The offseason for college basketball can get pretty boring. There’s recruits committing, and seeing where your favorite players will go in the draft, but nothing much else happens.
I have a solution to your boredom. Have you heard of Isaiah Washington? He may be the flashiest player in high school right now, and he will be playing at Minnesota next year.
From New York City, a YouTube account named “Home Team Hoops” created a mini series about his life and how his style of play relates so well to the kids of NYC. It’s a really entertaining series and I highly recommend watching it. Here;s the first episode and if you’re interested, you can watch the entire series on the channel:
The latest seven foot domino to fall in this year’s recruiting class was Brandon McCoy, who chose UNLV. Time for prospects is running low to choose a new home for at least a year, and there is still some serious talent left.
1. Mohammed Bamba
Bamba is the best player left on the market. He is 6’11” and has all the tools to lead a team. He as an inside game, an outside game, and elite defense to go with it. Bamba’s best friend Hamidou Diallo has been recruiting him to come to Kentucky, but he has offers from Texas, Duke, Arizona, and Michigan. If I were a betting man, I’d say Calipari lands him.
2. Trevon Duval
Duval will be the best freshman point guard in the NCAA next year, it’s just a matter of where. It seems his final two teams came down to Kansas and Duke, but Kansas has currently filled all of their scholarships, which more than likely means Duval is out. This means Duke is the overwhelming front-runner. He has a great shot from outside and is mature enough to take contact to get to the line. Duke should be stacked once again next year.
3. Kevin Knox
Knox has been intriguing to watch so far. It seemed he was leaning toward choosing Mizzou after blowing up his Instagram during his visit, taking pictures with the uniform on, etc. He would have joined top prospect Michael Porter Jr. and it seems they are really close when they played at the McDonald’s All American game. Now, sources say he is out of Mizzou and looking elsewhere, probably due to him most likely not being a one-and-done player. Other players include Duke, Kentucky, and North Carolina.
While the end if the 2016-17 season is only a few weeks in the rear view mirror, it’s never too early for a look at the top 10 for next year. There are still dominoes to fall in reference to top commits, but we are in for a treat next year. More freshman talent is heading to top schools, along with a couple of veteran teams that will stay in the top 10.
10. Villanova Wildcats
The Cats will continue their Big East dominance and field another great team. Jay Wright is loaded with talent and will soften the losses of stars Josh Hard and Kris Jenkins. Tournament breakout star, Donte DiVicenzo, and Mikal Bridges will lead Nova to another Big East championship and score a top 3 seed in the bracket.
9. Wichita State Shockers
The Shockers won 31 games last season while losing two NBA players in Fred Van Fleet and Ron Baker. Leading scorer Markis McDuffie and the rest of their team who almost upset Kentucky last year will be back. Watch out for Wichita.
8. North Carolina Tar Heels
UNC is losing Kennedy Meeks and Justin Jackson, but they’re keeping Joel Berry, who carried the Tar Heels last year at some points. As long as UNC has a reliable point guard, they will always be in contention. Roy Williams is still in on top recruit Kevin Knox, who still hasn’t chosen between UNC, Mizzou, Kentucky, Duke, and Florida.
7. Florida Gators
The Gators surprised everyone in the SEC playing their wa
y into the Elite 8. They will return key players KeVaughn Allen, Chris Chiozza, and John Egbunu. They could be the lone threat to upset that other SEC team in Kentucky.
6. Kentucky Wildcats
Speaking of that school in Kentucky, John Calipari, the featured subject in ESPN’s latest 30 for 30, is loaded up once again. If I haven’t already seen the 30 for 30, I’d hate him for taking what seems like half of the top prospects, but now I respect it. Go watch the documentary. To make this short, Coach Cal reeled in these 5-star prospects for this year: Hamidou Diallo, Quade Green, Nick Richards, PJ Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt. To make matters even more ridiculous, Cal is still in on undecided players Kevin Knox and Mohamed Bomba. My god.
5. Michigan State Spartans
It’s finally time for the Spartans to live up to expectations this year. Projected lottery pick Miles Bridges will indeed come back for his sophomore season and will lead Izzo’s team. Izzo kept their entire roster from last year and brought in Jaren Jackson Jr., who will play a major role for the Spartans next year.
4. Louisville Cardinals
Louisville will finally be REALLY good this year despite Rick Pitino failing to bring in a true top prospect. But there’s a catch. Louisville’s top player, Donovan
Mitchell declared for the draft, but hasn’t received much traction, and could return. Their ranking depends on this and could slip a bunch if he decides to go down the path of the draft.
3. Kansas Jayhawks
Many fans think Kansas will have a falling out after last year, losing Wooden Award Player of the Year Frank Mason III and top 5 pick Josh Jackson. This is certainly not the case for Bill Self’s squad. The Jayhawks will return Devonte Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk, who were key players in their run last year. 5-star big man Udoka Azubuike was injured the entire season last year, and will return next year. Transfer Malik Newman (5-star recruit two years ago) will provide superior athleticism and shooting to the squad, and Billy Preston, a top 20 high school player in the country will join Azubuike in the frontcourt. Kansas will be sneaky good next year.
2. Duke Blue Devils
Duke lost stars Jayson Tatum, Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard, and Harry Giles, but Coach K has added enough talent to land them a top 2 spot for next year. The Blue Devils will add top 10 prospects Gary Trent Jr. and Wendell Carter, while returning Frank Jackson and Marques Bolden. Also, it’s looking more clear that top high school point guard Trevon Duval will be joining Duke, adding to their new talent. There are also whispers that Duke may get Allen and Kennard to return, but I don’t see that happening.
1. Arizona Wildcats
And the number one team in the nation will be the Arizona Wildcats. Zona added the best high school basketball player of the year, 7’0″ DeAndre Ayton, who is already being compared to Kevin Garnett. Key players like Allonzo Trier, Rawle Alkins, and Kobi Simmons will most likely return. The Wildcats will be a safe pick for starting out the year number one in the rankings.
This is actually a huge deal for Kansas, even though the duo will not be able to play until after next season. Dedric Lawson was one of the nation’s top transfers available after averaging 19.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists as a sophomore this past season, and will have two more years of eligibility with the Jayhawks.
K.J. was injured last year, but averaged 12 points and 8 rebounds when he was on the floor.
Both can be impact players right away, and take the pressure away from Bill Self to attract a big 5-star recruit.
What makes this transfer even more interesting for the Jayhawks is that the Lawson bros actually have two other brothers, Chandler, a 4-star power forward (2019) and Johnathan, a 5-star small forward (2021). AND they have a cousin. DJ Jefferies is a 5-star small forward and he’s the 8th best rated player for the class of 2019.
Things could get pretty interesting for Kansas. Remember the last brothers to go to Kansas? The Morris bros turned out to be pretty damn good. Self could be off the hook from acquiring a top tier recruit for the next three years, and if he does, another championship banner could be hanging up in Lawrence soon.
In case you don’t know yet, ESPN will be releasing their latest 30 for 30 film on April 13th.
The film will be centered around the complex and controversial career of Kentucky head coach John Calipari. Whether you enjoy the controversy Calipari brings, or you despise the change he has brought to the game, this 30 for 30 will handle both.
Jonathan Hock, a decorated director who has cooked up 10 Emmy Awards and has produced other 30 for 30’s such as “Through The Fire” (2005), “Survive and Advance” (2013), and “Of Miracles and Men” (2015), came to screen his latest film at Springfield College, which is 10 minutes down the road from the Hall of Fame.
Luckily enough, I am a student at Springfield College, and I got to see the film first-hand before anyone else, and listened in on a Q&A with Hock and his right hand man, Alastair Christopher.
First, a little about the film, without giving out too many details. It’s REALLY interesting. There isn’t much raw emotion and heart wrenching storylines like other 30 for 30’s, but the insight we get to see from one of the most talked about coaches of all time is unbelievable.
We get to see how Calipari developed his coaching style and recruiting prowess at UMass. (Side note: look for Marty Dobrow during the UMass section. He’s one of my professors and has great insight on Calipari from the perspective of the media.)
His downfall from UMass and Memphis play a huge role in the film also. While Calipari spends a lot of time explaining why he left both jobs, much still remains unanswered to whether he is dirty or not, which adds to his mystique.
Personally, my favorite part was the amount of material Hock had from former high-profile players (UMass, Memphis, and Kentucky) on what kind of coach he was. All of his former players love him, and see him as a father figure. I believe that this is what Hock was going for throughout the film. Calipari changed the game with the one and done rule to make life easier for kids. Any father wants to make his son’s life easier, and Calipari did whatever he could, even if it was making one of his great players leave for the NBA, and millions of dollars.
Here’s what I learned from the Q&A with Jonathan Hock and Alastair Christopher:
Calipari is actually quite nervous for this documentary to release. Even though he is no stranger to the limelight, it seems Calipari may be nervous to see what people think of the real him. Hock explained:
When you do a film about someone who’s retired, or not living anymore, they don’t call you a week before to tell you they’re nervous about it. We haven’t done a documentary on an active person since “Through the Fire” with Sebastian Telfair.
This is actually three films. It’s a life story, sort of American Dream, it is an all-access season behind the scenes, and it’s also a meditation on the meaning of college sports and education versus money in a system where everyone is getting paid but the people doing the work.
Sorry Karl Anthony-Towns fans, KAT won’t be featured in this film as much as Hock wished. But he was interviewed and apparently he was great. Too great…
We ended up not using him because he was too good. He said one thing about Cal, Cal is the one who wrote all of our stories, no, Cal was the paper that our stories are written on. He’s just saying this off the cuff, like dude, you’re 19 years old. It was too good, it felt scripted.
Kentucky fans will be pleased to see the cast Hock got from former players, despite KAT being “too good.”
Cal even had an impact on Alastair. (On being in the locker room with Cal’s players) He said:
He was inspiring to me, everytime he would glance at me I would go aww, I’m going to be the number one pick. He has a way of making you feel confident and feeling good.
30 for 30’s are famous for their ability to draw emotion from sports, and a lot has to do with the shots and the “feel” of the room Hock and Christopher get. Hock said:
You really have to impose the shot to show what the story is. You have to make that shot, the shot doesn’t make itself.And Alastair seemed to be able to just do that without even thinking. He could feel where the story is.
“One and Not Done” will change your opinion of Calipari. You’ll see what being a college coach actually entails. You’ll see the bond he creates with his players and how genuine of a person he is. Whether he is genuine towards the NCAA rulebook is still up for debate, but you will respect the work he puts into caring for his kids.
Watch “One but Not Done” on Thursday, April 13th on ESPN at 9:00 PM EST.
North Carolina won, the Zags lost, but the biggest losers of Sunday’s National Championship game were the refs, and in turn, made loyal watchers sink into their seats with disappointment.
The entire game featured 44 fouls, 22 on each side, and 27 in the second half. 44 fouls in 40 minutes… But hey, at least they were fair. And what makes all of these fouls worse, college rules disqualify players after 5 fouls.
What was the plan for the refs coming into the game? “Let’s call a bunch of fouls so we can stop the game and have fans really on the edge of their seat.” No. There was zero flow to the second half, and it ruined an interesting game.
Arguably the hottest player in the game, Zach Collins for Gonzaga, fouled out with 5 minutes to play. Other star players were playing with 4 fouls, which makes them play differently. There was an obvious hesitation to be aggressive and make plays. Soft basketball is bad basketball, and stars like Justin Jackson, Peter Karnowski, and others were limited in their play.
The main message to the refs: swallow your whistles. Let the kids play and decide the outcome. Call the necessary fouls, and don’t you dare change the outcome of the game.
Twitter was furious with the refs too. LeBron James (maybe he shouldn’t be talking about bad refs) and Dwayne Wade tweeted about watching the second half.
Man I can’t watch this anymore man! I would like to see the kids decide who wins the game! I mean Bruh!! Smh
These calls, man. Unless the kid is on the ground from an intentional elbow, there is no reason to call this. Let the kids battle for position. Teams weight lift during the season for this reason. The stronger player will get better position.
The overall game was great. A close game all the way until the end, and that’s all a fan can ask for in a championship game. It’s just too bad the players did more standing around than trying to win.