“It’s the best situation for me to get re-recruited and start the process all over again,” Reyes said in the story. “And hopefully get some good looks down the road.”
Reyes is a native of Chile and dealt with a few injuries this season. Reyes injured a toe in the preseason and decided to leave the program after former head coach Gib Arnold was fired in late October. Reyes then decided he wanted to give Hawaii’s team a shot and returned to the team under new head coach Benjy Taylor, but he injured his hand during practice. Hand surgery cost Reyes the entire 2014-15 season and that injury is another reason he’s leaving the team.
“That’s one of the main reasons why I’m leaving,” Reyes said in the story. “I wanted to play, and then I got hurt, my toe first and now I hurt my hand, so I can’t play. If I’m sitting out, I’d much rather sit out at home (in Florida), you know?
“I was really looking forward to playing here. But you know, it is what it is. Circumstances weren’t the best. Coach got fired, I got injured twice. So, just move on to something new. Hopefully I get some more luck there, man.”
It sounds like Reyes just had a string of incidents not go his way duiring his time on the island between injuries and losing his head coach. After a few seasons of adding strength and skill at the junior college level, he should be an interesting prospect to track leaving junior college.
The 2013-14 season was a very competitive one for the Big West, with preseason favorite UC Irvine winning the regular season title. Big West Coach of the Year Russell Turner’s Anteaters were one of the nation’s best defensive teams and that was to be expected, with 7-foot-6 Mamadou Ndiaye anchoring their zone defense in the middle and defensive stalwart Will Davis II also figuring prominently in their plans. UC Irvine went 13-3 in conference play, finishing a game ahead of a very good UCSB squad led by Big West Player of the Year Alan Williams.
With those two teams combining to go 25-7 in Big West play they were a lock to reach the conference tournament final, right? Wrong.
The Anteaters and Gauchos received a painful reminder of how rough conference tournaments can be in one-bid leagues, as both were bounced from the Big West tournament with seven-seed Cal Poly getting hot at just the right time. Joe Callero’s Mustangs, who entered the tournament having lost five of their final six regular season games, beat UCSB and UC Irvine on consecutive days before holding off CSUN in the title game.
The favorite in 2014-15 will once again be a UC Irvine team returning nearly 84 percent of its scoring from a season ago. In addition to Ndiaye (8.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.1 bpg) and Davis (11.0, 6.4) the Anteaters also welcome back guards Alex Young (junior; 8.9 ppg, 4.6 apg) and Luke Nelson (sophomore; 11.8 ppg), the last two winners of the league’s Freshman of the Year award. UC Irvine will be favored to repeat as Big West regular season champs, and UCSB could once again be the Anteaters’ greatest threat.
The Gauchos also return four starters, with Williams (21.3 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 2.4 bpg) and junior guard Michael Bryson (11.5, 4.3) leading the way offensively. UCSB also has one of the steadier hands in the conference in point guard Zalmico Harmon, who ranked second nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.64). Yet even with the amount of talent returning at both UC Irvine and UCSB, as many as six teams harbor realistic thoughts of winning the Big West.
One team to keep in mind is Long Beach State, which will be led by senior guards Michael Caffey and Tyler Lamb. Those two combined to score more than 31 points per game last season, and the addition of FGCU graduate transfer Eric McKnight will help the 49ers in the paint. Dan Monson’s put together another brutal non-conference slate, so Long Beach State will once again be tested before the start of league play.
CSUN returns the tandem of Stephen Maxwell and Stephan Hicks, and Cal Poly returns three starters led by junior David Nwaba. UC Davis can’t be ignored either, as the Aggies are led by one of the more prolific perimeter scorers around in senior Corey Hawkins. There’s a lot of returning talent in the Big West, which should make for a highly competitive 2014-15.
PRESEASON BIG WEST PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Alan Williams, UCSB
Williams won the honor last season and with good reason, as he averaged 21.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots per game. Williams shot 53.3% from the field, and he was the best player in the Big West in both offensive (14.6) and defensive (26.9) rebounding percentage.
THE REST OF THE PRESEASON ALL-BIG WEST TEAM:
Corey Hawkins, UC Davis: Hawkins accounted for 18.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game as a redshirt junior.
Michael Caffey, Long Beach State: Caffey’s been a first team All-Big West selection in each of the last two seasons, averaging 16.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game in 2013-14.
Isaac Fotu, Hawaii: No Christian Standhardinger means even more attention for Fotu, who accounted for 14.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game last season.
Stephen Maxwell, CSUN: Maxwell was very good last season, shooting 54.7% from the field and averaging 17.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per contest.
College basketball no longer has any representation in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup as New Zealand fell today to Lithuania in the Round of 16.
Nebraska guard Tai Webster and Hawaii forward Isaac Fotu were both playing for the Tall Blacks in the event and Fotu, in particular, had a very positive event.
In six games, the 6-foot-4 Webster averaged 5.3 points, 3 rebounds and 1.5 assists a game while shooting 37 percent (13-for-35) from the field and nine percent (1-for-11) from three-point range.
While those numbers aren’t great for Webster, being a college sophomore playing against a lot of professionals is a valuable training camp.
The 6-foot-8 Fotu had a strong showing at the World Cup, as he finished in double figures in the scoring column the last three games of the event and averaged 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Fotu also shot 60 percent (23-for-38) from the field and 41 percent (5-for-12) from three-point range.
New Zealand may be eliminated but the six games — and practices — were both valuable experiences for Webster and Fotu entering the 2014-15 college basketball season.
Prior to Sunday, Senegal’s senior national team hadn’t won a game at the FIBA Basketball World Cup (formerly known as the FIBA World Championships) since 1998. That changed Sunday afternoon, as the Senegalese held off Puerto Rico by the final score of 82-75. Senegal’s squad was led by Mouhammad Faye (20 points) and former Louisville (and current Minnesota Timberwolf) center Gorgui Dieng, who accounted for 18 points and 13 rebounds in the victory.
Senegal is also one of four teams at the FIBA Basketball World Cup that has a current college player on its roster, and on Sunday Ohio senior forward Maurice Ndour provided some help off the bench. Ndour accounted for eight points, two rebounds and two steals in 30 minutes of action off the bench. In two games at the Basketball World Cup Ndour, who was a second team All-MAC selection last season, is averaging 6.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.
Next up for Ndour and his teammates is a game against Croatia Monday morning.
Ndour was the only collegian at the event to experience victory on Sunday, and he was also the most productive from an offensive standpoint. New Zealand’s college tandem of Isaac Fotu (Hawaii) and Tai Webster (Nebraska) combined to score four points and grab six rebounds in their team’s 75-62 loss to the Dominican Republic, with Webster accounting for four of the six rebounds. Next up for New Zealand: the United States on Tuesday.
SMU senior center Yanick Moreira, who posted a double-double in Angola’s win over South Korea on Saturday, wasn’t as effective in his team’s 75-62 loss to Lithuania. Moreira finished the game with two points and two rebounds in just five minutes of action. Lastly there was Kansas freshman Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who played ten minutes in Ukraine’s 81-76 loss to Finland. Mykhailiuk scored four minutes during his time on the floor, which came after not playing at all in Ukraine’s opener Saturday.
Saturday marked the start of the FIBA Basketball World Cup, with the United States and hosts Spain both coasting to comfortable victories. The event is loaded with professionals, which is to be expected, with there being just five players currently on college basketball rosters participating. Among those five is Angola center Yanick Moreira, who’s a member of Larry Brown’s program at SMU.
Moreira played in just 23 games last season due to injury, so this time on the court ahead of the 2014-15 season could prove valuable for him as he looks to solidify his spot alongside Markus Kennedy in the SMU front court rotation. Moreira got off to a good start Saturday, accounting for 16 points and ten rebounds in Angola’s 80-69 victory over South Korea. Moreira made seven of his eleven field goal attempts, and six of his ten rebounds were of the offensive variety.
After being outscored 30-16 in the third quarter, which wiped out most of Angola’s 18-point halftime advantage, the Angolans outscored Korea 28-21 in the final quarter. As part of Group D, which includes Lithuania, Slovenia, Australia and Mexico, Angola is looking to earn one of four available slots in the knockout rounds. Saturday’s win gets them off to a good start, and Moreira and company will look to move to 2-0 when they face group favorite Lithuania Sunday afternoon.
Moreira was the lone collegian to reach double digits Saturday, but he wasn’t also the only player to experience victory. Ukraine’s Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who will join the Kansas program immediately after his tournament is completed, did not see any action in Ukraine’s 72-62 win over the Dominican Republic. The Ukraine is in Group C, which in addition to the favored USA has three current college basketball players.
The other two current collegians in Group C are New Zealand’s Isaac Fotu (Hawaii) and Tai Webster (Nebraska). Both saw time in New Zealand’s 76-73 loss to Turkey, with Fotu accounting for seven points and four rebounds in the defeat and Webster finishing with six points and five rebounds. Corey Webster led New Zealand with 22 points and Rob Loe, who played his college basketball at Saint Louis, added 11 to go along with six rebounds.
Maurice Ndour, who will be a senior at Ohio this season, accounted for four points, three rebounds and two steals in Senegal’s 87-64 loss to Greece in Group B play. Gorgui Dieng, who played at Louisville, paced Senegal with 21 points and 14 rebounds.