In an interview with Mike Anthony of the Hartford Courant Vinales mentioned the Atlantic 10 as a possible destination (conference-wise), but also noted that he’s open to attend any school.
“Nothing [bad] happened at Central,” Vinales said Thursday, two days after he shocked coach Howie Dickenman by requesting a release from his scholarship. “Everything here was good. Coach D and the staff and the athletic department showed a lot of love for me. But the part that got me was the NCAA Tournament, watching that, how fun that would be to play in. I can play in that, with that talent level. I feel I’ve worked hard enough and I’m good enough.”
Vinales averaged 21.6 points per game as a sophomore but the scoring didn’t translate into success in the win column, as CCSU went 13-17 (9-9 NEC) and lost to Wagner in the quarterfinals of the Northeast Conference tournament.
Since making its last NCAA tournament appearance in 2007 the Blue Devils have posted a losing record in five of six seasons. In each of CCSU’s last two seasons their play defensively was a major issue, with the Blue Devils ranking 309th in adjusted defensive efficiency in 2012-13 (per kenpom.com).
The question now is what the Blue Devils will do to account for the departures of Vinales and forward Joe Efese, with guard Matt Hunter (15.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg) being the player who will likely have to lead the way in 2013-14.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.