By Jon Rothstein
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– One of the more underrated story lines heading into next season is how Memphis will adjust to the American Athletic Conference. The Tigers have dominated Conference-USA for years, and now for the first time in almost a decade, this proud program will be repeatedly tested throughout the course of the regular season. In addition to Memphis, the “AAC” will have several strong teams in Louisville, UConn, Cincinnati, and Temple to go with upstarts such as SMU and South Florida.
– Arizona freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said his greatest asset at the college level will be his versatility. “I look at myself as a guy that can play four different spots on the floor,” Hollis-Jefferson told me recently. “I can play anywhere from the one to the four, and I’m going to defend no matter where I play. I’m capable of defending four positions.” Aaron Gordon may be getting the majority of the attention when it comes to Sean Miller’s 2013 recruiting class, but Hollis-Jefferson will have an instant impact for the Wildcats. At 6-7 and 215 pounds, the lefty wing has the makings of a special defensive player. “I’m going to lock people down,” said Hollis-Jefferson, whom many have compared to former NBA small forward Stacey Augmon. “I take pride in my role, and my role has always been stopping people.”
– Virginia will be a trendy sleeper pick in the ACC next season, but who will be the Cavaliers’ starting point guard? Red shirt sophomore Malcolm Brogdon, who missed last year with a foot injury is one potential candidate, along with freshman London Perrantes. Tony Bennett’s team has an All-ACC two guard in Joe Harris, and a strong core of talented sophomores in Justin Anderson, Evan Nolte, and Mike Tobey — but point guard still remains a serious question surrounding Virginia.
– Don’t be surprised if Kyle Molock winds up as Saint Joseph’s starting point guard. Molock, who missed last year due to a torn ACL, has had three knee surgeries since 2010 but is still on track to be ready for next season. Phil Martelli’s team will take a foreign trip this summer, and the live game action should only help Molock’s instincts and timing. The Hawks still return a strong core anchored by the senior trio of Langston Galloway, Ron Roberts, and Halil Kanacevic. The real keys for this team next season will be the health of Molock, and the development of incoming freshman DeAndre Bembry, a Top 100 recruit that should immediately start at small forward.
– Dayton has all the requisites to make a jump in the Atlantic 10. The Flyers lost their starting point guard in Kevin Dillard, but add an impact freshman in Dayshon “Scoochie” Smith, who could wind up being this team’s starting floor general. Archie Miller’s squad will also add Ohio State transfer Jordan Sibert, and welcome back big man Matt Kavanaugh, who was suspended for all of last season due to an off the court issue. The 6-9 Kavanaugh averaged 9.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in 2011-12. Dayton was 7-9 in conference play last season (17-14 overall) and lost six games by six points or less. There is a general feeling among coaches in the Atlantic 10 that the Flyers could make a move in 2013-14.
– I’m hearing that Xavier guard Myles Davis is in the best shape of his life. Davis, who was ineligible last season, should give the Musketeers a big time shooter that will be able to take pressure off Semaj Christon. The 6-1 combo guard has struggled with his conditioning throughout his prep career, but seems to have finally turned the corner. Look for Davis to be part of a strong three-guard alignment for Chris Mack’s team along with Christon and Dee Davis.
– Iowa State’s most underrated newcomer for next season will be JUCO transfer Dustin Hogue. The 6-6 Hogue should start for the Cyclones at small forward, and could develop into a more muscular version of Travis Releford if he continues to improve. While Hogue still needs to become a more capable outside shooter, his intangibles should immediately benefit Fred Hoiberg’s team.
– Arizona, Baylor, Florida, and Oregon are all in the mix for Houston transfer Joseph Young, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. The 6-3 Young averaged 18.0 PPG last season for the Cougars and shot 42% from three-point range. He will have two years of eligibility remaining.
– Jerome Seagears’ decision to return to Rutgers instead of staying at Auburn gives the Scarlet Knights something that many people didn’t think they’d have in Eddie Jordan’s first season — a chance. The junior point guard will stabilize the Rutgers’ back court and allow Myles Mack to return to shooting guard, a place where he excelled towards the end of last season. Kadeem Jack and Wally Judge give Jordan an experienced power forward/center combo up front, and if the NCAA grants Pitt transfer J.J. Moore a waiver to play immediately without sitting out, the Scarlet Knights will have a starting five that can match up with any team in the American Athletic Conference.
– I’m hearing USC is still very much in the mix for 2014 small forward Stanley Johnson. The Mater Dei wing is a consensus Top 15 recruit among high school seniors, and would be a major addition to Andy Enfield’s rebuilding project with the Trojans. A real wild card to watch here? Katin Reinhardt. The UNLV transfer will be eligible to play for USC in 2014-15 — the same season that Johnson will be a college freshman. Like Johnson, Reinhardt also attended Mater Dei, and his presence should help the Trojans in the recruiting process.
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