Wednesday, November 20, 2013

College Hoops 2013 - The Kids Are Allright

Once again in 2013 we’re already taking notice that college basketball has become a young man’s game. Because of NBA’s 2005 collective bargaining agreement rule on eligibility for the Association’s draft which carried over into the 2011 CBA, all drafted players must be at least 19 years old during the calendar year of the draft. Also, any player who is not an “international player”, as defined in the CBA, must be at least one year removed from the graduation of his high school class. Translation for college basketball; all the best players who have professional futures will be in and out of the college game in a heartbeat. Basically still just kids heading into the pros, so catch them while you can! At least this is better than the previous rule which allowed youngsters fresh off their high school campuses to take an immediate shot at pro glory and fame. Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett immediately come to mind but there are so many failures also that don’t because their stories were lost like their college eligibility and hoop dreams as well. The system in place is the correct approach while at the same time puts us on notice for the top collegiate players who most of the times are the youngest in the game as well. As we’ve seen already in this young season, almost all of the top squads feature some almost NBA ready “young bucks”. However, the second college basketball poll released does say something for staying in school and experience. Top seeded Michigan State is led by “old men” in today’s college game. Senior Keith Appling averages 15 points and 6 assist, while fellow senior Adreian Payne is the Spartans leading scorer at over 17 a night to go with almost eight rebounds per game. Tom Izzo’s two senior leaders have “Sparty” off to a 4-0 start including a win over then top-ranked Kentucky which as you guessed it, is loaded with freshman who most likely won’t be wearing U.K.’s blue and white very long. The Cats, ranked fourth is this week’s Associated Press Top-25, are notorious for sending more one and done players into the lottery of the NBA draft and just reloading for campus next season, which is what coach John Calipari has accomplished again. According to Coach Cal, this is his most talented team ever! 6’9” frosh Julius Randle is throwing down 20 a night to go with 13 boards while shooting 61% from the field. Next is line is fellow frosh James Young. He’s supplying 14 points per game in 28 minutes followed by freshman brothers Aaron and Andrew Harrison. Aaron is averaging 12 a game, while Andrew the point guard is bringing home 11 points and four assist. All four of these bluegrass superstars are likely to head to the pros next June, the same story the Wildcats wrote in 2012 with three freshmen and one sophomore all taken in the first round. Second-seeded Kansas is the home of everyone’s top-pick for the 2014 draft, freshman guard Andrew Wiggins. The 6’8” guard, a native of Canada is averaging 17 points, 6 rebounds and two assist in his young Jayhawk career. Pair of fellow newcomers is assisting him in Kansas’ brief 2-0 start. Wayne Selden Jr. is chipping in 10 a game with some help from 7-footer Joel Embiid of Cameroon at nine a contest to go with eight boards per game. Embiid, also a predicted as a top-five pick. Give K.U. Coach Bill Self some MADD props for going international to get the Jayhawks in the national title picture again. The number 5, 6 and 7th ranked teams are all led by guys who will be both real young and real rich next June. 5th ranked Arizona is already off to a 5-0 start and 6’9” forward Aaron Gordon has not disappointed. How does 13 points and nine rebounds sound for your first five college games? He is a projected lottery pick and teamed with Zona’s experience could help the Wildcats reach the Final Four for the first time in 13 years. 6th ranked Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski for the first time in his illustrious career may finally have a freshman led him to the “promised land” of a national title. Guard Jabari Parker, who could also be the first player chosen in June’s Lottery, has done more than lived up to the hype so far! He’s averaging 22 points, 8 rebounds and three assist so far in Duke’s five games, one which was a loss to Kansas 94-83. Parker outscored Wiggins 27-24 in that early showdown but the Jayhawks flew home from the United Center with the victory. Finally the last player on our “kid watch” is actually the old man of the group if you can be old at the age of 19. Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart decided to come back to Stillwater for another season despite probably being an NBA first rounder last June. The 6’4, 220 pound guard wants to not only be a first-rounder but a lottery pick. Last night in the Cowboys win over Memphis, he tied an Oklahoma State sophomore record with 39 points on 11 of 22 shooting in the Cowboys shocking 101-80 rout of the #11 ranked Tigers. He knocked down 5 of 10 beyond the arc proving to be impossible to stop from all areas of the floor. Last night Wiggins, Parker, Randle and Smart were all in action on the college hardwood but the super-sophomore was by far the most impressive. The NBA’s CBA rule on eligibility for the lottery is the proper call as it can prevent kids from ruining their chances at fortune and fame by giving them time to see just how good they actually are at the time. For college hoop fans, the players that are the real deal come and good in a flash so enjoy them while you can.