College player development, the NBA and imperfections

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Khyle Marshall’s primed for a solid career at Butler. But what’s that mean for his future?

The freshman forward helped the Bulldogs to a second-straight appearance in the NCAA championship game last spring, providing an energetic presence off the bench, usually in the form of a guy who grabbed every offensive rebound in sight.

He spent an earlier part of the summer with Team USA’s U19 squad at the FIBA World Championships playing – what else – a guy who came off the bench and provided a spark, usually in the form of grabbing offensive rebounds. In nearly 14 minutes a game, he snagged three rebounds an outing and 27 in all. But most (14) were on the offensive end.

Marshall might’ve seen more time, too. If only he thrived in the open-court style of international play, which couldn’t be further from how Butler plays.

This brings me to an article by Brett Koremenos of, detailing how the development of college players at their particular program doesn’t always translate into preparing them for the NBA.

Case in point? Marshall. At 6-fooot-7 and 210 pounds, he has the frame of an NBA small forward. But he plays power forward at Butler. Thus the rub:

Matt Howard was able to develop a serviceable 3-point shot in his four years with the university, so through hard work, Marshall could theoretically do the same. But standing on the perimeter and being able to make standstill 20ft jumpers hardly complete the skill set of an NBA 3. While at Butler, Marshall will be asked to screen on and off the ball, perform dribble handoffs on the perimeter, make rim runs in transition, and crash the offensive glass. Stevens, being the excellent coach that he is, will spend his limited skill development time drilling the techniques Khyle needs to succeed in his role. That means relatively little instruction will be devoted to improving his ball handling and ability to attack the rim from the perimeter, reading screens, or wing movement in transition.

That is just a brief glimpse at how Marshall’s college years affect his offensive development. Guarding the post for Butler will also stunt his development defensively. Marshall will spend very little time defending explosive wings on the perimeter and little to no time improving simple nuances like fighting through the screen on and off the ball.

Koremenos is correct is how Marshall will be used, but is careful not to heap any blame uopon Bulldogs coach Brad Stevens. Stevens, after all, is using Marshall as he best sees fit in Butler’s system. That system is hardly broken. But Koremenos’ larger point is to take issue with those who say the college game is the best way to prepare players for the NBA.

Marshall, he asserts, won’t get that at Butler.

In strict skills development, maybe not. Marshall’s unlikely to grow much more and develop a power forward’s body, which means ball-handling and perimeter game will almost certainly need to improve to become an NBA player. But those aren’t the only things he needs for the NBA. Butler provides the others.

He’ll learn how to play. He’ll learn the game’s nuances, poise in high-pressure situations and he’ll learn how to defend several different types of players (Butler’s guys always do, especially in March Madness).

But mostly, I’m amazed more isn’t made of Marshall’s biggest strength: His offensive rebounding.

Teams crave offensive rebounders. Not everyone’s willing to fight for those misses and not everyone does it as well as Marshall. He’s not incredibly undersized, nor is he simply chasing down loose balls. Marshall grabs rebounds. It;s that simple. And he’s still young!

Butler’s system may not be the perfect NBA factory, but what is? No school produces sure-fire pros. It’s more about the players and what they’re willing to do.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.