2012-13 list previews

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Conference preview: APR issues thin out the SWAC

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Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.
To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of the Top 25, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

This season, six teams of the possible 10 are eligible for postseason play in the conference as Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Mississippi Valley State, Texas Southern and Grambling State all received bans for low APR scores and NCAA violations. Southern returns from its own postseason ban as one of the favorites in the conference with second-year coach Roman Banks getting back guard Derick Beltran. Prairie view A&M gets Jourdan DeMuynck and 6-11 Jules Montgomery to anchor the Panthers.

Texas Southern had a one of the most unique situations in the college basketball season with Mike Davis entering the program on an interim basis. Then earlier this month, the Tigers announced Davis was signed to a four-year contract, which they should’ve done in the first place…then they get barred from the NCAA Tournament. He gets back Omar Strong, a sharpshooter who averaged 13.3 points last season. Jackson State managed only seven wins last season but Kelsey Howard is a stud who will ease the loss of Jenirro Bush and they get Ole Miss transfer Dundrecus Nelson at the semester break. Alabama State has to replace four starters after making the NCAA Tournament two of the past four seasons, while Alcorn State gets back guard Marquiz Baker, a solid scorer who missed all but five games last season due to injury. Alabama A&M will have the services of Demarquelle Tabb, who averaged 10.6 points and 7.6 boards last year.

After the best season in school history, Mississippi Valley State will be forced to replace it’s coach (Chico Potts for Sean Woods) and their top five scorers. UAPB has the tools in forward Daniel Broughton and wing Mitchell Anderson but has the postseason ban to face. Grambling State isn’t going to be much better than last season’s four-win team, with Quincy Roberts leaving and having to do all this under a new coach in Joseph Price.

All-Conference Team
G: Omar Strong, Texas Southern*

G: Marquiz Baker, Alcorn State

G: Kelsey Howard, Jackson State

F: Demarquelle Tabb, Alabama A&M

F: Daniel Broughton, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

*-Player of the Year

Predicted Finish
1.) Southern

2.) Prairie View A&M

3.) Texas Southern

4.) Alcorn State

5.) Jackson State

6.) Arkansas-Pine Bluff

7.) Alabama A&M

8.) Alabama State

9.) Mississippi Valley State

10.) Grambling State

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Position Rankings: The Top 20 Centers

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Indiana  v Kentucky
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Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of The Lists we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

The Top 10

1. Cody Zeller, Indiana: Zeller is the best player in the country, so it would only make sense that he tops a list of best centers. He’s amazing to watch on the offensive end of the floor, particularly when he runs the court in transition, but he’ll make the jump to elite when he improves on the defensive end of the floor.

2. Jeff Withey, Kansas: Withey is the best defensive center in the country. Period. He led the nation — including Anthony Davis — in block percentage last year, and could very well do the same this season. He’ll anchor what should once again be an elite defense for the Jayhawks.

3. Gorgui Dieng, Louisville: Like Withey, Dieng is the anchor for what should be one of the best defensive teams in the country. He’s a terrific rebounder and shotblocker, but he needs to continue to develop his offensive repertoire to be more than a catch-and-dunk threat.

4. Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota: Mbakwe is an interesting case. He averaged a double-double in 2010-2011, and was doing the same last season before he tore his ACL. This offseason, he’s been dealing with a bunch of legal issues, and while they have all apparently been settled, that’s a lot of distraction for a college student to deal with.

5. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky: Noel is the x-factor in these rankings. He could very well end up being the best center in the country if everything falls into place, but there are a couple of issues I think could inhibit that. He’s not as offensively gifted as Anthony Davis. He has another center that he’ll be sharing front court minutes with in Willie Cauley-Stein. And I’m still curious how Kentucky’s roster eventually comes together. But John Calipari’s last three center recruits have gone on to be top five picks, so we’ll see.

6. Mason Plumlee, Duke: I think Plumlee puts it together this season, maybe not to the point that he’s a lottery pick, but enough so that he can anchor Duke’s front line. He was a very good — albeit it somewhat inconsistent — rebounder and shotblocker last year, so if his offense comes around, he could end up being elite.

7. Patric Young, Florida: An overwhelming physical presence, Young has yet to turn those God-given gifts into consistent production; he averaged just 10 points and six boards a season ago. Is this the year that he finally lives up to that potential?

8. Jared Berggren, Wisconsin: There may not be a more underrated big man that Jared Berggren. He’s sneaky-good defensively and a pick-and-pop threat that is a perfect fit for Wisconsin’s swing offense. Here’s the question for Berggren this year: how much of his success on the offensive end last season was the result of playing with Jordan Taylor? Because with Taylor gone and Josh Gasser injured, Wisconsin is going to need someone to step up offensively.

9. Jack Cooley, Notre Dame: The kid that looks like Luke Harangody’s little brother has a chance to be the Big East Player of the Year this season. Cooley is a big-bodied center that is excellent playing his role as space-eater, rebounder, and picker-and-roller in Notre Dame’s ‘Burn’ offense.

10. Steven Adams, Pitt: There are some folks that think Adams is still a year or two away from being a real contributor for the Panthers, but I think Adams will end up being quite good for Jamie Dixon’s club. With Tray Woodall and Trey Ziegler in the back court, the Panthers will have enough scoring. All they need out of Adams is effort; defensively, on the glass, cutting to the rim. You don’t need to have your skills developed to play hard.

The Next 10

11. Khem Birch, UNLV
12. Reggie Johnson, Miami
13. Alex Oriakhi, Missouri
14. Alex Len, Maryland
15. Brandon Davies, BYU
16. Mike Muscala, Bucknell
17. Richard Howell, NC State
18. Kaleb Tarczewski, Arizona
19. Gregory Echenique, Creighton
20. Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky)

The Best of the Rest: Julian Boyd (LIU-Brooklyn), Alec Brown (Green Bay), Rakeem Christmas (Syracuse), DaJuan Coleman (Syracuse), Erik Copes (George Mason), Jamelle Hagins (Delaware), Jordan Henriquez (Kansas State), Colton Iverson (Colorado State), Vander Joaquim (Hawaii), Przemek Karnowski (Gonzaga), Deniz Kilicli (West Virginia), Alex Kirk (New Mexico), Zeke Marshall (Akron), Derrick Nix (Michigan State), Adreian Payne (Michigan State), Cameron Ridley (Texas), Andrew Smith (Butler), Josh Smith (UCLA), Brad Waldow (St. Mary’s), Mouph Yarou (Villanova)

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Position Rankings: The Top 20 Power Forwards

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Creighton v North Carolina
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Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of The Lists we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

The Top 10

1. Doug McDermott, Creighton: As a freshman, McDermott was one of the nation’s best-kept secrets. As a sophomore, he was the guy you had to see play. As a junior? He’s a first-team all-american, one of the nation’s most efficient players, and the engine that makes the Creighton offense go.

2. Tony Mitchell, North Texas: Mitchell was a top 20 recruit coming out of high school, but due to some academic issues, it took until the middle of his second year as a collegian to suit up. As a sophomore this season, expect Mitchell to put up some enormous numbers for the Mean Green this year.

3. Mike Moser, UNLV: Moser is one of the most interesting players on this list. His skill-set screams ‘collegiate stretch-four’, but his size and length make him more likely to be a three at the next level. With Anthony Bennett and Khem Birch joining the Rebels this season, Moser may have to spend more time at the three this season.

4. James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina: McAdoo was a top ten recruit in the Class of 2011, but when you’re forced to share a front court with Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Harrison Barnes, there really aren’t many minutes — or shots — available. That will change this season, and expect McAdoo to thrive in their absence.

5. Andre Roberson, Colorado: Roberson is a guy that NBA scouts love because of his length, his athleticism and his willingness to do things other than score the ball (11.1 boards, 1.9 blocks, 1.3 steals). With Colorado needing him in a more expanded role offensively this season, if Roberson has worked on being a more well-rounded threat at that end, don’t be shocked to see Roberson compete for the Pac-12 Player of the Year award.

6. CJ Leslie, NC State: Leslie has a chance to become an all-american this season. He’s certainly got the talent, but the question is whether or not he’s got the mentality for it. He’ll be benefited by Lorenzo Brown aiding in a leadership role, but if NC State is going to be a national title contender, Leslie will need to make a push for being higher on this list.

7. Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee: I think Stokes is going to have a huge season. He averaged 9.6 points and 7.4 boards for the Vols last year despite enrolling midway through the season when he was supposed to be a high school senior. Imagine what he’ll do with a full preseason?

8. Elias Harris, Gonzaga: Harris has never quite lived up to those lofty expectations he had after his sensational freshman year, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t evolved into an excellent college power forward. Some of his explosiveness is gone, but he’s become a better defender and rebounder and a much more valuable piece for a very good Gonzaga team.

9. Isaiah Austin, Baylor: Austin may be the single-most difficult player to label a position for in the country. He’s 7-foot-1, which, naturally, would mean he gets slotted as a center. But his game is more suited to being a small forward. So what do you do with a guy built in the mold of Dirk Nowitzki? Slot the sharp-shooter as a power forward.

10. Christian Watford, Indiana: On his own, Watford is probably not a better basketball player than a number of the players behind him on this list, but we decided to slot Watford this high simply because of how perfectly he fits on the Hoosier roster. Watford’s a terrific three-point shooter, which means that Indiana is able to surround Cody Zeller with four guys that cannot be left open from three. Watford is a vital piece to that puzzle.

The Next 10

11. Aaric Murray, West Virginia
12. Anthony Bennett, UNLV
13. Chane Behanan, Louisville
14. Jeronne Maymon, Tennessee
15. Brock Motum, Washington State
16. Laurence Bowers, Missouri
17. Keith Clanton, Central Florida
18. Dennis Tinnon, Marshall
19. Grant Jerrett, Arizona
20. Kenny Kadji, Miami

The Best of the Rest: CJ Aiken (St. Joseph’s), O.D. Anosike (Siena), Brandon Ashley (Arizona), Tarik Black (Memphis), Jackie Carmichael (Illinois State), Will Clyburn (Iowa State), Jake Cohen (Davidson), Robert Covington (Tennessee State), Ed Daniels (Murray State), Perry Ellis (Kansas), Ricardo Gathers (Baylor), Murphy Holloway (Ole Miss), Ian Hummer (Princeton), Javon McCrea (Buffalo), Erik Murphy (Florida), Romero Osby (Oklahoma), Marshawn Powell (Arkansas), Juvonte Reddic (VCU), Keith Rendleman (UNC-Wilmington), Kyle Wiltjer (Kentucky)

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.