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January 15th, 2014
It's mid-January and Conference play has begun. While there's still a lot of basketball yet to be played and there will be a lot of movement left on the draft board, things are beginning to take shape. Joel Embiid has leapfrogged the "Big 3" and now appears in the driver seat to be the first pick of the 2014 draft. He not only shows tremendous upside, but has become an impact player. Jabari Parker has finally shown that he is human and is struggling but looks like an excellent player to build an NBA team around.
As I’ve cautioned so many Arizona fans over the past weeks, things will continue to play out.
And that’s what happened, with Ohio State dropping a couple of Big Ten contests while the Wildcats continued lopping off Pac 12 opponents and moving atop this week’s Power 16 ratings.
And I caution again: Don’t get too comfortable in that top spot with three other unbeatens (Syracuse, Wichita State and Wisconsin) and at least a couple of one-loss clubs (Michigan State and Villanova) nipping at their heels, uh, paws.
When a team begins the process of looking into a potential prospect, the franchise delves into all manners of the player's on the court and off the court persona in hopes of mining any attributes that may foretell success or failure in the burgeoning career of their future selections. No team wants to be left feeling hollow and unsatisfied by a draft pick for whom their fatal flaw- be it character or otherwise- becomes the impediment preventing both the player, and subsequently the team, from reaching higher levels of success.
With the majority of the non-conference slate out of the way, teams and players can now focus on conference play. It is throughout conference play that elite players really start to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. You are going to get every team's best shot every night because the games mean something with regards to conference pride and that little thing that every team wants called a Conference Championship at the end of the season.
From December 27th to 29th in Stella Azzurra Rome the first of the four qualification tournaments took place (L’Hospitalet, Siaulai and Belgrade the other venues), of Nike International Junior Tournament. The winner of the event was the Spanish team of Cajasol Seville in the final game against the home team of Stella Azzurra Rome. Here is a list of the prospects that showed the best potential, in a tournament that lacked elite NBA prospects.
Richard Freudenberg (1998, 6’8”, SG, Bayern Munich, Germany)
The Big Ten Conference flexes its collective muscles this week.
The best conference in the country – or so it has appeared that way through November, December and the first few days of 2014 – has a couple of scintillating matchups on tap.
*Unbeaten – and No. 1 in these ratings – Ohio State visits once-beaten (and No. 5) Michigan State Tuesday night and;
*Illinois (No. 16) takes on unbeaten host (and No. 7) Wisconsin Wednesday evening.
December 30th, 2013
And now things get really serious in college basketball...
Conference play begins in earnest this week and, as any coach will gladly proclaim, those are the toughest games to play because the opposition always has you scouted so well and knows your personnel just about as well as you do.
The holiday season can mean only one thing: conference play is right around the corner. No more breathers against cupcake central, as the mettle of the freshmen will be truly tested game in, game out for the first time. Until then, let’s take a peek at the latest Stock Watch:
Joel Embiid, Kansas
Pay Heed, We’ve got Embiid – Georgetown guard Aaron Bowen learned this the hard way.
Looking for some post-Christmas gifts for you favorite college basketball fans?
Remind them to watch that CBS-televised set of games that will be played Saturday:
*The first (at 2 p.m. ET) has a showdown of unbeatens when No. 3-ranked Syracuse (11-0) plays host to another 11-0 club, Villanova.
*National champion and No. 7 Louisville (11-1) and Kentucky (9-3) follow at 4 o’clock or so from Lexington.
Lock those two contests into your DVR indefinitely. They’re going to be dandies.