Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.
Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.
WHAT DOES DUKE PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Rebound the ball with consistency.
- Why it will happen: Although the Blue Devils don’t have a lot of traditional post players that receive consistent minutes, they do have plenty of players — at multiple positions — that are willing to fight on the glass. Jabari Parker is undersized at the four from a rebounding standpoint against certain forwards, but he has at least six rebounds in all but one game this season and hovers near double-figures many games. Quinn Cook, Tyler Thornton and Rasheed Sulaimon are also adequate-to-above average rebounders at guard and Amile Jefferson has received more minutes lately and averages five rebounds per game in 16 minutes of action. The Blue Devils are 259th in rebounds per game so far this season but have outrebounded their last three opponents — including Michigan — after their loss to Arizona at Madison Square Garden.
- Why it won’t happen: No matter the effort, the Blue Devils are going to be undersized against many of the opponents they face on the interior. Josh Hairston (1.9 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game) will still get minutes inside for Duke as one of the team’s more experienced interior defenders but he doesn’t rebound at a high level and never has throughout the course of his career. And do the Blue Devils really want their go-to guy on offense spending so much energy fighting on the glass? That’s the question Duke will face with Parker as the season wears on.
WHAT DOES DUKE SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF?: Rely so heavily on Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood.
- Why it will happen: Rasheed Sulaimon finally showed some signs of life against UCLA after not even appearing in the Blue Devils’ win over Michigan and adding Sulaimon as another scoring option besides Parker, Hood and Quinn Cook would be huge for the Blue Devils. If Sulaimon is coming out of his early-season funk after his eight-point, five-rebound, four-assist performance against UCLA, it alleviates the offensive pressure put on Parker and Hood and gives opposing teams the nearly impossible task of defending four double-figure perimeter scorers.
- Why it won’t happen: Would you want to go away from this dynamic duo? Parker is a potential National Player of the Year after his stellar opening to the season and Hood is a potential All-American that isn’t very far behind Parker from a production standpoint. Plus, both of them are shooting ridiculous percentages from everywhere on the floor. Both Parker and Hood are shooting 55 percent from the field and both of them are at or above 77 percent from the free throw line and at or above 43 percent from beyond the arc. Not only are Parker and Hood scoring at a high clip, but they’re doing so in an efficient manner. Why go away from what’s working?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.