Memphis lands third JUCO recruit in guard Avery Woodson

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With four seniors at the guard position entering the 2013-14 campaign, the Memphis Tigers will have some holes to fill with their 2014 recruiting class. Junior college prospects can help in this regard, as they possess more game experience than the standard recruit and therefore could be better equipped to help a program immediately.

On Saturday Josh Pastner’s program received a verbal commitment from a third junior college prospect, as 6-foot-3 guard Avery Woodson made his pledge to the American Athletic Conference school. Woodson, who redshirted at Southeast Louisiana last season before making the move to East Mississippi CC, is a native of Waynesboro, Miss. who was also considering Boise State, Murray State and Southern Miss.

“Coach (Josh) Pastner says I’m a player,” Woodson told John Martin of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal a couple days before making his decision. “He said I’ll be able to play anywhere with the rest of the guards and that he wouldn’t just stick me in the corner to shoot.”

Woodson joins forwards Trahson Burrell and Chris Hawkins as junior college players who have committed to Memphis for next season, with guard Dominic Magee being the fourth verbal commitment in the 2014 recruiting class. Memphis loses Missouri transfer Michael Dixon Jr., Chris Crawford, Joe Jackson and Geron Johnson at the guard spots at the conclusion of the 2013-14 campaign.

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.