After putting together an outstanding 2013-14 season in which he helped lead his team to the NCAA tournament (alongside Elfrid Payton), Louisiana forward Shawn Long once again averaged a double-double in 2014-15. On the receiving end of more attention from opponents Long averaged 16.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game for the Ragin’ Cajuns, who won 22 games and reached the quarterfinals of the CIT.
With this being his fourth season of college basketball (third playing), there was some thought that Long could move on. However according to Luke Johnson of the Acadiana Advocate (Lafayette, Louisiana), Louisiana head coach Bob Marlin announced at the team banquet that his 6-foot-9 star forward will return to school for his senior season.
BREAKING: Bob Marlin announces at team banquet that Shawn Long is returning for his senior season
Long’s decision to return for a fifth year (he sat out the 2011-12 season at Mississippi State before transferring) is a big one for Louisiana, which is now due to return four of its top five scorers from last season. Just two days ago Louisiana received a commitment from 6-foot-11 junior college forward/center Larenz Stalcup, so the return of Long gives them even more depth in the paint.
With the amount of talent due back in Lafayette, Louisiana is capable of challenging reigning Sun Belt champion Georgia State and making a run at its second NCAA tournament appearance in the last three years.
What if today was college basketball’s trade deadline?
In honor of today’s NBA trade deadline, where far too many people will spend the day obsessing over where Goran Dragic, Enes Kanter and Reggie Jackson will end up, we give you college basketball’s deadline deals.
If teams at the collegiate level were allowed to swap players, what are some moves that could help turn pretenders into contenders, or contenders into favorites? Here are six trades that would fill holes on the roster of both teams:
1. North Carolina’s Isaiah Hicks for Cal’s Jordan Mathews
UNC makes this trade because: The Tar Heels have plenty of bodies up front. What they need is another player on their perimeter that can knock down jumpers. Mathews is shooting 45.0 percent from three on the season, meaning he is a guy that would allow Marcus Paige to play on the ball more.
Cal makes this trade because: They need help on the interior. Badly. Losing Mathews is not exactly ideal, but with Jabari Bird on the perimeter as well, they have the depth to be able to make a change. The Bears are not as far out of the bubble picture as you might think, and adding this piece for the stretch run could be the difference.
2. Ohio State’s Kam Williams for Texas’ Prince Ibeh
OSU makes this trade because: Ibeh is as big, as physical and as athletic as any front court player in the country. He can block shots, he can run the floor and he can go blow-for-blow in the post with anyone. Texas can spare him because he plays essentially the same role as Cameron Ridley, who is worlds better offensively, but Ohio State would make use of him as the shot-blocking presence that allows them to extend their defense.
Texas makes this trade because: One of the issues for Texas this season is that they have too many big bodies and not enough scoring pop in their back court. Williams is a streaky shooter, but he’s a guy with a reputation for being a big-time scorer that can provide scoring pop off the bench or from a starting role.
3. Washington’s Nigel Williams-Goss for Louisville’s Shaqquan Aaron
Washington makes this trade because: This season is a bust for Washington, who watched as their chances to make the NCAA tournament disappeared when Robert Upshaw got the boot. They need to start over, and what better was to do that than by bringing in a former top 30 recruit from Seattle. Aaron was lambasted by Pitino after the loss to Syracuse on Wednesday, meaning he may be out the door already. Why not try and get something in return?
Louisville makes this trade because: The biggest issue for Louisville this season? They don’t have a lead guard on their roster that makes everyone else better. Terry Rozier is extremely talented, but he’s a scorer first, second and third. Chris Jones is an elite defender, but he’s a gunner that wants to be Russ Smith. Nigel Williams-Goss is not an ideal fit defensively for Rick Pitino, but he’s one of the nation’s most underrated point guards, a guy that will get easy shots for some of his new, offensively-challenged teammates.
4. BYU’s Skyler Halford for San Diego State’s Angelo Chol
BYU makes this trade because: The Cougars need some physicality in the paint, and Chol will provide that. He’s not really a low-post scoring threat, but he blocks shots, he rebounds, he plays hard and he’ll provide a big, physical body in the paint to help deal with guys like Brad Waldow and Gonzaga’s front line. He can be to BYU what Jameel McKay is to Iowa State.
SDSU makes this trade because: The Aztecs cannot score. They lack elite shooting and they don’t have enough playmakers on their roster to help breakdown a defense. Halford is a knock-down jump shooter and a better creator than he gets credit for, and he’s an expendable piece for the Cougars given how many talented perimeter players are on that roster.
5. Syracuse’s Rakeem Christmas for Kansas’ Svi Mykhailiuk
Syracuse makes this trade because: The Orange literally are not playing for anything this season beyond pride, thanks to the ludicrous decision that the school made to self-impose a postseason ban for this year. That means that Christmas, a senior having an all-american caliber season, is a valuable piece. Mykhailiuk is a freshman, but he’s only 17 years old. He’s long, he’s athletic and he can shoot, meaning he’ll fit in the Orange zone, and he needs at least one, maybe two more years in college before he’s ready to go pro.
Kansas makes this trade because: The one thing the Jayhawks are missing this season is a true low-post scoring threat, and that’s precisely what Christmas is. He’d take the pressure off of their perimeter players, and while giving up Mykhailiuk means giving up a terrific prospect, it would make Kansas a real national title contender versus being a streaky shooting team with a shot at the Final Four.
6. Indiana’s Stanford Robinson for Louisiana’s Shawn Long
Indiana makes this trade because: Indiana has been forced to play small-ball this season because of their lack of size in the paint. They spread the floor, they jack up threes and they are as entertaining as any team in the country when those threes are going down. But they’re also the worst power conference team on the defensive end of the floor, and Long should help that. He’s a 6-foot-9 shot-blocker that can score on the block and has three-point range.
Louisiana makes this trade because: Losing Long hurts, but adding Robinson might end up being more valuable. Remember, this is the program that turned Elfrid Payton into a lottery pick, and while Robinson is a different player than Payton, the former top 30 recruit can still be a dynamic slasher from the wing. He’s fallen out of favor at Indiana, averaging just 11 minutes.
Louisiana star Shawn Long struggling with a foot injury
The 6-foot-10 Louisiana star averaged 18.6 points, 10.4 boards and 2.7 blocks as a sophomore — all while shooting 42.3 percent from three — but through five games this season, the potential NBA Draft pick is not himself. He’s averaging just 9.7 points and 4.0 boards while playing just 25 minutes a night.
To make matters worse, he sat out both of the Ragin Cajuns’ games in Las Vegas last week, a trip where Bob Marlin’s club went 1-1.
“He’s had a bone bruise and tendinitis in his foot,” Marlin told the Louisiana Daily World, “and it’s really bothered his mobility, and his lateral movement has not been very good, and his explosive either.”
Marlin gave Long the two days off in Vegas and his full team a couple of days off during the Thanksgiving break, and according to the story linked above, Long practiced this week and is expected play on Wednesday.
UL needs to get their star back to 100 percent if they are going to have a shot at beating Georgia State in the Sun Belt this year.