By Jon Rothstein
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– I’m hearing Wayne Selden has been Kansas’ most consistent player throughout summer practice. Selden doesn’t enter next season with the cache of fellow freshmen Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid, but he’s more than capable of having a big time first year in Lawrence. The 6-5, 220 pound wing is a built like a linebacker and possesses an uncanny ability to absorb contact. He’ll be a big fan favorite at Allen Fieldhouse.
– Marshall coach Tom Herrion has made a habit of taking of second chance kids, and he’s continuing that trend with former Manhattan commit Chris Thomas. The 6-4 Thomas initially committed to the Jaspers, but reopened his recruiting process after he dealt with some legal issues. Herrion needs Thomas —- who may be the most talented player he’s signed since he’s been a head coach — and redshirt freshman point guard Kareem Canty to both stay in line and out of trouble. With those two in the back court and last year’s leading scorer Elijah Pittman (16.1 PPG) back in the fold, the Thundering Herd have a chance to be one of the better teams in Conference-USA.
– Ohio State’s staff is expecting freshman small forward Marc Loving to immediately contribute. The 6-8 Loving has good perimeter skills, and should give this team another shot maker that can extend defenses. The presence of Loving could allow Thad Matta’s team the opportunity to play smaller across the front line if they don’t get the production they hope out of incumbent center Amir Williams. Last season, Matta regularly went to a smaller, more skilled lineup with Deshaun Thomas at the “five”.
– Temple’s Jesse Morgan will meet with the NCAA on Monday in hopes of finding out if he’ll be eligible to play for the Owls during the upcoming season. The 6-5 Morgan tore his ACL in early January and was then expelled from UMass in the spring before transferring back home to his native Philadelphia. He averaged 13.4 PPG in 14 games last season for the Minutemen. The hope for Morgan and Temple is that he can get the NCAA to sign off on the fact that there was no need for expulsion while he was at UMass. Either way, Morgan has just one year of eligibility remaining.
– Iowa coach Fran McCaffery told me that no player on his team has improved more since the end of last season than 6-10 big man Gabe Olaseni. “He’s really coming along,” McCaffery said of Olaseni, who averaged 2.7 points and 2.6 rebounds per game last season. “He was always a great athlete but now he’s running the floor and becoming a more complete player. He’s going to be a factor for us.” The Hawkeyes will take a trip to Europe in August and play a handful of exhibition games. There’s not one standout player on Iowa’s roster entering next season, but McCaffery has 11 guys that are capable of playing major minutes.
– If there’s a player in college basketball next season that has a chance to average 20 points and 10 rebounds a game it’s Towson’s Jerrelle Benimon. The 6-8 Benimon averaged 17.1 PPG and 11.2 RPG last season and also shot 40.8% from three-point range. The Tigers should be the favorites entering the CAA next year, a remarkable feat considering they were 1-31 two years ago in Pat Skerry’s first season at Towson. Skerry led the Tigers to an 18-13 record last year, but they were ineligible for the postseason due to their low APR. It will be interesting to see how this team handles being the hunted.
– How good will Harvard be next year? Here’s an idea. The Crimson could have five players — Siyani Chambers, Brandyn Curry, Wesley Saunders, Laurent Rivard, and Kyle Casey that will all be candidates to be first-team All-Ivy League. That five also doesn’t include blue chip freshman big man Zena Edosomwan, a 6-8 post player that should have an immediate impact. This will be one of the best teams to ever play in the Ivy League.
– Keep an eye on Florida State freshman Jarquez Smith. The Seminoles’ coaching staff is cautiously optimistic that the 6-9 forward could be a factor defensively in terms of protecting the rim. Florida State really struggled guarding opponents last season, and if Leonard Hamilton’s team is going to work their way into the top half of the revved up ACC, they’re going to have to get back to stopping people.
– Manhattan quietly has a chance to be one of the better mid-major teams in college basketball. The Jaspers return the core of a team that reached the MAAC title game last March, and add Maryland transfer Ashton Pankey along with George Beamon. Beamon was last year’s MAAC Preseason Player of the Year, but only played four games last season due to injury. The biggest area where this team separates itself from other mid-majors? The front court. With Pankey, Emmy Andujar, and bruising big man Rhamel Brown (11.4 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 3.0 BPG), the Jaspers have a baseline that could be potentially devastating. “Those three guys could all play, and have an impact at the BCS level,” Manhattan coach Steve Masiello said of Andujar, Pankey, and Brown. “The two biggest strengths of our team is our front court and depth. We have 11 guys that are going to play every single night.”
– The 2013 Holiday Classic is set for December 7th at Madison Square Garden. St. John’s will face Fordham and La Salle will take on upstart Stony Brook.
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