Who’s left?: The best available college basketball transfers

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Now that we’ve entered the month of May, rosters are beginning to take shape for the 2014-15 college basketball season but there are still plenty of talented available players available.

CBT already profiled the best high school seniors that are left in the college basketball recruiting world earlier on Friday and now we take a look at some impact transfers that are still without a new home.

WHO’S LEFT?: High School Prospects | Junior College Transfers

Here’s an update on some of the best college basketball transfers that are still out there:

1. Ryan Anderson, Boston College: A 6-foot-8 junior and California native, Anderson was supposed to help Boston College turn it around this season as he averaged 14.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game on solid 48 percent shooting from field and 73 percent shooting from the free-throw line. The Eagles never found their footing during the 2013-14 season, however, as they finished near the bottom of the ACC and head coach Steven Donahue was let go. Anderson has official visits lined up to Iowa State (May 2), Indiana (May 5) and Arizona (May 8), per his Twitter account. Anderson will only have one season left of eligibility, but he’s talented enough on the interior to be a major contributor in his senior season.

2. Kareem Canty, Marshall: The 6-foot-1 freshman point guard from New York led Marshall in scoring (16.3 ppg) and assists (5.5 apg) during his initial campaign but tallied poor shooting percentages as he shot 37 percent from the floor and 30 percent from three. Canty has already taken a visit to Auburn and is scheduled for three more  official visits to South Florida (May 2-4), Penn State (May 9-11) and UNLV (May 12-14). Canty was wild at times during his freshman season, but he has two years of eligibility left (he began as a partial qualifier) and is talented enough to be a difference-maker down the road.

3. Ian Chiles, IUPUI: The 6-foot-1 senior guard from Louisville has one season of eligibility remaining after averaging 15.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists last season while shooting 41 percent from the field and 31 percent from three-point range. With Chiles having immediate eligibility, he’s a valuable graduate transfer as Chiles has already taken a visit to Auburn and has interest from Maryland, South Florida, Tennessee and Western Kentucky, according to ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman. Chiles was asked to do a lot for struggling IUPUI last season, but could be a nice complimentary player in his final season if he opts to go to a power conference.

4. Eron Harris, West Virginia: Harris had a tremendous sophomore season for the Mountaineers as the 6-foot-3 sophomore averaged 17.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 43 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range. Harris won’t receive his official release until the end of the semester at West Virginia — so not much is known on his current recruiting situation — but he does want to play closer to his native Indianapolis, according to Rivals.com‘s Jeff Rabjohns. Don’t be surprised if local programs Butler, Indiana and Purdue all inquire about Harris once he receives his release.

5. Danuel House, Houston: The 6-foot-7 sophomore wing had a solid season in the American as he averaged 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game on 42 percent shooting from the field and 33 percent shooting from three-point range. UCLA is already involved with House and will likely receive a visit, while USC is also in the mix according to ESPN.com‘s Jeff Goodman. House has some transfer restrictions to work through as he leaves Houston, but the sophomore is still big enough and athletic enough to be an impact wing in his final two seasons.

6. Cole Huff, Nevada: The 6-foot-8 sophomore had a breakthrough sophomore season for the Wolfpack as Huff saw his minutes and seasonal averages increase across the board. Huff averaged 12.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while shooting it well from all over the floor (45% FG, 82% FT, 40% 3PT). The forward is now down to Creighton and Iowa, according to grassroots coach Clint Parks, and Huff visited the Bluejays last week and is currently on a visit in Iowa City. With another year of development, it will be interesting to see how Huff would contribute in the Big East or Big Ten.

7. TaShawn Thomas, Houston: The 6-foot-8 junior forward averaged 15.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game on 59 percent field goal shooting for the Cougars. Once new head coach Kelvin Sampson was hired at Houston, however, Thomas wanted to pursue other options. Those other options include a visit to Miami and schools like Oklahoma and Oregon showing interest, according to ESPN.com‘s Jeff Goodman. Thomas could be a major impact as an interior scorer and defender in his final season of college basketball, as he led the Cougars in points, rebounds and blocks.

8. Byron Wesley, USC: The 6-foot-5 junior had a solid season during head coach Andy Enfield’s first year on the job as Wesley put up 17.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 46 percent from the floor and 33 percent from three-point range. Wesley is down to three now, as he’s scheduled visits to Oklahoma State (May 2), Gonzaga (May 9) and Pitt (May 16), according to Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.com. Wesley will have one more year of college basketball left and any of those three programs could use an additional scoring threat from the wing.

Vanderbilt lands five-star forward Simi Shittu

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Vanderbilt continues to build a monster recruiting class under head coach Bryce Drew as five-star 2018 forward Simi Shittu pledged to the Commodores on Wednesday.

The second five-star commitment for Vanderbilt in the Class of 2018, Shittu joins top point guard prospect Darius Garland to form one of the best freshman combinations in the country for next season. The Commodores also have a top-150 forward in Aaron Nesmith.

The 6-foot-9, 220-pound Shittu is coming off of a monster summer in which he became a major problem and top-ten recruit. The No. 8 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2018 recruiting rankings, Shittu is a huge get and an instant starter for Vanderbilt next season.

By landing prospects like Garland and Shittu, Drew is also becoming a major player in a short amount of time as a high-major coach. Always a noted recruiter at the mid-major level at Valparaiso, now Vanderbilt is seeing Drew’s hiring workout as he’s bringing top talent to the program.

If Drew can continue to recruit like this then Vanderbilt could be in position to be in the top half of the SEC as the league has seen some of its rebuilds go poorly over the last few years.

Kansas still without freshman Billy Preston

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Kansas freshman Billy Preston has yet to make his debut for the Jayhawks and it appears he’ll have to wait a bit longer before that happens.

Head coach Bill Self met with media earlier this week to discuss the Preston situation, saying that nothing has changed about his status quite yet. Preston was previously suspended for violating a team rule when he missed the game against Tennessee State. Before Preston was set to debut against Kentucky in the Champions Classic he was also withheld from the contest after the revelation that Preston had been in a single-vehicle accident the previous weekend.

“I have actually been out, until I just pulled back in, so as of this morning, there was no movement. The last time you guys asked me was Friday and so you don’t work on Saturday or Sunday, so there is nothing new on that situation,” Self said.

“Sure, I’m worried,” Self also added. “I’m concerned and I do think that it can work itself, based on what I’ve been told. I also think that it obviously hadn’t happened yet.”

It’s uncertain when the next step in any of this will play out but Self doesn’t appear to be too concerned over it. Kansas has won without Preston so far but they could definitely use his size, scoring punch and overall depth to a team that isn’t very deep right now.

A matchup nightmare, Preston could help the Jayhawk offense while also giving Udoka Azubuike additional help on the glass and protecting the rim.

(H/t: Jesse Newell, Kansas City Star)

Brian Bowen not allowed to play at Louisville

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Louisville announced on Wednesday that freshman wing Brian Bowen will not be allowed to play at the school. The former McDonald’s All-American will be allowed to remain on scholarship but he can’t participate in any team activities.

Bowen was tied into the FBI’s investigation into college basketball this fall as an adidas company executive is alleged to have been part of a scheme to deliver $100,000 to Bowen’s family, according to court documents.

Bowen hired attorney Jason Setchen to fight the case and seek reinstatement as Setchen had experience dealing with college basketball scandals before. When DeQuan Jones was suspended from Miami after the Nevin Shapiro case in 2011, Setchen helped Jones re-gain his eligibility as Miami.

With this case, Bowen was not allowed back at Louisville as the school has fired head coach Rick Pitino and most of his previous staff. Athletic Director Tom Jurich also lost his job, so the Cardinals are definitely cleaning house and trying to detach themselves from anyone involved.

It will be interesting to see what Bowen opts to do in light of this news. He’s talented enough that other schools could want him, if he’s eligible, but he’s also a former five-star prospect who could have pro aspirations. But since Bowen won’t be playing this season, he also hasn’t had a chance to spotlight his game to potential pro suitors.

 

President Trump fires back at LaVar Ball on Twitter

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The never-ending war of words between President Donald Trump and LaVar Ball escalated to another level on Wednesday morning.

Starting his early-morning tweets with some messages aimed at Ball, President Trump continued to double down on his insistence that he helped play a role in the safe return of three UCLA players arrested in China for shoplifting. LiAngelo Ball, LaVar’s middle son, was one of the three players involved in the international incident as fellow Bruins Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were also arrested. The trio returned to the United States last week after UCLA left China without them following a win over Georgia Tech in the Pac-12 China Game.

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LaVar has drawn the ire of President Trump for downplaying the President’s role in the return of the UCLA trio as Ball maintains that others had more to do with the release. All three UCLA players publicly thanked President Trump and the United States government during their return press conference on Nov. 15. The three players remain suspended indefinitely from all activities with the men’s basketball team.

In an interview with CNN earlier this week, LaVar was critical of Trump’s role in the whole ordeal while also questioning why the President would spend so much time bothering for a thank you from the father of one of those arrested.

No. 22 Baylor comes from 12 down to beat Creighton

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It was another rough night for the Scott Drew Can’t Coach crowd.

No. 22 Baylor got 15 points apiece from Jo Lual-Acuil and Terry Maston and closed the game on a 37-19 run as they knocked off Creighton, 65-59, in the title game of the Hall Of Fame Classic in Kansas City.

King McClure led the way for the Bears with 19 points, picking up the pieces for Manu Lecomte, who struggled to deal with the defense of Khyri Thomas.

Creighton jumped out to a 33-24 lead at the break and extended it to 40-28 with 18 minutes left in the game, but that’s when Baylor turned the game around. A couple of tweaks to the way that they played their zone coupled with the Bluejays missing some shots that they were capable of making led to the comeback. Instead of simply writing another ‘See, I told you Scott Drew can coach’ column, I figured it would make more sense to show exactly what I mean when I say that.

Creighton had a smart, simple game-plan offensively on Tuesday night. Get the ball into the paint, whether it was via dribble penetration or finding one of their big guys near the foul line or at the short corner, and then find a shooter on the perimeter, a cutter going to the rim or, simply, score from 8-10 feet out. That’s the best way to beat a zone, especially a zone that has the amount of length and athleticism that Baylor’s does. Notice in the clip below how extended Baylor’s guards are and, as a result, the space it creates:

Once Baylor got down by 12, their game-plan changed. Instead of extending, their defense became more compact. What is usually something of a 1-1-3 zone turned into more of a 2-3, with the focus seemingly being cutting off penetration. Baylor dared Creighton to let Ronnie Harrell be the guy that beat them, and it worked. The result was that the open threes dried up, and the jumpers that Creighton shot in down the stretch were much more contested than the looks they were getting earlier in the game:

That’s coaching right there.

Game-planning is a part of coaching. Player development is, too, as is recruiting. But making in-game adjustments like that, figuring out how a team is beating you, devising a way to stop them from doing that and getting your players to execute those adjustments is arguably the most important part of being a coach.

Here’s another example of what I mean.

Khyri Thomas might be the best on-ball defender in college basketball, and I don’t say that lightly. He essentially eliminated Manu Lecomte from the game. He is to point guards what Darrelle Revis was to No. 1 receivers. Whoever he is guarding is on Khyri Island.

Lecomte is typically Baylor’s closer, but Drew ran actions that allowed Lecomte to be a facilitator and a decoy, taking Khyri out of the play and taking advantage of matchups he thought his guys could win. That involved running a double-high ball-screen, which confused Harrell and Martin Krampelj defensively a couple of times, and resulted in a high-low action between Maston and Lual-Acuil on a number of possessions down the stretch.

But then there was also this set he drew up, using McClure as the ball-handler in that double-high ball-screen and while putting Lecomte in the same side corner. McClure refused the ball-screen, drove straight at the gap where Thomas was not going to help off Lecomte and got a bucket out of it:

That’s coaching!

And I’m not trying to say McDermott got out-coached here. His game-plan worked. Drew’s adjustment turned out to be just a bit better.

But Creighton also has players that can make the tough shots that they were forced into in the second half. If two more of them go down – if the Bluejays shoot 37.5 percent from the floor instead of 34.4 percent, if they go 7-for-30 from three instead of 5-for-30 – then they probably win this game.

Sometimes that’s how basketball works.

It’s why you always hear coaches refer to it as a ‘make or miss game’.

The larger takeaway from this game should be this: Both Baylor and Creighton are good teams. Both landed good non-conference wins during this event. Both are likely headed to the NCAA tournament.

And both took part in a fun, tactical battle between head coaches on Tuesday night that one of them had to lose.