It has been a while since I have talked about the winners and losers from the preseason. Even though there are no games being played there are some program altering events going on. Here are a few winners and losers as we lead up into the season.
Mismatches and Secrecy
All college basketball fans love mismatches and secrets. The last couple weeks have had both of these things combined. There was a rumored secret scrimmage between Purdue and Dayton a couple of days ago where a “secret” report had Purdue winning. This is probably one of the biggest mismatches in college basketball. Dayton did not have a rotation player over 6’7″ last year and Purdue is known for having 3 monsters down low. This was a learning experience for both teams and surely an interesting scrimmage to watch for those who did.
The saying “what you don’t know won’t kill you” is true. When teams had secret scrimmages that were actually secrets it was ok because fans just thought the teams were practicing. Now that we know who is scrimmaging who it is agonizing for fans to hear about it without watching or having twitter updates. Lets play some basketball on ESPN and BTN please!
Mississippi State has been on the rise lately. Before Ben Howland was hired the program seemed to be non existent. Ben Howland has brought the program into relevance before he even takes the sidelines for the Bulldogs. Malik Newman is a McDonald’s All American freshman who will keep his team competitive in the big SEC games on the schedule.
The future also looks bright as well as Howland has already received the commitment from multiple top 100 recruits in the 2016 class. He is not stopping there by continuing to recruit top rated Mario Kegler, De’Ron Davis, and others. He could have a top 5 recruiting class to build this program on in the future. Look for Mississippi State to make some noise in the next couple of years.
Fans of Big Men
Two of the top big men in college basketball were just ruled eligible by the NCAA. Both Skal Labissiere and Caleb Swanigan were ineligible until the past couple of weeks. The fan bases of the Boilermakers and Wildcats were starting to sweat until their shiny new freshmen were ruled eligible. All of college basketball wins with these two All-Americans on the court this season.
Jaquan Lyle, Antonio Blakeney, and the Louisville Cardinals
The aftermath of this tell all book by Katina Powell has been a catastrophe. There have been accusations of dancers performing shows for recruits and players and some of them even paying for sex from the dancers. There has been an investigation with interviews of current players and coaches at Louisville. The whole investigation is a mess but it makes Louisville losers because they are supposed to be practicing basketball and focusing on the season. Instead, they are worrying about whether there coach will still be employed or if they will have a post season ban.
I put Jaquan Lyle and Antonio Blakeney on this list as well because they have been dragged back into this scandal. Lyle and Blakeney have both been included on lists of recruits that have been present during these shows at Louisville even though they both attend different schools. They have been involved in the investigation with interviews with the NCAA and worrying about national media bringing it up during their preseason interviews. This is the last thing both Blakeney and Lyle want to be worrying about with the season just 10 short days away.
Ray Smith and the Arizona Wildcats
Preseason injuries are the absolute worst and Arizona is experiencing that now. All- American freshman Ray Smith injured his ACL last week during practice and will miss the entire season. This is horrible for everyone. Ray Smith was likely a one and done heading to the NBA to start collecting pay checks. Arizona was expected to rely heavily on Smith after losing many starters from last years Elite 8 team. We hope that Ray Smith has a speedy recovery and we wish him the best in all his ventures whether it be returning the Zona next year or another route.
Cheick Diallo and the Kansas Jayhawks
While I did touch upon the success of Caleb Swanigan and Skal Labissere becoming eligible. Cheick Diallo hopes to join that group but has not been deemed eligible at this point. The NCAA is still investigating Diallo and his high school academics at Our New Savior High School. If Diallo is not eligible for the Jayhawks it will be a huge blow to their Big12 and Final 4 aspirations. Diallo hopes to slide next to Perry Ellis in the starting lineup to form an unstoppable force down low. Even if you are not a Jayhawk fan you should cheer for Diallo’s eligibility. Having an All-American not playing this year reduces the quality of college basketball and doesn’t do Diallo any good to sit on the sidelines.