The weekly WDRB college hoops notebook includes an early look at the Top 25, more on 2013 attendance figures and the five 2014 recruits that opposing coaches say Kentucky really wants.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Associated Press college football pre-season Top 25 poll arrived Saturday. You know what that means, right?
It's time to predict the AP college basketball pre-season Top 25, right?
I'm inspired to try because I listened to college football guru Phil Steele on the radio this morning. He was awfully proud. And Steele should be awfully proud. Last April Steele predicted the 25 teams that would make the AP top 25.
How did Steele perform?
He named all 25, including Oregon State and USC. Not in exact order, of course. But he still went 25-for-25. That is guru worthy.
Color me impressed. And color me eager to take the same challenge for college basketball. I'd like to be a guru, too. So consider this another clip and save edition of the WDRB.com college basketball notebook.
Feel free to join the discussion. You can email your picks to me at email@example.com. I'd be happy to clip and save your picks, too.
I'm going to be awfully, awfully, awfully proud if I can name 22 of the initial 25, even if they're not in order. Here goes:
I'm not sure why the official NCAA college basketball attendance figures interest me so much, but they do. I'm sure that one reason is I can throw a question like this at you:
Which conference had more teams that finished in the Top 40 in attendance last season – the Big East or the SEC?
Simply by asking the question, I gave you the answer.
It wasn't the Big East. Even though attendance was down by 942 fans per game in the SEC last season, that league still had seven schools that ranked in the Top 40 in attendance – Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Alabama (surprising), Florida and Vanderbilt.
The Big East had six – Syracuse, Louisville, Marquette, Georgetown, Connecticut and Pittsburgh. (Whatever happened to Cincinnati? Well, the Bearcats ranked 48th at 9,253 per game. Ouch.)
I won't even ask you to name the league that led in every category – Top 10, Top 25 and Top 40. It's the Big Ten.
Indiana, (fifth), Wisconsin (seventh) and Ohio State (ninth) finished in the Top 10.
Illinois (17th), Michigan State (18th), Iowa (21st) and Minnesota (23rd) all finished in the Top 25.
And Michigan (28th), Purdue (30th) and surprising Nebraska (38th) gave the league 10 of the top 38 schools.
Time for the two stragglers – Penn State (65th) and Northwestern (82nd) to pick up the pace.
The chatter never stops in the recruiting grapevine. This weekend is no exception. I'll share a few things coaches have been talking about this week:
*Kentucky remains in great shape to land a player for every position in the 2014 class. Center Karl Towns Jr., did not deliver an overwhelming performance during the summer, but he remains UK's only oral commitment for the next class.
Trey Lyles of Indianapolis remains the guy at power forward. The Wildcats need to beat Louisville, Florida and Butler. Arizona is the team to beat for UK's top choice at small forward – Stanley Johnson of Los Angeles.
For all the chatter about James Blackmon Jr. following the career path of his father and coming to UK, the word is that Devin Booker of Moss Point, Miss., remains the top priority at shooting guard. Booker has already eliminated North Carolina and Duke, leaving Florida, Michigan, Michigan State and Missouri as the teams for Kentucky to beat. UK assistant Kenny Payne has strong Mississippi roots. Booker is his guy.
And every coach I've talked with is convinced that Emmanuel Mudiay of the Dallas area will be the Wildcats' next point guard.
*The most surprising commitment news arrived Friday – Angel Delgado, a 6-foot-9 power forward, committed to Seton Hall.
That's the same Seton Hall program that won three Big East games last season. The same Seton Hall program that has not played in the NCAA Tournament since 2006.
Delgado was on the radar with Louisville, Virginia, Florida State, Dayton, Manhattan and other schools. There was even talk that Kentucky had scouted him during the summer because he competes with high energy and loves to rebound. Or maybe the UK coaches were just messing with Louisville.
But he's a New York-area kid, who was born in the Dominican Republic. Delgado becomes the highest ranked player to commit to Seton Hall in more than a decade.
Nobody was fighting over Johnson last spring. His first Division I offer came from North Carolina-Greensboro.
Now IU, Louisville, Virginia, North Carolina and many other schools are pursuing Johnson, who is scheduled to make an official visit to Bloomington next weekend. Johnson averaged better than 20 points per game during the Peach Jam and made 18 three-point shots, tying Dion Wiley, who has committed to Maryland, for the most threes made during that event in Georgia.
Johnson jumped 50 spots and was ranked the 53rd best prospect in the nation in the revised 2014 rankings by 247Sports.com.
RODRICK RHODES GROWING KENTUCKY ROOTS
Rodrick Rhodes was the second big-name recruit that Rick Pitino attracted to UK from the New York City area. (Jamal Mashburn was first.) He played three seasons, departing for another school (USC) at Pitino's urging after the 1995 season.
Rodrick Rhodes didn't seem like a guy who would settle into a life in Kentucky.
Rhodes has been back in the state for several years, coaching at Cordia, in Knott County. Now, as outlined in this story by Bill Estep at Kentucky.com, Rhodes has accepted more responsibilities. He is working at Hazard Community and Technical College with students and employees on health and wellness issues. Rhodes will earn $42,000.
"I have worked with individuals that have had to overcome great adversity, as well as had the unique privilege of working with extremely successful people," Rhodes told Estep. "Being a former UK basketball player, I want to give back and hope to connect with and share my experiences with the HCTC students."
OF COURSE YOU CAN GUESS THE MOST HATED COLLEGE PLAYER EVER
Like everybody else, Dime Magazine has to cook up lists during the off-season to maintain the interest of its readers until the ball starts bouncing again. The problem with this list is that everybody can guess the winner.
Who is the most hated college basketball player of all time?
Of course, it is Christian Laettner.
There are a bunch of other former Duke players on Dime's Top 20 – J.J. Redick, Bobby Hurley, Shane Battier and others. But Laettner did more than enough during his four years in Durham to retire the top spot.
Here is what's surprising. Nobody from Kentucky, Louisville or Indiana made the list. Reggie Miller is there. So is Tyler Hansbrough. And Joakim Noah.