Posted on: September 20, 2011 8:49 am
By Jeff Goodman
The Pac-12 - or whatever the league will wind up being called at the end of this re-alignment fiasco - is back.
Well, not quite yet.
But it will be.
When Kyle Anderson opted to travel 3,000 or so miles away and chose UCLA on Monday night, it not only signified that Ben Howland and the Bruins will return to national relevancy.
But also the the league on the west coast, the one that has been college hoops' whipping boy over the last few years, will have its flagship programs - UCLA and Arizona - back.
UCLA can win a national title in 2012-13.
Arizona can win the national title in 2012-13.
Washington can also contend for the Final Four in 2012-13.
That's three elite-level teams.
Obviously, things need to fall into place.
Shabazz Muhammad, the No. 1 player in the country, committing to the Bruins put them squarely in the national championship picture. But even if he doesn't show up, Howland still could trot out a powerful group that includes a frontline of Josh Smith, Reeves Nelson and the Wear Twins - with Anderson, point guard Dominic Artis, Tyler Lamb and Jordan Adams on the perimeter.
That's pending Nelson and Smith don't leave after this year.
Arizona coach Sean Miller has stockpiled two consecutive recruiting classes to the point that he's also got Arizona to where the Wildcats will considered an elite team a year from now. This year's group is led by guards Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson while he'll add two of the top big men in the nation in 2012: Brandon Ashley and Grant Jarrett. Arizona is also in a battle with Kansas for talented 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski.
Then you've got Washington. Lorenzo Romar's starting unit could look like this in 2012-13: Senior point guard Abdul Gaddy, junior wings Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox, talented sophomore Tony Wroten and senior big man Aziz N'Diaye.
There hasn't been much reason lately to watch west coast basketball. Sure, Arizona went to the Elite Eight last year - but the Wildcats overachieved. The only times I went out were to see The Jimmer and/or San Diego State.
The last time I was in Pauley Pavilion was when Lute Olson was roaming the opposing sideline. It seems like an eternity ago.
My guess is I'll be there again in 2012 - and it won't be my only Pac-12 destination, either.
Posted on: September 20, 2011 6:21 am
Edited on: September 20, 2011 10:48 am
By Gary Parrish
You can blame it on underclassmen leaving early or on a recruiting lull.
Or on a combination of the two.
Either way, Ben Howland hasn't tasted a Sweet 16 since he made three consecutive Final Fours from 2006 to 2008, and many had started to wonder about his long-term viability at UCLA. Had his style of play run its course in Los Angeles? Could he still consistently recruit elite-level prospects? Was his hiring of a summer coach from the Atlanta Celtics program a sign that Howland was getting desperate?
Those are the questions basketball people spent July asking each other.
Now a new question must be asked: Is Howland suddenly in position to make a fourth Final Four?
That's how significant Kyle Anderson's commitment to the Bruins was late Monday. Not only did it give Howland a consensus top-five prospect from the Class of 2012, it also quieted critics and suggested UCLA's first season in what will be a renovated Pauley Pavilion could lead to Atlanta's Georgia Dome.
That's the site of the 2013 Final Four.
Pencil UCLA in for it if Howland next lures a commitment from Shabazz Muhammad -- a Las Vegas native and the top prospect in the Class of 2012 who, according to sources, is likely to choose the Bruins over Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and UNLV. It should also be noted that Howland's assistant from the Atlanta Celtics (Korey McCray) has UCLA seriously involved with a pair of elite bigs from Georgia, specifically Tony Parker and Shaq Goodwin. Assuming the Bruins get just one of them, Howland could have a 2012-13 roster that looks like this:
G: Larry Drew
G: Shabazz Muhammad
F: Kyle Anderson (as primary ball-handler)
F: Reeves Nelson
C: Josh Smith
Key Reserves: David Wear, Travis Wear, Dominic Artis, Jordan Adams and Tony Parker/Shaq Goodwin.
That would be quite a collection of talent in Westwood.
Perhaps good enough to bring a 12th national championship to the school.
Posted on: September 20, 2011 12:11 am
Edited on: September 20, 2011 12:14 am
By Matt Norlander
The saddest and most ironic thing about Kyle Anderson's commitment to UCLA, and not Seton Hall: it came on Talk Like a Pirate Day.
UCLA luring the Jersey native -- a top-five 2012 kid -- is a huge coup for Ben Howland. We predicted it was likely to happen, and indeed it did. A day before Anderson planned on announcing, to boot. The 6-8 St. Anthony’s point forward announced his decision on Twitter Monday night. We’ll get into what Anderson’s verbal commitment to UCLA means for that program and for Howland in the morning.
Tonight, can we talk about Seton Hall for a few? We don’t get a chance to do that much on the blog, but Kevin Willard missing out on Anderson is just as big for the Pirates as landing him was for the Bruins. Willard chased Anderson with all he had. Every game he and his staff could be at, they were there. I talked with Willard this summer at the Peach Jam during one of Anderson’s games. Normally, coaches casually make conversation and take their eyes off the court. Not Willard, at least not on that day. He was fixated on an AAU blowout like a 5-year-old waiting to blow out his birthday candles.
He put everything he had into getting Anderson in white and royal blue. The Pirates had never been so close, literally, to such a highly touted prospect. Anderson, who is probably the most dynamic player in this class, lives life a swift bike ride from SHU campus. And Willard couldn’t reel him. It’s not Willard’s fault; Anderson was courted by plenty of big names, and Seton Hall hasn’t had cache for huge recruits in well over a decade.
But it’s not going well for the Pirates right now, and that’s the grand and obvious observation. SHU is watching conference brethren bolt from the league like the cops just showed up at an underage party with liquor bottles all over the lawn. Who knows if the Big East even exists in five years. We know it won’t exist in the way it so briefly did for the past seven years, when it became the most powerful league in the history of college basketball.
Now Seton Hall is without a positive signal, an identity, heading forward. Borzello has mentioned the next three targets for the Pirates, two of whom they really need to convince to come to campus. The New York-area trio of Daniel Dingle, Kareem Canty and Jevon Thomas are now next on the list. Dingle is being considered by Rutgers, Dayton, Auburn and UMass. Canty has Xavier, Virginia and Florida State interested. Thomas is the lowest-ranked, and smallest, of the three.
These are the guys the future of Seton Hall’s program is relying upon. It’s unfortunate, but Willard gambled because he had to. You’ve got someone that good that close, you have to chase him with everything you’ve got. It’s an impossible situation for a coach like Willard at a school like Seton Hall. In many ways, and he’d never admit this publicly, Willard probably wishes Anderson lived a few hours rather than a few minutes away. That way, there’s no pressure to bring him in and sacrifice going after other recruits.
But now, with no Anderson and no 20-win season since 2004, Seton Hall looks about as hindered as any program could be in what’s currently becoming a pretty hindered, maligned conference.
Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: June 29, 2011 4:09 pm
Normally, when scouts who have watched a player for three or four years still can’t figure out his position, it’s a bad thing.
In the case of Kyle Anderson, it’s just another sign of his versatility.
Anderson, a 6-foot-8 St. Anthony product (N.J), has the vision and passing ability of a point guard; the scoring prowess of a wing; and the size, finishing and rebounding skills of a power forward.
Ask Anderson, though, and he knows which position he wants to play at the next level.
“Point guard,” he said. “It’s the position I’m most comfortable at.”
At the NBPA Top 100 camp two weeks ago, Anderson played that position for the majority of the event.
“I’m just trying to be unselfish, play the point guard role,” he said.
Anderson has already made plenty of advancements in the recruiting process, trimming his list to five schools earlier this spring: Georgetown, Florida, Seton Hall, St. John’s and UCLA.
His potential to be a match-up problem and his passing ability would be a perfect fit for Georgetown.
“John Thompson III is a great coach, they run the Princeton offense,” Anderson said.
He also likes the way Florida head coach Billy Donovan makes players better during their time in Gainesville.
“Coach Donovan is great with player development,” Anderson said.
While Seton Hall might seem like it doesn’t belong in the same breath with the other programs, its proximity to Anderson’s Fairlawn, N.J., home could play a factor.
“It’s the hometown school, and all the guys play hard,” he said.
St. John’s emerged on the radar of several high-major prospects in the last year, as head coach Steve Lavin reeled in a nine-person class that included six players ranked in the top 100.
Anderson is impressed by the talent on the Red Storm’s roster.
“I like Coach Lavin, I like the class he has coming in,” he said.
Across the country sits UCLA, where Ben Howland has had a steady stream of pro point guards run through his program.
“Coach Howland puts point guards in the NBA,” Anderson said. “I think there’s five in the NBA right now.”
With most of the recruiting process behind him, the nation’s most versatile player is still not sure when exactly he wants to commit.
“No timetable,” Anderson said. “But before the season.”
Posted on: April 11, 2011 10:39 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2011 2:40 pm
Posted by Jeff Borzello
HAMPTON, Va. – Although the AAU circuit started three weeks ago, the NIKE Elite Youth Basketball League event in Hampton this past weekend is recognized as the official start to the travel team season. With 40 of the best 17s teams gathered in one place, as well as top teams on the 16s and 15s levels, there were hundreds of future Division I players in attendance at Boo Williams. From Friday to Sunday, though, several players consistently stood out from the rest of the pack.
Kyle Anderson, 2012, Playaz: Despite his supposed weaknesses, Anderson continues to separate himself as one of the top players in the class. He simply has unbelievable feel for the game, using a variety of crafty floaters and finishes in the lane to score. Anderson doesn’t rely on explosiveness or quickness to get baskets, but the point-forward from St. Anthony (N.J.) knows how to make plays. He is a very good rebounder and showed some athleticism on a couple of impressive blocks.
Anthony Bennett, 2012, CIA Bounce: Bennett impresses nearly every time out, but the problem has been his ability to stay healthy. He is seemingly injured for every big event. Bennett was certainly not injured for Boo Williams this weekend. He took his game to a new level this weekend, scoring in a variety of ways and demonstrating his ability to be a match-up problem for most opponents. Bennett hustles defensively and loves to run the floor.
Rodney Purvis, 2012, CP3 All-Stars: Purvis opened the EYBL with a big-time performance against Team Takeover, and never looked back from there. He was consistently impressive offensively, dominating whichever opponent attempted to defend him. Purvis is explosive at that end of the floor, with the ability to blow by defenders and finish at the rim, or knock down perimeter shots. He is fantastic in transition and can also find teammates for open shots.
Shaq Goodwin, 2012, Memphis YOMCA: When the 2012 rankings are updated, Goodwin is a lock to be in the top 20, if not higher. His ceiling is as high as anyone in the class, due to his 6-foot-8 size and versatile skill set. Goodwin is a tremendous passer for someone his height, and his length makes him very difficult to defend around the basket. He runs the floor with the best of them and crashes the offensive boards. Defensively, he can block shots and control the glass.
Omar Calhoun, 2012, NY Gauchos: He’s not as athletically impressive as some of the other top players in the class, but Calhoun can score with anyone in the country. His mid-range jump shot is deadly and he has the ability to create his shot off the dribble. Calhoun has a solid build for a 6-foot-5 wing, and he uses his strength to score at the rim. He has very deep range from behind the arc and is nearly impossible to contain when he gets hot from three.
Ricardo Ledo, 2012, Albany City Rocks: Not playing with his usual Expressions AAU team, Ledo still managed to showcase his all-around offensive game and demonstrate why he is one of the top-three perimeter players in the class. He was knocking down perimeter shots over defenders; getting to the rim at will and finishing with both hands; and hitting difficult step-back jumpers and other mid-range shots. Ledo changes directions quickly, and is effective with ball fakes.
Alex Poythress, 2012, Georgia Stars: Poythress continues to rise up the charts. He is long and athletic, and can score in a variety of ways. In the half-court, he can post up defenders and score around the basket. Poythress improved his face-up game and his ability off the dribble, driving to the rim and finishing in traffic. He also added an outside jumper to his repertoire. Going into the weekend, Poythress had a reputation as a very good rebounder; that didn’t change one bit.
Nerlens Noel, 2013, BABC: Noel staked his claim to the No. 1 spot in the class of 2013 this past weekend. Offensively, he is still raw and has plenty of room to develop. However, he had a nice jump hook that was effective and he ran the floor well, finishing in transition. What separates Noel from most players is his defense. His length, timing and athleticism make him the best shot-blocker in the class. Noel isn’t muscular or physically imposing, but his ability to block or deter shots makes him intimidating.
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, 2012, Spiece Indy Heat: Smith-Rivera isn’t a pure point guard, but his scoring ability ranks among the best backcourt players in the country. When he gets it going, Smith-Rivera is difficult to stop. He has deep range on his jump shot, knocking down 3-pointers with consistency. He is quicker than one might think, while his strength and build enable him to finish over bigger players in the paint. Smith-Rivera works off screens effectively and is smart with the ball.
Arnaud Adala-Moto, 2012, Team Takeover: Adala-Moto has been impressive in the past, but this weekend was different. He showed that he is a clear-cut high-major recruit, showing abilities at both ends of the floor that will make him attractive to college coaches. Adala-Moto has lost weight in the past year, looking quicker and more athletic. He is no longer an undersized forward; he can knock down perimeter shots and is a legitimate wing. Adala-Moto runs the floor extremely well and finishes in transition.
Andrew Wiggins, 2014, CIA Bounce: Separated himself as the top prospect in the class of 2014. Wiggins has a versatile skill set and is still developing.
Wayne Selden, 2014, BABC: Physically dominant, Selden simply owned the 15s division. He is extremely strong and is impossible to stop when driving to the rim.
Matthew Jones, 2013, Texas Titans: Overshadowed by Julius Randle, Jones knocked down perimeter jumpers with consistency and can also get to the basket.
Aaron Gordon, 2013, Oakland Soldiers: Gordon is simply too active and aggressive offensively for most opponents. He runs the floor and can also post up.