BOZICH | College Basketball Notebook: Pitino, Miller, Crean, Davenport, Felton, EKU, more
Notes on Rick Pitino, Archie Miller, Tom Crean, Scott Davenport, Wade Houston, Dan McHale, Dennis Felton and more from a weekend of AAU hoops in Louisville.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — My question Sunday is the same as it was Saturday: Looking for a basketball fix?
Looking at the web hit numbers from my piece about David Johnson, Romeo Langford and Jerome Hunter Saturday, I believe that you are.
After another trip to the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center Saturday afternoon for the All-In AAU Event, it’s time to bust out the College Basketball Notebook.
I’ll keep the items brief:
*Rick Pitino’s pursuit of Trinity High School junior David Johnson continued Saturday. Pitino slid into a prominent spot along the baseline 15 minutes before the first game Johnson played with the Louisville Magic — and every seat in the area reserved for coaches was full less than five minutes into play.
I saw representatives from Xavier, Cincinnati, Bradley, Evansville, Eastern Kentucky, Purdue and other schools circling the court.
“People are starting to realize how good David is,” said Ellis Myles, the former U of L forward who coaches Johnson. “I think he’ll be a top 20 player in the class (of 2019) by next season.”
Like all the top players, Johnson will have his shot to improve his ranking next weekend in Las Vegas.
*Indiana coach Archie Miller is a grinder. He proved it during his career as the starting point guard at North Carolina State. Proved it again while leading Dayton to four consecutive NCAA Tournament.
He’s proving it again on the recruiting trail this month.
Doesn’t matter that Miller and his staff have earned three commitments from Top 100 prospects in the last week. Miller needs to add two, and perhaps three, more players to his 2018 class because the Hoosiers have five seniors — Robert Johnson, Josh Newkirk, Collin Hartman, Freddie McSwain and Tim Priller.
Miller must land a point guard and wants to add another inside player. A sixth commitment (if it happens) would be a shooting guard (wonder who he has in mind?).
Miller flew to California Friday to watch a string of players, likely including point guard Robert Phinisee of McCutcheon (Ind.) High School and then took on a red-eye from L.A. Friday night so he could be in Louisville to watch IU commit Jerome Hunter Saturday. He was there in his baseline seat for every Hunter jumper.
On Sunday Miller might be in Kansas City. Or back in Louisville. Or somewhere else. He does not sit still.
*Miller, for the record, has a Louisville connection. He played at the same high school — Blackhawk in suburban Pittsburgh— that produced former Louisville baseball ace Brendan McKay, who is expected to make his professional pitching debut Sunday.
*Word from several coaches at the AAU event was former IU coach Tom Crean will work as a college basketball analyst for ESPN next season. Crean and his family moved to Sarasota, Fla., last week where ESPN’s Dick Vitale welcomed them to town a Tweet.
Crean has earned positive reviews the last two seasons for his work analyzing the NBA Draft on The Vertical.
*Scott Davenport has a big, big, big announcement coming at Bellarmine University basketball.
I wish that I could share more information. But I agreed to wait until Davenport has the details confirmed.
But the Knights will get your attention.
How's that for a tease?
*Eastern Kentucky coach Dan McHale is convinced the Colonels will make a move forward from their 12-19 record from last season.
Here is proof: EKU has committed to road games with Ole Miss, Rice, Western Kentucky, Marshall, Northern Kentucky and Oregon State.
EKU will be led by forward Nick Mayo, one of the best players in the Ohio Valley Conference. McHale also expects a solid season from senior guard Dillon Avare, who transferred from Louisville in 2016.
*Another name to follow: Allan Houston III.
Former U of L assistant and Tennessee coach Wade Houston said his grandson is a two-sport star in Connecticut, who is drawing interest from Ivy League schools as a football and basketball prospect. At 6 feet 2, Houston plays receiver and defensive back at Rye Country Day High School in Greenwich, Conn.
Wade Houston visited The Fairgrounds Saturday to watch another grandson perform and showed me a video of Allan III running a sizzling 40-yard dash during a football camp at Harvard.
“He likes both sports,” Houston said.
Allan III’s father, of course, is former Ballard and Knicks star, Allan Houston, an assistant general manager of the Knicks.
*Former Western Kentucky coach Dennis Felton is eager to resume his winning ways at Cleveland State, where he replaced the retired Gary Waters as the Vikings’ coach.
Felton averaged more than 25 victories while making the NCAA Tournament in 2001-02-03, his final three seasons in Bowling Green. He left for Georgia, where he worked six tough seasons before he was fired in 2009.
With Butler (Big East) and Valparaiso (MVC) gone to other leagues, Cleveland State has become one of the best jobs in the Horizon League. Look for Felton to win there.
“Those were great times at Western,” Felton said. “I really enjoyed it. The people in Bowling Green were tremendous.”
*Evansville coach Marty Simmons said the Purple Aces will not open the 2017-18 season against Louisville as they did last season. But Simmons did add a marquee game to his team’s schedule — they are expected to visit Duke Dec. 20.
Evansville wobbled to a 16-17 record last season, but Simmons said he expected improvement this season with his son, Blake, returning from knee surgery.
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