan
6. USC- DeMar DeRozan, Dwight Lewis, Daniel Hackett
7. Memphis- Antonio Anderson, Tyreke Evans, Willie Kemp, Roburt Sallie, Doneal Mack
8. Baylor- Curtis Jerrells, LaceDarius Dunn, Henry Dugat
9. Notre Dame- Kyle McAlarney, Tory Jackson, Jonathan Peoples
10. Duke- Nolan Smith, Greg Paulus, Jon Scheyer, Elliot Williams

It wasn’t easy deciding between those bottom three and teams like Texas, Syracuse and Georgetown. What was easy is North Carolina at #1 and Connecticut at #2. These are my top two preseason teams overall for a simple reason- they both possess top five backcourts and frontcourts this season. I love Gonzaga’s backcourt led by the explosive Jeremy Pargo and Stephen Gray, who I feel could make a huge impact from behind the arc in his sophomore season. Marquette has the most cohesion of any group as the main three have been making plays together for three full seasons. DeRozan has the most potential of any single player and Baylor could be overlooked, but Dunn and Jerrells are true playmakers.

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

Ginyard Out Eight Weeks

Posted by Zach on October 8, 2008

North Carolina senior Marcus Ginyard, a standout defensive player who also chipped in with 6.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season, will miss eight weeks of action starting today. This means coach Roy Williams will be without Ginyard’s services for the entire Maui Invitational, where they could meet Notre Dame in the final, and the clash with Michigan State at Ford Field. Ginyard emerged as a steady presence in Williams’ starting lineup last season as a shutdown defender. Danny Green will step in until December when Ginyard returns.

Will North Carolina even miss a beat with this injury? Probably not. Green is the best sixth man in the country and is incredibly gifted offensively. The improvement of Wayne Ellington defensively will loom large. If he can contribute more effectively on both ends of the floor, Tar Heel fans won’t even notice Ginyard is missing. Still, this is good news for Raymar Morgan.

Ginyard will have surgery Wednesday to repair a stress fracture in his left foot. They’re hoping to have him return for their December 13 home game with Oral Roberts and at 100% for conference season, where UNC looks to outlast Duke, Wake Forest and Miami for the ACC title.

“You hate this for Marcus because he has worked so hard to get ready for his senior season,” coach Roy Williams said in a statement released by the school. “But he decided it was better to have the surgery now and be ready sometime in December than risk a more substantial injury that would knock him out of action later in the season.”

They’re still clearly the number one team in the nation heading into the season.

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ESPN Hits The Jackpot With Hoops Marathon

Posted by Zach on September 24, 2008

No longer will the opening of the college basketball season be hidden in the shadows of competing sporting events, a slew of meaningless games that the general public barely realize are even occuring. Nope, not this year. ESPN has decided to install a radical idea on Tuesday, November 18 to show 14 games in 24 hours starting after Monday Night Football on ESPN heading straight to Memphis for their tilt against Massachusetts. Sure, some games will take place before 11/18, but this is certainly a welcomed event, even if it is on a Tuesday rather than a prefered Saturday or Sunday.

Here’s the schedule:

• Midnight: UMass at Memphis (ESPN)
• 2 a.m.: Fresno St. at St. Mary’s (ESPN)
• 4 a.m.: Idaho St. at Hawaii (ESPN)
• 6 a.m.: College Hoops Tip-Off Special (ESPN)
• 10 a.m.: Penn at Drexel (ESPN)
• Noon: Liberty at UNC-Asheville (ESPN)
• 2 p.m.: Iowa at Kansas (women) (ESPN)
• 4 p.m.: Centenary at Baylor (ESPN)
• 6 p.m.: Richmond at Syracuse (ESPN)
• 7 p.m.: NIT Regional Final-Purdue (ESPNU)- Most likely Purdue vs. Georgia
• 7:30 p.m.: NIT Regional Final-Boston College (ESPN2)- Most likely BC vs. Saint John’s
• 8 p.m.: College GameDay-Chapel Hill (ESPN)
• 9 p.m.: Kentucky at North Carolina (ESPN)
• 9 p.m.: Florida Gulf Coast at Kansas (ESPNU)
• 9:30 p.m.: NIT Regional Final-Oklahoma (ESPN2)- Most likely Oklahoma vs. Davidson
• 11:30 p.m.: NIT Regional Final-Arizona (ESPN2)- Most likely Arizona vs. UAB

Crazy, right?

Both the Saint Mary’s and Hawaii games will tip-off at 11 PM local time to cater to this extravaganza. There are more than a few intriguing games on the slate for this special day. The premiere event is UNC-Kentucky, but that will most likely be a blowout. While I like Kentucky to improve throughout the season as Patrick Patterson re-gains strength and their point guard situation resolves, North Carolina has way too much firepower, especially in Chapel Hill. College Gameday will be there for a rare November edition.

Also on the slate are four very respectable preseason NIT games, assuming all goes to plan (any Gardner Webb’s in the house?) Purdue shouldn’t have too much problem with Georgia, but it’s still a matchup between two BCS conference teams in mid-November. If BC and SJU can avoid upset stings to Loyola (MD) and Cornell, respectively, this game would showcase Tyrese Rice to a national audience for the first time this season. The two best are the late editions. Can the Oklahoma guards like Crocker, Warren and Johnson handle Curry? Who will guard Blake Griffin? Also, the finale could turn into a shootout between Chase Budinger and Robert Vaden. I’ll be staying up for those two.

Watch out for Richmond against Syracuse, at least for a scare. You know how the Orange get with non-conference, competitive mid-major teams in November. Richmond fits the bill. This will also be the first glimpse at how Eric Devendorf and Andy Rautins emerge from devestating injuries and if the flashy Johnny Flynn can continue to improve at point guard. The first game will also answer some questions: How will the Memphis additions (Evans being the most touted) flow with mainstays Dozier, Anderson and Taggart? How will Memphis handle the up-tempo play of UMass, an always dangerous team.

Don’t forget about the other Curry brother’s debut for Liberty and the first look at Saint Mary’s, a top mid-major in the nation this season.

This idea for a true tip-off marathon by ESPN is a tremendous one. While the ratings may not be sky-high due to the Tuesday slot, I’m hoping it continues down the road as a tradition.

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Summer ACC Report: Part 2

Posted by Patrick on August 7, 2008

Last week I previewed six of the twelve ACC teams. Now here is a look at the rest of the ACC and what they will have going for them this upcoming season:

North Carolina- Of course, they are everybody’s preseason #1 (I’d like to meet the man that picks against them). The Tar Heels return reigning Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough, a solid 20 PPG and 10 RPG player next season. They also return star point guard Ty Lawson, great shooters/scorers in Wayne Ellington and Danny Green, and gain two new freshman phenoms at the forward positions. There is certainly no question that UNC is the frontrunner in the ACC, but they will have some competition because no conference game comes easy (like we saw last year when they dropped a game to Maryland on their home court).

Duke- Whenever you mention North Carolina, you next have to mention the Duke Blue Devils. Led by senior point guard Greg Paulus and returning sophomore forward Kyle Singler, the Dukies are poised to make a run at a chance for the ACC title. Other key performers will be freshman Nolan Smith, junior John Scheyer, and center Brian Zoubek. Zoubek will be the X-Factor for Duke this season; if he can play well on the inside, it will be easier to kick it out to the shooters, (Singler, Paulus, and Scheyer) but if he plays like he did last season, Duke could have trouble making it out of the second round of the NCAA tournament for the third straight year. Duke will always play great defense, which could lead to a potential upset at Cameron over the Tar Heels.

Clemson- This team’s future seems up in the air even though they’ve had a great start to the last two seasons. In 2006 they did not make the NCAA tournament, and last season they lost in the first round to a team that most people felt should have been left out of the field. Losing James Mays and Cliff Hammonds will certainly hurt the Tigers, but they do return key players like K.C. Rivers, Trevor Booker, and shooting specialist Terrence Oglesby. Recruit Catalin Baciu (7-1 center) may be able to pick up some of the rebounding slack left by Mays, but he is only a freshman and a pretty low rated recruit at that. I expect Clemson to make the tournament this year, probably as an eight or nine seed, but I don’t see them making too much noise in the ACC other than a probable top five finish.

Virginia Tech- According to Hokies coach Seth Greenberg, everyone on the NCAA selection committee was clinically insane for not putting Va Tech in the field of 65. Virginia Tech brings back three of its top four scorers in A.D. Vassallo, Jeff Allen, and Malcolm Delaney.  This is the year for this team to make the NCAA tournament. Not only do they have the talent to make the field, but they also have the motivation after last year’s “snub”. I like Virginia Tech to end up somewhere in the top six of the ACC which will probably be good enough to make the tournament as a ten seed.

Virginia- We’ll see how Virginia deals with the loss of Sean Singletary and if they can get back to where they were in the 2006-07 season. Mamadi Diane will be the leading scorer for this team in 2008, and behind him will be Calvin Baker and Laurynas Mikalauskas. It should be a tough year for fans in Charlottesville as the chances of making a post-season tournament are pretty slim even if its the CBI. Even though Dave Leitao was 2007 ACC Coach of the Year his job may be in jeopardy this season.

Boston College- Get ready to watch the Tyrese Rice show all season long as he will be wheeling and dealing his way to another first-team All ACC finish and contend for ACC player of the year. Rakim Sanders will be a great compliment to Rice, as well as Cory Raji. Probably the worst news of the offseason was Shamari Spears transferring to Charlotte. He was a key man in the paint for Boston College and his departure took this team from a Top 20 contender to a team that will have to fight its way into the NCAA tournament. Rice will get his points, but the keys for this team to win are defense and rebounding (we all saw them blow a huge halftime lead against North Carolina on their home court last season). I think they will make the tournament but it won’t be easy and they will have to do some work in the ACC tournament to get off the bubble in March.

Predicted ACC Finish:

1. North Carolina

2. Duke

3. Miami

4. Wake Forest

5. Clemson

6. Virginia Tech

7. Boston College

8. Maryland

9. Florida State

10. NC State

11. Georgia Tech

12. Virginia

Posted in ACC Report | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Look Ahead To The 2009 Class

Posted by Zach on July 2, 2008

Pat covered the best of the best in the Class of 2008 rankings. Today, I thought I’d tackle the early developments for the class of 2009 in this lull period in college basketball (late June after the draft to the end of the summer can often be brutal). There’s been some new signings in the last few days out of the Arizona front and, even though the top three prospects in the class have not committed this early, four of the top 15 have verballed to their school of choice.  While it’s quite early to tell, it appears the strength of the 2009 class hails from the South: Atlanta, Raleigh, Round Rock, Oklahoma City, Mobile, Roswell, etc.

Here’s a brief summation on how the 2009 recruiting rampage has played out thus far:

North Carolina is turning into an all-time recruiting machine– Roy Williams coaches at a storied program with a long history, passionate fans, and a winning tradition since he arrived on campus. So why shouldn’t he completely reload once his fabled class of 2005 and 06 departs? Williams has already been able to lure in four top 60 recruits and the 08-09 season hasn’t even begun yet. John Henson, ranked #4 overall and the top power forward, is an athletic Brandan Wright-type who Williams managed to scoop out of Texas. He received verbals from the Wear twins from California, because 6’9 225 at the power forward spot is always beneficial. He’s also been able to get the #12 and #26 ranked players in the nation, guards Dexter Strickland from New Jersey as their next big-time scorer, and Leslie McDonald from Memphis, respectively. Talk about spanning the country for top dogs.

Mike Davis making his mark
– When UAB hired Mike Davis as his job-after following the painful dismissal from Indiana, they knew they were getting a coach who could recruit. Davis showed his muscle by reeling in the number two center in the nation, DeMarcus Cousins, from Mobile, to play in Conference USA, rather than receive more attention at a school like Indiana, Kentucky or Memphis. Of course, if we’ve learned anything from Memphis, it’s that Conference USA schools can receive plenty of attention if they build a winning atmosphere under a respected coach. And contend for an undefeated mark annually.

Bill Self looking to build another national champion in three years
– The Jayhawks are in contention for the #2 and #6 players in the 2009 class. By having both commit, they’d be the first team since UNC with Lawson and Ellington to receive multiple top-6 players. Wingman Xavier Henry is the #1 SG in the class, a player with an extremely versatile game- a plus long range jumper and excellent slashing ability. His father also played at KU. They’re battling for Henry with Memphis and North Carolina. Also being recruited heavily by Self is Lance Stephenson, a 6’5 SF from Sebastian Telfair’s high school in Brooklyn. Kentucky is also making a stronger push for Stephenson, and I’m surprised Pitino isn’t involved.

New Big East recruiting power emerges– Villanova head coach Jay Wright has been absolutely tremendous recruiting two outstanding players in the 2009 class. Just recently, Wright received a commitment from talented forward Isaiah Armwood from Rockville, a creative and versatile post player from Maryland who has been playing with the Baltimore Stars. He also got his point guard of the future from Philly. Maalik Wayns can even be better than Scottie Reynolds as a pure PG with excellent court vision and passing ability.

Some stunners– It’s not just the Connecticut’s, North Carolina’s and Duke’s of the world getting all of the best players (well mostly). Akron has a commitment from the #7 center in the nation, Zeke Marshall. San Diego, an up-and-coming program, reeled in the #12 center in the nation, Vander Joaquim. Also, Oklahoma, Baylor, Illinois, Marquette, and especially Clemson, are putting together excellent classes.

Did Duke finally get its big man?– Duke’s main Achilles heel the last few empty years have been due to a lack of a strong, reliable inside presence (and don’t give me Josh McRoberts). 6’11, 210 center Mason Plumlee from Arden, NC has been able to exert himself offensively in the paint with much more frequency, coupling that with an advanced mid-range game. Or he could be another McRoberts.

Predictions: Derrick Favors goes to Georgia Tech, Xavier Henry heads to Kansas, John Wall goes to Kentucky, Renardo Sidney heads to Texas, Lance Stephenson to Memphis, Kenny Boynton to Florida, Abdul Gaddy plays for Arizona, and Daniel Orton goes to Ohio State to round out the top ten.

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The Top 10 Recruiting Classes For 2008

Posted by Patrick on June 30, 2008

“Rebuilding Year” is a phrase that Ben Howland never utters, and why would you need to when you coach the most storied program in college basketball? In this day and age, finding freshman to fill starting spots is a lot easier than it used to be. For 2008, UCLA got five tremendous recruits, which is why UCLA is number one on my list of the best recruiting classes for 2008.

Recruits:

(“Stars” are equal to Scout.com’s player rankings)

SG-Jrue Holiday (5 star recruit, No.1 SG)- This kid is a winner. He isn’t on the court to showboat his skills to eventually garner himself a higher pick in the draft. On top of that he can score at will, although he isn’t the greatest three point shooter. Holiday can get to the rim and post double digit points every night.

C-J’Mison Morgan (5 star recruit, No.3 C)-This guy kind of reminds me of Dan Gadzuric (another UCLA standout), neither were very athletic and can’t pass, but they can finish around the rim and they have great hands for catching the ball in the post. Morgan can be a top center in college basketball, but I don’t think he will be next season.

PF-Drew Gordon (4 star recruit, No.15 PF)- Gordon is at UCLA to rebound, and rebounding is what he will do.  This kid is all about the dirty work: blocking shots, getting offensive rebounds, and just all out hustling. If he can improve his scoring, he has the athleticism to be an All-Pac 10 selection.

SG-Malcolm Lee (4 star recruit, No.7 SG)- This guy reminds me of Austin Daye from Gonzaga, he has tremendous upside but he needs a little work on strength before he can take that next step to being a big time player. At 6’4” 165 pounds, it would be nice to see him gain some muscle. Other than that he has a pretty good stroke from behind the arc.

PG- Jerime Anderson (4 star recruit, No.3 PG)- Once again I am going to compare a UCLA recruit to a current Gonzaga player; Jeremy Pargo. Anderson has the natural ability to get to the bucket but his passing and perimeter shots aren’t great. I think a year to be the understudy behind Collison is what this kid needs and in the future he can be the guy you want with the ball late in the game.
Like UCLA, here is a team that lost a lot of players to the draft and graduation. Memphis had a lot of holes to fill and they did it nicely. John Calipari did his best job getting the late commitment from Tyreke Evans, who helped make this class number two on my list.

Recruits:

SG-Tyreke Evans (5 star recruit, No.2 SG)- Evans is all about using his athleticism to score, and when you watch him this year you may see comparisons to Kobe Bryant.  He can shoot it from three, and he can create for himself. There isn’t any reason Evans can’t be an All-American in his first NCAA season.

SF-Wesley Witherspoon (4 star recruit, No.13 SF)- Another late addition to the Memphis recruiting class, Witherspoon will probably be a bench guy his first season. He needs to bulk up before he can be a great forward but the basics are there. He has length and athleticism… its just about putting it all together.

PF-Matt Simpkins (4 star recruit, No.29 PF)- Simpkins is a great defender and has great athleticism, which is pretty much the bread and butter of Memphis basketball. He won’t score a ton, but he can still be an offensive presence if he is guarded by someone smaller than him.

PF- Angel Garcia (4 star recruit, No.19 PF)- In my opinion, Garcia is a very underrated recruit. He is a 6’10” guy that can shoot threes and he can spread the floor on you which will help this athletic Memphis roster. If he can consistently make three pointers he can win the Tigers some ballgames.

Dino Gaudio has done a great job getting this program back on track after the tragic death of then head coach Skip Prosser. The Demon Deacons should have a fun time with these outstanding freshman, and they might just lead this team to an NCAA tournament appearance.

Recruits:

SF-Al-Farouq Aminu (5 star recruit, No.4 SF)-This is another guy that has the ability to create shots for himself.  He will have no problem being the go-to-guy for Wake. We’ll also see how he does playing against his brother who plays for Georgia Tech.

C-Ty Walker (5 star recruit, No.4 C)- He is a tremendous defender and can block shots inside. If he improves on the offensive end, Wake will be a much scarier team next year. As for now, he should work on strength in order to have the ability to battle in the post with ACC big men.

C-Tony Woods (4 star recruit, No.10 C-This guy is an athletic rebounder. He is a great player to have in the game but, like Walker, he needs to improve his offense. If he does, these two guys could be a scary combo.

Kosta Koufos was a great center, but Ohio State more than replaced him with BJ Mullens. In my opinion Mullens is the best incoming freshman; he is an athletic, tall, and versatile player. Thad Matta did another great job preparing this team for an NCAA tournament run with this class. The word is Terrelle Pryor will not be playing basketball in college (source: http://www.terrellepryor.org)

Recruits:

C-BJ Mullens (5 star recruit, No.1 C)-I love this kid, and I believe that he can be the best player in college basketball next season. The key for him is rebounding on the offensive end. If he does that, you might be seeing games like this in the Big Ten.

SG-William Buford (5 star recruit, No.3 SG)-Buford provides a scoring guard that the Buckeyes lacked last season.  He can penetrate to the basket which will open up shots for Mullens. Buford may be the key to the Buckeyes success this season.

PG-Anthony Carter (3 star recruit, No.21 PG)-Plays a good point guard position but isn’t a huge factor on the offensive end. His job will be getting Mullens and Buford the ball when he gets off the bench.

SG-Walter Offutt (3 star recruit, No.29 SG)- Tore his ACL last season for the second time. He may be done with basketball, but that remains to be seen.

It must be fun having Roy Williams’ job: getting some of the best recruits while having the best team in the nation heading into next season. This group might not get the playing time that they would at other schools, but they could have a national championship at the end of the season. Nonetheless, they are outstanding players and that’s why UNC is number five on my list.

Recruits:

PF-Ed Davis (5 star recruit, No.3 PF)-Davis is lengthy and he can rebound. As for now, he isn’t a great scorer in the low block but he has time to develop. Playing for UNC, he won’t have to contribute as much right away.

PF-Tyler Zeller (5 star recruit, No.7 PF)- Zeller is a scorer (he averaged 32.1 PPG in high school) and if he can improve his strength, he can put up double digits consistently as early as his sophomore season. He is also a good guy to have running the floor; don’t think this guy will ever pass up the opportunity for a bucket.

PG- Larry Drew (4 star recruit, No.4 PG)- He doesn’t have a great perimeter shot, but like the other freshman he’ll have time to develop it. In the future he can be a good point guard for the Tar Heels.

SG- Justin Watts (3 star recruit)- He is an athletic combo guard, he’ll eat up minutes late in his career but don’t expect much next season.

Rick Pitino gets yet another stellar recruiting class for 2008. Samardo Samuels is an amazing player and should score with more ease than most freshmen in the Big East. With this class, Louisville should easily fill the hole left by two big men: Derrick Caracter and David Padgett.

Recruits:

PF-Samardo Samuels (5 star recruit, No.1 PF)- Samuels will dominate almost anybody inside. He is a big time scorer and will prove it next season for the Cardinals.

PF-Terrence Jenniings (4 star recruit)- He will be a defensive presence; the Cardinals will want him to block shots and not try to do too much offensively. He is a 20 year old playing as a freshman, was originally an ’06 recruit.

SF-Jared Swopshire (4 star recruit, No.18 SF)- Looks a lot like Ronald Ramon, and plays a lot like him too. He has a good three point shot, but he isn’t the most athletic guy on the floor. He can be a go-to-shooter in the future.

SG-Kyle Kuric (3 star recruit, No.28 SG)- Won’t see much time if any next season, and he may be one of those guys who transfers in the future. However, he can shoot the three so if he improves athleticism he may be a good player.

Georgetown will have a tough time replacing last year’s team even with a great recruiting class. In the event that these guys can stick around another season, the Hoyas should be back in contention for a national championship. John Thompson III did a great job recruiting these players.

Recruits:

PF-Greg Monroe (5 star recruit, No.2 PF)- Great athlete and a great scorer, he will have a huge offensive load to carry for Georgetown next year and it will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure.

C-Henry Sims (4 star recruit, No.7 C)- Not a great scorer/rebounder, but he will be in there for defense. He can block almost anyone’s shot but won’t be a threat on the offensive end.

SG-Jason Clark (4 star recruit, No.12 SG)- He is a mid range shooter that plays good defense and isn’t too quick. He needs to develop his perimeter game if he wants to really help this Georgetown team because I don’t see a lot of players on that team that can make threes.

PF-Chris Braswell (4 star recruit, No.18 PF)- Quick guy that can score inside but doesn’t play too great defensively. He needs to be a little more consistent with his scoring but can be a great player in the future because he has good size.

UConn will have a great team next season regardless of recruits. However, getting top players never hurts. Jim Calhoun was smart to go out and get a point guard, especially one as good as Kemba Walker. The rest of the recruits may have to wait their turn to get into the limelight, but it will be worth the wait and all should be great players.

Recruits:

PG-Kemba Walker (5 star recruit, No.2 PG)-Not a good three point shooter but he is a tremendous athlete and plays a great point guard. He gives it his all on the court and plays great defense. He can really help this UConn team reach the Final Four.

PF-Ater Majok (4 star recruit, No.10 PF)- He is a quick forward but he isn’t a great scorer down low. He might see a lot of time next season but he won’t get too much of an offensive load to carry as his main objective will be playing good defense.

SG-Nate Miles (4 star recruit)- Needs to improve his strength but he can be a very good three point shooter for the Huskies in the future.

SG-Scottie Haralson (3 star recruit, No.38 SG)- Has good strength, but will probably be riding the bench next season. If he does see time, don’t expect a lot of scoring.

Bill Self set himself up for another possible national championship run in the future with this class. He got himself a set of twins (seemed to help Stanford) and three other great basketball players. In the future these guys could contend with past year’s teams for one of the best teams in Kansas history.

Recruits:

PF-Markieff Morris (4 star recruit)- Has great size and can score the basketball. He won’t be tremendous next season but he should be a great player in the future if he can continue to play good defense.

PF-Marcus Morris (4 star recruit)-Has grown a couple of inches and now has surpassed his brother in height. Like him, he can score the ball and will need to keep improving defense to be a great player.

SG-Tyshawn Taylor (4 star recruit, No.20 SG)- Originally committed to Marquette but backed out when Crean left for Indiana. He can push the tempo and score in transition and is a pretty good pickup for this Kansas team.

SG-Travis Releford (4 star recruit, No.10 SG)- This kid can be a big time scorer for the Jayhawks if he can improve his mid-range game. He can score a lot of points as early as next season.

PF-Quintrell Thomas (4 star recruit, No.32 PF)- Great rebounder and a tough guy, but he needs to work on his offensive game in order to be a great player for Kansas in the future.

SG-Tyrone Appleton (3 star recruit, JUCO)- Won’t see a lot of time, but will be used for defense.

SF-Mario Little (3 star recruit, JUCO)- Also won’t see a lot of time, can score sometimes but mainly used for defensive situations.

+ Not only is the Big East the best conference this year, but it looks like its setting itself up to be the best conference in years to come. Bob Huggins got a key late signing in Devin Ebanks, and if he can keep Ebanks around campus for a couple seasons then the Mountaineers could be contending for a final four in short time.

Recruits:

SF-Devin Ebanks (5 star recruit, No.3 SF)- Has a good shot, but not from three point range. He is an athletic combo forward that can score a ton of points for WVU. If he sticks around longer than his freshman year he will put up tremendous numbers.

PF-Kevin Jones (4 star recruit, No.11 PF)- Should improve his perimeter shot before he becomes a great player for Huggins, but as for now, he is a good athlete and a great passer. He is small so he’ll probably play more of a small forward in college.

PF-Roscoe Davis (4 star recruit, No.34 PF)- He is a big player that needs to work on scoring, but he plays pretty good defense and can be a good interior defender. If he improves his offense he can be a great weapon for the Mountaineers.

PG-Darryl Brant (3 star recruit, No.26 PG)- He won’t see a lot of time this year, but in the future could be a good player. He needs to work on his point guard skills before he sees a lot of the court, maybe a year to learn the position will help this kid.

Also Considered: USC, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan State, Minnesota, Alabama, Tennessee

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