By Jon Rothstein
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2. Damyean Dotson’s upside
3. Denzel Valentine’s versatility
4. Quinn Cook’s ability to distribute
5. Cleanthony Early — the most underrated sixth man in college basketball
6. La Salle’s perimeter
7. Solomon Hill’s leadership
8. Aaron Craft
9. Kevin Young’s intangibles
10. Michigan’s offense
11. Scottie Wilbekin’s poise
12. Florida Gulf Coast
13. Victor Oladipo’s athleticism
15. Buzz Williams’ postgame interviews
16. Miami’s mission
THIS AND THAT:
– Josh Pastner’s decision to stay at Memphis creates a major quandary with the situation at USC. Trojans athletic director Pat Haden had targeted Pastner after Jamie Dixon — Haden’s intitial top target — opted to return to Pitt. The decisions by Dixon and Pastner, coupled with the vacancy at UCLA, makes Haden’s decision that much more critical. USC was set to be one of the premier jobs in this year’s coaching carousel. Now they’re not even the top open job in their own city. This is a pivotal hire for Haden. We’re hearing that Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins is still in the mix. Another candidate could be Washington’s Lorenzo Romar, who has deep roots in Southern California.
– George Mason’s decision to join the Atlantic 10 makes sense for both sides. The conference needed a strong brand-name program to replace Xavier and Butler, and Mason’s location, tradition and facilities are beyond ideal. Paul Hewitt’s ability to recruit players that could have went to a higher level than the CAA out of high school (Erik Copes, Patrick Holloway) should make this transition much easier.
– Siena has always been a very good job. It could become a great job if the Saints are the next program to jump to the Atlantic 10. The Albany-based school has always gotten great fan support, and was still averaging close to 6,000 people at home games this season despite a subpar year. If Siena joins the Atlantic 10, that number could get closer to 8,000 or 9,000 for home games, depending on the opponent. Nothing appears to be imminent, but this is a storyline to watch moving forward.
– It is no longer fashionable to go on a big run in the NCAA Tournament and jump for a bigger pay day. Shaka Smart, Brad Stevens and Tommy Amaker have proven at VCU, Butler and Harvard that there’s something to be said for enjoying where you are rather than jumping to a job in a BCS league. Gregg Marshall at Wichita State is now another example. Marshall will have the best job in the Missouri Valley Conference now that Creighton has joined the Big East, and the Shockers could annually win 25 games and their league because of what Marshall has built. Don’t mess with happy.
– Miami’s Reggie Johnson will miss the Hurricanes’ Sweet 16 game against Marquette due to a knee injury. A big deal? It could be. Miami did play a large chunk of the season without Johnson, but having an extra big body defensively to deal with Golden Eagles big man Davante Gardner wouldn’t hurt.
– Marist has interviewed NJIT’s Jim Engles, Rhode Island College’s Bob Walsh and Stony Brook assistant Jay Young for their head-coaching vacancy, per a source. We’ve followed Engles for the past five years and still can’t believe how good of a job he’s done at NJIT. After going 1-30 during his first season, Engles led the Highlanders to a 16-12 record this year and a first-place finish in the Great West Conference. Impressive.
– Jackson State made a really strong hire in Wayne Brent. I had the chance to watch Brent work last summer at the Reebok Breakout Classic in Philadelphia, and the guy has the ability to be a star in this business. Brent has always been connected to high-major players, and should hit the ground running next year in the SWAC.
– Former Sacramento Kings head coach Reggie Theus is heavily in play for the vacancy at Cal State Northridge, according to multiple sources. Theus is currently coaching the Los Angeles D-Fenders in the NBDL, but has told many people privately that he’d love to return to college. Theus coached New Mexico State from 2005-2007 and led the Aggies to the NCAA Tournament once.
– Former Georgia coach Dennis Felton is one of the leading candidates for the vacancy at Old Dominion, per a source. Felton hasn’t coached in college since 2009, and has spent the past few years doing various jobs in the NBA. Felton worked for Old Dominion athletic director Wood Selig when he was at Western Kentucky.
Which Sweet 16 matchup are you most looking forward to watching? Let us know in the comments section below…