Coaches are hitting the road, and football is heating up, but the College Basketball Notebook dribbles on . . .
U of L men's team wins Big East honor
For the second straight year, the University of Louisville men's basketball team has won the Big East Team Academic Excellence Award -- given annually to the team in each sport with the highest grade-point average.
U of L has scored near or above the 3.0 GPA mark for eight straight semesters, including a 3.13 mark for the spring semester in which the team won the Big East Tournament and reached the Final Four. Thirteen U of L players earned at least a 3.0 in the spring, and 14 of the team's 17 players earned at least a 3.0 in the fall when the team GPA was 3.16.
U of L in mix with JUCO point guard
Jody Demling at Cardinal Authority reports that former University of Tennessee signee Chris Jones expects to visit U of L. Jones was a standout at Northwest Florida State under former Tennessee assistant Steve Forbes last season, and has become a hot commodity after averaging 18 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists per game.
Jones told Demling that U of L "has been recruiting me for a while an I'm probably going to go visit there."
Jones was a Top 50 player in the Class of 2011. He's also being recruited by Kansas, Marquette, Missouri, Baylor, N.C. State, South Carolina, Oklahoma State, Auburn, Arkansas, Pittsburgh and others.
Talented faces in new places include Harrow, Hancock
Looking for the impact transfers in college basketball for next season?
So was Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports in New York City. Rothstein put together his list of 20 Impact Transfers in college basketball for next season. The list includes two local names – Luke Hancock, who arrived at Louisville via George Mason and Ryan Harrow, who transferred to Kentucky after playing one season at North Carolina State.
Here is what Rothstein said about Harrow:
"Harrow may not be "one and done" like most of John Calipari's point guards but he still has all the makings of a solid floor general after sitting out last season. The former NC State floor general is more mature than most of Calipari's lead guards and that should help a young Wildcats team navigate their way through the SEC."
Rothstein was just as excited about Hancock:
"Talented passer should pick up assist after assist playing alongside the Cardinals deep array of talent. Already a co-captain with Peyton Siva, Hancock looks primed to start at off-guard next year for the Cardinals."
Who is the top transfer on Rothstein's list?
He didn't rank them. So The Notebook decided to pick its top three:
1. Alex Oriakhi, forward, from UConn to Missouri. The Tigers were light in the frontcourt last season. Not any more.
2. Khem Birch, center, from Pittsburgh to UNLV. With the returning talent as well as the news this week that top recruit Anthony Bennett has been declared eligible, the Rebels are primed to start the season in the Top 10.
3. Rotnei Clarke, guard, from Arkansas to Butler. Clarke needs to become more than simply a shooter/scorer and Bulldogs' coach Brad Stevens is just the guy who can help him.
Crean's new assistant paying dividends
Tom Crean needed an assistant coach when Bennie Seltzer left Indiana to become the head man at Samford University in Birmingham last spring. He already had two former head coaches – Tim Buckley (Ball State) and Steve McClain (Wyoming) – on his staff.
So Crean said he was looking for a guy who could grow into the job, picking Kenny Johnson, an assistant coach at Towson State who made his name as an AAU coach with Team Takeover in the Washington D.C. area. That's the same program that produced current Indiana players Maurice Creek and Victor Oladipo.
Johnson's connections paid immediate dividends when the Hoosiers secured an oral commitment from Stanford Robinson, a 6-foot-4 guard on Team Takeover, who became the Hoosiers' highest rated recruit in the 2013 class. The Hoosiers are also in the mix for another Team Takeover star – BeeJay Anya, a massive power forward.
Several college coaches anonymously complained to Mark Giannotto of the Washington Post. They said they were concerned that hires like this one have become the trend in college hoops. They labeled it "legalized cheating."
Crean told the Post that he was looking for an assistant coach eager to learn the game and move through the ranks.
"I've never been into hiring silver-spoon guys," Crean said. "Knowing players, knowing an area, having friendships and relationships, absolutely that's a part of it. But if you can't communicate, you can't make people better, those relationships run dry fast. It's about, 'does this person have the ability to have the whole package?' I believe Kenny fits that bill."
Hoosiers' NBA credentials
IU had only three former players in the NBA last season – Jared Jeffries, Eric Gordon and D.J. White. But the Hoosiers are the league leader in another NBA category – former members of the program who are head coaches in the league.
IU has three former players from the 80s who are NBA head coaches – Keith Smart of Sacramento, Randy Wittman of Washington and Mike Woodson of the New York Knicks. Add former student manager Lawrence Frank (head coach of the Detroit Pistons) and that makes four guys with IU connections directing NBA teams.
Celebrating history at Mississippi State and Loyola
In most years a college basketball game matching Mississippi State and Loyola (Chicago) would generate shrugs and yawns.
This is not a normal year. It's the 50th anniversary of a game those two programs played during an era when teams from the Southeastern Conference were not supposed to compete against programs with African-American players on their rosters.
But the Bulldogs and Ramblers have agreed to a home-and-home series to commemorate the game the programs played during the 1963 NCAA Tournament when Mississippi State left Starkville in the middle of the night, defying a court order by Gov. Ross Barnett not to play against integrated opponents.
Loyola defeated Mississippi State, 61-51, in East Lansing, Mich. The Ramblers proceeded to win the NCAA Tournament, rallying to upset Cincinnati, 60-58, at Freedom Hall in Louisville.
2012-2013 Salaries For the Top Five Picks In the NBA Draft
1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans, $5.144 million. 2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte, $4.602 million. 3. Bradley Beal, Washington, $3.4 million 4. Dion Waiters, Minnesota, $3.1 million 5. Thomas Robinson, Sacramento, $2.8 million