10 College Teams Who Should Make Big Improvements
1. Mizzou- I'd be surprised if these guys weren't a top 15 team next year. That press they run is crazy, they have a bunch of experience returning due to the fact they play about 10 or 11 deep because of their pace, and they bring in arguably the best recruiting class in the Big 12 (led by Tony Mitchell, Phil Pressey, and JUCO Ricardo Ratcliffe) in. Kim English is going to prove to be a 1st round pick in 2011 (bold prediction), Lawrence Bowers is a freak athlete at both forwards spots (look out for him), and they will throw as many as 4 PG's at you. Mike Anderson continues to succeed, that press is no hoe.
2. Illinois- Look for them to be an Elite 8 or even Final 4 team. Demetri McCamey will be an All-American, Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale provides mismatches offensively, and D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul got a year older. Add in the length, defensive ability, and athleticism of Jereme Richmond, and Meyers Leonard will be a big off the bench who provides mismatches with his shooting touch and length. Bruce Weber has a great team here, lets see if he actually does his job.
3. Georgia- Mark Fox is a great coach. Georgia runs a modified Triangle offense, where Trey Thompkins can post up and face up with equal effectiveness, as well as pass the ball. He's going to be a solid NBA player, in the mold of a David West type PF. Travis Leslie is the best athlete in college right now HANDS DOWN (one of the best athletes I've ever seen too) and he is a decent shooter and good defender. You'll hear about him come draft time. They have an iffy supporting cast, but Georgia should be a tourny team next year.
4. Pitt- They have the look of a darkhorse title contender. Ashton Gibbs is a lights out shooter, and could be an All-American. Brad Wannamaker is a great college role-player who will do whatever is asked. Gary McGhee is a banger who also is a strong role-player. Dante Taylor is similar to Chris Taft (good or bad? lol), but he's a year older and has nice potential. Gilbert Brown is an elite 6th man at this level who can shoot it and make athletic plays. Jamie Dixon is a solid coach, and you can bet they'll defend and make shots.
5. UNC- You know I can't forget about them. Harrison Barnes could be in line for 15 ppg, 7 boards and 1 block and a steal per game. He's a potential 1st pick who can do it all on the floor at a high level. Larry Drew sucked last year mostly, but he's older, fast and a solid passer, 2 recipes for success in Coach Williams' system. Reggie Bullock provides shooting and defense as a freshman. Many (including myself) wanted to see Strickland take over last year, and he can create offense well as a Sophomore. I think Tyler Zeller will emerge, and I honestly think he is a more talented offensive player than Ed Davis was. He just is weak on D. I expect an Sweet 16 season from UNC next year, possibly Elite 8.
6. UCLA- They sucked big-time last year. SMH. But now they have a potential Russell Westbrook type of player in Malcolm Lee, who is athletic, quick and a big-time defender. Tyler Honeycutt is getting some love around here, and he is some Austin Daye in him as he's skinny, long and a nice shooter. Josh Smith is a big man with decent skills down low, but if he doesn't watch his weight he could be the next James Lang. Ben Howland now has the core experience to defend and play his style now. Look for them to be a NCAA team next year, but probably as a 2-and-out team. Still, an improvement from 09-10.
7. Colorado- People better not sleep on the Buffs. Cory Higgins could be a 1st Team All-Big 12 guy next year with his scoring ability on the wing. Alec Burks, while pretty overhyped, is only going to improve his skill level. He was a 17 ppg scorer last year, and that was mostly in transition. If he can hold on to that and stay efficient, with more teams game-planning for him harder, I'll be truly impressed with him. They have some shooters too, with Dwight Thonre and Austin Dufault. They should be an NIT team next year, but that's better than nothing huh?
8. Memphis- They have big talent. Now they may need 2 balls now though. Joe Jackson and Will Barton are both skinny scorers with elite quickness and slashing skills, but both are ball-dominant and score-1st players. The best prospect on the team is 6'8 point-forward Wesley Witherspoon, who provides length, quickness, unselfishness, and elite defensive ability and potential. He is a Tayshaun Prince clone. With his unselfishness, he is scores well next year and plays efficient like last year, he could be a top 15 pick. Jelan Kendrick is a CDR type of player, who could be an All-American here after 4 years. Look for him to factor in too. Angel Garcia could finally emerge as a 6'10 shooter, hopefully. He still needs strength. Look for them to make the Sweet 16 after being an NIT team.
9. NC State- This team will be extremely fun to watch. They returning a bruiser/mid-range shooter who also rebounds effectively in Tracy Smith, an Honorable Mention All-ACC guy. Lucky for him he returned after flirting with the draft, and has help. C.J. Leslie is an athletic combo forward with high-level quickness and mismatch potential, in the mold of Thaddeus Young. Ryan Harrow has some of the best handles I've seen in all my life, and he's got the quickness to be a huge scoring/slashing threat, combined with the length to put tremendous pressure on the ball. While he's no true PG, he can make flashy plays and is a dynamic athlete too. He could be a Jeff Teague type player. I think they should team him up with Javier Gonzalez, until he proves he can be a PG. Look for the CARDIAC PACK, to make it to the tourny as a one and done team.
10. Dayton- After winning the NIT last year, expect Dayton to return to the Big Dance in March. "Top Flight" Wright is a great athlete with good rebounding ability. While he scores effectively at this level do to his athleticism being head and shoulders better than the A-10 competition, he's NOT a great prospect to me. Chris Johnson and his fearless ways return too, as does basically their whole energetic and relatively athletic team. Look for them to be a tough 2-and-out team next year.
Memphis might end up in the Final 8 or better...I love Witherspoon's game..It's going to be interesting to see how much Will Coleman & Garcia have improved..Both have the talent to play at the next level...
Anderson seems to be doing thangs at Mizzou,just like his menter Nolan Richarson did at Arkansas..I loved watching Mizzou play in the tournament the past 2 years..
Most of the guys on UCLA seem like they've been there since Ed O'Bannon was there..lol..Malcolm Lee has might be the 2nd coming of Jrue Holiday if he can remain healthy...
glad to see you include ucla. They had better get better,lol. I see them finishing second in the conference. Lee plays like westbrook, but lacks the athleticism. Still very solid and last season cant be pinned on him.
St.johns is goin 2 b an improved team they have a better coach in Steve Lavin and all of there players r seniors expect maybe 1 or 2..look 4 guard Dwight Hardy 2 have a good season and pf Justin Burrell should also improve
I like the St. Johns prediction topscout, but do you think St.John's will be a tourny team? Because they made the NIT last year, and I don't see how they'll improve. They have the same mediocre core of players they had last year (besides Kennedy and MAYBE Burrell and Hardy), but Lavin might do his thing. If he gets them to the tourny, he should be Coach of the Year IMO.
When I saw this thread I was thinking Pittsburgh and Georgia. Glad you had them down
Would Travis Leslie play a role similar to Shannon Brown in the NBA? Is that a good comparison Iggy?
Shannon Brown is a great comparison. I see Kelenna Azuibuike more though, because Leslie is more of a pure SG than the combo guard Shannon Brown is.
Ah, I never watched him much, other than when they played Kentucky. Seeing him put Cousins on a poster was enough for me to know he's good lol
Yea iggy I think they could make the tourney a lot of teams r rebuildin n da big east
dont forget lorenzo brown on NC State, he gonna be a stud too.
No love for Iowa?
You know what....
I like Gatens, but outside of that? yikes.
They have a few pieces- eric may is a solid athlete that should have developed(i hope) over the offseason.
Jarryd Cole is a strong, undersized man downlow-he can run and play d, absolutly know offensive game
Cully Payne-Way to slow to guard anyone who matters, BUT he can initiate plays and shoot.
Then they have a few forwards(devon archie, Andrew Brommer) who lack any real skill except being 6'9 and can occasionally make a wide open j-in practice.
And gatens- who should/could average like, 35 ppg this season
Actually, as far as I know, they have 6? guys coming back from last years team-so if you want to walk on to a big-10 school, this is as good a time as any.
+appy you gave Missouri the top spot they should be an a real sleeper team and Tony Mitchelll should of been an All-American and will suprise many people he has great size and length at 6-8. aAlso sorry but no way in hell Gatens averages 35 ppg next year especiallly in one of the top conferences in the Country
I'm sure he was just playing about 35 ppg thing lol, no need to take that seriously
Florida? OK, maybe not...any word on Austin Rivers, the Gators could really use him...
not really high on illi. i think they will be good but i have to agree with andy katz and say they are in the top 13-15 range.
i also think texas should be added
I thought about Texas, but I don't see them getting past the 2nd round. That's not a big improvement to me, since they were an Ish Smith shot from being a 2nd round team last year.
Illinois has the most talent they've had since Deron Williams and Luther Head played. They may be a top 15 team at the end of the year, but look for them to be an Elite 8 team at least. They have all the pieces they need to be title contenders.
Rivers is most likely going to Florida him and Beal play the same position along with boynton erving and thats a pretty crowded backcourt
to me ill is the third best team in there own conference. purdue and mich st are easily better then them and i think both of them will be in the final four
"to me ill is the third best team in there own conference. purdue and mich st are easily better then them and i think both of them will be in the final four"
That's more of an indication that the conference is stronger than last year, than it is that Illinois can't be an Elite 8 team at least.
im not sure how much stranger they are though. ill is better and mich st and purdue were thought to be final four teams last year but after those three the drop gets pretty steep.
i think they can be a elite 8 team because its college basketball and a bunch of teams can get there since there arent any really dominate teams out side of duke. after the top 4 you can damn near put any other team in the elite 8 so yeah its possible ill could be one of those teams.