Recruiting rundown: Under-the-radar classes to watch in 2012-13

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College basketball recruiting junkies have no doubt heard about the impressive 2012 incoming class hauls that have been reeled in by UCLA, Kentucky, Arizona and other perennial blue blood programs. Often, BCS conference teams dominate team recruiting class rankings, by virtue of pulling in the most publicized and touted of recruits.

Still, recent NCAA tournament history indicates that not only are non-BCS schools relevant, they also have a significant share of talented players, which they identify and land on the recruiting trail.

In looking at non-BCS schools, the efforts of Houston, Xavier, Memphis, and UNLV have been well-publicized by virtue of each school landing multiple top-100 prospects. With that in mind, here are a handful of non-BCS recruiting classes that could have an impact as early as next year, which haven’t received as much attention.

Head coach Greg Marshall has plenty of options in keeping Wichita State’s juggernaut going, given the talented group he assembled for next year. Junior college guard Nick Wiggins (the older brother of the top prospect in the nation’s 2014 class, Andrew Wiggins) could provide an instant offensive infusion. Skilled point guard Fred Van Vleet is on the way from Illinois, and forward Teddy Hawkins locked up an Ohio state championship. JUCO power forward Cleanthony Early should be set to help anchor the inside. Make no mistake, Marshall has a stellar group headed his way next year, which is not a shocker given the program’s recent success.

Marshall locked up five players that will keep the Herd program going. The last, and probably most-important signee is former Louisville-commit Ryan Taylor, a 6-6 forward that is seasoned from a year of prep school. Two of the top prospects from Texas’ junior college basketball ranks, Elijah Pittman and D.D. Scarver both look ready to contribute, while high school guards Kareem Canty and Tamron Manning are both extremely solid. This group looks to have five players that are nicely suited for Conference USA.

While many fans are aware of the storyline that led 7-footer Robert Upshaw to Fresno State, the reality is that coach Rodney Terry’s first full recruiting class addresses the program’s needs and should set them up in good position for the future. While Upshaw is a top-50 prospect and clearly the headliner, there’s other room for excitement. 6-5 forward Broderick Newbill is a glue guy, and former Kansas-signee Braeden Anderson should have a niche in the frontcourt. Another newcomer with some acclaim is 6-3 shooting guard Marvelle Harris, reportedly one of the most underrated players in SoCal.

By no means is San Diego State going to sneak up on anyone, but their three man recruiting class arguably has the most bang for its buck at the non-BCS level. The icing on the cake came when top-50 forward Winston Shepard decided to pick the Aztecs over numerous suitors, as he becomes an immediate mismatch at 6-8 against most of their slate. Two other talented prospects from Southern California, bouncy wing Matt Shrigley and slender but talented center Skylar Spencer, will be hard for coach Steve Fisher to keep off the floor.

Coach Pat Skerry’s first season at Towson was ugly and undoubtedly difficult to watch for any observers that slogged their way through a 1-31 season. Skerry has a background as a successful recruiter as an assistant coach in the Big East and that has carried over to his tenure at the helm for the Tigers. In high school guards Jerome Hairston and Frank Mason, Skerry has a base to build from for the future. Forwards Barrington Alston and Timajh Parker-Rivera both should also be very solid CAA players. Near the end of the period, Skerry also added the services of two wings, Marquis Marshall and Rafriel Guthrie. With presumably almost every starting slot open to consideration the talent newcomers figure to have more than first crack and revitalizing the ailing Towson program.

Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.

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.