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Wednesday, December 12, 2012
College hoops landscape changing

By Dick Vitale
ESPN.com

The landscape of college basketball will be changing in a number of places.

At this time of year, there are players becoming eligible, others returning from injury. Several schools will receive a boost that could make a difference.

Out at UNLV, 6-9 sophomore Khem Birch is anticipated to be eligible in time for the team's game at UTEP on December 17. Put him up front with diaper dandy Anthony Bennett and you have a dynamic duo. Veteran Mike Moser suffered a dislocated elbow vs. California, so Birch's presence will help. Birch transferred from Pittsburgh and had to sit out the first semester. He gives coach Dave Rice another big body. The Rebels already had a loaded roster, and this will help provide even greater depth.

Missouri has a lot of talent in the backcourt, even with Michael Dixon Jr. leaving the program. Coach Frank Haith gets another potential scoring threat when former Oregon player Jabari Brown becomes eligible December 17 vs. South Carolina State if his coursework from the first semester is completed. Brown was highly-recruited out of high school and has the potential to contribute.

The rich will get richer as the news is finally positive in Bloomington, Ind. 6-8 Hanner Mosquera-Pera and seven-footer Peter Jurkin will be eligible December 15 vs. Butler after serving a nine-game suspension for receiving impermissible benefits from a former coach who was considered a booster. I did not understand the length of the suspension, but it will be over with and coach Tom Crean will likely use Mosquera-Pera in his rotation early. Jurkin will also add another big body to the already tough Hoosier lineup. Indiana is getting back injured forward Derek Elston too. He had surgery for a torn meniscus.

Louisville will be a different team when center Gorgui Dieng returns to the lineup. He suffered a broken wrist against Missouri back on November 23 and was listed as out for 4-6 weeks. Rick Pitino will be thrilled to get him back down the line as he is a shot-blocker extraordinaire in the paint.

Providence could be a different club if guard Vincent Council returns. A preseason All-Big East selection, he hurt his leg in the first game and has not return. Listed as day-to-day, he would give coach Ed Cooley's team a major lift should he be back. The Longhorns will eventually get forward Jaylen Bond back from a foot injury. Florida State hopes to have guard Ian Miller back for ACC play.

Then there is the case of Myck Kabongo of Texas and Orlando Sanchez of St. John's. Both are waiting tor the NCAA to rule on their futures and they could be difference-makers. Kabongo's absnce has hurt a young Texas team which has been plagued by turnovers.

My friends, keep an eye on these players as college basketball heads towards league play.