By Jon Rothstein
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– Virginia Tech transfer Dorian Finney-Smith will visit Iowa State this upcoming weekend and then possibly Georgetown before making a decision. The Cyclones are a major player for the small forward’s services thanks to rising assistant Matt Abdelmassih, who was the point man when Iowa State recruited Royce White. Finney-Smith is also considering Louisville, Florida, Marquette, Texas, and Ohio State. During his freshman season with the Hokies, Finney-Smith averaged 6.3 points and seven rebounds per contest.
– Manhattan will be the overwhelming favorite in the MAAC next season if Maryland transfer Ashton Pankey receives a waiver to play immediately. The 6-foot-9 power forward will be a menace at the mid-major level and should become an All-Conference caliber big man. During last season at Maryland, Pankey tallied 4.7 points and 4.9 rebounds on an average of just over 20 minutes per game. If Pankey is eligible in 12-13, Jaspers head coach Steve Masiello will boast a loaded front line of Pankey, rising junior Rhamel Brown, and skilled sophomore to be Emmy Andujar. Pankey will have three years of eligibility remaining.
– Looking for a team on the rise in the MAAC? Try Niagara. The Purple Eagles could potentially have the league’s best back court with Antoine Mason and Juan’ya Green and have restocked their front line with La Salle transfer Devon White. The 6-foot-8 White will be eligible to play immediately since he’s already graduated. White averaged 5.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in 16.3 minutes per game last season at La Salle. Niagara coach Joe Mihalich should have a real chance to make a move next year in what could be a wide open league, especially if Green and Mason, a pair of talented sophomores take the steps many think they will. As freshmen last season, the duo averaged nearly 33 points per game combined.
– Arizona coach Sean Miller is expecting 6-foot-9 power forward Angelo Chol to make a major jump next season as a sophomore. “He might be our team’s hardest worker,” Miller said of Chol, who averaged 2.8 points and 2.3 rebounds per game as a freshman. “He just has to keep learning the game. He’s feeling more comfortable and he’s bigger and stronger. He should come into next year 15 pounds heavier.” Chol, whose post defense became a factor during the second half of the PAC-12 schedule last season will be joined up front by a talented freshmen trio of Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley, and Grant Jerrett. All three according to Miller need seasoning but should have an an immediate impact. “We’ve got some inexperienced front court players but they’re talented,” Miller said.
“I love that Kaleb has a mean streak about him,” Miller said of Tarczewski. “He loves contact and I don’t think Grant Jerrett gets credit for how skilled he is. He’s got great hands and can really score inside of 17 feet.”
– All signs are pointing toward Jarrod Uthoff winding up at Iowa. The 6-foot-8 skilled power forward would have to initially be a walk on for the Hawkeyes since he originally committed to be another Big Ten school in Wisconsin before opting to transfer. Uthoff, who was named Iowa’s Mr. Basketball in 2011 after averaging 26.2 points per game as a high school senior will have four years of eligibility left after red shirting last season.
– The addition of McDonald’s All-American Devonta Pollard should give Alabama a legitimate chance to return to the NCAA Tournament next season under Anthony Grant. The 6-foot-7 Pollard should fill some of the void left behind by Tony Mitchell’s dismissal last season and provide the Crimson Tide with another scorer next to guards Trevor Releford and Trevor Lacey. Pollard averaged 24 points, 16 rebounds, and five blocks per game in high school.
– A big reason why Bruce Weber is giddy about the prospects next season at Kansas State? Jordan Henriquez. The 6-foot-11 big man turned things up to another level at the end of last season, averaging 16.75 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks in four postseason games for the Wildcats. “His game went up a notch, there’s no doubt,” Weber said of Henriquez. “Now the question is — can he be consistent throughout the course of the season.” If Henriquez has a senior season to remember and the rest of the Wildcats steadily improve, Weber should have Kansas State right in the mix for a Big 12 title along with Kansas, Baylor, and Texas. With an exceptionally deep perimeter highlighted by returning starters Will Spradling and Angel Rodriguez, Weber said he plans to play plenty of four guard alignments with Henriquez being the long big man on the floor. “We’re going to play our share of small ball,” Weber said. “Guys like Shane Southwell and Rodney McGruder will play some up front for us. They’re good enough to rebound at a high level and defend at a high level.”
– Kansas, Temple, and La Salle are three of the schools that are in the running for Villanova transfer Markus Kennedy. The 6-foot-9, 260 pound big man averaged three points and an 4.4 rebounds per game last season as a freshman in only 14.8 minutes per contest. Kennedy will have three years of eligibility remaining.
– Austin Carroll has received a medical red shirt for last season after appearing in just ten games for Rutgers and will have three years of eligibility remaining once he transfers to a new school. Carroll has heard from American, Rhode Island, Towson, and recently visited Loyola. The sharpshooter could be a nice fit for a mid-major program looking to add some perimeter pop. Carroll shot 37.9% from 3-point range during his time at Rutgers.
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