Monday, April 30, 2012

Dreon Bartlett Will Be A Hornet

Sacramento State has signed their fifth player of the recruiting class, as guard Dreon Bartlett will be coming aboard. Brown is a 6'2'' combo guard that was a high school teammate of Dylan Garrity, so that likely helped bring him to Sacramento State.

ESPN's scouting report had this to say about him, as of last September:

Barlett has an ideal scoring guard frame with long arms and high hips. He is wiry athlete who is quite springy out in transition and while attacking the basket. He can explode to the rim off the dribble or pull-up and hit the mid-range jump shot (good lift).

Barlett needs to continue to polish his ball skills. While being tightly defended his ball handling can get a bit sloppy. In addition, he needs to continue to smoothen out his jump shot out to the stripe. Defensively, he plays to straight up and down and needs to bend his knees to improve his lateral quickness.

Bottom Line:
Barlett is more prospect than player at this stage and will probably need a couple of seasons of community college to hone his skills, but the upside is there.
Bartlett is a guy that has good athletic ability and burst, but needs to get better handling the ball (especially if he plays any PG, which he may need to do at his height) and needs to improve his jumpshot. It should be interesting to watch his development.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Other Mohamed Fall Articles

Last week I wrote about Mohamed Fall of Montana State, who lost a season of eligibility because he played in two exhibition games four years ago. The penalty is akin to this... You don't see a sign, so you go 45 MPH, and then find out the speed limit was actually 35 MPH. You get pulled over, and then you find out that you are losing your license. That is what this penalty is similar too.

I passed the word around to some of the more influential college basketball writers, and a few of them were gracious enough to write about it and spread the word a little bit. I will link to three here.

Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports:

What's especially frustrating for Huse about the NCAA's decision is that Fall does not fit the profile of the type of kid the rule is aimed at keeping out of college athletics.

The purpose of the rule is to prevent an athlete from playing a few extra years of semi-pro football or club baseball and then use that extra experience and physical maturity to gain an advantage in college athletics.

Fall, by contrast, had virtually no organized basketball experience in Senegal and learned the basics of the game in his home country by watching YouTube clips. He came to the U.S. from Senegal to pursue his education and realized quickly that a basketball scholarship would be his most affordable means to do so.
Matt Norlander of CBS Sports (emphasis mine):
The NCAA's kangaroo court has reached another infuriating verdict...

Let's learn about the tribulation of Mohamed Fall, a Montana State big man who won't get to play his senior season there because his junior season became his senior season once the NCAA ruled that two offseason quasi-exhibition games Fall played in, in the greater Washington, D.C. area four years ago, triggered a season of eligibility. Two games equals 30. That's how the NCAA sees it. Fall had no idea of the consequences at the time, and the coaching staff at Montana State was equally clueless, so much so that they didn't know Fall had played in the games until the NCAA notified the school last summer.

Two exhibition games? Really? There has to be more. Tell me there's more. Tell me the NCAA can't just do this and kill another college career too early because it stupidly thinks a player getting involved in two not-for-pay exhibition games should cancel out an entire season's worth of collegiate competition. Turns out, that's really all there is to it. An African kid trying to use his skill to earn an education plays in some offseason hoops in hopes of getting noticed...

Montana State said it would honor Fall's final year of scholarship, but that's for naught. The kid wants to play hoops. He intends to transfer to a D-II or NAIA school, which he doesn't want to do, but has no choice. The reason Fall picked Montana State was in part because of the Agricultural Business program the school offered. Now he'll have to likely change his major. He probably won't graduate by the spring of 2013, which would have been the case had the NCAA removed its face from its rear in regard to another ridiculous rule.
Raphielle Johnson of NBC Sports:

Fall played in a pair of showcase games in hopes of earning a scholarship and he accomplished that.

Is such an action, especially when the player isn’t aware of what the ramifications could be, worthy of a season-long suspension?

Hopefully there’s an appeal process for Fall because the numbers simply don’t add up here.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Spencer Coleman Signs With Montana

Montana continues to be busy on the recruiting front, as they signed their fourth player to scholarship. In this case, they inked 6'7'' JUCO Forward Spencer Coleman to a National Letter of Intent. He will be a junior for the Grizzlies next season.

Coleman averaged 15.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, also making 56 three-pointers last season. He has a versatile offensive game, and will be able to score in a variety of ways. Also, we know since Montana recruited him that he can also bring it on the defensive end.

"We are very excited to welcome Spencer Coleman into our program and to The University of Montana," said Tinkle, who has a career record of 116-71 at his alma mater. "He is a very skilled player, who we feel can play multiple positions. He has good size, good athleticism, and he can shoot it beyond the arc, he can post, and he can put the ball on the floor. He is a very good looking prospect and very solid student as well, which is obviously a priority for us.

"You look at what we lost on the perimeter with Art Steward, Shawn Stockton, and Jordan Wood -- we feel like he's kind of a blend of all of those guys," Tinkle said. "His ability to score inside and out will be a great addition to the guys we signed earlier. That wraps up our recruiting, and we really feel like we've answered all of our needs as we move forward with the players we have returning."
Montana lost small forward Art Steward to graduation, and Coleman seems to be a guy that will compete with incumbents Kevin Henderson and Keron DeShields for that starting spot. Coleman will arguably be the most seasoned of the three, and could be the favorite at this point (very early though). At the very least, they will have nice depth once again, especially with the growth of the freshmen wings.

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Idaho State Signs Nnamdi Ezenwa

Idaho State has signed their second recruit in this spring signing period, and he is also a junior college guy. This time, they pick up Nnamdi Ezenwa, a 6'5'' wing man from Cochise College.

Last season Ezenwa averaged 11.7 PPG, 8.7 RPG, and shot 59% from the field. He is not a guy that will kill you from the outside, but there was always room for a guy that makes a very high percentage of his shots and always gets after the ball.

He will have a chance for immediate playing time, since he does a lot of things well. He is an athletic guy, that should help ISU out a lot on both ends. He is a very different player from Chris Hansen, their first recruit, but will add a lot.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Colin Gruber Transfers From Northern Arizona

There have been rumors of some guys from Northern Arizona that may transfer, and a couple days ago NorCal Preps confirmed that sophomore to-be Colin Gruber is one guy that will be moving on.

Gruber started 10 games for the Lumberjacks, averaging 3.9 PPG and 1.0 RPG. He struggled a bit offensively, and was not necessarily very efficient, but he came into NAU with a nice pedigree. Now he will be moving on to Cabrillo College.
His plan? It's to play the 2012-2013 season for Coach Tony Marcopulos at Cabrillo College, ready to re-demonstrate the skills that produced 26.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.8 steals a game as a high school senior. For a player who brings to the court a wingspan of someone 6-foot-7 plus a high basketball IQ (the son of a coach), Gruber felt the need to play for a coach he could trust and to re-establish his talent bonafides.
I am guessing that his hope is to spend a year there, and then look to get back to the DI level. If he is able to showcase some of that talent that he showed during his time in high school, he should definitely get a look from some Division I team after this season.

I am also hearing word that James Douglas may be transferring, but I have not confirmed that yet or where he will go. But for sure we know that Jack Murphy will be losing Colin Gruber.

Much thanks to Kevin McCarthy of NorCal Basketball for the tip on this.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Portland State Gets a Division I Transfer

This happened last week, but somehow I forgot to write an article about it.

Portland State signed Tim Douglas to an aid agreement, meaning the future junior will suit up for the Vikings after sitting out a year due to transfer rules. He spent two seasons with the University of Portland, starting 24 games.

Douglas, a 5-10 guard from Cerritos, CA, has played the past two seasons at Portland. He was given his release by the Pilot program following the 2011-12 season. In two years with the Pilots, Douglas played in 59 games, making 24 starts at point guard. He averaged 8.1 points, 3.0 assists, shot .411 from the field and .792 at the free throw line. Ironically, his career-best game was a 27-point effort against the Vikings in the Stott Center on Dec. 18, 2010.
There are good and bad things about Douglas' game. He is very quick, and can be a dynamic threat. He had a nice assist rate, which is obviously key for a PG. He also has a tendency to turn the ball over (31.3 TO Rate last year), and needs to improve his outside shot, since he shot just 28% from downtown last year.

But, it sure will be nice for Tyler Geving to have another veteran PG to plug in after next season. Charles Odum was the senior leader in the backcourt this year, Lateef McMullan will be the senior this year, and then it will likely be Douglas and Gary Winston (who will be a sophomore this year) in the backcourt in 2013-14. You could certainly do a lot worse, that is for sure.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Idaho State Gets First Commitment With Chris Hansen

Coach Bill Evans has his first commitment as head coach of the Idaho State Bengals.

According to his high school coach, Chris Hansen from Northwest Wyoming College has committed to play for Idaho State. Hansen is a 6'4'' guard from Fort Collins, CO, who spent his freshman season playing for the NW Wyoming Trappers.

He averaged 19 PPG last year on 43% 3-point shooting, so he should provide an instant spark for a Bengals team that lost a lot of punch after last season. He also averaged 4.5 RPG and shot over 85% from the charity stripe.

For a little background on him, I found a nice article on the NW Wyoming website. He missed his junior year of high school with a leg injury, and bounced back to lead the state in scoring as a senior. For a team that was efficiency-wise the third worst efficiency-wise in the Big Sky last year, this is a nice recruiting coup for Bill Evans.

"I have a dream to play Division I basketball, and I'm not ready to give that up," Hansen said. "I think this is the right route. It will give me a chance to work on the stuff that coaches say I need to work on to play Division I."

After missing his junior high school season with a broken leg, Hansen returned as a senior and led the state in scoring.

A 6-foot-5 guard/forward, Hansen averaged 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists. He set a school record by scoring 46 points in a win Jan. 25 over Monarch and scored 30-plus points in 10 games and 40 or more in four games.
It is clear that he is a young man with a lot of motivation, and a lot of offensive scoring talent.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

The NCAA Strikes Again in Mohamed Fall Case

Once again, the NCAA has missed the forest through the trees.

Last year, Mohamed Fall was a junior for Montana State, and the big man from Senegal was one of the best defensive big men in the conference. He started 26 of 28 games, scoring 7.2 PPG and 5.4 RPG. He had a 6.1% Block rate, and looked like he was going to be the anchor of the Bobcats in his senior season.

Then, the NCAA struck. They declared that Mohamed Fall would not be eligible to play his senior season, because four years ago, he competed in two exposure exhibition games. For this grievous infraction, he will lose a season of Division I eligibility.

“This is a really tough and unfortunate situation in which Mo didn't realize he was doing anything against the rules when he played in the games,” said MSU coach Brad Huse. “The situation was brought to our attention during the amateurism certification process last summer. We did everything we could from a waiver and appeal standpoint but they were denied, and unfortunately he now has to deal with the outcome, as do we as a program.”
Fall is, from all accounts, a great kid, and all of the talk is that he had no idea that this was an infraction. As Gidal Kaiser writes, it is sad to see this happen to Fall, an international guy that was using basketball as his ticket to an education. Even though MSU says they will honor his scholarship, it it still not fair to take away a season of eligibility for this.

NCAA, if you want to send a message that it was wrong of him to play in two exhibition games in a showcase event four years ago, suspend him a few games for the start of the year. Since he played in two games, suspend him for two games. Maybe suspend him five, to get the message across. Taking away the whole season of eligibility is like sending a guy for prison for a year a first offense petty theft, or throwing him on cheap flights out of the country just to prove a point. He broke rules, and perhaps he should be punished for that. But in this case, the punishment doesn't come close to fitting the crime.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Montana Signs Marko Kovacevic

Montana has signed their third recruit, and not surprisingly, it is another big man. Bob Meseroll reports that the Grizzlies have signed junior college big man Marko Kovacevic from Western Nebraska Community College.

Kovacevic, from Beograde, Serbia, averaged 11.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots a game for Western Nebraska last season as a sophomore. He shot 66 percent from the field and 59 percent from the free-throw line.

“He’s a quality person, first and foremost,” Tinkle said. “He came to our country two years ago without speaking a lick of English, and he has progressed in that area and is a great student, very disciplined, and a player of high character.

“We really think he’s going to provide some back-to-the-basket scoring for us. He’s very skilled. He can use either hand very effectively to finish around the basket. He’s also a really, really talented passer. He has surprising length and athleticism and we just feel that adding a big guy of his caliber to what we have coming back could really prove to be a huge factor for us next season.”
If he could provide that, it would be big for them, because that was a facet of the offense they didn't really have last year. Big men Derek Selvig and Mathias Ward were better from the perimeter, which usually meant that off guard Kareem Jamar was their best option for post scoring.

Montana could have nice depth up front, which was an issue last season. Mathias Ward is back, and he was their third leading scorer. Eric Hutchison could be a solid defender and rebounder with another year of development. If Billy Reader is academically eligible, he could be their best big man. And now they have signed Kovacevic and Andy Martin, though there is a chance Martin could redshirt.

Montana will be the team to beat next season.

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Jordyn Martin Verbally Commits to Northern Arizona

New coach Jack Murphy has his first recruit.

Word is that F Jordyn Martin out of Las Vegas has verbally committed to Northern Arizona. He is a 6'7'' power forward, which is obviously huge for the Lumberjacks. Their effective height made them one of the smallest teams in the country last year, and they could not rebound well or protect the glass. This will help begin to fix things.

Martin averaged 11.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG, and 1.5 BPG last season, as his team finished 19-6. He should get immediate playing time on a team that lacks impact players in the frontcourt. I wasn't able to find a ton more information on Martin, but I will keep looking.

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Northern Colorado Inks Derrick Barden

I have already reported Northern Colorado signing guard Greg Tucker and forward Cody McDavis, but now they have completed their recruiting class with junior college big man Derrick Barden.

"In Derrick, you've got a guy who, I think, can be an instant impact. His JUCO experience and his versatility are really going to allow him the opportunity to see minutes right away. His rebounding and how he's been coached at the junior college level are things that we looked at and things that were really attractive to us. He brings a ton of accolades and, hopefully, those can transfer to this level."
Barden is a 6'5'' forward originally from Detroit, Michigan. He played his last two seasons at a junior college in Odessa, TX. In his two season there, he had over 1,000 points and 500 rebounds, including averaging 20 and 12 last season. He led the junior college nation with 5.0 offensive rebounds per game last season.

UNC needed to get a big man or two after losing Mike Proctor, and they have done that. Even though Barden is only 6'5'', he plays like someone five inches taller than himself, similar to Chehales Tapscott for Portland State last season.

Barden should see plenty of playing time from the get go, and his signing makes me feel better about my placement of Northern Colorado third in my 2012-12 early Big Sky rankings.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Big Sky Recruiting Tracker Again Updated

There has been lots of activity in the past week with recruits (which is good, makes it easy to find things to write about)... and thus, it would be to your knowledge benefit to check out the Big Sky Recruiting Tracker.

Four teams have signed at least four guys... safe to say it has been an exciting recruiting season.

Big Sky Recruits

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Montana State Signs Paul Agwuonwu

From Montana State today comes word that they have signed forward Paul Egwuonwu out of the College of Southern Idaho. Egwuonwu is 6'9''.

As a freshman, he averaged 10.5 PPG and 4.4 RPG at Northwest Nazarene University. Last year, he transferred to CSI, and averaged 4.5 PPG and 5.6 RPG.

“Paul was a glue guy on a team that won 31 games, won our conference, and played in the NJCAA National Tournament,” said CSI coach Steve Gosar. “We had a team with lots of balance. Paul made plays that helped win games yet do not always show up in the stats. With that said, he was one of our team's top rebounders and shot blockers. He could defend multiple positions and we often relied on him to be a stopper for us. Montana State University and Coach Huse are a great fit for Paul, and there's no question his best basketball is in front of him.”
Brad Huse has now signed five players in this recruiting class, two of them junior college players.

From what I read of him, Egwuonwu is a very good team defender that can block shots on the weakside. He is a strong rebounder, and very athletic for someone at 6'8'' or 6'9''. I'm not sure he will provide a ton of offense, but that is OK. When he is paired with Mohammed Fall in the frontcourt, there aren't going to be many frontlines in the Big Sky that can match that athleticism, especially defensively.

Tip of the cap to Gidal Kaiser for the link, and I look forward to seeing what he has to say about Egwuonwu.

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Sacramento State Signs Ryan Okwundibonye

 Picture off Sac State website

I wrote last week about Sacramento State signing Jordan Salley, Mikh McKinney, and Cody Demps. Yesterday, they added another in big man Ryan Okwudibonye (if he gets big minutes, I am going to have to get that spelling down...)

Okwundibonye is a 6'8'' big man from California who has spent the past two seasons at New Mexico Junior College. Last year, he averaged 4.6 PPG and 4.6 RPG, shooting 43.8% from the field. He started 21 of their 32 games. He was second on the team in rebounding, and third in blocked shots.

“Ryan is a strong center/power forward that is physical and a very good post defender,” Katz said. “His combination of strength and quick feet defensively will allow him to guard multiple positions on the court. He’s a player we’ve followed over the last three years, and feel like his best offensive days are ahead of him.”
While I'm not so sure he will have much impact at all offensively after scoring just over four points a game and shooting a low percentage in junior college, there is always a spot on a roster for a big man that can guard the post and rebound. Sacramento State's other recruits have been guards or wings, so this definitely fills a need in frontcourt depth behind John Dickson and Konner Veteto.

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North Dakota Signs Two JUCO Big Men

I linked to an article this morning about how North Dakota was likely to sign two players this spring, and that is exactly what happened. As I have mentioned (as how everyone following UND knows), they were in dire need of big men, and that's what makes the signings so encouraging.

They got committments from two JUCO big men, Alonzo Traylor of Iowa Western CC, and Ryan Salmonson out of Cosumnes River College in California. They couldn't ask for too much better for a spring signing period, as they needed big men who are able to play right away, and it seems that is exactly what they got.

Traylor was a good player at Minneapolis South High School , where he averaged somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 and 12 his senior year (I think, not easy to find good stats). At Iowa Western, he averaged 14 PPG and 6.7 RPG last season, shooting 65% from the field. He is a 6'7'' forward, and figures to have a great chance to immediately step into the starting lineup. He is an athletic big like UND has not really had for a while (Emmanual Little wasn't necessarily a big man, though I think he was similar in height).

Salmonson is a 6'10'' forward went to high school at Colfax High in California. He averaged 9.5 PPG and 5.3 RPG last year, shooting 55% from the field. He reportedly at one point had visits lined up to schools just as Montana State, Eastern Washington, and North Dakota State. He looks to have a great chance to get big minutes in the frontcourt, and will be a big asset for them. UND Fan on the Sioux Sports message board had a pretty interesting statistical tidbit on him.

This creates an interesting dynamic for UND... 11 of their 13 scholarships are in players that are either juniors or seniors. Two years ago they were one of the youngest teams in the country, now they are loaded with experience. One thing is for sure... they shored up the weakest part of the team with these two signings.

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North Dakota to Sign Two This Spring

From the Grand Forks Herald, word that North Dakota will likely sign two guys this spring, according to head coach Brian Jones.

“We’re probably going to sign two guys this spring,” Jones said. “They’ll most likely be juco transfers or Division I transfers.”
UND also had a couple scholarships open up when Spencer Goodman's career ended (after a second shoulder surgery... we wish him the best), and the departure of Josh Gentry, who has left the program.

UND could desperately use some big men, and you have to figure that is what Coach Jones will target.

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Montana Projected as 16 Seed

Obviously very early for this, and it's all mere speculation at this point... but still fun to note that Joe Lunardi has Montana winning the Big Sky next season and nabbing a 16 seed.

Hopefully the Big Sky winner will be able to get higher than a 15.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Eastern Washington Signs Ivan Dorsey

Eastern Washington has added a sixth member to its recruiting class with the signing of guard Ivan Dorsey from the City College of San Francisco. That junior college immediately stuck out to me, because it was the same one where Collin Chiverton played at before signing with EWU.

Dorsey is a six foot guard who averaged 12.9 PPG last year, and he showed himself to be efficient offensive player. He had shooting percentages of 51% / 46% / 83% last season, which are certainly very solid numbers and make him the prototypical Jim Hayford player.

“We need winning players, great shooters and quickness. Ivan brings all three on the court,” said Hayford. “Off the court he is a solid person and dedicated student. I look forward to coaching Ivan the next two years.”
Coach Jim Hayford has established a nice pipeline to the City College of San Francisco, which is never a bad thing since they are so successful (27-3 last season). At one point they were the top ranked JUCO team in California, and won 23 straight games. The season before (with both Dorsey and Chiverton), they ended their season by winning 27 straight games.

Dorsey adds to an already deep recruiting class for the Eagles.

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Two Apparently Sign With Weber State

Granted, you can't believe everything you read on team message boards, but I feel confident reporting that Weber State has signed two more players, as reported by talhadsteals.

The players are Royce Williams of the New Mexico Military Institute, and Wayne Bradford of Sheridan Community College. Both players will be sophomores next season.

Williams is a very talented guy, but there were questions coming out of high school about his ability to play within a team system, as he tended to look for his own shot. Last year he averaged 11.7 PPG and 6.4 RPG, including shooting 34% from downtown. He is a very athletic player that adds another layer to this team.

Bradford is a 6'3'' guard that averaged 11.2 PPG last season, and showed the ability to score in a variety of ways. He was solid at getting to the line (and shot over 90%), and he shot over 40% from three-point land.  He appears to be a bit of a combo guard.

The fact that Randy Rahe has gone for smaller guys in the spring signing period could mean that Weber State will transition to being a bit more of an up tempo team. Their two bigger guys in this recruiting class (Joel Bolomboy and Kyndahl Hill) are very athletic, and that trend continued with these signings. They could be a very fun team to watch next season.

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Garrett Swanson of Idaho State Granted Release to Talk to Other Coaches

Sources tell me that Idaho State freshman forward Garrett Swason has asked for and been given a release from new head coach Bill Evans to speak with other coaches about transferring.

Swanson is a versatile big man that can score from the perimeter, and had big scoring numbers in high school. On a team that lost their best big man after last season, I thought Swanson would have a chance to have a pretty good role on the team, but things didn't quite work out as planned.

Through early January he was averaging 5.5 PPG and 2.5 RPG (including scoring 15 points and nabbing 7 rebounds of North Dakota), but he reportedly got mono through the second half of the season, and he played less than ten minutes per game over the last six.

Though Swanson never was able to make a big impact every game, his future looked to be solid. He shot 46% from inside the arc this year, and could have been a solid frontcourt player for them, especially if he had been able to bulk up a bit. On a team that will lose three of its top four players, you have to figure he might have competed for a starting spot next year.

ISU fans, your thoughts?

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Danny Robison Officially Signs With Montana State

In January, forward Danny Robison made a verbal commitment to Montana State, and earlier this week he made it official.

Gidal has a lot of information on him at the link above, but in a nutshell... he averaged about 17 and 8 per game last year, and is a versatile power forward.He adds more depth to what could be a solid frontcourt, and should be able to contribute in a lot of different ways when he is playing.

He joins an already very stellar recruiting class for Montana State. It could be a make-or-break year for Coach Brad Huse, and he is getting some nice pieces in place to make it a solid campaign.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Sacramento State Signs Mikh McKinney

Within the last week there were a couple of signees for the Hornets, and now they have signed a third player. According to the Sacramento State website, Mikh McKinney of Okone College has signed with Sacramento State.

McKinney will be a sophomore with three years of eligibility remaining. He is a 6'1'' guard that should be able to back up Dylan Garrity, and could provide some outside shooting for Sac State.

A 6-foot-1, 165-pound guard from Union City, Calif., McKinney spent two years at Fremont’s Ohlone College, redshirting in 2010-11, and playing his freshman season in 2011-12. As a freshman, he was a first team all-state and first team all-Coast Conference selection after averaging 14.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.0 steals per game while shooting 53.0 percent (123-232) from the field, 40.9 percent (18-44) from the three-point line and 80.0 percent (100-125) from free throw line.
This fills a big need for Sacramento State, because they didn't really have a true PG behind Garrity. McKinney is a guy that is capable of playing both guard spots, and they should benefit from his versatility.

Sacramento State probably has a couple of scholarships remaining, and I would expect them to go after some big men and add some more depth. Things continue to be shaping up very nicely for the Hornets in 2012-13.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Northern Arizona Hires Memphis Assistant Jack Murphy As Head Coach

The wait and the search is finally over -- Northern Arizona has a new head basketball coach.

Today, NAU announced that Memphis assistant coach Jack Murphy would be named their head basketball coach.

"It's an honor to be given this position, especially at this critical recruiting time," Murphy said. "This is a program that has a rich tradition, has had past success, and I look to build on that success. I hope to be there along the way as we grow together as a university and as a basketball program."

Murphy is 32 years old, and spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach at Memphis. Before that, he spent three years as an assistant coach of the Denver Nuggets, and was on the staff at Arizona prior to that. The fact that he has recent experience both in the NBA and at a solid NCAA program seems to make this a good hire for the Lumberjacks.

A lot of smart basketball people have very good things to say about Murphy, which certainly had to make NAU's decision easier.

Murphy's job will not be easy -- NAU is coming off of a disastrous 5-24 season, and there has been rumors of players transferring. His first step will be to keep the current players here, and then he needs to make quick work in the recruiting world, since it is already mid-April.

We thought they would need a young, energetic coach to turn this around and get some excitement back in the program, which was clearly lacking last season, and Murphy seems like a good guy to be able to do that. I am excited to see how he does. He will be one of three new head coaches in the Big Sky next season.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Early 2012-13 Big Sky Rankings

The season is about seven months away... which is the perfect time to make some early, rash predictions on how things are going to play out next season!

1. Montana
They lose Derek Selvig and Art Steward, but they could be the unanimous pick in the Big Sky next season. Will Cherry and Kareem Jamar will be one of the best backcourts in the country next year, and they bring it on both ends.They will have some front court depth concerns again (and they have to hope Billy Reader is eligible), but they will be set everywhere else. Kevin Henderson and/or Keron DeShields should be able to step into Art Steward's starting spot.

2. Weber State
They lose the best player in the league, but the cupboard will hardly be bare for Randy Rahe. With Gelaun Wheelwright and Scott Bamforth, they still have one of the best backcourts in the conference. Kyle Tresnak is one of the best frontcourt scorers, and Byron Fulton may be ready to take on a bigger role. Davion Berry is a guy that not many know about since he was a redshirt last year, but word is that he may have been the second most talented guy on the team last season. They also bring in a nice recruiting class.

3. Northern Colorado
They return almost everyone from last year's team, and they will be better for all the experience. With Tevin Svihovec, Tate Unruh, and Paul Garnica, you can't give anyone in their backcourt a good luck. They have a redshirt guard in James Davis that is supposed to be pretty good, and bring some things to the backcourt that they lacked last season. Upfront, Emmanuel Addo has the talent to be the best big man in the Big Sky, but he needs to show more consistency. Connor Osborne was solid as a sophomore, and needs to take the next step. They have some depth concerns, but they are working on it, especially with recruit Cody McDavis.

4. Eastern Washington
They are losing a lot of talent and leadership, but it might not be a terrible thing to get some fresh faces in there after being the most undisciplined team in the Big Sky. They will return Collin Chiverton, who should be healthier and could lead the conference in scoring. Other than that, they have a couple of transfers that look like they could make an impact, and they will be bringing in a big, partially unknown recruiting class. How those guys respond and how ready they are to play will decide if this ranking is too high.

5. Sacramento State
This should be the best Hornets team in a long time, and they will be led by Dylan Garrity. He led the conference in assists as a freshman last year, and should improve as he gets more consistent with his outside shot. Inside, they have a nice duo with John Dickson and Konner Veteto, and Joe Eberhard flanks them on the wings. Depth is a bit of a concern, but they will return quite a bit of experience from a team that improved greatly from the first half of the Big Sky season compared to the second half.

6. Montana State
There is a lot of uncertainty around the Bobcats, but we can say that on paper they have the potential to be a good team. Among the uncertainties - Shawn Reid is transferring, Xavier Blount will hopefully (but I'm not sure anyone knows for sure) be returning this year after being injured in a bar fight, and Jamie Stewart will hopefully be returning after running into some academic issues. They are tough to project right now. What we do know is that they have some good recruits coming in, some talent upfront back, and if Blount/Stewart both return, they will arguably be one of the most talented teams in the Big Sky.

7. Portland State
Renado Parker is back, and he will be relied on heavily upfront. He will be one of the best post scorers in the conference, and they need him after the graduation of Chehales Tapscott. If he becomes an all-conference type player, they will be in ok shape. They will also have some guys that were ok in roles as juniors (such as Lateef McMullan and Michael Harthun) to take the next step and become reliable every game. They hope Gary Winston will be able to step in and fill the shoes of Charles Odum. Winston looked like one of the better, young guards in the conference last year.

8. North Dakota
I thought they would be able to take the next step last year since a lot of their guys were coming off successful freshman seasons, but they didn't really seem to improve a lot. They have some good talent that will be juniors in Troy Huff, Aaron Anderson, Brandon Brekke, and Jamal Webb, but they have to show improvement or they will finish in the bottom half of the Big Sky. Also of concern is the lack of big men in the program... behind Brekke, they don't have much. This has not been a recruiting strength for head coach Brian Jones.

9. Southern Utah
With guys like Jackson Stevenett and Damon Heuir returning, they have some solid players for Nick Robinson. However, they do lose some talent, and it is tough to overlook the fact that Robinson will be 32 years old and it will be his first college head coaching gig. I do think Robinson will be a very good coach, but there are usually some growing pains. I don't have a great handle on the Thunderbirds yet.

10. Northern Arizona
This is still all up in the air, since they don't have a head coach, and we aren't sure if everyone will be back next year. Assuming everyone came back, they have some solid talent on the roster, though they still have a problem with a lack of big men. Also, the fact that they have been nursing career decisions on picking a new head coach (despite the last coach resigning in December) has really hampered recruiting.. I'm not sure we've quite seen the bottom yet for NAU, which is a scary thought after how rough last year was.

11. Idaho State
They were the feel-good story of the Big Sky last year, but they are taking a big talent hit with the graduations of Chase Grabau, Kenny McGowen, and Abner Moreira. I think they are headed with a good direction with the hire of Bill Evans (who was big in making Montana a defensive stalwart in the conference), but it could take them a couple years to get the talent level back to where it needs to be, especially losing key guys from a team that arguably overachieved last season.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rumor: Gabe Rogers, James Douglas, and Colin Gruber May Transfer From Northern Arizona

I am not reporting this as a fact at all, but as a rumor that I heard as being possible.

There is a chance, depending on who the new head coach will be, that Gabe Rogers, James Douglas, and Colin Gruber could transfer away from Northern Arizona.

It would obviously be a huge loss if it happens... Rogers was one of the best shooters in the conference two years ago, Douglas was one of the best freshmen in the conference last season, and Gruber showed promise in fairly limited time as a freshman. Whoever the new head coach will be, this could be his first recruiting job - convincing the current players to stick around.

This would further make it so that NAU should act quickly to hire a head coach. They have known that they will need one since last December, when Mike Adras resigned/was forced out, so they arguably shouldn't have waited this long. They will need to make a decision soon to stop some of the bleeding that is going on with the basketball program right now. This isn't like an alternative business loan that takes care of itself, someone should be acting to fix this.

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Northern Arizona Coaching Candidates Interviewing

I have heard from a source that there are a few guys in Phoenix right now interviewing for the head coaching position at Northern Arizona.

According to the source, Steve Gosar of the College of Southern Idaho, Raphael Chillious of the Washington staff under Lorenzo Romar, and UCLA assistant Scott Garson. He also has heard Jay John’s name being thrown around, but wasn’t able to confirm he was in town.

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Southern Utah Hires A Couple Assistants

Bill Evans is not the only one hiring some assistant coaches in the Big Sky.

According to Southern Utah's website, Nick Robinson at Southern Utah has hired a couple new assistants.

First-year Southern Utah University men's basketball Head Coach Nick Robinson has taken the first steps in putting his mark on the Thunderbird program as he has named Jared Barrett and Todd Okeson as assistant coaches.

Barrett is currently the coordinator of basketball operations at Washington State, while Okeson serves in a similar capacity at the University of Georgia.

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Some Damian Lillard Draft Info

Pistons Powered, a blog about the Detroit Pistons, asked me to contribute a paragraph to a post he was writing about Damian Lillard.

Check the post out here, along with some other links/scouting reports on Lillard, and how he would fit in Detroit.

Lillard is projected as a lottery pick.

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A Couple Added to Bill Evans' Staff at Idaho State

There have been a couple coaches added to Bill Evans' staff at Idaho State.

One is Andy Ward, a former head coach at Northwest College.

Northwest College athletic director and head men’s basketball coach Andy Ward has resigned from Northwest College. He is expected to join his former college coach Bill Evans as a member of the Idaho State University coaching staff.

Evans, who coached Ward as a player at Southern Utah University, was recently named the head coach at Idaho State University. A formal announcement about the rest of the Bengals’ coaching staff is expected later this week.
Another likely member of the staff is former Northern Arizona assistant coach Jay Collins. It is not a big surprise that he would leave NAU, since there is still a lot of uncertainty there.

Evans is starting to round out his staff, which will be important because they will have a big rebuilding job ahead of them after the graduation of Chase Grabau, Kenny McGowen, and Abner Moreira.

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Race Parsons Gets an Offer From Southern Utah

Race Parsons from Utah has been offered a scholarship by Southern Utah, according to reports.

The Southern Utah basketball coach, announced six days ago as the successor to Roger Reid, extended a scholarship offer to South Sevier point guard Race Parsons this week. Parsons, a 6-foot-1 point guard, has led the Rams to back-to-back Class 2A state championships and won back-to-back MVP awards from The Tribune.
Parsons is also receiving interesting from Utah State and Weber State. It seems like checking out Parsons was one of the first items on new head coach Nick Robinson's agenda.

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Sacramento State Snags A Couple Recruits

Within the past week or so, word has come that Sacramento State has received a pair of commitments.

The first was 6'4'' wing man Cody Demps from Pleasant Grove High School. He was a two-sport standout in high school, but will just be playing basketball for the Hornets. Head coach Brian Katz said, "(Demps is)a leader with skills, toughness, instincts. Great young man, top student, terrific basketball upside." I haven't been able to find out too much about his game yet, but I did find this little snippet:

Demps committed just last week to play basketball for Sac State. He led Pleasant Grove to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinals and the program’s first-ever Northern California Regional appearance, where they beat Castlemont of Oakland in the first round.
They also reportedly scored a commitment from Jordan Salley. Salley committed to Montana State a couple years ago, but then failed to qualify academically.

Salley spent two years in junior college, and will be joining the Big Sky after all. From NorCal Basketball, here is an old scouting report on Salley (via ESPN):

Salley, a lefty, has very long arms and uses this length to crash the boards on both ends of the floor. He scores on offensive rebounds put-backs and runs the floor reasonable well, which leads to easy finishes on the break. Salley has very good strength and powers up in traffic and finishes with bodies hanging on him. Salley generates power in the strong lower half of his body and has the capacity to add even more strength. His quick leaping ability allows him to play an active brand of basketball and get to offensive boards before the opposition. Salley, especially since he is undersized, needs to improve his post footwork and add counter moves to his game.
It appears that the Hornets may have as many as five scholarships to give, so they are not done yet.

They could have their best team in years this coming season, so I have to think Katz may be targeting some JUCO guys to try and push them over the hump and into the Big Sky tournament. I would think (but can't confirm) that the Hornets would still try to target a PG to backup Dylan Garrity, another shooter (to replace Heath Hoffman), and perhaps another big man for depth.

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter!

I don't know if Easter is a big deal for you, but it's a really big deal for me. I will be celebrating with family.

Hope that your Easter is equally good and relaxing.

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Transfers Out of the Big Sky 2012

Here is the most current list I have of guys that are transferring out of the Big Sky. I will have a more thorough look at the impact of all of these later in the summer.

- Willie Hankins


- Billy Reader

- Shawn Reid
- Tor Anderson

- Josh Gentry

- James Douglas
- Colin Gruber
- Danny Cheek
- Josh Lepley

- Elliott Lloyd
- Aaron Hawk-Harris




- Mike Brown
- Shai Fields

Anyone else you know that is transferring from a Big Sky school?

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Recruit Tracker is Updated

My Big Sky recruit tracker is always on the sidebar, but wanted to write a quick note to say it is updated with everyone I know of that has committed to play for a Big Sky school next season.

Please let me know if I have missed anyone, because it is very possible!

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Northern Arizona Hires an Athletic Director

It has felt over the past few months that there has been almost no news or progress in Northern Arizona's search for a head coach. One of the big reasons for this was the fact that they didn't have an athletic director.

That is no longer, as pointed out to me by reader/commentor MTJack. Northern Arizona has hired UTEP administrator Lisa Campos to be their athletic director.

Lisa Campos, the senior associate athletic director at the University of Texas at El Paso, has been selected as vice president for Intercollegiate Athletics by Northern Arizona University.

NAU announced the hiring today, pending approval by the Arizona Board of Regents.

“Lisa exemplifies NAU’s dual commitment to excellence in athletics and academics,” said NAU President John Haeger. “Elevating this position from athletic director to vice president is a first for NAU. As a vice president, she will literally be at the table with our academic and administrative vice presidents, all working to advance NAU’s performance goals on and off the field.”
Hopefully now we will start to see a little more news relating to Northern Arizona's head coaching search, since that will surely be one of the first items on her agenda.

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Me At "The Pit"

I wasn't able to make it to "The Pit" for the Montana game, but I was there this past weekend just to check it out! Definitely an awesome facility... hopefully will be able to see a game there sometime.

Anyone else been there?

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Flavien Davis Commits To Montana State

Also reported by Gidal Kaiser is the news that JUCO wing Flavien Davis will be attending Montana State next season.

Huse and Co. did get a bit of good news, as junior college transfer Flavien Davis committed to play for MSU next season. Davis is a 6-foot-5 forward (just like Reid) who averaged 15.2 points and 7.6 boards a game in 30 games for the 23-7 Ravens as a sophomore. he shot 47.3% (166-for-351) from the field and 63% (92-for-146) from the line. Davis added 45 assists and 35 steals.
Davis signed with Loyola out of high school, but did not have the grades to make it, so he went the junior college route.

He is a good scorer and rebounder, which he showed both in high school and in junior college. He is not a great three-point shooter, but is solid at getting to the line. MSU lost some depth with the subtraction of Shawn Reid, but if they are able to throw out Davis, Xavier Blount, and Jamie Stewart, they would still be OK there.

Of course, that's what we thought heading into last season. Blount and Stewart will still be question marks heading into this year.

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Damian Lillard Officially Entering the NBA Draft

Not that there was ever much doubt, but Damian Lillard is officially entering the draft, after a press conference held at Weber State today.

Lillard is a great player and from all accounts (and my brief experience with him) as classy of a guy as they come, and we wish him the best at the next level.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Shawn Reid Transfers From Montana State

From Gidal Kaiser of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle came the news late last week that Shawn Reid has decided to transfer from Montana State.

Shawn Reid might be the biggest non-graduation loss in Huse’s tenure. Why? 479 points, 169 rebounds and 80 3-pointers in his first two official seasons. We charted his sophomore year in a blog earlier, but here it is again.
Reid told Kaiser that the biggest reason for leaving did not have to do with basketball, but more about the fact that he simply wasn't very happy in Bozeman, and that it did not fit his lifestyle at all.

On the court, it's a big loss for MSU. Reid was their best offensive player at the end of last season (after Blount got hurt), and would only have been a junior. He was counted on to be the focal point of the offense late in the year, and he responded with some nice games.

He was solid in the midrange, and could keep you honest beyond the three-point mark. On a team without a lot of guys that could create their own shot, he could do that. His presence could also be felt in recruiting. Good looking PG recruit Marcus Colbert has committed to the Bobcats, but he was a high school teammate of Reid, which surely was a draw. Hopefully that won't affect his decision to come to Montana State.

Redshirt sophomore Tor Anderson also will transfer. He redshirted this past year with injury problems.

EDIT: Gidal Kaiser tells me has spoken to Colbert's high school coach, who says that Colbert remains firmly committed to Montana State. So that, at least, is good.

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