THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: APRIL 2, 2019
GATORS ADD POINT GUARD RECRUIT
Fresh off an MVP performance in the Tennessee state championship game, point guard Jacques “Ques” Glover (6-0, 177, Knoxville, TN Bearden), committed to the Florida Gators on Monday. In Knoxville Bearden’s 83-68 win over 3-time state champ Memphis East, led by 7-footer and Memphis signee James Wiseman, Bearden dominated play, scoring 24 points to go with 4 rebounds and 5 assists. For the season, Glover averaged 21.1 points, 3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game while hitting 44.3% of his 3-pointers and 85.3% from the foul line.
Glover fills an immediate need for the Gators, who lost backup point guard Mike Okauru to transfer last week. Glover is extremely quick, capable of dribbling the ball endline-to-endline faster than most players can run it in a dead sprint. He’s an exceptional open court defender who will fit very well in Mike White’s pressing schemes and he’s a good enough shooter that White won’t hesitate to play Glover with Andrew Nembhard to help alleviate some of the ball handling pressure.
Although underrated by most of the scouting services, this is a quality recruit for the Gators. His performance throughout his senior season and in particular during the run to the state championship seriously elevated his stock.
With Glover, the Gators now have five freshmen (6-5 Scottie Lewis, 6-4 Tre Mann, 6-9 Omar Payne, 6-11 Jason Jitoboh and Glover) who will be on scholarship and one preferred walkon (6-4 Andrew Latsky). Mike White has two available scholarships, one that likely goes to a graduate transfer who can score and the other to another big guy.
Grad transfer to watch: Matt Milon (6-5, 190) is a grad transfer from William and Mary who originally signed with Boston College. He spent the last two seasons at William and Mary where he averaged 13 per game both years. In 2018 he hit 42.8% of his 3-pointers and this past season hit 40.1%. The Oviedo native is described by Jeff Goodman of The Stadium as a “Left handed sniper with range. Strong and does not need much time or space.”
UF PASS RUSH COULD BE SCARY GOOD IN 2019
Year one of Todd Grantham’s transformation of Florida’s defense from passive to seriously aggressive saw a 14-sack improvement from 2017. Florida’s 37 sacks were the most for a UF team since 2015 (40), when then defensive coordinator Geoff Collins was working with what was essentially an NFL defense. Even with 2018 sack leader Jachai Polite (11 sacks) off to the NFL, Florida’s pass rush should be vastly superior in the coming season. An NFL friend who was at UF’s pro day and has been closely monitoring the Gators this spring believes the Gators could very well lead the nation in sacks. He thinks the Gators will be so quick off the edge that it’s going to free the guys in the middle to collapse the pocket. He really likes what he has seen of Jabari Zuniga and Jon Greenard on the outside and says if the bigger, stronger version of Jeremiah Moon recovers from surgery UF could be “freaky good.”
WHAT ONE-AND-DONE HAS TAUGHT US
Considering the hype of Duke’s fab four freshmen who were touted to be one of the great recruiting classes in history and the expectation that a national championship was inevitable, you would have to say what happened in Washington, DC Sunday was crash and burn. Of course, there were folks saying the same thing about last year’s Duke team that featured Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. and they, also, crashed and burned. Coach K went with a power game with last year’s mother of all recruiting classes. This year he went with fast and athletic with the new guys. Both were good enough strategies to get the Blue Devils within sniffing distance of the Final Four, but sniff is as close as they got and the much expected national championships didn’t happen.
While one-and-done might bring an unprecedented amount of talent on campus and present a chance to make it all the way to the promised land, it’s more likely to get you close but no cigar. Coach K won a national championship in 2015 with a roster dominated by one-and-dones. John Calipari won it at Kentucky in 2012 with three one-and-dones. Those are the only two national championship teams loaded up with one-and-dones since the NBA established the rule in its 2005 collective bargaining agreement. By and large, the teams that have won the national championships in the one-and-done era have done it with a measure of leadership and maturity on the roster.
The announcers kept touting Duke’s “will to win” throughout the loss to Michigan State, but Michigan State’s upper class dominated team wanted it just as bad and won despite the fact they didn’t have nearly the talent Duke had. Both UCF and Virginia Tech, each with senior-dominated starting lineups, came within a whisker of beating Duke in the previous two games despite the fact not a one of their players arrived on their campuses with even a fraction of the hype. UCF, Virginia Tech and Michigan State all had what Duke was missing.
It might be years before we see another physical freak of a player with the skills and ability of Zion Williamson. He was amazing at the collegiate level and there is every good chance he will be an instant and long term success in the NBA as well. There was never a doubt that he played as hard as he could and did things few could even think about doing but there were many times – and we saw them in the UCF, Virginia Tech and Michigan State games – that he made the kind of mistakes that freshmen make. The same is true for first year buddies R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones. Give these same four another year on campus and you might make a case that they would prove to be one of the greatest teams of all time, but at least three of them will be buying their moms Escalades and big houses very, very soon.
As for those kids at Michigan State, they’ll go to the Final Four and whether they win a national championship or not or if anyone but a true basketball diehard can remember their names in a couple of years, they will always be known as a great team. Nobody will remember that Duke won 32 games. They’ll only remember that with all the talent in the world, the Blue Devils crashed and burned short of the Final Four.
The Beatles once sang, “Money can’t buy you love” and it’s true. It’s also true that one-and-done can’t necessarily buy you immortality as one of the great teams of all time. So here’s to the coaches who spend four years developing the kids and building chemistry and cohesiveness. Maybe what they do isn’t nearly as glamorous as a roster full of one and dones, but their way does have a way of working.
SEC BASKETBALL STUFF
UCLA offered John Calipari a 6-year deal worth $48 million to leave Kentucky and that might have seemed like an insult since Cal was already making $9.2 million. Kentucky made sure UCLA nor anyone else is ever going to hire him away by signing Calipari to a “lifetime contract” that includes a large raise for the already highest paid basketball coach in the country. As if stating the obvious considering the finances, Calipari said, “Where else would I want to coach?”
Supposedly it’s a matter of when not if Buzz Williams becomes the head coach at Texas A&M for a reported $3.5 million a season although the Aggies are willing to spend more if necessary. Williams’ replacement at Virginia Tech is expected to be Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin.
Dominik Olejniczak (7-0, 255) is leaving Ole Miss as a grad transfer. He averaged 5 points and 3 rebounds per game coming off the bench for Ole Miss last season. Additionally, little-used reserves Zach Naylor (6-8, 215) and Brian Halums (6-5, 190) put their names in the transfer portal.
If Kelvin Sampson elects to remain at Houston instead of taking the Arkansas job it is because of these factors: (1) 6-year contract extension worth $3 million per year; (2) daughter Lauren is the director of external basketball operations at Houston; (3) Houston is likely to allow son Kellen to be named as head coach in waiting; and (4) it’s a lot easier to win championships in the American Athletic Conference than it is in the SEC. Houston mega-donor Tilman Fertitta, who also owns the Houston Rockets said, “We’re not going to let him leave because of money.”
It is being reported that Vanderbilt has entered into contract negotiations with former UNC/NBA star Jerry Stackhouse, who is an assistant coach with the NBA Memphis Grizzlies. Stackhouse has never coached college basketball as either a head coach or assistant.
NCAA BASKETBALL STUFF
Former Florida assistant and UCF head coach Donnie Jones has been hired as the head coach at Stetson. This is a good hire for Stetson and a nice landing place for Donnie, who has been an assistant at Wichita State and Dayton since he was dismissed at UCF. It must be noted that four of UCF’s five starters on the team that almost beat Duke in the NCAA Tournament were Donnie Jones recruits.
After 33 seasons and 805 wins, Belmont coach Rick Byrd is hanging up his whistle. He is a classy guy who resisted multiple opportunities to go somewhere in a higher profile conference and more money. He won games (five of the last seven Ohio Valley Conference titles) and his players graduated.
SEC FOOTBALL STUFF
After visiting the Texas A&M facilities with Tampa Bay Bucs teammate and former Aggie Mike Evans, Jameis Winston noted the Aggies “have the best facilities in the world.” That probably resonates well with the FSU faithful.
Discussing Tennessee’s Saturday scrimmage, defensive coordinator said, “We didn’t start as fast as we needed to. As an SEC elite defense, you’ve got to get off the bus ready to go play and ready to get stops and I don’t think we did that yesterday.”
Arkansas freshman DE Courtre Alexander has entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal. He appeared in one game in 2018 and hasn’t been dressed out this spring due to a shoulder injury.
South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley says he believes the Gamecocks’ offense will be “so much faster” in 2019. The Gamecocks averaged 30.1 points in 2018, the most since 2014 when they scored 32.6 per game.
After spending the first two weeks of spring practice in a no contact jersey, Auburn starting DB Javaris Davis was cleared for contact Monday.
As if Alabama needs any help at wide receiver, early enrollee freshman John Metchie caught a couple of touchdown passes in the Tide’s Saturday scrimmage. Metchie is the only receiver Alabama signed in its 2019 recruiting class. Another early enrollee, 6-7, 380-pound Evan Neal, got to work with the #1 offensive line at left guard at Saturday’s scrimmage.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: The entire women’s basketball coaching staff at the University of North Carolina has been put on paid administrative leave while a review of the entire program and the basketball culture takes place … Brandon Adams, the Georgia Tech football player who collapsed and died last week, was practicing a dance routine when he fell backward, hit his head on the ground and began convulsions … Geno Auriemma, who has won 11 NCAA women’s titles at UConn, has the Huskies in their 12thstraight final four … Former Gator Pete Alonso got his first Major League Baseball home run for the New York Mets Monday with a 3-run blast that traveled 444 feet … The Tampa Bay Rays are off to a 4-1 start but nobody, it seems wants to watch them play at the Plastic Palace in St. Pete. Their 7-1 win over the Colorado Rockies Monday attracted all of 10,800 fans … Just to show how college football has changed so dramatically over the years, check out the senior season stats for Heisman Trophy winner Joe Bellino of Navy in 1960. Bellino ran for 834 yards, caught passes for 280 yards and scored three TDs. Bellino died last week at the age of 81.