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June 27, 2008
Around the Rim
Filling the Gaps

by John Perrotto

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Last week, we looked at those underclassmen who had not hired agents and decided to opt out of the draft and return to college for next season.

This week, let’s look at the four players in the same boat who decided to make the jump to the NBA and how their departures impact their college teams.

UCLA forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute decided to skip out before his senior season. He averaged 8.8 points and 6.0 rebounds for the Bruins, who went 35-4 and lost to Memphis in the national semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.

The loss of Mbah a Moute and freshman forward Kevin Love to the pros leaves UCLA thin on the front line. The only forward with significant experience is Alfred Aboya, who averaged just 3.0 points last season and is considering not playing next winter.

That likely means that two 6'9" freshmen will be counted on heavily by coach Ben Howland. The Bruins bring in center J’mison Morgan from South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas and power forward Drew Gordon from Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif.

Texas A&M center DeAndre Jordan also decided to leave school after just one lukewarm season. He averaged 7.9 points and 6.0 rebounds a game as the Aggies went 25-11 and lost to UCLA in second round of the NCAA Tournament. Jordan did finish 81th in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage with a 22.3 mark.

While the Aggies won’t have experience at the pivot, they should still be strong in the frontcourt as forward Josh Carter and Joseph Jones return after being their only two double-figure scorers last season. Carter, who will be a senior, averaged 12.2 points and 3.9 rebounds a game, and Jones averaged 10.3 points and 5.4 rebounds. Carter was fifth nationally in turnover rate (8.5) and 64th in offensive rating (120.7).

David Loubeau, a 6'8" freshman forward from Westlake Preparatory School in Davie, Fla., should also contribute immediately.

California sophomore center Ryan Anderson decided to turn pro with two years of eligibility remaining. He averaged a double-double last season with 21.1 points and 10.0 rebounds a game as the Bears went 17-16 and lost to Ohio State in the second round of the NIT. Anderson was also in the top 100 in three Pomeroy categories: 52nd in defensive rebounding percentage (23.5), 58th in offensive rating (121.1) and 78th in percentage of shots (30.5).

The Bears will also look for bigger contributions from two forwards, junior Jamal Boykin (7.8 points, 3.8 rebounds) and sophomore Harper Kamp (4.4 points, 2.5 rebounds).

Forward Richard Hendrix chose to skip out on his senior season at Alabama after averaging 17.8 points and 10.1 rebounds for the Crimson Tide, who went 17-16. Hendrix was also all over the Pomeroy leaders, ranking in the top 100 in five categories: 50th in defensive rebounding percentage (23.6), 59th in offensive rebounding percentage (12.9), 68th in effective field goal percentage (60.1), 72nd in turnover rate (12.2) and 82nd in percentage of blocks (7.2).

Alabama is still deep at forward, though, as Alonzo Gee will back for his senior season in 2008-09 after averaging 14.5 points and 6.8 rebounds last winter. The Crimson Tide will also welcome two highly touted freshmen forwards in 6'7 1/2" J’aMychal Green from St. Jude High School in Montgomery, Ala., and 6'6" Tony Mitchell from Swainsboro (Ga.) High School.

O'Shea Makes an Unusual Move

Going from the Mid-American Conference to the Northeast Conference is seemingly taking a step down for a coach. This seems especially true in Tim O’Shea’s case--the Ohio Bobcats coach left that program this week to take over at Bryant, which will make the transition from Division II to Division I next season.

However, O’Shea had reasons to make the move, including the fact that he is a native New Englander and Bryant is located in Smithfield, R.I. Furthermore, O’Shea wanted the challenge of building on a program that made five straight appearances in the Division II playoffs under Max Good, who left to become an assistant under Bill Bayno at Loyola Marymount.

“The other day I got a call from a guy who covers our team in Ohio from the Columbus Dispatch, and he said to me, ‘I’ve never even heard of Bryant University.’ I said, ‘That’s the whole idea of going to Division I--to spread the word about Bryant University throughout the country,’” O’Shea said during his introductory press conference.

“Division I athletics really give you that opportunity, because the opportunities will eventually come to play on national TV, to play name schools, and to be on that ticker on ESPN where your scores are reported. It has an amazing impact in terms of raising the profile of an institution. Eventually, hopefully, we’ll also be able to provide some signature wins.

“You look at schools like Belmont in the NCAA Tournament. UNC-Charlotte, the College of Charleston--a lot of people don’t realize at some point they were not Division I. There are so many examples throughout the country of teams that made that decision to go from a non-Division I status to Division I, and in time, with the proper support and the right institution, it does work out. I’m extremely optimistic that it’s going to be a success here and I really look forward to the opportunity in front of me.”

O’Shea had a 120-95 record in seven seasons at Ohio and led the Bobcats to the MAC title in 2005 and the second round of the inaugural College Basketball Invitational last season.

“What impressed me the most about Tim is he comes from the John Wooden model,” Bryant president Ron Machtley said in reference to the legendary UCLA coach who won 10 national championships. “He’s an educator first. Second, he’s a coach, and he goes out and gets the right kind of players. Third, he knows how to win, and we’re looking forward to all three of those characteristics in time.

“We’re going to be patient. We know it’ll be a challenge, but we’re just so thrilled to have him here.”

Delta Devils Will Push Pace Under Woods

Sean Woods was a point guard at Kentucky under Rick Pitino. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the new Mississippi Valley State coach wants to use a fast-paced approach.

Woods was hired after spending the past two seasons as assistant coach at Texas Christian. He replaces James Green, who employed a deliberate offensive style, left to become the head coach at Jacksonville State after compiling a 44-52 record in three seasons.

“I’m an up-tempo guy who's big on pressure defense,” Woods said during his introductory press conference. “We don't want to be a one-dimensional team next year. You look at Rick Pitino, Arkansas, Florida under Billy Donovan. That's the style I know.”

Woods was chosen for job over Texas Southern assistant Lacey Reynolds and Tougaloo assistant Harvey Wardell.

Mississippi Valley State was 17-16 last season and won the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament before losing 70-29 to UCLA in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Woods will be hard-pressed to match that next season as the Delta Devils lost all three of their double-figure scorers to graduation.

Everhart Extended

A 17-13 record might not seem like a big deal but when Duquesne finished with that mark last season it was cause for celebration. It represented the Dukes’ first winning season in 14 years.

The school administration was so pleased with what coach Ron Everhart did in his second season at Duquesne that they gave him a three-year contract extension this week that runs through the 2013-14 season.

Everhart inherited a 3-24 teams when he left Northeastern to come to Duquesne following the 2005-06 season. The Dukes improved to 10-19 in Everhart’s first season despite the fact that five of his players were shot at on-campus party prior to the start of pre-season practice.

“Most of my friends told me I was crazy to come to Duquesne,” Everhart said. “Everybody told me not to take the job because you couldn’t win at Duquesne but I love challenges.”

Good News at Auburn

Auburn’s new arena, scheduled to open for the start of the 2010-11, is going to be nicer than originally planned thanks to a favorable construction bid that was more than $9 million less than the school anticipated. It also could mean the project will come in under the projected $92.5-million cost.

Auburn associate director, facilities and operations Jeff Steele told the Birmingham News the savings will be used to add enhancements the school had considered for the 9,600-seat facility.

“We thought there were six things we’d really love to have,” Steele said. “Because we had the money, we accepted five of the six.”

John Perrotto is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact John by clicking here or click here to see John's other articles.

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