By Jon Rothstein
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– We’re hearing that Kentucky’s starting five will be Ryan Harrow, Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress, Kyle Wiltjer, and Nerlens Noel. The Wildcats have a unique blend of youth and experience plus a real wild card in freshman big man Willie Cauley. The 6-10 Cauley has been the surprise piece early on in Lexington and should have an integral role in Kentucky’s success this season. Don’t be shocked to see John Calipari experiment at times with a massive front line of Cauley (6-10), Wiltjer (6-9), and Noel (6-10) early in the season.
– Ohio State coach Thad Matta said this week that he’s going to regularly use Shannon Scott together in the back court with Aaron Craft in hopes of adding extra pressure defensively to the opponent’s perimeter. “We’re looking forward to them both playing together,” Matta said of Craft and Scott. “Those two can really create steals and deflections when they’re on the floor together. Shannon (Scott) also gives us something different out there because he can really push the ball. He’s going to help our transition game tremendously.” The Buckeyes aren’t getting their normal preseason hype but they have the goods to be in the mix for yet another Big Ten title. Ohio State’s sophomore class — Scott, LaQuinton Ross, Sam Thompson, and Amir Williams will all have to productive for the Buckeyes this season if Matta is to have this team in contention for yet another league championship.
– Iowa State has a bit of an issue at backup point guard after reserve Bubu Palo was suspended indefinitely after being charged with second-degree sexual abuse. Palo has pleaded not guilty to the charge and as long he’s not available for the Cyclones, Michigan State transfer Korie Lucious will be asked to play in the neighborhood of 35 minutes a game. Without Palo, Fred Hoiberg’s team has no true backup to Lucious, something they’re eventually going to need if they hope to again compete for a postseason bid.
– Arizona State big man Jordan Bachynski appears primed for a breakout junior year. The 7-2 center really started to blossom towards the end of last season, scoring in double figures in each of the Sun Devils final three games. Bachynski also blocked six shots in Arizona State’s upset victory late in the year over Arizona. With Bachynski and lightning quick point guard Jahii Carson, Herb Sendek may have a team that will win a few games they’re not supposed to in the PAC-12.
– Penn State freshman power forward Brandon Taylor is down 31 pounds and looks to be an immediate rotation player for the Nittany Lions. The 6-8 Taylor was a quality find by Pat Chambers, who has a team that’s ready to be even more competitive in the ultra tough Big Ten. In addition to Taylor, Penn State should have a perimeter that’s capable of matching up with anyone in their conference with Tim Frazier, Southern Miss transfer D.J. Newbill, and Jermaine Marshall.
– Marquette freshman forward Steve Taylor has yet to play in a game for the Golden Eagles but he’s already heaping major praise from his coach. “He might be the best player we’ve signed out of high school since I’ve been here,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said of the 6-7 Taylor. “He’s perfect for us. He’s a true face up forward that will be great with what we do.” The skilled Taylor appears to be the heir apparent as a combo forward behind Jamil Wilson, who looks to be a big part of the Golden Eagles’ anticipated success this season after the graduation of Jae Crowder.
– The big men at St. Joseph’s — Halil Kanacevic, Ron Roberts, and C.J. Aiken — are all capable of playing in a BCS conference. But can they all exist on the floor together throughout the course of a season? It sounds like we’re going to find out. Hawks coach Phil Martelli said that one of the things he’s working on right now is trying to get chemistry in place so Kanacevic, Roberts, and Aiken are all comfortable as a troika once the season starts. “We like the idea of playing our three best front court players together,” Martelli said. “Either Halil or C.J. is more than capable of being a three man, especially offensively.”
– Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings believes sophomore guard Dai-Jon Parker could take a major step forward this season and Stallings will be the first one to tell you — he better. The Commodores are starting over after losing their top six players from a year ago and Parker is one of many players that figure to have a brand new role during the upcoming season. “He has the look of a guy that can make a jump,” Stallings said of Parker. “He has the ability to be a lock down type of defender.”
– This is a pivotal recruiting weekend for Danny Hurley and Rhode Island. The Rams will host two key 2013 prospects in Christ The King combo guard Jon Severe and Curtis forward Hassan Martin. The 6-2 Severe is a gritty player who can score the ball in number of ways and would be a perfect fit for Hurley’s tenacious approach. Rhode Island has three transfers sitting out that will be eligible during the 2013-14 season in Gilvydas Biruta (Rutgers), Jarelle Reischel (Rice), and Biggie Minnis (Texas Tech).
– Howard Garfinkel’s annual clinic is Saturday October 6th at Iona College. Clinicians include Fran Dunphy, John Beilein, Geno Auriemma, and Bob Knight. For more information call 212-246-3063.
Do you smell a repeat for Kentucky? Be heard in the comments below…