By Jon Rothstein
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– The Atlantic 10 may have lost brand name programs like Temple, Butler, and Xavier, but the league is going to be just as deep as it was last year. Every remaining program in the conference improved from a season ago, and the addition of George Mason gives the league another team that will be capable of beating anyone they play. Fordham is another team to watch, and the Rams could make a jump after signing talented shooting guard Jon Severe, who was named New York State’s Mr. Basketball in 2013. The 6-2 Severe will likely start as a freshman for Tom Pecora’s squad, and has the potential to be a 3X All-Atlantic 10 player.
– Rutgers transfer Derrick Randall will likely wind up at either Iona or Pitt, per multiple sources close to the situation. He was also considering Minnesota and Wagner. The 6-8 Randall never produced at a high level at Rutgers — 2.1 PPG, 1.5 RPG last season — but could be a valuable commodity for both Iona and Pitt. At the MAAC level, Randall would be a menace in the paint and could give the Gaels another BCS level big man to go along with David Laury. If Randall opted to go to Pitt, he could wind up starting for the Panthers at power forward. Jamie Dixon’s team only returns Talib Zanna up front, and JUCO transfer Joseph Uchebo is an unproven commodity until he proves he can produce. Pitt also adds a Top 100 recruit in 6-8 forward Mike Young, but he’s unlikely to be ready to start from day one in the ACC. All transfers from Rutgers are likely to receive waivers from the NCAA to play immediately without sitting out a year.
– Northwestern coach Chris Collins said sophomore center Alex Olah is down 15 pounds since the end of the season. The 7-foot Olah is a critical piece for Collins in his first year as coach of the Wildcats. Northwestern’s perimeter will be capable of performing at a high level in the Big Ten thanks to the returns of both Drew Crawford and JerShon Cobb, but the Wildcats don’t have many reliable options on the baseline. Olah averaged 6.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game last season as a freshman.
– Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said Aaron Jones will be cleared for all basketball related activities by September. The 6-9 big man suffered a torn ACL on January 27th against Kentucky. Jones averaged 3.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game last season, and will need to be a factor up front if the Rebels are to have a chance to remain close to the top of the SEC standings.
– UCLA’s Jordan Adams will have the boot removed from his broken right foot this week, and should be back on the court by the middle of the summer, per the school. Adams suffered the injury during the Bruins’ PAC-12 Tournament semifinal win over Arizona. The 6-5 wing averaged 15.3 points and 3.8 rebounds per game last season as a freshman.
– I’m hearing Pitt freshman point guard Josh Newkirk is already making an impression with the Panthers thanks to his blazing open court speed. The 6-2 Newkirk can be either a scorer or a play maker, and should give Jamie Dixon’s team a valuable reserve behind starting point guard James Robinson.
– Georgetown’s staff should be well positioned for the new Big East with the additions of Tavaras Hardy and Kevin Sutton. Hardy was an assistant at Northwestern for seven seasons before coming east to work for John Thompson III, and should allow the Hoyas to recruit more out of the Midwest. Sutton meanwhile, has had stints at Old Dominion, James Madison, and most recently George Washington, where he worked for the past two seasons under Mike Lonergan. His presence should help Georgetown continue to have a strong pulse in the fertile “DMV” area.
– Who will be the biggest difference maker for UNLV next season? It has to be JUCO transfer DeVille Smith. “He’s a pass first point guard and he’s a 42% three-point shooter,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said of Smith this week. “I can’t wait to coach DeVille. He’s going to be just what we need.” Smith, who initially committed to Mississippi State out of high school, should start for UNLV alongside Bryce Dejean-Jones, Jelan Kendrick, UConn transfer Roscoe Smith, and Khem Birch.
– The 2013 NABC Foundation Court of Honor Gala is June 27th at Cipriani in Midtown. The event will honor CBS’ Jim Nantz, and be attended by several top college basketball coaches, including Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. For more information, go to http://www.nabcfoundation.org/gala.
– Jimmy V’s Osteria + Bar will open this summer adjacent to the Sheraton Hotel in Downtown Raleigh in memory of former NC State coach Jim Valvano. The restaurant will donate 2.5% of its revenue to fund cutting-edge cancer research through The V Foundation.
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