Potential Final 4 Preview?

By Randy Yiadom

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Tonight is the night that college basketball fans have been waiting for.  We’ve got some of the best  pro prospects & teams in the country going at it tonight. As a VCU alum, I always keep tabs on my alma mater for basketball updates. “But this Season right here, right here might be the season ever” (Katt Williams voice). I’ve been waiting for over a decade to watch a crop of potential NBA superstars play on the collegiate level before step into the league. Though I never got to see LeBron vs. Melo in college. I thank the college basketball gods for reimbursing us, with this type of talent exactly a decade later. Prior to the “one and done” rule we saw the talent level go down in college basketball since the top tier highschool prospects were going straight to the draft after graduating high school. Before the NBA enforced the “one and done” rule, basketball enthusiast have always wondered how would KG, Kobe, T-mac, or LeBron have performed on the collegiate level. Could they have won championships as freshmen like Melo? Or been a preseason All American like Harrison Barnes was? We will never know the answer to those questions of but we we can enjoy a new era of elite talent with Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker,  Julius Randle and many more prospects in the next few months. Now that I’ve explained to you on why this season is about to be amazing, it’s time to make selections.

 

First Game: Michigan State vs Kentucky

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This game right here is the battle of the elite coaches “The Snake vs. The Proven One”. Though both coaches are good coaches, there is a big philosophical difference between the two. One coach prefers to develop their players, while the other coach just snatches the best talent and leave all the other coaches with the chicken scraps. You really can’t knock the hustle on how Calipari operates but it’s a strong possibility that he has met his match. Izzo will be coaching his most complete roster in a while. But history shows that MSU starts the season off slow whether they are rebuilding or experienced, they usually tend to develop as the season progresses. So don’t be surprised if they get ran off the floor by a bunch of young athletic prospect on UK that probably doesn’t realize the intensity and volume behind these games.

 

The advantages that play a role for Kentucky is that nobody has tape on this team. Izzo will have to do a lot more adjustments on this team than most. Though you’re able to always point out flaws whether a team wins or loses. It’s better to spot out more flaws of when a team  loses, so you are able to exploit the matchups and cater your game plan on how other teams have beat them them in the past. Also, Randle was a low block player in high school now Calipari has him playing from the perimeter. Which creates more of an advantage for Randle because he has the option of shooting, driving or posting up. Watch out for those Harrison twins to have a coming out party on a big stage but today will be the day to see if the wildcats are real. The main test is to see how Kentucky matches up with the elite teams with experience. Though I’m not a fan of moral victories, if Kentucky is to lose in a nail biter, I believe it’s safe to say that there an upper echelon team and if you are to compare this team with the past Calipari teams. You’d have to match them with the rest of the great Calipari squads that were led by Davis, Wall, and Rose. All I know if UK loses in fashion beware of this team in March. Look for MSU to show different matchups, if the game gets close Adrian Payne shall be covering Randle, during crunch time. With the game being played in Chicago and Michigan not being that far they should have the home advantage.  Though my gut is telling me to go with the experience squad, I got to roll with UK. Too much depth athleticism and talented veteran leadership off the bench.  Kentucky has bullied their way to the mountain top with these top prospects, and you can’t do anything about it until they have been beaten. So you have no choice but to roll with the wildcats.

 

Second Game: Kansas vs Duke

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Let’s keep it real like Faizon Love’s perm on Friday, nobody gives a damn about who wins the game. In fact we wouldn’t care if this game was a draw. All we want to see is two players outduel each other, so we can choose an allegiance on who is better. Will it be #TEAMWIGGINS or #TEAMPARKER? We living in a world where nobody respects what an Analyst on ESPN got to say. Everybody knows that the local OG has been speaking the truth since ’95. Though nobody felt like listening to him, we listen to him because we the people can break it down better than an analyst on first take. I’m rolling with Duke to win this game, a better coach with a better cast surrounding the pure scorer in Parker. But all I want, is to just be a part of history and witness and instant classic, like Bird vs. Magic. Before entering the NBA, if the basketball gods are on our side this is the game we were suppose to witness in 2003-2004 college basketball season (Lebron vs Melo). But we had to EQ it and fast forward it to 2013, which is fine with me. The main objective at hand, with this match is for debates to be sparked and sides to be taken in your local hangout spot, on who will be the better prospect. Get your popcorn ready and your arguments and points in order for deep discussion, because this season will arguably breed the next best generation of NBA superstars.

 

 

 

Welcome to the Future

By Aynom

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We’ve seen some NBA GMs blatantly attempting to tank by letting their star players leave through trades and free agency. The Jazz, Celtics, Bucks, Hawks, and 76ers are  examples of teams letting go of star players. All in the hopes of landing a player in the 2014 draft that can carry their team for the next decade. Hardcore basketball fans have heard of Andrew Wiggins of the Kansas Jayhawks. Wiggins is only the 2nd player ever to be named a preseason All-American honors as a freshman (Harrison Barnes was the first). Wiggins is a super athletic wing who many consider to be the top pick in the 2014 NBA draft.  Due to the obvious tanking by some teams, fan-base are making slogans like  “riggin’ for Wiggins”  Unfortunately, there are multiple tanking teams but only 1 Andrew Wiggins.

But he isn’t the only player that can change the fortunes of a franchise. In fact, Wiggins wasn’t even considered the best prospect for this class initially. He was expected to graduate high school in 2014 and enter the 2015 draft, but ended up reclassifying so he can graduate in 2013 and play college basketball this season.

The original top prospect of 2013 was a forward from Chicago named Jabari Parker.  He was dubbed by Sports Illustrated as “the best high school basketball player since Lebron James.”

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Parker played for Chicago powerhouse Simeon Career Academy (same school to produce Derrick Rose, Benji Wilson and others that would play in the NBA). Simeon has had a long tradition of not letting freshmen play on the varsity team no matter how talented. But for Parker they made an exception and he became the first freshman ever to start for the varsity squad. During his 4 year career he was named freshman of the year, sophomore of the year, junior of the year, and national player of the year. He was a 3 time state time champion, and won 2 gold medals in FIBA Americas U16 & U17 championship.

Parker is a highly skilled player. He can play multiple position and has a versatile game. Like Lebron, he is an excellent passer, and has a reputation for making his teammates better. He posses excellent footwork and is very patient. He plays like he’s been receiving NBA caliber coaching his whole life. He is very polished, dangerous scorer. The main knock on him is his athleticism but his critics might need to reconsider that after this amazing dunk he had during a scrimmage. A foot injury during his senior season also caused some weight gain which affected his athleticism last year.

He seems to be in better shape in his first (and probably last) season with Duke. Coach K will get the best out of this talented player. The Blue Devils’ style of play and roster also compliments Parker very well. Parker scored an efficient 22 points in 23 minutes in his season debut against Davidson. Next, he’ll face Kansas and fellow freshman phenom, Andrew Wiggins. They both have tremendous respect for each other and this won’t be the first time they’ve faced off and it sure won’t be the last. Wiggins has the elite athleticism to get defenders into foul trouble quickly but if Parker can perform well, he’ll have a chance to show GMs why they might need to reconsider the order of their draft board. Some fans might trade one stupid slogan for another. They might go from “Riggin for Wiggins”  to “Plunging for Parker” (or “Jeopardize for Jabari”). Wiggins and Parker are developing a rivalry and will forever be linked, especially if they’re drafted 1st and 2nd in the draft. I look forward to watching them go head to head and hope that we can get a rematch in March.

Scary thing is that these aren’t the only prospects expected to enter this upcoming draft with NBA superstar potential . Keep an eye out for other players like Julius Randle of Kentucky and Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State who some also consider to have a shot of getting drafted 1st or 2nd overall (or at the very worst top 5).