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Big Ten Insider – Wisconsin Expected to be a Title Contender, Ohio State and Michigan Have Potential but Unanswered Questions in 2014-15
The transfer train never ends, early looks at intriguing match-ups, and so much more....
Providence was on cloud nine in March, winning the Big East Tournament with a magical week at Madison Square Garden. In only his third season at Providence, head coach Ed Cooley put together one of the stories of the season in college basketball, giving the Friars their first bid to the Big Dance in 10 years. On Friday afternoon, a reason for Providence’s success in its run to a Big East title became a loss for the Friars.
Guard Josh Fortune, who averaged 33 minutes per game in his sophomore season, will be transferring from the program in a development that comes in stunning fashion. The Providence Journal’s Kevin McNamara originally broke the news. Fortune’s mother, Angela, told the Providence Journal that “Josh doesn’t want to talk until he is allowed to talk to other schools.”
The school released the news in just two sentences with nothing from Cooley. The question arises of how a player that had been averaging over 30 minutes and over eight points per contest would leave a program in such immediate fashion. Fortune, who is originally from Hampton, Virginia, may be looking to play closer to home, sources say. It’s not as if things ended ugly for Fortune, either. The guard lit it up at MSG with 24 points and three treys to guide Providence past St. John’s in a critical bubble game in the quarterfinal round of the Big East Tournament. Just like that, Cooley has only LaDontae Henton, Tyler Harris, and Carson Derosiers as the only players to be returning that played significant minutes. The program does have three open scholarships for 2014-15 and is on the lookout to find a replacement at the wing that can produce the way that the Friars’ coaching staff thought Fortune could. It’s an unfortunate story considering where the Friars stand as a program looking to do even bigger and better. With Bryce Cotton gone, scoring won’t come as easy. There’s work to be done for the program if it wants to make noise in the Big East next season.
So, who could Providence target? In some big transfer news this week, the country’s second-leading scorer is out at Niagara. Guard Antoine Mason (25.6 ppg, 44 % FG) will be a rising senior and is eligible to play for the upcoming season for a different program. While he wasn’t playing the same level of competition as the All-American, Mason was only behind Doug McDermott (26.7 ppg) for the nation’sleading scorer. Mason scored over 30 points in six of his first seven games of the 2013-14 campaign, with two of those performances coming against Seton Hall (34 points) and Kent State (32 points), most notably. He has the game to make an immediate impact for a program and one that sits around where Providence is at right at this very moment could really use Mason. With three scholarships to use, one would have to think Cooley would look into Mason, who is the son of former NBA player Anthony Mason.
The perks of coming off an NCAA Tournament berth appear to be paying off for the Manhattan Jaspers. ZachBraziller of the New York Post reported that Queens forward and Cincinnati transfer Jermaine Lawrence had decided to transfer to Manhattan. Lawrence, a 6-foot-9 forward out of Pope John XXIII High School, wanted to move closer to home after finding out that his father, Bobby Lawrence, was battling cancer. The New York Post reports that Lawrence will try to be eligible immediately for the Jaspers as he will file a hardship waiver. While Lawrence averaged less than three points a game for the Bearcats, he reached a potential that brought offers from Kansas and Syracuse, among others, when he was in high school. He is expected to make an immediate impact as Manhattan’s talented frontcourt tries to lead the way to another MAAC title.
On Sunday, Matt Gravett of SNY’s “ZagsBlog” put out a report that class of 2015 guard Isaiah Briscoe is being heavily recruited, as has been reported throughout the past couple of months. The 5-star guard out of St. Benedict’s High School did tell the blog that minutes are the priority for him and that location does not truly matter.
While Seton Hall, Rutgers, and St. John’s have preached what it would mean for him to stay local, the attractiveness of an offer from Sean Miller of Arizona or Kevin Ollie of Connecticut is heavily present. The situation with Rick Pitino and Louisville is that Briscoe does not know if he can get the minutes he’s looking for to move in and out of the world of college basketball in the fastest amount of time possible. Freshman guard Terry Rozier was one such example of a freshman who contributed as an X-factor for the Cardinals this past season, but only averaged 18.9 minutes per game. Briscoe wants more. If Arizona or UConn can give the top-tier talent a promise, I still see one of those programs winning out. For those asking in the metro area, a source close to the situation tells me Rutgers is the frontrunner for Briscoe. Seton Hall’s Isaiah Whitehead is trying to transform the Pirates this upcoming season, and while he and Briscoe are similar, if he can find success for Kevin Willard, that’s keeping the blue and white a candidate. Why Rutgers? Because just like Seton Hall, the Scarlet Knights are looking to make a splash with a recruit. If Whitehead steals the show at SHU, Briscoe may likely want to make his own. St. John’s is always in the running, but then again, when aren’t they? Steve Lavin knows how to talk, that’s for sure.
What To Watch For In November
Sean Miller’s Arizona Wildcats will headline the Maui Invitational, led by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who is already being projected in 2015 NBA Mock Drafts. Sean Miller also has done work recruiting, with the top-rated wing in the nation, Stanley Johnson, coming in. Along with frontcourt standouts Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley, the Wildcats have all of the tools to be a national championship contender once again. A new coaching staff under Kim Anderson will lead the SEC’s Missouri into Hawaii with Kansas State and Purdue highlighting a decent field. It’s one that should have the Wildcats at the top.
The 2K Sports Classic will highlight four teams that come into next season with question marks. What will Syracuse be in what some look at as more of a rebuilding year? The Orange are in the field with hosts California, Iowa, and Texas, all of which have held their own but are looking to take the next steps in their respective conferences.
Providence, Notre Dame, UMass, Florida State, and Manhattan headline a fun field in November’s Hall of Fame Tip-Off. It will be intriguing to see how a new-look Providence team plays in the early-going and how Bryce Cotton will be replaced. Mike Brey comes off a disastrous 15-17 season at the helm for the Fighting Irish and needs to get things figured out. How will Steve Masiello fare against some solid competition and can Manhattan get a nice out-of-conference resume going?
The Whitehead show will take off at the Paradise Jam for Seton Hall as the Pirates take on Clemson and LSU, among others, in a manageable field. The Pirates’ first game will be against a Nevada team that lost its leading scorer and forward Cole Huff, who transferred into Creighton. The opportunity to make some early-season noise is there for a program in SHU that is in need of a big season in a manageable, top-heavy Big East.
That’s only the beginning, with St. John’ in the Preseason NIT and Duke playing in Brooklyn in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic against a decent field with Stanford, Temple, and UNLV. Yes, the opportunity is there for Coach K and company to get a successful campaign rolling right in the metro area. I can smell feast week now…
While we at collegehoopsdigest.com don’t cover women’s basketball, the latest transfer situation with Leticia Romero at Kansas State displays what is wrong with college sports. The transfer hype has never been higher. There are those that downgrade to make a name for themselves in a smaller atmosphere and there are those coaches that lure in players from smaller programs looking for them to make an impact at the next level. But in all of these cases, one thing is for certain – the schools control what is happening, regardless of what the athlete wants. The way that Kansas State has handled it combined with a lack of complete attention from the NCAA reflects the flawed transfer system.
Romero’s decision to transfer came in April, when head coach Deb Patterson was fired. Patterson led the Wildcats in points, rebounds, assists, and steals, which is believed to be a contributor as to why the athletic department has been so stiff in their dealings. While Kansas State states that it cannot comment because of privacy concerns for Romero, she has said again and again that the reason for her decision is because of the coaching staff transition. The comical aspect within all this is Kansas State’s privacy with the matter and the attention they’ve created throughout all of this. Earth to K-State: There’s no hiding anything.
Romero finds herself in limbo. The committee assigned to this issue at first did not release her to any schools, thensaid her release to the 100 schools of her choice was not granted, but they would be willing to release her to another program. Of course. The purpose of the sport is to better the student athlete. While reasoning for transfers are getting more extensive and outrageous, this one shows a two things – a player chooses a coaching staff, not a program, and a player does not look at the university more than who they’re playing for. The NCAA needs to get the idea out of its head that college athletes prioritize the university before who they’re playing for. They are athletes, aren’t they? And while I myself can’t speak for them, I can say this – a university experience is not what is said in a tour guide or taught at an orientation. It is what one makes of it. A program can be made or broken by a coach. That’s Romero’s situation, but a selfish job by Kansas State has resulted in reflecting the university, new coaching staff, and Romero in a poor light.
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