1. Ashton's potential exit
Ashton Gibbs' possible decision to keep his name in the 2011 NBA Draft should drastically change Pitt's look next season. Without Gibbs' sweet stroke, look for Panthers coach Jamie Dixon to reconfigure his offense around point guard Travon Woodall and burly big man Nasir Robinson. Word is Pitt is eyeing Brewster Academy combo guard Elijah Carter in the late signing period as a potential addition to help offset the loss of Gibbs in the backcourt.
|Without Ashton Gibbs, Pitt will have to rework the offense. (Getty Images)|
2. Baylor's changing of the guard
Throughout last season Baylor coach Scott Drew searched for a capable point guard to replace the departed Tweety Carter and nothing seemed to work.
First, Drew tried A.J. Walton. After that, Drew experimented with freshman Stargell Love. Now, junior college transfer Pierre Jackson appears to be next in line to get the keys to the car in Waco. The 5-foot-10 Jackson comes from Southern Idaho with two seasons of eligibility remaining and should help round out the tremendous slew of talent that the Bears still have on their roster. Walton and Love will be back as capable reserves but Jackson appears to be more than capable of leading Baylor back to the NCAA tournament. Back on the frontline for Baylor are power forward Quincy Acy, swingman Anthony Jones, center J'Mison Morgan and the ultra talented Perry Jones, who opted to bypass the draft. Also joining the Bears are two top-100 recruits in Quincy Miller and Deuce Bello.
3. Tony's touch
Of all the players showcased during the high school elite games in the past few weeks, none might have shined brighter than Washington-bound guard Tony Wroten. The 6-4 lefty is a throwback floor general with deceptive awareness and accuracy. Wroten should pair nicely next season with Abdul Gaddy in the Huskies' backcourt and be a perfect blend with Lorenzo Romar's talent assortment of wings in C.J. Wilcox, Terrence Ross and Scott Suggs.
4. Maalik will rise
He may not make as a big a jump as Kemba Walker did from his sophomore to junior season, but Villanova point guard Maalik Wayns is primed to be one of the better point guards in the country next year. Without Corey Fisher next to him, Wayns will have carte blanche in the Wildcats' backcourt and should have the green light in terms of deciding when to score and when to dish. Incoming freshman combo guard Tyrone Johnson should be a complement to Wayns' speed and skill for Villanova coach Jay Wright.
5. The powerhouses shall return
The past two seasons have been synonymous with parity and unpredictability but that all changes now. Powerhouses will return next season and there could be several. North Carolina, Ohio State and Kentucky all have the chance to be special teams next season and Texas could join that group if big man Tristan Thompson opts to return to school for his sophomore season.
This and that
• Vanderbilt will be a trendy top-10 pick next season after it was announced that John Jenkins, Jeffery Taylor and Festus Ezeli will all return. Kevin Stallings might be the most underrated coach in the country and if he ever has a team that has all the makings of what that can go far in the NCAA tournament, it's the one he'll have next year.
• Crazy thought -- if Brandon Knight opts to come back to Kentucky for his sophomore season, there is a strong chance Doron Lamb won't be a starter for the second straight year in Lexington. Amazing.
• So much was made of the great recruiting class that Mike Anderson kept together when he got the Arkansas job but I don't think enough credit is being given to the players that were on the Razorbacks' roster. Rotnei Clarke, Julysses Nobles, Delvon Johnson and Marshawn Powell are all players that should flourish in Anderson's high-octane attack. This quartet along with a terrific freshman class headlined by guards Ky Madden and B.J. Young make Arkansas one of the more intriguing teams heading into next season.
• Early prediction for the 2011-12 season -- Alabama will be in the field of 68. Why? The emergence of point guard Trevor Releford. Keep an eye on this one.
• West Virginia coach Bob Huggins says he plans to play talented incoming freshman Jabari Hinds in the backcourt next season alongside Darryl "Truck" Bryant.
• Cincinnati's juco addition of big man Cheikh Mbodj gives the Bearcats a potential frontcourt starter. The 6-9 Mbodj is skilled enough to compliment Yancy Gates if Mick Cronin prefers to bring energetic big man Justin Jackson off the bench.
• Syracuse big man Fab Melo will play for the Brazilian national team at the 2011 World Championships.
• Word is Syracuse's vacant assistant position is likely to be filled by either Adrian Autry or current Hofstra assistant Allen Griffin. Both played for the Orange.
• A Big East assistant coach told me that Rutgers will be harder to play next year because of how well incoming freshman point guards Myles Mack and Jerome Seagears handle the ball. I for one feel Seagears has been extremely under the radar and am anxious to watch him once he arrives in Piscataway.
• The 2011 Maui Invitational will feature Duke, Georgetown, Memphis, Tennessee, Michigan, UCLA, Kansas and Chaminade.