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.

Wichita State getting more national respect with non-conference scheduling

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Wichita State is starting to gain more national respect with regards to its non-conference schedule.

Since moving to the American Athletic Conference this spring, the Shockers have not only gained the benefit of being in a multi-bid league every year, but they’re also getting better teams to play them outside of conference play.

According to a report from Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle, the Shockers now have non-conference games scheduled with Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State this season. With Wichita State also playing in the Maui Invitational, it gives the Shockers plenty of opportunities to schedule quality opponents and improve its NCAA tournament seeding. And that’s before Wichita State starts conference play.

Although Wichita State was getting invited regularly to prestigious non-conference tournaments such as Maui or the Battle 4 Atlantis, they were having a tough time getting certain schools to book home-and-home series. The Baylor series signifies a small, but significant, change to how Wichita State might be able to do things now.

USC forward Bennie Boatwright returning for junior year

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USC has a chance to be really good next season as forward Bennie Boatwright announced that he’s returning for his junior season.

The 6-foot-10 forward put up 15.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 36 percent from three-point range as his return means that the Trojans should be a major contender in the Pac-12 next season. Elijah Stewart also announced this week that he is returning as USC could start Jordan McLaughlin, De’Anthony Melton, Stewart, Boatwright and Chimezie Metu next season.

With Duke transfer Derryck Thornton Jr. also becoming eligible and McDonald’s All-American guard Charles O’Bannon Jr. entering the program, the Trojans are a potential top-10 team.

Following decommitment, four-star recruit makes eye-opening remarks about Ohio State

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Ohio State lost a four-star recruit on Wednesday when in-state Class of 2018 wing Darius Bazley opted to open up his recruitment.

As a rising senior who is just finishing his junior season of high school, Bazley’s decommitment isn’t going to immediately hurt the Buckeyes next season. But the 6-foot-7 wing’s comments about why he opted to open up his recruitment are pretty jarring.

In a story with Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch, Bazley opened up about why he decommitted from Ohio State. Bazley’s eye-opening remarks include how the Buckeyes might not get him ideal NBA exposure and how Ohio State might miss the NCAA tournament in his freshman year.

“I was excited when I first got the offer,” Bazley said to Jardy. “Ohio State is still a great place. It’s nothing against the school or anything, but my one ultimate goal is to get to the NBA and I just didn’t feel as confident as I did when I first committed that Ohio State was one of those schools that could get me there. At the end of the day I’ve got to perform no matter where I go, but I think there’s other schools out there that could put me on a bigger stage and in a better position to show those NBA scouts when I get to college what I can do.”

Bazley also didn’t appear to be pleased at the recruiting class coming into Ohio State for the Class of 2017, which is the class that is coming in this season. Remember, Bazley is a Class of 2018 recruit who still has to finish his senior season.

“Ohio State, they didn’t make the NCAA Tournament this year,” Bazley said to Jardy. “They didn’t even make the NIT, which is unfortunate, but I looked into the recruits they have coming into next year, they didn’t look too good for the future. So I felt like when my class came in, yeah, we would’ve been OK, but good enough to make the tournament? I don’t know. I just felt as if I was to de-commit, actually take my time, figure everything out it would just be a lot better.”

Ohio State was once one of the major destinations for one-and-done players a decade ago so these remarks are very surprising. D’Angelo Russell was a top-five pick in the NBA Draft only two years ago, and while the Buckeyes might not be as successful in recent years as they once were, they still get plenty of national exposure with regards to producing NBA talent.

The NCAA tournament comments might carry some more weight though. The Buckeyes have missed the NCAA tournament in two consecutive seasons and things are also looking difficult for them to reach the Big Dance for next season. If Bazley wants to play in the NCAA tournament, then I could understand him wanting to open things up and explore more options.

Still, you don’t often see a player make comments like this about a school after decommitting–especially a program with as much national exposure as Ohio State. Bazley is likely going to face some heat for his remarks, but if those are his true feelings about a future life decision, then he should explore what else is out there.

Nevada gets transfer commitment from Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman

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Nevada continues to build its roster through transfers as the Wolf Pack added Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman on Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 Thurman will have to sit out one season before playing his senior season but he is coming off of a very good campaign for the Mavericks. The versatile forward put up 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the field.

One of the Summit League’s better players the last two seasons, Thurman should be a solid rotation forward for Nevada as he has a chance to be a breakout player with one more year of development. If Thurman can improve his 25 percent three-point shooting then he could be a major factor for Nevada.

D-League salaries, two-way contracts increase NBA Draft early entries

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Yesterday, I wrote a piece about how it’s dumb to criticize players for entering the NBA Draft without costing themselves their collegiate eligibility when the NCAA’s new NBA Draft rules are specifically designed for said players to be able to do that.

In that column, I mentioned that D-League salaries are on the rise and that the NBA’s new CBA instituted something called “two-way contracts,” and I wanted a chance to elaborate and clarify a couple of the points that I made.

Let’s start with the “two-way contracts,” which NBA teams each get two of. They are essentially a retainer that those teams can place on younger players they want to be the 16th and 17th men on their roster, holding their rights as they bounce between the D-League — where they will likely spend the majority of the year — and the NBA. The catch is that those players have to have less than three years service as a professional, and the point of it is to provide a financial incentive for younger players with the potential to reach the NBA to remain stateside while allowing those NBA teams to develop them.

That financial incentive is fairly large, as well: Two-way players will make $75,000 guaranteed and will be able to make up to $275,000, depending on the amount of time they spend with the NBA team.

That means there are an extra 60 jobs this season that can end up paying players with less than three years of professional basketball experience upwards of a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

That’s not a bad starting salary.

The other point that I wanted to address is the rising D-League salaries which, technically, will not be rising. There are still going to be Tier A and Tier B players, who make $26,000 and $20,000 respectively. But the NBA has something called affiliate players, which each of the now-25 NBA teams with a D-League affiliate can pay up to $50,000 for training camp. NBA teams are allowed a maximum of four affiliate players, who will still make their $26,000 salary from their D-League team.

In other words, that’s 100 more jobs available in the United States where a professional basketball player can make $76,000, and that’s before you consider that the five NBA teams that do not yet have a D-League affiliate will still have to play players to get them into training camp.

That $76,000 is not a life-changing amount of money. Neither is the $275,000 that a two-way contract can pay. But it’s a pretty damn good paycheck to make for an entry-level job into the industry that you always dreamed of being in.

Athletes have an unbelievably small window where they can capitalize monetarily on their gifts.

If a 21-year old sophomore decides that he wants to continue to develop his game and chase his NBA dream by making $76,000 as a D-League player, is that really all that crazy?

After all, 135 of the 450 players, or 30 percent of the roster spots, on NBA’s opening night were taken by guys that had spent time in the D-League.

There’s more than one way to make a dream come true.