Looking Back: An Introduction

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Starting on July 10th, the first of three five-day live-recruiting periods kicks off.

What that means is that from July 10th-14th, the 17th-21st and the 24th-28th, anywhere that a high school-level basketball event is taking place, Division I head coaches are allowed to be in attendance scouting. Since all the coaches are allowed to be out on the road, the companies that run AAU tournaments and exposure camps load those 15 days up with as much basketball in as many places as possible. And the media entities that cover recruiting, as well as the ones that cover college basketball, will be forced to be there as well.

What does that all mean?

That 19-day stretch in the middle of July is one of the most important months for hoopers in the Class of 2014. If you want to play college ball, that’s as good of a time as any to get yourself noticed and convince programs to track your progress throughout your senior year. If you want a scholarship, that is when they are earned.

It’s also when the top 100 lists for the Class of 2014 will more or less be finalized.

To read through the rest of our Looking Back posts, click here.

I respect the amount of work that goes into crafting those lists. I know most of the guys that put them together, and, generally speaking, they have a pretty good grasp of what those players can do and can’t do. They put in the hours in the gym and travel across the country to watch these kids grow and develop over the course of their high school careers. They know the players, their coaches and, in a lot of cases, their parents or guardians.

But it’s also important to remember that those top 100 lists are based in large part on long-term potential and not necessarily on who they would take on their team to try and win Peach Jam.

And here’s the tricky thing about potential: players don’t always live up to it.

Which is why the only thing that these players should be concerned about it where they’ll be getting their next workout in, not where they’re ranked in Rivals top 150.

Case in point?

Victor Oladipo was unranked when he graduated high school. He went No. 2 in last Thursday’s NBA Draft. Otto Porter wasn’t ranked until his senior season, largely because he was unknown due to the fact that he didn’t play AAU. He went No. 3 on Thursday. Alex Len was an afterthought when Maryland brought him in from the Ukraine in August of 2011. In June of 2013, he was the No. 5 pick in the draft. Trey Burke, a Columbus native and AAU teammate of Jared Sullinger, was passed over by Ohio State for Shannon Scott and nearly ended up at Penn State before being brought in by Michigan as a safety net in case Darius Morris went pro. He was the No. 9 pick on Thursday after being the consensus 2013 National Player of the Year.

The best story is that of CJ McCollum, who was a non-entity as a recruit, ending up at Lehigh before he grew a couple inches and developed into an All-American and the No. 10 pick in the 2013 Draft.

I could keep going. Kelly Olynyk, the No. 13 pick, redshirted as a junior in 2011-2012 because he wasn’t good enough to get minutes. Shane Larkin, the No. 18 pick, decommitted from DePaul and went to Miami instead, neither of which is a basketball powerhouse. Tony Snell, the No. 20 pick, played at New Mexico. Andre Roberson, the No. 30 pick, was a three-star recruit from Texas that would up at Colorado. They all have guaranteed contracts.

But Myck Kabongo? CJ Leslie? They were McDonald’s All-Americans. They went undrafted on Thursday night.

This isn’t the only season where this happened, either.

Over the course of the next week, we’ll be taking a look at each recruiting class from 1999-2008, doing our best to show that your recruiting ranking is not a guarantee.

Nothing is a guarantee when it comes to making the NBA.

You can bookmark this link to read through each recruiting class breakdown when it is posted.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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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

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
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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

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
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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.