Montgomery County Ballard Basketball

2014 point guard Quentin Snider commits to Illinois

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When he made the decision to de-commit from hometown school Louisville, 2014 point guard Quentin Snider became one of the most highly sought-after lead guards in the country. And on Thursday the Ballard High School product verbally committed to attend Illinois, picking the Fighting Illini over UCLA.

Snider becomes Illinois’ third verbal commitment in the 2014 class, joining forwards LeRon Black and Michael Finke, and he’s an important one given the Illini’s lack of depth at the point. Oregon State transfer Ahmad Starks has one season of eligibility (the upcoming 2013-14 campaign) and Tracy Abrams (3.5 apg last season) will be a senior in 2014-15. With that being the case Illinois head coach needed another point guard to go along with freshman Jaylon Tate for depth reasons, and Snider’s decision to attend the Big Ten school accomplishes that goal.

And Illinois certainly worked hard to land Snider, as evidenced in his post-commitment statement regarding his visit to UCLA.

Snider averaged 19.3 points and 4.5 assists per game last season, helping lead Ballard to a 32-5 record and an appearance in the Kentucky state title game. In a postseason interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal, Ballard head coach Chris Renner made note of both Snider’s talent and his leadership ability.

“The one thing we talked about before the season is how he would be judged on not only his individual play but how he would lead us as a team,” Ballard head coach Chris Renner said. “And we talked about a state championship. He took that serious, and we came up about 15 seconds short. He had not only an outstanding individual year but was a great leader for our team.”

In addition to Starks the Fighting Illini lose guard Joseph Bertrand and forward Jon Ekey at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season, and the recruiting class head coach John Groce has put together thus far will definitely help the program deal with those personnel losses in 2014.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.