When sophomore guard Eron Harris made the decision to leave the West Virginia program shortly after the end of the 2013-14 season, the move came as a surprise to some. Having averaged 17.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, Harris was a Honorable Mention All-Big 12 selection on a team that won 17 games and reached the Postseason NIT.
Given the production Harris, a native of Indianapolis, is a popular player amongst Division I transfers as evidenced by some of the schools who have reached out to him. In a story written by Kyle Neddenriep of the Indianapolis Star programs such as Butler, Indiana, Purdue and Kentucky have contacted Harris since he’s received his release from West Virginia.
Other programs include Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, New Mexico, Notre Dame, Ohio State and UCLA.
Also of note in the story are the words of his father, who noted that program fit is more important than location despite the fact that Eron stated his desire to play closer to home when it was announced that he was leaving West Virginia. .
“We respected (West Virginia coach Bob Huggins’) coaching style but it probably wasn’t the best fit,” Eric Harris said. “Looking for that right fit as far as a coach goes is probably the biggest thing.”
“The fit is more important that the location (of the school),” Harris said. “Eron is used to seeing his brothers and family more than he has the past couple years. But if he has to go to New York or California to find the right fit, then that’s what he’ll do.”
With the elder Harris also noting that they have not planned any visits, the recruitment of Eron will be something to keep an eye on this spring. He’ll have two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2014-15 season per NCAA transfer rules.
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
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.