After winning a National Title in 2016, the Villanova Wildcats have flipped the script to the 2016-17 season. Already they are dealing with minor adversity, as five-star 6’9″ power forward Omari Spellman has not yet been cleared by the NCAA to participate in games.
The Ohio native has been cleared academically, is able to practice with the Wildcats and will travel with the team on their off-season trip to Spain. However, the NCAA is still looking into an issue in regards to Spellman’s ninth grade year (he played at two different high schools in New York and one in Ohio).
It’s way too early to speculate as to whether or not Spellman misses games or the entire season, but having the St. Thomas More product gives the Wildcats an upgrade in the paint in terms of talent. Center Daniel Ochefu has graduated and the Wildcats will need another big to spilt minutes with Darryl Reynolds.
Spellman’s value doesn’t just come in terms of rebounding, defending strong opposing big men, and scoring on the interior. He is capable of stretching the floor with range that extends beyond the three point line, which in turn will open up lanes for the ‘Nova guards to attack off the dribble.
In other Villanova news, former four-star recruit Tim Delaney (hip) will go with Villanova to Spain. The 6’9″ New Jersey native red-shirted last year.
Reynolds has a bone bruise and won’t travel with the team to Spain.
Lamonte Bearden to Western Kentucky
Rick Stansbury is building a potential rising mid-major…and fast.
First, the Hilltoppers landed Providence’s Junior Lomomba and Washington State’s Que Johnson as graduate transfers. Then, they reeled in five-star recruit Mitchell Robinson in the class of 2017.
On Tuesday, Stansbury added a critical transfer for the 2017-18 season in former Buffalo point guard Lamonte Bearden. The 6’3″, 160 pound Milwaukee native and former four-star recruit will sit out one season before having two years of eligibility remaining.
Bearden has played in two straight NCAA Tournaments with Buffalo. Last season, he averaged 13.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 4.2 assists, while shooting 42 percent from the field and just 25 percent from long range.
If Bearden can improve his jump shot and work on his ability to limit turnovers, he could be a force at Western Kentucky.
Dillon Brooks availability uncertain
Oregon star forward Dillon Brooks has been dealing with a unknown foot injury this off-season. He has not participated in any drills or practices this summer, and now could be on the sideline for an extended amount of time.
Brooks had surgery on his mysterious foot injury last week. There is no update on the particulars of the injury and there remains no timeline.
Oregon Duck fans are holding their breath as this could be one of the greatest seasons in program history. The team is trying to reach their first Final Four since 1939, and they certainly won’t be able to achieve that goal without their best player, most versatile player, and leader.
Brooks averaged 16.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game last year. He scored 25 points to escape a close match-up against St. Joe’s in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and dropped another 22 points on 9-of-19 shooting in a victory over the Duke Blue Devils in the Sweet 16.
The rising junior can score from all three levels with the ability to blow by slower four men off the dribble (as well as stretch the floor) and beat smaller fours on the interior with effective post moves.
Brooks bypassed the NBA Draft with an NCAA Tournament title in his view. His status for the season is now in jeopardy.
Reggie Lynch in the clear?
Minnesota junior forward Reggie Lynch will not have sexual assault charges filed against him due to insufficient evidence. The former Illinois State talent was arrested on May 8th on suspicion of sexually assaulting a 19-year old at an on-campus apartment.
Lynch’s status with the Golden Gophers program has not been updated at this time. If he is reinstated from his indefinite suspension, Richard Pitino’s club could finish higher than expected in the Big Ten.
Lynch, a 6’9″, 260 pound forward, averaged 9.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and 0.7 steals per game in his sophomore season with Redbirds. He’s not a great passer and doesn’t have any three point range on his jump shot (zero shots beyond the arc in two years), but he can be a key piece on the interior and defensively.
2017 guard Gary Trent Jr. cuts list to five
The 9th ranked prospect in ESPN’s top 100 for the class of 2017, Gary Trent Jr., has cut his list down to five schools: UCLA, Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State and Arizona.
— GARY x TRENT x JR 🌹 (@gtrentjr) August 2, 2016
Trent Jr. has talked about teaming up with fellow five-star recruit Wendall Carter Jr. The favorite to land the pair of 2017 studs is Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils.
The 6’5″, 200 pound Apple Valley, MN native is an elite scorer, as he can put the ball in the basket at all three levels. He’s not a great athlete or an excellent defender, but he can make plays in transition, is strong when making his move to the rim, and has a beautiful stroke from long range.
Rick Barnes Says He Would Have Left Tennessee if UCLA Paid Buyout
Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes could have been the next head coach for UCLA, instead of Mick Cronin, if only the Bruins were willing to open up their wallets.
Barnes says that if UCLA would have promised to pay Barnes’ $5 million buyout, he would have left Tennessee to take the job at UCLA.
“I think I would’ve been the coach at UCLA,” Barnes said (h/t ESPN). “I’ve said that to people before. I really felt at that time that’s what would happen.”
Barnes was honest and open with his decision process during the news conference, saying that he struggled with making a final decision due to financial matters.
Barnes has since agreed to a new deal with Tennessee that will pay him $4 million per year before increasing to a $6 million annual sum by the end of the contract and provide more cash for his assistants.
“I’m supposed to be at Tennessee,” Barnes said. “And it’s really above and beyond the basketball program. I’m in love with this community. I’m in love with this state. I just think we got a lot of great things going on in this town.”
“A lot of praying went into it, I can tell you that,” Barnes said. “There was a lot going on. When you get down to a situation like that, it has to make sense from a financial standpoint. Bottom line is we couldn’t work it out with the buyout.”
Barnes also informed UCLA that he would not depart Knoxville without talking to athletic director Phillip Fulmer and others in the community.
I told them point blank, ‘I’m not going to walk out of here and not meet with my team,'” Barnes said. “‘I’m not going to walk out of here and not meet with people here that have been really good to me.’ … I said, ‘You just can’t say send a plane tomorrow and we’re leaving. I’m going to make sure this is done the right way.'”
“There was one time in my mind I truly felt that’s what would happen,” Barnes said about potentially taking the UCLA offer. “It got to that point where I felt like my prayers had been answered.”
The Madness is Underway
As we inch closer to selection Sunday, many conference tournaments are underway finding teams who will automatically make the NCAA Men’s basketball. Here are the teams that currently in the tournament:
Atlantic Sun: Liberty
Big South: Gardner–Webb
Horizon: Northern Kentucky
Missouri Valley: Bradley
MEC: Fairleigh Dickinson
Ohio Valley: Murray State
Summit League: North Dakota State
Summit League: Saint Marry’s
Out of the 32 conferences with automatic bids in the tournament, 12 of them have been clinched. All the until selection Sunday the remaining 20 conferences will have their tickets punched. Who will that be? Stay tuned!
Tennessee Basketball Ranked 4th In (Early) Preseason Top 25
A school built on football lure now has a thriving basketball team to get behind. In a early CBS basketball poll, the Volunteer squad is ranked 4th in the preseason. This should bring relief to a fan base whose struggled with a lackluster football team in recent years.
Under Coach Rick Barnes (SEC Coach of the year 2017) the Vols went 26-9 last year, won a share of the regular season SEC title and reached the final of the SEC tournament. Tennessee should return most of their pivotal pieces for the 2018-19 season.
Admiral Schofield (2017-2018 ALL SEC second teamer) who tested the NBA waters has returned for his senior year to play along side Grant Williams (SEC player of the year) and Kyle Alexander. If they can stay healthy along with the supporting cast, this team has a legitimate chance to reach the final four.
According to Andy Katz, “Tennessee is the team to beat in the SEC this year,” and did I mention Coach Barnes recruiting is nothing to take lightly. Recently committed 5 star combo guard, Josiah James added his name to the class of 2019 and pushed the Vols recruiting into the top 10 nationally.
Although it’s too early to tell how this season will play out its certain the hype is warranted and reaching heights it hasn’t seen since the Bruce Pearl era.
Could it be!? Tennessee – a basketball school?
Follow the journey when the Volunteers tip off against Louisiana Lafayette on November 9th.
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