First-year head coach Chris Collins has made quite a splash in his first few months on the job. Recruiting has picked up, with the Wildcats landing verbal commitments from guards Vic Law and Bryant McIntosh and forward Gavin Skelly. With the success on the recruiting trail, the most important question to be answered is whether or not Collins is the man capable of leading the Wildcats to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance.
Northwestern will be able to begin practicing with an eye towards that goal on September 27, but they’ll do so without the services of 6-8 forward Mike Turner. Turner is taking a leave of absence from the program, but will remain in school during this period.
“Mike will take some time away from the program to focus on aspects of his life other than basketball,” Northwestern head coach Chris Collins said in the release. “He has our complete support and we will revisit his status within the program once the time is appropriate.”
Turner played just under 16 minutes per game in 2012-13, posting averages of 1.9 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. One of his best performances came in a 69-59 loss at Ohio State on Valentine’s Day, as he accounted for four points, four rebounds and a game-high eight assists. Turner’s season high for points in a game was seven, with that outing coming in a loss at Purdue in late-February.
Losing Turner doesn’t sap Northwestern’s depth, especially when considering the fact that both Drew Crawford (injury; 13.5 ppg and 4.6 rpg in ten games last season) and JerShon Cobb (suspension; 7.1 ppg in 2011-12) are back in the fold. Crawford, who was a third team All-Big Ten selection as a junior, was sidelined after ten games due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Other players in the running for playing time on the wing include redshirt freshman Sanjay Lumpkin, sophomore Kale Abrahamson (4.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg) and freshman Nate Taphorn.
Missouri and new head coach Cuonzo Martin have landed the No. 1 player in the Class of 2017 a week after he took the job as forward Michael Porter Jr. committed to the Tigers on Friday.
Formerly a Washington commit under now-fired head coach Lorenzo Romar, the 6-foot-9 Porter was released from his Letter of Intent this week and many believed he’d end up back at Missouri.
The Porter family lived in Columbia for many years as two of Michael’s older sisters play for the Missouri women’s team while Michael Porter Sr. was an assistant coach for the women’s team.
When Porter Sr. was hired to Missouri to be an assistant coach on Martin’s staff this week — after losing his assistant coaching job at Washington when Romar was fired — it all but sealed the deal that the Porters would return to Missouri and Michael Jr. would play for the Tigers.
Missouri might not be an NCAA Tournament team next season after struggling to an 8-24 finish and 2-16 record in the SEC. But Porter might be the most productive freshman entering college basketball next season as he has a chance to be dominant in the SEC.
Oklahoma State has decided to promote assistant coach Mike Boynton to head coach, the school announced on Friday.
Boynton was an assistant with the Cowboys under former head coach Brad Underwood, who left Oklahoma State to take the Illinois job last weekend. Also an assistant coach at Stephen F. Austin, South Carolina, Wofford and Coastal Carolina, Boynton is a native of New York City who played his college ball for the Gamecocks.
The hire of Boynton is surprising since he doesn’t have any head-coaching experience as it follows in the footsteps of Cal promoting assistant coach Wyking Jones earlier in the day. Boynton also notably won the job over broadcaster and former Oklahoma State guard Doug Gottlieb as Gottlieb interviewed for the job but wasn’t selected.
Rhode Island junior guard E.C. Matthews will return to school for his redshirt senior season, the school announced on Friday.
The 6-foot-5 Matthews led the Rams in scoring at 14.9 points per game this past season as he returned from a torn ACL and helped Rhode Island reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999.
Besides for being a talented scorer, Matthews is a good overall playmaker for the Rams as he also put up 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.
With Matthews returning, it gives head coach Dan Hurley a huge weapon for next season as Rhode Island returns everyone besides the senior front court of Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson.
Cal will promote interim head coach and former assistant coach Wyking Jones to head coach, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The story was first reported by Jon Rothstein of FanRagSports.com
A native of Inglewood, California, Jones has been an assistant coach for the Golden Bears for the past two seasons as he replaces former head coach Cuonzo Martin, who departed to take the Missouri job. This promotion comes as a bit of a surprise for some since Jones has never been a head coach at the Division I level.
Jones has spent 15 years as an assistant coach at the Division I level at places like Cal, Louisville, New Mexico, Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount — where Jones spent his playing career.
Helping Louisville to the Final Four in 2013, Jones is a respected coach and recruiter who gets a great opportunity for his first head coaching job at the Division I level with Cal.
The Golden Bears made the NCAA tournament last year but finished 21-13 this season as they missed making the field of 68. Sophomore big man Ivan Rabb has already declared for the NBA Draft and it will be interesting to see what kind of roster Jones gets to work with right away.
One of the reasons Jones might have been retained is to help Cal keep its solid five-man recruiting class from bolting. While the Golden Bears don’t have any five-star talents coming in, it is a solid foundation for the program’s future led by a four-star guard in Jemarl Baker.
Florida State freshman forward Jonathan Isaac has declared for the 2017 NBA Draft.
The 6-foot-10 Isaac was a five-star prospect out of high school as he averaged 12.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. One of the most versatile defenders in the country, Isaac could protect the rim (1.5 blocks per game) and also switch out to the perimeter and cover smaller wings as well (1.2 steals per game). Also showing a solid skill level, Isaac shot 50 percent from the field, 34 percent from three-point range and 78 percent from the free-throw line.
That kind of versatility is what Isaac is banking on in the NBA Draft as he’s expected to be a top-15 pick. If Isaac can prove that he’s a reliable perimeter shooter then teams could be intrigued by him as a matchup nightmare in the front court.