The NCAA announced rules changes for the upcoming men’s basketball season on Wednesday as the three-point line will be moved to the international distance of 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches for the upcoming 2019-20 season.
Voted by Men’s Basketball Rules Committee members after the international line was used in the postseason NIT the past two years, the longer distance received positive feedback. The change was highlighted for three particular reasons.
Deeper three-point range will ideally slow down the three-pointer “becoming too prevalent in men’s college basketball by making the shot a bit more challenging.” The lane will also become more available for players attacking off the dribble. And spacing will also be aided by the additional distance from the arc.
This is the first time college basketball has moved the three-point line since before the 2008-09 season when the distance changed from 19 feet, 9 inches to 20 feet, 9 inches. Since that change 10 years ago, the NCAA noted that three-pointer percentages steadily increased back to previous levels seen before the change as players and teams adapted to the deeper distance over time.
The international line is a bit more challenging than the current 20 feet, 9 inches, but there are also plenty of deep-ball specialists who are shooting regularly beyond NBA three-point range. The new distance will give those players a bit of an advantage (and more value in recruiting).
Resetting the shot clock after offensive rebounds is another change in the works for men’s college basketball. After an offensive team corrals an offensive rebound, the shot clock will reset back to 20 seconds instead of the full 30-second shot clock in an effort to enhance pace. The NBA has also made this similar shot-clock reset change, so this is a rule that has been changing steadily across all levels of basketball.
The panel also approved a proposal where players will receive a technical foul for using derogatory language regarding an opponent’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender expression, gender identify, sexual orientation or disability. Coaches will also be allowed to call live-ball timeouts during the final two minutes of the second half and the last two minutes of any overtimes. The previous rule didn’t allow coaches to call live-ball timeouts during the game.
Atlantic 10 Offseason Reset: VCU, Davidson and Dayton headline much improved conference
The grad transfer market is still in full swing, but for the most part, we know what the meaningful parts for the majority of the teams around the country will be.
That means that it is time to start talking about what is coming instead of what was.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at key personnel changes, the impact of the coaching carousel and the most important storylines heading into the 2019-20 season for each of college basketball’s top seven conferences.
Today, we are talking Atlantic 10
KEY OFFSEASON STORYLINES
THE LEAGUE WILL BE MUCH, MUCH BETTER THIS SEASON: The Atlantic 10 got lucky last season. There was one team in the league worthy of an at-large bid – VCU – and that team lost in the conference tournament. That’s the only reason they ended up as a two-bid league instead of a one-bid league.
This year should be different. VCU and Davidson are both sitting in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. Dayton isn’t all that far behind them. Rhode Island and Richmond both bring back essentially all of the pieces that mattered last season. The top of the league is as strong as it has been in a while, and I think there’s a real chance that we’re talking about the conference getting three or four bids to the NCAA tournament this season.
That, of course, all depends on what happens during non-conference play. Last year it was hideous for the league, and that left them in a position where the computer numbers were ugly and there was no way to add quality wins for the teams that needed quality wins. The bottom of the conference should be just as bad this season, but with three teams at the top worthy of top 25 consideration combined with a much stronger middle, there’s reason to be hopeful.
VCU AND DAVIDSON FIGHTING FOR FIRST PLACE: I think you can go either way when it comes to who is the favorite to win the league, but I don’t think you can pick anyone other than VCU or Davidson. They finished 1-2 in the Atlantic 10 last season and, combined, they lost three players from their rotations. VCU graduated a third-string center and lost a guy who lost his spot in the rotation to a freshman while, hopefully, getting Marcus Evans back to the peak of his powers; more on him later. Davidson brings back their top six, including one of the best backcourts in all of college basketball in Kellan Grady and Jon-Axel Gudmundsson. It will be a fun race between the two programs that couldn’t play more contrasting styles.
WILL DAYTON’S TALENT COME TOGETHER?: On paper, Dayton is right there with Davidson and VCU. They lose Josh Cunningham, but with the rest of their rotation – including a bonafide pro in Obi Toppin – returning and four sit-out transfers entering the fold, there is more than enough talent, depth and experience on the roster. The reason I have them a notch below the favorites is because I want to see how all the pieces come together. They can certainly win the league, but managing minutes and egos is going to be the toughest part of Anthony Grant’s job this season.
THE BATTLE FOR FOURTH: Best I can tell, there are going to be at least three – if not more – teams fighting for that spot. Rhode Island seems to make the most sense, given just how much they bring back, while Richmond is the sleeper that all the coaches in the conference are talking about. I also think it is worth noting that St. Bonaventure will be better than some believe given that they managed to find a way to keep Mark Schmidt in Olean for another season.
But I also think that it’s possible that a team like La Salle, or George Mason, or Saint Louis can pop up and surprise some people. There’s depth in the conference that wasn’t necessarily there a year ago.
CAN CHRIS MOONEY GO FROM ALMOST-FIRED TO NCAA TOURNAMENT?: Richmond is going to be the most interesting team in the league. There are big-money boosters that have spent the last year or two trying to get Chris Mooney fired. Someone even put up a #FireMooney billboard on I-95 in the city. The irony here is that Mooney may have his best team since the 2011 team that reached the Sweet 16. Grant Golden is arguably the best big man in the league while Jacob Gilyard was a second-team all-Atlantic 10 player last year. Nathan Cayo is back and, perhaps most importantly, Richmond’s best wing scorer Nick Sherrod should be healthy again. Throw in Wagner transfer Blake Francis, and there are a lot of pieces on this roster.
We’ll see if Mooney can make it all fit together, but this team is certainly good enough, on paper, to win 12 conference games.
PHIL MARTELLI, St. Joseph’s: An Atlantic 10 and Philadelphia institution is gone. After 34 years at the school and 24 seasons as the head coach of the Hawks, Phil Martelli was fired this spring. He landed on his feet – as an assistant coach on Juwan Howard’s staff at Michigan – but St. Joe’s is going to have to completely rebuild. As of right now, there are seven scholarship players on the roster.
JAVON BESS, Saint Louis: Bess was the best defender in the Atlantic 10 last season, the anchor for what was the best defense in the league. He also doubled as the best scorer and shooter on the roster of a Billiken team that struggled to score. This is a big, big loss for a team coming off an NCAA tournament trip.
JOSH CUNNINGHAM, Dayton: The Flyers will have more than enough talent to replace Cunningham, but losing an all-league senior that was capable of going for 20-10 on any given night is never ideal.
COURTNEY STOCKARD, St. Bonaventure: Stockard took a step forward as a senior, helping the Bonnies to remain top four in the league despite losing Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley. He was a deserving first-team all-league player last season.
OTIS LIVINGSTON, George Mason: The Patriots are going to have to change the way they play this season with Livingston gone. He was one of the best lead guards in the league for the last four years and the guy that allowed Dave Paulsen to run offense without worrying about what happens at the end of a shot clock.
ERIC WILLIAMS, Duquesne: The Dukes bring everyone else back, and Keith Dambrot has the respect of every coach in the league, but Williams was their best player. Losing him is a hard way to make up ground in a league where the top five teams all bring everyone back.
EVERYONE, VCU: Well, that’s technically not true. Michael Gilmore, a backup center, graduated and Sean Mobley, who started to lose minutes by the end of the year, transferred. So there are some changes. But all of the truly important pieces – star guard Marcus Evans, De’Riante Jenkins, Marcus Santos-Silva, Issac Vann, Vince Williams, etc. – are back, and they’re joined by a really good recruiting class. They’re old, they’re experienced, they’re deep, they’re talented and they were a No. 8 seed last season. This is a preseason top 25 team.
EVERYONE, Davidson: Last season, Kellan Grady was the guy we all thought would be the best player in the Atlantic 10 after a sterling freshman season got him on the radar of the NBA. Despite being banged up, Grady averaged 17.3 points as a sophomore … and his teammate, Jon-Axel Gudmundsson, won Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. Both of them are back, along with the rest of Bob McKillop’s top six from a team that went 24-10 last season.
EVERYONE, Rhode Island: The Rams bring back their top four scorers, including Fatts Russell, Cyril Langevine and Jeff Dowtin, and the only player they lose from their rotation averaged just 5.7 points. There is a lot of reason to like this group.
OBI TOPPIN, Dayton: One coach told me that Toppin is not only clearly the most talented player in the league, he is the only guy in the conference that is a surefire pro. A late-bloomer, he hasn’t stopped improving throughout his career and should be in line for a major breakout season.
NICK SHERROD, Richmond: Grant Golden, Jacob Gilyard and Nathan Cayo are the bigger names and they all return, but Sherrod is the guy that coaches in the league believe is the difference-maker. He’s a big-time shooter and scorer on the wing that they were missing after he went down with a knee injury.
KYLE LOFTON and OSUN OSUNNIYI, St. Bonaventure: Losing Stockard is going to hurt, but sophomores Lofton and Osunniyi are going to be very, very good for a long time in this league. One coach told me he thought Lofton was “the best freshman I’ve seen in the Atlantic 1 in a while, you would never have guessed he was a freshman” based on the way he played and his poised.
JORDAN GOODWIN and HASAHN FRENCH, Saint Louis: Goodwin is a do-it-all wing and French might be the best, and certainly is the most powerful, big man in the conference.
DAYTON’S TRANSFERS: The Flyers had four players sitting out as transfers last season — Ibi Watson (Michigan), Jordy Tshimanga (Nebraska), Rodney Chatman (Chattanooga) and Chase Johnson (Florida). With Jalen Crutcher and Toppin both returning, the Flyers have as much talent on paper as anyone.
SCOTT SPENCER, La Salle: A transfer from Clemson, Spencer should fit perfectly in Ashley Howard’s system and give the Explorers a bit of a scoring pop to help offset the loss of Pookie Powell.
BLAKE FRANCIS, Richmond: The transfer from Wagner averaged 17 points before sitting out this past season.
WAY-TOO-EARLY ALL-ATLANTIC 10 TEAM
MARCUS EVANS, VCU (Preseason Player of the Year)
KELLAN GRADY, Davidson
JON-AXEL GUDMUNDSSON, Davidson
OBI TOPPIN, Davidson
GRANT GOLDEN, Richmond
WAY-TOO-EARLY POWER RANKINGS
1. VCU: We’ve talked plenty about the Rams at this point, but I think their ceiling is still going to be determined by what they get out of Marcus Evans. Their star point guard has suffered an injury to each of his achilles since transferring to VCU from Rice. He rehabbed his entire sit-out season, and then spent last summer rehabbing the second injury. Somehow, he hasn’t lost any of his explosiveness and still managed to average 13.6 points and 3.2 assists last year. I spoke with him back in February, and Evans told me he was excited about this offseason because it was the first time he would have a chance to spend the summer getting better instead of getting healthy. He’s my pick to be the 2020 Player of the Year in the Atlantic 10.
2. DAVIDSON: This Davidson team has a chance to be the best group Bob McKillop has coached since the Stephen Curry days. A healthy Kellan Grady combined with Jon Axel Gudmundsson will give the Flyers one of the best backcourts in the country. They’re going to be experienced, and Luka Brajkovic and Luke Frampton should both take a significant step forward as sophomores. Brajkovic was one of the best bigs in the league as a freshman. As always, their ceiling will be determined by just how good their defense will be, but on paper this group looks like a tournament team.
3. DAYTON: It’s easier to bet on VCU and Davidson as league champs because we know what they are, but keep in mind that the Flyers return the majority of their rotation from a team that went 21-12 overall and 13-5 in the league last season, and that among the players they return is future draft pick Obi Toppin. Oh, and they also add four sit-out transfers, three of whom came from high-major schools. It’s going to be a fun three-team race.
4. RHODE ISLAND: The Rams certainly have the talent to be relevant in the Atlantic 10 race, but with essentially the same team, they went .500 in the league last season and finished four games behind third-place Dayton. How are they making up all that ground when the teams above them return everyone?
5. RICHMOND: Every coach I’ve spoken to believes that the Spiders are the x-factor in the league race this year. For starters, bringing back Grant Golden and Jacob Gilyard gives them one of the best 1-2 combinations in the league. Bringing back Nick Sherrod’s size and scoring on the wing will be important, and Nathan Cayo was underrated league-wide. Throw in Wagner transfer Blake Francis, and this should be the most improved team in the conference.
6. ST. BONAVENTURE: Mark Schmidt lost Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley before last season and still managed to churn out an 18-win season and a fourth-place finish in the A-10, so we shouldn’t be all that worried about them after losing four of their top six, including Courtney Stockard. They have one of the best homecourt advantages in the league, Schmidt will find a way to get the best out of his roster and sophomores Kyle Lofton and Osun Osunniyi are ready for bigger roles.
7. LA SALLE: I love this La Salle group. They should have more talent and depth this year, and you know they are always going to play hard. They’ve had a year under Ashley Howard, and what we saw as the season progressed was that this team played together much better than La Salle did under John Giannini. Keep an eye on sophomore Jack Clark.
8. GEORGE MASON: They’re going to have to play differently without Otis Livingston running the show, but Justin Kier is a going to have a chance to become a star in the league. Throw in sophomore Jordan Miller and a healthy Goanar Mar, and there are some pieces for Dave Paulsen here.
9. SAINT LOUIS: The Billikens were built on their defense last season and couldn’t score. They lost their best defender and best scorer in Javon Bess. I like Jordan Goodwin, I love Hasahn French and I think Fred Thatch is in line for a big sophomore season, but I need to see it from this group.
10. DUQUESNE: Coaches in the league have faith that Keith Dambrot will be able to find a way to make it work this year, and there are some pieces returning – notably Sincere Carey – but losing Eric Williams is big. He was their best player.
11. UMASS: The Minutemen have some talent and they bring in a good recruiting class, but I am going to need to see Matt McCall win there before I buy in. Keep an eye on freshman Tre Mitchell.
12. GEORGE WASHINGTON: Jamion Christian should be able to get the most out of this roster, and they’ll play a fun style that will see them bombing away from three, but it will take him a few years to get the kind of talent in the program he needs to make a run at the top of the league.
13. FORDHAM: Fordham won three Atlantic 10 games last season and lose their best player, Nick Honor.
14. ST. JOSEPH’S: Best I can tell, St. Joe’s currently has seven scholarship players on the roster, one of whom is a former walk-on. The post-Martelli era is going to have a rough start.
Dallion Johnson, a 6-foot-2 guard out of Maryland, has pledged to coach Pat Chambers and the Nittany Lions, he announced Monday.
“Excited to announce my commitment to Penn State University!!” Johnson wrote on social media. “Thanks to God, my family, friends, teammates & coaches for believing in me. Thrilled to join the Penn State family under the coaching of Pat Chambers and staff.”
Excited to announce my commitment to Penn State University!! Thanks to God, my family, friends, teammates & coaches for believing in me. Thrilled to join the Penn State family under the coaching of Pat Chambers and staff. #WeAre#ClimbWithUs ‼️⚪️🔵 pic.twitter.com/k4556Ed7y6
Johnson committed to Penn State over the likes of Davidson, Richmond and UMass, among others which had offered. He is rated as a three-star prospect.
The Nittany Lions, which had the 12th-ranked recruiting class in 2019 according to 247Sports, went 14-18 overall and 7-13 in conference play, missing the NCAA tournament for the eighth-straight time under Chambers.
Glenn Robinson III shares hilarious story about new teammate Draymond Green
“I got a funny story about him from the first time I had ever talked to Draymond — actually was through a text. So, I was sitting in a summer class getting ready for my freshman year of college at Michigan.
“And I think Draymond was back and he was playing some open gyms up at Michigan State. And all of a sudden I get a text message from an unknown number and it goes, ‘Hey, you need to get up to Michigan State and come join these open gym games right now. It’s Day Day.’
“And I’m like, ‘Who? Who is Day Day? Who is this crazy dude texting me?’ Somebody cussing me out on text messages (laughter). And on the fly he’s like, ‘It’s Draymond. Get up here now.’
“First time I ever talked to him he was already yelling at me.”
That sounds like Draymond Green.
Binghamton sophomore Anyichie, 19, drowned Sunday night
Calistus Anyichie, a rising sophomore forward at Binghamton, drowned on Sunday.
He was 19 years old.
“There are no words,” Binghamton head coach Tommy Dempsey said. “There is no blueprint for how to deal with such a painful loss. We all loved Calistus so much. He was such a special young man. We are devastated.”
“A talented young person has been tragically taken from us,” said President Harvey Stenger. “This is a heartbreaking loss for our community. We will do all that we can to be there for his family, for the team and everyone who knew Calistus.”
Anyichie’s body was found down a 15-foot bank in Upper Buttermilk State Park on Sunday evening, after the Ithaca Fire Department responded to calls of an unconscious man in the water.
2019 Peach Jam Takeaways: Is Bronny James worth the hype?
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – The circus that surrounded Bronny James, the oldest son of NBA legend LeBron James, during his time at the Peach Jam was unlike anything that I’ve ever seen for a player his age.
Bronny is 14 years old. He has yet to take a single high school class. He played U15 on the EYBL circuit, which is the youngest group of kids that play at the Riverview Athletic Center.
And yet, he was the biggest draw at an event where the gyms are always at capacity while fans – and some media members – are constantly turned away at the door so as to avoid fire code violations. His first game reached capacity a good 40 minutes before tip-off. That was at 2 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon, before coaches were allowed in the gyms and when the public at-large was in the middle of their work day. His second game was postponed because of the demand, allowing Nike to put Bronny’s Strive For Greatness team in main gym. Every Nike EYBL event has a dozens of very large, very intimidating security guards running things, but I was in the gym an hour before the rescheduled second game, and watching those security guards prepare for Bronny’s arrival was akin to watching the Secret Service prepare for Barack Obama to come watch a game.
Hell, Bronny wasn’t even allowed to go in the main entrance. He and his team walked in through the emergency exit door.
I’m not mocking that decision, either.
He had to.
It would have been impossible for him to move through the crowds waiting to see him play. He may only be 14 years old, but he is a certifiable superstar for the social media generation.
And, at this point in his development, it’s not a direct result of his basketball ability.
Let me be clear here: There is a reason that trying to evaluate 14 and 15 year old basketball players is foolish and dangerous. The best players in middle school are the kids that hit their growth spurt and develop physically first. When I was in seventh grade, there was a kid in a neighboring town that was 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds. He was the best player in the state, and he never grew another inch. When we played his high school our junior year, he was still playing JV.
Back to Bronny, he was the third-best guard on his team and it wasn’t all that close. Dior Johnson might be the best guard in the Class of 2022, and Skyy Clark isn’t all that far behind. Bronny, who was playing against kids a year older than him, was more or less relegated to playing a 3-and-D role on his team. And he did that well, but at 6-foot-1, that’s only going to get him so far in basketball.
Now, remember, his dad is 6-foot-8. He’s probably got some growing left to do, and it’s hard to imagine that he won’t continue to improve as a player. So he’s got a chance.
I think the best way to view Bronny as a prospect is that he’s probably going to be a high-major talent, but the idea that he is a surefire pro and guaranteed top five pick is an unfair level of expectation to put on the kid. So much of that will depend on how much he grows and whether or not he can handle the pressure of being the GOAT Jr.
Because, when it comes down to it, he is still just a kid.
PENNY HARDAWAY ISN’T GOING AWAY ANY TIME SOON
It is impossible not to notice Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway when he walks into a gym
For starters, he’s 6-foot-8 and still looks like he is in good enough shape to go out and play in an NBA game. He also happens to typically be flanked by Mike Miller, another recognizable 6-foot-8 former NBA player who is best known as the sniper that teamed up with LeBron.
But it’s more than that with Penny. Between the brand-new snapbacks, the multiple $3,000 Louis Vuitton backpacks he rotates through on the road, the suped-up Mercedes Sprinter Van he and his staff travels on and the Foamposites – the final release of his signature shoe line – that he wears, he is as recognizable as any coach in the gym.
And that certainly has helped play a role in his ability to get in the mix with just about any recruit that he wants at the high school level – Jalen Green, Terrence Clarke, Greg Brown.
Everyone knew he was going to land James Wiseman once he got the Memphis job, but what really made waves was the fact that the Tigers landed talents like Precious Achiuwa and Lester Quinones, highly-regarded recruits out of New York.
The key for the Tigers moving forward is going to be simple: Can Penny turn the talent he brings into his program into winners in college that get picked high in the NBA draft?
Remember, Josh Pastner was a promising recruiter at one point in his career. His first recruiting class included a five-star Memphis kid (Joe Jackson) and a five-star out-of-star recruit (Will Barton). Barton has turned into a good pro, but it took him two years to get to the NBA and he was the No. 40 pick when he eventually left. Jackson ended up spending four years in college. He’s never played an NBA game.
The difference between Coach K, John Calipari and the rest of college basketball is that those two consistently turn elite recruits into successful college players and early draft picks.
Penny will need to prove he can do the same.
CADE CUNNINGHAM IS THE BEST PLAYER IN 2019
Evan Mobley is, at this point, the No. 1 player in the class according to the majority of the people that make these kind of decisions, but for my money, Cade Cunningham is the best player in 2019.
He’s a prototype wing for modern basketball. He stands 6-foot-7, but he’s successfully made the transition to playing as a point guard in the high school ranks. He can defend, he can pass, he can run a ball-screen, he can make threes, he’s athletic and strong enough to eventually guard up or down at the next level. He can do it all.
I also think it’s worth noting that Cunningham went from competing with the U19 team in Greece to playing with his AAU team at Peach Jam, which is not something always happens. He wants to play.
Cunningham is uncommitted, but everyone I spoke to in Augusta thinks he’s heading to Oklahoma State, where his brother, Cannen, was hired as an assistant coach.
JALEN JOHNSON IS THE BEST COMMITTED PLAYER IN THE CLASS
The first thing that I was told when I sat down to watch Johnson playing in Augusta was that he is the second-coming of Ben Simmons. Then within five minutes of watching him play, Johnson threw a pair of passes in transition – one was a full-court bounce pass through defenders, the other was a no-look dart he threw for a dunk – that made that comparison seem apt.
Johnson, who is committed to Duke, seems to make more sense as a mismatch four, however. It’s a position that Duke has had a ton of success with in recent years (Jabari Parker, Brandon Ingram, Justise Winslow, Zion Williamson, etc.) and will keep him from having to try and handle the ball in the ACC.
THE TOP THREE IN 2021 IS ABSOLUTELY LOADED
One of the more interesting debates that was had at Peach Jam was whether or not Patrick Baldwin Jr., Jonathan Kuminga or Terrence Clarke is the best player in the Class of 2021, and since Nike loves the drama, they put all three players in the same pool.
That was fun.
And while I’m normally the kind of guy that’s unafraid to fire of scorching hot takes – informed or otherwise – I really don’t know if there is a right answer here. I think all three are good enough to be the top player in the class. Kuminga is probably the guy with the highest ceiling of the three. He’s a 6-foot-8 wing with elite athleticism that can really, really score. One coach told me he thinks Kuminga is the next Tracy McGrady, but after I relayed that to another coach, his response was, “sure, if he hasn’t been corrupted by the system already.”
Baldwin might actually be the most interesting story out of this group. He’s a 6-foot-10 forward that is “the best shooter for a guy that size that I’ve ever seen at his age,” a coach at a top ten program told me. But there’s a real chance that Baldwin never plays for a top ten program, because he also happens to be the son of Patrick Baldwin Sr., the head coach at Milwaukee.
Clarke is interesting as well, because there was speculation throughout the week that he could end up reclassifying into the Class of 2020. If he can do it, if he can get to college a year early, there is no reason not too.
SPEAKING OF RECLASSIFYING, THERE’S N’FALY DANTE
The late reclassification drama for the 2019-20 season looks like it is going to be N’Faly Dante, a 6-foot-10, 230 pound center that plays at Sunrise Christian in Kansas. He’s big and strong and athletic, and his production is starting to catch up to his potential, which is why programs like Kentucky, Oregon and LSU are currently locked in on his academic situation.