By Jon Rothstein
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– For the second consecutive year, Oregon coach Dana Altman will be forced to blend a completely new team together as the Ducks will only return five scholarship players from last season.
“The only thing I’m sure of at this point is that Tony Woods can block some shots and E.J. Singler will be out there on the wing,” Altman said earlier this week. “Everything else is a major question right now.”
The good thing for Altman is that he dealt with a similar situation last season and Oregon wound up winning 13 conference games. It’s also a positive that the Ducks will add floor general Dominic Artis. The 5-foot-11 point guard out of Findlay Prep should be a major contributor immediately for the Ducks, who only have one other primary ball handler in Johnathan Loyd. “I don’t think there’s any doubt he’s going to be a significant piece,” Altman said of the 5-foot-11 Artis. “He’ll give us some speed in the open floor.”
– Keep an eye on JUCO transfer D.D. Scarver for Tom Herrion and Marshall next season. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard can really fill it up and should take a lot of offensive pressure off Deandre Kane. Herrion has a real chance to compete with Memphis for a conference title if freshman point guard Kareem Canty can remain under control and give them quality minutes in his first season. Herrion has said he also is tinkering with using a bigger front court, featuring forwards Dennis Tinnon, Robert Goff, and 6-foot-10 center Nigel Spikes.
– Villanova got tremendous news this week when the NCAA cleared Wake Forest transfer Tony Chennault to play next season thanks to a waiver. The 6-foot-2 Chennault will add much-needed back court experience to the Wildcats, who could start freshman Ryan Arcidiacono at the point when the season begins next fall. The biggest issue for Villanova heading into next season? Outside shooting. The highest returning 3-point percentage of any player that was on the Wildcats last season was Jayvaughn Pinkston, who made 36.6% from deep in 2011-12.
– The amount of transfers that are granted immediate waivers to play is really starting to become a bad thing for college basketball. I’m well aware that certain instances are more severe than others but the more kids that become eligible without sitting out sets the wrong precedent. The rules should be simple. If you transfer, you sit out a year. Period. There should be no middle ground on this unless a student athlete is attempting to transfer prior to his 5th year of eligibility.
– Arizona State may not make the NCAA Tournament next season — but the Sun Devils will be vastly improved. Point guard Jahii Carson is the highlight of a brand new back court that will feature two transfers in Evan Gordon (Liberty) and Bo Barnes (Hawaii). “Sitting out and practicing last year really helped Jahii,” Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said this week. “He should hit the ground running. Evan Gordon is another guard that we like that can play both guard spots and Bo Barnes made 50 3-pointers two years ago at Hawaii. We’re looking forward to having all three.” The Sun Devils are in a pack of teams in the PAC-12 that should be behind UCLA, Arizona, and Stanford. My sleeper in the league remains the same as its been for months now — USC.
– Manhattan’s Rhamel Brown has completely redefined his body since the end of last season. The 6-foot-6 junior has gained seven pounds of muscle and stuck to a diet featuring no red meat and minimal carbs. His body fat is down from eight and a half percent to six. After showing moments of brilliance last year as a sophomore, it appears Brown is ready to bust out as a junior. “He’s one of the more underrated big men in the country,” Manhattan coach Steve Masiello said. It’s hard to argue considering Brown’s production per minute last season when the power forward averaged 7.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game in just over 19 minutes of action.
– Look for Treveon Graham to emerge next season as VCU’s go-to scorer with the graduation of veteran guard Bradford Burgess. The 6-foot-5 Graham reached double figures twice in last year’s CAA Tournament and should hit the ground running next season as the Rams begin life in the Atlantic-10.
– Fordham’s non-conference schedule is beyond brutal. The Rams play at Pitt in the Preseason NIT and then will face off against winner/loser of Robert Morris and Lehigh. Tom Pecora’s team is also at Ole Miss, Georgia Tech, and Harvard with a date against St. John’s set for December 8th at Madison Square Garden. Fordham will also host Siena and Manhattan at Rose Hill Gym.
– Jim Ferry and Duquesne got an absolute steal with incoming freshman Quevyn Winters. The 6-foot-5 small forward had interest from several high majors before committing to the Dukes, who will give him the opportunity to play immediately. Winters and senior guard Sean Johnson should be the top perimeter scorers for Ferry in his first A-10 season.
– Tune into the Tim Brando Show Monday on CBS Sports Network from 10-1 ET as I fill in and focus heavily on next week’s NBA Draft. Kentucky’s Anthony Davis is already confirmed as well as Jonathan Givony of Draft Express. Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus and other draft centric guests are also expected to appear.
Your thoughts on the men’s basketball scene? Be heard in the comments below!