Marcus Smart

NBCSports.com 2013-2014 College Basketball Preseason All-American Team

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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.

NBCSPORTS.COM PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, So.

Smart shocked the college hoops world when he announced back in the spring that he would be returning to school for his sophomore season. It was great news for the Pokes, however, as they now have a chance to win the Big 12. Hopefully, Smart spent the offseason making his jumpshot more consistent, because that’s the only thing that he does not excel at on a basketball court. He’s tied with Aaron Craft atop the intangibles leaderboard.

FIRST TEAM

Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, Fr.: There’s an argument to be made that Wiggins will enter the season with more hype surrounding him than any freshman in the history of college basketball. How about this for expectations: if he averages 18 points and 8 boards, it will be seen as a disappointing season. Yeesh. Wiggins is an absurdly athletic, 6-foot-8 wing with the physical tools to one day be some combination of Scottie Pippen and Tracy McGrady. But is he ready to reach that level right now?

source: Getty Images
Getty Images

Russ Smith, Louisville, Sr.: Smith may not be much of an NBA prospect, but he’s the perfect player for Rick Pitino. A ballhawk defensively, Smith proved himself capable of being an efficient scorer last season, even winning KenPom.com’s Efficiency Player of the Year award a season ago. It will be interesting to see if the 5-foot-11 Smith plays more point this season in an effort to audition to NBA teams.

Julius Randle, Kentucky, Fr.: Randle is a beast. Plain and simple. The 6-foot-9 lefty is going to score a lot of points and grab a lot of rebounds simply because he’s bigger, stronger, more athletic and more aggressive than so many of his collegiate counterparts. It doesn’t matter that he’s only a freshman. Ironically enough, the only thing that could really end up holding Randle back is the fact that John Calipari is going to experiment with playing him on the perimeter.

Doug McDermott, Creighton, Sr.: Ho-hum, just a third straight season where Doug McDermott will end up being an All-American, which is incredible considering the kid went to Creighton over Northern Iowa and even his own father didn’t think he was good enough to get a scholarship when he was at Iowa State. McDermott is the best scorer in the country, and he’ll have a chance to prove it as the Bluejays make their way into the Big East this season.

SECOND TEAM

Jahii Carson, Arizona State, So.: The most electric talent this side of Andre Wiggins is must-see TV whenever he steps onto the court.

Gary Harris, Michigan State, So.: We’re going to get a chance to see just how good Harris can be now that his shoulder is healthy.

Jabari Parker, Duke, Fr.: Parker is arguably the most skilled player in the country and will be the star of the ACC favorite Blue Devils.

C.J. Fair, Syracuse, Sr.: Fair has spent three years as one of the most underrated and consistent players in the Big East. Let’s see if that translates to the ACC.

Mitch McGary, Michigan, So.: He’s massive, he plays hard, he attacks the glass and he’s got a lot more skill to his game than he’s had a chance to show thus far.

THIRD TEAM

source: Getty Images
Getty Images

Aaron Craft, Ohio State, Sr.: Craft is the best on-ball defender in the country. He’s also a leader and a winner, two skills you cannot teach. Can he score more this season?

Shabazz Napier, UConn, Sr.: Like Fair, Napier has had a terrific career at UConn that’s been somewhat overshadowed thanks to Kemba Walker and UConn’s APR.

Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado, Jr.: The 6-foot-6 point guard is going to have a chance to show what he can do to a national audience in the resurgent Pac-12.

Adreian Payne, Michigan State, Sr.: Consistency is the key for Payne, who is a lottery pick if he can ever figure out how to bring it on a nightly basis.

Aaron Gordon, Arizona, Fr.: The nation’s best dunker will be a star if he accepts that he’s a prototype stretch four at the college level.

HONORABLE MENTION

  • Isaiah Austin, Baylor, So.
  • Markel Brown, Oklahoma State, Sr.
  • Semaj Christon, Xavier, So.
  • Cleanthony Early, Wichita State, Sr.
  • Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, So.
  • Tyler Haws, BYU, Jr.
  • Rodney Hood, Duke, So.
  • Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga, Jr.
  • Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, So.
  • James Young, Kentucky, Fr.

Villanova’s Jenkins to return for senior season

Villanova forward Kris Jenkins (2) reacts to play against North Carolina during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game Monday, April 4, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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After briefly taking part in the NBA Draft evaluation process, Villanova forward Kris Jenkins announced Monday night that he’s decided to withdraw and return to school for his senior year. Jenkins, whose three-pointer as time expired gave the Wildcats the win over North Carolina in the national title game, announced the news via Twitter.

2015-16 was a breakout season for Jenkins, who moved into the starting lineup and averaged 13.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. The 6-foot-6 forward shot 45.9 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from beyond the arc, and with starters Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu graduating he’ll have even more opportunities to produce next season.

Jenkins’ decision to return leaves wing Josh Hart as the lone Wildcats going through the early entry process at this time. Hart was a first team All-Big East selection as a junior, and his return would be the final piece to the puzzle for a team that many expect to be a national title contender in 2016-17.

Jenkins and Hart wouldn’t be the only returnees who had a part in the national title run, with guards Jalen Brunson and Phil Booth, wing Mikal Bridges and forward Darryl Reynolds back as well. To that group Villanova adds Fordham transfer Eric Paschall and a recruiting class anchored by Omari Spellman and Dylan Painter with Donte DiVincenzo and Tim Delaney available after being hampered by injuries last season.

Delaney missed all of last year after undergoing surgical procedures on his hips, and DiVincenzo played a total of 74 minutes over the first nine games before having to sit due to a broken foot.

Florida State guard Rathan-Mayes to return for junior season

Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes (22) drives past Notre Dame guard Rex Pflueger, left, for a score in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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With their top three scorers from last season all deciding to declare for the NBA Draft, Florida State was facing the possibility of having to rebuild their backcourt ahead of the 2016-17 season. However two of those three have decided to return to Tallahassee, with rising junior Xavier Rathan-Mayes announcing on Monday that he will be back in school.

Rathan-Mayes joins rising sophomore Dwayne Bacon in returning to play another season for head coach Leonard Hamilton, with Malik Beasley hiring representation and remaining in the draft.

Rathan-Mayes had more scoring help last season and as a result was able to concentrate more on the distribution aspects of the point guard position, as he averaged 11.8 points and 4.4 assists per contest. With the return of Rathan-Mayes and Bacon, Florida State will have two of its top three scorers from last season back on campus.

The Seminoles did lose some veteran players, most notably guard Devon Bookert and center Boris Bojanovsky, but the returnees and a recruiting class led by McDonald’s All-American forward Jonathan Isaac means that they won’t lack for options next season.

Auburn lands third transfer within the last week

Auburn guard T.J. Dunans (4) and coach Bruce Pearl celebrate a 75-74 win over UAB in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala.  (Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP)
Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP
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After receiving commitments from former Purdue/Houston guard Ronnie Johnson and former Presbyterian forward DeSean Murray, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl continued to load up on the transfer market Monday. Forward LaRon Smith, who was named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year at Bethune-Cookman last season, announced that he will use his final season of eligibility at the SEC program.

Like Smith, Johnson will also be eligible to compete immediately for the Tigers while Murray will have to sit out next season before having two years of eligibility remaining.

The 6-foot-8 Smith played two seasons at Georgia State before transferring to Bethune-Cookman, where he averaged 7.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per contest in 2015-16. Smith played just over 25 minutes per game for the Wildcats, shooting 58.5 percent from the field.

Smith reached double figures in scoring in four of the Wildcats’ final seven games, including a 20-point, 11-rebound, three-block outing in an overtime win over North Carolina A&T. He joins a front court in need of depth following the departures of the likes of Cinmeon Bowers and Tyler Harris, with Horace Spencer, Trayvon Reed and incoming freshman Anfernee McLemore also competing for minutes in 2016-17.

SMU lands former Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt

Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt (24) leaps for a layup past Tennessee guard Shembari Phillips (25) during an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Arkansas won 75-65. (Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)
Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP
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With a five-member recruiting class set to arrive on campus this summer, SMU added a talented transfer Monday afternoon. Jimmy Whitt, who played his freshman season at Arkansas, committed to join Larry Brown’s program. Whitt, a 6-foot-4 guard from Columbia, Missouri, will have three seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2016-17 campaign.

As a freshman at Arkansas, Whitt averaged 6.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in just over 17 minutes of action per game. He reached double figures in scoring nine time, with the high being a 15-point outing in a blowout win over Missouri in mid-January. Whitt produced a stretch of four consecutive games in double figures during non-conference play, but he struggled to maintain that consistency against SEC competition.

At SMU he’ll join a perimeter rotation that will lose rising senior Sterling Brown following the 2016-17 season. Among those who will have eligibility remaining when Whitt becomes eligible are Ben Emelogu, Shake Milton, Jarrey Foster and incoming freshmen Tom Wilson and Dashawn McDowell.

 

Boise State assistant named head coach at Northern Colorado

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Courtesy UNCBears.com
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GREELEY, Colo. (AP) Jeff Linder is the new basketball coach at Northern Colorado. He spent the last six seasons at Boise State, where he was associate head coach for the Broncos since 2013-14.

Linder replaces B.J. Hill, who was fired last month amid an NCAA investigation into allegations of violations in the program.

University President Kay Norton and Athletic Director Darren Dunn announced Linder’s hiring Sunday.

Linder played high school ball in Lafayette, Colorado, and college ball at Mesa State and Western Colorado State. He began his coaching career under Colorado head coach Ricardo Patton.

In a statement, Linder said, “I look forward to returning home to the state of Colorado and continuing to build this program into something everyone can be proud of.”

Hill was 86-98 in six seasons at UNC.