Season Preview 2013-14: The other impact freshmen

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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.

FIVE MID-MAJOR NAMES TO KNOW

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

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.