Can the Bahamas be a springboard for Colorado State?

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Three Mountain West teams are taking off-season trips this month, and each has the ability to factor into the league title race in some fashion.

UNLV, who will play games in Canada, is one of the preseason favorites to win the conference along with San Diego State (and New Mexico right behind them).

The other two teams, Colorado State and Wyoming, are coming off of successful 2011-12 campaigns with the Rams beginning the Larry Eustachy era after Tim Miles left for Nebraska.

With seven first-year players (five newcomers and two transfers) the off-season is a time for Colorado State to establish team chemistry.

The ten practices leading up to their trip to the Bahamas, in addition to the game action they’ll see once on the island, could end up being a major benefit for a team looking for back-to-back NCAA appearances for the first time since the 1989 and 1990 seasons.

Unlike last year’s team, which found a way to get to the NCAA tournament without much depth or a rotation player taller than 6-6, the Rams have both depth and size heading into 2012-13.

Minnesota transfer Colton Iverson and junior college forward Gerson Santo add the size while Arizona transfer Daniel Bejarano has the talent to join a back court rotation anchored by Jesse Carr, Wes Eikmeier and Dorian Green.

“We’re going to have depth, in positions we need to, too,” Eikmeier said. “The new guys coming in have blended in really well. Guys who have played a lot of college basketball are helping everyone along. The transition … has been a lot smoother and quicker than I thought it was going to be. That’s a positive thing.”

The added size will help out the likes of Pierce Hornung and Greg Smith, who along with the now-departed Will Bell held their own more times than not.

Even with their toughness the Rams were slightly below the middle of the pack in the Mountain West in most rebounding categories, and with the league improving those numbers will need to improve as well.

“I have all the respect in the world for the guys who did what they did last year. It’s amazing,” Eustachy said “Tim did a phenomenal job as I look at the guys and the numbers he dealt with. They had to use a lot of smoke and mirrors and won close games … and did a masterful job of staying together all the way to making the tournament.”

The arrival of Fresno State and Nevada (TCU left for the Big 12) will make the conference stronger, so a head start on the 2012-13 season can only help matters for Colorado State.

The Rams had Moby Arena rocking last season, especially for big wins over New Mexico, San Diego State and UNLV. The first steps towards making sure there’s a repeat of that will be taken far away from Fort Collins.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

VIDEO: Mixtape for Duke commit R.J. Barrett, potential 2019 No. 1 pick

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Last week, after the NBA draft officially concluded, we posted a mock draft for the lottery in 2019.

At the top of that list was R.J. Barrett, a Duke-commit and Canadian-native that has NBA scouts wowed and intrigued. This mixtape should give you a good feel for why.

Trae Jefferson to transfer out of Texas Southern

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Texas Southern guard and NCAA tournament darling Trae Jefferson announced on Saturday that he’s leaving the school.

The 5-foot-7 Jefferson was sensational at times during his sophomore season with the Tigers as he put up 23.1 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game, helping lead Texas Southern to a victory in the 2018 NCAA Tournament’s First Four in Dayton over North Carolina Central. One of the most entertaining talents in college basketball, Jefferson is leaving Texas Southern in-part because former head coach Mike Davis took the job at Detroit this offseason.

While Detroit is going to be the favorite to land Jefferson, because of his connection to Davis, it’ll be interesting to see what his transfer market looks like. Jefferson also made it clear on his Twitter page that he would like to be closer to his hometown of Milwaukee so that he can be closer to his ailing grandfather.

Given NCAA transfer rules, Jefferson would likely have to sit out next season before getting two more years of eligibility. But he could be applying for a waiver if he’s trying to be closer to home to deal with his family situation.

Nevada’s Josh Hall transfers to Missouri State

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Nevada lost a talented player from last season’s team as rising junior Josh Hall opted to transfer to Missouri State on Friday night.

The 6-foot-7 Hall is a former top-150 recruit who played a key part in the Wolf Pack’s postseason run as he elevated his play to average 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game during the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Hall also made the game-winning bucket to lift Nevada past No. 2 seed Cincinnati in the second round.

Although Hall picked up his play late in the year, he was coming off the bench most of his sophomore campaign as he averaged 6.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season.

Since Nevada took in some talented transfers, while players like Jordan Caroline and the Martin twins opted not to turn pro, it left head coach Eric Musselman with too many scholarship players for the 2018-19 season. It looks like some of those issues are now going away as Hall is leaving for Missouri State and graduate transfer guard Ehab Amin opted to decommit from the school.

Nevada is expected to be a preseason top-10 team next season with all of the talent they have returning to the roster, along with the addition of some new pieces like McDonald’s All-American big man Jordan Brown.

Hall will likely have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules as he still has two years of eligibility remaining.

Chris Webber accepts Jim Harbaugh’s invitation to be honorary Michigan football captain

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The frosty relationship between Chris Webber and the University of Michigan could be thawing — thanks to an invitation from football head coach Jim Harbaugh.

On Friday, Harbaugh called in to WTKA’s “The M Zone” as show host Jamie Morris had Webber on the show. Harbaugh offered Webber the opportunity to be an honorary captain for the Michigan football team next season, to which Webber replied that he would love the opportunity.

Webber, a former member of the “Fab Five” who helped the Wolverines to two consecutive NCAA tournament title-game appearances in 1992 and 1993, has not associated directly with the school, or with other members of the Fab Five, for many years.

The NCAA mandated that Webber and Michigan not associate with one another for 10 years after the Ed Martin booster scandal. Webber has always been reluctant to participate in anything Michigan or Fab Five related. When the famous Fab Five documentary was made a few years ago, Webber was the only member of the quintet not to participate in the making of the film. Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson all have a solid relationship with the University of Michigan at this point.

Webber later criticized the film during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, as King and Rose fired back with responses to reignite the feud. In the past, Rose has also been vocal in his belief that Webber should apologize for what happened at Michigan, as the group is hoping to move forward.

Although Webber still isn’t mending fences with the other Fab Five members, or the basketball program, returning to Michigan in some kind of official capacity is a big deal considering his past with the school.

Harbaugh and Webber haven’t decided on a game for next season yet as that will be something to watch for over the next several months.

Akoy Agau returning to Louisville as graduate transfer

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Louisville received a boost to its frontcourt rotation on Friday as former big man Akoy Agau will return to the Cardinals as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau originally committed and enrolled at Louisville for a season and a half to begin his college hoops career before transferring to Georgetown. After leaving the Hoyas to play at SMU last season, Agau received a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA after battling injury for much of his career.

Agau gives Louisville an experienced forward who should earn some solid minutes next season. With the Mustangs during the 2017-18 season, Agau averaged 5.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in 16.1 minutes per contest.

While this isn’t the biggest splash for the Cardinals, they have plenty of scholarships to use for next season as new head coach Chris Mack tries to find a stable rotation. Getting a graduate transfer like Agau, who should be familiar with the school and the conference at the very least, is a nice step for a one-year placeholder.