USA Basketball is welcoming seven sophomores among its 34 total invitees to training camp next month ahead of the FIBA U19 World Cup in Greece.
Incoming freshmen and Class of 2020 will vie for 12 roster spots with Kansas State coach Bruce Weber helming the team and being assisted by Washington’s Mike Hopkins and North Carolina Central’s LaVelle Moton.
The returning college players garnering invites are Kessler Edwards (Pepperdine), Tyrse Haliburton (Iowa State), Kira Lewis (Alabama), Isaac Likekele (Oklahoma State), Trevion Williams (Purdue) and Bryce Willis (Stanford), along with Jayden Scrubb from the junior college ranks.
“The committee is excited at the level of talent that will be at training camp for the USA U19 World Cup team, and we expect to have a difficult decision trying to narrow down the group to 12 team members,” Matt Painter, Purdue coach and cahr of the junior national team committee, said in a statement.
R.J. Hampton, Samuell Williamson, Scottie Barnes and Jalen Suggs are some of the headliners from the group of players without college experience.
There is so much that is going to happen between now and the time that next season starts that it almost seems foolish to publish a preseason top 25 today.
But we’re doing it anyway!
A couple of notes: Who is going to head to the NBA is very much in the air right now. There are still a number of freshmen that have yet to announce where they are playing their college ball. The transfer market has barely heated up. For decisions that are up in the air, you’ll see an asterisk next to their name. We’re making predictions on what certain players will do and ranking based off of them.
So with all that said, here is the preseason top 25.
1. MICHIGAN STATE
WHO’S GONE: Matt McQuaid, Kenny Goins, Nick Ward
WHO’S BACK: Cassius Winston, Xavier Tillman, Joshua Langford, Aaron Henry, Kyle Ahrens, Gabe Brown, Foster Loyer, Marcus Bingham, Thomas Kithier
WHO’S COMING IN: Rocket Watts, Malik Hall, Julius Marble
Iowa State freshman forward and NBA Draft hopeful Talen Horton-Tucker pled guilty to charges of misdemeanor theft according to Travis Hines.
A first-round hopeful, the 18-year-old Horton-Tucker was charged with theft in the fifth degree. Horton-Tucker pled guilty, per court records and the Ames Police. The incident occured in February at a Walmart in Ames, as surveillance footage of the store’s self-checkout was reviewed before the charges on Horton-Tucker. The misdemeanor charge is for alleged thefts of under $200, according to Hines.
One of the draft’s youngest prospects, Horton-Tucker was a starter for the Cyclones all season as he showed promise during an up-and-down season. Horton-Tucker is scheduled to appear at the NBA Draft Combine this week in Chicago as he’ll be meeting with NBA teams. It’s hard to say how this will impact Horton-Tucker’s stock, as he’s one of the draft’s youngest players who also carries a lot of upside, but it’s something to monitor going forward.
Georgia lands four-star point guard Sahvir Wheeler
Georgia’s already high-powered 2019 recruiting class got a big boost Monday.
Sahvir Wheeler, a four-star point guard from Houston, committed to Tom Crean and the Bulldogs, giving them a class of four four-star recruits and one five-star headliner in Anthony Edwards.
The 5-foot-8 Wheeler picked the Dawgs over Iowa State after visiting both schools. He previously had been committed to Texas A&M, but decided to look in another direction after the school parted ways with coach Billy Kennedy in March.
Wheeler’s commitment gives Georgia its point guard of the future as Crean looks to ramp up quickly in Athens after a debut season that saw the former Marquette and Indiana coach go 11-21 overall and 2-16 in the SEC. GIven the strength of this recruiting class, which also features top-100 recruits Christian Brown, Jaykwon Walton and Toumani Camara, allows for a quick rebuild, even if it means a youthful roster in 2019-20.
LINCOLN, Neb. — It was Nick Nurse, a man who shared his Iowa upbringing and had risen to the same NBA coaching heights, that perhaps most clearly articulated the general thinking regarding Fred Hoiberg’s decision to become the head coach at Nebraska.
“I don’t know why I’m surprised, but I am,” the Toronto Raptors coach told reporters in Chicago last month. “I guess I didn’t know if he’d go right back into it. I thought maybe there’d be one of the real premier jobs or something that he wouldn’t take. Not saying Nebraska isn’t a great job and obviously a premier league. I’m sure he can make it a great job.”
Hoiberg, who turned his alma mater Iowa State from a woebegone program into a perennial NCAA tournament team and Big 12 contender, has gone from coaching a franchise the defined the sport to a generation to guiding a program that has only known generations of losing.
Why, exactly, would Hoiberg come here, to a place where football reigns supreme, high-level local basketball prospects are about as common as beachfront property and has no tradition to speak of?
“We feel that we can build a program that consistently wins,” Hoiberg said earlier this week.
Nebraska is certainly betting on it. Big.
The Huskers have committed $25 million over seven years to Hoiberg along with an assistant salary pool of $1 million per year.
“We paid top dollar,” said Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos, who gave football coach Scott Frost a seven-year, $35 million deal in late 2017.
Nebraska is spending big on its athletics in the hopes its football program can recapture some semblance of success it had in the 1990s while jumpstarting a basketball program that has rarely been relevant nationally decade after decade. In a world where money talks, the Huskers are beginning to scream as one of the country’s richest athletic departments as it now reaps the benefits for the first time of a full Big Ten revenue distribution share after joining the league in 2011.
“The Big Ten money is huge,” Moos said. “We’ve got tremendous revenue streams coming into our program that I’m comfortable, with the blessing of my chancellor and my president, to pay top dollar for top coaches.
“Nebraska is a destination. That brand means something. I’m really excited for our future with this program.”
If Nebraska is a destination, it’s partly because no coaches have been able to get out alive. Tim Miles was fired after one NCAA tournament appearance in seven years. Doc Sadler was cut loose after six years and no tourney appearances. Six years was how long Barry Collier lasted before resigning, also without a tourney trip. Before that Danny Nee went to four tournaments in four-straight years during his 14-year tenure in Lincoln, but was fired as the school’s winningest coach.
In total, the Huskers have seven all-time NCAA tournament appearances, among the fewest from Power 5 schools. They have zero all-time tournament wins.
Hoiberg, who took Iowa State to four NCAA tournaments in five years, will be among the Big Ten’s wealthiest coaches in a place with one of its poorest traditions. It’s a pairing that makes more sense than it would initially seem, though. Hoiberg could have sat out this upcoming season and collected $5 million from the Bulls and waited to see if one of the high-level gigs – something like Arizona or Texas – opened up, but the famously competitive Hoiberg, who once chucked his Pinewood Derby car across a parking lot in disgust when it failed to take first place, wasn’t inclined to wait around. His post-firing days were spent tagging along with his wife to yoga and coffee, sitting in his robe putting together puzzles and watching ‘Real Housewives’ reruns. A little different than the night-in, night-out adrenaline rush that comes with stalking an NBA sideline.
So sitting out never seemed like a real option, and Nebraska isn’t that far off from what Hoiberg inherited nine years ago at Iowa State, only with deeper pockets.
Hoiberg’s history at his alma mater and in his hometown is well documented, as The Mayor went from high school star to Cyclone All-American to 10-year NBA vet and back to revive a program that had fallen on hard times.
Lincoln has a similar, if far less extensive, pull. His grandfather, Jerry Bush, coached the Huskers from 1954-63. His other grandfather, Otto Hoiberg, was a Nebraska professor for nearly three decades. His parents are Nebraska alums, and he was born in Lincoln before moving to Ames a few years later.
So for Hoiberg, who covets comfort and familiarity, Nebraska made sense. He had history there. It’s the type of reclamation job he’s succeeded at before.
It’s also a marriage of serendipity. Nebraska had a bulging back account, an opening and a desire to raise its profile. Hoiberg had a high price tag, an eagerness to get back on the bench and the resume – both personally and professionally – to excite a fan base focused on football but who also turn out to basketball by the droves at Pinnacle Bank Arena, a $184 million gem in a newly-revitalized downtown.
“I see real potential here to have long-term success. And a lot of that has to do with the facilities that are here. We played an exhibition game a couple years ago when I was coaching for the Bulls, and I was just absolutely amazed,” Hoiberg said.
The coach, the money and the facilities are in place, but will that translate into winning? The Huskers may never have had a combination in those three areas like they do now, but the every one they’ve tried previously haven’t worked well enough to keep their NCAA tournament alive for more than 40 minutes.
“There are just so many things going for us,” Moos said, “and the myth that we can’t be successful, I’ve never bought into that.
“All this about never won a tournament game – if we’re competing in the upper half of the Big Ten year in and year out, we’re going to go to the tournament and win games.”
Hoiberg was introduced as the 28th coach in the history of Nebraska basketball Tuesday, emerging on the third floor of Memorial Stadium to much fanfare in an elevator that had been adorned with graphics to resembled a bank vault, an allusion to The Vault nickname for Nebraska’s home arena. Cheerleaders waived pom-poms. Fans cheered from a balcony. The football coaching staff watched from the back of the room.
The Huskers had their coach, and their hope.
A little more than an hour later, Hoiberg stepped back into that same elevator and those same doors that opened a new era of Nebraska basketball closed with him inside.
Iowa State’s Talen Horton-Tucker declaring for draft
One of the youngest players in college basketball this season is going to test the draft waters.
Talen Horton-Tucker, an Iowa State freshman who turned 18 just this past November, will declare for the draft, he announced Monday.
“After speaking with my family and coaching staff at Iowa State, I believe that this is in my best interest to begin the next chapter of my life and declare for the 2019 NBA Draft,” Horton-Tucker said in a statement released on social media.
Horton-Tucker intrigues NBA front offices because of his age – he didn’t turn 18 until he’d already played six games this season for the Cyclones – and a 6-foot-4, 248-pound frame that features a plus-7-foot wingspan and guard skills. He averaged 11.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game while shooting 40.6 percent from the floor and 30.8 percent from distance.
His freshman campaign with Iowa State, which won the Big 12 tournament and bowed out of the NCAA tournament with a first-round upset courtesy of Ohio State, was inconsistent with considerable highs and difficult lows. Given his measurables and a ceiling, it’s easy to see how NBA evaluators could fall in love with his potential as he goes through the predraft process.
Underclassmen have until May 29th to decide whether or not they will return to school.