Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Morning News: Cuonzo Martin To California, Plus A Slew Of Draft Decisions

Thompson-Boling has at times been less-than-friendly for Cuonzo Martin

During the offseason, I'll have occasional Morning News posts. Unlike the regular season, these won't be daily. I'll post them whenever a few interesting pieces of news pile up. Follow me on twitter, or click on the bottom right of the page to follow the blog. Either will let you know when new posts are up.

Cuonzo Martin To California In a sense, this came out of nowhere. California seems like a lateral move from Tennessee. But really, it's because the fans and administration were not supportive of Martin as coach. For a while this season, even as his team was borderline Top 15-20 in the computers, there were continued calls for his firing, including a huge petition to bring back Bruce Pearl. These tweets from his former players say it all. Is Cuonzo Martin a brilliant coach? Probably not. But a fan base that doesn't support its coach is going to find itself in a situation like this, and they're going to find it hard to hire their next coach.

It will take some time to settle out the direct effects on next season. We have to see who Tennessee hires, how many Tennessee recruits decommit, and whether Cuonzo Martin can hold the entire California roster together. But California is a team that is really just one more solid player away from earning an at-large bid next season, while Tennessee was going to be right on the bubble even with Cuonzo. Assuming a few decommits, I'm likely going to drop Tennessee from my next bracket projection.

Willie Cauley-Stein Returns To Kentucky This is big news for a Kentucky team that looks to again be in serious contention for a 1 seed. As always with Kentucky, it's wise to wait until we have a roster that is more firmed up. We still need to figure out the draft status for the Harrison twins and Dakari Johnson, for example, and John Calipari is still in the mix for another recruit or two. But if nothing else, this Kentucky team will not lack for height and length on the front line next season.

Jerami Grant To The NBA Draft This is a significant loss for a Syracuse team already losing Tyler Ennis and CJ Fair. Trevor Cooney is the only returning Syracuse player to be any kind of offensive threat this past season. A year ago we were all wondering where Syracuse would find some offense, and then Tyler Ennis happened. This season, Kaleb Joseph will have even less to work with (at least Ennis had Grant and Fair returning). Unless Joseph turns into Ennis, it could be a long season offensively for the Orange.

Michigan Loses Stauskas And GRII, Still Waiting On McGary Honestly, there's not a whole lot here quite yet. We all knew Stauskas was going pro. Glenn Robinson III is a significant loss, but only because the Jon Horford transfer now makes the Mitch McGary decision a huge one. If McGary goes pro, Michigan will not return a single front court player who got even 100 minutes this past season. If he leaves, Michigan will plummet down my bracket projection.

Montrezl Harrell Returning This is big, fairly surprising news for Louisville. Most analysts expected Harrell to leave. Chris Jones, Terry Rozier and Wayne Blackshear give Louisville proven backcourt options to fill Russ Smith's loss fairly well. Harrell's return gives Louisville a proven front court offensive threat, and will substantially reduce the pressure on Rick Pitino's big 2014 recruiting class.

Bryce Dejean-Jones To Iowa State This isn't a surprising transfer pickup. I actually talked about it in my 2014-15 Big 12 preview. This has become the Fred Hoiberg modus operandi at this point. Is Dejean-Jones the next DeAndre Kane? Probably not. But Hoiberg was going to need a transfer or two to get his team back to the Top 25, and this is a big one.

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