Beyond UAB's huge opportunity tonight when it plays Oklahoma at Madison Square Garden, there are other reasons for C-USA fans to be excited about the future of their league because things do seem to be trending upward. To be clear, it'll never be what it was, because that's not possible with Louisville, Marquette and Cincinnati gone. But what it can be is much better, and it seems it will be based on the way recruiting has gone and is going.
Consider: Two of the nation's top six prospects -- Xavier Henry and DeMarcus Cousins -- have committed to play in C-USA next season (at Memphis and at UAB), and no other league has two of the top 10. Does that mean C-USA is on the verge of leapfrogging the ACC? Of course not. But it's a start, and when you combine that with Marshall's signing of Hassan Whiteside (13th-ranked center), Rice's signing of Arsalan Kazemi (30th-ranked power forward) and UCF's signing of Keith Clanton (MVP of last summer's AAU National Tournament) it's pretty clear C-USA is in for a talent upgrade over the next year.
But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.
Tonight, the focus will be on UAB and Robert Vaden and a match-up with OU's Blake Griffin.
"Griffin is one of the best players in the country," said UAB coach Mike Davis. "But we think (Vaden) is one of the best in the country, too."