By Hocine LOUKKAF on 9/22021
Despite new opportunities for top HS prospects to skip college basketball, this fresh campaign, after two years disturbed by Covid 19, promises to be exceptional. Between rosters stacked of experience and others full of potential NBA stars, Gonzaga, the unfortunate finalist last year, seems the most complete team to win it all.
Last year’s team was talented but may have lacked some depth, above all behind Timme. This year’s roster could be deeper… and even more talented. Senior PG Nembhard, who may used this season to turn into a first round prospect like Kispert, will be joined by Jr Transfer Rasir Bolton (15.5pts at Iowa State) but the main recruits are top 20 recruits Hunter Sallis and the more traditional PG Nolan Hickman. Inside, Timme will get help from the top HS prospect and very complementary Chet Holmgren. Suggs’ former teammate has been dominant in the FIBA U19 World Cup and brings elite length and skills.
Forget their mediocre season’s start last year and just remember their magical tourney. The Bruins have found elite chemistry during the tournament behind sharpshooter Johnny Juzang. Him and four other double-digit scorers are coming back to prove this was no fluke. They are joined by rugged center Myles Johnson (8pts 8.5rbds 2.4bl) from Rutgers and top 15 recruit and potential one and done Peyton Watson. If they start strong, they could become the top team in the country entering the March Madness.
Michigan lost Wagner and Livers but may start this new season with even better newcomers. Sun Belt POY Devantes Jones makes this team more dangerous than last year’s as he brings more offense, size and defense than Mike Smith. On the wing, Michigan welcomes Canadian sensation Caleb Houstan, who could have the same impact as Franz Wagner if he displays the will to defend and do all the little things a team needs. The paint will be controlled by Hunter Dickinson but he will have a perfect right hand man in French PF Moussa Diabate, an intense defender and rebounder who can bring some shooting from midrange.
No HS star recruit for Bill Self but a loaded roster with experience. The Jayhawks return three of their four double-digit scorers including big men Wilson and McCormack while adding experience as they welcome sharpshooters Yesufu from Drake, Coleman-Hands from Iowa State or intriguing shooting big man Cam Martin from D2 Missouri Southern. But the most important recruit may be Remy Martin, one of the top PG in the country who fill in a void and bring talent at the weakest position Kansas had last year.
Coach Calipari seems to have understand the importance of depth and veteran experience as he welcomes three potential transfer starters with Oscar Tshiebwe, Kellan Grady and top 5 passer in the country Sahvir Wheeler. They could be joined in the starrting five by top 25 recruits TyTy Washington and one of my favourite prospects, Daimion Collins, a do-it-all big man with elite size, athleticism and improved shooting. Returning from last year’s roster are Keion Brooks, Davion Mintz, Dontaie Allen or Jacob Toppin, players who could be more efficient coming from the bench without starter’s responsabilities.
Until late August, Hardaway and his Tigers were maybe top 25 in the country and as they lost Boogie Ellis, DJ Jeffries and Moussa Cisse, notably after speculation the former Magic was going to take an NBA coaching spot. The recruitment of reclassified blue chips Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren changes it all. Both freshmen are elite recruits who are complementary (Bates being a KD-lite kid of scoring wings while Duren brings that Philly roughness with top size and athleticism) and, cherry on the cake, had the opportunity to play together this summer. They join a talented roster with Quinones, Nolley, Williams but also former Miami top recruit Earl Timberlake. Don’t forget about solid Sr Alex Lomax who brought steady contribution at the PG spot.
A lot of experience but also a lot of unknowns for one of the winningest teams of the last decade. Coach Wright returns Gillespie, Moore, Samuels and Daniels who averaged more than 25min per game and almost two thirds of the team’s scoring. The Wildcats also add combo forward Trey Patterson, a top 50 recruit in the coutry who and a sloid solution off the bench on the wing. The main issue for Villanova is in the paint as undersized Eric Dixon, freshman Nnanna Joku and oft-injured Cosby Roundtree don’t bring the same guarantess as at the other spots.
With three top 25 recruits (Banchero, Griffin, Keels) bringing elite size, skills and shooting, Duke has the tools to bounce back from last year’s turmoil for Coach K’s potential last seasons. Banchero has added versatility to his game while solidifying his veteran-like built frame and will likely hear his name in the top 3 of the next draft, not long before potential top 10 pick and all-around wing AJ Griffin. They will join solid contributors from last year Wendell Moore and Jeremy Roach. More will be expected from Mark Williams, who had to wait until late January to get real playing time, finishing the season with four double-digit scoring games. He will be helped inside by Marquette transfer Theo John, a fith-year senior who still has room to improve.
With all its best players coming back, including bruisers big men Williams and Edey and guards Ivey, Newman and Hunter, the Boilermakers are set to have a great season. Edey and above all Ivey used the summer to perform during the FIBA U19 WC with Ivey now projected as a potential top 20 pick for the 2022 NBA Draft. Purdue’s main problem will be at the PG spot as Hunter Jr is not at the level of his teammates as illustrated by his poor 2pts 3as on 1/7 FG in the Tournament’s first round loss against North Texas. If Coach Painter can find a way to fix the PG spot, Purdue can go far.
New coach Chris Beard didn’t lose time to make the best out of the new transfer rules as he’s signed high-scoring PG Marcus Carr, forwards Timmy Allen, Dylan Disu, Christian Bishop and center Tre Mitchell, all of them scoring at least 11pts a game last season. Carr will join an already solid backcourt with Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey still in the roster. If the new players can mesh, Texas has the size and shooting to bother a lot of teams.
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