Marcus Smart, Steven Pledger, Romero Osby Way-Too-Early Preseason All-American team

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  • Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State: Smart was the nation’s best freshman in 2012-2013, and made the decision to return to school for his sophomore year despite being a projected top five pick. He’s big, he’s strong and he’s got all the intangibles that make sportswriters spew the typical cliches: he’s a winner, he’s smart, he’s a leader. A 6-foot-4, physical point guard, Smart is a consistent jumper away from being the total package.
  • Russ Smith, Louisville: Smith is the prototype for back court players in Rick Pitino’s uptempo system. He’s a terror on the defensive end of the floor and is as aggressive as anyone in the country when getting out in transition. He made the jump from sideshow to superstar as a junior because of improved shot selection, and don’t be surprised to see his game continue to mature as a senior.
  • Andrew Wiggins, TBD: Simply put, Wiggins is arguably the best prospect that we’ve seen come through the high school ranks since LeBron James. He’s a skilled, 6-foot-7 wing that can score in any number of ways and is athletic enough to get his head to the rim. It doesn’t matter if he plays for Kentucky, Florida State or Grambling, he’ll likely end up being the Preseason National Player of the Year.
  • Doug McDermott, Creighton: McDermott is a two-time first-team all-american, and he’s heading into a senior season where he’ll be asked to carry the Bluejays into a new conference. With a couple of key pieces from last year’s team graduating, McDermott — who has a chance to score his 3,000th point next season — will need to carry an even bigger load next season.
  • Adreian Payne, Michigan State: The Spartans are going to be a national title contender next season, and Payne is going to be the difference-maker. As the only significant front court presence for the Spartans, there is going to be a lot of pressure on Payne’s shoulders to produce. He’s one of the most talented front court players in the country, but he’s battled with bouts of inconsistency. But with his size, athleticism and three-point shooting ability, if Payne puts it all together, he should have a huge year.


  • Shabazz Napier, UConn
  • Aaron Craft, Ohio State
  • Gary Harris, Michigan State
  • Jabari Parker, Duke
  • Mitch McGary, Michigan


  • Jahii Carson, Arizona State
  • Semaj Christon, Xavier
  • P.J. Hairston, North Carolina
  • Julius Randle, Kentucky
  • C.J. Fair, Syracuse


Jordan Adams (UCLA), Kyle Anderson (UCLA), Isaiah Austin (Baylor), Chane Behanan (Louisville), Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky), Spencer Dinwiddie (Colorado), Aaron Gordon (Arizona), Montrezl Harrell (Louisville), Joe Harris (Virginia), Aaron Harrison (Kentucky), Andrew Harrison (Kentucky), Cory Jefferson (Baylor), James Michael McAdoo (North Carolina), Jordan McRae (Tennessee), Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga), Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke), Patric Young (Florida)

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
Associated Press
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While a few teams did manage to hold special events for the official start of practice this weekend, most simply went about their business with drills and conditioning. One team that was the exception to all of this was Louisville, which held the first of its two intersquad scrimmages on Saturday. The Cardinals had a head start of sorts on the season, as they played six exhibition games in Puerto Rico this summer.

One hope heading into Saturday’s scrimmage was that guards Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider would have better chemistry than they did in Puerto Rico. But according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that remains a work in progress for the Cleveland State transfer (Lewis) and rising sophomore (Snider).

They struggled in Puerto Rico, and they struggled again in Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, the first public intrasquad practice since August. They played one half of the game together, paired with the presumed starting lineup with Mangok Mathiang out with an eye injury, a group that also included Damion Lee, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.

That team lost the first half by 13 points to a younger group of Louisville players, and Lewis and Snider combined for eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, five turnovers, five steals, four assists and three rebounds.

“I thought (Snider) and (Lewis) did not play well together,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “They’ve got to get used to that. Neither guy made other guys better. That’s what they need to learn to do.”

As Greer also noted in his story the Cardinals have in recent years employed backcourt tandems in which both guards are capable of making plays for themselves and others. On the 2013 national champion team Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way, with Smith being joined by Terry Rozier or Chris Jones the following season and Rozier/Jones being the grouping last season before the latter was dismissed from the team.

Once Jones was dismissed Snider saw more time on the court, and his development was one of the keys for a Louisville team that fell one win short of the Final Four. Louisville needs him to take another step forward heading into the 2015-16 season, because even with Lewis’ experience at the Division I level Snider has more experience playing in Pitino’s system.

But while Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t go as well as anyone involved hoped, there’s still plenty of time for Louisville to work out the kinks before they open the season November 13 against Samford.

Knee injury sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
Associated Press
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.