When Jared Sullinger of Ohio State, Perry Jones of Baylor and Harrison Barnes of North Carolina surprised the NBA world by staying in college a year ago, the already-building buzz about the 2012 draft only grew louder.
Day 1 of SI.com's inaugural Data-Based Coaching Awards was a success on most fronts: The awards show, on an obscure cable network, received respectable enough ratings to get carried for a second day, and the winners seemed happy -- other than the parts where John Calipari kept refusing to admit that it meant anything to him, even though he won in three of eight categories. Players-first, not numbers-first, he kept saying. Oh well. We move on.
Now that the NCAA tournament is over, now that the final buzzer has sounded and the confetti has ceased to fall, the real work begins. That's the case for NBA scouts, at least, who in the coming months will make order out of the madness that just ensued. They'll tirelessly dissect each college prospect's strengths and weaknesses, determining which warrant selection in the June 28 draft.
NEW ORLEANS -- During a discussion last week at Tulane's law school covering the hot topics in college sports, a student asked a great question of a panel that included Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne, Missouri athletic director Mike Alden, NCAA associate director of enforcement Renee Gomila and attorney Timothy Epstein.
After the final buzzer, Thomas Robinson, Kansas' All-America forward, dropped to his knees in disappointment on the temporary wooden floor in the middle of the Superdome. He was oblivious to the confetti fired from cannons over his head and nearby as Kentucky players celebrated the school's eighth national championship and coach John Calipari's first. Teammates Tyshawn Taylor and Kevin Young pulled Robinson to his feet and walked him into the handshake line.
NEW ORLEANS -- The Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four made one of 10 shots in the national title game. How does that happen? Ballot-box stuffing? Dangling chads?
NEW ORLEANS -- As the sound of fireworks blasted and Kentucky's players began celebrating on the Superdome court, Kansas' Elijah Johnson crouched silently near the sideline, his jersey coated with some of the celebratory multi-colored streamers raining from above. Eventually his body went limp, nearly falling to the ground. Teammate Travis Releford picked up the sobbing guard by his shoulder and physically escorted him off the court.
The Kentucky Wildcats beat the Kansas Jayhawks 67-59 Monday night to clinch their eighth NCAA men's basketball championship.
The Kentucky Wildcats win the NCAA championship and fans take to the streets to celebrate in Lexington, Kentucky.
NEW ORLEANS -- When Kansas and Kentucky tip off Monday night, don't assign any more meaning to the contest than it deserves. Even though the narrative from lazy writers and talkers will tout this as Stay-in-Schoolers vs. One-and-Dones, don't get suckered into that line of thinking.
In their infinite wisdom, the doubters got to thinking that the title was the fluke. That the 2008 championship was great, sure -- beating John Calipari and Derrick Rose, and all that -- but that it was just one exception in a half-dozen years of Bill Self's Jayhawks being the NCAA tournament's most obedient Goliath. Who could forget the loss to 14th-seeded Bucknell in the first round in 2005? And then 13th-seeded Bradley in the first round again in 2006? And ninth-seeded Northern Iowa in the second round in 2010? And 11th-seeded Virginia Commonwealth in the Elite Eight in '11?
NEW ORLEANS -- The five Kansas starters piled into a golf cart in the Superdome hallway Sunday, dutifully on their way to yet another scheduled media engagement. Center Jeff Withey, one of the defensive stars of this NCAA tournament, smartly grabbed half of the rear-facing backbench and uncoiled his legs. As the cart pulled away and cruised slowly down the corridor, Withey casually let his right foot bounce and scrape on the hallway floor. It was the kind of playfulness you'd expect to see from a child, but in this case, it hinted at an older one's contentedness.
NEW ORLEANS -- From the front row of the Superdome, right as Saturday's Kentucky-Louisville Final Four game went to halftime, former Kansas and NBA coach Larry Brown made eye contact with a sportswriter he knew on press row. They proceeded to have an easily interpreted conversation using just their hands.
NEW ORLEANS. -- Jordan Juenemann remembers the last time Bill Self and John Calipari met with the national title at stake. Now a Kansas senior, Juenemann was just another Jayhawk fan in 2008, proud owner of a basketball signed by the whole team. He was in his Hays, Kan., house with his family, nerve-wracked as Kansas trailed by nine late in the contest, a championship seeming to have slipped away.
Back in November, Kansas lost to Kentucky 75-65 in the Champion's Classic. On Monday night the two teams will meet again to determine the national champion. How will the Jayhawks matchup this time around? Here is a position-by-position breakdown:
The University of Kansas men's basketball team squeaked by Ohio State late Saturday night, setting up an an NCAA tournament championship showdown with top-seeded Kentucky.
The University of Kansas men's basketball team squeaked by Ohio State late Saturday night, setting up a NCAA tournament championship showdown with top-seeded Kentucky.
NEW ORLEANS -- With his team having rallied from a 13-point deficit, to reclaim the lead with less than three minutes remaining, Jeff Withey believed for a brief moment he'd just sealed a victory. With 27 seconds remaining in Kansas' national semifinal matchup with Ohio State, the 7-footer caught a pass in the lane, strode forward and finished an easy lay-up that would put his team up by at least a five-point margin. The Jayhawks' contingent of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome crowd went nuts and a whistle blew, indicating a possible and-one. He roared with satisfaction.
NEW ORLEANS -- First up at the dais, then back in the locker room, one reporter after another wanted to know Tyshawn Taylor's thoughts on his personal adversary in Saturday's Final Four game, Ohio State point guard/defensive fiend Aaron Craft.
Are you the type who turns on Super Bowl coverage for the first time 10 minutes before the actual game? Then we have something for you. Forget having to look back through four days of analysis and measured hype. Just review these 10 Burning Questions sometime before Saturday's tip and you'll be fully prepared for any semifinal scenario that could arise.
Rick Pitino and John Calipari hate each other. Now that I have that out of the way, let's talk about the Final Four.
NEW ORLEANS -- Technically, it is called the Final Four, but a more appropriate title would be Kentucky and the Three Hopefuls. There is simply no doubting the overriding storyline heading into college basketball's culminating weekend. Beating the Big Blue in the Big Easy is going to be very, very hard.
Jared Sullinger's balky back cheated us out of a one-on-one matchup between two of the best big men in the country back in December as Kansas got 21 points from Thomas Robinson in a 78-67 win at Allen Fieldhouse. But as luck would have it, we only had to wait four months to get a glimpse at the two future lottery picks trading low-post blows.
ST. LOUIS -- There is a temptation to peg Thomas Robinson for a loner, to understand the Kansas junior's success as a function of tragedy and forced evolution. Part of it is visual: Robinson, a 20-year-old who averages 17.9 points and 11.8 rebounds a game, could be employed as LeBron James's body double. Andrea Hudy, the Jayhawks' strength and conditioning coach, attests that the 6-foot-9, 245-pounder, a projected top-five NBA Draft pick, can bench-press 300 pounds, clean 300, and parallel-squat close to 400.
ST. LOUIS -- Happiness bled through Thomas Robinson as he climbed to the top of the ladder, cutting his strand of the net, kissing it and showing it off to the Kansas faithful. Ditto Jeff Withey as he waved his newly acquired Final Four T-shirt like a towel and joined his teammates on the stage for the trophy presentation. And there was Travis Releford, so overcome with emotion he couldn't find the words to answer questions in the locker room afterward.
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Kansas (5:05 p.m. ET)
ST. LOUIS -- While watching Florida's Sweet 16 win over Marquette at a local watering hole in St. Louis Thursday, a fellow writer posed the following question to the group: If you were an athletic director with a huge budget, which coach would you hire: Florida's Billy Donovan or Kansas' Bill Self?
ST. LOUIS -- Tyshawn Taylor did not mince words about his performance in Friday's Sweet 16 game.
The coach asked his player whose mother had just died was there anyone back home he wanted the university to contact. Any adult who could help make arrangements.
Crazy upsets? Freak injuries? Dramatic comebacks? What else could happen?
The first weekend of the NCAA tournament is about upsets, buzzer-beaters and TV cameras finding players' moms in the stands. The second weekend is about finding the true championship contenders and TV cameras finding coaches' wives in the stands. So now that we have applauded the Lehigh Engineers for performing a Krzyzewskectomy on the tournament, let's get to the top order of business: Making sure the best team doesn't win.
Plenty of intriguing themes figured to gather with the teams dancing in St. Louis: the Ohio Bobcats want to become the latest mid-major long shot to reach the Final Four; North Carolina State is making the most of its first NCAA appearance in six years; Kansas survived Purdue's upset bid to advance to its fifth Sweet 16 in the same span; and of course, there's the inevitable "Roy Williams left Kansas" angle. All of that was pushed to the background, however, with 10:56 left in top-seeded North Carolina's win Sunday over Creighton.
OMAHA, Neb. -- In the moments after stealing a victory -- quite literally, considering Elijah Johnson's strip-and-score in the final seconds -- the operative emotion for Kansas coach Bill Self was relief, sure. "But also some jubilation, too," he said. We shouldn't blame him.
PITTSBURGH -- Kansas State fans might not like this too much, but the Wildcats' advancement to the NCAA tournament's round of 32 Thursday can be credited, in part, to their arch rival.
Is your brain scrambled from trying to decipher all those names and all those seeds and all those brackets? Fear not. Your resident Hoop Thinker has arrived in the nick of time. Let's take a spin through the four regions and see what comes to mind.
State Of The No. 1: North Carolina
The date: Feb. 1, 2011. The place: Oxford, Mississippi. The game: Kentucky at Mississippi. On a critical possession in the final minute, with Kentucky clinging to a one-point lead, Darius Miller, the Wildcats' 6-foot-8 junior forward, twice had the ball in his hands with a clean look at the goal.
With just days until Selection Sunday, the bigger boys get their conference tourneys underway. Here's a primer to this week's biggest conference tournament action, and how each could impact the Field of 68:
You are a hardcore college basketball fan. You don't want palaver and platitudes, clichés and coachspeak. You want to know what people who are in the know really know. You want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the hardcore truth.
A few things I believe to be true about the NCAA tournament: Point guards matter, and it's more important to have a steady one than a flashy one. Games get played even more in half-court settings, deflating the number of possessions. Because it's a single-elimination setting, the significance of every possession is amplified. A handful of sloppy possessions can bring an early end to a good team's season. Turnovers matter.
Championships of top 10 conferences are considered gold in terms of NCAA tournament selection, but since 2000, six teams have won at least a share of a top 10 league (in Conference RPI terms) and not made the NCAAs. The victims include 2001 Wyoming and Utah (Mountain West), 2001 Southern Mississippi (Conference USA), 2005 Miami, Ohio (MAC), 2007 Massachusetts (Atlantic 10), 2009 Creighton (Missouri Valley) and 2009 New Mexico (Mountain West).
SI.com's Magic Eight Ball finally came back from its manufacturer this week, with a sticker declaring it repaired and a note of apology from the R&D team. Despite their best efforts -- they use some blend of Tiresian Method, divinatory tarot and a predictive algorithm -- their product failed to see Kemba and the kids coming in February. It's been calibrated and is back in working order.
Note: Bubble Watch updated as of Tuesday Feb. 21 games.
While we're deep enough into league play to see the shape of the Field of 68 starting to come into focus, any "as of today" projection is going to have its quirks and flaws. There are no conference tournament upsets budgeted into the picture, which makes the at-large pool as large as possible, and more importantly, there are still schedule imbalances that will be resolved and evened out over the upcoming weeks.
Three quick thoughts on Kansas' impressive 68-54 win over Baylor on Wednesday night, which dropped the Bears a game behind both Kansas and Missouri in the Big 12 standings.
It's about this time every year when public overreaction becomes the rule rather than the exception when it comes to the bubble. Experts and viewers alike are certain teams are in or out -- "They're not an NCAA team!", they state authoritatively -- without actually going through a process of selecting 37 at-large teams and comparing the resume of that specific team with other realistic options.
Kansas-Missouri, the so-called "Border War," has been one of the truly special rivalries in college basketball. That's why the Tigers' 74-71 victory on Saturday night felt so bittersweet. Beginning next season, Missouri will compete in the SEC, meaning that Saturday's game was the last scheduled meeting to take place in Columbia. They will play again in Lawrence on Feb. 25, and possibly a third time in the Big 12 tournament. Beyond that, however, the future is uncertain.
A few thoughts on Saturday's crop of college hoops:
A few thoughts on Saturday's crop of college hoops:
LAWRENCE, Kan. -- The numbers in the box score had plenty of smiles for Tyshawn Taylor Monday night. There were the 28 points, the six assists, the 10 field goals made out of 14 attempted, including four for six from 3-point range. Incorporated into all those delightful digits was Taylor's stunning burst at the end of the first half, when he scored 10 points in a 13-0 run that catapulted No. 7 Kansas to a 92-74 rout of No. 3 Baylor at Allen Fieldhouse.
Are we already at the midway point of the 2011-12 college basketball season? Are those seed lines and brackets coming into view? Before we ready ourselves for the home stretch to March Madness, here are my awards for the best and worst -- and everything in between -- from the first half of the season.
Five thoughts from No. 14 Kansas' 67-49 victory over No. 23 Kansas State on Wednesday night ...
NEW YORK -- What we learned from No. 2 Kentucky's 75-65 win over No. 11 Kansas in the inaugural Champions Classic:
In preparation for the 2011-12 college hoops season, SI.com breaks down the best of the best in each of the six major conferences. Andy Glockner serves up his picks for Player of the Year, breakout candidate and more for the Big 12.
Lew Perkins is living a fairly stress-free life these days. Since stepping down as the athletic director at Kansas University last October, Perkins has formed a small consulting business that helps universities with strategic planning for their athletic programs. But he works only as hard as he wants. When I called Perkins this week to get his take on the expansion craze that's currently devouring college athletics, he said he would have to call back because he was busy completing a round of golf. "I have not had any discussions with anybody," he told me when we spoke later that night. "I've stayed away intentionally."
MANHATTAN, Kan. -- After Kansas State's players had finally climbed down from the scorer's table, and the court at Bramlage Coliseum had been cleared of the purple mob, and a panel of Wildcats had answered question upon question about just how, exactly, they ended No. 2 Kansas' 20-0 start, Bill Walker concluded Wednesday evening's festivities with a inquiry of his own:
Nothing in this sport occurs in a vacuum. Firings, hirings, commitments, decommitments -- they all have ripple effects. Five offseasons ago, I looked at the early reverberations of Bob Huggins' hiring at Kansas State and Kelvin Sampson's hiring at Indiana. Those moves affected the futures of players such as Scottie Reynolds, who would lead Villanova to a Final Four; Damion James, who would star at Texas; Darrell Arthur, who would win a national title at Kansas; and Michael Beasley, who would help put Kansas State back on the map. Sampson's departure from Oklahoma impacted as many as 16 programs in a little more than a month, and Indiana is still digging out of the crater he would create.
The last time North Carolina had this much NBA talent returning, the season was 2004-05, and there was little doubt that the ACC was the best conference in the land. UNC and Duke were both No. 1 seeds that year, as they could very well end up this March. But the ACC of seven years ago had depth. Its third powerhouse, Wake Forest, had Chris Paul at point guard and was ranked No. 1 in the nation that November. Its fourth power, Georgia Tech, had the core group back from a trip to the '04 national title game. In N.C. State it had a sleeper Sweet 16 team, led by Julius Hodge, and even on the roster of the last-place team, Florida State, there were two future NBA players, Von Wafer and Al Thornton.
The NBA released its official early entry list for the 2011 NBA draft on Thursday. DraftExpress.com's Jonathan Givony analyzes each player's decision to toss his name into the hat.
HOUSTON -- On Sunday night, after Virginia Commonwealth University had reached the Final Four by razing No. 1 Kansas, 71-61, I met the coach who'd shocked the nation in a moment of rare quiet. Shaka Smart stood in the back corner of the VCU locker room, several feet behind the screen he'd used to project a montage of pundits unanimously predicting a Jayhawks victory before the game. Such ploys, of course, have become Smart's signature; weeks earlier, back home in Richmond, the passionate 33-year-old had taken a lighter to the February page of his desk calendar and made the then-struggling Rams watch it burn. Now Smart was eating a banana in front of his locker, wrapping up one of the greatest months in sports history, and I couldn't help but ask the first thing that came to mind.
Of course, we want to see VCU coach Shaka Smart atop the ladder Monday night. Who could escape the singular irony in a coach named Smart, quoting from the movie Dumb and Dumber?
SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Long after the on-court celebration had died down and the rest of the championship gear-clad VCU Rams had bounded into their locker room, Joey Rodriguez cut a solitary figure strolling down the expansive back corridor at the Alamodome.
NEWARK, N.J. -- Roy Williams' first grandchild, Aiden, was born on Jan 1, 2010. It made for a joyous start to a new year, the rest of which wasn't nearly as fun.
SAN ANTONIO -- In the moments before the 1973 Belmont Stakes, a stable girl accidentally kicked a water bucket near Secretariat as the great horse waited to head to the track. According to onlookers, the startled colt reared up on his hind legs and whinnied repeatedly, seemingly jumping out of his skin. He went on to crush rival Sham and take the Triple Crown with a staggering 31-length win.
Many people who will watch the NCAA tournament this week are just tuning in to college hoops for the first time this season. Real hoopheads like us, however, have been locked in since the start of practice in October. Nothing we see over the next three weeks is going to surprise us. We've trained ourselves to expect the unexpected.
In 2010-11, college basketball suffered from a recession. The talent level was down across the board. (NBA execs are already lamenting the worst draft pool in years.) Injuries sidelined potential All-Americas (Duke's Kyrie Irving, Purdue's Robbie Hummel) before they could even get going. Young, but talented teams struggled to get their acts together. Coaches and referees made stupefying late-game decisions. Michigan State went 19-14 -- and still made the Dance.
Ohio State, Kansas, Pittsburgh and Duke earned No. 1 seeds for the 2011 NCAA tournament.
Notre Dame found itself in a tight spot last Saturday in Storrs, Conn. The team's best player and leading scorer, Ben Hansbrough, had thrown a foolish elbow and fouled out with 8:24 remaining. UConn responded with a 13-0 burst that gave the Huskies a five-point lead with just over four minutes left. After the Fighting Irish called timeout, the home crowd stood and cheered in anticipation of what seemed to be an inevitable win.
The first week of conference tournament season is for mid-major madness, and this season has obliged with a ton of regular-season champs getting trapdoored into the NIT by feisty underdogs. The second week is for the bigger boys, with seeding and selection situations sorting themselves out nationwide.
The hard work is done. The fun stuff is about to begin. So as we bid adieu to the 2010-11 regular season, your resident Hoop Thinker is ready to bestow the major year-end awards in each of the Big Six conferences. Herewith:
Since Duke was the latest team to lose its No. 1 ranking, it's only fitting that we begin this week's mailbag with a pair of e-mails from Blue Devil Nation, one searching for hope, the other expressing concern.
If the NCAA tournament is supposed to be such an exclusive ticket, why does no one want to make it?
We begin with an appropriately geeky question from Overland Park, Kan., former home to the NCAA's headquarters.
How important is the eye test? The answer is in the eye of the beholder.
Well, then. The last thing I expected to do after Kansas State's crushing buzzer-nonbeater Saturday night at Colorado was to have to re-evaluate its NCAA tournament at-large hopes two nights later.
Every year at this time, there's moaning about how soft the bubble is. This year, though, those gripes may have merit.
The Harrison Barnes Story has moved past its awkward stage -- him struggling at North Carolina after being named preseason first-team All-America, various coaches and pundits blaming it on the media, others blaming it on Larry Drew II not getting Barnes the ball -- and into its feel-good stage. The kid from Ames, Iowa, had a less-than-fantastic first two months of his freshman campaign, but he is trending upward heading into his first (and perhaps last) visit to Cameron Indoor Stadium. A virtuoso performance on Wednesday night at Duke will make everyone forget about that underwhelming November and December.
Here's a fun little parlor game: If the 2010-11 college basketball season were a movie, what would you call it? Open Season? Upset in the Air? Lack of True Grit? The Kids Are Not All Right? The Mid-major Strikes Back? The Hurt Locker Room? How about ... Gone With the Wins?
AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas' frontcourt had two face-the-truth moments early in the 2010-11 season. The first was against Pittsburgh at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 19, when the Longhorns suffered a 68-66 loss that, in senior Gary Johnson's estimation, brought their manhood into question. "We played like females against Pitt," he said. "We were soft and everyone knew it. It was evident watching the game and in the stat sheet. ... And soon, that was our reputation."
Of all the major season-ending awards, coach of the year is the hardest to define. Most people seem to believe the coach of the year should be based on a one-year evaluation period where the main criterion is exceeding preseason expectations. But to me, there should be a lot more to it than making a bunch of poll voters look dumb. If that's the most important measurement, half the coaches in Division I should get a trophy.
If bracket life were 100 percent objective, San Diego State would be a No. 1 seed this week. Losses by Duke and Syracuse caused a thorough re-evaluation of the top two seed lines and yielded some fairly interesting results. The chart to the right lists the 1-seed candidates in RPI order.
Five thoughts on Florida State's 66-61 upset of No. 1 Duke on Wednesday night, which was the Blue Devils' first loss since March 3, 2010 ...
For a guy whose team is undefeated and ranked third in the country, Bill Self sure is in a foul mood these days.
Bubble Watch is back and your satisfaction is 100 percent guaranteed!
We begin, appropriately enough, with a query from Sin City asking me to predict the future.
In the McDonald's All-American game last March, the two featured backcourt players on the East team were Kyrie Irving, of West Orange, N.J., and Josh Selby, of Baltimore. The two major recruiting/ranking websites held different opinions over who was the better prospect; Scout.com listed Irving as its No. 1 point guard, while Rivals.com considered Selby not just the No. 1 point guard, but the No. 1 overall player in the Class of 2010.
The first 13 rules of basketball sold Friday for more than $4 million, setting a record for the highest sales price for sports memorabilia, according to Sotheby's, which conducted the auction.
The first rules of basketball are being auctioned by the family of the game's inventor. CNN's Richard Roth reports.
NEW YORK -- What we learned from Tuesday's Jimmy V Classic -- No. 8 Syracuse's 72-58 win over No. 7 Michigan State, and No. 4 Kansas' 81-68 win over No. 13 Memphis -- at Madison Square Garden:
Near the end of this June's realignment madness, when the Big 12's blowup seemed imminent, I was working on a magazine story about where Kansas would land. I had called the Jayhawks "helpless hoopsters in a football world," and it looked as if they'd be the biggest victims of the league-shifting madness. I talked to Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, who was still lobbying folks in Texas to save the Big 12; to the head of the Kansas Board of Regents, whose interest was to keep KU and Kansas State in the same conference; and to a source at the Big East, which I thought was the Jayhawks' most logical, albeit ill-fitting, destination.
With the 2010-11 college basketball season kicking off in earnest this weekend, there is only one question nettling the heart of the true college basketball fan: Why are there not more ways to submit questions for SI.com's weekly mailbag?
Player of the Year: Jacob Pullen, Kansas State
Whether top-end quality or overall depth is more important in defining a conference as strong is debatable, but the best have ample quantities of both. Which leagues have the right balance to do the most damage in March? Using the categorical framework of Bubble Watch, here's a breakdown of the top 10 conferences this season:
LAS VEGAS -- "Heck, we were 33-2 going into that game," Bill Self was saying. The Kansas coach and I were sitting in the bleachers of Rancho High School last Thursday afternoon, watching a delightfully taut game between two of the top grassroots program in the country who were competing in the Adidas Super 64 tournament: the Compton Magic, which features the top center in the Class of 2012, 7-foot Isaiah Austin, and the J-Smoove Celtics. Self was among several dozen coaches who were attending the game during the annual July evaluation period, but like his colleagues in the bleachers, Self was far from engrossed in the action.
SI.com's NBA experts report from the 2010 NBA draft with all the behind-the scenes stories, rumors and news filtering through Madison Square Garden.
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Chris Paul has no qualms about leaking trade secrets. The Hornets star holds (and funds) the CP3 Elite Guard Camp at a YWCA here in his hometown each summer -- this year he invited 17 of the country's best college players, and a North Carolina-heavy roster of 26 high schoolers -- with the express purpose of teaching them the tricks he uses as a point guard the NBA, because, he says, he wishes someone would have done it for him before he got to the league. While we watched Paul and Warriors rookie Stephen Curry, a former camper, hold court with a group of 16- and 17-year-old prospects on Saturday, Scout.com recruiting guru Dave Telep said, "Chris feels like it's his responsibility to do this for these kids -- and who else out there can you say that about?"
If, or depending on which reports you believe, when conference tectonics begin this month, and pieces of the Big 12 attach themselves to larger landmasses in the West (the Pac-16) and the North (the Big "Ten"), Kansas and Kansas State will be adrift on their own, helpless against forces that care not that the former school has one of the most storied basketball programs of all time, and the latter will be a top 10 team for a second straight season. The Jayhawks and Wildcats make Kansas one of the strongest basketball states in the Union, yet they have no clout in the football-centric cash grab that's driving realignment. Will anyone in power acknowledge the S.O.S. signals coaches Bill Self and Frank Martin are sending up from Allen Fieldhouse and Bramlage Coliseum, or will their programs take the biggest hits from this conference shift?
The final bit of news from college basketball's late signing period came out of Portland, Ore., on Wednesday night, when five-star forward Terrence Jones stunningly signed a financial aid agreement to play for Kentucky -- despite the fact that he "committed" to Washington in a press conference 20 days earlier. In the world of recruiting, the definition of commitment is always being adjusted to include more gray area.
Every year we see a slew of "report cards" and "winner/loser" style articles written by clairvoyant college basketball journalists criticizing underclassmen for electing to leave the cozy confines of college basketball. More often than not we read about "bad decisions" made due to "poor advice" received from people in a players' inner circle (agents, runners, greedy parents and AAU types).
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