Top 11 N 1 things to watch this NCAA season (Part 2)
Here is part 2 of a two-part series. Check out part 1 here.
7. Sean Miller’s Final Four quest
Sean Miller has never been to the Final Four. SERIOUSLY….Drink it in!! Not out of disappointment, but out of pure shock. I honestly hadn’t realized this until the middle of the summer. He’s had four Elite 8 showings (2008, 2011, 2014, 2015) with the 2 of the last 3 appearances coming down to a final play or OT. At first look, this year’s Arizona isn’t as exciting as what the 2018 Wildcats are shaping up to be. Ray Smith’s tragic knee injury forced him to retirement last week, Alonzo Trier is currently suspended and high ranked recruit Terrence Ferguson left to play professional basketball in Australia. The commitment of high school player DeAndre Ayton phenom has Arizona currently ranked as the no.1 recruiting class of 2017 and an excitement level worthy of national championship aspirations. However, Miller’s teams more often than not find ways to stay competitive during the season. The addition of previously stated Lauri Markkanen will help out in that regard and Kobi Simmons is another high recruit that the Wildcats will be counting on. Ranked Preseason #10, maybe, just MAYBE, in a year where the immediate future doesn’t seem as bright, Miller finally gets over the hump.
Q : Simple. Is this the year?
8. Transferred (FINALLY) Austin Nichols
I’ve always despise transfer rules in college basketball. Not only are underclassmen forced to sit out an entire year, but schools are allowed to restrict geographical areas where the player can’t join a school. It was a known secret that Nicholls wanted to attend Virginia and he will finally get his opportunity after a year and half long fight with Memphis establishment. He’s a mobile forward who soft touch and length gives Virginia a presence inside. Tony Bennett is another great coach who hasn’t had a Final Four appearance on his resume. Nicholls impact will go a long way in trying to change that.
Q: Can he establish himself as a 1st rounder and a good defensive presence?
9. Jarrett Allen and Longhorns
Shaka Smart first season in Texas was met with relative success. The Longhorns 4th Big 12 in league play, had a signature buzzer-beating win over UNC in December and advancing to the 2nd round of the NCAA tourney before losing to Butler. This season is a little bit different. With expectations rising with the incoming highly touted freshman Jarrett Allen (15th on ESPN top 100) the Longhorns will be on the watch all season. Allen is classic back-to-basket Center that could create matchups problems across the Big 12 and provide much needed size for the Texas frontcourt. His integration to the team and Shaka’s magic will define Texas season.
Q: Fab frosh or a long-term project?
10. Nigel Hayes Senior season
Seriously, is he not the most interesting man in college basketball this year? Nigel Hayes hasn’t seen a camera he didn’t like or a microphone that he felt didn’t require his attention. On the court though, he will be expected to lead Wisconsin in Big 10 conference championship with Ohio State and Michigan State. I’m not sure this will be a good team or that he’s a good NBA draft prospect. He has gotten better any year and if he figures out a consistent jumpshot to the tune of 46-36 instead of 41-31, then the ceiling for him as a player and for his team will be considerably higher
11. Jonathan Isaac
There’s a skinny Kevin Durant in Florida State and his name is Jonathan Isaac!
That’s what Seminoles’ fans would like you to think. Comparisons are often over overblown in sports and this is another example. That doesn’t mean that Isaac’ potential isn’t less tantalizing. At 6’11 220lbs with a 7’5 wingspan, his frame, handle and shooting ability. Florida State is much more known for their football accomplishments (2014 national title) then basketball (list highest finish). If the team is to be competitive in the ACC, Isaac will have to play a big part in that scoring and defending forwards at a high-level. Let his draft stock fall where it may.
N 1. Wendell Carter’s recruiting
When Harvard is mention, automatically the thought « geniuses » comes to mind. OR computer engineering. Or future State Attorney. Certainly not basketball player (now Jeremy Lin’s sudden rise certainly brought new awareness to the program. XX’s own Wendell Carter is currently ranked as the 2nd best player from the 2017 High School graduating class. Carter’s combination of motor, soft touch and athleticism as a center is tantalizing and is said to have Harvard and Duke as schools on top of his list. If Harvard were to be his choice, this would be a defining moment for the program and the school’s reputation as a basketball school. Plus, the last time Harvard had a draft prospect in the 1st round was…..1991!!!. At this point in time looking forward to the 2018 NBA draft, Carter would most definitely exceed that.
Q: Harvard or Duke?
Piece by Josué Sédjro – Twitter: @JoshuaHemsky