Eric Mika

Season Preview 2013-14: The other impact freshmen

Eric Mika (left) and Rysheed Jordan (AP photos)

All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of our preview lists, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here..

Each season, a number of freshmen make an impact on college basketball. The term “one-and-done” is used as a term by basketball fans regularly now. This year’s freshmen group is no exception and while potential superstars like Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Jabari Parker sit at the top, those guys and other All-Americans are almost expected to make an immediate impact now. So this year, we made a list of 10 non-McDonald’s and Jordan Brand All-Americans that will make an impact in college basketball this season.

1. Derrick Walton, Jr., Michigan: The point guard is college-ready and will need to get up-to-speed quickly if Michigan is to match last year’s Championship Game run. It’ll be impossible to replace the departed Trey Burke, but Walton could fill-in admirably as the pieces around him continue to grow.

2. Eric Mika, BYU: The in-state prospect should make an instant impact in the post, where can score using multiple moves with good touch and also rebounds his area at 6-foot-9. With the loss of Branden Davis, Mika will need to be productive right away for BYU to compete in the WCC and for a NCAA bid.

(MORE: Click here to read see our Top 15 incoming freshmen)

3. Rysheed Jordan, St. John’s: The Big East’s preseason Rookie of the Year will get big minutes at guard and Steve Lavin needs him to make plays immediately. A backcourt of Rysheed Jordan and D’Angelo Harrison could be dangerous.

4. Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina: The two-guard is Frank Martin’s highest-rated recruit at South Carolina and the 6-foot-5 athlete should play early.

5. Austin Nichols, Memphis: Hometown forward is skilled enough to space the floor for their dangerous guards and can rebound his area a bit as well.

6. Wes Clark, Missouri: The Tigers need to replace the loss of Phil Pressey and have the Detroit-based Clark to do so. Clark has won a state title and the late-blooming true point guard could run the offense right away.

7. Ike Iroegbu, Washington State: With the loss of JuCo Danny Lawhorn before he ever played a game, the Cougars have Iroegbu as a true point guard and he could see plenty of early minutes.

8. Matt Thomas, Iowa State: The 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Wisconsin can fill it up from the perimeter and was probably the top outside shooter in the 2013 class.

9. Billy Garrett Jr., DePaul: The son of DePaul assistant Billy Garrett was an Illinois state and city championship point guard at Morgan Park and could play on-the-ball immediately.

10. Zach LaVine, UCLA: Combo guard can really play and could do damage behind Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams.


  • 1. Zena Edosomwan, Harvard
  • 2. Martez Harrison, UMKC
  • 3. Alec Peters, Valparaiso
  • 4. Jon Severe, Fordham
  • 5. Scoochie Smith, Dayton

VIDEO: Kris Dunn wills Providence to win over No. 11 Arizona

Kris Dunn, Elliott Pitts
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Kris Dunn spent the first 35 minutes of Friday night’s game against No. 11 Arizona in foul trouble, splitting his time between sitting on the bench and trying to avoid finding himself, again, on the wrong side the whistle.

With 11 minutes left in the game, and with Dunn yet to find a rhythm, the all-american point guard was whistled for his fourth foul as he battled for a rebound with Arizona’s Mark Tollefsen. Head coach Ed Cooley say his superstar beside his for six game minutes, time enough for Arizona to turn a 49-47 deficit into a 58-54 lead.

There were just over five minutes left when Dunn reentered the second semifinal of the Wooden Legacy, and he proceeded to show everyone in the country why he was named the Preseason Player of the Year. Providence had nine possessions after he reentered the game. Dunn scored 11 points and had a pair of assists on those eight possessions, and if Ben Bentil had stuck a wide-open three — that was setup by Dunn — the Friars would have scored on all nine.

In total, Dunn was responsible for all 15 Friar points in a game-changing, 15-7 run in the final 4:30. It was capped off by this Kobe-in-his-prime-esque game-winner:

The win for Providence is huge for a couple of reasons:

  • Dunn showed a killer instinct against a marquee opponent, something that we didn’t necessarily see out of him a season ago. He wasn’t going to let his team lose, and given that Providence doesn’t have anyone else that can consistently create good shots, they are going to need that from him a lot this year.
  • It makes a statement for the Friars. Arizona is overrated at No. 11 in the country, yes, but going out on national television against an elite program and getting this kind of performance from Dunn is a confidence-booster and a tone-setter. Providence hasn’t been accustomed to winning in recent years. This is a way to set a trend.
  • Ben Bentil continues to play like a star. Dunn had 19 points and eight assists on Friday, but Bentil followed up a 24-point performance in the win over Evansville with 21 critical points on Friday.

This win sets up a matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence on Sunday night, which means that Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn — the two best players in the country, sorry Ben Simmons — will be going head-to-head.

Oh. Hell. Yes.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.