Monday, April 21, 2014

Morning News: Frank Haith To Tulsa, Jabari Parker To The NBA, And Much More

Wassup, Tulsa.

Frank Haith To Tulsa This was a stunner when the news first broke... but in retrospect, I think the stunner is that Tulsa would want Haith and would give him the type of contract (7 years at $1.85 Million per year) that even most SEC coaches don't have. Haith had a lot of success in his first year at Missouri coaching Mike Anderson's players, but the team had been in decline ever since and was due to be even weaker next season with the loss Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson. Haith was going to be at risk of being fired after next season, honestly. You'd think Tulsa would want a young up-and-comer rather than a retread who has shown no signs of brilliance so far. They have a roster built to make a good run at an at-large bid next season, but will it just be a repeat of Missouri?

Missouri fans are mostly excited by this news. After all, Haith did this once before when he left Miami for Missouri just before his seat got too warm, and Miami fell backwards into Jim Larranaga. Honestly, I doubt Missouri gets a coach of the quality of Larranaga here, and I don't understand why the media trolls teams like Missouri by floating coaches like Gregg Marshall and Shaka Smart that obviously aren't coming, but there's no reason Missouri shouldn't think they can get a coaching upgrade here.

Jabari Parker To The NBA Well, I guess we all got fooled a bit. A month ago it was a no-brainer that Parker, like Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle, would be a one-and-done player. But he seemed to convince all of us over the last couple of weeks that he was actually really considering coming back for another season. Parker might not be the best NBA prospect, but he's the most NBA ready player now. And I'll talk about this when I do my NBA Draft preview, but Parker is just a wildly underrated player, particularly by the Duke fans that ragged on him all year while he utterly carried that team on both ends of the floor (yes, he was the team's best defensive player, too).

If Parker came back, Duke would have been a clear preseason #1. Even without him, they're still probably the narrow ACC favorite, though I wouldn't be surprised to see North Carolina end up earning the preseason favorite nod from the media. Both teams should be in the mix for 1 seeds next season.

USC's Byron Wesley Will Transfer A bleak year is looking even bleaker for USC as their far-and-away best player is going to leave via transfer. Andy Enfield's miracle Sweet 16 run with Florida Gulf Coast earned him a total honeymoon with the fans and the media in his first season at USC. But another season going something like 3-15 in conference play, which is what it looks like we're heading toward, will start putting the pressure on him.

St. John's Gets Chris Obekpa Back St. John's, coming off a rough season, looked to be getting fairly decimated by NBA and transfer defections. Chris Obekpa ended up being buried on the bench late in the season despite being one of the best shot blockers in the nation. But after announcing his transfer, he's decided to come back. This alone doesn't get St. John's back to being a likely bubble team next season, but it at least buoys the ship for a little while and changes the momentum of the program.

AJ Hammons Chooses Not To Go Pro Yet This is a good move all around. Purdue needed Hammons back to have any realistic shot of earning an at-large bid next season, while the reality was that Hammons isn't ready for the NBA yet. Even if he got drafted, he'd be a second rounder sent immediately down to the D-League. He's just not NBA ready yet. He's got the talent to get there with another year or two of seasoning at Purdue, though.

Boston College Gets Back Oliver Hanlan One of the reasons why Steve Donahue was pushed out the door at Boston College was because Oliver Hanlan and several others players were threatening to  leave. Ryan Anderson will still transfer, but Hanlan is the gem of the bunch. He's a fantastic playmaker and scorer who will likely end up in the NBA eventually. Boston College's defense needs to be significantly improved to get back to the NCAA Tournament, but Hanlan's return means that BC's offense should again be fairly good.

Ahmed Hill Decommits From Marquette Of the four player class that Buzz Williams originally signed at Marquette, only one (Sandy Cohen) is currently saying that he'll stay. Ahmed Hill was the highest rated of Marquette's recruits, and he's now off to Virginia Tech, along with Satchel Pierce, another Marquette recruit. For a Marquette team that was going to struggle to make the NCAA Tournament even if Buzz Williams had stayed, this portends a rough season. But the task for Steve Wojciechowski will be to have a first season that shows positive momentum. If he puts together a nice 2015 recruiting class and plays solid basketball in year one then it will be seen as a success, even if they don't go Dancing.

Butler Loses Elijah Brown And Three Others Four players have decided to transfer out of Butler in the last few months, with Brown being the most important. That said, I don't think there's reason for panic at Butler. All four players were freshmen or sophomores, and it's not uncommon for young players to want to leave after a coaching transition - seniors are more likely to prefer to just stick it out at the place they've spent years at. Also, besides Brown, the other three were not significant contributors this past season.

And Brandon Miller has two quality transfers coming back, in Indiana's Austin Etherington and NC State's Tyler Lewis. And while Lewis won't be eligible next season, he's a significantly better player than any of these transfers out. Throw in Roosevelt Jones coming back after missing this past season with injury and Butler still looks to have a bright future.

Arizona State Gets Another Year of Shaquielle McKissic The NCAA has given McKissic another year of eligibility, which was considered likely but was not a given. This is good news for an Arizona State roster that otherwise wasn't going to return much. They had a mediocre offense even with Jahii Carson, who is off to the NBA, running things. McKissic is a quietly efficient scorer, though, with a 53.1 eFG% and a high free throw rate. But Herb Sendek still has work left to do to make this a plausible at-large team.

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