1. UNLV coach Dave Rice is optimistic that USC transfer Bryce Dejean-Jones will be able to play when the Runnin’ Rebels open the season against Northern Arizona on Nov. 12. Jones is out with a broken left hand. “He’s one of the toughest guys around,’’ said Rice. If Jones can’t go, the Rebels do have depth at the guard position with Katin Reinhardt, Justin Hawkins and Savon Goodman adding to a deep perimeter. UNLV is the favorite in the Mountain West, but will be in for quite a tussle from San Diego State, Colorado State, New Mexico and Nevada.
2. The hiring of Brad Bates as athletic director at Boston College should give Steve Donahue some more time to continue rebuilding the Eagles. Bates has to deal with the football situation and the future of coach Frank Spaziani. Donahue, entering his third season at the Heights, should have an improved squad, with more experience and players who fit his system. The problem is that the ACC is a bit deeper this season than it was a year ago and next season adds Pitt and Syracuse (and possibly Notre Dame if the Irish can get out of the Big East early). Bates, who arrives from Miami (Ohio), is well-respected in the industry and will likely be thorough in his evaluations over the next year-plus.
3. The Horizon League will lose national recognition with the departure of Butler to the Atlantic 10. But if this is a one-bid league in March, then the top schools vying for the bid can’t complain. Valparaiso and Detroit would have had a legitimate shot to knock off Butler in the regular-season chase and in the conference tournament. Now, neither has to sweat it one bit. Valpo was picked to win the league, with Detroit on its tail. The Titans have the player of the year in Ray McCallum Jr. And the good news for the Horizon League is that the entire all-league first team returns from last season (which says a bit about Butler’s problems in 2011-12). McCallum is joined by Valpo’s Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk, Youngstown State’s Kendrick Perry and Green Bay’s Alec Brown.