Having managed to hang onto two verbal commitments and re-recruit a third who had originally made a pledge to Alabama, new head coach Avery Johnson’s had a solid start to his tenure in Tuscaloosa. Saturday it was reported by ESPN.com that he’s managed to reel in a transfer as well, with former Memphis forward Nick King deciding to join the SEC program.
King, a Memphis native, played two seasons for Josh Pastner and averaged 5.9 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. As a sophomore the 6-foot-7 King saw more playing time, and he accounted for 7.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in just under 19 minutes of action per game.
But he decided to transfer at the end of the season, with 247Sports reporting that King did not feel that he could reach his full potential as a player at Memphis. He’ll have to sit out a season at Alabama before having two years left to play, but the opportunity to learn from a coach who both played and coached in the NBA should help him skill-wise.
King made his pledge to Alabama while on a visit to the school, and he joins incoming freshmen Dazon Ingram, Brandon Austin and Dontá Hall as players who will join the program this summer.
Memphis to lose two former top 100 recruits to transfer
Memphis announced on Wednesday that two players will be transferring out of the program: Nick King and Pookie Powell.
“Nick and Pookie both are fine young men and in good academic standing at the University,” said head coach Josh Pastner. “We support both players and wish them all the best.”
King, a 6-foot-7 wing, is a former top 50 recruit that averaged 7.2 points and 4.8 boards this past season for the Tigers, starting seven games. It was his second season with the program. Powell, a freshman, started 11 games and averaged 4.3 points and 2.7 assists this year. He was a top 100 recruit but was not academically eligible last season.
King is a Memphis native that played on the same AAU team as Murray State star Cameron Payne. Powell is from Orlando and nearly transferred out of the Memphis program last April.
After suffering a disappointing loss to Stephen F. Austin earlier this week, the Memphis Tigers are looking to rebound with a win over Bradley. And plays like the one made in the first half by sophomore forward Nick King will help in that regard.
Teammate Kuran Iverson was in trouble on the baseline, trapped by two Bradley defenders and on the verge of winding up out of bounds. While some players will call a timeout in that spot others will attempt to throw the ball off of the defender, which is what Iverson attempted to do here.
Unfortunately for Bradley’s Mike Shaw, the ball wound up in King’s hands. The result: an impressive posterization.
The wing position in college basketball this season will be fun to keep track of. It can be argued that from a depth standpoint this is the strongest position for incoming freshmen, with two players expected to be NBA Draft lottery selections in the near future and others expected to have a significant impact on their team’s fortunes. But there are also skilled veterans among the ranks, including one who reached the Final Four last season and another whose team fell one win short of that goal. What’s the common bond amongst many of these players? Versatility, which allows them to impact games in multiple facets.
Below are some of the best wings in college basketball this season, beginning with a gifted freshman from the Pac-12.
1. Stanley Johnson, Arizona: Johnson has the build of a pro and the skill set to match, as he’s capable of scoring at all three levels with great consistency. He’s no slouch on the defensive end either, which is key when fitting into what was one of the nation’s best defensive teams a season ago. In a season without a clear-cut choice for national Player of the Year, Arizona’s freshman wing could be right in the mix come March.
2. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin: Dekker went from reserve to starter in 2013-14 and his productivity was one reason for the Badgers’ trek to the Final Four. Dekker averaged 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, shooting nearly 47 percent from the field. If he can raise his three-point shooting back to freshman year levels (39.1%), and he looked better shooting the ball at the LeBron James Skills Academy in July, Dekker becomes an even tougher assignment for opposing teams.
3. Delon Wright, Utah: The late Bum Phillips’ words regarding Earl Campbell may apply to Wright when it comes to discussing the most versatile players in college basketball: “he may not be in a class by himself, but it don’t take long to call roll.” Wright (15.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 5.3 apg) was a pivotal figure for the Utes in 2013-14, leading the team in scoring and assists. It could be argued that Wright should be on the lead guards list given how often he’s allowed to initiate the offense for Larry Krystkowiak’s team, but he fits in at any of the three perimeter positions.
4. Kelly Oubre, Kansas: One of three freshmen to make the top ten in our list, Oubre has the skill set needed to be one of the most gifted scorers in the country immediately. The 6-foot-8 lefty has a slight build, but he can finish through contact and is a good perimeter shooter as well. Oubre also uses ball screens well, an attribute that was on display at the adidas Nations camp in August. Given the production Kansas lost on the wing in the form of Andrew Wiggins, Oubre will have plenty of chances to put points on the board.
5. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona: Hollis-Jefferson is one of the best on-ball defenders in the country, and he was very good around the basket as a freshman. The question for Hollis-Jefferson (9.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg in 2013-14) is a simple one: how much has he improved his perimeter shooting over the summer? Hollis-Jefferson showed progress in July at the Lebron camp, and a consistent perimeter shot would make him an even tougher player for opponents to defend.
6. Treveon Graham, VCU: The 6-foot-6 senior has been a consistently productive player for Shaka Smart throughout his career, averaging 15.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game last season. Graham can certainly shoot the ball from the perimeter, but he’s good in the mid-range game and can put the ball on the deck as well. He’ll be one of the leaders for a team expected by many to win the Atlantic 10.
7. Justin Jackson, North Carolina: The third freshman in the top ten, the 6-foot-8 Jackson can score both inside and out for the Tar Heels in 2014-15. As a high school senior Jackson averaged 31.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game, and his length makes him a nuisance on the defensive end of the floor.
8. Aaron White, Iowa: With Roy Devyn Marble having moved on, the 6-foot-8 White will be an even more important player for the Hawkeyes in 2014-15. As a junior White averaged 12.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, shooting 58.6% from the field. The loss of Marble should open up more opportunities for White, especially when it comes to the mid-range game where he was so successful a season ago.
9. Branden Dawson, Michigan State: Dawson’s had to navigate injuries for most of his career in East Lansing, but there should be little doubt regarding his skill level. Last season Dawson averaged 11.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per contest, and given the amount of production the Spartans lost (Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Adreian Payne) the senior will need to be even more influential on the offensive end.
10. Wesley Saunders, Harvard: Saunders is one of the leaders for the Crimson, having averaged 14.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game as a junior. Saunders’ versatility is one of his greatest attributes, and he’s also done a good job of getting to the foul line in each of the last two seasons.
THE NEXT TEN
11. Anthony Brown, Stanford
12. Justise Winslow, Duke
13. Winston Shepard III, San Diego State
14. Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina
15. Bryce Dejean-Jones, Iowa State
16. Sam Thompson, Ohio State
17. Dustin Hogue, Iowa State
18. Theo Pinson, North Carolina
19. Kyle Collinsworth, BYU
20. Anthony Drmic, Boise State
ALSO CONSIDERED: Justin Anderson (Virginia), Patricio Garino (George Washington), Vince Hunter (UTEP), Nick King (Memphis), Justin Martin (SMU), Sheldon McClellan (Miami), Larry Nance Jr. (Wyoming), Le’Bryan Nash (Oklahoma State), Marcus Thornton (Georgia), Tyrone Wallace (California), Byron Wesley (Gonzaga).
Memphis was manhandled by Carleton in the opening game of their Canadian tour over the weekend, losing 86-76 in a game that they once trailed by 32 points.
That’s not good.
But the Tigers bounced back on Sunday night, beating a good University of Ottawa team, 104-89.
Nick King led five Tigers in double-figures with 25 points, while Kuran Iverson chipped in with 18 points of his own. The Tigers allowed the Gee Gees to hit 17 threes and trailed 53-47 at half time, but a run early in the third quarter and 64.1% shooting from the floor — the Tigers were 36-for-49 from inside the arc — carried them to a win.
“We did some good thing tonight, but we still have a long way to go,” said head coach Josh Pastner. “We’re still getting exposed in a lot of areas that we’ll be able to work on in preseason workouts and practices. Overall, I was proud of our guys for their fight and their toughness in the second half.
“Nick played well tonight. I got on Nick after last night’s game because he wasn’t rebounding. He got to the glass tonight, and that’s why he was better. He and Kuran both played well tonight. And, Avery hit some big shots for us early in the second half that allowed us to open up our lead.”
This may not sound all that impressive, but it’s important to remember that Canada does have a pair of very good college teams. Ottawa has already beaten Indiana, Vermont and UIC this summer, as the Tigers were the first American college team to leave the Gee Gees’ gym with a win. Carleton lost to Indiana this year, but they beat Vermont and UIC as well and, last season, knocked off Towson, TCU and Wisconsin’s Final Four team before going to overtime with Syracuse.
Memphis was added to the list of Division I programs to take a summer trip to Canada, only to return to the States with a loss. On Saturday night, the Tigers took on Canadian powerhouse Carleton. The Ravens built a sizable first half lead, and eventually held on to an 86-76 victory over the Tigers in the Can-Am Shootout.
Carleton defeated Vermont and UIC last week while dropping a its first game to Indiana. Last summer, the Ravens defeated Wisconsin, a team that later reached the Final Four. Carleton has won the last four Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) titles and 10 of the last 12.
Philip Scrubb scored a game-high 35 points for Carleton, followed by his brother, Thomas, who added 21. The duo shot a combined 19 of 35 (10 of 16) from the field and outscored Memphis in the first half. Nick King led Memphis with a team-high 19 points. Newcomers Chris Hawkins and Dominic Magee added 14 and 11, respectively, off the bench. Returning starter Austin Nichols missed Saturday night’s game with an ankle injury.
Carleton shot 55 percent in the first half, and 57 percent from beyond the arc to build a 55-29 halftime lead. Memphis held the Ravens to 36 percent shooting in the final two quarters while outscoring them 47-31.
“The Carleton coach told me before the game that they blitzed Wisconsin, Syracuse and Louisville early in past exhibitions,” Memphis head coach Pastner said in a recap published by the school. “They jump on teams early, and we were another victim.”
This current Memphis team was more than susceptible to falling behind early, especially against a talented and experienced back court. The Tigers lost all four seniors from last year’s perimeter attack. On Saturday, the four guards to log the most minutes in the back court included redshirt freshmen Markel Crawford and Pookie Powell along with incoming freshman Dominic Magee and junior college transfer Chris Hawkins. None of whom have played a Division I game yet. That quartet was matched up against the high-scoring Scrubb brothers, both of whom were named to the Canadian national team this summer.
Memphis has another game on Sunday night, taking on the University of Ottawa, a team that made headlines earlier this month when it defeated Indiana.