As signing period ends, possible sleepers ink

Leave a comment

While there is no doubt that most recruiting junkies have their eyes on the blue chip prospects that haven’t made their intentions known, many D1 colleges have been active in filling out their roster over the last week or so. An eclectic group of junior college players, international prospects and sleepers are inking across the landing, and could emerge next season. A sampling of such additions includes:

·  ·         Whatever time frame that fans gave Danny Hurley to get the ship righted at Rhode Island could be too much. He’s already scored important prospects via transfer and the recruiting trail in rebuilding the Rams program. In addition to productive Rutgers big man, Rhode Island added another player that was on Hurley’s team at St. Benedict’s Prep (N.J.) in junior college guard Xavier Munford. While junior college player rankings are not as readily available as high school ratings, Munford is considered at least a top-50 player in the two-year ranks.

·  ·         Vanderbilt snagged bouncy wing Sheldon Jeter away from his home state of Pennsylvania. He has the kind of athleticism and fluidity that made him sought-after by many high-major schools, and has the potential to develop over time. He’s a name that could come back to haunt the schools that missed on him.

·  ·         While there seems to be the case for an impeding implosion at UConn with mass roster exodus as coach Jim Calhoun ages, rim-devouring big man Phillip Nolan could be a huge late pick-up for the Huskies if he’s able to get initial eligibility. There aren’t a lot of interior options for the Huskies on a depleted roster, and a fast and athletic interior player like Nolan is likely to be used early and often next year.

·  ·         Assistant coach Chris Harriman is noted as an international recruiter, and Nebraska’s addition of Sergej Vucetic is one that Husker fans should file in the back of their minds. While not the prospect that Gonzaga’s recent addition Przemek Karnowski is, Vucetic could be a nice one down the line at Nebraska.

·  ·         In the case of point guard Michael Orris heading to Kansas State, what was expected to be an eventuality came true. Orris inked to play for Bruce Weber at Illinois, but will instead head with Weber to Kansas State. With good size and skill, Orris was definitely worth keeping in the fold for Weber.

·  ·         The focus for many schools is adding a player to complete 2012 recruiting efforts, but Missouri and Missouri State both added players for 2013 last week. The former is 6-7 forward Zach Coleman, who is somewhat of an unknown player, though he runs with a noted grassroots team in the Dallas Mustangs. Missouri State was able to secure a commitment from in-state shooting guard Austin Ruder, an absolutely superb outside shooter who has been filling up nets for the Kansas City-based Spiece Mokan team.

Photo credit: University of Rhode Island

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.