It’s a common narrative in March for schools and players to come out of “nowhere” and excel on the national stage. That does happen to a certain extent, particularly given the way players develop on different schedules, but certain players choose a spot where they can develop and find success.
The recent flurry of weekend commitments were primarily important for BCS schools, but in extending a lens out to a week or more, some easy to identify difference makers have made their pledge for college basketball outside of major media attention. Some commitments that seem to be future March stars include the following:
- Murray State is one of the programs du jour lately, and it landed their point guard of the future in Memphis-native Cameron Payne. After playing against some of the top high school basketball leagues in the country, Payne emerged as Murray State’s top target for the all-important lead guard slot. He’s a guy who could emerge after some seasoning as a standout.
- North Carolina combo forward Tyrone Outlaw garnered more than his share of high major scholarship offers, and was a back-up option for some recognizable programs. Still, he’s a bit undersized to play power forward and doesn’t quite equate to a wing player in college. Outlaw’s overall production cannot be argued, and he’ll star at UNC-Greensboro after committing as their top target. Young head coach Wes Miller has already amassed a few supporting pieces to go with Outlaw.
- Jack Whitman is a skilled competitor who does not have the ideal strength and frame on his 6-7 height to fill a role at power forward at the high-major level. After impressing against stronger and more athletic players in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League, don’t bet against Whitman doing the same in college for William & Mary.
- Anders Broman is among the best pure shooters in his region (Minnesota) and is taking his game to South Dakota State. Their opponents will be forced to guard him once he passes half court. Also, jet quick, attacking lead guard Jordan Wilson doesn’t have ideal height at 5-8, but it should be fine in the Big Sky, where the SoCal lead guard will be playing at Northern Colorado.
- Quinnipiac scored a gritty, undersized point guard in Kasim Chandler. He may take some time to physically adjust to college hoops, but the backcourt skills are there. Also in the Northeast, Boston dipped in Florida for shooting guard Cedric Hankerson, who looks to be a multi-year starter for them. Hankerson will have to adjust to the weather, but is an extremely important recruit for Boston.
Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.
Georgia State’s Ron Hunter appears to have recovered from the Achilles tendon tear he suffered last March celebrating the Panthers winning the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
On Thursday night, at the third annual GSU Jam, Hunter broke out the dance moves to the song “Hit The Quan” by iHeart Memphis.
Georgia State went on to defeat No. 3 seed Baylor in the Round of 64, thanks to a game-winning three from Hunter’s son, R.J. That shot made for one of the best moments of March Madness, as Ron Hunter fell of his rolling chair in disbelief.
R.J. Hunter is nowa a rookie with the Boston Celtics. Ron Hunter enters his fifth season with the Panthers.
Last month the NCAA announced that due to rules violations found in their investigation of the SMU men’s basketball program, the team would be banned from postseason play in 2015-16 and head coach Larry Brown would be suspended for the first nine games of the 2015-16 season. With a team led by seniors Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy and just one player (Keith Frazier) being the subject of the investigation, it was assumed that SMU would at the very least appeal the postseason ban.
Friday, the school announced that while it will appeal some of the penalties handed down by the NCAA to the men’s basketball and men’s golf programs they will not appeal the postseason ban or Brown’s suspension.
“After careful consideration, however, we will not appeal the NCAA post-season ban on men’s basketball or partial season suspension of Head Men’s Basketball Coach Larry Brown,” SMU president R. Gerald Turner stated in the release. “Although we regret the severe impact on our student-athletes, the simple fact is that the NCAA penalty structure mandates at minimum a one-year post-season ban for the level of misconduct that occurred, in our case, when a former staff member completed an online high school course for a prospective student-athlete, committing academic misconduct.
“In addition, should we appeal this matter, the lengthy process and uncertainty during this period could harm many aspects of the program. Coach Brown and his staff also agree that it is in the best interests of the program to accept these sanctions and move forward.”
Among the penalties the school will appeal (with regards to the basketball program) are the “duration of scholarship losses” and how long the recruiting restrictions placed on the program will last, and the vacating of games Frazier played in during the 2013-14 season.
This a tough turn of events for players who had nothing to do with the violations, as they see their opportunity to return to the NCAA tournament taken away. As a result of the school’s decision, SMU’s season will end March 9 following their regular season finale against Cincinnati.