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.

Point man: Can Nick Weiler-Babb’s move to PG put Iowa State back in the tourney?

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AMES, Ia. — It was clear Iowa State needed a change. The Cyclones stood 0-2 with an 18-point home loss to Milwaukee already on the resume. It was clear they were due for a reboot this season after losing four starters – including All-American point guard Monte Morris – but getting trounced at Hilton Coliseum by a team picked to finish eighth in the Horizon League constitutes an emergency.

The Cyclones didn’t panic, though. They adjusted. 

After that disastrous start to the season, coach Steve Prohm moved Nick Weiler-Babb from small forward to point guard while slotting the two players who had been manning the point –  sharpshooter Donovan Jackson and five-star freshman Lindell Wigginton – off the ball.

All Iowa State done since is win.

The Cyclones have rattled off seven-straight with Weiler-Babb flirting with triple-doubles, Jackson shooting 41.6 percent from deep and Wigginton looking like a future star.

“Good we moved him over there,” Prohm said.

It certainly has been good for the Cyclones. Iowa State was 9 of 34 (26.5 percent) from 3-point range, shot 38.8 percent overall and failed to reach 60 points in its opening two losses. In the seven games since, they’re converting at a 46.4 percent clip overall, 39.4 percent from distance and averaging 83.6 points per game. They’ve seemingly become a different team with Weiler-Babb at the helm.

“It’s taking a whole new role,” Weiler-Babb said. “Coach just told me whatever I have to do to win, I have to do it. That’s what I’ve tried to do. Take the ball out of the guys’ hands and give it to the scorers.”

The 6-foot-5 junior is averaging 7.9 assists along with 12.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. He’s become indispensable for the Cyclones a year after being a bit player on the Big 12 tournament championship team.

“He went through some tough times last year,” Prohm said. “But that’s what everybody’s got to understand. Freshmen, sophomore, you’ve got to put your time in a little bit to have success and earn success. He’s doing that.”

The immediate returns have been spectacular for Iowa State, but a question still lingers as they eye Big 12 play later this month.

Is it real?

Or, rather, will it be real against an unforgiving Big 12 schedule? Given Iowa State’s non-conference slate, whether it is or not will determine the postseason fate of a team sitting on a program-best six-straight NCAA tournament appearances.

As good as Weiler-Babb and the Cyclones have been during their seven-game winning streak, the competition can’t be ignored. Iowa State’s best win during this stretch is either Boise State, which only got 8 minutes from Chandler Hutchison after a head injury, or Iowa, which is 5-6 with losses to Louisiana Lafayette and South Dakota State. The wins haven’t all come easy for Iowa State, either. They narrowly defeated Appalachian State and Tulsa while initially struggling against Northern Illinois and Alcorn State before pulling away.

Things have been good for the Cyclones, but they haven’t been perfect.

Iowa State is a mediocre shooting team overall and could have serious spacing issues going forward given the roster forces Prohm to play two non-shooting bigs together for major minutes. Wigginton has been excellent, scoring 20-plus in three of the last four games, but his level of athleticism is something the likes of Western Illinois can’t counter. Texas, Kansas and West Virginia can. Big swaths of the roster, which features eight newcomers, haven’t faced Big 12 caliber competition ever in their careers. Weiler-Babb’s size and skill at the point guard position makes him a major problem for mid-majors, but can he keep up this pace when he faces length and physicality similar to his own?

Those questions, though, have to be welcomed by the Cyclones. If there were answers to them for a team with so much youth and so many unproven players in new positions in mid-December, it probably would register in the negative.

That they’re unknown means there is possibility, opportunity and promise. That exists in no small part because Prohm made Weiler-Babb a point guard.

“The challenge is, what do we really want to be?” Prohm said. “But he spearheads everything we do.”

Texas’ Jones out with a broken wrist

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Texas may be without its leading scorer heading into conference play.

Longhorns coach Shaka Smart announced Monday that sophomore Andrew Jones suffered a hairline fracture in his right wrist and will be sidelined for the foreseeable future.

“Fortunately it’s not one of those injuries where he should be out for an extended long period of time,” Smart said at his news conference Monday, “but he’s going to miss at least the next few games before Christmas. They decided not to put it in a cast, which is good news.”

Jones suffered the injury last week against VCU when he took a number of tumbles to the floor. He’s averaging 15.3 points while shooting 52.4 percent from the floor and 43.2 percent from 3-point range.

“It’s a tough injury for us because he’s our leading scorer and has done a phenomenal job for us this year,” Smart said. “We’re going to need everyone on our team, not just guards, but everyone on our team to step up and take a little more responsibility.

“Your margin for error is a little smaller.”

The Longhorns, who are 6-2 with losses to Duke and Gonzaga, face Michigan on Tuesday, Louisiana Tech on Saturday and Alabama next week. Jones is certainly out for those games, and his availability for Texas’ first Big 12 games – Dec. 29 vs. Kansas and Jan. 1 at Iowa State – would seem to be in question.

“We don’t have an exact timeframe,” Smart said. “It’s really good news they didn’t put it in a cast.

“We’re hopeful that we can get him back in three, four weeks, but that’s not a set timetable.”

 

Coaches Poll: Villanova climbs to the No. 1 spot

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The new top 25 coaches poll is out, and the No. 1 team in college basketball is now Villanova.

Michigan State, who received 10 of a possible 32 first-place votes, came in at No. 2 while Duke, last week’s No. 1 team, fell to No. 4 with a loss to Boston College.

After winning at Kansas this week, Arizona State vaulted up to the No. 6 spot, while the Jayhawks fell to No. 12.

Here is the full coaches poll.

1. Villanova (22 first-place votes)
2. Michigan State (10)
3. Wichita State
4. Duke
5. Kentucky
6. Arizona State
7. North Carolina
8. Miami
9. Xavier
10. Texas A&M
11. West Virginia
12. Kansas
13. Gonzaga
14. TCU
15. Seton Hall
16. Virginia
17. Purdue
18. Notre Dame
19. Florida State
20. Tennessee
21. Baylor
22. Florida
23. Arizona
24. Oklahoma
25. Creighton

Villanova hops over Michigan State for No. 1 in AP Top 25

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Villanova’s unbeaten start now includes a No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25 , while Arizona State is making a rapid rise into the top 10 under third-year coach Bobby Hurley.

After a tumultuous week in which unanimous No. 1 Duke and No. 2 Kansas lost, the Wildcats (10-0) earned 41 of 65 first-place votes to hop over Michigan State and reach the top for the third straight season.

Villanova and Michigan State were the favorites to take over at the top after the Blue Devils’ weekend loss at Boston College, though there was far less certainty for voters about who was now the nation’s top team. The Spartans (9-1) earned 19 first-place votes to climb from third to second, while the other five first-place votes went to the Sun Devils — who leapt 11 spots to No. 5 after Sunday’s win at Kansas.

Arizona State (9-0) is off to its best start since the 1974-75 season. Now the Sun Devils — who also have a win against Xavier this season — have their highest ranking since reaching third during the 1980-81 season.

Wichita State climbed three spots to No. 3, followed by Duke and Arizona State. Unbeaten Miami climbed four spots to No. 6, followed by North Carolina, Kentucky, Texas A&M and Xavier to round out the top 10.

Villanova helped itself with an impressive win against No. 12 Gonzaga last week in New York, though the Wildcats had to fight to the final minute Sunday to close out a La Salle team that entered at 5-5.

“It’s always an honor to be ranked No. 1,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said in a statement. “It’s great for the Nova Nation and we appreciate the respect of the writers. We know it’s early, though, and we need to get a lot better.”

KANSAS’ FALL

The Jayhawks (7-2) slid 11 spots to No. 13 after two losses last week, the first coming against Washington in Kansas City, Missouri, before losing to the Sun Devils in Allen Fieldhouse.

SHUFFLE UP

Only two teams — No. 8 Kentucky and No. 12 Gonzaga — stayed in the same spot. Thirteen teams rose in the poll, while four of the seven teams that fell slid at least eight spots.

TOP RISERS

Arizona State’s leap was the biggest, though No. 11 West Virginia (9-1) moved up seven spots after beating then-No. 15 Virginia. No. 14 TCU (10-0) climbed six spots after a win against a then-ranked Nevada team.

Miami, UNC, No. 15 Seton Hall, No. 17 Purdue and No. 20 Tennessee all climbed four spots.

LONGEST SLIDES

While Kansas’ losses stood out, No. 22 Florida had the biggest fall of the week.

The Gators (6-3) slid 17 spots after home losses to Florida State and to Loyola Chicago — a game in which they led for all of 93 seconds. Florida salvaged a win against Cincinnati in the Never Forget Tribute Classic in Newark, New Jersey, to avoid a four-game skid.

No. 18 Notre Dame (8-2) fell nine spots after an upset loss to Ball State, while the No. 25 Bearcats (7-2) slid eight spots.

NEWCOMERS

There were three newcomers to this week’s poll, though one is more of a welcome back.

The list included No. 19 Florida State (9-0) and No. 24 Texas Tech (7-1), while Arizona returned to the rankings at No. 23.

Arizona’s 0-3 showing at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas made the Wildcats the first team in three decades to go from No. 2 in the AP Top 25 to unranked in a week. But four straight wins have the preseason Final Four favorite back in the poll.

SLIDING OUT

Minnesota (No. 14 last week), Nevada (No. 22) and Southern California (No. 25) all fell out of the poll.

1. Villanova (41 first-place votes)
2. Michigan State (19)
3. Wichita State
4. Duke
5. Arizona State (5)
6. Miami
7. North Carolina
8. Kentucky
9. Texas A&M
10. Xavier
11. West Virginia
12. Gonzaga
13. Kansas
14. TCU
15. Seton Hall
16. Virginia
17. Purdue
18. Notre Dame
19. Florida State
20. Tennessee
21. Baylor
22. Florida
23. Arizona
24. Texas Tech
25. Cincinnati

Expelled Yale captain has enrolled at Belmont University

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Former Yale basketball captain Jack Montague, who was expelled from the Ivy League school in 2016 for sexual misconduct, has enrolled at Belmont University in Tennessee.

Montague, who is still suing to be readmitted to Yale, complained in a court deposition last spring that he was unable to apply to other schools. He said Yale would not release his transcript until he paid a disputed tuition bill.

Karen Schwartzman, a spokeswoman for Montague, says Yale later released the transcript, allowing Montague to enroll at Belmont this fall. She says not all of his credits transferred and he will need two semesters to graduate.

He exhausted his basketball eligibility at Yale.

Montague denies the sexual misconduct allegations. No criminal charges were ever sought.

Yale’s attorneys have said the school and its officials acted appropriately.

The lawsuit, which also seeks monetary damages, is expected to go to trial next year.