The Big East offically announced the University of Conneticut’s return to the conference. UConn was apart of the conference from 1979 (where it was a charter member) to 2013. The league said the year of entry will be determined at a later date. UConn will participate in 20 of the Big East’s 22 sports. Notably, the football program will either be in a different conference, an independent, or downgrade to the FCS level. UConn’s women’s basketball program leaves the American Athletic conference with no losses in conference. UConn will leave the AAC for its roots, where it became a perennial basketball power, both men’s and women’s.
The UConn Board of Trustees accepted an invitation on Wednesday to move basketball and most other sports teams (not including football) back to the conference they were a charter member of. UConn rejoins the Big East officially! As I said in a previous post, UConn will be moving their football team either to a different conference, the independents, or downgrade to the FCS level because the Big East does not sponsor football. UConn will make their move to the Big East in the 2020-2021 school year.
ESPN’s top grad transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. (formerly of Virginia Tech) committed to Florida last night. The forward chose Florida over Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, or a potential return to Virginia Tech. Blackshear entered the transfer portal in mid April after former Virginia Tech Head Coach Buzz Williams took the same job at Texas A&M. At the same time, Blackshear put his name into the NBA Draft, but took his name out hours before the deadline. Blackshear joins ESPN 100 recruits Omar Payne, Scottie Lewis, and Tre Mann to make Florida the biggest competitor to Kentucky in the SEC next season. The top returnee for the Gators is 2018-19 All-SEC Freshman Team Guard Andrew Nembhard will lead the offense for the Gators. Blackshear Jr. averaged almost fifteen points and seven and half rebounds.
Oklahoma State hired Cannen Williams as an assistant coach on Wednesday. It does have significance because the number two recruit in the 2020 ESPN 100 happens to be Cannen’s brother, Point Guard Cade Cunningham. This will help Oklahoma State to get the five-star point guard.
The University of Connecticut (UConn) is expected to return to the Big East in basketball and other sports in 2020 per multiple reports. According to ESPN, nothing is offical but an announcement could be made at some point next week. The biggest question for the huskies, though, is about their football program. According to a source that told ESPN, it would be unlikely that UConn would keep just their football program in the American Athletic Conference. For football, UConn is expected to stay in the AAC for 2019 but move into a different conference or the Independents in 2020. UConn’s potential move was first reported by Digital Sports Desk.
LaMelo Ball announced on “The Jump” that he would be heading to the Australia’s NBL and will be playing Illawarra Hawks. Ball was ranked number twenty-one in the 2019 ESPN 100. Ball said, “Australia really made sense to me” regarding his wanting of being the top pick of the 2020 NBA Draft. Because Ball played in Lithuania, his college eligibility was in question.
As the spotligh on the 2019 class closes, we are going to take a look at the top ten classes college basketball for the 2019 class according to ESPN. The top three players according to ESPN for each school in the top ten will be ranked.
Number=National Rank on ESPN 100
Top three signees
1.James Wiseman (#1 Center) Memphis,TN (East Memphis)
17.Precious Achiuwa (#5 Power Forward) Bronx,NY (Montverde)
25.DJ Jeffries (#5 Small Forward) Olive Branch,MS (Olive Branch)
In his first full recruiting cycle as head coach Penny Hardaway beat out Kentucky for number one player in the country James Wiseman and two other five-star frontcourt players Precious Achiuwa (PF) and DJ Jeffries (SF). Hardaway and Memphis beat out Coach K and Duke for the top class with a recent signing from Precious Achiuwa.
2.Duke Blue Devils
Top three signees
6.Vernon Carey Jr. (#3 Center) Southwest Ranches,FL (NSU University)
11.Matthew Hurt (#2 PF) Rochester,MN (John Marshall)
22.Wendell Moore (#3 Small Forward) Charlotte,NC (Cox Mill)
Landing former number one player Vernon Carey Jr. was a big win in December. Landing Matthew Hurt late in the process was a win for Duke, but did not get them over the hump to get a second consecutive top class. While this isn’t the number one class, this is a solid number two ranked class.
Top three signees
8.Josh Green (#2 Shooting Guard) Bradenton,FL (IMG)
9.Nico Mannion (#2 Point Guard) Scottsdale,AZ (Pinnacle)
40.Terry Armstrong (#8 Small Forward) Flint,MI (Bella Vista)
While there was controversy surrounding Arizona’s program in 2018, Arizona has re-cemented themselves as recruiting powers by landing top ten recruits in guards Josh Green and Nico Mannion. Wing Terry Armstrong cements this class as a top three class in the country.
Top three signees
12.Kahlil Whitney (#2 Small Forward) Roselle,NJ (Roselle Catholic)
13.Tyrese Maxey (#3 Shooting Guard) Dallas,TX (South Garland)
29.Johnny Juzang (#3 Small Forward) North Hollywood,Ca (Harvard Westlake)
Kentucky again has a top five class headed by three top three prospects at their positions. Kahlil Whitney and Tyrese Maxey are top fifteen prospects that will be difference makers. Johnny Juzang has the talent to be an NBA player after two years. Expect Kentucky to be in the national championship picture in the 2019-2020 season.
Top three signees
4.Anthony Edwards (#1 Shooting Guard) Atlanta,GA (Holy Spirit)
64.Christian Brown (#13 Small Forward) Hopkins,SC (Oak Hill)
69.Jaykwon Walton (#15 Small Forward) Montgomery,AL (Carver)
Tom Crean and Georgia became one of the surprises of the 2019 cycle by landing top peach state prospect and number four ranked player nationally Anthony Edwards. Four-star wings Christian Brown and Jaykwon Walton will make this team competetive in the SEC for years to come.
Top three signees
14.Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (#3 Power Forward) Overland Park,KS (IMG)
15.Bryan Antoine (#4 Shooting Guard) Tinton Falls,NJ (Ranney)
52.Justin Moore (#8 Shooting Guard) Accokeek,MD (DeMatha Catholic)
Jay Wright has another top ten class to reload after a down year in 2018-19 for Villanova despite winning the Big East. These three guys are the next players in Jay Wright’s system to lead Villanova to glory.
Top three signees
16.Isaiah Mobley (#4 Power Forward) Temecula,CA (Rancho Christian)
20.Onyeka Okongwu (#5 Center) Chino Hills,CA (Chino Hills)
54.Max Agbonkpolo (#12 Power Forward) Rancho Santa Margarita,CA (Santa Margarita Catholic)
USC strengthened their frontcourt by landing five-star big men Isaiah Mobley and Onyeka Okongwu and four-star big Max Agbonkpolo. This will help them compete with Arizona in the Pac-12.
24.Samuell Williamson (#4 Small Forward) Rockwall,TX (Rockwall)
50.Aiden Igiehon (#11 Power Forward) Woodmere,NY (Lawrence Woodmere)
76.David Johnson (#13 Shooting Guard) Louisville,KY (Trinity)
In his first recruiting cycle, Head Coach Chris Mack has led Louisville to a great first season but has been very successful on the recruiting trail by landing a five-star and multiple four-star recruits.
Top three signees
2.Cole Anthony (#1 Point Guard) Briarwood,NY (Oak Hill)
18.Armado Bacot (#5 Center) Richmond,VA (IMG)
77.Anthony Harris (#11 Point Guard) Fairfax,VA (Paul VI)
Roy Williams finally cemented the top ten ranking for his 2019 recruiting class by landing top point guard Cole Anthony. These three top guys will have big roles as Carolina loses four major contributors after last season’s ACC championship team. Cole Anthony will have the keys to the offense after Coby White enters the NBA.
Top three signees
10.Scottie Lewis (#1 Small Forward) Colts Neck,NJ (Ranney)
33.Tre Mann (#6 Point Guard) Gainesville,FL (The Villages Charter)
43.Omar Payne (#7 Center) Kissimmee,FL (Montverde)
Mike White had a huge land out of New Jersey in Scottie Lewis. White and Florida complented that by landing Tre Mann and Omar Payne.
There has been lots of news coming out of college basketball this week so let’s put it into one post.
Three-year North Carolina Guard Seventh Woods has announced he is transferring to South Carolina for his final year of eligibility after he sits a year out in the 2019-2020 season. South Carolina was the obvious favorite for Woods after he announced he was entering the portal, as he is from Columbia,South Carolina originally and that the Gamecocks were second in the running for him out of high school.
The NCAA announced that they would be moving the three-point line back for the 2019-2020 season. They will be moving it back to where the international players shoot it from at 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches. This will be in effect for division one ball but not for division two and three until 2020-2021.
Former McDonald’s All-American Jordan Brown has announced he will be heading to Arizona. Brown announced he was entering the transfer portal and possibly leaving Nevada in April after former Nevada Head Coach Eric Musselman took the Arkansas Head Coaching position. Brown picked Arizona over Arizona State and Saint Mary’s.
Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski offered a walk on to his grandson Michael Savorino. Savorino will be joining the program in 2019-2020.
Even though it wasn’t this week, former “Fab Five” member Juwan Howard of the 1990s Michigan team was announced as the replacement for longtime Head Coach John Belein, who took the Cleveland Cavaliers Head Coaching gig in the NBA. Howard was very emotional in his introduction and couldn’t wait to do great things with the program. Howard is now a former assistant of the Miami Heat, where he was a player and coach throught the 2010s.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Worjanowski has reported that former Murray State Point Guard Ja Morant will undergo a minor scope on his knee. According to ESPN’s Woj, Morant will be fully healthy in a three or four weeks. Morant signed a multiyear endorsement deal with Nike four days ago. Morant is projected to be the second or third pick on most mock draft.
Zion Williamson chooses agent, signs with CAA ahead of 2019 NBA Draft. Austin Brown and Lisa Joseph-Metelus will serve as Williamson’s agents. Zion joins a formidable group of CAA basketball players with Joel Embiid, Paul George, Karl-Anthony Towns, Donovan Mitchell, D’Angelo Russell, Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade. Williamson averaged twenty-three points, nine rebounds, and two blocks in his lone season at Duke.
There is always a freshman each college basketball season that is excellent, turns into a social media star, and becomes an NBA draft pick. These past two college basketball seasons we have seen two big examples of that: in 2017-18, Oklahoma Guard Trae Young, and in 2018-19 Duke Forward Zion Williamson. Now, let’s take a look at possibilities for next year’s freshman star.
(These aren’t in any order)
Despite five-star talent around him (Forward Precious Achiwua and potentially Combo Guard RJ Hampton) Wiseman is the top player in the 2019 class. Wiseman could be the catalyst of Penny Hardaway’s successful first season at his alma mater with great rebounding, defense, and ability to hang in the post.
2.Cole Anthony,Point Guard,North Carolina
Anthony may be the most eletric player in this class with comparisons to Russell Westbrook. UNC is losing most of their talent to the draft so Anthony can walk into Chapel Hill and be the leader of this offense on day one for Roy Williams. Expect Anthony to have a high usage rate and lead the Tar Heels to sucess in 2019-2020.
3.Anthony Edwards,Shooting Guard,Georgia
Edwards is a long and tall two-guard who has the ability to ball handle and be a leader to this fairly new Georgia coaching staff. Without much talent around him, Edwards can lead Georgia to great heights and potentially get the good play he needs to be considered the next Zion.
4.RJ Hampton,Combo Guard,Uncommitted
This does depend on where Hampton ends up, but the reclassified combo guard knows how to score and defend. If he ends up at Kansas, Hampton should have the reigns to the offense if freshman guards Quentin Grimes and Devin Dotson stay in the draft instead of heading back to Lawrence. Texas Tech, another of his final three schools, is also losing talent and Hampton could be the catalyst of Chris Beard’s offense in Lubbock. Memphis is the tough one though, because if Little Rock transfer Rayjon Tucker enters the NBA Draft, Hampton will likely go to Memphis but will still be beside two five stars (Wiseman and Achiwua). If Tucker takes his name out of the draft and goes to Memphis, Hampton should enroll at Kansas or Texas Tech and be successful.
5.Josh Green,Shooting Guard,Arizona
It was between him and his future teammate Nico Mannion but the way Josh Green plays is electrifying. He can get to the rim at ease and is very productive on the offensive end. Green, an Australian native, knows how to defend and could very well be in the running to be the next Zion.
Other names to know:Nico Mannion,PG,Arizona;Vernon Carey,Center,Duke;Isaiah Stewart,Center,Washington;Jaden McDaniels,PF,Washington;Isaiah Mobley,PF,USC;Tyrese Maxey,SG,Kentucky;Kahlil Whitney,SF,Kentucky
Auburn Sophomore Forward Chuma Okeke,who tore his ACL in the tigers’s Sweet Sixteen game versus North Carolina, has declared for the NBA Draft.
2018-19 Big Ten Player of the Year,Guard Cassius Winston will return to East Lansing for his Senior season and play one more year under Tom Izzo.Winston’s teammate will not be back,though,as Michigan State Forward Nick Ward has declared for the draft,and has gotten an agent.
Missouri Sophomore big man Jontay Porter has declared for the NBA Draft.Porter reclassified so he could play with his brother,Michael (who is now in the NBA with the Denver Nuggets),for a season.Porter played two seasons for the Tigers.
Western Kentucky Freshman Center Charles Bassey declares for the NBA Draft.Bassey was the C-USA Freshman of the Year,and Defensive Player of the Year after averaging almost fifteen points,ten rebounds,and two and a half blocks per contest in 2018-19.