Royce White

USC, the transfer capital of the 2012-13 season

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Kevin O’Neill couldn’t fathom the season he had in 2011-12. USC was slammed with an unbelievable amount of injuries, transfers and lack of cohesion among his squad and it ended with a school record 26 losses.

If you compare last season’s team to this year’s, there’s barely a resemblance. Point guard Jio Fontan returns after tearing his ACL prior to last year, along with five Division I transfers getting eligible, including Rice transfer Omar Oraby, who was granted a waiver for immediate eligibility on Thursday.

The pair are just two of a total of 10 transfers on the Trojans squad, and six have just one season of eligibility left. With 10 transfers that makes up over half of their 17-man roster, USC bares resemblance to Missouri and their 11 newcomers this season. They have their own version of Phil Pressey in Fontan, a Fordham transfer who will be one of the best point guards in the Pac-12 Conference this season.

But this a bit of a stretch. USC has eight Division I transfers and two junior college transfers (center Jame Blasczyk and guard J.T. Terrell spent time at both).

It’s a model that’s tough to win with, but we all remember last season’s Iowa State team that took a team of transfers, both new and old, to the NCAA Tournament third round last year, led by Minnesota transfer Royce White (who didn’t even suit up for the Golden Gophers) and others like Chris Babb from Penn State and Marquette defector Scott Christopherson and others. It can be done.

But I think it’s clear that Kevin O’Neill is putting a lot of his career on the line with this season. While it’s obvious there wasn’t a ton that O’Neill could’ve done last season to make things better, a 6-26 record is tough to overcome if the next season isn’t a lot better in big-time college basketball. O’Neill understands that. As Baxter Holmes from the Los Angeles Times writes.

He said most coaches — unless they’re Kentucky’s John Calipari, North Carolina’s Roy Williams or of that stature — are always only two bad seasons from being fired.

“So I’m one [season] into that,” [O’Neill] said.

This could definitely work for the Trojans this season. A number of those transfers, some who have already played a season, are coming from big-time programs such as Wake Forest (Terrell and Ari Stewart), Texas A&M (Blasczyk), Aaron Fuller (Iowa) and Tennessee (Renaldo Woolridge) and contributed. Others come from smaller programs and are looking for tougher competition like Fontan, Oraby and UC-Irvine transfer Eric Wise. They know what it takes.

The one problem is, it’s a one-year fix for O’Neill. What happens in 2013-14? Well, I guess he could watch what Fred Hoiberg does this season with the Cyclones. But USC has taken a calculated risk with this team. It’s only two seasons removed from an NCAA Tournament berth, and this is a move to at least make sure they get back.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Iowa State guard Chris Babb suspended three games for violation of team rules

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With Royce White now in the NBA, Iowa State needs veterans such as senior guard Chris Babb to step if the Cyclones are to return to the NCAA tournament.

Unfortunately for Babb his senior campaign isn’t off to the best start, as the school announced that head coach Fred Hoiberg has suspended for three games for a violation of team rules.

Babb will miss the Cyclones’ exhibition against Minnesota State and the regular season games against Southern and Alabama A&M.

[tweet https://twitter.com/CycloneMBB/status/264088908902567937%5D

No comment from Hoiberg thus far on what triggered the move, but something like this can serve as a wake-up call to make sure things don’t get worse down the line.

Babb averaged 7.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game last season, starting all 34 contests that he played in.

Iowa State lost their top three scorers from last season, and the hope is that players such as Babb and Tyrus McGee can step up alongside transfers Korie Lucious (Michigan State) and Will Clyburn (Utah) to make up for the loss of Scott Christopherson and Chris Allen on the perimeter.

The Cyclones also add freshmen Sherron Dorsey-Walker, Naz Long and Kerwin Okoro to the mix on the perimeter.

Iowa State will be fine in those two regular season games without Babb, and he’ll have a couple games under his belt before the Cyclones hit Las Vegas for the Global Vision Classic November 23 and 24 (Cincinnati, followed by either UNLV or Oregon).

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej. 

Dan Hanner’s rankings released

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Dan Hanner, one of college basketball’s leading stat gurus, released his complete rankings for the 2012-2013 basketball season over at Basketball Prospectus today.

Seriously.

1-345.

He ranked every team in the country. That’s impressive.

I do have come quibbles, however, although Hanner addressed a number of them while discussing the rankings in the link above.

First and foremost, Michigan is not the 44th best team in the country. I understand why his projection model has them slotted there, and I get that projection models are going to have some gaps. I will admit that I have my own doubts about the Wolverines. I think they are a bit overrated in the top five, and I have concerns about where I placed them in my own rankings (at No. 9). But still: Michigan brings back an all-american point guard, an all-conference caliber two-guard and teams them with a group of promising freshmen. They are better than the 44th best team in the country.

San Diego State, who is ranked 41st, is too low, as well, especially when you consider the fact that New Mexico and UNLV are both in the top 15. I think the Aztecs are the best team in the Mountain West. Along those same lines, I struggle to see how Iowa State, without Royce White, is expected to have the same record in a loaded Big 12 conference as Kansas State, who returns almost everyone from a team that finished the season as an eight seed.

Other thoughts: Louisville (10th) and Cincinnati (52nd) are too low while Tennessee (17th) is too high.

But the beauty of rankings like this?

They make me question things I thought were a given.

Louisville, who is a consensus top three team in the polls, returns nothing but inefficient scorers. As good as their defense is, will that be enough to win games? Michigan really will be relying on a lot of freshmen and a lot of players not suited for John Beilein’s system. Are we overrating them? Is everyone sleeping on New Mexico again?

And, in the end, that’s the point of putting out a rating system like this. Nothing is exact, no Dan Hanner’s computer, not Kenpom’s calculator and not my opinion. But it creates discussion and arguments and differing opinions and, in the end, isn’t that what makes sports great?

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Big 12 Preview: Death, taxes and Kansas winning the league?

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Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of the Conference Previews we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

When it comes to the Big 12 there’s been one constant in the standings of late: Kansas at the head of the pack. Bill Self’s program has won eight straight Big 12 regular season titles, and even with the departure of Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor it’s reached a point where you simply pick the Jayhawks to win the league until someone proves otherwise.

Seniors Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Jeff Withey will be asked to lead a large but talented group of newcomers, and if they can do that a ninth straight title is well within Kansas’ reach. But they won’t lack for challengers either, with Scott Drew’s Baylor Bears looking to be the team best equipped to take down Kansas. Point guard Pierre Jackson was one of the best lead guards in the country last season, and if the young bigs are ready to contribute Baylor will once again factor into the Big 12 race.

Kansas State has a new head coach in Bruce Weber but a number of their key contributors from last season are back, and there’s reason for optimism at Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and West Virginia as well. And if Iowa State can properly account for the many things that Royce White provided last season the Cyclones will be heard from as well. Here’s a look at the Big 12 in 2012-13.

Five Things to Know

1. Realignment. The Big 12 will once again be a ten-team league, but replacing Missouri and Texas A&M (both are now in the SEC) are TCU and West Virginia. West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins coached a season in the Big 12 at Kansas State before returning to his alma mater, and Trent Johnson takes over at TCU after coaching the last four years at LSU.

2. Only three players who made the league’s all-conference teams at the end of last season are back in 2012-13: Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson, Kansas center Jeff Withey and Kansas State shooting guard Rodney McGruder.

3. Texas Tech ended the Billy Gillispie saga this fall, with Chris Walker gets the promotion to interim head coach. Luckily for the Red Raiders forward Jordan Tolbert, who led the team in scoring and rebounding last season, returns for his sophomore campaign but it’s going to be a tough 2012-13 season for a team that doesn’t match up talent-wise in the deep Big 12.

4. Kansas returns three starters from last season’s national runner-up (Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Jeff Withey), but outside of those three the cupboard is bare from an experience standpoint. Freshmen Perry Ellis and Andrew White are two of the newcomers expected to contribute immediately and the same goes for Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor, who had to sit out all of last season for academic issues.

5. Oklahoma State still has the ability to be a promising team this season, thanks in part to the arrival of freshman Marcus Smart. But with Brian Williams (wrist) done for the season and J.P. Olukemi both recovering from a torn ACL and hoping to be cleared by the NCAA to play this season there are questions in regards to backcourt depth.

Impact Newcomers

Ben McLemore and Perry Ellis (Kansas)
The Jayhawks are going to need contributions from their freshmen in order to win a ninth consecutive Big 12 title, and McLemore and Ellis are two of the key first-year players. McLemore has the advantage of being a part of the program last season even though he wasn’t cleared to play, and the versatile shooting guard was a Top 20 prospect coming out of high school. Ellis was one of the top prospects in the 2012 class and should earn major minutes with Thomas Robinson now in the NBA.

Isaiah Austin and Rico Gathers (Baylor)
Baylor lost a lot in the paint from last season, but two of the reasons why the Bears are seen by many as Kansas’ biggest challenger are Austin Gathers. Austin is a 7-footer who is more comfortable facing up, and he’s got range out beyond the three-point arc. As for Gathers, his frame makes him an incredibly difficult match-up for opponents and should serve the Bears well this season.

Georges Niang (Iowa State)
Two of Niang’s high school teammates at both the Tilton School and BABC: Nerlens Noel and Wayne Selden. That led to far too many people overlooking the Cyclone freshman, who would simply go about his business in regards to both points and rebounds. Fred Hoiberg has himself a player who could eventually be an All-Big 12 player before his career ends.

Amath M’Baye (Oklahoma)
One thing that Oklahoma sorely needed last season was depth, especially in the front court. Enter M’Baye, who began his college career at Wyoming and is expected to have a significant impact in his first season of play at Oklahoma. As a sophomore the 6-9 M’Baye averaged 12.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, and he’ll form a nice partnership with senior Romero Osby inside.

Aaric Murray and Juwan Staten (West Virginia)
With Truck Bryant and Kevin Jones out of eligibility the Mountaineers needed players ready to step up. So how about two experienced transfers from the Atlantic 10? Murray, who began his career at La Salle, was a bit of an enigma at times in Philadelphia but there’s no denying his talent. And former Dayton point guard Staten is capable of hitting the ground running this season.

Other newcomers of note: F Will Clyburn and G Korie Lucious (Iowa State), C Aaron Durley (TCU), G Javan Felix and C Cameron Ridley (Texas), G L.J. Rose (Baylor), F Andrew White (Kansas).

Breakout Players

F Romero Osby (Oklahoma)
Osby averaged 12.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in his first season with the Sooners after starting his college career at Mississippi State. Even with the presence of M’Baye and senior guard Steven Pledger, Osby is talented enough to become an All-Big 12 player in his senior campaign.

C Jeff Withey (Kansas)
Withey is well-known, and his work on the defensive end was one reason why the Jayhawks were able to get to the Final Four. But with Robinson and Taylor gone there will be more on his plate offensively, something Withey prepared for this offseason. If Withey can adjust to the changes he’s a player who can earn All-America honors.

G Angel Rodriguez (Kansas State)
After Frank Martin left to take the head coaching job at South Carolina, there was some concern that Rodriguez would leave as well. But the point guard decided to remain in the Little Apple, and along with Rodney McGruder forms one of the best guard tandems in the Big 12. If Rodriguez can improve his turnover percentage (28% last season) there’s no doubt that the Wildcats can return to the NCAA tournament in Bruce Weber’s first season.

G Sheldon McClellan (Texas)
With J’Covan Brown gone who gets to assume the role of Texas’ primary scoring option on the wing? That will likely be McClellan, who averaged 11.3 points and shot 44.8% from the field in his freshman campaign. More will be asked of both he and Myck Kabongo as the Longhorns look to make a move in the Big 12 standings.

F Melvin Ejim (Iowa State)
No more Royce White, who was not only the Big 12’s top newcomer but also Iowa State’s leader in just about every statistical category. That’s an awful lot to replace and one player who will be asked to provide more is Ejim, who accounted for 9.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game last season. The Cyclones have other guys who can handle the distribution role (Korie Lucious being one) left vacant by White’s departure, but when it comes to rebounding Ejim should be first in line.

Coach under pressure: Travis Ford (Oklahoma State) 
To be fair Ford did lead the Cowboys to the NCAA tournament in each of his first two seasons in Stillwater. But if Oklahoma State were to miss the Big Dance for the third straight season with this group the natives may begin to ask questions. Unfortunately Oklahoma State lost their best perimeter defender in Brian Williams and there’s still no word on JP Olukemi’s appeal, but with the talent remaining Ford has a group that many will expect to earn an NCAA bid.

Player of the Year: PG Pierre Jackson (Baylor)  
Jackson hit the ground running in his first season in Waco, averaging 13.8 points and 5.9 assists per game in helping to lead the Bears to the Elite 8. With names such as Perry Jones III, Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller gone Baylor will be young inside, which likely means even more scoring responsibilities for Jackson on the perimeter. He’s more than capable of handling a heavier workload this season.

All-Conference Team 

G Pierre Jackson (Baylor)*
G Rodney McGruder (Kansas State)
G/F Le’Bryan Nash (Oklahoma State)
F Romero Osby (Oklahoma)
C Jeff Withey (Kansas)

Predicted Finish

1. Kansas– A lot of new pieces but three key veterans return, and at this point it’s difficult to pick anyone but the Jayhawks to win the conference
2. Baylor– The Bears lost an awful lot inside but the combination of a deep backcourt and some talented freshmen make Baylor the biggest threat to Kansas
3. Kansas State– Bruce Weber has a nice stable of talent at his disposal in his first season in Manhattan
4. Oklahoma State– the backcourt depth has taken a serious hit, but the presence of Marcus Smart, Le’Bryan Nash and Markel Brown make the Cowboys a tough out
5. West Virginia– Huggins has both Aaric Murray and Deniz Kilicli inside, and if Juwan Staten can mesh with the returning guards (including Jabarie Hinds) WVU will dance again
6. Texas– If the freshmen are able to contribute Rick Barnes has a team capable of finishing in the top half of the standings
7. Oklahoma– Lon Kruger wants his team play faster, and unlike last season the Sooners have the talent and depth needed to do so
8. Iowa State– Korie Lucious will run the point for the Cyclones, who will need to account for the departure of Royce White
9. TCU– Trent Johnson picked up a big win on the recruiting trail with Karviar Shepherd, but those wins will be few and far between on the court this season
10. 9. Texas Tech– Jordan Tolbert remaining in Lubbock may not be enough to get the Red Raiders out of the Big 12 cellar

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Breaking down the draft: Most likely all-star outside the lottery

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Over the next couple of days, each of our writers here at College Basketball Talk will weigh on certain topics and prospects. Yesterday’s question? Who will be the steal of the second round? Today’s question? Most like to make the All-Star team without getting picked in the lottery:

Eric Angevine: Since there are some guys who are on the edge of the lottery who might sneak in, I’m going with someone who seems certain to be picked later in the first round. Marquis Teague ran point for the national champs. He’s a kid still growing into his potential, but he already has that huge feather in his cap. Being picked low, he’ll get to join a quality playoff contender where he’ll be surrounded by veterans in a solid team concept. That sounds like a recipe for growth that could turn the raw talent into an All Star before it’s all said and done.

Raphielle Johnson: Perry Jones III. Maybe he ends up going in the lottery after all but with much of the chatter being that his stock drops him just outside of it I’ll take Jones. Yes there are concerns about the motor, but he’s also a seriously gifted basketball player. He could end up with a team that’s coming off of a playoff appearance, and hopefully that would include some good veteran influences.

Daniel Martin: Moe Harkless. Rumors are circulating that Harkless could end up in the lottery, but, if he ends up outside of it, watch out. His size and length has caught the attention of scouts and, as he develops a killer scoring instinct, he becomes more and more dangerous. It could take him a few years to get his feet underneath him at the NBA level, but he is mature and willing to learn, which can only help him.

Mike Miller: Tony Wroten. Wroten’s got the skills and size to be a dynamic playmaker in the league. He’s also got the confidence. But he could just as easily languish on the bench for years because of poor decision-making and an erratic shot. But if he lands on a team that can capitalize on his talents, well, he’s the type who’ll make jaw-dropping plays others can’t envision, let alone pull off.

Rob Dauster: I’m going to go with Royce White. White is an immensely talented player and a matchup nightmare as a 6-foot-8, 260 lb power forward that can run the point. The biggest red flag regarding White has to do with his anxiety issues and the trouble that he’s gotten into in the past, but he couldn’t have been more honest or forthcoming about them in the media in recent months. The biggest concern regarding White? His fear of flying. Is that why he canceled his remaining workouts?

The Morning Mix

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The first week of “the new & improved” Morning Mix is complete. Aren’t you glad that it’s back? I know I am. There’s not another place on the internet that will provide transfer updates and coaching changes in such entertaining fashion. Yeah, I said that.

Enjoy.

– Nerlens Noel, the flat-topped  heir apparent to the #BBN throne at Kentucky, had a cameo in music video. The song, “Skyline” by some dude named Moufy, features the shot-blocking sensation throwing an assist during a pick-up game. The song is actually pretty good, Nerlens Noel or not.

– If you are currently in the market for a luxurious new estate to call home, how about Rick Pitino’s $2.2-million home in the Mockingbird Gardens community outside of Louisville?

– Our very own Raphielle Johnson breaks down the top ten power forwards in the upcoming NBA Draft.

The Crosstown Shootout is changing. It sucks and I don’t like it. I didn’t like Skyline Chili that much either

– The North Carolina Tar Heels lost a lot of size to the NBA draft. But with a crop of young guards on their way in to Chapel Hill, Roy Williams looks to rely on a backcourt-heavy offense

– Mike DeCourcy is high on Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart

The incoming class of new Big-XII coaches is kinda loaded. LAst year the ACC saw the most high-profile coaching changes, but the ever-changing mid-southern-eastern-north-western power conference has a bevy of new sideline generals

– Providence has lost a couple of players to transferring, but has picked up a few in return.  The most recent addition to Ed Cooley’s arsenal is North Caronlina State forward Tyler Harris

– Speaking of Roy Williams, he commented on the UNC academic scandal by saying “It’s not a basketball problem”

More on the interesting development on a company that’s been hired to monitor the social media accounts of college athletes

– I’m rooting for a bunch of guys in the upcoming NBA Draft. Iowa State’s Royce White is one of those guys

– Today marks a new day for the recruiting process. Starting today, Coaches will be able to use modern media to contact recruits in a way they were never allowed to. Rutgers coach Mike Rice is one of the coaches who is excited about the change

 

– Am I the only one who is kinda over the whole recruitment process of the Harrison twins? I can’t tell you how happy I am that they’ve decided to get this thing over with

– Highly touted Virginia Tech-transfer Dorian Finney-Smith has decided to attend Florida. (I just met my hyphen-quota for the week in one sentence)

– Don’t look now, but Larry Brown has reeled in another transfer at SMU. Everybody questioned Brown’s ability to recruit. Looks like there isn’t an issue with transfers

– Michigan-transfer (and All-Name Teamer) Carlton Brundidge has decided to transfer to Detroit

– In case you missed it, the CAA has decided to increase their exit fee to $million in the wake of Atlantic-10/C-USA defections. But the JMU Blog wants to know “What’s the deal”?

Troy Machir is the managing editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @TroyMachir.