By Jon Rothstein
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– Expect to see JayVaughn Pinkston play some center for Villanova when Daniel Ochefu is out of the game. The 6-5 Pinkston is undersized but plays bigger than his height. After averaging 13.3 points and 5.0 rebounds last year as a sophomore, it’s time for Pinkston to emerge as one of the better players in the Big East as a junior.
– Baylor coach Scott Drew told me recently that the Bears are working with multiple combinations on a daily basis at point guard. Baylor could conceivably go with JUCO transfer Kenny Chery, Gary Franklin, Brady Heslip, freshman Ishmail Wainwright, or Denver transfer Royce O’Neale as its starting floor general. O’Neale has still yet to be cleared by the NCAA for the upcoming season.
– I’m hearing Ohio State’s best player through the first two weeks of practice has been Shannon Scott. The 6-1 Scott averaged 4.9 points per game last season as a sophomore, but needs to take a step forward offensively if the Buckeyes are to again compete for a Big Ten title. It will be interesting to see how Scott blends in the back court offensively next to Aaron Craft.
– The unsung member of Indiana’s recruiting class may be 6-7 wing Devin Davis. Davis didn’t come to Bloomington with the pedigree of the Hoosiers other freshmen, but he has a chance to have an immediate impact. Count on Indiana being much better in January than they are in November. The Hoosiers have a strong core of newcomers and a solid veteran perimeter of Yogi Ferrell, Will Sheehey, and Arizona State transfer Evan Gordon.
– Expect Temple freshman Mark Williams to have a significant role for the Owls. The 6-8, 240 pound Williams is a good screener and adds size along with strength. This will be a viable option for Fran Dunphy at power forward as Temple bumps up to the American Athletic Conference.
– Davidson coach Bob McKillop told me this week that the entire dynamic of his team has changed after the graduation of big man Jake Cohen. McKillop said the Wildcats may opt to go with a smaller alignment with four perimeter players around 6-7 senior De’Mon Brooks, who averaged 13.7 PPG and 6.2 RPG.
– Don’t be surprised if Perry Ellis winds up leading Kansas in scoring. The 6-8 big man finished last season at a high level for the Jayhawks and should instantly become a major producer with starters minutes. Ellis averaged 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last year as a freshman.
– Remember the name Amar Stukes. The talented point guard will red shirt this season for La Salle but should start for the Explorers for four years after Tyreek Duren’s graduation next May. After watching him in practice on Tuesday, Stukes really reminds me of former Iona point guard Scott Machado. Incredible vision.
– Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said that sophomore forward Austin Burgett has been a surprise for the Irish early in practice. “He gives us a face-up four-man in the mold of a Rob Kurz or a Scott Martin,” Brey said of the 6-9 Burgett. “It gives us a dimension we don’t really have right now.” Notre Dame was picked fifth in last week’s ACC Preseason Poll.
– Hitting the road next week and heading to Pittsburgh! I’ll be attending practices at Pitt, Duquesne, West Virginia, and Robert Morris. Check back to this space next week for details.
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