Dick VitaleSPECIAL TO ESPN.COM
I was so impressed with Michael Beasley of Kansas State. I got to talk to him before the Notre Dame game at the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden and he is a super person. Watching him play against double and triple-teaming defenses, he did not get frustrated and still contributed big-time. He may be the best talent in America, period, and I am not just talking about freshmen. His numbers early on are even better than those of Kevin Durant of Texas last season and the Longhorn diaper dandy was national Player of the Year. Kansas State is expected to get even better with the addition of two players who should be eligible for the second semester – Dominique Sutton and Jamar Samuels.
This is the deepest freshman class I have seen in my 29 years of calling games at ESPN. There is just so much talent, from Beasley to O.J. Mayo, Derrick Rose, Eric Gordon, Kevin Love, Kyle Singler, Jerryd Bayless. The list goes on and on and these players are having a major impact. Bayless had an incredible game against Texas A&M last weekend. I really think Patrick Patterson of Kentucky will be a big-time force if he stays in school. If I had to pick one diaper dandy overall it would be Rose of Memphis because of the importance of point guard play and his quickness. He plays out of control on occasion and when he matures, watch out.
I know this may be a statement that shakes up some, but I really feel Memphis has so much talent that the second team coming off the bench could challenge to win Conference USA. That is not a knock on the league, which is improved, but just think about the talent John Calipari has coming off the bench. Willie Kemp, Doneal Mack, Shawn Taggert, Andre Allen, Jeff Robinson and others … are you kidding me?
I love watching North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough. He has a passion and love for college basketball and he wears that North Carolina jersey with such pride. Hansbrough works so hard and plays with such emotion. He is a member of my All-Rambo team. Another player who competes inside with such passion and is All-Rambo is Notre Dame's Luke Harangody. The Irish big man has such awareness when the ball comes into the post. He has also learned to get a feel for opponents' double-teaming efforts and he finds the open man with the pass. Harangody sent a message early in the win over Kansas State, dominating inside and on the glass.
I give credit to USC coach Tim Floyd for playing such a tough stretch of games. Facing Southern Illinois, Oklahoma, Kansas and Memphis in a short period of time helps your team grow up in a hurry. It is always good to face top-notch competition because you get a better evaluation of your talent. It helps your young kids mature and learn how to face the kind of challenge you meet at the big dance.
One thing about college basketball that truly amazes me. Over the years, the players have become much bigger, stronger and physical. The court remains the same size and I often wonder if the game would be much different and better if the court was bigger. Just something to think about!
I really feel Rick Pitino has had some bad breaks early in the season with the injuries to David Padgett and Juan Palacios. When the Cardinals get Palacios back, they will be even better. Derrick Caracter and Earl Clark can use additional help up front with the physical Palacios.
Down at Baylor, Scott Drew is putting together something special. He has done a great job despite adversity and the Bears have played outstanding basketball early. Baylor won the Paradise Jam event in the Virgin Islands, knocking off Notre Dame along the way. The Bears took a very strong Washington State team to the wire. Baylor has an exceptional backcourt in Curtis Jerrells and Aaron Bruce.
Ron Everhart has done a solid job at Duquesne. His Dukes gave Pittsburgh all it could handle earlier this week. Talk about a guy whose program has handled adversity!
I want to send my best wishes to Alabama coach Mark Gottfried, who recently had hernia surgery. Some people say it is not that tough but let me tell you, I went through it and it is not easy, my friends.
Xavier's Sean Miller is going to be a star in the coaching profession. He has already had an impact at the Ohio school. Miller has the perfect personality to handle the chores and rigors of coaching.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.