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Four Takeaways from the NBPA Top 100 Camp

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The NBPA Top 100 Camp is annually one of the most important events during the summer recruiting calendar because it brings together the most talent of any event before the July live evaluation period.

With many of the nation’s elite prospects going to battle at the University of Virginia, here’s a look at some main takeaways from the event as I focus on the Class of 2018 players in attendance.

1. The battle for best point guard in the Class of 2018 will be the July storyline to keep an eye on

It’s been noted many times on CBT, and elsewhere, that the Class of 2018 doesn’t have a lot of top-end, one-and-done type of talent. While the lack of NBA-level star power might hurt the college game for one season — with the sport’s heavy reliance on elite freshmen now — the overall depth at point guard is certainly shaping up to be very solid for the Class of 2018. And that point guard depth will also help college basketball in a major way in the coming years.

Even with a few elite lead guards like Darius Garland and Tre Jones not competing in Virginia, the point guards took center stage at Top 100 Camp. And it made for some excellent individual battles that should set up for a very fun July.

Five-star Immanuel Quickley was perhaps the best long-term prospect among the group, but that title was challenged by a bevy of competitors that included Rivals top-40 prospects such as DePaul commit Tyger Campbell, Ayo Dosunmu, Devon Dotson, Quentin Grimes, Louisville commit Courtney Ramey, Javonte Smart, Jahvon Quinerly and Elijah Weaver. And that’s not even factoring in the top-flight Class of 2019 point guards like Cole Anthony and Ashton Hagans who were in attendance as well.

Beyond that first group, the depth in the class also shined at camp as West Virginia commit Jordan McCabe, Notre Dame commit Prentiss Hubb and TCU commit Kendric Davis were all among the camp’s leaders in assists.

Camps can be sloppy and have moments of uninspired play, but this year’s camp felt slightly more competitive thanks to all of these point guards going to war. Here’s to hoping that these guys continue to play this competitively in July and beyond.

2. Simi Shittu is a monster (with a potentially fascinating recruiting battle)

One of the notable stock risers of this spring in the Class of 2018 has been Canadian forward Simi Shittu (pictured above). Elevating into the top 10 of most major national rankings, the 6-foot-9 Shittu did nothing but backup his lofty status with his outstanding play at the Top 100 Camp.

Far-and-away the most productive player in the camp, Shittu was a complete monster during the entirety of the event. Shittu was a double-double machine who was nearly impossible to keep off the offensive glass. Leading the camp in both points and rebounds, Shittu’s recruitment is going to be fascinating to watch this July because many of the traditional bluebloods are jumping in later than normal for a top-ten prospect.

While Shittu has mentioned schools like Maryland, Michigan, Oregon, Syracuse and UConn during the spring, N.C. State recently offered a scholarship while Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina have all made recent inquiries. Seeing which head coaches — specifically the newer schools entering the recruitment late — make Shittu an early priority in July will be something to watch for.

3. Besides Shittu, where did all the big men go?

For as many good point guards as there were at this year’s Top 100 Camp, there was also a noticeable lack of elite post players in attendance outside of Shittu as the Class of 2018 doesn’t appear to have a lot of instant-impact bigs.

There are certainly some top-end talents in the class like Marvin Bagley, Bol Bol and Moses Brown, but with none of those guys playing in Virginia, it meant for a guard-dominated camp. Guards typically dominate the ball in camp settings to begin with, but this year, they really didn’t have much reason to throw the ball into the post.

Five-star big man Nazreon Reid was the most talented 2018 big man in the building, besides Shittu, but he still has a lot of work to do with his shot selection in order to be fully counted on at the next level. There were flashes when the 6-foot-10 Reid displayed frightening athleticism and ability for a player his size and then he would settle for a one-footed stepback from 17 feet away that came up as an airball all within the same minute of play.

Four-star center David McCormack also continues to make strides in his game this spring as he showed post scoring ability that few players in the camp could match. But McCormack only played a limited number of games after playing the previous week in Italy for adidas Eurocamp, so the limited post play was made even worse.

Since the game continues to evolve into more and more of a perimeter-oriented contest, it could mean that we see fewer post prospects, but I have a feeling that this is just an instance of one particular class just not having a lot of high-level big men.

4. Despite last week, Louisville is in great position with regards to future recruiting

Most of the major headlines in college basketball last week were geared around Louisville and the fallout from their scandal. Even with the Cardinals facing so many potential sanctions from that scandal, it doesn’t seem to be slowing them down when it comes to future recruiting.

The team’s Class of 2018 recruiting haul both had solid moments at Top 100 as shooting guard Anfernee Simons, in particular, looked like a solid future ACC presence. With his ability to knock down perimeter jumpers while also attacking the basket, the 6-foot-2 Simons was one of the toughest covers at the event as he has the look of a potential go-to scorer for the Cardinals.

The 6-foot-3 Ramey was also steady during most of the camp, as he showed that he can score and distribute with equal effectiveness.

While Louisville has its backcourt of the future already committed in the Class of 2018, Class of 2019 prospects also seemed receptive to what the Cardinals have to offer.  With June 15th being the first day college coaches could directly contact Class of 2019 prospects — falling right in the midst of Top 100 Camp — many of the elite prospects in attendance mentioned that Louisville had called for them in the opening 24 hours of being able to do so.

It is still early to tell how that recruiting class at Louisville might unfold but many of those prospects were just excited to hear from Rick Pitino. Judging strictly on prospect perception, there seems to be minimal fallout (if any) from the Katina Powell scandal and Louisville should keep landing high-level players.

Mizzou-Kansas benefit game raises nearly 2M for charity

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While there’s still a demand that longtime rivals Missouri and Kansas resume their basketball series at some point, Sunday’s exhibition game in Kansas City helped whet the appetites of many in attendance. But more important than the series and the opportunity for head coaches Cuonzo Martin and Bill Self to get an early evaluation of their teams against outside competition was the cause.

The rivals, separated by conference realignment that led Missouri to the SEC and the Big 12 to the brink of collapse, got together to raise money for hurricane relief. Multiple hurricanes hit the United States, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and other portions of the Caribbean earlier this fall, with some areas still in the early stages of getting things back in order.

The Showdown for Relief came about to help those in need, and it sparked a movement across college basketball as well.

It was announced at halftime of Sunday’s exhibition that the schools and their supporters managed to raise an impressive $1.75 million for hurricane relief.

According to Gary Bedore of the Kansas City Star more than $600,000 of the money raised came by way of pay-per-view sales for the game, which cost $40 for those unable to get to the Sprint Center.

“It doesn’t happen with Nike,” Boeheim says of FBI investigation

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One of the prevailing thoughts regarding this opening salvo of the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball is that while it’s currently adidas’ turn in the barrel, whatever malfeasance may be occurring is unlikely to be just isolated to that single shoe company.

When the FBI says they “have your playbook” in regards to alleged corruption,  it would seem they’re indicating at a systemic issue in college basketball rather than a single apparel company like adidas, which had two executives arrested amid the probe that shaken the hoops landscape.

Jim Boeheim, though, does not share those sentiments.

“It doesn’t happen with Nike,” Boeheim said at Syracuse’s media day, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard. “Nike has about 80 schools. The guys we’re recruiting, we’re recruiting against three or four Nike schools most of the time. (Nike) isn’t going to help one of those schools.”

Well, that settles it. Nike and its schools are in the clear. Even if the apparel giant’s grassroots hoops division was reportedly served a subpoena last month. And that Merl Code, one of the adidas executives arrested, worked for Nike previously.

Of course, there may be issues with some of the logic Boeheim employs here. While, as he says, Syracuse may often being going against other Nike schools in recruiting, there are surely times when adidas or Under Armour schools are in the mix. What happens then? Or even if it’s multiple Nike schools competing, the hypothetical money changing hands is illicit, and thereby under the table and unofficial, so it’s not like there wouldn’t be plausible deniability if a coach on the losing end of a recruitment  ever went to express his displeasure at any particular rumors. And how hard – or publicly – is a coach going to complain when his school is securing millions from Nike in cash and gear each year?

It’s also worth noting that not all schools are created equal, even if they’re under the same apparel umbrella. Ohio State’s contract is worth $16.8 million a year while someone like Kansas State’s is worth $1.9 million, according to Forbes. Nike may have an interest in helping one school over the other, theoretically.

Maybe Boeheim is correct, but it’s clear the entire system – and all the entities its made up of – are going to be under scrutiny. So the FBI probably isn’t going to exempt Nike, or any other apparel company, from its ongoing investigation, regardless of what a coach at a Nike school says. It’s also worth noting, in deference to full disclosure, that Nike has long outfitted Syracuse, and Boeheim has been very active as a part of Team USA basketball, where Nike is quite influential

“First of all, I think the FBI could do a lot better investigating criminals and terrorists than they can investigating college basketball,” Boeheim said. “In my opinion. I’m a tax-payer. There’s a few tax-payers here. I’d sure as hell rather have them looking into terrorism and not spending three years investigating AAU programs or shoe companies. That’s the least of our concern.”

 

Watch list released for Abdul-Jabbar award

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Twenty players were announced as members of the preseason watch list for the Karee Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year award.

Among the 20 are Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ, Texas A&M’s Tyler Davis, Texas’ Mohamed Bamba, St. Mary’s senior Jock Landale and Purdue’s Isaac Haas.

“I would like to thank the Basketball Hall of Fame for the honor of being the namesake of this award,” said Abdul-Jabbar, a 1995 inductee of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and six-time NBA Champion, said in a release. “The student-athletes recognized have worked tirelessly to earn their spots on this list and I look forward to seeing how their hard work will pay off this season.”

Previous winners include Przemek Karnowski (2017), Jakob Poetl (2016) and Frank Kaminsky (2015).

The group of 20 (though players not included in the preseason watch list can be later included) will be trimmed to 10 in February and five finalists in March. The winner will be announced April 6.

2018 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award Candidates

Dusan Ristic Arizona
Austin Wiley Auburn
Kingsley Okoroh California
Tacko Fall Central Florida
Marques Bolden Duke
John Egbunu Florida
Jessie Govan Georgetown
Ben Lammers Georgia Tech
Nick Richards Kentucky
Omer Yurtseven NC State
Isaac Haas Purdue
Jock Landale Saint Mary’s
Angel Delgado Seton Hall
Michael Humphrey Stanford
Vladimir Brodziansky TCU
Mohamed Bamba Texas
Tyler Davis Texas A&M
Thomas Welsh UCLA
Chimezie Metu USC
Ethan Happ Wisconsin

 

Southland Preview: Can Stephen F. Austin regain the throne?

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Beginning in September and running up through November 10th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2017-2018 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the Southland.

The Southland finally saw Stephen F. Austin‘s dominant run end last season as New Orleans claimed the regular season title and NCAA tournament autobid. Although the Lumberjacks finished in second place in head coach Kyle Keller’s first season, expectations are in place for another potential conference title in 2017-18. Stephen F. Austin returns eight of their top nine producers from last season including Player of the Year candidate T.J. Holyfield on the interior. If Stephen F. Austin’s offense can get a boost then they could be in for another dangerous season.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi has to replace the scoring punch of forward Rashawn Thomas but do-it-all senior Ehab Amin is back to lead the charge. Amin led the nation in steals last season while filling up the box score in many other ways as he’s flanked by guards Kareem South and Joseph Kilgore. Lamar made a leap last season as they won 19 games and made a CIT appearance. Senior forward Colton Weisbrod is a throwback undersized frontcourt presence while the backcourt of point guard Joey Frenchwood and shooter Nick Garth is among the league’s stronger returning duos.

Returning most of last season’s contributors, Abilene Christian is hoping to make a major leap up the Southland standings. Sophomore big man Jalone Friday is a promising player to build around while junior guards Jaren Lewis and Jaylen Franklin both put up double-figures in the scoring column last season. Incarnate Word is going to put up points but the Cardinals will need to figure things out on the defensive end. Jalin Hart, Simi Socks and Shawn Johnson are all returning upperclassmen who averaged at least 14 points per game each last season.

Southeastern Louisiana has a chance to make noise as junior point guard Marlain Veal and junior forward Moses Greenwood are a solid 1-2 punch. With a deep bench returning, the Lions have a lot of upperclass experience and could be a surprise team. The return of Jalan West for a seventh season is a major story for Northwestern State. The former Player of the Year candidate has to stay healthy but he’s joined by junior big man Ishmael Lane and senior guard Devonte Hall to form a solid nucleus.

Losing four starters will be tough for Sam Houston State but junior point guard John Dewey III is back to lead the team’s offense. Senior big man Chris Galbreath has a chance to be a breakout player. Central Arkansas has the Southland’s returning leading scorer in senior guard Jordan Howard but the Bears have to make major strides on the defensive end and controlling turnovers.

New Orleans has a lot of new pieces after last year’s run to the Big Dance as the Privateers need to replace three starters. Senior forward Travin Thibodeaux and senior big man Makur Puou are back along with a lot of question marks. After a CIT appearance, Houston Baptist loses five seniors and multiple transfers but senior center Josh Ibarra is an all-league threat.  

Nicholls lost seven seniors and needs to rebuild as senior point guard Jahvaughn Powell has a chance to have a big year. McNeese finished in last place a season ago but most of that group is back. Sophomore guard Kalob Ledoux has a chance to be one of the league’s better guards.

MORE: 2017-18 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

PRESEASON SOUTHLAND PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Ehab Amin, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

College basketball’s leader with 124 total steals last season (3.4 per game), this 6-foot-4 senior guard can also put up numbers all over the stat sheet. The Egyptian averaged 16.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game last season while shooting 46 percent from the floor. If Amin improves his 28 percent three-point shooting then he could be in for a monster season.

THE REST OF THE PRESEASON SOUTHLAND TEAM

  • Colton Weisbrod, Lamar: Undersized at 6-foot-5 but great in the paint, this senior averaged 15.1 points and 8.1 boards per contest. Weisbrod shot 52 percent from the floor but only 16 percent from three-point range.
  • T.J. Holyfield, Stephen F. Austin: Versatile junior forward averaged 11.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steals per game while shooting 52 percent from the floor.
  • Jordan Howard, Central Arkansas: The senior has a chance to reach 2,000 career points after dropping 19.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game last season. Howard could stand to improve his shooting efficiency.
  • Jalone Friday, Abilene Christian: Intriguing sophomore big man had tremendous splits (52% FG, 45% 3PT, 82% FT) and put up 13.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game last season in only 21.7 minutes per contest.

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @SouthlandSports

PREDICTED FINISH

  1. Stephen F. Austin
  2. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
  3. Lamar
  4. Abliene Christian
  5. Incarnate Word
  6. Southeastern Louisiana
  7. Northwestern State
  8. Sam Houston State
  9. Central Arkansas
  10. New Orleans
  11. Houston Baptist
  12. Nicholls
  13. McNeese

‘Border War’ exhibition to be streamed

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The 19,000 fans who secured tickets to the Sprint Center for the charity-inspired reignition of the Border War won’t be the only ones to be able to watch Kansas and Missouri play Sunday.

The exhibition game, whose proceeds will be used for hurricane relief, will be streamed live for those willing to spend $40, the schools announced Friday.

“Our first objective was to sell out Sprint Center,” the two schools said jointly in a release. “Once we achieved the sellout so quickly, our fans who could not get tickets expressed tremendous interest in having the game televised. We wanted to make sure that the charities we’ve identified would be the only entities to derive revenue from this game.  SIDEARM Sports has provided the platform to allow us to create a second stream of revenue via this telecast.”

The broadcast will feature Leif Lisec doing play-by-play and ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla and Holly Rowe as the analyst and sideline reporter, respectively. The trio are donating their time for the broadcast.

The Jayhawks and Tigers haven’t played since 2012, when Missouri bolted the Big 12 for the SEC. There certainly has been resentment from the move, which has kept the two from scheduling a non-conference tilt. Now, though, they’re hoping the layoff has built enough anticipation to raise upward of $1 million for the Houston Harvey Relief Fund, the Rebuild Texas Fund, the Florida Disaster Fund, Juntos y Unidos Por Puerto Rico and the Fund for the U.S. Virgin Islands after a devastating hurricane season in the United States.

The game will pit the perennial powerhouse Jayhawks, expected to be a top-five preseason team and strong favorite to win the Big 12, against an ascendant Missouri, which has the potential 2018 No. 1 NBA draft pick Michael Porter, Jr. headlining the roster reboot under first-year coach Cuonzo Martin.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for two schools to do something together for the better of the masses,” Kansas coach Bill Self said last week, “and be able to send a significant amount of money to people that are suffering right now. So that is going to come to fruition, and we’re real happy about it.”