NCAA Basketball Tournament - Indiana  v Kentucky

If Indiana is preseason No. 1, what does that say about college hoops?

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Cody Zeller and Christian Watford are both returning to Indiana, which, when combined with the talent that Tom Crean has coming in with this year’s recruiting class, will have the Hoosiers as a consensus top three team nationally.

And if Kentucky doesn’t come out of tomorrow’s signing day with both Shabazz Muhammad and Nerlens Noel, there is a very good chance that Indiana will be the nation’s No. 1 team in October.

That’s great for college basketball, and for the state of Indiana. Our sport is that much more entertaining when the Hoosier State is relevant and contending for titles. The good folks of Bloomington rival those of Lexington, KY, when it comes to the passion — bordering on insanity — that they have for their team.

My question, however, is what this says about the state of college basketball next season.

Cody Zeller will be a National Player of the Year candidate next season and will have a legitimate chance of going No. 1 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, but who else on that roster looks like they will be an NBA player? Victor Oladipo and Christian Watford are both currently projected by Draft Express to be a late second round pick in 2013. So is Robert Covington of Tennessee State. The highest-rated recruit Crean is bringing in is Yogi Ferrell, who is a borderline top 25 player and may not even start for the Hoosiers next season.

Who did Indiana beat out for the top spot?

A Louisville team whose best NBA prospect is either Wayne Blackshear, who has a surgically reconstructed shoulder, or Gorgui Dieng, a defensive-minded center with an offensive repertoire that doesn’t go much farther than dunking a basketball? Or a Kentucky team whose future depends on the decisions made by Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammad on Wednesday night? Or an Ohio State team that loses Jared Sullinger and William Buford? Or … gulp … NC State?

Look, Indiana is going to be a very good basketball team. They are going to be even more entertaining to watch, if this year’s club was any indication. Every game played in Assembly Hall is going to be jam-packed and rocking and an incredible environment to see a basketball game.

2012-2013 is starting to resemble 2010-2011 in my mind. That year, there really was no dominant team. Ohio State was really good that year, as was Kansas and Pitt. But that year, the top three teams in the preseason — Duke, Michigan State and Kansas State — all fizzled throughout the year while a team that finished ninth in the Big East ended up winning the national title in a Final Four that included a No. 3 seed, a No. 4 seed, a No. 8 seed and a No. 11 seed.

In other words, next year’s college basketball landscape won’t have a dominant team. And while it will make for a year where no teams will be remembered in much of a historical context, it should make for quite the entertaining season.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Iowa State guard Naz Mitrou-Long gets hardship waiver to play additional year

Iowa State guard Nazareth Mitrou-Long defends Buffalo guard Jarryn Skeete during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Dec. 7, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 84-63. (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)
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Iowa State got a boost to its roster for next season as senior guard Naz Mitrou-Long has been granted a hardship waiver by the Big 12 conference.

“Everything happens for a reason and although it hurt to not be able to play for a group of guys I loved last year, my body needed time to recover and that time off allowed me to feel the best I’ve felt since my freshman year,” Mitrou-Long said in the release. “I’m glad I’ll be able to play for the best fans in the country and represent the name on the front of my jersey, Iowa State, one more year. Words can’t describe this feeling. Cyclone Nation, be ready for a special year.”

The 6-foot-4 Long played in eight games last season for Iowa State as he averaged 12 points per game. He missed the rest of the season to deal with pain in his surgically repaired hips. Mitrou-Long has been a very effective three-point shooter during his career at Iowa State and he should be a nice option to have for next season if he’s healthy.

CIAA will stay in North Carolina despite state’s LGBT law

Protesters rally against House Bill 2 in Raleigh, N.C.,  Monday, April 25, 2016. While demonstrations circled North Carolina's statehouse on Monday, for and against a Republican-backed law curtailing protections for LGBT people and limiting public bathroom access for transgender people, House Democrats filed a repeal bill that stands little chance of passing. (Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association says it won’t move its headquarters, its basketball tournament or other conference championships from North Carolina, despite the state’s controversial new LGBT law.

The CIAA said in a statement Thursday that it will instead partner with the NCAA to educate its members on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues as it does on other issues, like graduation rates and concussion management.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the CIAA, the oldest African-American sports conference in the U.S., has hosted its annual basketball tournament in Charlotte since 2006 and announced it was moving its headquarters to Charlotte from Virginia in 2015.

The CIAA said Thursday that it will continue to “monitor the issues,” as it has since House Bill 2 passed.

 

VIDEOS: Stephen Curry’s personally invites athletes to his select camp

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, left, holds the championship trophy and Andre Iguodala holds the series MVP trophy as they celebrate winning the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Cleveland, Wednesday, June 17, 2015. The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers 105-97 to win the best-of-seven game series 4-2. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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As he did last year, the NBA’s MVP is sending out personal invites to Under Armour’s SC30 Select Camp for some of the best high school and college point guards in the country.

It’s a pretty cool thing for the kids. Can you imagine how you would feel as a high school junior getting a personalized invitation to a camp from Stephen Curry himself?

 

VIDEO: John Calipari vows to lose some weight

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John Calipari has a goal this offseason: to lose some weight.

“Mid-50s, I let it go a little bit,” Calipari said as he worked out on an elliptical. “Had a heck of a year. But going forward, gotta get in better shape. Gotta get the body right. Started a week ago. What I will say to you is really simple. I’m not showing you my body for a month.”

The reason why Cal needs to get into shape?

He’s going to have to coach this year, because Tyler Ulis is heading to the NBA.

“I shoulda got some of his salary,” Ulis joked.

Cal won’t have to coach too hard. He’s got one of the best recruiting classes in the country coming into the program, including three top ten players and five of the nation’s top 30 prospects.

Four-star PG Jaylen Fisher de-commits from UNLV

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Coaching changes can wreak havoc on a program’s recruiting class, and that’s been the case for UNLV thanks to the tumultuous nature of their search for a new head coach. Thursday evening one prospect who remained committed to the Mountain West program throughout the process that ultimately led to Marvin Menzies landing the job announced that he’s decided to reopen his recruitment.

Four-star point guard Jaylen Fisher, ranked 55th in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com, announced via social media that he’s decided to de-commit from UNLV.

“I was very much looking forward to the opportunity to be a Rebel this year,” Fisher wrote. “But there have been a lot of changes with the program since I committed to UNLV; changes that have made me reconsider whether UNLV is still a good fit for me. So with that in mind and after much consideration with my family, I have decided it’s best that I reopen my recruitment.”

Fisher’s decision leaves wing Justin Jackson as the lone member of UNLV’s 2016 class at this point, with Jackson telling Scout.com in early April that he was undecided as to whether or not he’d reopen his recruitment. The school’s search for a coach began in January when they parted ways with Dave Rice, promoting Todd Simon in an interim role.

After deciding not to retain Simon, who’s now the head coach at Southern Utah, UNLV hired former Little Rock head coach Chris Beard…who left for Texas Tech less than two weeks later. UNLV landed Menzies, who they passed over for Beard, and he’s got a lot of work to do to field a roster that will be competitive in the Mountain West next season.

As for Fisher, the Arlington, Tennessee native should be a popular prospect with his decision to reopen things. And with Memphis losing former commit Charlie Moore, the Tigers are in need of help at the point. The question now is whether or not new head coach Tubby Smith will look to reach out to Fisher.

h/t Memphis Commercial-Appeal