2012-13 College Basketball Preview: Mid-Major All-Americans

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Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of The Lists we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Yesterday Rob Dauster released his mid-major power rankings, so it only makes sense to take a stab at naming some mid-major All-Americans. Some choices are obvious, but there are a number of players that flew under the national radar last season who deserve mention on this list.

One important note: it was decided that the Atlantic 10, Conference USA, Mountain West and the BYU/Gonzaga/Saint Mary’s trio would not be labeled as “mid-major.” Below are the three mid-major All-America teams with a few honorable mention candidates to boot.

First Team 

G C.J. McCollum (Lehigh) 2011-12: 21.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.5 apg
McCollum was outstanding for the Mountain Hawks last season, and he became a household name (for casual fans, at least) with his 30-point performance in Lehigh’s NCAA tournament victory over Duke. McCollum’s scoring average increased just one tenth of a point from his sophomore campaign, but his field goal and three-point percentages were far better as he became a more efficient player.

G Isaiah Canaan (Murray State) 2011-12: 19.0 ppg, 3.6 apg, 3.5 rpg
Canaan was the OVC Player of the Year and made multiple All-America teams as a result of his play last season. The Biloxi, Mississippi native is a very good shooter from beyond the arc, as he made 45.6% of his attempts in 2011-12. While Ed Daniel returns the loss of three seniors from the Racers’ 31-2 squad could mean that Canaan has to do even more from a scoring standpoint, and he’s certainly capable of doing that.

G Nate Wolters (South Dakota State) 2011-12: 21.2 ppg, 5.9 apg, 5.1 rpg
Wolters’ play last season was a big reason why the Jackrabbits made their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance in 2011-12. The senior was outstanding in SDSU’s win at Washington in December, going off for 34 points, seven assists and five rebounds. One interesting fact about Wolters’ junior season: he wasn’t even Summit League Player of the Year (ORU’s Dominique Morrison won). That honor, and a second straight NCAA appearance, are well within Wolters’ reach in 2012-13.

F Doug McDermott (Creighton) 2011-12: 22.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg
McDermott won MVC Player of the Year honors last season, and his name will be mentioned quite a bit in regards to various National Player of the Year awards in 2012-13. The junior from Ames, Iowa shot 60.1% from the field and 48.6% from three last season, and while it may be tough to duplicate those numbers there’s no reason why McDermott can’t.

F Tony Mitchell (North Texas) 2011-12: 14.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 3.0 bpg
Mitchell became eligible at the end of the fall semester for the Mean Green and made an immediate impact, playing well enough to earn Sun Belt Freshman of the Year and First Team All-Sun Belt honors (first time in the history of the league someone’s accomplished that). Mitchell’s already being discussed as a possible lottery pick, and the combination of his strength and athleticism make him a very difficult match-up for opponents.

Second Team 
G Anthony Ireland (Loyola Marymount) 2011-12: 16.1 ppg, 4.9 apg, 3.9 rpg
Any discussion of the best point guards in the WCC (and the west coast) has to include Ireland, who was a big reason why the Lions went 8-1 in WCC road games last season.

G Frantz Massenat (Drexel) 2011-12: 13.7 ppg, 4.8 apg, 3.1 rpg
Massenat, whose numbers improved a great deal from his freshman to sophomore season, is the likely preseason CAA Player of the Year on a team expected by many to win the league title.

G. D.J. Cooper (Ohio) 2011-12: 14.7 ppg, 5.7 apg, 3.7 rpg
Cooper was the leader of a team that made its first Sweet 16 appearance, and even with the change in head coach (Jim Christian replaces John Groce) the Bobcats can duplicate that feat in 2012-13.

F Robert Covington (Tennessee State) 2011-12: 17.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg 
A first team All-OVC performer Covington went off for 30 points and eight rebounds in the Tigers’ 77-72 win over Murray State (January 11), handing the Racers their first loss of the season.

F/C Mike Muscala (Bucknell) 2011-12: 17.0 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.7 bpg
While it was McCollum who received the national praise in March, it was Muscala whose team won the Patriot League regular season crown. On the season Muscala shot 50.3% from the field and 85.3% from the foul line.

Third Team 
G Will Cherry (Montana) 2011-12: 15.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.3 apg, 2.3 spg
Cherry was Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year last season, and even with a knee injury sidelining him until December the senior will be one of the leaders for the reigning Big Sky champs.

G Shane Gibson (Sacred Heart) 2011-12: 22.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg
Gibson’s shooting percentages from last season: 51.0% from the field, 43.3% from three and 86.2% from the foul line despite being the focal point of the opposition’s scouting report. Is the 50/40/90 club possible for Gibson this season? It most certainly is.

F Ryan Broekhoff (Valparaiso) 2011-12: 14.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.3 apg
The reigning Horizon League Player of the Year, who led the conference in rebounding, returns in hopes of leading the Crusaders to the NCAA tournament. Broekhoff’s versatility allows head coach Bryce Drew to do a number of things with him, making for a tough assignment for the opposition.

F Julian Boyd (LIU Brooklyn) 2011-12: 17.4 ppg, 9.3 rpg
Boyd landed in some hot water during the offseason but luckily for he and the Blackbirds the end result is a two-game suspension. Boyd helped lead LIU to its second consecutive NEC title and was named league Player of the Year for his efforts.

F Jackie Carmichael (Illinois State) 2011-12: 13.9 ppg, 9.7 rpg
Carmichael’s a physically imposing figure and helped lead the Redbirds to the MVC tournament title game last season. Even with the loss of point guard Nic Moore and head coach Tim Jankovich, Illinois State is likely the biggest threat to Creighton and Carmichael is a big reason why.

Honorable mention: F De’Mon Brooks (Davidson), F Jake Cohen (Davidson), F Torrey Craig (USC Upstate), G James Ennis (Long Beach State), C Vander Joaquim (Hawaii), G Kerron Johnson (Belmont), G Lamont “Momo” Jones (Iona), G Ray McCallum Jr. (Detroit), G Preston Medlin (Utah State) and F Keith Rendleman (UNCW).

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Seven identified after threats made against referee John Higgins following Kentucky Elite Eight loss

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College basketball referee John Higgins received threats to his home and business in late March after some controversial calls in North Carolina’s win over Kentucky in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

Seven people have now been identified for making threats against Higgins, according to an Associated Press report. The FBI’s Omaha, Nebraska field office said that information on the seven people will be referred to authorities in their jurisdictions.

An investigation over the last few months helped find the culprits, as the Omaha-based Higgins received emails, phone calls and voicemails to his personal home and roofing company following Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament departure. Wildcat head coach John Calipari might have ignited some of the anger in Kentucky fans by criticizing the officiating following the North Carolina loss.

“Based on the investigation’s findings, our office has determined that no local charges will be filed and that pursuit of any criminal charges would be best served by deferring to authorities in the appropriate jurisdictions,” Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov said in a statement to The Associated Press. “The length of the investigation was drawn out due in part to the large volume of potential evidence requiring analysis, and the multi-jurisdictional issues arising from the multiple states in which the communications originated.”

Polikov also said that at least two media outlets were exposing and promoting Higgins’ contact information.

“This information has been referred to the Federal Communications Commission for further investigation of the potential violations related to applicable federal communications regulations,” Polikov said.

Higgins received about 3,000 phone calls at his office in the two days following the game. Sheriff’s investigator Matt Barrall told the AP that an estimated 75 percent of the calls were from Kentucky area codes.

The roofing business that Higgins owns was also flooded with bad online reviews and negative star ratings, causing his Google rating to fall while also forcing Higgins to take down the Facebook page for his business.

Beilein still upbeat after Michigan loses another to NBA

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — For a major program, Michigan is a somewhat unlikely candidate for this kind of NBA-induced attrition.

The Wolverines have fielded some very good teams under John Beilein, but they haven’t been relying on prospects expected to jump to the pros as soon as they can.

“We’re not depending all our success on one-and-dones,” Beilein said. “Given that, our numbers right now are extraordinary.”

Beilein was referring to the number of players Michigan has sent to the NBA, particularly as early entrees. The Wolverines lost D.J. Wilson to the draft this offseason with two years of eligibility remaining, and now they’ll go through the familiar process of trying to replace a key player who turned pro.

The most significant early exodus occurred in 2013 and 2014, when Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary all went pro before their eligibility was up. Michigan won a lot of games with those players, reaching the Final Four and Elite Eight those two years, but their development made them attractive to NBA teams and shortened their college careers.

Wilson’s rise followed a similar pattern. He averaged only 2.7 points per game in 2015-16, and then increased to 11.0 this past season and became Michigan’s leading rebounder. His efforts helped Michigan win the Big Ten Tournament and reach the Sweet 16, and now he’s off to the NBA draft. The entire sequence of events would have seemed highly improbable a year ago.

The Wolverines won’t receive much sympathy from their Big Ten opponents, especially since Michigan will still have big man Moe Wagner, who tested the NBA waters but ultimately decided to stay in school. The 6-foot-11 Wagner averaged 12.1 points last season and shot 39.5 percent from 3-point range, showing huge improvement in much the same way Wilson did.

After losing senior point guard Derrick Walton, it will be interesting to see how Michigan’s offense operates if Wagner becomes even more of a focal point. When Beilein was at West Virginia, the Mountaineers achieved success behind center Kevin Pittsnogle, whose skill set and 3-point shooting ability was at least somewhat similar to Wagner’s.

“We’re not going to put him in that category yet,” Beilein said. “Let’s just say, having a big man who can shoot the ball like that changes a lot of things.”

Michigan was also able to add a new point guard recently in Jaaron Simmons, a graduate transfer from Ohio. Simmons is eligible immediately in 2017-18 and will move up from the Mid-American Conference to the Big Ten.

“A lot of the mid-majors are having this happen to them, and I don’t like it at all, but the fact is if Jaaron doesn’t come here, he ends up probably somewhere else in the Big Ten,” Beilein said. “He’s just fundamentally so sound. He’ll be here this summer. Just as a person, I just wanted to coach the kid after spending an hour with him — just the leadership, the desire to win.”

Simmons could help the Wolverines withstand the loss of Walton, and Beilein indicated he could serve as a bit of a mentor to players like point guard Xavier Simpson, who is entering his sophomore season.

“We went all-in with (Simmons), knowing we had that scholarship,” Beilein said. “We felt that was a huge need for us, is to just have a little bit more experience in the backcourt next year.”

Follow Noah Trister on Twitter @noahtrister

LaVar Ball having ‘zero’ interaction with UCLA team bodes well for next season

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With the NBA Draft looming in less than a month, the biggest talking point has been just how much of an impact LaVar Ball is going to have on his son, Lonzo’s, NBA career.

It’s a question worth asking given the, ahem, outspoken nature of the eldest Ball.

But in the collegiate ranks, that’s a question that’s been asked about UCLA regarding next season. While Lonzo and LaMelo, who is finishing up his sophomore season in high school, are the stars that get the majority of the attention, there is another Ball brother that will be enrolling at UCLA next season: LiAngelo.

LaVar has already said that he expect Gelo to be a one-and-done player, which may not jibe with how good Gelo actually is. He’s not Lonzo and he’s not LaMelo. He’s not a dynamic athlete or a lead guard. He’s a 6-foot-5, 200 pound shooter with limitless range but limited upside. There’s a reason Rivals ranks him as a three-star prospect.

What’s going to happen when UCLA, a top 15 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25, doesn’t give Gelo Lonzo-esque minutes or shots next season? How will LaVar handle it if his second son is coming off the bench for the Bruins?

Steve Alford doesn’t seem concerned about it, telling a reporter from the LA Times that LaVar was “never at practice, never called me” and was around the team “zero.”

“I think all parents probably should know that moving on to the collegiate level anyway,” Alford said. “It’s not high school, it’s not AAU. Your son’s on scholarship; your son’s at UCLA getting an incredible opportunity academically and athletically.

“Playing time, shots, that kind of stuff — we don’t entertain some of those phone calls anyway. I never had any issues at all with LaVar.”

It will be interesting to see if that continues next season.

The Bruins have a chance to be pretty good. Maybe not quite as good as last season, maybe not a Pac-12 title favorite or even the best team in LA — USC is loaded — but I wouldn’t be shocked to see them end up as a top four seed in the NCAA tournament with Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh returning and Jaylen Hands headlining the recruiting class.

Will LaVar be able to handle UCLA’s success if it comes at the expense of his son’s?

NCAA: Former USF assistant provided extra benefits, lied to NCAA investigators

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The NCAA has alleged that former South Florida assistant coach Oliver Antigua provided roughly $500 in impermissible benefits and initially lied to NCAA investigators about it, according to the Tampa Bay Times, who obtained the NCAA’s summary disposition report.

Oliver Antigua is the younger brother of Orlando Antigua, who was the head coach at USF until he was fired in January. Now an assistant on Brad Underwood’s staff at Oklahoma State, Orlando was not alleged to have committed an NCAA violation in the report.

Oliver is alleged to have provided the extra benefits to two student-athletes while they were being tutored by the sister-in-law of Gerald Gillion, a special assistant to Orlando who resigned last fall, four months after Oliver did. USF has already self-imposed a $5,000 and reduced their scholarships from 13 to 12, according to the report.

“The University of South Florida and the NCAA continue to work together to resolve the inquiry into violations of NCAA bylaws and university standards by a USF intercollegiate athletic program,” according to a statement released by the school. “USF anticipates having a final resolution with the NCAA sometime this fall. Until the process concludes and the matter is fully resolved, USF cannot provide further comment.”

Villanova lands four-star 2018 guard

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Villanova added its first recruit in the Class of 2018 on Wednesday night.

Jay Wright and his staff landed a verbal commitment from Paul VI Catholic High School’s Brandon Slater, a four-star guard by Rivals as the No. 42 overall prospect in the rising senior class.

The 6-foot-5 Slater announced his decision via Twitter.

Slater, according to Jeff Borzello of ESPN, picked the Wildcats over Maryland, Miami, South Carolina, and Virginia.

He is currently playing the Nike EYBL with Team Takeover, the same grassroots program that produced current Villanova guard Phil Booth.