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.
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN SECOND TEAM
Shabazz Napier, UConn
Aaron Craft, Ohio State
Gary Harris, Michigan State
Jabari Parker, Duke
Mitch McGary, Michigan
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN THIRD TEAM
Jahii Carson, Arizona State
Semaj Christon, Xavier
P.J. Hairston, North Carolina
Julius Randle, Kentucky
C.J. Fair, Syracuse
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN HONORABLE MENTION
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)
Iowa State guard Naz Mitrou-Long gets hardship waiver to play additional year
“Everything happens for a reason and although it hurt to not be able to play for a group of guys I loved last year, my body needed time to recover and that time off allowed me to feel the best I’ve felt since my freshman year,” Mitrou-Long said in the release. “I’m glad I’ll be able to play for the best fans in the country and represent the name on the front of my jersey, Iowa State, one more year. Words can’t describe this feeling. Cyclone Nation, be ready for a special year.”
The 6-foot-4 Long played in eight games last season for Iowa State as he averaged 12 points per game. He missed the rest of the season to deal with pain in his surgically repaired hips. Mitrou-Long has been a very effective three-point shooter during his career at Iowa State and he should be a nice option to have for next season if he’s healthy.
CIAA will stay in North Carolina despite state’s LGBT law
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association says it won’t move its headquarters, its basketball tournament or other conference championships from North Carolina, despite the state’s controversial new LGBT law.
The CIAA said in a statement Thursday that it will instead partner with the NCAA to educate its members on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues as it does on other issues, like graduation rates and concussion management.
The Charlotte Observer reports that the CIAA, the oldest African-American sports conference in the U.S., has hosted its annual basketball tournament in Charlotte since 2006 and announced it was moving its headquarters to Charlotte from Virginia in 2015.
The CIAA said Thursday that it will continue to “monitor the issues,” as it has since House Bill 2 passed.
VIDEOS: Stephen Curry’s personally invites athletes to his select camp
John Calipari has a goal this offseason: to lose some weight.
“Mid-50s, I let it go a little bit,” Calipari said as he worked out on an elliptical. “Had a heck of a year. But going forward, gotta get in better shape. Gotta get the body right. Started a week ago. What I will say to you is really simple. I’m not showing you my body for a month.”
The reason why Cal needs to get into shape?
He’s going to have to coach this year, because Tyler Ulis is heading to the NBA.
“I shoulda got some of his salary,” Ulis joked.
Cal won’t have to coach too hard. He’s got one of the best recruiting classes in the country coming into the program, including three top ten players and five of the nation’s top 30 prospects.
Coaching changes can wreak havoc on a program’s recruiting class, and that’s been the case for UNLV thanks to the tumultuous nature of their search for a new head coach. Thursday evening one prospect who remained committed to the Mountain West program throughout the process that ultimately led to Marvin Menzies landing the job announced that he’s decided to reopen his recruitment.
“I was very much looking forward to the opportunity to be a Rebel this year,” Fisher wrote. “But there have been a lot of changes with the program since I committed to UNLV; changes that have made me reconsider whether UNLV is still a good fit for me. So with that in mind and after much consideration with my family, I have decided it’s best that I reopen my recruitment.”
Fisher’s decision leaves wing Justin Jackson as the lone member of UNLV’s 2016 class at this point, with Jackson telling Scout.com in early April that he was undecided as to whether or not he’d reopen his recruitment. The school’s search for a coach began in January when they parted ways with Dave Rice, promoting Todd Simon in an interim role.
After deciding not to retain Simon, who’s now the head coach at Southern Utah, UNLV hired former Little Rock head coach Chris Beard…who left for Texas Tech less than two weeks later. UNLV landed Menzies, who they passed over for Beard, and he’s got a lot of work to do to field a roster that will be competitive in the Mountain West next season.
As for Fisher, the Arlington, Tennessee native should be a popular prospect with his decision to reopen things. And with Memphis losing former commit Charlie Moore, the Tigers are in need of help at the point. The question now is whether or not new head coach Tubby Smith will look to reach out to Fisher.