Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Although most fans are going to rush to
judgement on whether or not their team has what it takes to compete for this
year's NCAA Championship after the first game, it is important to remember
that it is a marathon, not a sprint.
Not only will most teams get better with time as chemistry builds and
inexperienced freshmen develop awareness and confidence, but marquee players
will be added to the mix as they return from suspensions and become eligible
after the first semester as mid-season transfers.
There may not be a more exciting player than Marshall Henderson of Ole Miss,
who will be suspended for the first three games of the season after failing a
drug test. The Rebels are the fourth different team Henderson has played for
at the collegiate level and considering he had previously served jail time for
violating probation with drug related transgressions, his three-game
suspension appears to be as mild as possible. Ole Miss will immediately become
a better team once the most polarizing player in college basketball returns.
North Carolina's P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald are still waiting to find
out when they will be allowed back on the court this season. Hairston was
arrested at a checkpoint in early June for possession of marijuana and driving
without a license. The car the junior wing was driving was rented by a
convicted felon and party promoter named Haydn Thomas, and a gun was also
found on the outside of the vehicle. All the charges from that arrest were
dropped in early July which may have led Hairston to thinking he was immune to
the rules as he was caught driving 93 mph in a 65 mph zone.
McDonald is being investigated for wearing a designer mouth guard in at least
one game last year and appearing in promotional material for the same mouth
guard manufacturer. Coach Roy Williams, who has as clean a background as any
coach out there, has left it up to the NCAA to make a ruling on both of his
players. It is believed the ruling will come not long after the start of the
Oregon will be without sophomores Dominic Artis and Ben Carter for the first
nine games of the season for selling shoes provided to them by the university.
Artis played a key role as a freshman, averaging 8.5 points and 3.2 assists
There are also plenty of teams with guaranteed help on the way after the end
of the first semester.
Long Beach State has become an attractive landing spot for transfers and it
continued that tradition last winter when it announced former UCLA guard Tyler
Lamb would be joining the program. Lamb started all 32 games during his
freshman season with the Bruins and averaged 5.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.9
assists. His numbers are expected to rise when he becomes one of the leaders
of the mid-major 49ers after Thanksgiving.
Penn State will get a lift once the second semester rolls around also as
former Pittsburgh guard John Johnson will give coach Patrick Chambers a proven
winner in his backcourt. Johnson played in all 39 contests for the Panthers as
a true freshman before deciding to transfer to University Park. The 6-foot-1
guard is just the second player from the Philadelphia area to earn four all-
state honors in a high school career.
Murray State will try to replace standout guard Isaiah Canaan with freshman
guard Cameron Payne, who was named Mr. Basketball in Tennessee for his work as
an assist machine. Payne may have to fight for minutes once Clemson transfer
T.J. Sapp becomes eligible. Sapp started his first seven games with the Tigers
before deciding he wanted to return to his home state. If Payne and Sapp mesh
well, the Racers may remain a contender in the Ohio Valley Conference.
South Carolina's Frank Martin has an excellent track record of developing his
guards into prime time players. Martin will add a potential superstar in Ty
Johnson, who left Villanova after 17 games of backing up James Bell and Ryan
Arcidiacono. Johnson was considered a top 75 recruit coming out of high school
and will get a chance to play immediately for the Gamecocks, who will need all
the help they can get to compete with Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference.
A pair of Horizon League teams will get a mid-season boost also. Wright State
will have the services of Butler transfer Chrishawn Hopkins after the fall
semester. The junior guard averaged 9.1 points and 23.2 minutes for the
Bulldogs in 2011-12. Saint Louis transfer Keith Carter becomes eligible at the
start of the second semester for the defending conference champion Valparaiso
Crusaders. Carter was one of the late Rick Majerus's last highly coveted
recruited due to his excellent career at Proviso East High School just outside
of Chicago. He is expected to excel in the weaker Horizon League after
struggling to earn playing time on the Billikens' top 25 squad right away.
Last but not least, Drake will add 5-9 point guard Jordan Daniels for the
second part of the season. Daniels averaged 6.4 points, 2.6 assists and 1.6
rebounds per game during his freshman season at Boston College. He fared even
better against tough Atlantic Coast Conference competition with 7.3 points,
2.8 assists and 1.8 rebounds in conference games and led the Eagles in assists
on the season.
The Sports Network