Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Morning News: Bo Ryan Retiring, Chris Obekpa Leaving, Kentucky Adds Jamal Murray, And More

New Bracket Projection Coming There's no link here, but it's just a reminder that my next bracket projection will be posted this week at some point. It will be my second of the season. My first one was posted here.

Bo Ryan Will Coach One More Season Bo Ryan, one of the true legends of college basketball history, will be retiring after coaching one more season. An early adopter of tempo-free statistics and efficiency stats, he's done incredible work year after year both at developing players and winning with the talent that he had. For the future, we have two questions. First, who the next coach will be. Ryan said in his statement that he hopes to be replaced by longtime assistant Greg Gard. If Wisconsin goes elsewhere, the name to look out for is Virginia's Tony Bennett, who has a ton of Wisconsin roots, coached under Bo Ryan, and would be a good stylistic fit. Wisconsin is a bigger program than Virginia in terms of revenue, fan base, etc, but it's not that much bigger, and there's always a risk of leaving a program where you are already hugely successful, so Bennett will have a tough decision to make if Wisconsin makes an offer.

As for Wisconsin's players, we may not see too many changes. There's always a risk of players transferring out, but so far there have been no rumors of that happening. And unless a player leaves via transfer or the NBA Draft, Wisconsin only has one scholarship available for their 2016 recruiting class, with nobody yet verbally committed, so it's not like they have recruits to lose. If the new coach can hang onto all of the players on the 2015-16 roster for the 2016-17 season, then that should be a really talented team, and they should be in a position to win right away.

Chris Obekpa Leaves St. John's Chris Mullin drew a lot of praise when he managed to retain Rysheed Jordan and Chris Obekpa when he took over St. John's, but both players are now gone.  This means that the entire six man regular rotation that the Johnnies played with this past season is all gone. Chris Mullin has brought in a slew of recruits and transfers, so the roster will still have decent depth next season, but it's going to be a rebuilding season. Projecting an NCAA Tournament bid for them in Year 1 of the Mullin Era seems unwise.

Kentucky Adds Jamal Murray Jamal Murray was the biggest name still available for the 2015-16 season, and Kentucky needed guard depth and had scholarships available, so this move makes sense all around. Murray can play either point guard or shooting guard, and is a good enough player that there's a realistic chance that he'll go 1-and-done. As always, Kentucky will be a difficult team to project, but they might again have more NBA talent than any other team in the nation, and so realistically they have to be the preseason SEC favorite.

Xavier Johnson Will Miss Next Season A torn ACL will cause Colorado's Xavier Johnson to likely miss the entire 2015-16 season, though they haven't yet officially ruled out him coming back late in the season. It's probably for the best if he takes the redshirt to save his final year of eligibility. Johnson started 15 games this past season, averaging 10.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. This is a significant blow to Colorado, particularly since this is a program with a realistic chance to end up on the tourney bubble next season.

Syracuse Adds Pachal Chukwu The 7'2" Chukwu will have to sit out the 2015-16 season, but he'll have three years of eligibility after that. As a freshman at Providence he averaged 2.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in just 9.9 minutes per game. It's not clear yet if Syracuse's reduction in scholarships will start in 2016-17 or in 2017-18, but either way they are going to need players like Chukwu, who are sure things to start producing right away. The Orange simply won't have the scholarships available to stash a guy on the bench for a year or two until he's ready to play.

Eli Carter To Boston College Eli Carter has played for both Rutgers and Florida, and he will finish his career at Boston College. You can make a reasonable case that Carter will be Boston College's best player in 2015-16, which says more about how barren that roster is than anything else. So this makes Boston College significantly better, but still nowhere near a Tournament-quality team.

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