Kevin Ollie

Did four-star prospect Prince Ali make the right decision by decommitting from UConn?

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Earlier this week, four-star Florida native Prince Ali made waves by decommitting from UConn, even though the Huskies are fresh off of a national championship.

The 6-foot-4 Ali took to his Twitter account on Thursday to announce that he was re-opening his recruitment, as he was no longer committed to head coach Kevin Ollie and the Huskies in the class of 2015.

But did Ali make the correct decision by decommitting from the champs?

On a surface level, it would appear that Ali was crazy for leaving a program coming off of a title with a head coach like Ollie who has done so well with guards like Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright.

But as a class of 2015 prospect on the rise this spring, Ali probably feels like he needs to keep his options open for the future, and frankly, he should.

As‘s No. 68 prospect in the 2015 class, Ali will have a lot of new schools in the picture to choose from after ranking third in the Nike EYBL in scoring at 21.8 points per game this spring with the Southern Stampede. Ali also shot 45 percent from the field and 39 percent from three-point range in EYBL play.

Even though it is an honor to receive a scholarship offer from a program like UConn, and a coach like Ollie, as a 2015 prospect, Ali has a lot of time between now and the fall of 2015 when he would set foot on a college campus as an incoming freshman. I have never understood why more elite basketball prospects don’t take their time in the recruiting process when so much could change so quickly and Ali taking his time is the right move.

Ollie recently signed a lucrative extension with UConn, but he’s received overtures from NBA teams this offseason and that likely won’t change in the next few years. Roster uncertainty and the ever-changing recruiting landscape could also shape a new decision for Ali when he makes a new commitment.

And it’s not like Ali isn’t still considering the Huskies. Ali told Andrew Ivins of the Sun Sentinel that UConn will still get an official visit and the shooting guard just seems like a person that wants to hear out all of his options.

“It’s part of the process,” Ali said to Ivins. “People may think it’s strange, but at the end of the day I have to do, what I have to do.

“I have gotten a couple phone calls from [other schools] but nothing too serious. I made this decision because I feel like I committed a little too early and I wanted to reopen things.”

Ali led Sagemont High School to a 33-0 record and a Class 3A state title in Florida this season after averaging 20 points and six rebounds per contest. A new list of schools hasn’t been formed yet, but Ali is making the right decision by holding the ball in his court and making the decision that is correct for him.

Michigan State playing zone? It’s possible

Tom Izzo
Associated Press
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Throughout Tom Izzo’s tenure at Michigan State the team’s half-court man-to-man defense has been a staple, and the Spartans have generally proven difficult to have a high rate of offensive success against. The reliance on that defense is why Izzo’s conversations earlier this summer about using some token full-court pressure due to the shortening of the shot clock caught some people off-guard.

According to the Detroit Free Press there’s another wrinkle the Spartans may use, and it’s likely that this wrinkle will show up more often than the full-court press. During Friday’s opening practice the Spartans worked on a 2-3 zone, and Izzo wants his assistants to make sure the team works on the defense consistently throughout the season.

That’s also why zone in general isn’t going to get heavy play at MSU, but having it as a tool could be beneficial — especially in games with touch fouls on the perimeter called in droves.

“I told (my assistant coaches): ‘You hold me accountable to working on it every day some’ … I have a tendency to drift off on that, and I don’t want to drift off on it,” Izzo said of the 2-3 zone. “But we will be, rest assured, a 90-some percent man-to-man team still and hopefully take some of those principles to zone.”

As noted in the story one of the risks in using pressure is allowing quality shots, which is why it’s unlikely that Michigan State will go to it. But even with Izzo vowing that his team will work on the zone, that doesn’t mean they’ll be playing it as often as Syracuse does.

Man-to-man has been Michigan State’s staple and it will continue to be. But it doesn’t hurt to look for other ways to keep opponents from getting the looks they want, especially if teams have five fewer seconds to find those shots.

Virginia used 3-on-3 to adjust to new shot clock

Malcolm Brogdon
Associated Press
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When the college basketball rules committee made the decision to trim the shot clock down to 30 second from 35, one reason for the switch was the desire to improve offensive production. With offensive numbers at their lowest point in years, proponents of the move see the shot clock change as a necessary move if scoring is to improve.

Whether or not that winds up being the case will be seen throughout the upcoming season, but teams are still having to make adjustments during the preseason.

Virginia, which has played at a snail’s pace (and with great success, mind you) in recent years, made some adjustments to their summer work in anticipation of playing with a 30-second shot clock. One adjustment was more games of 3-on-3 with a 15-second shot clock, which forced all involved to be more decisive in their offensive decision-making.

While the pack-line defense will always be a staple of Tony Bennett’s teams, the feeling in Charlottesville is that they’ve got the offensive firepower needed to both play faster and be more efficient offensively than they were in 2014-15 (29th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy). One of the players who will lead the way is senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, who led the team in scoring and was a first team All-ACC selection, and he discussed the team’s outlook with Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

And even though Anderson’s highlight-reel shot blocking was the thing that frequently fueled fast-breaks for U.Va. last season, Brogdon and [Anthony] Gill said they expect this year’s team to actually push the tempo even more.

“I think we’re going to be a team that gets out and runs more,” Brogdon said. “I think we’ll have three guards on the floor, most of the time, will be able to handle the ball as a point guard and get out in transition. I think we’ll play a lot faster.”

Brogdon and Gill are two of the team’s three returning starters with point guard London Perrantes being the other, and the Cavaliers also return most of their reserves from last year’s rotation. That experience will help them on both ends of the floor as they prepare for a run at a third straight ACC regular season title. And in theory it also allows them to extend themselves a bit more offensively than they did a season ago.