Happy Monday, everyone!
For St. John's Red Storm fans, the NY Post wrote a counter to some of the hot takes regarding the signing a pair of transfers (Justin Simon and Marvin Clark Jr.) - and obviously loading up for 2017-18. Not to say that 2016-17 is another forgettable year, but the talent available via transfer would be of higher impact than waiting a year for a player to come on strong.
Plus, there is the reality that flipping the win/ loss number from 8-24 to 24-8 is not a thing that happens in college basketball.
Meanwhile, the staff hit the recruiting circuit hard this weekend during the open period, offering two 2018 California prospects, guard Naseem Gaskin and forward Jordan Brown.
Which is a reminder, too, that 2018 isn't far away.
The top, stable 2017 prospects are getting ready to make their picks before their high school seasons. After the fall signing period, schools are often left to choose from players who are a mix of attention-seekers, players who want to play at a level higher than their skills/ production warrant (which sometimes works out), academic question marks and actual hidden gems who need a lot of work.
Getting the core a team wants is better done early.
So offering 2018 prospects is smart, setting up a relationship that reminds the player which programs were "loyal", who came at them "hardest", which teams spent the time to know the player and personalize the pitch beyond "empty roster spot needs U [fire emoji, happy emoji, basketball emoji]".
The Johnnies will have at least two slots open for the 2018 class, and things often change. Players will decide to leave for pro opportunities, or transfer for more playing time.
It may be interesting for some that the two offers went to California players. Chris Mullin and his staff looked to stay very local and try and keep the best NY players home. They likely still will, with a strong and talented class of local athletes looking to make the right school match in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 classes.
But the country is filled with ballers, and New York is an international beacon. maybe the recruiting won't reflect Mullin's mentor, Lou Carnesecca, and feature players who are just a token ride away from the school.
(For you younger readers, a "token" was a metal coin used to get on the subway and bus systems in New York City. There were even slots to put the change. And turnstiles a person could reasonably hop over, but let's not go into all of that...)
Can Tubby Smith keep his leading scorer, Dedric Lawson, at Memphis? Smith was hired to replace Josh Pastner, who was pushed to leave by the Memphis administration. Pastner had talent in Lawson, had Lawson's younger, talented brother coming in, and has a third brother waiting in the 2019 class. The key for Tubby is keeping Dedric's dad in a coaching position on the staff...
North Carolina State tabs University of Tennessee-Martin's head coach Heath Schroyer... as an assistant coach. Hey, they money's really good as an assistant to Mark Gottfried - and frankly, the pressure on an assistant is very different than the pressure on a head coach at a low-major school.
Chris Obekpa, formerly of St. John's and who sat out last season at UNLV, has declared for the draft AND has hired an agent. We'll watch his development abroad or possibly in the D-League if some team really likes him, because he's not going to get drafted by the NBA. For players like Obekpa, the years are gaining, and maybe another year in college just means another year without being able to dedicate to the game as a pro.
California's Ivan Rabb, a center with a legitimate chance to be a lottery pick in this year's NBA Draft, decided to return to Berkeley, CA, for another year with Cuonzo Martin. He probably won't stay with the Golden Bears long enough to see what the program is like as an Under Armour school - the program signed on for UA gear for 2017 and beyond.
Georgetown's Bradley Hayes received a fifth-year hardship exemption for missing most of his freshman season. The seven-footer returns to a Hoya team searching for answers after struggling last year.
Duke's star forward Amile Jefferson will also get another year after breaking his foot last season. Added to one of the nation's top-three recruiting classes, the Blue Devils look to be a monster with their captain back.
Northern Colorado fired coach B. J. Hill, who is being investigated for NCAA rules violations.