UK freshman Julius Randle (Left) has slipped Noah Vonleh on several NBA mock draft boards.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The college football magazines are arriving in the stores, but the college basketball stories always generate traffic at WDRB.com.
That’s why Eric Crawford and I try to generate the WDRB.com College Basketball Notebook throughout the off-season.
*Julius Randle finished the 2014 college basketball season this close to leading Kentucky to the NCAA title – and being voted the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four.
Noah Vonleh played one post-season game at Indiana, scoring six points in 32 minutes as the Hoosiers exited the first round of the Big Ten Tournament by losing to Illinois.
Randle averaged 14.5 points and 10.1 rebounds per game at UK. Vonleh gave the Hoosiers 11.3 points and 9 points during his freshman year.
Most reasonable people would argue that Randle had a better freshman season. But if you check the NBA Draft Lottery projection boards, it appears that more reasonable draft gurus are arguing that Vonleh will be taken ahead of Randle in the draft next month.
The range for Randle is as high as sixth by Boston and as low as 11 by Denver. One scout questioned Randle’s overall skills and told Spears that Randle, “got by in college by bullying for points.” Randle also had that issue with cramps.
For Vonleh, the boards have him going as high as fifth to Utah and as low as ninth to Charlotte, where he would join another former Hoosier – Cody Zeller.
Scouts love Vonleh because he’s only 18, his wingspan is ridiculous and he’s got the largest hands of any player in the draft, which makes him a rebounding magnet.
For the record, if I’m making the pick, I take Randle.
He’s a proven scorer on the block. I’m not certain where Vonleh will get his points in the NBA. He showed the ability to make three-pointers at IU, but that can’t be his signature spot in the pros. Vonleh needs more work playing with his back to the basket, a skill Randle has already developed.
KEVIN WARE – RECRUITING MAGNET
Keep an eye on Georgia State University. Ron Hunter won 25 games there last season – and his program is quickly becoming a Go To spot for big-name transfers.
Last season former Kentucky point guard Ryan Harrow was critical to the success of the Panthers.
Now Hunter has already landed former Louisville guard Kevin Ware as well as former Indiana forward Jeremy Hollowell.
He needs a rebounder – and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Panthers are in the hunt for Charles Mitchell, who is leaving Maryland, where he averaged 6.5 points and 6.3 rebounds last season. Mitchell is also considering Clemson and Georgia.
That’s a lot of Top 100 recruits for a Sun Belt program. Look for the Panthers to make a visit to the NCAA Tournament -- soon.
BIG CUZ, PART II
The connections that Orlando Antigua established during five seasons as an assistant coach at Kentucky are already helping his master plan to build a winning program at South Florida.
To begin, Jaleel is 6-feet-11 and 270 pounds. He averaged only 7.1 points and 4.8 rebounds at Navarro Junior College in Texas. Those are not like DeMarcus’ numbers, but USF isn’t UK.
Brad Winton of JuCoRecruiting.com says that Jaleel has a “big frame, good hands and some skill back to the basket.”
Antigua has also been working the transfer wire. He has secured a pair of solid commitments – Roddy Peters, a consensus Top 50 recruit before his freshman season at Maryland and Kareem Canty, who averaged more than 16 points and 5 assists at Marshall.
Maybe USF will appear on Kentucky’s schedule because with Louisville moving into the ACC the Cards will no longer get those automatic wins against USF.
For all the talk about John Calipari consistently dominating the national recruiting rankings, Bill Self of Kansas always find a way to kick up conversation.
Like: How does he do it?
A year ago, Self welcomed both Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid to Lawrence – and they’re leaving as guys who will be taken among the first three picks in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Self has attracted another top five class for next season – and he just found a way to make it even better. Just when you thought recruiting was over, Self landed a commitment from the best prospect in Eastern Europe – Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, a 6-8 wing from the Ukraine. He’s only 16 and says he is committed to playing two seasons for the Jayhawks before moving to the NBA.
Self didn’t show much self-restraint talking about the kid’s abilities.
“Obviously, this is great news for us,” Self said. “He is 16 years old and will turn 17 in June, but his skill level, knowledge and aptitude for the game are way beyond his years. I think that he will be an immediate impact guy.
“He is a guy that can play all three positions on the perimeter. At 6-8, he can play point, play the No. 2 (guard) or the No. 3 (guard). He allows us to be more versatile next year and certainly, there would be few people that would shoot it better than him.”
ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla told Jason King of Bleacher Report that Mykhailiuk would have been one of the top 10 prospects in the Class of 2015, which means he might need a little time.
Billy Donovan was ready to coach the Orlando Magic in 2007. And then he wasn’t, changing his mind about working in the NBA to stay at Florida, where Donovan had just won back-to-back NCAA titles.
There wasn’t much chatter about Donovan and the NBA again – until this spring. Donovan said that several NBA teams approached him about their vacancies. He didn’t name them, but one is believed to be the Minnesota Timberwolves, a franchise that also pursued Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. Detroit might have also made a phone call.
Donovan listened. But he’s not leaving Florida, where he has done remarkable work. Donovan admitted to the conversations, but said that was staying in Gainesville.
“I’m happy here,” he said.
Former Louisville assistant coach Steve Masiello has stayed off the grid since his career nearly collapsed after he lied about having earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky.
Masiello lost the job at USF, which eventually went to Antigua. Manhattan decided that Masiello could return to coach the Jaspers, but only after he completed the requirements for his degree. He was placed on unpaid leave until he finished the necessary academic work. No word on when that will happen.
Matt Grady, a former graduate assistant at Louisville, is running the Manhattan program. And Grady delivered a solid recruiting score last week. Jermaine Lawrence, a player ranked 26th in the Class of 2013 by Rivals.com, announced that he was leaving Cincinnati to play for the Jaspers.
Lawrence, a 6-9 forward, is from New York City and said that he wanted to return home because his father is dealing with health issues. Lawrence plans to apply for a wavier so he can play next season.