Personal improvement equals team success for Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie

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While the Colorado football team has taken its lumps during the school’s brief run in the Pac-12, the men’s basketball program has seen its fortunes change for the better under head coach Td Boyle. The Buffaloes have reached the NCAA tournament in consecutive season for the first time since accomplishing that feat in 1962 and 1963, and despite the early departure of forward Andre Roberson they’re expected to be a contender in the Pac-12 this season.

A major reason for Colorado’s recent run of success has been their recruiting of California, which was directly impacted by the school’s move form the Big 12 to the Pac-12. Three of CU’s five projected starters hail from the Golden State, including 6-foot-6 junior point guard Spencer Dinwiddie. As a sophomore Dinwiddie led Colorado in both points (15.3 ppg) and assists (3.0 apg), earning first-team All-Pac 12 honors as a result.

With Roberson now in the NBA more will be expected of Dinwiddie, whose skill set attracted the attention of NBA scouts as the 2012-13 season wore on. That attention can be a negative for some players, with the desire to fit the NBA “mold” ultimately taking away from what their college team needs. But that isn’t expected to be the case for Dinwiddie, as he looks to achieve his childhood dream of not just reaching the NBA but ultimately excelling at that level.

“It’s really great because (scouts) are not asking me to go outside of my comfort zone or outside of my box,” Dinwiddie said. “They’re saying we want to see consistent effort on both ends of the floor, assist-to-turnover ratio, leadership and we want to see you win more games in the Tournament. Those are all things that point to a great season for Colorado, not just for Spencer.”

One area in which Dinwiddie will need to improve in 2013-14 is on the glass, as noted by coach Boyle in the article written by Brian Howell of Buffzone.com. Averaging 3.2 rebounds per game may be permissible for most point guards, but given his height Dinwiddie isn’t your standard floor general. Add in the fact that Roberson was so good on the glass (defensive rebounding percentage of 27.1% per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers; Xavier Johnson was second on the team at 14.3%), and it’s rather evident that Colorado will need “all hands on deck” in order to account for the production they’ve lost in that department.

“For his size at the guard position, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be averaging six or seven rebounds a game,” Boyle told Howell.

Arizona State’s Jahii Carson is the generally accepted answer to the question of who the best point guard in the Pac-12 is entering the 2013-14 season, but there are a number of contenders for the honor with Dinwiddie being one of the options. And if Dinwiddie continues to progress, both he and the Colorado basketball program can reap the rewards in the spring.

Old Dominion lands former four-star center

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Elbert Robinson came out of high school in 2014 as a borderline top-50 recruit with offers from the likes of Florida, Kansas and Louisville before he ultimately chose to attend LSU.

The 7-foot-1 center, though, never even averaged 10 minutes a game in Baton Rouge and now will be finishing his career as a graduate transfer at Old Dominion, according to multiple reports.

“Old Dominion was perfect for him,” Lawrence Johns, Robinson’s grassroots coach, told the Virginian-Pilot. “I know for a fact that nobody in (Conference USA) is over 7 feet.

“I told him to go there and show people why he was the No. 1 center the year he came out.”

Robinson, who sat out last year for medical reasons, could step right into a major role with the Monarchs, who lost their starting frontcourt this offseason. He averaged 2.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in 6.4 minutes per game last year for the Tigers.

VIDEO: Mixtape for North Carolina-bound Nassir Little

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Nassir Little is one of the most improved players in the high school basketball ranks, going from being a guy that was a borderline five-star prospect to being a potential No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and athleticism to burn, he has all the makings of being one of the switchable wing defenders that are en vogue in the modern era of the NBA.

Former UNC star Phil Ford has surgery for prostate cancer

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina says former point guard Phil Ford has had surgery for prostate cancer.

Team spokesman Steve Kirschner said Wednesday that Ford underwent the procedure Tuesday after he was diagnosed during his annual physical. Dr. Eric Wallen, the UNC physician who is treating Ford, says the cancer was caught early because Ford “has been proactive regarding his health.”

Ford played for Dean Smith in the 1970s and scored 2,290 points, a mark that stood as the school record until Tyler Hansbrough broke it in 2008. Ford also spent 12 seasons as an assistant to Smith after a seven-year NBA career in which he was the rookie of the year in 1979.

Bruce Pearl: ‘Good chance’ Auburn returns four players testing the waters

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Bruce Pearl told reporters on Monday that there is a “good chance” that his Auburn program will return all four of the players that are currently testing the waters of the NBA draft.

“I think there’s a good chance they’re all going to consider coming back,” Pearl said. “There’s a chance they’re all going to come back, but that’s been the case since the beginning.”

“I just feel as we get closer to the deadline and they gather more and more information, I think that chance improves. It would not surprise me, still, to see a couple of them stay in.”

Those four players are Mustapha Heron, Austin Wiley, Bryce Brown and Jared Harper. Brown was the leading scorer for the Tigers last season, while Heron was arguably their best player and Harper a steady floor general that is the piece that holds everything together. Wiley did not play after he was ruled ineligible as a result of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball. If he returns he will be eligible to play the 2018-19 season.

Heron will be the most interesting decision of the four. A former McDonald’s All-American, when he declared for the draft last month, he announced that he intended to sign with an agent. But he has told reporters in the last week that he never actually signed and is still “50-50” on whether or not he will return. He was not invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last week. Wiley was, but he did not make enough of an impression to earn himself a first round guarantee. Brown and Harper are very unlikely to be drafted, but both juniors will get feedback from NBA teams on what they might need to do to play their way into the league.

Auburn is coming off of a year where they shared the SEC regular season title with Tennessee, but they struggled down the stretch of the season after Anfernee McLemore suffered a gruesome ankle injury. As it stands, under the assumption that Heron and Wiley are gone, we currently have the Tigers ranked as a top 15 team in the country in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25.

With Heron and Wiley back, however, Auburn will have the pieces to make a case as one of college basketball’s five best teams next season.

Forward Lance Thomas transferring from Louisville

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With Anas Mahmoud out of eligibility and Ray Spalding having made the decision to enter the 2018 NBA Draft, new Louisville head coach Chris Mack had some holes to fill in the front court ahead of his first season at the helm. There’s now another departure to account for, as it was announced Tuesday afternoon that 6-foot-8 forward Lance Thomas has decided to transfer.

Thomas, who will have three seasons of eligibility remaining at his next school, appeared in 12 games for the Cardinals last season and averaged 2.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 4.2 minutes per game.

Losing Thomas may not appear to be a big deal based upon his production as a freshman. But, given the combination of player departures and misses on the recruiting trail this spring it can also be argued that Louisville is not in a position where it can afford any more personnel losses.

Louisville is now down to four scholarship players in the front court, wings V.J. King and Jordan Nwora and forwards Malik Williams and Steven Enoch, with Enoch eligible after sitting out last season after transferring in from UConn.

Williams made 12 starts as a freshman, averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.6 minutes per game, with King averaging 8.6 points per game and Nwora 5.7 points per game. Enoch played in 29 games at UConn during the 2016-17 season, averaging 3.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per appearance.