By Jon Rothstein
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– Iowa State needs to get back to the way they initially built their program under Fred Hoiberg— taking transfers. The Cyclones will be able to get their share of talented high school kids — they’re heavily involved with one of the top players in the Class of 2014 in Rashad Vaughn— but their bread and butter still has to be transfers. Hoiberg has led Iowa State to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments primarily because he’s been so effective at giving second chance kids a landing spot to resurrect their careers. DeAndre Kane, the talented but mercurial combo guard that was dismissed recently from Marshall is slated to visit the Cyclones early next week and could be a game changer for Hoiberg’s team next season. Kane would be eligible to play immediately since he’s expected to graduate this summer, and would instantly become Iowa State’s primary ball handler. Kane isn’t a true point guard, but still averaged 7.0 assists per game last season for the Thundering Herd along with 15.1 points and 4.4 rebounds. Pitt and Memphis are also in the mix for his services.
– Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said that next season he plans to use freshman point guard Demetrius Jackson alongside Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant in the back court. The 6-1 Jackson is the highest rated recruit Brey has signed since he’s been in South Bend, and should be an immediate contributor to Notre Dame’s talented perimeter. Atkins, Grant, and Jackson are all capable of beating their man off the bounce, and Pat Connaughton, Cameron Biedscheid, and freshman Steve Vasturia are quality outside threats that can make open shots. The Irish have a brutal non-conference schedule that should prepare them for their first season in the ACC. Notre Dame plays at Iowa in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, faces Indiana in the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis, and then takes on Ohio State in the Gotham Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 21st.
– SMU has quietly put the in pieces in place to be very competitive next season in the American Athletic Conference. The Mustangs return their top five scorers from last year’s team that won 13 games in Conference-USA and add several high profile transfers including point guard Nic Moore (Illinois State), Crandall Head (Illinois), and Markus Kennedy (Villanova). Larry Brown’s team will lean heavily on Keith Frazier, a Top 50 recruit that should immediately start at shooting guard. SMU’s staff is also high on Yanick Moreira, a 6-10 big man who was labeled by many as the best junior college front court player in America. Don’t be surprised if this team is an absolute nuisance to play in January and February.
– Kevin Stallings’ decision to hire Harvard’s Yanni Hufnagel as an assistant at Vanderbilt should instantly energize the Commodores’ program. Hufnagel was a major reason why the Crimson reached back-to-back NCAA Tournaments the past two seasons, and was responsible for two Top 100 recruits — Wesley Saunders and Zena Edosomwan picking Harvard. This hire should also put Vanderbilt in the mix for 2014 power forward Reid Travis, whose younger brother Jonah was recruited by Hufnagel at Harvard. Other schools in the mix for Travis are Minnesota, Michigan State, Stanford, Northwestern, and Iowa State. Travis is a Minnesota native and one of the top 30 players in the Class of 2014.
– UCLA will begin a home and home series with Alabama next season starting at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins will return the game in Tuscaloosa during the 2014-15 season. In addition facing to the Crimson Tide during their non-conference schedule, Steve Alford’s team will also travel to Missouri and face Northwestern in the Las Vegas Invitational on 11/29. The Bruins are also expected to soon finalize a game with Duke to be played at Madison Square Garden in late December.
– Alabama transfer Trevor Lacey will likely wind up at either Pitt, UNC, NC State, or Miami, according to multiple sources. Right now, Pitt and NC State appear to be slightly in the lead for the talented shooting guard. Lacey will have two years of eligibility remaining and averaged 11.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists last season for the Crimson Tide.
– Texas transfer Sheldon McClellan will visit Miami next Thursday (5/30), according to a source close to the situation. Oregon and Marquette also remain in the mix. McClellan has two years of eligibility remaining, and averaged 13.5 PPG last season for the Longhorns.
– VCU will be severely tested next season before they ever play a game in the Atlantic 10. The Rams have a plethora of difficult road games in the non-conference portion of their schedule, including trips to Belmont, Northern Iowa, and Virginia. Shaka Smart’s squad will also play in the Puerto Rico Shootout, face Boston College in the Barclays Center on December 28th, and play a neutral site game against Virginia Tech at the Richmond Coliseum. That’s eight games against quality competition, and none of them will be on VCU’s home floor.
– Maryland will face George Washington, and George Mason will square off against Oklahoma at the annual BB&T Classic at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. The date is set for Sunday, December 8th.
– The annual Mary Kline Classic will take place on June 2nd at Philadelphia University. The event showcases some of the top sophomore, junior, and senior prospects in the country and is a must for any fan of college basketball. All proceeds go to the National Brain Tumor Society and Brain Tumor Research at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. For more information, go to www.maryklineclassic.com.
Follow Jon on Twitter: @JonRothstein
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