Tag:Jeff Borzello
Posted on: August 18, 2011 6:57 pm
Edited on: August 18, 2011 6:58 pm

Jio Fontan tears ACL, will miss entire season

By Jeff Borzello

After Jio Fontan became eligible last season following his transfer from Fordham, USC went 13-10 and made a run to the NCAA tournament. The Trojans had wins over Tennessee, UCLA, Arizona, Washington, sneaking into the Big Dance as a No. 11 seed.

Head coach Kevin O’Neill was looking forward to having a full season of the 6-foot- point guard from New Jersey.

Unfortunately, Fontan will miss the entire season after an MRI on his left knee revealed a torn ACL. Baxter Holmes of the Los Angeles Times said that Fontan will have surgery on the injured knee in the next couple of days.

Fontan suffered the injury during the first half of USC’s exhibition game against Mogi das Cruzes on Tuesday. Originally, X-rays were negative and USC called it a left knee sprain.

The matchup against Mogi das Cruzes was the third game of a 10-day trip to Brazil for the Trojans; Fontan had scored 57 points in the first two games. He was expected to anchor a young roster that included eight returnees. Fontan averaged 10.5 points and 3.9 assists last season, shooting nearly 38 percent from 3-point range.

In Fontan’s place, sophomore Maurice Jones will need to step up in the backcourt. Jones played well before Fontan became eligible last season, scoring double-figures six times, including a 29-point performance against Santa Clara. Junior college transfers Greg Allen and Alexis Moore will be counted on to make immediate impacts.

Photo: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 12, 2011 12:59 pm

Wendell McKines healthy and ready to lead NMSU

By Jeff Borzello

If Wendell McKines can average half of what he put up in the San Francisco Pro-Am this summer, New Mexico State has a chance to compete with Utah State in the WAC.

McKines, who missed last season with a broken foot, averaged 34.4 points and 15.1 rebounds during the legendary summer league and won MVP honors. He also scored 53 points in the championship game. While a summer league is certainly not Division-I college basketball, those numbers are a positive sign for McKines.

Heading into last season, McKines was a preseason all-WAC selection who had averaged 11.5 points and 9.9 rebounds the two previous years. The 6-foot-6 forward was expected to combine with Troy Gillenwater up front for the Aggies to form one of the fiercest forward tandems in the west.

Instead, he suffered a broken foot during a preseason practice in October and ended up missing the entire season after officially taking a redshirt year in January. By all accounts, McKines is back and ready to lead the Aggies.

“This summer all I wanted to do was work hard,” he told the Oakland Tribune. “This was an opportunity for me to challenge myself, and I did. Life throws things at you. I just had to bounce back.”

If McKines is indeed healthy and back to the form that helped him post 25 double-doubles in a two-year span, New Mexico State could be poised to make a run at the top of the WAC standings.

Head coach Marvin Menzies returns eight players who were in the rotation last year, not including McKines. Hernst Laroche is a solid point guard, while Christian Kabongo scores at the rim effectively. Tyrone Watson and Hamidu Rahman will welcome the return of McKines in the frontcourt.

Two X-factors heading into the fall are K.C. Ross-Miller and Remi Barry. The status of Ross-Miller, who originally committed to Kentucky in 2007, is up in the air. The NCAA clearinghouse denied him admission at LSU, so he attempted to go to Florida International. He surfaced at New Orleans in January, but then transferred to New Mexico State in the spring. If eligible, Ross-Miller is a very good guard who can really fill it up. Barry is a France native who picked up plenty of high-major interest in the spring of his high school season. As a non-qualifier, he had to sit out last season but should be ready to suit up this fall. He has a high ceiling and would make an immediate impact up front.

Combine all that with a seemingly healthy and motivated McKines, and the WAC might not be a walk in the park for Utah State anymore.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: August 11, 2011 10:22 am
Edited on: August 11, 2011 10:49 am

Trippin': La Salle grows up in Canada

By Jeff Borzello

La Salle went into its game against the Carleton Alumni team slightly confused. After all, this was supposed to be a team filled with European pros and former stars.

Then the Explorers actually saw their opponent.

“They actually threw us off a little bit,” head coach Dr. John Giannini said. “There were pros in their 30s, and they had put on a few pounds. So the players looked at them, and thought it would be easier.”

La Salle shouldn’t have underestimated the Alumni team, though. Two-time national player of the year Osvaldo Jeanty scored 34 points as Carleton Alumni knocked off the Explorers, 80-77.

Giannini didn’t seem too upset about the loss, especially since La Salle bounced back and beat seven-time national champion Carleton to finish 2-1 on the trip.

“Some people think you don’t learn as much when you lose,” he said. “But losses stick with kids a little bit.”

What he learned: “We may not be able to pressure the ball against drive-and-kick teams as much as we like to. We really emphasized defense and pressuring the ball in practice. But 3-point shooting teams with good guards are able to beat pressure since they draw help and kick out for threes. In a game against Carelton, they had 12 3-point shots and only eight two-pointers. We learned we have to adjust against 3-point shooting teams. Jeanty taught us you better be ready to cover ball screens.”

What impressed him: Team chemistry and mental toughness – “I think the fact that they really enjoy each other’s company. They’re very cohesive. I like the way they lived with each other for 14 days. Also, I like the way they handled things from a mental point of view. They let us push them, they took criticism. It’s realistic experience – there’s no substitute for handling the ball against pressure when you have the lead late with the game on the lane.”

What concerned him: Lack of frontcourt experience – “We’re very young, that’s why we took this trip. Our guards are pretty good and pretty experienced, but our bigs are very young. Devon White has played for us, but not at the level we need him at. We need Devon to step up and our young big guys to step up.”

- 6-foot-2 sophomore Sam Mills (pictured) is expected to take the next step. “He had a tremendous trip,” Giannini said. “He’s going to have a good jump. He was very good for us as a freshman, but he’ll be a good Atlantic 10 combo guard this season.”

- Giannini is excited about the newcomers. Jerrell Wright shot 11-for-12 in the final two games of the trip, and D.J. Peterson played excellent defense. Matt Lopez and Steve Zack are two 7-footers that also showed flashes. “We love our young players,” Giannini said.

- Giannini prefers tripping to Canada as opposed to Europe. “With the traveling, along with the proper amount of rest, Europe is a minimum of 10 days,” he said. “This was real convenient.”

- La Salle suffered no injuries on the trip. “Thank goodness nothing like that happened,” Giannini said. “Two years ago, we lost more points per game to injury than anyone in the country. At the end of the year, we were missing three 1,000-point scorers.”

- Former Rutgers transfer Earl Pettis played well, as did South Carolina transfer Ramon Galloway, who was recently cleared by the NCAA to play immediately. Sophomore Tyreek Duren has spent the summer working on his strength and conditioning, so he played very little five-on-five before the trip.

CBSSports.com's list of teams taking preseason trips

Photo: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 10, 2011 6:36 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 6:39 pm

Conference challenges highlighted by big games

By Jeff Borzello

In the past two days, the dates and times for the matchups in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and SEC/Big East Invitational were released. While the games have been known for a few months, it’s much easier to really take a look at them now that the dates are etched in stone.

ACC-Big Ten Challenge

Note: Big Ten has won the last two seasons after going winless in the first decade of the competition.

Top game: Duke at Ohio State, which happens to take place on my birthday, November 29. While I could be out celebrating being alive for a quarter-century, it’s going to be tough to pass up two potential top-five teams battling it out. Austin Rivers and Jared Sullinger could be two of the top-10 players in the country.

Another marquee matchup: Wisconsin at North Carolina should also be a dandy. The Tar Heels are the likely preseason No. 1, but I think we’ve all learned not to discount a Bo Ryan-coached Badgers team. Jordan Taylor is an All-American at the point, and Mike Bruesewitz could be poised for a big year.

Others to Watch:

- Florida State at Michigan State. The Spartans are always a tough team to beat, especially at home, but Florida State is a squad flying under a lot of people’s radars heading into the season.

- Michigan’s prowess as a top-25 team will be tested on the road against a Virginia team that could surprise some this year.

- Can North Carolina State or Indiana take the long-awaited step forward this season?

SEC/Big East Invitational

Note: The teams missing from the event are Marquette, Villanova, Notre Dame and South Florida. Four Big East teams have to sit out because of the size disparity between the two leagues.

Top game: Vanderbilt at Louisville. This could be a matchup of two of the top-five teams in the country, despite a couple of disappointing exits from last season’s NCAA tournament. Louisville is ridiculously deep, while Vanderbilt returns John Jenkins, Jeffery Taylor and Festus Ezeli. Regional proximity will play a factor, as well.

Another marquee matchup: Florida at Syracuse. A battle between the Gators’ quartet of perimeter scorers and Syracuse’s active 2-3 zone defense? Count me in. The key for both teams next season, though, will be the inside production. Patric Young is unproven, while ‘Cuse is young and inconsistent down low.

Others to Watch:

- St. John’s at Kentucky could garner the most attention of any early-season game outside of North Carolina and Kentucky. The Johnnies have a loaded recruiting class, while Kentucky is a national title contender.

- Mike Anderson has some talent in the fold at Arkansas, and it will be interesting to see what Connecticut looks like after last season’s championship.

- Anthony Grant and Alabama are ready for another run at the NCAA tournament, and Georgetown faces a potential rebuilding year if Hollis Thompson and Jason Clark aren’t ready to shoulder the load.

Photos: US Presswire 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 9, 2011 2:22 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 2:29 pm

Georgia picks up in-state guard Kenny Gaines

By Jeff Borzello

Once Kenny Gaines trimmed his list to a top five last week, it seemed inevitable that the 6-foot-3 Georgia native would make his decision quickly.

On Tuesday, Gaines made it official by announcing he would stay in-state and play at Georgia.

“I was really feeling them from the get-go,” Gaines told CBSSports.com.

More on Recruiting

The Whitefield Academy (Ga.) guard, who ranks No. 99 in CBSSports.com's Top 100, chose the Bulldogs over South Carolina, Clemson, Iowa and Georgia Tech. Gaines has good size for his position, and he is quick enough and strong enough to get by defenders and then finish against bigger players at the rim. He is a good distributor who can also knock down shots from the perimeter.

The Yellow Jackets were the other team squarely in the mix, but a commitment last week eliminated Tech from consideration.

“It was a top two, but when Chris Bolden committed to Georgia Tech, I crossed them off the list,” Gaines said.

AAU teammate Charles Mann popped for Georgia in late July, while fellow Peach State native Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will suit up for the Bulldogs this fall. Those two being in Athens with Gaines helped him make the decision.

“Me, Charles and Kentavious at the 1, 2 and 3 spots could be a pretty strong backcourt,” Gaines said. “I can come in and make a big impact.”

Posted on: August 9, 2011 9:58 am

LSU loses another as Matt Derenbecker withdraws

By Jeff Borzello

In what could be a defining year for Trent Johnson at LSU, players continue to file out of the program.

First, Aaron Dotson headed out to Utah to be closer to his mother. Then, big man Garrett Green graduated early and transferred to San Diego State for graduate school. The latest departure is sophomore Matt Derenbecker, a 6-foot-7 wing who received his release on Monday.

"After some discussion with my family and the coaching staff, I have decided to take some time away from basketball to address some personal matters,” Derenbecker said in a statement. “In doing so, I will withdraw from LSU immediately."

His father, John Derenbecker, told the Associated Press that his son’s problems were mainly on the academic side of things.

“He is eligible, but he can do better in the classroom and that has always been our major emphasis,” the father said. “He’s going to have to change some of his study habits. This really wasn’t a basketball move or anything along that front.”

Derenbecker averaged 6.5 points last season, shooting 33.6 percent from 3-point range. He started 15 of the final 16 games of the season, including a 10-game stretch in which he reached double-figures seven times.

He is a long lefty who knocks down outside shots with consistency. Derenbecker can play both forward positions due to his size and shooting ability. The early favorite for his services could Tulane, an in-state program for the Metairie Park Country Day School (La.) product.

John Derenbecker told the Times-Picayune (La.) that they would “talk to Tulane to see what they have available.”

With three of its top seven scorers gone from last season, Johnson faces a tough task heading into the fall at LSU. The backcourt of Andre Stringer and Ralston Turner remains intact, while Storm Warren and Malcolm White return up front. The key could be top-50 freshman Johnny O’Bryant, who is expected to make an immediate impact down low.

They are still thin on the perimeter, though, and Derenbecker’s departure certainly doesn’t help that problem.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: August 8, 2011 8:45 pm

Javan Felix commits to Texas

By Jeff Borzello

Javan Felix entered the NBPA Top 100 camp in June looking for exposure.

He came out of the summer as a Texas Longhorn.

“I visited the campus and everything just felt right,” Felix told CBSSports.com.

Felix, a 5-foot-11 point guard from Saint Augustine (La.), impressed onlookers throughout July, especially at the Adidas Super 64 in Las Vegas. He is not overly quick, but he knows how to use screens and he can knock down shots when left open. Felix can score at the rim because of his strength and finishing ability.

Texas became involved in Felix’s recruitment after head coach Rick Barnes saw him play in Indianapolis at the Adidas Invitational.

“He contacted my dad about me,” Felix said. “That meant a lot, that he reached out to my father before me.”

The Louisiana-to-Texas move is not unprecedented – D.J. Augustin starred in Austin, catapulting him to an NBA career. Interestingly, Felix has known Augustin since the eighth grade.

“He didn’t push me anywhere,” Felix said. “But I asked him questions about the recruiting process, and when I knew I wanted to go to Texas, I asked him questions about coach Barnes, coach Springmann, coach Lanier. He told me everything I needed to know.”

Oregon, Virginia, Baylor and LSU were also in the mix for Felix down the stretch. While he was not ranked in the top 100 going into the summer, don’t be surprised to see him sneak into the updated rankings later this week.

Felix is looking forward to being a major part of Texas’ year-in, year-out success.

“I want to make some noise in the tournament,” Felix said. “I want to win a national championship.”

Photo: 247Sports.com

Posted on: August 8, 2011 4:16 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 4:19 pm

LSU transfer Garrett Green opts for San Diego St.

By Jeff Borzello

After losing Kawhi Leonard, Billy White and Malcolm Thomas from last season’s Sweet 16 team, San Diego State needed frontcourt help heading into the fall.

The Aztecs received a surprising boost over the weekend, as former LSU transfer Garrett Green chose San Diego State.

“It was a tossup between Indiana, Wichita State and San Diego State,” Green told the Times-Pacayune (La.). “All the coaches were great coaches so it was a hard decision. I’m from California and the grad programs [San Diego State was] offering struck my interest the most.”

Green, a 6-foot-11 forward, is originally from Woodland Hills, Calif. and did consider Long Beach State as well. He will be eligible immediately at San Diego State.

Last season, he played in all 32 games and averaged 6.3 points and 5.1 rebounds for the Tigers. During one four-game stretch in January, Green averaged 13.5 points and 7.3 rebounds. He also went for 15 points and 13 rebounds against Wichita State in December.

Expect Green to get immediate playing time for Steve Fisher. San Diego had just eight scholarship players on the roster before Green chose the Aztecs, with the returning frontcourt players averaging a combined 3.7 points and 2.9 rebounds. The uncertainty surrounding Brian Carlwell’s appeal for a sixth season makes Green’s decision even more important.

Photo: US Presswire 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com