- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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1. If Val Ackerman ends up finalizing the deal to become the next Big East commissioner -- as expected -- then the new conference would have saved itself from an embarrassing situation. It was no secret the athletic directors and coaches were frustrated and upset over the lack of movement in hiring a commissioner and staff with the league starting next week. The timeline for this process has been way too slow for everyone involved. But Ackerman would solve any issues. The league needs someone who has a presence. Ackerman commands respect in sports and has already made her mark now as a person of change in her critique of the women's game. The television deal with Fox is done. Hiring a staff, re-branding, scheduling and actually building an organization from scratch from compliance to championships is still to begin. Ackerman has more experience than most in doing something like this when she started the WNBA. The Big East needed someone who knew how to organize and galvanize people. The league has plenty of positives with historical programs who are committed to the sport. They had to get this hire right. If Ackerman takes the gig then they did.
2. The presence of Aaron Gordon of Arizona and Nigel Williams-Goss of Washington on the FIBA USA U-19 team bodes well for the Pac-12 this season. Arizona will have one of the top teams in the country and Gordon should deliver one of the more athletic big men running the floor. Williams-Goss gives the Huskies a much-needed jolt of talent. Gordon and Williams-Goss should also be credited for deciding to play with USA basketball for the first summer session instead of going to school. They can still get the benefit of both. The basketball and life experience will be immeasurable for them going forward. They weren't the only incoming players who tried out but they were the two who made the squad. Going against some of the top international players in their age group will be a benefit for the upcoming season. This is not a slam at players at Kentucky, Kansas and Duke who chose not to attend. Getting a head start on summer school and adjusting to freshman year is a necessity. But for those who can balance the two then playing for USA basketball has a huge benefit for them in their overall growth.
3. The Orlando Sentinel and ESPN report of Donnie Jones receiving a five-year extension is a sign of tremendous resiliency by Jones at Central Florida. Jones went through an NCAA investigation, a post-season ban and while the Knights won 20 games for three straight seasons they haven't been able to break through as an NCAA-bid contender. But committing to Jones is a sign the UCF administration wants him to guide the program into the new American conference. Once Louisville is out after the 2013-14 season then the Knights will have to find a way to wedge up into a top tier that is expected to consist of UConn, Memphis, Cincinnati and Temple. The league has strong basketball programs. UCF has always been considered a hidden gem with its blossoming student population and facilities. The opportunity exists for UCF to make a move upward. Committing to the same staff is a sign they don't want to go through a transition period. So now the onus is on the staff to be relevant.