Monday, April 13, 2015

Morning News: Kentucky Loses Seven To The Draft, Nigel Williams-Goss Leaves Washington, Bobby Hurley To Arizona St, And Much More

I will have Morning News posts periodically throughout the offseason, with this being the first one. Each time I'll cover important stories that have broken since my last post. For now, I'm only going to talk about stories that relate to my bracket projection (here is the one I released on Tuesday). So, Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow declaring to go pro are not stories... we all knew that was coming, and that was already taken into account in Duke's projected seed.

Kentucky Loses Seven To The Draft Well, we knew Karl Towns, Trey Lyles and Willie Cauley-Stein were gone,  but the other guys were question marks. Now it turns out that the Harrison twins are gone, along with Dakari Johnson and Devin Booker. This means that Tyler Ullis, Marcus Lee, Alex Poythress, Dominique Hawkins and Derrek Willis are the only returning scholarship players. And it means John Calipari is going to be very aggressive on the recruiting trail. He already has Skal Labissiere, Isaiah Briscoe and Charles Matthews signed, but that won't be enough if they're going to be a national title contender again next season. Expect at least one or two more signings.

Nigel Williams-Goss Leaves Washington This is a really bad blow to Washington. The Huskies were unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament next season anyway, but Williams-Goss was their do-everything playmaker and all around best player. If things go south next season, Lorenzo Romar might find himself fired a year from now.

Bobby Hurley To Arizona State This is, in my opinion, a better hire than Jeff Capel, who was the first guy that Arizona State went after. It's going to be a rebuilding season for Arizona State unless Hurley can pull a miracle this summer, but this does give Sun Devils fans hope for the future. For Buffalo, the question is who the next coach is and whether he can hold the roster together. I rated Buffalo as the MAC preseason favorite, but that status will change if the roster starts losing key pieces.

Miami Loses Manu Lecomte And Deandre Burnett To Transfer Lecomte started 23 games last season and Burnett scored 7.0 points per game off the bench, so these are two significant young players on the way out. And if there were thoughts about Miami contending for an ACC title, this might end that, but this is still a Hurricanes team that should be improved and back to the NCAA Tournament. The Miami backcourt, despite these two losses, still returns Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan (two returning starters) along with James Palmer off the bench and star 2014 recruit Ja'Quan Newton. If you want to include Davon Reed as a "shooting guard" also, it's easy to think that too much competition was a significant reason both Lecomte and Brunett left.

JP Tokoto To The Draft This was a surprise to many, but it's a significant loss for a North Carolina team that many were projecting to be #1 preseason (though I had them narrowly behind Virginia). That said, Tokoto was far from North Carolina's most important player, and the Tar Heels remain a national title contender.

Michigan State Picks Up Caleb Swanigan Swanigan joins Deyonta Davis to give Michigan State not one, but two McDonald's All-Americans in their 2015 recruiting class. And if you were wondering what would come of Michigan State's front line with the loss of Branden Dawson, they now have two of the best big man recruits in the nation. With Gavin Schilling and Matt Costello returning, the Spartans will have plenty of size. They were already my Big Ten favorite, but with Swanigan they have a potential to move up to a 1 seed in my next projected bracket.

Darien Williams To St. John's The 6'8" Juco wing was originally slated to go to Iowa State, but after decommitting he is the first big piece that Chris Mullin has added to his 2015-16 roster. Assuming that Rysheed Jordan and Chris Obekpa do return (which at this point seems likely), the Johnnies should at least be competitive next season. But without a blue chip high school recruit yet signed (they had one signed in Brandon Sampson, but he decommitted when Steve Lavin was fired), the Johnnies are still a good player or two away from being in serious at-large contention.

Shelton Mitchell Transferring Out Of Vanderbilt Mitchell made 11 starts and played 20 minutes per game as a true freshman. That 2014 Vanderbilt recruiting class had an incredibly successful true freshman season, with all five players earning at least 19 minutes per game, and setting the Commodores up to be projected as a borderline Top 25 team next season. The loss of Mitchell also makes it a serious question who will be Vanderbilt's backup point guard next season (assuming that Wade Baldwin, another one of those 2014 recruits) is the starter. Riley LaChance (yet another 2014 recruit) is listed as a point guard, but as a freshman he was much more of a spot-up shooter than an offensive creator.

Shaqquan Aaron Leaving Louisville A lot of people are going to tune into a Louisville game early next season and wonder who all of the players are. There might still be another transfer also. Though that doesn't mean Louisville won't be a tourney team next season. Trey Lewis is coming on board and Rick Pitino has a strong recruiting class already signed up.

Vince Hunter Going Pro UTEP's chances of contending for a Conference USA title are probably over with 6'8" star Vince Hunter leaving for the NBA. I don't know whether UTEP's official twitter account criticizing his NBA potential helped shove him out the door, but it probably didn't help.

Jaron Hopkins Leaving Colorado Hopkins, a wing more known for his defense than his offense, started 17 games for Colorado this past season. He's far from the most important player on the roster, but the margin of error for Colorado is thin if they're going to earn an at-large bid next season. This certainly is not helpful.

Ricky Tarrant Transferring Out Of Alabama Player movement after a coaching change is always expected, though this is a significant loss. Tarrant was second on the team with 13.1 points per game this past season. That said, the reality is that Alabama was unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament next season regardless, and that was going to be Tarrant's last season of eligibility. In the end, Avery Johnson will be judged on his first recruiting class and what new core he is able to build. Nobody expects him to have much success next season.

Hawaii Hires Eran Ganot This seems like an odd hiring move considering what an incredible job Benjy Taylor did as interim head coach, taking a team that was a dumpster fire to the brink of making the NCAA Tournament. But that doesn't mean that Ganot, an assistant coach at St. Mary's, won't do a good job. It would be nice to see Benjy Taylor get his own Division I program to run soon, however.

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