By Jon Rothstein
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– The NCAA’s decision to not allow Texas transfer Sterling Gibbs to play immediately for Seton Hall next season clears up a lot of the questions surrounding the Pirates’ point guard situation. Without Gibbs available, look for Kevin Willard to experiment with veterans Freddie Wilson and Aaron Cosby as well as freshman Tom Maayan as the team’s starting floor general. For the record, my money is on Cosby. While he didn’t possess a tight handle for the majority of his first season, the sophomore guard has really refined his lead guard skills since April. With Cosby at point guard, Seton Hall would be in a situation where they wouldn’t be playing with a true play maker — but at least the Pirates would be putting their five best players on the floor.
– UC Irvine transfer Eric Wise has dropped 35 pounds and will be in the mix to start at power forward for USC. The 6-foot-6 Wise is just one of a plethora of newcomers for the Trojans, who should be one of the more improved teams in the PAC-12, and maybe the country. Competing with Wise for a starting spot up front will be Wake Forest transfer Ari Stewart and Aaron Fuller, who produced quality numbers (10.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg) last season despite playing with a nagging shoulder injury.
– Hollis Thompson’s decision to leave Georgetown early may have hurt the Hoyas outside shooting but John Thompson III’s team got a major boost when they received a commitment from 6-7 wing Stephen Domingo. The lanky Domingo was originally a prospect in the class of 2013 but opted to come to Georgetown a year early and enroll in 2012. “He can really shoot the basketball,” Thompson said of Domingo. “He’s going to replace some of what we lost in Hollis in terms of his ability to shoot it from deep.”
– NC State seems likely to be picked first in the ACC Preseason Poll ahead of both Duke and North Carolina. The Wolfpack return the majority of their core that advanced to the Sweet 16 last season —- but they’ll have to replace DeShawn Painter, a valuable big man who transferred to Old Dominion. Keep an eye on rugged sophomore forward Thomas de Thaey to inherit Painter’s minutes — Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried loves him and has compared de Thaey’s game to former Washington forward Jon Brockman.
– Looking for a mid major guard to emerge next season? Try Creighton’s Austin Chatman. The Blue Jays lost their starting point guard Antoine Young to graduation and Chatman is the heir apparent to step in and run the offense. As a freshman last year, Chatman averaged 2.4 points and 1.9 assists in 11.8 minutes per game.
– I’d be shocked if Fordham freshman Jermaine Myers doesn’t start for the Rams at point guard during the upcoming season. The 6-foot-1 Myers is a prototypical pass first floor general that should give Tom Pecora’s team something it desperately lacked last year. Strong, tough, and built like a mack truck at 190 pounds, Myers is also a capable outside shooter when he’s open and should complement the dribble drive ability of teammates Bryan Smith, Branden Frazier, and Jeff Short.
– Missouri coach Frank Haith told me that three players who sat out last season — Earnest Ross, Keion Bell, and Jabari Brown will all compete for the Tigers fifth starting spot. Haith is committed to beginning games with Phil Pressey and Michael Dixon together in the back court along with Laurence Bowers and UCONN transfer Alex Oriakhi up front, but the final spot of the starting lineup remains up for grabs. Ross is a big physical guard, who transferred from Auburn and could replace some of the intangibles that Kim English gave Missouri last season. Bell, who came to Columbia after three years at Pepperdine has been compared to former Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor while Brown is a high scoring guard who will be eligible to play in December after starting last season at Oregon before deciding to transfer.
– Arizona incoming freshman center Kaleb Tarczewki has gained approximately 15 pounds and should really benefit from a collegiate weight training program. The 7-footer is the likely candidate to start at center for the Wildcats during the upcoming season. “His size is something you don’t get very often,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said recently in reference to Tarczewki. “The other thing about Kaleb is he has a mean streak about him. He likes contact.”
– JUCO transfer Musa Abdul-Aleem has a legitimate chance to lead South Florida in scoring next season and could be one of the more effective newcomers in the Big East. The 6-foot-5 Abdul-Aleem is a big time offensive talent and should help the Bulls avoid some of the scoring droughts they dealt with last season. This guy is also a monster in the weight room. Word last week was Abdul-Aleem was bench pressing 340 pounds.
– Early reports out of UCLA indicate that freshman small forward Jordan Adams has really impressed with his basketball IQ. While Adams isn’t the first player you think of amongst the Bruins newcomers because of Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad, he could become a vital piece to Ben Howland’s team as next season develops. A knock down outside shooter with good size 6-foot-5, Adams will compete with both Tyler Lamb and Norman Powell for minutes next to both Muhammad and Anderson on the perimeter.
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