1. Best Defensive Tournament: Bill Self, Kansas
Over their six-game run to the finals, Self's Jayhawks posted a tournament-best average defensive NEM of 23.5, which meant they yielded 23.5 fewer points per 100 possessions than a D-I average team would have against the same competition. In the title game, they held Kentucky to its lowest PPP (1.014) of the tournament. I imagine that stat doesn't provide consolation for not, you know, winning the championship, but it's something.
Self famously used a triangle-and-two defense for key stretches against North Carolina (the final six-and-a-half minutes) in the Elite Eight and Purdue in the third round, but Kansas' success was based on more than junk-scheming. According to Synergy Sports Technology, KU played the best overall half-court defense of any Final Four team, allowing 0.724 PPP in its six games, compared to 0.778 for Louisville, 0.811 for Ohio State and 0.819 for Kentucky. Even more impressive were some of the numbers within Synergy's half-court numbers:
...In the 51 isolations KU faced in the NCAAs, it allowed just 19 points, or 0.373 PPP. This was, by a massive margin, the best of any NCAA tournament team that saw at least 20 iso possessions. Louisville was the second-best Final Four team at defending iso possessions, and it allowed 0.607 PPP.
...In the 45 post possessions KU faced, it gave just 27 points, or 0.600 PPP. This was the best of any Final Four team, and the best of any tourney team that saw at least 30 post possessions. The Jeff Withey Effect was strong during the dance.</i>
And this made me chuckle:
5. Most Improbable Upset: Anthony Evans, Norfolk State (vs. Missouri)
Norfolk State probably should have been a No. 16 seed, not a 15. It was the least efficient team in the entire tournament field, ranking 212th nationally. Kenpom.com's win-probability chart of the Hornets' second-round game against Mizzou gave the Tigers initial victory odds of 94.6 percent -- whereas Duke, in the game it lost to fellow No. 15 Lehigh, only started with odds of 78.6 percent. The efficiency numbers gave Evans' team just a 5.4 percent chance of winning ... and they somehow pulled out an 86-84 upset.
They exploited Mizzou's suspect, undersized defense with a barrage of threes, shooting an effective field-goal percentage of 62.7, and dominated the offensive glass, grabbing 43.8 percent of their misses. Tigers coach Frank Haith was not especially gracious in the post-game press conference -- he praised Norfolk's center, Kyle O'Quinn, but brought up the Hornets' "banked threes" and "airball rebounds" twice each, while never name-checking Evans, who deserved to be commended for pulling off the upset of the tournament. Here, he gets his due.
SI Luke Winn
After strong showings in the postseason, The University of Kansas men’s and women’s basketball teams are being honored by the state Legislature.
Members of both teams were scheduled to appear Friday for brief ceremonies in the House and Senate.
The men’s team won its eighth straight Big 12 Conference regular-season title and reached the final in the NCAA tournament, losing to Kentucky in the championship game.
The women ended the season with a loss to Tennessee in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA tournament. The Jayhawks finished with a record of 21-13.
With many of the decisions made by players, some going to the draft, others transferring, I tried to put down an early look at next season's top 40. There will be a number of quality teams out there, plus this can serve as fodder for college hoop junkies while we wait months until next season begins.
I know it is early, and my final preseason top 40 in late October or early November will likely have changes due to injuries, ineligible players, etc.
Here we go, my late-April version of the 2012-13 top 40.
Analysis: Keep an eye on Ben McLemore, who sat out last season. He has pro potential. Bill Self has another Big 12 front-runner.
ESPN Dick Vitale
Latest Draft Express NBA Mock Draft
9. Markieff Morris
For a while, Morris was one of the most efficient spot-up shooters in the NBA. That performance predictably dropped, but Morris is still a very good scorer in catch-and-shoot situations. According to Synergy Sports, he posts 1.021 points per possession on spot-up jumpers, which places him in the NBA's 71st percentile. Playing with Steve Nash no doubt helps Morris make the most of his open looks, but Morris also does good job of setting up his shot with a variety of moves. He can hit the jumper right off the catch if his defender plays off him, but he can also making a nice head fake and drive. That ability to mix things up keeps defenders guessing and allows Morris to have success.
Grantland's Top 10 NBA Rookies
Illinois State coach Tim Jankovich has accepted a coach-in-waiting position under SMU coach Larry Brown, the school announced Thursday.
The deal is expected to be in the range of $700,000 per year, a source with direct knowledge told ESPN.com on Thursday.
There is no time limit on when Jankovich would take over for the 71-year-old Brown.
"Tim was highly recommended by Kansas coach Bill Self, and I am very excited to have him at SMU," Brown said in a statement. "The number and quality of coaches interested in coming to SMU has been tremendous; and to get someone with his experience and success as a head coach is invaluable."
Eastern Michigan named Kansas women’s basketball assistant coach Tory Verdi as its new head coach Thursday afternoon. Verdi resigned from his position with the Jayhawks after two years on coach Bonnie Henrickson’s staff. In addition to recruiting and scouting, Verdi worked with the team’s post players, including 2012 all-America honorable mention forward Carolyn Davis.
Big 12/College News
Mike Krzyzewski, Frank Haith, Bill Self, Tom Izzo, Tom Crean, Bo Ryan and colleagues ventured to the industrial park in search of prospects.
They shifted between four courts at the High Performance Academy as the country's top preps -- Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Tyus Jones and more -- auditioned during the first stop on Nike's EYBL summer circuit.
As the coaches who took advantage of the spring evaluation period surveyed potential contributors, they probably spied a couple of future transfers, too.
Hundreds of Division I players have decided to change uniforms since the beginning of the 2011-12 season. It's a small percentage of the total (more than 4,000 scholarship players compete at the Division I level). Yet the multitude of moves have amplified arguments about the limited loyalty at the collegiate level.
Apparently, after North Carolina got revenge for one of the most exciting games of the season, the team debated actually snipping Duke's nets at Cameron Indoor, when it won the ACC regular-season title.
We know this because Roy Williams said so on what's being billed as the Tar Heel Tour, a intra-state state-of-the-U Q&A media blitz that's being put on by UNC. Fans asked questions, Williams answered them honestly. Scout.com's Bryan Ives was there, reporting.
Williams called this past season “hard”. Despite the 32-6 record, Williams said the team never “had the chance to celebrate” aside from the victory over Duke to end the season.
However, the team thought about cutting down the nets in Cameron Indoor Stadium, but Williams thought it “might cause a scene.”
…A member of the audience asked if Williams stopped recruiting Mason Plumlee because he did not want to go head-to-head against [Coach K]. As expected, this elicited quite a response from the Tar Heel coach.
“I went to freaking Ames, Iowa, eleven times and his [rear end] went twice,” Williams said in reference to the recruitment of Harrison Barnes. “Don't tell me I'm not going to go head-to-head.”
Regarding Plumlee, Williams said, “It was one of the dumbest things I've ever done, because I needed two post players and all of a sudden I get a phone call from the Wear family.”
The commitment of the Wear twins locked up both post player scholarships Williams had, leaving no scholarship room for an additional post player such as Plumlee.
2012-13 Early Season Events List
Why did you commit to Kansas?
Kansas just gives me the opportunity to develop and play early so I just wanted to be in a space where I could come in and compete for some minutes early. It’s also a system that I think is good for shooters — my strength — and I think they’re always going to win games which is something I want to do also.
What are your thoughts on the other Kansas commits?
They all seem motivated to put the team before themselves so I think that will be a big part of our winning. When you have younger guys that buy into the team concept, that’s what it takes for people to do well and for a program that wins, you can’t go that far with anyone being selfish. The team going as far as they did this year opened my eyes to the fact that it takes the whole team and whole staff to get there and that’s where we want to go.
Do you have any funny or interesting recruiting stories?
One college coach came to my church one time and that was said to be an old school recruiting move, something that was done back in the day to really show support, I thought that was pretty interesting. I’ll keep him anonymous but it was pretty effective. It’s not the school that I chose but for a school to show up on a sunday at your church, that shows that you’re wanted and that’s a good feeling. I think it’s a very effective recruiting move.
More here with Andrew White
Mark Lyons is leaving Xavier before his senior season, and Kansas is among a trio of high-profile programs on his short list (Arizona and Kentucky are the others). The Jayhawks have also made offers to junior shot-blocker Marcus Lee and sophomore five-star power forward Chris McCullough, both whose recruitments should intensify as the AAU season progresses.
Jason Smith of @brewsterhoops confirms UK, KU and Arizona have all offered Mark Lyons of Xavier
Just got to cleveland..about to head out to Philly
James Young, a 6-7, 200-pound senior-to-be from Troy (Mich.) High School, has a top three of Kentucky, KU and Michigan State (in that order), according to Rivals.com. Young averaged 26.8 points and 8.0 rebounds a game in four games at an AAU Tournament last weekend in Minnesota. He plays for The Family out of Detroit. Young, who is ranked No. 9 in the Class of 2013 by Rivals.com, hopes to pick a school this summer.
Looks like 2013 Boo Williams (VA) G Allerik Freeman will visit Villanova next Friday prior to playing in the Mary Kline Classic on Saturday.
A number of players took a pretty significant drop in our Consensus Recruiting Rankings since the end of July’s recruiting period, but no one fell quite as far as Nino Jackson.
Jackson was a consensus top 100 recruit after last July’s recruiting period, but as of this spring, 247 was the only site that had him in their top 100, checking in at 97th. So what happened? Well, simply put, Jackson was no where to be found.
“No one saw him play,” Jeff Borzello, CBSSports.com’s recruiting expert, said. “When kids go to schools where people don’t see them, it’s tough to evaluate them. When you’re other kids kids get better and better, and you’re not seeing certain kids at all, they drop.”
Evan Daniels of Scout.com agrees.
“It’s hard for me to rank a guy like Nino Jackson because it has been a year since I’ve seen him play,” Daniels said. “No one knows his academic situation, no one seems to have any idea what he’s going to do next year, where he’s going.”
The tricky part of evaluating prospects at the high school level — and at any level, for that matter — is not only determining who excels at a 16 year old, but judging ceiling of that player and their likelihood of reaching that ceiling. Part of the reason evaluation of a prospect starts at such a young age is to determine how much the kid’s game develops over the years. Players improve as they get older, and tracking that improvement is an integral part of the evaluation process.
Here’s a list of the 25 players that fell the furthest from their ranking in the spring (you can find the full spreadsheet here):
Real Deal in the Rock founder and executive director Bill Ingram has seen plenty of talent in his amateur basketball tournament over the years. Guys like Kevin Durant, Jimmer Fredette, Blake Griffin, Tristan Thompson and Kemba Walker immediately stand out.
The 2012 tournament will feature five of the top 10 players for 2013, as ranked by 247 Sports, and at least 10 players ranked in the top 37. That includes twins Andrew Harrison, the No. 1 point guard in the nation, and Aaron Harrison, the No. 1 shooting guard in the nation, both of whom play for the Houston Defenders.
Other top 50 players for 2013 to be on the lookout for include: power forward Chris Walker of Team Breakdown; guards Chris Thomas and Nate Britt of D.C. Assault; power forward Isaiah Hicks of Garner Road Elite; small forward Nick King of M33M Elite; combo guard Rysheed Jordan of Team Philly; small forward Karviar Shepherd of Urban DFW Elite; and shooting guard Brannen Greene of the Atlanta Celtics.
Britt and Hicks are committed to North Carolina, and Greene has committed to Kansas.
About 420 teams have confirmed they’ll play in the tournament.
Anywhere from 200-300 college coaches are also expected to be in attendance. That includes Arkansas’ Mike Anderson, Kentucky’s John Calipari, Florida’s Billy Donovan, Alabama’s Anthony Grant, Missouri’s Frank Haith, UCLA’s Ben Howland, West Virginia’s Bob Huggins, South Carolina’s Frank Martin, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Tennessee’s Cuonzo Martin, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, Kansas’ Bill Self, Maryland’s Mark Turgeon and North Carolina’s Roy Williams.
247sports (Jayhawkslant.com reports Greene and Walker are not playing in Little Rock, will be with Florida Rams at the Bob Gibbons TOC)
Forty of Nike's top-shelf 16-and-under teams are vying for 24 playoff spots at the end of the summer. Six teams are undefeated after the first session and eight more are 3-1, meaning Boo's team is already at least two games in the loss column behind 14 teams.
"In the old days, when it was just tournaments, you could blow off one weekend and worry about the next tournament," Boo said. "Now, these losses stay with you all summer, and we've still got to play some really good teams later on."
Boo's team has the talent to turn around its record.
Forward Troy Williams (Phoebus) and guards Anthony Barber (Hampton High) and Charlotte import Allerik Freeman are all rated among the top 25 prospects in the Class of 2013, and the team is dotted with quality complementary players.
Boo's team lost a one- and a two-point game last weekend — one on a late 3-pointer, the other on a tip-in of a missed free throw just before the buzzer.
"We were five seconds away from being 3-1," he said.
The best way to do that, Boo said, is to goose the pace.
His team averaged 46 points per game last weekend, far below last summer's group that averaged 71 points per game.
"They talk about summer basketball being disorganized, but it doesn't have to be Princeton," Boo joked, referring to the Tigers' legendarily deliberate offense.
"We've got to get out on the break," he said. "Troy and (Barber) and Al have to be able to make more plays, and the best way to do that is to play faster. We've got to get out and score. We're a pretty good defensive team, but you're not going to be able to shut teams down every game. Too much talent to do that."
This weekend's tournament also marks the first time since 2003 that men's college coaches will be able to attend and scout players in person.
Boo Williams EYBL game schedule
Team profiles and players to watch
Spring/Summer Event Schedule
4/27-29 Jayhawk Invitational
4/27-29 Real Deal in the Rock
4/27 Boo Williams Nike Invitational
4/27 adidas Spring Classic
adidas Grassroots schedule
Nike EYBL Schedule
Check here for the NCAA Recruiting Calendar
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