Posts Tagged ‘NCAA


Top 10 NCAA Basketball Under the Radar Teams

While most of the Pre Season NCAA basketball polls have again predicted great seasons for Kansas, UNC, Texas, or Michigan State, there are always a few teams who fly below the radar and make a deep run into March Madness. Last season it was Cleveland State, Arizona, and Missouri. Not many experts had these cinderella teams making it as far as they did. Who will be this season’s surprise success story in college basketball. Here is my list of 10 NCAA teams that not many are talking about, but may make a surprise appearance in College Basketball’s postseason in ’09-’10.


Cinncinnati Bearcats

Conference – Big East           Last Season’s Record – 18-14

Although the Bearcats slipped late last season by losing in the first round of the Big East Tourney to DePaul, they gained valuable experience and took a step in the right direction. Last season’s leading scorer Jr. Deonta Vaughn(15.2 ppg) can return to his natural SG position with the expected return of ’08 highly touted recruit, PG Cashmere Wright, who missed his freshman season due to a torn ACL. Last year’s Big East All-Freshman Team Selection, PF Yancy Gates(10.6 points and 6.1 rebs), is a beast and could be the the confernce’s next great dominant big man. Ibrahima Thomas, a talented 6’11 transfer from Oklahoma State is eligible to play in December. The two gems of the program are incoming freshmen, Lance Stephenson, who is NYC’s all time leading scorer and top 10 recruit, along with Jaquon Parker, a 6’4 guard, who was a Virginia HS phenom.



Baylor Bears

Conference – Big 12           Last Season’s Record – 24-15      NIT Tournament

Last season the Bears finished strong by making it to the Finals in both the Big 12 Tournement and the NIT. Even with some heavy losses and an improving conference, they should improve on their 5-11 Big 12 record from last season and possibly push for a March Madness bid. With the loss of their leading scorer, Curtis Jerrells(16.3 ppg) to graduation, the Bears will look to 2 former MCDonalds All Americans in LaceDarius Dunn(15.7 points, 4.9 rebs ) and Tweety Carter(10.6 ppg and 40+% from 3pt ), US HS basketball’s All time leading scorer, and a six man, top 25 recruiting class led by 6’5 slasher, Nolan Dennis, who chose Baylor over Memphis when Calipari bolted for Kentucky. Michigan transfer, Ekpe Udoh will be a dominant defensive player in the paint, since he was an All Big 10 Defensive Team Selection by blocking over 90 shots in 24 games.



Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Conference – ACC           Last Season’s Record – 12-19

The Jackets could rebound nicely after winning only 2 conference games last season primarily because of a star studded #4 ranked recruiting class and the return of one of the ACC’s best players, Gani Lawal(15.1 pts and 9.5 rebs), who pulled out of the NBA draft. They could have another star in the making in G Iman Shumpert(10.6 ppg and 5 assists). Maurice Miller also provides help in the backcourt with his 4.3 assists. Prized recruit Derrick Favors(#4 in ’09 Class) is an elite PF prospect who may have his sites set on the NBA after only one season and may become an All american by seasons end. They also boast 4 other top 150 recruits led by PG Mfon Udofia and SG Glen Rice. One of their incoming recruits who could help immediately, F Kammeon Holsey, will miss the entire season with a torn ACL sustained in August. They could make the biggest jump in the ACC this season.


Dayton Flyers

Conference – Atlantic 10           Last Season’s Record – 27-7      NCAA Tournament 2nd Round

While most college hoops officianados already know of Dayton’s fast paced attack, they still are sometimes an afterthought behind A-10 powers Xavier, Temple, and even St. Joseph’s. The Flyers return 4 starters and 10 of 11 top scorers to a team who made it to the 2nd round of March Madness, losing to Kansas. Led by one of the more underrated 2nd year players in the country in Chris Wright(13.3 pts, 6.6 rebs, and 6 double doubles), Dayton plays an insane uptempo offense and intense defense by implimenting a style that most teams aren’t accustomed to by spreading regular minutes( no one avgs over 28 mins/gm) among a 10-12 man rotation, keeping everyone fresh. Luke Fabrizious keeps defenses honest by shooting almost 40% from 3pt land. Look for Dayton to be in the Top 25 all season and because of their style of play, and possibly make a deep run in March.

Kansas St

Kansas State Wildcats

Conference – Big 12           Last Season’s Record – 22-12       NIT Tournament

Blessed by having one of the best backcourts in the Big 12, with Dennis Clemente and Jacob Pullen, and some super talented incoming recruits, the Wildcats may sneak into the NCAA Tournament since they play tremendous defense and will be flying under the radar with everyone focused on Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. The backcourt is stacked with leading scorers, SG Clemente(15 ppg, high of 44 pts vs Texas) and PG Pullen(13.9 ppg, high of 32 pts). A 6’10 transfer from UCONN, Curtis Kelly, who was a former NY HS phenom, and , PF Wally Judge(#15 recruit in ’09 Class) who is a Michael Beasley clone, will help solidify the frontcourt. A Top 20, five man recruiting class will help K State not only in ’09, but also build for years to come.


Illinois Fighting Illini

Conference – Big 10           Last Season’s Record – 24-10      NCAA Tournament First Round

Bruce Weber’s Illini made it back to the NCAA Tournament last season after missing the Big Dance in ’07-’08. Not to make excuses but they just weren’t themselves without Sr G Chester Frazier in their first round loss the the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, in a 12 vs 5 upset. Even with losing two Sr guards(Frazier and Meachum) and 6th man(Brock), the Illini are in good hands with 3 talented sophomores and a #14 ranked recruiting class for ’09-’10. Forward Mike Davis(11.3 pts, 8.1 rebs), who is recovering from a broken foot at USA Basketball tryouts, 7’1 C Mike Tisdale(10.2 pts, 4 rebs), and PG Demetri McCamey(11.5 pts, 4.6 assists) should keep Illinois in the top half of the Big 10 all season. Three top tier guards led by DJ Richardson and PF Tyler Griffey highlight Weber’s prized recruiting class.


Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Conference – Conference USA           Last Season’s Record – 25-11

Could this be the year that the Golden Cane surpass the rebuilding Memphis Tigers in Conference USA? With Memphis in it’s most vulnerable state, with the departure of Calipari and his prized recruits, Tulsa is primed to challenge for the Conference USA Title and a NCAA birth. Led by possible NBA bound, 7 foot, 250 lb C Jerome Jordan(13.8 pts, 8.6 rebs, 2.5 blks) and returning leading scorer, guard Ben Uzoh(14 pts, 5 rebs, 3.6 assists), Tulsa seems to have everything aligned in their favor with the Conference Tournament moved to their home gym. The Cane are so confident they will be improved that they even scheduled a game against the Duke Blue Devils in February.


Vanderbilt Commodores

Conference – SEC           Last Season’s Record – 19-12

Fresh off of a team bonding trip to Australia, Vandy seems poised for a NCAA birth. Led by proven big man AJ Ogilvy(15.4 pts, 7.1 rebs) and Jermaine Beal(12.5 pts, 40% 3pt), a trio of sophomore contributors, as well as a highly touted freshman, John Jenkins, who is a big time scorer, the Commodores could finish 3rd behind Tennessee and Kentucky in the SEC and be in the discussion for one of the final NCAA bids.


Niagara Purple Eagles

Conference – MAAC           Last Season’s Record – 26-9

While playing in the shadows of MAAC Conference annual frontrunner Siena, the Purple Eagles bring back 4 starters from a team that won 26 games a year ago. Niagara is led by former Villanova transfer, Bilal Benn(13.8 pts, 9.3 rebs), who is an undersized PF who causes fits for bigger defenders, and leading scorer, G Tyrone Lewis(16.2 ppg). The Blue Eagles will also have help from new recruits like PF Andre Gillette from Philly, for whom they outbid other mid majors like Temple, Xavier, and St. Joe’s, and 6’11 Luuk Kortekaas, who played on the 18 and under Dutch National Team.


BYU Cougars

Conference – Mountain West         Last Season’s Record – 25-8  NCAA Tournament First Round

Thankfully Coach Dave Rose is cancer free. BYU is always at or near the top of the Mountain West Conference and are regular participants in the Big Dance, but have had touble getting past the 1st round. The Cougars should once again be near or atop the MWC again along with UNLV and SD State. Losing leading scorer, Lee Cummard hurts but BYU has more than capable reinforcements in Jonathan Tavernari(15.7 pts, 7.2 rebs), who pulled out of the NBA Draft early, and one of the better all around players in the conference in Jimmer Fredette(16.2ppg), who showed he is much improved by dropping 41 points while competing in the King of Kings Tourney in New York. The Cougars also get help in the form of new recruits G Tyler Haws, who was Utah’s Mr. Basketball, and F Brandon Davies, who won back to back state titles in HS.


One and Doners in the Class of 2010 – Kyrie Irving

There are many talented players in next season’s recruiting class. In this series, I will give a closer look at some of the best players who are probably one year and done college players in the Class of 2010.

Kyrie Irving 

One of the top point guards in the Class of 2010 is Kyrie Irving.  Irving has regularly impressed since transfering a year ago from Montclair Kimberley Academy(NJ) to national powerhouse  St. Patrick’s HS in New Jersey.  That’s an impressive feat considering that the annual HS power  has steadily produced Division 1 and NBA talent like Al Harrington, Quintrell Thomas, who is a sophomore at Kansas, and Dexter Strickland, a top 50 freshman recruit for UNC, along with Irving’s current teammate Mike Gilchrist, who is the #1 rated recruit in the 2011 class.

Irving is 6’2 and 175 lbs and is ranked #7 by Scout and in the top 10 by both ESPN and Rivals.  He has a good basketball pedigree since his father Dedrick, played at Boston University and his godfather, Rod Strickland was a good NBA player and current Kentucky assistant coach.

Irving could turn out to be the most polished  guard out of the top tier “big three” of  Josh Selby, Brandon Knight, and Irving.  Irving has the perfect blend of flash and substance.  He seemingly never takes a bad shot and is a consumate floor general who always makes the right play and is rarely out of control.  Posessing a high hoops IQ helps  Irving run an offense smoothly by passing to  open teammates in a scoring position and scoring when the opportunity presents itself.    He impressed recently, at the Nike Global Summit in Portland and proved to be the best point guard in attendance.  I have personally seen Irving in action at numerous HS Hoops Showcases inthe PA/NJ area, and he somehow emerges as his team’s best player once the game is over, never forcing the ball, taking what the defense gives him.

  The widespread belief is that Irving has the skills to be a major weapon in the open court at the next level. But he also has the instinct and decision making to pick teams apart in the half-court as well.  Most major Division 1 schools have interest but it seems that Irving has narrowed his focus to three schools, namely Duke, Kentucky, and Indiana.  Most scouts are in love with Irving’s savvy and decision making. At the AAU Nationals a few weeks ago in Orlando, Irving, with his NJ Roadrunners team, turned in the best performance of any player,  a 39-point explosion in a loss to the Baltimore Stars, which earned him MVP.  He has pledged to narrow his college choices after the Elite 24 Hoops Classic on August 22nd at Rucker Park, in NY.

Offensively, Kyrie Irving can do it all. He can get to the cup with ease, dunk the ball, hit shots beyond the arc, and distribute the rock. He has already identified the fact that he needs to work on his mid-range game, so expect that to improve.

At the NBA level he compares to Chris Paul on the high end to Deron Williams, or Randy Foye, since he doesn’t play with the flash of some other high recruits.  One thing is for sure, this will not be the last time you read about Kyrie Irving.

Indiana logo                               Duke basketball                                                       




Andre Dawkins Enters Through the Back Door at DUKE


These kids……The NCAA keeps changing the rules so the recruits find new methods of going around those rules.  Don’t blame Andre Dawkins for finding a loophole and figured out how to arrive on Duke’s campus in ’09 instead of ’10. 

Dawkins, who is was the #16 ranked player and #3 rated shooting guard by in 2010, did a very smart thing by taking an English course over the Summer.  He did so because he learned it was the only credit he needed for NCAA eligibility, enabling to join the Blue Devils this upcoming season. 

He thought he lost his freshman year when he transfered from public school to Atlantic Shores Christian School when the prep school reclassified Dawkins as a freshman.

I’m sure Coach K is happy since his program lost two guards from last season with Greg Paulus graduating and Eliot Williams transferring .  Dawkins should make an immediate impact with John Scheyer in the backcourt.    

Duke basketball

About the Author:

Allen Moll is an avid NBA and College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Allen also writes for,, and

Favorite teams include everything Philly, like Sixers, Eagles, Phillies, Villanova , St. Joe's , Hoops, LaSalle, and Lehigh University Hoops.

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July 2018
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