Foreign tours are beneficial. They can help with team chemistry and off-the-court bonding, while also giving a program an extra 10 practices and an opportunity to play an actual opponent (not a scrimmage versus themselves).
Even though stats should be taken with a grain of salt (the competition is certainly not the same as college teams in the USA), players having breakout performances are noteworthy when there is not much to talk about in the month of August.
And when your putting up absurd numbers like Washington Huskies guard Markelle Fultz, it must be mentioned.
Fultz scored 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out five assists and had two steals in a win over the Mainland Eagles in Australia. With this most recent performance and a 33-point game earlier in their foreign tour, Fultz is now averaging 24.7 points per game in three outings.
It just confirms that the five-star recruit is the real deal and that he is likely to light up college basketball and the Pac-12 Conference in 2016-17. Fultz is a future lottery pick because of his playmaking ability, his smooth style with the basketball in his hands, his ability to score at all three levels, his talent in transition, his athleticism and his versatility.
In addition to the stats, he’s throwing down dunks like this:
— Washington Men's Basketball (@UW_MBB) August 7, 2016
For Fultz, the highlights aren’t going to end in Australia…that’s for sure.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats are already 2-0 in Spain thanks to the presence of Josh Hart.
In the team’s first game against a Spanish Select Team, Hart had 16 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out three assists. The Wildcats trashed their opponent (a group of Division II professional players), winning 89-49.
The senior forward followed up that performance with an even better one. Hart scored 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the Wildcats victory, 87-80, over another Spanish Select Team on Sunday.
“Josh was dominant, by far the best player on the floor today,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said to the team’s website. “If that was a regular season game he probably could have had 40. We were trying some different things late. But when we needed a bucket, we went to him every time and he came through.
“Even more so than the points, I thought Josh was outstanding defensively and on the glass for us.”
Hart is obviously the leader of this Wildcats unit, along with Kris Jenkins. He will be in the mix for both Big East Player of the Year and possible spot on an All-American team nationally because of his passion, work ethic and most importantly, his experience.
He was the final piece for the puzzle for the Wildcats when he decided to take his name out of the NBA Draft pool. The Wildcats have a legit chance to repeat, especially if Hart carries this momentum back to the States.
Programs can only participate in a foreign tour once every four years, but they sure can be a massive help in the long run.
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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