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Holiday Wish Lists: What are the nation’s best teams in need of adding this holiday season?

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Over the course of the next three days, we at College Basketball Talk will be cruising through a list of college basketball’s best teams, attempting to figure out who or what they need to add.

Put another way, with the holidays right around the corner, if your favorite team was able to ask for one thing as a gift, what would it be?

Do they need to add a point guard?

Is there enough big man depth on the roster?

Can they shoot?

Can they guard?

Today, we’ll roll through everyone from Syracuse to Xavier.

Let’s get into it.

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FUTURES: Alabama-Louisville | Maryland-Seton Hall | Syracuse-Xavier

SYRACUSE: Shooting

There is just one player on the Syracuse roster that shoots it better than 30 percent from three: Tyus Battle. Battle has his own shortcomings as a player – namely, he doesn’t do much beyond score – but his ability to make shots is critical for a team that doesn’t really have anyone else that can do that. The Orange, right now, are a team that is surviving based on their ability to get to the offensive glass. Will that last against bigger, better teams in the ACC? (Rob Dauster)

TCU: More of the same?

Jamie Dixon has to just be asking for more of the same. The Horned Frogs are 11-0 and have one of the country’s most efficient offenses, thanks largely to some serious bucket-getting. TCU just has to hope that Old St. Nick – along with Jaylen Fischer, Vlad Brodniansky, Desmond Bane and Kenrich Williams – can keep them delivering against the Big 12 rather than the relatively, compared to their league, weak competition they’ve played. (Travis Hines)

TENNESSEE: A box out

I am somewhat worried about Tennessee’s like of bucket-getters offensively. Outside of Grant Williams, there isn’t really anyone on that roster that would scare me as an opposing coach. But the bigger concern for Tennessee is that they just do not rebound the ball on the defensive end. The Vols currently ranked 316th nationally in defensive rebounding percentage. That’s not good, and something that needs to be improved if Rick Barnes’ wants to get his team a win or two in the Big Dance. (RD)

Grant Williams (Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

TEXAS: A healthy Andrew Jones

Texas already ranks as one of the worst offensive teams among the crop of potential NCAA tournament invitees, and that was before they lost their leading scorer and the only guy on the roster that shoots better than 30.8 percent from three to a wrist injury. Think about it like this: Texas ranks 337th in three-point shooting on the season, and that includes the 43.2 percent that Jones shoots. With him out, they mustered 52 points at home in a loss to Michigan and 47 points at home in a win over a mediocre Tennessee State team. (RD)

TEXAS A&M: A healthy Admon Gilder

Things are going swimmingly for Billy Kennedy’s team, so the status quo seems to be plenty good for them. To keep things going, though, Kennedy has to be wishing for a speedy recovering for Admon Gilder, who is expected to miss a few weeks due to a knee injury. The Aggies’ SEC schedule is pretty front-loaded, so getting Gilder back quickly could be huge. (TH)

TEXAS TECH: Someone to make a perimeter shot

Chris Beard is looking for some shooting under the tree this holiday season. The Red Raiders have been awesome defensively – blocking shots, getting steals and keeping scores low – but their 3-point percentages could really use a boost. Only two players – Jarrett Culver and Davide Moretti – are shooting better than 35 percent on at least 30 attempts this season. Texas Tech will be happy to grind games out in the Big 12, but at some point they’ll need to space the floor. (TH)

Keenan Evans (John Weast/Getty Images)

UCLA: Jalen Hill and Cody Riley doing what needs to be done in order to return

Given the indefinite suspensions of Hill, Riley and the departed LiAngelo Ball, the UCLA rotation is stretched thin. The Bruins could really use Hill and Riley, two talented 6-foot-10 forwards who before the season began were thought to be capable of at the very least being supplementary options in the front court. While Gyorgy Goloman and Alex Olesinski have earned their keep so to speak, with Thomas Welsh leading the way, UCLA really doesn’t have anywhere else to turn outside of those three. In theory Hill and Riley would be able to help out whenever they’re allowed to play, but we really don’t know since they aren’t allowed to work out with the team. Hopefully they’ve done everything possible to make Steve Alford and the administration consider allowing them to play, because having two more bodies wouldn’t be a bad thing for UCLA at this point. (RJ)

UCONN: A new shoulder for Alterique Gilbert

The Huskies have major issues all over the floor – and, frankly, the bench – right now, and they aren’t necessarily solvable in the short-term. That said, I do think that things would be helped immensely if a healthy Alterique Gilbert can come back. I don’t know that he’ll ever be healthy, as he’s dealing with an injury to the same shoulder he dealt with last season, but if he does come back, they’ll get the point of their defense back as well as another guy that can create a shot for himself. (RD)

USC: DeAnthony Melton on the court

This one’s simple. While the Trojans are a talented group, they sorely miss a player in Melton who can tie it all together on both ends of the floor. Not sure when (or if) USC will allow Melton to play, but he needs to be on the court and the Trojans need him out there are well. Here’s to Melton getting back on the court before the start of conference play. (RJ)

VILLANOVA: Continued health

For my money, Villanova is the best team in college basketball and I’m not quite sure that there is all that much that they can do to be better beyond, say, getting Eric Paschall to actually make some threes; he’s 1-for-20 on the season. For my money, Villanova is just about perfect as they are, but there isn’t all that much depth on the roster should someone get injured. They don’t really have a backup for Omari Spellman. They don’t really have a replacement for Jalen Brunson, especially now that Collin Gillispie is missing some time. So let’s just keep the kids healthy, shall we? (RD)

VIRGINIA: A slasher

Virginia more or less are who they are, right? You know they’re going to play slow. You know they’re going to play the Pack-Line. You know the actions that they are going to run, and who the sets are going to be run for. What they’re missing is someone that can create if things get bogged down, a guy that doesn’t need an action run for him to create a shot or get to the foul line. As a team, they are 285th in free throw rate. As good as Kyle Guy has been, if he’s not running off screens and getting catch-and-shoot looks, he’s not all that effective. (RD)

Kyle Guy (Chet Strange/Getty Images)

VIRGINIA TECH: Depth

Wishing they could grow another serviceable big man for its rotation quicker than a Chia Pet, Virginia Tech will have to settle for developing more help on a short bench. The Hokies have a deep team if they’re playing the mediocre competition on their non-conference schedule. Against a juggernaut like Kentucky, however, it only looked like Virginia Tech had six players capable of logging major minutes. Once the ACC begins, expect a shortened rotation from Buzz Williams, but he could certainly use some of his bench guys stepping up in the next few months and earning more PT. (Scott Phillips)

WEST VIRGINIA: Esa Ahmad, and better offense

The knock nearly every year of the Press Virginia era has been the Mountaineers’ lack of scoring in the halfcourt when its defense isn’t turning to offense. West Virginia has been pretty good in the halfcourt this season, though, ranking in the 81st percentile nationally in points-per-possession, according to Synergy Sports. Still, Bob Huggins has to be looking to squeeze a little more out of the offense once conference play starts and the turnovers are harder to generate. Esa Ahmad’s return from academic suspension should help. (TH)

WICHITA STATE: The AAC to be better

Before submitting his letter to Santa, Gregg Marshall undoubtedly checked to make sure Trae Young wasn’t on the schedule again this year or avoiding the Sooners freshman would have topped the Shockers’ list. As it stands, Marshall has to be asking for the AAC – namely Cincinnati, SMU, Houston and Temple – keep high computer numbers to help Wichita State to nab that high seed that’s eluded them since that 2014 undefeated season. (TH)

XAVIER: A third scorer

A consistent third scoring option is something Xavier is wishing for. Although the Musketeers have a really deep team full of potential third options if Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura have off nights, they still don’t have a third go-to player to get them a bucket. Some nights it might be Kaiser Gates. Others, it might be the rotation of big men that includes Tyrique Jones, Kerem Kanter and Sean O’Mara. Or maybe it’s a young perimeter options like Naji Marshall or Quentin Goodin. Either way, at some point this season, Xavier is going to need someone other than Bluiett and Macura to get a big bucket and a consistent third scoring option would not hurt. (SP)

Christian Vital going back to UConn for junior season

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Dan Hurley is keeping his roster intact at the top.

Christian Vital, UConn’s second-leading scorer a season ago, is returning to school after declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, he announced Monday via social media.

“Great Talk Today Coach! Appreciate The Wisdom You Have Let Me In On!” Vital wrote “I Think It’s Time To Get Back To Winning Ways In Storrs! I’m Going To Need That #1 Back ASAP! WE GOT (UNFINISHED) BUSINESS!”

The 6-foot-2 junior-to-be Vital joins Jalen Adams, who was the Huskies’ top-returning scorer, back in Storrs in Hurley’s first year. Vital averaged 14.9 points on 38.3 percent shooting. Adams previously announced he would return to school without declaring for the draft.

The return of UConn’s top two scorers underscores an even bigger trend under Hurley as the Huskies appear to have avoided any major defections from last year’s roster despite the coaching change.

UConn is coming off a 14-18 season that proved to be the last of coach Kevin Ollie’s six years with the Huskies that included a national championship but also back-to-back losing seasons.

Chris Silva returning to South Carolina for senior season

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South Carolina is getting an first-team all-SEC performer back.

Chris Silva, who led the Gamecocks in scoring and rebounding last season, is returning to school after declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, the school announced Monday.

“I’m thankful for the experience of going through the draft process,” Silva said in a statement. “I want to thank all of the teams that gave me the opportunity to workout for their organization. I’m excited to announce that I’m returning to South Carolina for my senior season. I can’t wait to get back on the court with my brothers and continue to work on my game.”

The 6-foot-9 Silva, who did not get an NBA draft combine invite, averaged 14.3 points and 8 rebounds per game as a junior.  He shot 46.7 percent from the floor.

“Going through the evaluation process was an unbelievable experience for Chris and us,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said in a statement. “He comes back to a place he loves with some knowledge on some of the things that we have to help him improve on in his efforts to one day fulfill his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA.”

In addition to being South Carolina’s leading scorer, he was the SEC co-defensive player of the year last season after averaging 1.4 blocks per game. His return to Columbia gives the Gamecocks a potential contender for SEC player of the year in 2018-19.

Kansas fires athletic director Sheahon Zenger

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Kansas has fired athletic director Sheahon Zenger, effective immediately, citing a lack of progress in key areas within the athletic department.

“Sheahon has been a loyal Jayhawk, and our athletics department has improved in many areas under his leadership,” Kansas Chancellor Doug Girod wrote in an email to KU faculty and staff. “But athletics continues to face a number of challenges, and progress in key areas has been elusive. To achieve the level of success we need and expect, I have determined a change in leadership is necessary.”

Zenger had been in the role of AD since 2011.

The issue, of course, is not the play of the Kansas basketball program. The Jayhawks have won every Big 12 regular season title since 2004, and head coach Bill Self has taken the program to two Final Fours since Zenger was hired.

The football team is still a disaster, but one can’t help but wonder whether or not the real issue at hand here is Kansas’ getting tied into the FBI’s investigation into college basketball.

The Jayhawks were not mentioned in the initial indictments that were handed down, but Kansas was a central figure in the superseding indictments that were dropped after the national title game. The mother of Billy Preston, who did not play for the Jayhawks this season, was alleged to have been funneled $90,000 by Adidas, while Silvio De Sousa’s status is currently in question after the FBI alleged his guardian was paid at least $20,000 to help offset money that the family had already accepted from a rival shoe company.

All of that came in the aftermath of dealing with Cheick Diallo and Cliff Alexander, both of whom had their one season in Lawrence reduced due to off the court issues.

“Since becoming chancellor, I have spent countless hours with higher education peers and Jayhawks to hear their perspective on KU,” Girod wrote. “A common thread in these conversations is that, as a major public university with national aspirations, we must continue to strive for excellence in all areas — including athletics. As I have said many times, a successful athletics department is inextricably linked to our broader mission as a flagship research university.”

Louisville, ex-AD Tom Jurich reach $4.5M settlement

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville has reached a $4.5 million settlement with former athletic director Tom Jurich, who was fired in the wake of a national federal corruption investigation of college basketball.

Jurich disputed his Oct. 18 firing for cause after nearly 20 years as AD and had considered suing the school. The University of Louisville Athletic Association and Board of Trustees on Friday approved the settlement. Jurich’s employment ended “without cause” as a result of his resignation, also described in the settlement as “retirement.”

He’ll also receive another $2.6 million in accrued employment benefits, along with home game tickets and parking for Louisville football and basketball for 20 years.

An audit of the University of Louisville Foundation released last June showed that Jurich averaged annual compensation of more than $2.76 million from 2010-16, including more than $5.35 million in 2016.

Then-interim president Greg Postel had placed Jurich on paid administrative leave in September after the school’s acknowledgement of its involvement in the investigation. Trustees voted 10-3 to fire Jurich, two days after the ULAA unanimously fired Hall of Fame men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino.

The former AD said in a joint statement that he “spent the better part of my career” working with dedicated athletes, coaches and staff to elevate Louisville. He added, “I am proud of what we accomplished, which is well documented.”

Jurich’s legal team had stressed that the ex-AD did nothing illegal and hadn’t violated NCAA rules.

Trustee chairman J. David Grissom said in the statement that “Everyone is pleased that this matter has been successfully resolved. All parties can move forward to begin the next chapter.”

Jurich played a major role in Louisville’s success on the field and how the school handled issues off it. He led the school’s 2014 entry into the Atlantic Coast Conference and oversaw numerous program and facility upgrades, including a $63 million expansion of the football stadium due for completion by fall.

He also hired several successful coaches including Pitino, who guided the Cardinals to the 2013 NCAA men’s basketball championship. Louisville ultimately vacated that title in February as part of NCAA penalties for a sex scandal after an escort’s book allegations that former basketball staffer Andre McGee hired her and other dancers to strip and have sex with players and recruits.

Pitino has filed a $38.7 million federal lawsuit against Louisville, alleging breach of contract.

Georgia Tech’s Okogie to sign with agent

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Georgia Tech guard Josh Okogie, one of the big winners from this past weekend’s NBA combine, announced on Monday that he will be signing with an agent and remaining in the NBA Draft.

The 6-foot-4 Okogie finished his sophomore season averaged 18.5 points and shooting 38.4 percent from three. The numbers he posted during the athletic testing at the combine, as well as his 7-foot wingspan, makes Okogie an ideal 3-and-D wing at the NBA level.

“Josh is a tremendous young man and an excellent student-athlete,” said head coach Josh Pastner. “He has set a tremendous example, making the Dean’s List this past semester, and deserves a lot of credit for making himself a much better player over the course of his two years here. We will miss him in our program in many respects, from his performance on the court to the energy he plays with and brought to our team. We fully support his decision to take this next step, and wish him all the best.”