Category archive: Washington Huskies

The FIBA U-19 World Championships may not resonate here at home, but the goal of winning gold has never been more explicit within USA basketball.

As the seriousness of the men's national team has taken on a new level in the last eight years, the junior national team has followed that example.

Coaches are returning. Players are, too. Suddenly, playing for Team USA has value -- as it should.

But this is not an all-star team. This is a team that will compete in Prague next week, crafted to fit Florida's Billy Donovan's coaching style. He wanted a team that could press, rebound, defend and generate turnovers. The havoc fits the way one of his assistants -- VCU's Shaka Smart -- loves to coach.

"I like this team a lot,'' Donovan said. "More than anything this group of kids understands the sacrifice and attitude and work ethic.''

Here is the final 12-man roster and Donovan's assessment of what they've done and can do for Team USA, which begins play in the Czech Republic on June 27. The gold-medal game is set for July 7.

Michael Frazier, 6-4, G, So., Florida
"He comes in as the best shooter. One of the things we struggled with was behind the line. He really provides shooting. In our scrimmage against Air Force he was 4 of 6. He can be a spot-up shooter against a zone and help us space the floor a bit.''

Aaron Gordon, 6-6, F, Fr., Arizona
"He's really, really athletic. He's got a great motor. He can play the 3, the 4. He's really, really good in the press. He's really, really active, and he's going to be a very good player with a great motor.''

Jerami Grant, 6-6, F, So., Syracuse
"He's been sick with strep throat. But he'll be healthy [for the tournament]. Like Gordon, he gives us another versatile frontcourt guy. Like Gordon, he can play a 3, 4 and 5 and his shooting has gotten better. He was on the team a year ago. He gives us great length and is versatile.''

Montrezl Harrell, 6-7, F, So., Louisville
"He's like Gordon and Grant in that he's really athletic. His skill level has gotten better [since last year]. He's really active. We can do a lot of things defensively with those three guys in Gordon, Harrell and Grant. We can press and switch and they can guard a lot of different positions, get out and run a little bit. We could play all three at the same time.''

Jahlil Okafor, 6-10, C, Whitney Young HS, Chicago
"He's really, really skilled in the low post. He's got a big body with a long wingspan. The way we're playing fast, running and pressing, he's the guy we can throw the ball inside and he'll make good things happen. He's a lot more mature than his age. He's going to play well with the pick-and-roll. He's a big, strong kid. We can go high-low with him and he can work his way to the basket. He's got a good skill level.''

Elfrid Payton, 6-3, G, Jr., Louisiana-Lafayette
"He came in as the surprise. He's really rangy and a very good defender. He can play multiple positions. He's really crafty with the ball and can get in the lane. The best thing he does is pass. He's a really good on-ball defender.''

Marcus Smart, 6-4, G, So., Oklahoma State
"He's been great leadership-wise. I think he's gotten better shooting the ball. His presence and competitiveness and strength and size will help us. So will his will. He came back to school and to us and that really helps our team. He has an incredible presence. I will play him at the point. But he'll also play the 2 and 3. We've got a lot of guys who can play different positions.''

Jarnell Stokes, 6-8, F, Jr., Tennessee
"He's really physical. He was with us last year and he can be a monster around the basket for us. Last year, we kept more guards. This year, more frontcourt guys.''

Rasheed Sulaimon, 6-3, G, So., Duke
"He's a good scorer. He was with us last year. He's shooting the ball with more consistency. He's more comfortable with the international line. We've got to get him to take over more of a leadership role. He was on the trip last year with Smart [when Donovan led them to the gold in Brazil for the U-18 title]. And he played a lot with Duke and that's important.''

Mike Tobey, 6-11, F, So., Virginia
"He's been really good. I think he'll really help us against the zone. After the first day or two, he adjusted and played really well.''

Nigel Williams-Goss, 6-3, G, Fr., Washington
"He's got a lot of the intangibles. He's a great leader and a really good motor. He's more advanced than his age. He's always played at a high level. He'll play the 2 for us.''

Justise Winslow, 6-6, F, St. John's HS, Houston
"He's a 6-6 guy that can play the 2, 3, 4 and really good in the press. The thing that's good for him is his overall skill, passing and unselfishness. He can guard several different positions. He's really athletic. He's a pass-first player that can slash to the basket.''

Washington could have done what the majority of teams heading out of the country are doing: Practice at home for 10 days, then go on a foreign excursion with a few exhibition games and return home an improved team.

But UW coach Lorenzo Romar didn't want to miss a potential once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him, his team and senior Aziz N'Diaye.

So Romar raised the price of the trip (a number that he didn't offer up) to include a trip to N'Diaye's home country of Senegal from Sept. 5-8, after the Huskies compete and sightsee in Spain, France and Monaco, Aug. 25-Sept. 4.

The team will not play games in Senegal. This is all about a cultural experience and a chance for N'Diaye to go home and share his nation with his teammates and coaches.

Romar said his impetus was the documentary "Elevate," about basketball players coming out of West Africa.

"I was overwhelmed watching how these kids are trying to come to America,'' Romar said. "They are trying to get an education and get to the next level. I looked at their surroundings. I thought it would be great for all of us to see that.''

This trip isn't quite the same as the missionary work being done by Georgia State coach Ron Hunter, who is presently in South Africa distributing shoes to children, along with his team and representatives from Samaritan's Feet.

Nevertheless, this is a chance for the players to experience something they would not normally as a college basketball player.

"It means a lot and I appreciate it,'' said N'Diaye, a 7-foot center who averaged 7.8 points and 7.3 rebounds a game last season.

N'Diaye's father and brother now live in Rhode Island, but his mother and two sisters are still in Senegal, and he hasn't been home to see them in two years. That visit, along with the experience for his teammates, is what N'Diaye is anticipating the most.

"It will be an experience for them,'' N'Diaye said of his teammates and coaches. "They'll see how the lifestyle is different than here. It's a chance to give back. It will mean a lot to our community and to me. I was fortunate to come here to prep school and play basketball.''

Romar said getting N'Diaye home was the added bonus of the trip.

"He hasn't been home in a long time,'' Romar said. "His family doesn't know us. They don't know his teammates and the guys he's living with. Our guys don't understand how he grew up and where he came from. And it's the chance to bring the two together for our guys culturally.''

The players and coaches, who will stay at a hotel in Dakar, received five to six shots in advance of the trip. There will be trips to see the landscape, animals, and possibly a basketball clinic.

Romar is hoping to get a chance to take the group to Goree Island off the coast of Dakar. Goree Island was the departure spot for the West African slave trade. There is a house, built by the Dutch in 1776, that is still standing and serves as a museum. The Huskies will take a UW professor with them on the trip to put things in an educational context.

"For our guys, for everyone involved, it will be an eye-opening experience,'' Romar said. "Aziz is a special, great, great human being and he's one of the most low maintenance I've ever coached. It's good to reward him for trusting us and coming here and letting us come to his home, so we can see the world he lives in and understand him better.''

Before Senegal, there will be basketball of course. And the Huskies certainly need the practices and trip prior to Dakar to improve.

Washington won the Pac-12 by one game last season, but didn't earn an NCAA tournament berth after losing in the conference tournament, a stunning development for a "big six" conference.

The Huskies then lost two key underclassmen to the NBA in Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten.

"This is a new group, and there are a lot of players in supporting roles who will have to step up and being identified,'' Romar said. "People forget that we do return Scott Suggs, who had a knee injury, for his fifth year. C.J. Wilcox will be one of the best shooters in the country. We have a talented guard in Abdul Gaddy, and this year he'll show exactly why he was so highly thought of out of high school. He will emerge and do a great job for us.''

The Huskies will continue jet-setting during the season with two trips east to play in the Hall of Fame Classic in Connecticut against Seton Hall and then either Ohio State or Rhode Island, before a return trip to the Nutmeg State Dec. 29 to play at UConn.

Washington also hosts three potential NCAA tournament teams in Colorado State, Saint Louis and Nevada -- all before a conference schedule in what is expected to be an improved Pac-12.

The Huskies will have perhaps the most unique foreign trip this month, but they'll have plenty of company overseas.

Here is a list of programs going on foreign trips in the month of August:

America East
Boston University: Canada, Aug. 16-21

Boston College: Spain, Aug. 26-Sept. 3
NC State: Spain, Aug. 5-15
Virginia: Belgium, France, Netherlands, Aug. 8-14

Atlantic Sun
Florida Gulf Coast: Bahamas, Aug. 8-12
Jacksonville: Dominican Republic, Aug. 11-17

Atlantic 10
Charlotte: Bahamas, Aug. 13-17
George Washington: Italy, Aug. 15-26
Richmond: Italy, Aug. 10-25
VCU: Italy, Aug. 5-15

Big East
Seton Hall: Spain, Aug. 13-23

Big Sky
Northern Colorado: Australia, Aug. 6-16
Eastern Washington: Canada, Sept. 6-13

Big South
Charleston Southern: Dominican Republic, Aug. 4-9

Big Ten
Purdue: Italy, Aug. 7-17

Big 12
Kansas: France, Switzerland, Aug. 5-14
Kansas State: Brazil, Aug. 8-17
Oklahoma State: Spain, Aug. 8-18

Big West
Cal State-Northridge: Canada, Aug. 21-26
Pacific: France, Aug. 10-20
UC Davis: Italy, Aug. 26-Sept. 5

Georgia State: South Africa, July 31-Aug. 9 (humanitarian trip) Old Dominion: Italy, Greece, Aug. 14-24
Northeastern: Canada, Aug. 17-24

Conference USA
Tulane: Bahamas, Aug. 11-15
Tulsa: Canada, Aug. 14-19

Loyola (Ill.): Italy, Aug. 9-23

Cal State Bakersfield: Bahamas, Sept. 1-7

Harvard: Italy, Aug. 19-29
Princeton: Spain, Aug. 29-Sept. 9

Morgan State: Bahamas, Aug. 13-18
Norfolk State: Bahamas, Aug. 8-13

Buffalo: Canada, Aug. 10-16
Central Michigan: Bahamas, Aug. 16-21
Western Michigan: Italy, Aug. 17-27

Missouri Valley
Indiana State: Bahamas, Aug. 12-14
Missouri State: Costa Rica, Aug. 7-13

Mountain West
Colorado State: Bahamas, Aug. 5-8
UNLV: Canada, Aug. 16-22
Wyoming: Canada, Aug. 5-11

Bryant: Italy, Aug. 20-30

Ohio Valley
Austin Peay: Canada, Aug. 17-23

Arizona: Bahamas, Aug. 9-14
Colorado: France, Belgium, Netherlands, Aug. 13-22
Oregon State: France, Spain, Aug. 18-28
UCLA: China, Aug. 22-29
Utah: Brazil, Aug. 4-15
Washington: Spain, France, Monaco, Senegal, Aug. 25-Sept. 8
Washington State: Australia, Aug. 3-16

Arkansas: Italy, Aug. 10-19
Georgia: Italy, Aug. 1-11
Missouri: Netherlands, Belgium, France, Aug. 8-18
Tennessee: Italy, Aug. 5-15

College of Charleston: Canada, Aug. 8-11

Nicholls State: Australia, Aug. 1-12
Northwestern State: Canada, Aug. 12-17

Sun Belt
South Alabama: Canada, Aug. 12-17

Seattle: China, Aug. 21-Sept. 3
Texas State: Costa Rica, Aug. 13-18

West Coast
San Francisco: Mexico, Aug. 12-16

UCLA's recent mediocrity hasn't been celebrated or seen by the rest of the Pac-12 as an opportunity.

Instead, the conference desperately needs the Bruins to come back -- and fast. Having Arizona dip, even just for one season, didn't help either.

So when the coaches gathered this week for the annual spring meetings in Phoenix, the mood was upbeat. The Pac-12 -- that ultimate big-boy punching bag in college basketball lately -- has two of the nation's top three recruiting classes. And they're from the league's two most prestigious programs.

"I think any buzz for our league is good for everybody,'' Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said. "As competitors, we would like the buzz to be about us, but as long as it's somebody in our conference and especially a brand name like UCLA, that can only be good for the rest of us.''

The Pac-12 had only two teams make the NCAA tournament in 2012, and one of those (Cal) was in the First Four in Dayton and lost. Regular-season champ Washington didn't get a bid, an embarrassing situation for the conference, which became the first big six league to not have its regular-season winner receive a bid.

Utah arrived in the conference and was abysmal in its first season, finishing 3-15 in the Pac-12 and 6-25 overall. Arizona State fell apart and finished 10-21. USC was decimated by injuries and was the worst of all, finishing a stunning 1-17 in league play and 6-26 overall.

The saving face of the Pac-12 was actually new member Colorado. The Buffaloes won the conference tournament, beat UNLV in the NCAA tourney and hung around with Baylor before losing in the Round of 32.

But perception of the league being down wasn't a reach. It was reality. The numbers and results didn't lie. The Pac-12 was an almost hard-to-fathom 1-25 against the RPI top 40 in nonconference play.

So with Arizona loaded up with four ESPNU 100 recruits in the Class of 2012 and UCLA having secured Kyle Anderson in the fall, the Bruins kept up the momentum in the spring by grabbing another top-five recruit (Shabazz Muhammad) and a four-star big man (Tony Parker).

That's not just good for those two schools, it's welcomed by the rest of the league.

Don't think Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott didn't take notice of the Bruins' big April.

"It's extremely important,'' Scott said. "The public and media follow big brands, and it doesn't get any bigger than UCLA basketball in our conference.

"Having them have a strong recruiting class [and] a new Pauley Pavilion to move into is great news for our conference. We've got new TV deals. The timing couldn't be better.''

The conference's coaches have long complained about the television package and a general lack of national exposure. A few years ago, first-place Cal was at USC in a critical game and it wasn't even televised.

Well, the Pac-12 finally has a new TV package that will allow every conference game to be televised on one of three networks: ESPN, Fox or the new Pac-12 Network. The league will shift from a straight Thursday-Saturday/Sunday schedule to one that has more flexibility.

In addition, the conference tournament now has a chance to have a sellout with the league choosing Las Vegas as the neutral destination. The Pac-12 had struggled mightily to draw consistent crowds to the Staples Center in Los Angeles. That shouldn't be the case at a destination venue like the MGM Grand, where the Pac-12 will become the fourth conference to play its conference tournament in Vegas, joining the Mountain West (Thomas & Mack Center), WCC and WAC (both at the Orleans Arena).

What will this conference look like by next March, though?

A year ago, the league was gutted by early entrants to the NBA draft at USC, UCLA, Washington, Washington State, Arizona and Stanford.

"Our league wasn't going to be good in the nonconference in November or December because of who left,'' Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "And then UCLA lost Reeves Nelson [dismissed early in the season] and so we weren't in a position to do well.''

Now they must be.

"We need some top-10 teams,'' said Cal coach Mike Montgomery, who has consistently been a Pac-12 title contender at Stanford and Cal. "We didn't have any, and it hurt us. Based on the recruiting, Arizona and UCLA should be in the mix.

"You need good teams going in. It will help us all if we're competing against better teams. Our RPI goes up. One through nine we were pretty good last year.''

The early onus will be on UCLA. The Bruins have to show well at the Legends Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y., with Georgetown and preseason No. 1 Indiana in the four-team field.

"We've had some bad losses out there,'' Montgomery said of the Pac-12's shoddy nonconference record lately. "Typically, everyone looks at UCLA and makes a judgment. It may not be fair or right and they haven't been the best team, but when they [are down], it hurts everybody. It's incumbent on everybody to win the games [you're supposed to win] in the pre-conference.''

Montgomery didn't excuse his own team. The Bears beat no one of significance outside league play last season and were annihilated by Missouri and UNLV.

"We didn't perform well, and that hurt our league,'' Montgomery said. "The impressions start early. We shouldn't lose games we shouldn't lose, because then when the league plays each other, we're screwed. We can't do anything to improve the reputation. That's on all of us to have a better November and December heading into the conference.''

USC coach Kevin O'Neill isn't doubting the Pac-12's ability to bounce back this season with several NCAA tournament teams.

"And we plan on being one of them,'' O'Neill said of the Trojans, led by Jio Fontan, who missed last season with a knee injury. "UCLA and Arizona had top recruiting classes, and that helps everybody improve. I think it's great. We'll see how they react to stressful situations.

"All our teams look good on paper, and we should be one of the top leagues in the country. We lost more pros in this league than the five other power leagues together the last few years. We're producing great players and most are doing well. But all of that is going to change. It's going to be a great year for our league.''

NEW YORK -- Washington, under coach Lorenzo Romar, has been defined by its guard play, which includes undersized players with games that seem larger than life.

Sure, there was the Jon Brockman era, when he was the dominant persona with his board work and gritty play at both ends of the court.

But if you think Washington and Romar, you immediately consider the names of Brandon Roy, Will Conroy, Nate Robinson and Isaiah Thomas.

Now you can add Tony Wroten Jr. to that list, as the next Romar disciple.

Three days into fall practice and Romar couldn't be more pleased. The early indication is that Wroten Jr. will take his turn as the next Husky who brings brashness, moxie and an overall presence to the game.

"Tony is very unique,'' said Romar, who was in New York this past Thursday with Marquette coach Buzz Williams, whose team will play the Huskies in the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 6. Villanova's Jay Wright and Missouri's Frank Haith were also in NYC, and their teams will also face each other that night.

"[Wroten Jr.] has great size for a point guard, and he's an exceptional passer," Romar said. "His athleticism allows him to be a real terror on the defensive end. He's trying to pick up our concepts now, and he's learning where he needs to be. But sometimes while he's making mistakes, he makes a play. He's just very, very unique with a unique skill set."

The NBA lockout has had some Huskies alumni, including Thomas and Roy, involved in pickup games throughout the early fall. Thomas and Wroten Jr. are both Seattle-area products and have gone against each other quite a bit.

The Huskies have not stood out during the regular season the past two seasons. However, they have shined when it counts, winning the Pac-10 tournament last season and then beating Georgia in the second round of the NCAA tournament before falling in the final possessions to North Carolina in the third round.

If this team is to be different during the regular season, then it will have to manage quite a challenging nonconference schedule by Husky standards. Washington is playing at Romar's old coaching gig in Saint Louis, the third pick in the A-10, on Nov. 20, and then it has consecutive games in New York's Madison Square Garden against Marquette on Dec. 6 and Duke on Dec. 10. One thing that may help the Huskies in their quest to challenge for the Pac-12 title is playing Cal -- one of the favorites -- only once. And that's at home in the Pac-12's new unbalanced schedule. Of course, you could turn that around and note that the Huskies still play home-and-home series with Arizona and UCLA, two fellow contenders.

To get through this schedule, the Huskies will need Wroten Jr. to be a lot like Thomas or Robinson or Roy. "And people forget about Will Conroy. He shared it with Nate Robinson, and Conroy was our all-time assist leader," Romar said. "He was very charismatic and had a lot of personality. He played with that chip on the shoulder. Tony is playing the same way."

Romar also returns Abdul Gaddy, who has had an enigmatic career the past two seasons as he dealt with too much hype as a freshman and then tore his ACL midseason last year. Still, Romar was quick to say that Gaddy's assist-to-turnover ratio was 3-to-1 (49 assists to 16 turnovers) before his injury last season. "He dunked the ball off that same leg he repaired so he's fine," Romar said. "You wouldn't think he's ever been hurt."

The Huskies start the season, though, depleted after guard Scott Suggs broke a bone in his right foot, which will keep him out for up to two months and possibly more.

"He had the most experience of any guard on the roster and [was] our leading 3-point shooter and was playing his best basketball," Romar said. "It hurts to lose him."

Romar said a best-case scenario is for Suggs to be back in time for the trip to New York in early December.

All of this puts even more emphasis on the impact of the 6-foot-5 Wroten Jr., who will be asked to lead a team that has plenty of new faces and young ones like sophomore Terrence Ross. "We have seven new faces," Romar said. "We have six who have played in a championship situation [in the Pac-10], on the road and in NCAA tournament games. It's a unique mix, and it's a matter of them coming together."

At this time last year, Ben Hansbrough's name didn't appear on the Wooden Award preseason watch list.

Five months later, he edged out Connecticut's Kemba Walker for Big East Player of the Year.

Using that as a backdrop, let's remember that the list of 50 Wooden nominees is flawed, much like any of the award lists. The Wooden Award does not allow its voters to nominate any freshmen or transfers (either four-year or junior college) on their ballots.

And with college basketball as loaded with talent as any year since 2007-08, narrowing it down to 50 is not easy. So below I've attempted to come up with the names that didn't make it, either as "just missed the cut" omissions or just because they're freshmen or transfers. These guys aren't on the list (which can be found here), but might show up when it's updated during the season.

This group is by no means definitive, either. There's no telling who else might emerge nationally as the games get under way.

Let's take a look …

The omissions (in alphabetical order):

Julian Boyd, Long Island: The Blackbirds are the favorite again in the Northeast Conference and the main reason is because Boyd is back and ready to dominate the stat sheet.

D.J. Cooper, Ohio: The diminutive point guard does a little bit of everything; he averaged 15.8 ppg, 7.5 apg and 5.0 rpg for the Bobcats last season.

Jared Cunningham, Oregon State: Cunningham has some of the best hops in the sport and a chance to be a Pac-12 star, allowing the Beavers to finally move up in the standings this season.

Seth Curry, Duke: Curry was a standout shooter for the Blue Devils on their trip to China and could be one of the top scorers on the team.

Brandon Davies, BYU: Davies was recently reinstated to the Cougars, and the offense is expected to flow through him inside and out as BYU mounts a campaign to win the WCC in its first year in the league.

Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary's: SMC coach Randy Bennett envisions this as one of the best teams he's ever had, but a lot of that will have to do with whether Dellavedova can shoot like Mickey McConnell did last season.

Greg Echenique, Creighton: Echenique was a rebounding force for Venezuela this summer and should do even more for the Bluejays with a full season to work with.

TyShwan Edmondson, Austin Peay: The Governors should be the favorite in the Ohio Valley with a legit scorer like Edmondson, who has a strong man, Will Triggs, to take pressure off him.

Kyle Fogg, Arizona: Fogg is next in line to assume a leadership position for the Wildcats, who are in a position to compete for Pac-12 titles for years to come.

Kevin Foster, Santa Clara: As a sophomore, Foster sort of came out of nowhere to average 20.2 ppg and become one of the nation's top 3-point shooters.

Chris Gaston, Fordham: The Rams aren't any good, but the nation's leading returning rebounder (11.3 rpg) at least deserves a shout-out in this space.

Yancy Gates, Cincinnati: UC coach Mick Cronin said he'd be surprised if Gates wasn't one of the 10 names on the Big East preseason first team.

Malcolm Grant, Miami (Fla.): The Hurricanes have to play most of the season without big man Reggie Johnson, so Grant will have more opportunities to shine.

Rob Jones, Saint Mary's: Jones could be a double-double regular for the Gaels, and for Saint Mary's to win the WCC, Jones will have to be a star.

Doron Lamb, Kentucky: John Calipari says Lamb will be the Wildcats' best player. Just Coach Cal mind games, or the truth?

Meyers Leonard, Illinois: Leonard didn't contribute a whole lot as a freshman, but he was a hidden gem on the U.S. U-19 team in Latvia this summer. The Illini are expecting big things out of him.

C.J. McCollum, Lehigh: McCollum is the nation's leading returning scorer (21.8 ppg) and is in the top five in steals (2.5 spg). Oh, and he did that as a freshman. What more do you need to know?

Cameron Moore, UAB: The Blazers have been consistently good under Mike Davis and have had unheralded C-USA stars. Moore is the latest.

Toure' Murry, Wichita State: If the Shockers win the Missouri Valley over Creighton, a lot of the credit will end up going to the veteran Murry.

Brandon Paul, Illinois: Illini coach Bruce Weber was a bit surprised Paul didn't crack the top 50 on the Wooden list, given his overall importance to this team.

Ryan Pearson, George Mason: The Patriots are a trendy pick for the Top 25 and a lot of that has to do with the versatility of Pearson.

Damier Pitts, Marshall: The Thundering Herd are a real sleeper to gain an NCAA tourney berth out of Conference USA in large part because of Pitts.

Herb Pope, Seton Hall: Pope has come back from multiple life-threatening situations and has a real shot as a senior to put it all together and finally shine.

Terrence Ross, Washington: The Huskies can't be dismissed as a major player for the Pac-12 title, and if they win it, Ross will be a significant reason why.

Robert Sacre, Gonzaga: Sacre has matured into a solid post player, and that progress shows no signs of stopping as the Zags once again compete for the West Coast title.

Mike Scott, Virginia: If the sleeper Cavs mount a run to the NCAA tournament, the oft-injured Scott will be the reason why.

Renardo Sidney, Mississippi State: If Sidney is in shape and plays up to his potential, he has SEC Player of the Year potential and could be the difference between the Bulldogs making the NCAAs or NIT.

Andrew Smith, Butler: The Bulldogs will have fewer stars this season, but Smith has a chance to outshine Khyle Marshall and newcomer Roosevelt Jones with his scoring prowess in the post.

Chace Stanback, UNLV: Stanback's suspension to start the season is only one game, so that won't diminish his ability to lead the Rebels in their hunt for a Mountain West title.

Raymond Taylor, Florida Atlantic: FAU quietly won the Sun Belt East Division last season and Mike Jarvis' diminutive point guard was the catalyst behind the regular-season championship.

Hollis Thompson, Georgetown: If the Hoyas are to make the NCAA tournament again and be a pest in the upper half of the Big East, then Thompson needs a breakout season.

Kyle Weems, Missouri State: Doug McDermott is the one everyone is talking about in the Valley, but let's not forget that Weems is the reigning MVC Player of the Year. Too bad for the Bears he's their only returning starter.

Kendall Williams, New Mexico: The sophomore guard was the leading scorer in four postseason NIT games for the Lobos and should only get better with the addition of Australian Hugh Greenwood.

The transfers

Dewayne Dedmon, USC: Trojans coach Kevin O'Neill firmly believes this JC transfer is an NBA talent who could dominate the post and average a double-double for SC.

Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State: The former UTEP big man is ready to have a bust-out season for a team that has serious bounce-back potential after a disappointing 2010-11 campaign.

Mike Rosario, Florida: The former Rutgers scoring guard finally has plenty of support around him and will put up numbers for a winner.

Rakim Sanders, Fairfield: The Boston College transfer should flourish after dropping down a level, and he should get coach Sydney Johnson another trip to the NCAA tourney. Johnson is beginning his first year at Fairfield after leading Princeton to the 2011 tourney.

Royce White, Iowa State: White is finally ready to be a star on the college scene after multiple transgressions at Minnesota.

Brandon Wood, Michigan State: The Spartans picked up a rare senior transfer (taking advantage of the graduate transfer rule) from Valparaiso who could be one of the best shooters in the Big Ten.

Tony Woods, Oregon: The embattled Woods arrived from Wake Forest after legal issues and has a chance to really shine as a double-double player for the first time in his career.

The freshmen

Bradley Beal, Florida: Beal has a chance to be a productive player in a frontcourt that has a vacuum after multiple seniors departed.

Gary Bell Jr., Gonzaga: Coach Mark Few has been anticipating Bell's arrival for over a year now. He's expected to step in and deliver right away.

Wayne Blackshear, Louisville: The Cardinals fancy themselves a Big East title contender, and that's partly because they consider Blackshear a star in the making.

Jabari Brown, Oregon: Brown was the star of the Ducks' trip to Italy with his scoring prowess, and expect that to continue in the Pac-12.

Jahii Carson, Arizona State: There is some question right now as to Carson's eligibility, but if he's good to go, the Sun Devils might become relevant in the Pac-12 again.

Erik Copes, George Mason: Copes was bound for George Washington before Karl Hobbs was fired; now he'll be a headline performer for the Patriots and first-year coach Paul Hewitt.

Anthony Davis, Kentucky: Davis has a chance to be the SEC Player of the Year and the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, so expect him to be on the midseason list when freshmen are allowed.

Andre Drummond, Connecticut: He will be an immediate star and help lift the Huskies into the national title chase again. He's more than likely a future top-five pick in the NBA.

Myck Kabongo, Texas: Coach Rick Barnes has had quite a bit of success with big-time freshmen guards, and Kabongo is next in line.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky: Gilchrist will be another star on what will be a headline team throughout the season.

Johnny O'Bryant, LSU: Coach Trent Johnson needs the Tigers to start trending upward again, and he has a shot with the arrival of the big man from Mississippi.

LeBryan Nash, Oklahoma State: OSU is a bit of a mystery team in the Big 12, but the All-American from Dallas could push the Cowboys into contention.

Austin Rivers, Duke: Rivers will have the ball in his hands quite a bit and appears to be the next Duke star in a lengthy list of recognizable names.

Josiah Turner, Arizona: The Wildcats will win the Pac-12 regular-season title if Turner is as good as advertised.

Cody Zeller, Indiana: If coach Tom Crean is going to turn the Hoosiers into a relevant team this season, it will be because of Zeller and his impact in the Big Ten.

The Cleveland Cavaliers made a highly publicized play for Michigan State coach Tom Izzo in June 2010, but Izzo turned down a lucrative financial offer to stay with the Spartans.

A year later, Minnesota Timberwolves general manager David Kahn asked about Washington coach Lorenzo Romar. But it's not going any further than that initial inquiry. Romar isn't heading to Minneapolis.

Will that be the only flirtation with a college coach in the NBA this offseason? Have we entered an era when college coaches may not venture into the NBA because for the high-level coaches, the money won't be much of a difference?


"If it's based on money, I'm not sure coaches will make that transition, especially if they like where they are," Romar said. "The guys that make that type of NBA money are already established."

It seems NBA teams are now seeking the coaches who have been players or assistants such as Mark Jackson or Dwane Casey.

"I just don't see it happening," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said of elite college coaches making the jump. "I think the NBA will continue to recycle guys unless it's a former college guy like Kelvin Sampson."

Sampson has been an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks and was recently interviewed by the Pistons. He's gone the assistant route after running afoul of NCAA rules at Oklahoma and Indiana.

"Once you take the top guys out, guys like Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers, the average salary is much more comparable to the college coaches," said Duke associate coach Chris Collins, whose father, Doug, is the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. Elite college coaches like John Calipari, Billy Donovan and Mike Krzyzewski are already making more than $3-4 million per year.

"To do it, it has to be that you want to challenge yourself in something new," Collins said. "Financially, coaches like Lon Kruger and some of those other guys, it was a such a big-money deal it was hard to say no. Mike Montgomery, did it and it was something he couldn't turn down."

Leonard Hamilton was in a similar situation when Michael Jordan plucked him from Miami to coach the Washington Wizards. Hamilton got a significant payday but was fired, then landed back in Florida, this time coaching Florida State.

"The trend is to go find a coach that has a relationship with the players," Hamilton said. "But I'm not so sure it won't come back again. The rules are changing with allowing zone, and teams aren't running as many sets."

Still, Hamilton said there will be coaches who see the allure of coaching in the NBA regardless of the financial terms that may be similar.

"A lot of coaches have the aspiration to coach at the highest level," Hamilton said. "If they had the opportunity, I think most coaches, regardless of pay, would welcome it. I think it will change in the near future where college coaches will get the chance again."

A few more news and notes ...

• The schedules for the 2011-12 season are starting to shape up, including in the Hoosier State. As previously announced, Butler will play Purdue, and Indiana will take on Notre Dame at an event at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. But the Bulldogs also will play at Indiana after the two schools agreed to be part of a multiteam event during which they'll play three home games against weaker teams. Butler associate head coach Matthew Graves said the Bulldogs aren't in a traditional neutral-site tournament this season but will play in the Maui Invitational in 2012. Butler also signed a home-and-home series with Gonzaga beginning next season in Spokane with the Bulldogs getting the return game in 2012-13. Butler also will host Xavier and Louisville and travel to Stanford next season.

• Missouri coach Frank Haith is trying to offset a number of departures, as the Tigers have only three scholarship players for 2012-13. That's why he took on transfers Keion Bell (Pepperdine), George Goode (Louisville) and Earnest Ross (Auburn) and is now looking at Brian Oliver (Georgia Tech). Oliver is deciding among Penn State, Seton Hall and Missouri, according to a source.

• Former Arkansas sharpshooter Rotnei Clarke is down to Butler and Oklahoma for his new destination, according to a source. Clarke would have one season of eligibility remaining but must sit out next season.