Next up for Kentucky? Re-loading.
The Wildcats should be among the teams to beat in 2012-13 despite the probability of losing all five starters and senior sixth man Darius Miller. Center Anthony Davis, the national player of the year, is a lock to be the No. 1 overall selection. Wing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and forward Terrence Jones are lottery picks. Point guard Marquis Teague boosted his draft stock with a superb title game, while shooting guard Doron Lamb merely led all scorers in the 67-59 win against Kansas.
Not that any of them were willing to commit to the NBA after the win. Bask in the victory first, then decide.
“I’m going to wait, sit down with my coach, sit down with my family, see what the best decision is for me,” Davis said.
There’s little doubt he’s going. Same goes for the others. Kentucky coach John Calipari’s always maintained he’s proudest when his players get selected in the NBA draft. When five guys were taken in the 2010 draft, he declared it the biggest moment in school history.
They might get six this season. But even Calipari was coy about when any of the players might decide. The NCAA’s deadline to withdraw a player’s name from the NBA draft is April 11. That’s much earlier than the NBA’s deadline.
“We’re not going to worry about the (NCAA) date. Our guys will tell me when they want to tell me … whenever the date is to make a decision by the NBA standards,” Calipari said. “That’s the only one we’re going to the think about. So if they want to wait to make a decision by the (29th) when they have to by the NBA, that’s when they’ll make it.
“We’re not even … I don’t even know the other date, nor do I care.”
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.
With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.
“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”
Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.
While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.
LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.
While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.
Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?
Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.
Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.