By Jon Rothstein
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– UCLA’s Travis Wear could return for the Bruins’ third game of the year on November 18 against Sacramento State, according to UCLA coach Steve Alford. The fifth-year senior was diagnosed with appendicitis last week. The 6-foot-10 big man is the Bruins’ most experienced frontcourt player and averaged 10.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game last season.
– If Julius Randle is Kentucky’s version of Batman, then James Young is Robin on steroids. The 6-foot-6 freshman is a lethal scorer and looks like he could be the Wildcats’ second-best player. Young has great range and uses angles well since he’s a lefty. Think another Morris Peterson.
– The biggest reason why I think South Florida is the sleeper in the American Athletic Conference? Their two freshmen big guys — John Egbunu and Chris Perry. The duo combined for 20 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots in the Bulls’ exhibition game on Monday night. Don’t be shocked to see these two players in the starting lineup at some point this season for South Florida.
– Boston College has by far the toughest opening weekend in college basketball. The Eagles travel to Providence on Friday night and then face UMass on Sunday at the TD Garden in Boston. Steve Donahue’s team has been a trendy sleeper pick in the ACC, and they have two big opportunities right out of the gate this weekend. The Friars will be without Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock, who were suspended indefinitely on Wednesday.
– St. Peter’s big man Marvin Dominique will be one of the better players in the MAAC. The Fordham transfer has improved his skill level during his redshirt year and will be able to score in a number of ways for the Peacocks. John Dunne’s team may not be able to challenge Iona and Manhattan at the top of the conference standings, but expect St. Peter’s to crack the top five behind the one-two punch of Dominique and guard Desi Washington.
– La Salle, Rutgers, Vanderbilt and Virginia will all play in the 2014 Barclays Center Classic, per multiple sources. Dates and matchups for the event are still TBD. Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Penn State and St. John’s will play in the event this year on November 29 and 30 in Brooklyn.
– De La Salle’s Reid Travis will make his college decision on Friday and likely either select Stanford or Minnesota. The 2014 big man is a consensus Top 25 prospect in most recruiting services and will be an immediate starter next season as a freshman. Think another Kris Humphries.
– Miami’s return game as part of their series with La Salle will take place at the Palestra during the 2014-15 season. The game will be a bit of a homecoming for Hurricanes incoming freshman Ja’Quan Newton, a 6-foot-2 guard who currently is playing his senior season at Neuman-Goretti High School in Philadelphia.
– Leonard Hamilton said Florida State’s Kiel Turpin will miss the Seminoles’ opener on Friday night against Jacksonville due to a knee injury. Turpin began non-contact drills during Wednesday’s practice. The 7-foot big man averaged 5.4 points and 3.0 rebounds per game last season.
– Looking forward to finally seeing some games in person! I’ll be at Barclays Center for UConn-Maryland on Friday night and then in Philadelphia on Saturday for Manhattan-La Salle and Temple-Penn. Check back to this space next week for updates!
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