Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Morning News: Jaylen Brown To Cal, Billy Donovan To The NBA, Terry Larrier Leaves VCU, And Nigel Williams-Goss To Gonzaga

Jaylen Brown has got California fans excited

California Lands Jaylen Brown Cuonzo Martin (and his assistant Yanni Hufnagel) have been doing work on the recruiting trail, landing not one but two McDonald's All-Americans. Brown, a 6'7" wing, will complement 6'11" Ivan Rabb, as well as returning guards Tyrone Wallace and Jordan Mathews. The team will be significantly improved. That said, the media has a tendency to overreact to big signings like this:
Personally, I'd recommend holding back on that a little bit. The reality is that California was not even a KenPom Top 100 team this past season and they lose two of their top six players. I know that Tyrone Wallace was "considering" the NBA Draft, but he wouldn't have been drafted if he had gone. He scored 17 points per game because he took 14.8 shots per game, not because he was particularly efficient. And while Rabb and Brown are both big time recruits, it's asking a lot for both to become top tier Pac-12 players as true freshmen. So California likely has a Tournament team right now, but I still can't fathom how they can be projected as a better team than Arizona.

Billy Donovan To Oklahoma City This was coming down the pipe for a while, so it's not a big surprise, but it's still big news. And with so many players leaving Florida this past offseason, you have to wonder if the players had some inkling that Donovan was looking to finally make that move to the NBA even before Scott Brooks was fired. Florida doesn't seem to be in a rush to hire a new head coach, as they appear to be worrying more about the bigger picture than their 2015 recruiting class. But that means it might be wise not to expect too much from the Gators in 2015-16. Even if the new coach can hold their entire 2015 recruiting class together, just making the NCAA Tournament will be an uphill battle.

Terry Larrier Leaves VCU The roster churn continues at VCU as Terry Larrier will look for somewhere else to use his final three years of eligibility. Larrier didn't do a whole lot off the bench as a true freshman in 2014-15, but he was a big time recruit with a lot of potential. Look for him to be highly sought after. As for VCU, Will Wade continues to add new pieces even as so many of Shaka's players leave. But he's going to need to add at least one or two more pieces this summer to realistically get VCU back to the NCAA Tournament. By my count they have three scholarships still available for this coming season, so they can be aggressive.

Nigel Williams-Goss Chooses Gonzaga Williams-Goss will have to sit out the 2015-16 season, and he will join a crowded backcourt, but this is still a major addition for Gonzaga. Williams-Goss averaged 15.6 points, 5.9 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore this past season for Washington. Assuming Josh Perkins comes back good as new, and with Silas Melson and Jesse Wade as prospects, the Zags should finally have a rebuilt backcourt for 2016-17. The question for them that season will be a front court that will be loaded in 2015-16 but then will lose Kyle Wiltjer and Przemek Karnowski, along with likely losing Domantas Sabonis to the NBA Draft. So Mark Few now has to work toward landing multiple quality big men in his 2016 recruiting class.

Durand Johnson To St. John's Chris Mullin continues to add players at St. John's. Durand Johnson, a 6'6" wing, averaged 8.8 points per game for Pitt in 2013-14 but is coming back from a torn ACL. He'll be able to play immediately, though, and at the very least will add depth to a roster that now finally seems to have a seven or eight man rotation in place. Whether Chris Mullin will be able to coach and develop these guys remain to be seen, but it's certainly been a successful first month of recruiting for him.

Pittsburgh Adds Rafael Maia It's not all bad news for Pitt, who have now added a second significant graduate transfer. A week ago it was Sterling Smith from Coppin State, and now it is Brown's Rafael Maia. Maia led the Ivy League in rebounding the past three seasons, including 8.7 per game in 2014-15. Perhaps Pitt's biggest problem this past season was front court defense and rebuilding, so Maia should be a significant addition in that area. And while Pitt is still likely to be a bubble team, at this point I am leaning toward projecting them as an at-large team in my next bracket.

Jernard Jarreau Chooses Oklahoma State Jarreau, who left Washington via transfer, will be eligible to play immediately at Oklahoma State. The 6'10" Jarreau doesn't have any real offensive game yet, but he's a significant force on the defensive end, both as an individual defender and as a defensive rebounder. Oklahoma State is in need of players all over the court after heavy graduation losses, but they are particularly thin on the interior (front court depth has always been a problem during Travis Ford's tenure, honestly). This addition doesn't make the Cowboys a likely Tournament team, but it gets them closer.

UNLV Adds Ike Nwamu UNLV has grabbed a graduate transfer in Ike Nwamu, who led Mercer with 15.1 points per game this past season. Nwamu will likely fill in for the position vacated by Rashad Vaughn, who left for the NBA Draft. With stud recruit Stephen Zimmerman also coming in to replace Christian Wood, Dave Rice has done a nice job coming up with one-for-one replacements for his NBA defections. If Jerome Seagears, the Rutgers transfer, is able to fill in ably at point guard, then UNLV has an excellent chance to get back to the NCAA Tournament.

UTEP Takes A Gamble On Dominic Artis After being booted out of Oregon for a sexual assault, Dominic Artis will get a second chance at UTEP. With Vince Hunter off to the NBA Draft, Tim Floyd was going to need a big addition to have a realistic chance of getting to the NCAA Tournament. Artis, a blue chip recruit when he originally signed with Oregon, is just that type of raw talent.

Stony Brook Gets Ahmad Walker Back Ahmad Walker started 31 games for Stony Brook in 2013-14 as a freshman, averaging 7.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. But after spending 2014-15 at a junior college, he's back. I talked in my America East preview about the incredibly snake bitten Stony Brook program, and how this coming season might be their best chance to finally get over the hump and get to the NCAA Tournament. I projected them as the favorite this coming season, and Walker's return just makes them appear even stronger.

Anton Gill Will Play For Nebraska Anton Gill has not been particularly effective in two seasons off the bench for Louisville, but he was a highly touted recruit out of high school, so he has the potential to develop at Nebraska. He'll take the 2015-16 season off because of the transfer and then will have two years of eligibility remaining. Tim Miles has so far proven to be more effective developing players defensively than offensively, but it will be interesting to see what he can do with Gill down the road.

Illinois State Adds Quintin Brewer It's not just power conference teams adding graduate transfers from smaller schools. Illinois State, a likely bubble team this coming season, has added Brewer, who averaged 9.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game this past season for Bethune Cookman. Illinois State already has monster shot blocker Reggie Lynch and Dontae Hawkins, but Brewer will be a significant addition next season. If the Redbirds don't make the Big Dance next season, the reason will likely be the backcourt, particularly in the realm of perimeter shooting. Paris Lee is their only proven returner, and they don't have any highly touted incoming perimeter players.

Nebraska's Tarin Smith Chooses Duquesne Tarin Smith will have to sit out this coming season, but averaged 4.5 points per game as a freshman at Nebraska, so he should be a significant contributor at Duquesne when he does become eligible. Jim Ferry is far from having a roster capable of contending near the top of the Atlantic Ten, but this move certainly makes them stronger.

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