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2014-2015 Season Preview: This the year for William & Mary, or do new contenders emerge in the CAA?

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Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 college hoops preview package.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

The Colonial Athletic Association ended in dramatic fashion last season as Delaware defeated William & Mary, 75-74, in the final seconds of the conference title game in Baltimore. There will be plenty of turnover in the CAA heading into this season, as many star players have moved on from their collegiate careers and several programs from the bottom half of the conference standings in previous years look to make the jump into the NCAA tournament conversation.

William & Mary guard Marcus Thornton is the only returning first-team all-conference selection and is the league’s best player. The Tribe also return Omar Prewitt, the CAA 2013-2014 Rookie of the Year, giving W&M one of the best perimeters in the conference. Chasing the Tribe will be two teams that finished below .500, but have the tools to be serious contenders this season. Northeastern returns six of its top seven scorers, including second-teamer Scott Eatherton and Quincy Ford, who was sidelined all but two games with a back injury. The two 6-foot-8 forwards give the Huskies the CAA’s best frontline. Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich is equipped with some offensive firepower to account for the graduation of CAA top scorer Zeke Upshaw. Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley, both of whom followed Mihalich from Niagara in 2013, are now eligible, as is SMU transfer Brian Bernardi. That trio joins senior guard Dion Nesmith.

Drexel, Delaware, James Madison and Towson have all lost significant contributions, but could still pieces to offset the lost production. Damion Lee has recovered from last December’s ACL tear. He averaged 17.1 points per game for Drexel as a sophomore in 2012-2013. Gone from Delaware are four double-digit scorers, but Kyle Anderson remains, as the Blue Hens will shift to a strong defensive-minded team in 2013-2014. Two-time player of the year Jerrelle Benimon graduated last spring, but Towson does bring back Timajh Parker-Rivera and Four McGlynn while James Madison won’t have its full roster until late November.

The Dukes suspended talented scorer Andre Nation for the first five games. He missed 15 games last season due to violation of the athletic department. Northeastern has also dealt with personnel issues as starting guard Demetrius Pollard left the program earlier this month, although he remains enrolled at the university.

The CAA welcomes Elon from the Southern Conference. Elon’s Matt Matheny is one of three new CAA head coaches. Rick Pitino’s former assistant Kevin Keatts takes over at UNC-Wilmington while former Clemson assistant Earl Grant got a late start to his first season on the College of Charleston bench after the school fired Doug Wojick in early August.


In: Elon
Out: None

PRESEASON CAA PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Marcus Thornton, William & Mary

The 6-foot-4 two-guard is the conference’s top returning scorer, averaging 18.7 points per game, going for 20 or more 14 times during his junior campaign that ended with first-team all-CAA honors. Thornton back-rimmed what would have been a game-winning, buzzer-beater in the CAA championship game against Delaware; a missed shot that likely fueled his offseason workouts this summer.


  • Kyle Anderson, Delaware: The Blue Hens lost four of five double-digit scorers. Anderson, the only one to start all 35 games, should see an increase in production this season for the reigning CAA champion.
  • Scott Eatherton, Northeastern: The 6-foot-8 forward averaged a double-double last season, posting 15.9 points and 10.2 boards per game.
  • Juan’ya Green, Hofstra: One of three transfers eligible this season for a revamped roster. The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists a game for Niagara in 2012-2013.
  • Damion Lee, Drexel: Missed all but five games last year due to an ACL tear. When Lee is healthy, Drexel is a contender and he is a player of the year candidate.



1. William & Mary
2. Northeastern
3. Hofstra
4. Drexel
5. Delaware
6. James Madison
7. Towson
8. College of Charleston
9. Elon

Delaware lands three-star guard over the likes of Memphis, Oklahoma


Monte Ross is coming off his best season at the helm of the Delaware basketball program. The Fighting Blue Hens won 25 games, winning the Colonial Athletic Conference and reaching the NCAA tournament.

Delaware enters the 2013-2014 season without Devon Saddler, Davon Usher and Jarvis Threatt. That trio made for a high-scoring perimeter attack with each of them averaging 18.0 points per game or better. Last weekend offered Ross and his staff the opportunity to reload for the future with several recruits on campus for an official visit. The Delaware football home opener against Delaware State was postponed due to weather, but the rain couldn’t put a damper on the experience for three-star guard Eli Cain, who committed to Delaware on Friday night.

He announced the commitment through his personal Twitter account. “For my college career I will be attending the University of Delaware,” he tweeted.

The Blue Hens were able to beat out two high-major programs, Memphis and Oklahoma, for Cain’s services. Boston University was the other finalist.

The 6-foot-6 Cain attends St. Benedict’s Prep (New Jersey) and ran with the Playaz Basketball Club this summer on the Nike EYBL circuit. He averaged 5.4 points and 3.0 rebounds in 16.7 minutes per game for the Peach Jam champion Playaz.

The commitment is important for Ross, as next season he will have to account for the loss of Kyle Anderson, senior guard who averaged 11.0 points per game last year. Cain is the first commitment in Delaware’s Class of 2015.

Kyle Anderson, Mitch McGary among 2014 NBA Draft winners

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It’s an annual pastime when it comes to drafts, with many looking to declare teams and players to be either winners or losers. While those answers won’t be known for a couple years (if not more, in some cases), below is an attempt to peg seven teams and players who did well for themselves Thursday night.

Among those winners are a talented distributor who went a little lower than expected, and two players whose off-court issues did not hurt their draft prospects in the end.

– Kyle Anderson (30th to San Antonio): There were some questions as to where Anderson would land, and as the first round moved towards its conclusion it looked as if the 6-foot-9 guard would still be on the board in the second round. But the reigning NBA champion Spurs grabbed Anderson with the final pick of the first round, meaning that not only will Anderson get a valuable guaranteed deal he’s also with a franchise that has consistently shown that it can develop talent.

– Utah Jazz (getting Dante Exum with the 5th pick):  After the three players rated highest on most draft lists (Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid) were taken Orlando selected Arizona’s Aaron Gordon, allowing Utah to take the player it long coveted without having to give up anything. That’s a win.

– Doug McDermott (picked 11th by Denver; traded to Chicago): While Denver wouldn’t have been a bad spot for McDermott, his being traded to a franchise looking to make a run at a title is positive development for him. And one of his best skills, the ability to shoot, is something the Bulls can certainly use after struggling offensively last season.

– Mitch McGary (21st to Oklahoma City): McGary’s college career came to a premature end due in large part to a failed drug test during the NCAA tournament, and there were some concerns in the immediate aftermath that he could wind up in the second round. But McGary never slipped that far, as he was selected 21st overall by a franchise in Oklahoma City that has experienced a lot of success in recent years.

– P.J. Hairston (26th to Miami; traded to Charlotte): Hairston’s issues with NCAA rules resulted in his being ruled ineligible, leading to his having to take the D-League route to the NBA. The result: Hairston was selected by the Heat, becoming the first D-League product to go in the first round. His rights were then traded to Charlotte, but either way that’s not a bad end to a year that was anything but smooth.

– Canada: For the second consecutive year a Canadian was taken with the top overall pick, as Cleveland selected Andrew Wiggins. In total four Canadians were selected, and while that figure is disappointing (there were hopes that Melvin Ejim and Khem Birch would be taken in the second round), having the top pick two years in a row is a positive for hoops north of the border.

– UCLA and Michigan (three draft picks apiece): Just two programs can claim to have three players picked in the 2014 NBA Draft, with the Bruins seeing all three of theirs being selected in the first round. Leading the way in draft picks is a nice selling point for UCLA head coach Steve Alford and Michigan head coach John Beilein, especially with the July open recruiting periods right around the corner.

2014 NBA Draft Preview: The five safest picks in the draft

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The NBA Draft is on June 26th, meaning that there are less than a week until the next crop of potential NBA all-stars find out where they will be headed to begin their professional basketball careers. Over the course of the next few days, we will be using the expertise that we’ve gained from watching far too much college basketball to give you our insights on some of these prospects.

Today, we take a look at the five safest projected first round picks:

One name you won’t see on this list: Andrew Wiggins.

There’s a reason for that.

I would take Wiggins with the No. 1 overall pick. A lot of people would, and I can’t think of a situation where a team would be better off with Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid in the long run. That said, I understand that there are inherent risks with picking Wiggins. Does he have that killer instinct, that ability to take over when he needs to take over, that the greats have? Will he get to the point that he is strong enough to finish around the rim? Will he ever develop confidence in his ability to put the ball on the floor?

Wiggins has the highest ceiling of anyone in the draft, a healthy Embiid included. But he could also become the next Rudy Gay — or Gerald Green — if he doesn’t develop. He’s the smart pick, the right pick, at No. 1 overall, but that doesn’t make him a safe pick.

MOREUnderrated Prospects | Overrated Prospects | Top Ten Players in Five Years | Busts?

1. Jabari Parker, Duke

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 2), Chad Ford (No. 1)
  • Scott Phillips: “The favorite for 2015 NBA Rookie of the Year, Parker will be ready to score with advanced moves from his very first game. Parker will also rebound well from his position and showed in high school that he can be a better passer than he might have shown at times at Duke. Defense will be the big question mark for Parker, but he’s going to score and score frequently.”
  • Rob Dauster: “Parker is the most NBA-ready prospect in this year’s draft. He’ll be able to score the minute he arrives in training, and he should have a long and productive career averaging somewhere around 20 points. He won’t be a franchise-changing talent if he doesn’t work on his conditioning and defense, but he should develop into a perennial all-star.”
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2. Doug McDermott, Creighton

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 9), Chad Ford (No. 9)
  • Raphielle Johnson: “Best pure scorer in the Draft, but he needs to land in the right spot. While he won’t be a league scoring champ he’ll be a mainstay.”
  • RD: “McDermott’s upside is limited given his tweener status. Is he quick enough to defend on the perimeter? Is he big enough to defend in the post? What there are no questions about is his ability to shoot the ball, and while he may end up being a just spot-up shooter for his career, shooting is always a skill in demand. That’s why guys like Ray Allen and Mike Miller will get contracts until they can’t walk.”

RELATEDElfrid Payton, the Draft’s biggest sleeper | Balancing potential, running a program

3. Nik Stauskas, Michigan

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 10), Chad Ford (No. 10)
  • SP: “The NBA always needs shooters and always needs players that can operate a pick-and-roll and Stauskas does both things very well. He has a confidence to him that you want in a high-level shooter and he’s gotten much better each of the last two summers heading into the season.”
  • RD: “His rep is as a shooter, and while he does that as an elite level, he’s a much more well-rounded player than people realize: he’s really athletic, he can make plays off the bounce, he can pass, he’s got a swagger to him that will help at the next level. Like McDermott, at minimum his ability to shoot will keep him around.

4. Shabazz Napier, UConn

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 21), Chad Ford (No. 15)
  • RD: “Shabazz isn’t the quickest guy in the draft and he doesn’t have the size or athleticism of guys like Damian Lillard or Russ Westbrook, but he understands how to play and how to run a team. His change-of-pace makes him quicker than he is — he gets defenders off-balance — and he can really shoot the ball. Getting him in the 20s means a playoff team will be adding a quality back up point guard.”

5. Kyle Anderson, UCLA

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 25), Chad Ford (No. 21)
  • RD: “The kid just flat out understands how to play. There are always going to be questions about his athleticism, but he’s such a unique talent. Keep in mind: Boris Diaw is unathletic and slow by NBA standards and he has been a very effective player in two different systems. Anderson needs the right fit, but he’s an NBA player.”

2014 NBA Draft Preview: Eight Underrated NBA Draft Prospects

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The NBA Draft is on June 26th, meaning that there are less than two weeks until the next crop of potential NBA all-stars find out where they will be headed to begin their professional basketball careers. Over the course of the next few days, we will be using the expertise that we’ve gained from watching far too much college basketball to give you our insights on some of these prospects.

Today, we give you the most underrated prospects:

RELATED: Overrated Prospects | 2014 NBA Draft Preview

1. Aaron Gordon, Arizona

  • Projections: Draft Express (No. 10), Chad Ford (No. 6)
  • Scott Phillips: “Known for defending multiple positions and being a win-at-all-costs player with a developing skill-set, Gordon is young for his class and only turns 19 in mid-September and has his best basketball ahead of him.
  • Raphielle Johnson: “The former Arizona forward has his struggles shooting the ball, but he can help a franchise with his size, freakish athleticism and ability to defend multiple positions. While his offensive game needs work, he’s still an asset in the open floor.”
  • Rob Dauster: “I disagree. He can’t shoot, he’s limited offensively, he doesn’t really have a position at the next level, and he’s projected between 6th and 10th in a loaded draft. I love Aaron Gordon. I don’t think he’s underrated.”

2. Noah Vonleh, Indiana

  • Projections: DX (5th), CF (4th)
  • RD: “Vonleh has the size, length and strength to play in the paint at the next level while having the range to step out and hit threes. I’m not sure he should be picked over any of the Big Three, but if the Magic get ‘stuck’ with Vonleh at No. 4, they’re going to be very, very happy.”
  • SP: “Vonleh’s measurable numbers were outstanding at the Combine and the forward is skilled enough to be a stretch four in the NBA while also being big enough to contribute near the basket. Scary to think he only turns 19 in late August.”

3. K.J. McDaniels, Clemson

  • Projections: DX (26th), CF (23rd)
  • Terrence Payne: “The ACC Defensive Player of the Year has a great frame (6’11”wingspan) and athleticism. He’ll be able to defend several different positions on the perimeter.”
  • RJ: “His athleticism allows him to defend multiple positions, and he improved offensively during his time at Clemson. Not really a fan of player comparisons, but I wonder if there’s some Kawhi Leonard-like potential here.”

4. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State

  • Projections: DX (33rd), CF (22nd)
  • SP: “In the epic Round of 32 loss to Kentucky in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, Early looked like the best player on the floor in a game full of future pros. Obviously, he’s older and more experienced than those young Kentucky prospects, but he’s steadily improved his two seasons under Gregg Marshall. Early’s also deceptively good as a catch-and-shoot wing (50 percent from left corner, 42 percent from right wing last season) and finishes through contact at the rim.”
  • RJ: “We all saw Early perform very well for two years at Wichita State. Tough player, athletic and a solid skill set.”
Shabazz Napier

5. Shabazz Napier, UConn

  • Projections: DX (24th), CF (26th)
  • TP: So he’s undersized, and not very athletic for an NBA-level point guard. Despite those shortcomings, score and run a team. He’d be a great addition to any locker room.”
  • RJ: “Late first round has been the projection I’ve seen most often, and that’s low given his ability to score, distribute and lead. Some perennial playoff team will get a steal as a result.”
  • RD: “Napier can run a team, he’s willing to distribute the ball, he can score in pick-and-roll situations, he’s got three-point range and he can defend. He might be a career backup, but I think he’ll have a 10-year NBA career.”

6. T.J. Warren, N.C. State

  • Projections: DX (17th), CF (18th)
  • RD: “He gets buckets, and he’ll be able to do that at the next level.”
  • RJ: “Love his ability to score in a variety of ways, and he’ll have cleaner opportunities at the pro level given the spacing and his likely winding up on a team that already has bonafide scoring options given where he’s projected to go.”

7. Kyle Anderson, UCLA

  • Projections: DX (25th), CF (30th)
  • RD: “I don’t know who he guards at the next level. I don’t know what position he plays. In fact, I’m not even sure what kind of system he would fit well within. All I know is that he’s as unique of a talent as I’ve seen at the college level, and while his athleticism leaves much to be desired, Slo-Mo does so many things well that I have a hard time seeing teams not get value out of him at the end of the first round.”

8. Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette

  • Projections: DX (20th), CF (12th)
  • TP: “The late bloomer has emerged as a serious prospect with a stint last summer with USA basketball, and a march to the NCAA tournament this past season. Payton can create for himself and others. He’ll also be 20 for another eight months.”

UCLA’s Kyle Anderson, Zach LaVine officially enter 2014 NBA Draft

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UCLA made official the news that many had already expected on Wednesday, with guards Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine announcing their intentions to leave school and enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

LaVine, whose draft prospects rose greatly during non-conference play, made his decision the day after the Bruins’ season ended in the Sweet 16 with a loss to Florida. As a freshman LaVine averaged 9.4 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, making 36 of his 37 appearances as one of UCLA’s key reserves.

“I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2014 NBA Draft,” LaVine said in the release. “I first and foremost want to thank my family for all their support in helping me through this journey to achieve my dream of playing in the NBA. I also want to thank my coaches, UCLA, my teammates and all of the fans.

“I will forever be proud to call myself a Bruin and will never forget the memories that were made here. I truly can’t wait for this next chapter in my life, and again thank everyone for all their support.”

MOREThe entire list of players entering the 2014 NBA Draft

As for Anderson, Wednesday’s announcement makes official a decision that was essentially made before the season even began. Standing at 6-foot-9, the sophomore proved to be one of the toughest match-ups at the point guard position this past season. Anderson averaged 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game, earning first team All-Pac-12 honors.

“I want to thank everyone at UCLA for all they have done for me,” Anderson said in the release. “My two years at UCLA were two of the best years of my life. It was a tough decision to make with my family since our last game, but I have decided to enter my name into the NBA Draft. I will still continue to embrace the UCLA community, and I hope they will do the same with me.

“I would also like to thank Coach Alford for everything he has done for both the team and me this year in so little time. Coach Alford worked hard at getting to know all of us from the outset and created a family atmosphere that was fun to be a part of. He helped me develop as a leader on and off the court, and I appreciate him giving me every opportunity to succeed.”

The question now for UCLA is what happens with guards Jordan Adams and Norman Powell, with both having filed paperwork with the NBA to receive evaluations. The NBA’s deadline for underclassmen to enter the 2014 NBA Draft is April 27.