Todd Mayo, Stanto Kidd

Former N.C. Central forward Stanton Kidd headed to Colorado State

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Colorado State head coach Larry Eustachy has landed another front court player, as 6-7 forward Stanton Kidd committed to the Mountain West school Saturday according to Matt L. Stephens of The Coloradoan.

Kidd arrives in Fort Collins by way of North Carolina Central, where he averaged 14.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per contest in his lone season at the MEAC school. Prior to NCCU, Kidd played two seasons at South Plains JC in Texas.

Kidd’s reason for the move to Colorado State: added exposure.

“I wanted to get more exposure so I can have a better shot playing with top competition,” Kidd said. “It’s not that the MEAC isn’t good competition, 15-9 in the MEAC is OK, but you won’t get recognized much by scouts. If you go 15-9 in the Mountain West, that’s a lot better. There are a lot of pro guys who have come from the Mountain West, plus the conference sends four or five teams to the NCAA tournament.”

The unfortunate aspect of this transfer for Colorado State is that, like former SIU forward Dantiel Daniels, Kidd will have to sit out the 2013-14 season per NCAA transfer rules. Kidd will have one year of eligibility remaining, and his signing means that Colorado State is out of scholarships to hand out for the 2013-14 campaign.

What does that mean? Players such as J.J. Avila, Daniel Bejarano and Gerson Santo will need to hold their own on the glass if Colorado State is to entertain thoughts of a third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.

Colorado State, which was knocked out of this year’s tournament by eventual national champion Louisville, has to replace center Colton Iverson and forwards Pierce Hornung and Greg Smith inside (not to mention guards Wes Eikmeier and Dorian Green). That trio combined to pull down an average of nearly 24 rebounds per game in 2012-13, and were a major reason why the Rams ranked second nationally in offensive rebound percentage and first in defensive rebounding percentage.

Without those three players, can the 2013-14 edition perform at a level high enough to keep the Rams in contention for another NCAA tournament berth? Of the returnees Bejarano was the most effective on the glass (5.3 rpg), as he posted individual rebounding percentages of 9.4 (offensive) and 19.7 (defensive).

Santo played just over seven minutes per game in 2012-13, and with the key departures it goes without saying that Colorado State will need the Brazilian to take full advantage of increased playing time. As for Avila he was an effective rebounder in his two seasons at Navy (6.0 rpg), and he has the talent needed to produce at a similar level for Colorado State.

Unless there’s another personnel change in the offing this is the trio coach Eustachy will have to rely on. And if each player shows himself capable of handling added responsibilities, Colorado State can continue its current run of success.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.

LSU loses to Charleston, eliminates at-large bid margin for error

Ben Simmons
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Ben Simmons scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, the second time in his six-game career that the LSU freshman has collected that many caroms, but that wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid dropping a game on the road to the College of Charleston, 70-58. It was the third straight loss for Simmons’ crew, as they fell to Marquette and N.C. State at the Legends Classic last week.

But here’s the thing: LSU didn’t just lose.

The game really wasn’t close.

LSU was down by as many as 23 points. It was 39-17 at the half, and that was after Charleston had a shot at the buzzer called off upon review. They made a bit of a run in the second half but never got closer than seven. When LSU would cut into the lead, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own, killing LSU’s spirit while keeping them at arm’s length.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons’ one college year a waste?]

Now, there are quite a few things here to discuss. For starters, LSU’s effort was, at best, apathetic, and, at worst, regular old pathetic. The team has a serious lack of leadership that was plainly evident on Monday night; would Fred VanVleet let his team fold against a program picked to finish at the bottom of the SoCon? Would Tyler Ulis? For that matter, would Tom Izzo or Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari?

Perhaps more importantly, does any of that change when Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor get back?

Simmons did show off his potential — 18 boards, four assists, he even made his first three of the year — but he also showed precisely why there are scouts that are trying to curtail the LeBron James comparisons. Simmons was 4-for-15 from the floor with seven turnovers against a mediocre mid-major team. There are so many things that Simmons does well, but scoring efficiently — particularly in half court setting — and shooting the ball consistently are not on that list.

But here’s the biggest issue: LSU may have put themselves in a situation where they aren’t a tournament team. As of today, they’re 3-3 on the season with losses to a pair of teams that, at best, seem destined to be in the bubble conversation on Selection Sunday in addition to this loss to Charleston. The rest of their non-conference schedule is ugly. The only game worth noting is at home against No. 6 Oklahoma at the end of January.

The NCAA factors in non-conference schedule strength when determining at-large teams. You need to at least try, and LSU didn’t try; they have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country.

The great thing about being in the SEC — as opposed to, say, the Missouri Valley — is that the Tigers will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins. Six, by my court: Kentucky twice, Texas A&M twice, Vanderbilt on the road and Oklahoma at home. They probably need to win at least two or three of those games to have a real chance, and that’s assuming they can avoid anymore horrid losses in the process.

The season isn’t over six games in, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But LSU has done a hell of a job eliminating their margin for error.