On Monday afternoon, the matchups for the 2K Classic and Legends Classic were announced.
On Nov. 16, a doubleheader will take place at Madison Square Garden. Providence will take on Washington. The other matchup will feature Virginia Tech and Saint Louis. The Billikens, like the Huskies, under new head coach Mike Hopkins, are in the process of a rebuild. This will likely result in a matchup between the Friars, a fringe top-25 team looking for its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, squaring off against the Hokies, listed at No. 23 in NBC Sports’ early preseason rankings.
The Legends Classic held days later at the Barclays Center will feature a doubleheader of Penn State and Pitt and an old Big 12 showdown between Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. The Nittany Lions and Panthers met last season on a neutral floor, with Pitt picking up an 81-73 victory. The Aggies have not faced the Cowboys since moving to the SEC in 2012.
Atlantic 10 Player of the Year: T.J. Cline, Richmond
The 6-foot-9 senior forward was not only one of the most efficient players in the conference, he was the only player in the Atlantic 10 to rank top-5 in (18.6 PPG), rebounds (8.1 RPG) and assists (5.7 APG). He had a triple-double — 34 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists — against Duquesne and then recorded another one — 19 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists — in his final game at Richmond.
Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year: Archie Miller, Dayton
Last year, Dayton was in a three-way tie for first place. This season, the Flyers won it outright with a 15-3 conference record. Miller had to balance early-season injuries to Kendall Pollard and transfer Josh Cunningham, which shortended his frontline. Following a loss to VCU, which finished in second place, the Flyers went on a nine-game winning streak, capped with a win at home against the Rams.
First-Team All-Atlantic 10
T.J. Cline, Richmond
Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure: The senior guard was second in the conference in scoring at 20.8 points, and led the A10 in assists and 6.6 dimes per game.
Charles Cooke, Dayton: Also an all-defense selection by the A10 coaches, Cooke led the Flyers in scoring at 16.5 points per game to go along with his 5.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists a night.
Jack Gibbs, Davidson: The conference’s leading scorer at 22.0 points per game. The repeat selection registered a handful of 30-point games.
Marquise Moore, George Mason: At 6-foot-2, the senior guard averaged a double-double — 17.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game — leading the A10 in rebounding at 6-foot-2. He was instrumental in an eight-win turnaround for the Patriots.
It’s been three years since the Atlantic 10 set a conference record by sending six teams to the NCAA Tournament. For the third straight year, the league is set to send half that amount, at best.
Rhode Island entered the season in the preseason top-25, but will likely remain on the bubble unless it makes it to Sunday’s tournament title game. Dayton won the league outright after overcoming early season injuries on the frontline. The Flyers are safe, as is VCU, who finished second to Dayton in the A10 standings this season.
The A10 wasn’t as strong as in previous seasons, but it could result in an eventful week in Pittsburgh. Will Dayton and VCU face off in a rubber match? Will Rhode Island secure its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1999? Or is there a bid stealer ready to make a run?
The Flyers topped the league for the second straight season; this time outright. After dealing with injuries early in the season, which played a role in a loss in a marquee home game against Saint Mary’s, followed by an upset loss to Nebraska, putting them on the wrong side of the Wooden Legacy bracket. However, Dayton enters Pittsburgh as winners of nine of its last 10. That span includes a win at Rhode Island and avenging a loss to VCU. Scoochie Smith, Charles Cooke and Kendall Pollard lead an experienced team with the league’s best offense, matched with a solid defense.
And if they lose?: VCU
The Rams finished second in the A10 and owns a win over Dayton. Like the Flyers, VCU has an experienced group led by seniors JeQuan Lewis and Mo-Alie Cox. Both meetings were decided by single digits. In both games, the Rams frontline, anchored by Cox and Justin Tillman, gave Dayton’s front court fits.
Rhode Island: The Rams enter this year as the conference favorite. They certainly have the talent, and perhaps a sense of urgency kicks in as the Rams are still one the bubble.
Richmond: Led by A10 Player of the Year T.J. Cline, the Spiders head to Pittsburgh as winners of four in a row. However, Richmond is 0-2 against VCU this season, a team it could potential face in the semifinals.
Sleeper: St. Bonaventure
With Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley, the Bonnies have two guards who can really light it up. While they finished the regular season 6-4, they did give both VCU and Dayton a tough test during meetings last month.
The Bubble Dwellers: One
Rhode Island: The Rams followed up a marquee non-conference win against a ranked Cincinnati team by losing four of their next six. A 21-win season, and a recent win over VCU, could keep URI on the right side of the bubble. However, a one-an-done performance this week could mean a long night on Selection Sunday.
Defining moment of the season: JeQuan Lewis takes a charge on in-bounds pass with 0.4 seconds remaining.
On Feb. 8, George Washington’s Yuta Watanabe hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left in a game against VCU. In lieu of going the length of the court for the next-to-impossible buzzer-beater, JeQuan Lewis drew a charge on Tyler Cavanaugh, sunk two free throws and the Rams left D.C. with the heist of a 54-53 victory. The previous game, a premature court storm by the St. Bonaventure fans, gave VCU a free throw, which helped force overtime.
VCU would have been on the wrong side of the bubble had it not won both those games, especially with Lewis’ quick thinking against the Colonials. Instead, the Rams are all but assured a seventh consecutive bid to the NCAA Tournament.
CBT Prediction: Dayton
Saint Louis announces plans for August trip to The Bahamas
After winning the Atlantic 10 with a senior-laden rotation in 2014 the Saint Louis Billikens weren’t as successful last season, going 11-21 overall and finishing last in the conference with a 3-15 record. With their six freshmen of a season ago now being sophomores, the hope for the Billikens is that they can take a step forward and be a more formidable team in the A-10 in 2015-16.
Jim Crews’ team will have a bit of a head start on the upcoming season, as the program announced Friday its plans for a three-game trip to The Bahamas scheduled for next month. Saint Louis, per NCAA rules, will have ten practices before leaving for Atlantis August 7, and they’ll play against local all-star teams August 8, 10 and 11 before returning home.
With nine underclassmen (six sophomores and three freshmen) and just one senior (Achraf Yacoubou) on the roster, these early practices and games could help SLU as it prepares for the 2015-16 season. It’s one thing to be told how to run sets and what the coaching staff expects, but being able to apply those summer lessons in game situations should help the young players moving forward.
SLU’s greatest struggles came on the offensive end of the floor last season, as they ranked at or near the bottom of the Atlantic 10 in scoring (last), field goal percentage (13th) and offensive efficiency (last). If Saint Louis is to be a better team in 2015-16 they’ll have to be better offensively, and given the fact that the A-10 should be better than it was a season ago that’s no easy task.
The Billikens’ hope that these practices and exhibitions will help them in that regard.
Five-star 2016 forward aims for pre-fall commitment, notes North Carolina’s NCAA issues
Jayson Tatum is considered to be one of the best players in the Class of 2016, and the 6-foot-8 St. Louis native has kept his recruitment tidy when compared to other players of similar regard over the years. In the spring Tatum trimmed his list down to just four schools- Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and Saint Louis; three traditional powers and the hometown school where his father Justin played during the 1990’s.
According to a report from News 4 KMOV in St. Louis, Tatum will likely make his college decision “in the next month or two.” Also of note in the report is the fact that North Carolina’s ongoing NCAA investigation is a concern, as was the case for 2015 five-star forward Brandon Ingram. Ingram ultimately chose Duke earlier this spring.
Brian Feldman of News 4 KMOV wrote the following about Tatum’s recruitment:
The top recruit in the country, as ranked by ESPN, says he’ll likely decide which school he’ll go to in the next month or two. It’ll definitely be before school starts in the fall. Interestingly enough, Tatum said he’s down to two schools (though he wouldn’t officially say which two they were).
Reading between the lines, Tatum talked a ton about SLU and Duke. He cited concern over North Carolina’s pending academic issues with the NCAA. Many who follow the situation strongly believe Tatum is deciding between staying home (and being a Billiken) and going to play for Duke and legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Tatum saying that he’s down to two schools is a big deal, but it’s also noted that he didn’t divulge which schools remain in the running. Either way he’d be a huge addition for any of the schools on the list, especially the hometown school that hasn’t had the best luck when it comes to keeping elite talent in St. Louis.
As for North Carolina, even with Tatum not revealing the final two this is another sign that from a recruiting standpoint they need the NCAA solution resolved as soon as possible. The school still hasn’t released the Notice of Allegations it received from the NCAA, although there have been reports that UNC may do so this week.
UNC had 90 days from the day that it received the NOA to respond to the NCAA, and from that point the governing body will be able to take the next step in the process. That may wind up being too late for Tatum, but with other highly-regarded prospects on the board (and a veteran team heading into 2015-16) a relatively quick resolution would help Roy Williams’ program moving forward.
EYBL Session 3 highlights for 2016 five-star forward Jayson Tatum
Above are some of Tatum’s highlights from the third session of Nike EYBL play, which took place in Houston last weekend. Tatum and the Eagles won all four of their games in Houston, and the 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 22.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in Nike EYBL games.
Video credit: Ballislife South
Arguably the top player in 2016 cuts his list to four
Jayson Tatum, arguably the top player in the Class of 2016, cut his list to just four schools on Friday afternoon. The St. Louis native, who attends Chaminade College Preparatory School announced he’s down to Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and Saint Louis via his Instagram page:
Tatum is ranked as the No. 3 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. Arizona, Florida, UCLA and UConn were among the casualties.
The 6-foot-8 swingman will be appearing on the grassroots circuit with the St. Louis Eagles again this season. The Nike EYBL season begins this weekend with Session 1 in Hampton, Virginia. He averaged 18.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest in 16 games in the EYBL last year.