Seven good players who are great reasons to watch bad teams

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As teams begin to separate themselves from the pack, we’re beginning to spend more time focusing on and dissecting the elite, and less time on the mediocre.

This shift in attention occurs each season, but if you’re a true college hoophead there’s still plenty of reason to watch or at least follow a number of programs that may not be headed to the NCAA Tournament.

Take Texas’ J’Covan Brown. The Longhorns are already getting the bubble treatment, so I understand that if you’ve got no true allegiance  you’re likely not eager to watch them. But as this program goes through an in-between season, waiting for a top five 2012 recruiting class to get to campus, Brown is carrying this club while growing up at the same time. The Big 12’s leading scorer has improved his efficiency ratings, assist numbers, and is diligently trying to shed his baggage as a headcase.

Brown is just one of many other great stories being written outside the top 25. You just have to know where to look.

The next time you have a chance to watch one of the following players, give the remote a rest and tune in.

Vincent Council – Providence

Despite missing last Saturday’s game against Syracuse at the discretion of coach Ed Cooley, Council has played his way into Big East all-conference consideration. The Friars leading scorer and assist man, Council plays bigger than his 6-2, 180 pound frame and relishes any one-on-one opportunity.  It’s a real bummer the Friars are off to a 1-5 start in league play, but expect Council’s senior season to be special if he continues to improve his game over the summer.

Colt Ryan – Evansville

You know the best player in the Missouri Valley Conference; you don’t know the second best (sorry Kyle Weems). Ryan’s not Doug McDermott, but he’s managed to keep spirits high in Evansville despite the team’s 8-9 overall record. Deadly from beyond the arc at 43 percent, Ryan shouldn’t be mistaken as a one-trick pony. Against Butler, Ryan hurled a curveball at a Brad Stevens scouting report by frequently driving to the basket instead of settling for jumpers. His approach resulted in a 14-18 night from the charity stripe, and an upset win over the two-time national runners up.

Andre Roberson – Colorado

Yeah, yeah, the Buffs are currently first in the Pac-12. They matter, right? Perhaps now, but it’s hard to think that this team will hold form, even in such a mediocre league. Regardless of what happens, continue to follow Roberson, a high ceiling guy who is currently the conference’s leading rebounder. One of those athletic players who must improve his fundamentals and agressiveness, Roberson is a potential NBA lottery pick if he can somehow find some semblance of a jumpshot and a true position.

Arsalan Kazemi – Rice

Because of his background, Kazemi is probably a bigger deal around the world than he is in the United States. Born and raised in Iran, the 6-7 junior forward made his way stateside to The Patterson School after playing professionally in his home country at the ripe age of 16. There’s no question that Kazemi is a true all-around player. He has no major deficiencies or holes in his game, but scouts offer a wide range of opinions on the kid. With the Owls unlikely to appear on national TV anytime soon, you may need to put in a little effort to get a look at Kazemi before he likely bolts back over the pond to play for a top flight European club.

Reggie Hamilton – Oakland

The Golden Grizzlies have won the Summit League the past two seasons. It’s unlikely Greg Kampe’s current roster pulls off a three-peat, but despite guys like Johnathan Jones and Keith Benson long gone, Hamilton continues to keep it real out in Auburn Hills. A transfer from Missouri – Kansas City, the undersized guard is relentless with the basketball, at third in the country in scoring and first in free-throw attempts. Although he’s probably not a favorite amongst KenPom disciples, Hamilton has had some of his best games against tough opponents.

Gerald McLemore – Maine

McLemore attends UMaine but is not from Maine. I am from Maine but did not attend UMaine. Both Gerald and I like basketball. This opportunity to reference the Black Bears excites me. As the leading returning scorer in America East, McLemore continues to score in heaps even though nobody is really watching. UMO is a sub .500 team in a league that currently ranks 31st of 32 conferences, according to RealTimeRPI.com. One reason to keep tabs: McLemore is currently 16 three-pointers away from setting a school record.
Nick Fasulo is the manager of Searching for Billy Edelin. Follow him on Twitter @billyedelinSBN.

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

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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

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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

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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

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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.