Category archive: Florida Atlantic Owls

At this time last year, Ben Hansbrough's name didn't appear on the Wooden Award preseason watch list.

Five months later, he edged out Connecticut's Kemba Walker for Big East Player of the Year.

Using that as a backdrop, let's remember that the list of 50 Wooden nominees is flawed, much like any of the award lists. The Wooden Award does not allow its voters to nominate any freshmen or transfers (either four-year or junior college) on their ballots.

And with college basketball as loaded with talent as any year since 2007-08, narrowing it down to 50 is not easy. So below I've attempted to come up with the names that didn't make it, either as "just missed the cut" omissions or just because they're freshmen or transfers. These guys aren't on the list (which can be found here), but might show up when it's updated during the season.

This group is by no means definitive, either. There's no telling who else might emerge nationally as the games get under way.

Let's take a look …

The omissions (in alphabetical order):

Julian Boyd, Long Island: The Blackbirds are the favorite again in the Northeast Conference and the main reason is because Boyd is back and ready to dominate the stat sheet.

D.J. Cooper, Ohio: The diminutive point guard does a little bit of everything; he averaged 15.8 ppg, 7.5 apg and 5.0 rpg for the Bobcats last season.

[+] Enlarge
Duke's Seth Curry
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesSeth Curry hasn't done enough to warrant a mention on a preseason watch list, but he might end up being a Wooden addition.

Jared Cunningham, Oregon State: Cunningham has some of the best hops in the sport and a chance to be a Pac-12 star, allowing the Beavers to finally move up in the standings this season.

Seth Curry, Duke: Curry was a standout shooter for the Blue Devils on their trip to China and could be one of the top scorers on the team.

Brandon Davies, BYU: Davies was recently reinstated to the Cougars, and the offense is expected to flow through him inside and out as BYU mounts a campaign to win the WCC in its first year in the league.

Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary's: SMC coach Randy Bennett envisions this as one of the best teams he's ever had, but a lot of that will have to do with whether Dellavedova can shoot like Mickey McConnell did last season.

Greg Echenique, Creighton: Echenique was a rebounding force for Venezuela this summer and should do even more for the Bluejays with a full season to work with.

TyShwan Edmondson, Austin Peay: The Governors should be the favorite in the Ohio Valley with a legit scorer like Edmondson, who has a strong man, Will Triggs, to take pressure off him.

Kyle Fogg, Arizona: Fogg is next in line to assume a leadership position for the Wildcats, who are in a position to compete for Pac-12 titles for years to come.

Kevin Foster, Santa Clara: As a sophomore, Foster sort of came out of nowhere to average 20.2 ppg and become one of the nation's top 3-point shooters.

Chris Gaston, Fordham: The Rams aren't any good, but the nation's leading returning rebounder (11.3 rpg) at least deserves a shout-out in this space.

Yancy Gates, Cincinnati: UC coach Mick Cronin said he'd be surprised if Gates wasn't one of the 10 names on the Big East preseason first team.

Malcolm Grant, Miami (Fla.): The Hurricanes have to play most of the season without big man Reggie Johnson, so Grant will have more opportunities to shine.

Rob Jones, Saint Mary's: Jones could be a double-double regular for the Gaels, and for Saint Mary's to win the WCC, Jones will have to be a star.

Doron Lamb, Kentucky: John Calipari says Lamb will be the Wildcats' best player. Just Coach Cal mind games, or the truth?

Meyers Leonard, Illinois: Leonard didn't contribute a whole lot as a freshman, but he was a hidden gem on the U.S. U-19 team in Latvia this summer. The Illini are expecting big things out of him.

C.J. McCollum, Lehigh: McCollum is the nation's leading returning scorer (21.8 ppg) and is in the top five in steals (2.5 spg). Oh, and he did that as a freshman. What more do you need to know?

Cameron Moore, UAB: The Blazers have been consistently good under Mike Davis and have had unheralded C-USA stars. Moore is the latest.

Toure' Murry, Wichita State: If the Shockers win the Missouri Valley over Creighton, a lot of the credit will end up going to the veteran Murry.

[+] Enlarge
Ryan Pearson
Rafael Suanes/US PresswireRyan Pearson looks to lead Mason to another run to the NCAAs.

Brandon Paul, Illinois: Illini coach Bruce Weber was a bit surprised Paul didn't crack the top 50 on the Wooden list, given his overall importance to this team.

Ryan Pearson, George Mason: The Patriots are a trendy pick for the Top 25 and a lot of that has to do with the versatility of Pearson.

Damier Pitts, Marshall: The Thundering Herd are a real sleeper to gain an NCAA tourney berth out of Conference USA in large part because of Pitts.

Herb Pope, Seton Hall: Pope has come back from multiple life-threatening situations and has a real shot as a senior to put it all together and finally shine.

Terrence Ross, Washington: The Huskies can't be dismissed as a major player for the Pac-12 title, and if they win it, Ross will be a significant reason why.

Robert Sacre, Gonzaga: Sacre has matured into a solid post player, and that progress shows no signs of stopping as the Zags once again compete for the West Coast title.

Mike Scott, Virginia: If the sleeper Cavs mount a run to the NCAA tournament, the oft-injured Scott will be the reason why.

Renardo Sidney, Mississippi State: If Sidney is in shape and plays up to his potential, he has SEC Player of the Year potential and could be the difference between the Bulldogs making the NCAAs or NIT.

Andrew Smith, Butler: The Bulldogs will have fewer stars this season, but Smith has a chance to outshine Khyle Marshall and newcomer Roosevelt Jones with his scoring prowess in the post.

Chace Stanback, UNLV: Stanback's suspension to start the season is only one game, so that won't diminish his ability to lead the Rebels in their hunt for a Mountain West title.

Raymond Taylor, Florida Atlantic: FAU quietly won the Sun Belt East Division last season and Mike Jarvis' diminutive point guard was the catalyst behind the regular-season championship.

Hollis Thompson, Georgetown: If the Hoyas are to make the NCAA tournament again and be a pest in the upper half of the Big East, then Thompson needs a breakout season.

Kyle Weems, Missouri State: Doug McDermott is the one everyone is talking about in the Valley, but let's not forget that Weems is the reigning MVC Player of the Year. Too bad for the Bears he's their only returning starter.

Kendall Williams, New Mexico: The sophomore guard was the leading scorer in four postseason NIT games for the Lobos and should only get better with the addition of Australian Hugh Greenwood.

The transfers

Dewayne Dedmon, USC: Trojans coach Kevin O'Neill firmly believes this JC transfer is an NBA talent who could dominate the post and average a double-double for SC.

Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State: The former UTEP big man is ready to have a bust-out season for a team that has serious bounce-back potential after a disappointing 2010-11 campaign.

Mike Rosario, Florida: The former Rutgers scoring guard finally has plenty of support around him and will put up numbers for a winner.

Rakim Sanders, Fairfield: The Boston College transfer should flourish after dropping down a level, and he should get coach Sydney Johnson another trip to the NCAA tourney. Johnson is beginning his first year at Fairfield after leading Princeton to the 2011 tourney.

Royce White, Iowa State: White is finally ready to be a star on the college scene after multiple transgressions at Minnesota.

Brandon Wood, Michigan State: The Spartans picked up a rare senior transfer (taking advantage of the graduate transfer rule) from Valparaiso who could be one of the best shooters in the Big Ten.

Tony Woods, Oregon: The embattled Woods arrived from Wake Forest after legal issues and has a chance to really shine as a double-double player for the first time in his career.

The freshmen

Bradley Beal, Florida: Beal has a chance to be a productive player in a frontcourt that has a vacuum after multiple seniors departed.

Gary Bell Jr., Gonzaga: Coach Mark Few has been anticipating Bell's arrival for over a year now. He's expected to step in and deliver right away.

Wayne Blackshear, Louisville: The Cardinals fancy themselves a Big East title contender, and that's partly because they consider Blackshear a star in the making.

Jabari Brown, Oregon: Brown was the star of the Ducks' trip to Italy with his scoring prowess, and expect that to continue in the Pac-12.

Jahii Carson, Arizona State: There is some question right now as to Carson's eligibility, but if he's good to go, the Sun Devils might become relevant in the Pac-12 again.

[+] Enlarge
Anthony Davis
Brendan NolanThere seems to be little doubt that freshman Anthony Davis will have a major impact for UK.

Erik Copes, George Mason: Copes was bound for George Washington before Karl Hobbs was fired; now he'll be a headline performer for the Patriots and first-year coach Paul Hewitt.

Anthony Davis, Kentucky: Davis has a chance to be the SEC Player of the Year and the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, so expect him to be on the midseason list when freshmen are allowed.

Andre Drummond, Connecticut: He will be an immediate star and help lift the Huskies into the national title chase again. He's more than likely a future top-five pick in the NBA.

Myck Kabongo, Texas: Coach Rick Barnes has had quite a bit of success with big-time freshmen guards, and Kabongo is next in line.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky: Gilchrist will be another star on what will be a headline team throughout the season.

Johnny O'Bryant, LSU: Coach Trent Johnson needs the Tigers to start trending upward again, and he has a shot with the arrival of the big man from Mississippi.

LeBryan Nash, Oklahoma State: OSU is a bit of a mystery team in the Big 12, but the All-American from Dallas could push the Cowboys into contention.

Austin Rivers, Duke: Rivers will have the ball in his hands quite a bit and appears to be the next Duke star in a lengthy list of recognizable names.

Josiah Turner, Arizona: The Wildcats will win the Pac-12 regular-season title if Turner is as good as advertised.

Cody Zeller, Indiana: If coach Tom Crean is going to turn the Hoosiers into a relevant team this season, it will be because of Zeller and his impact in the Big Ten.

Here are 10 programs that will jump within their respective conferences after a disappointing 2008-09 season:

Georgia Tech
2008-09 record: 2-14 ACC, 12-19 overall

Reason for optimism: The Yellow Jackets brought in arguably the best freshman center in Derrick Favors. He'll team with Gani Lawal to form a formidable frontcourt. Georgia Tech is healthy on the perimeter and deeper than it was a year ago. The Yellow Jackets also should finally know how to close out games. (Yes, I know they needed overtime to hold off Indiana of Pennsylvania in an exhibition game.) They're the only team in the ACC that will play North Carolina and Duke twice, so they should have the best power rating of any of the 12 ACC teams.

What could happen: Georgia Tech could win the ACC. Yes, the talent is in place for the team to go from two wins to the league title.

What's likely to happen: The Yellow Jackets should win nine to 11 games in conference play. That would be at least a seven-win swing, good enough to get them into the NCAA tournament.

Iowa State
2008-09 record: 4-12 Big 12, 15-17 overall

Reason for optimism: Craig Brackins returns to the Cyclones, and he has the potential to be a Big 12 Player of the Year candidate and All-American. Add junior college transfer Marquis Gilstrap, and the Cyclones could have one of the best one-two scoring punches besides Kansas and Texas in the Big 12. Iowa State's Hilton Coliseum also is one of the best home courts in the country. Don't be surprised if the Cyclones knock off one of the big boys at home this season.

What could happen: The Cyclones could pluck off a few key wins -- perhaps winning at least one game among Duke, Kansas (twice) and Texas to earn an NCAA tournament berth.

What's likely to happen: Iowa State should improve to at least a nine-win team in the Big 12 and be squarely on the tourney bubble in March.

Oregon
2008-09 record: 2-16 in the Pac-10, 8-23 overall

Reason for optimism: Coach Ernie Kent is billing Jamil Wilson as one of the top freshmen he has coached. If Wilson is as good as advertised, the Ducks have a real shot to climb in what should be a shaky Pac-10. The return of senior point guard Tajuan Porter and the likely improvement of a sophomore class that underachieved last season should give this team hope. Adding assistant Mike Dunlap should help in game management, too.

What could happen: The Ducks have enough talent to finish third in the Pac-10, jumping from two wins to 10 or 11.

What's likely to happen: Oregon probably will be in a tussle with Oregon State, UCLA and Arizona to finish in some order of 3 through 6 in the conference and be on the NCAA tournament bubble. The problem is the Ducks' nonconference slate might not be ranked high enough to earn a bid.

St. John's
2008-09 record: 6-12 Big East, 16-18 overall

Reason for optimism: The Red Storm are the only Big East team that returns all five starters. Coach Norm Roberts has focused on this season to be his best. Losing Anthony Mason Jr. for the start of the season hasn't hurt as much because Mason didn't play last season or on the team's trip to Canada during Labor Day weekend. This team already has learned how to play without him. The other thing going for St. John's -- if the Red Storm are ready to handle the pressure -- is the Big East is open to change this season. Plenty of moves could happen, with teams such as Marquette and Providence sliding to the bottom of the league, and that should allow the Red Storm to climb. That challenge will be daunting but nowhere near as imposing as it was a year ago.

What could happen: This is still the same group of players who finished 6-12 in the Big East, albeit in a stronger conference. Moving ahead of Seton Hall, Cincinnati, Pitt, Notre Dame and Syracuse would be quite a feat.

What's likely to happen: The Red Storm will be in the mix for a top-10 finish in the Big East and could move into the eight- or nine-win range in the league. But even that is likely to mean more of an NIT berth than an NCAA one.

Indiana
2008-09 record: 1-17 in the Big Ten, 6-25 overall

Reason for optimism: The carnage of the Kelvin Sampson era has finally subsided, and under the leadership of coach Tom Crean, the Hoosiers finally can begin to rebuild. Indiana adds an experienced transfer in former Georgetown guard Jeremiah Rivers, who will team with sophomore Verdell Jones III. The Hoosiers still will be one of the youngest teams in the Big Ten, but there is plenty of fight in this group.

What could happen: The Hoosiers could move past Iowa and Penn State to finish at least ninth in the Big Ten with possibly five wins in the league.

What's likely to happen: The problem is the league may be the best it has been this decade. The Hoosiers draw tough road games at Illinois, Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue and Minnesota. The only break is that Michigan State will visit Indiana, but the Hoosiers won't make a return trip to East Lansing. Indiana probably won't make the postseason, but it will show an improvement in the win-loss record in the league and be a peskier putout.

Charlotte
2008-09 record: 5-11 Atlantic 10, 11-20 overall

Reason for optimism: The 49ers are banking on Boston College transfer Shamari Spears to be their go-to inside scorer. He already proved to have soft hands during exhibition play. Finishing in practice was never an issue for Spears at BC, but when the lights were on, his fingers became butter at times. If he can be a lock for the 49ers inside, he'll prove to be the perfect balance to guards Ian Andersen and DiJuan Harris. Losing Lamont Mack hurts the scoring pop, but this team may be better-balanced.

What could happen: The Atlantic 10 will be dominated by Dayton, with Xavier and Richmond on the Flyers' heels. But don't dismiss the 49ers. They have the potential to make a significant jump into the nine- or 10-win mark. Charlotte will play Xavier twice and get two shots at Richmond. Playing at Dayton won't help, but the 49ers will have a chance to compete with the others for second.

What's likely to happen: Charlotte still should finish no higher than fourth, but it will earn enough good will through its record and ranking (playing at Louisville, at Old Dominion, home against Georgia Tech and at Tennessee) to earn a postseason berth of some kind.

Fresno State
2008-09 season: 3-13 WAC, 13-21 overall

Reason for optimism: Paul George. Can I say it again? Paul George. He is a star and one of the NEXT athletes ESPN has been pushing. The Bulldogs under Steve Cleveland have been all over the place, but there is a sense that things should settle down in a league that doesn't have an intimidating team. Sure, Utah State is the favorite in the WAC, and Nevada has Luke Babbitt, but it's not as if Fresno State can't climb from three wins to at least eight in the league.

What could happen: The Bulldogs should be in the mix, at least in the middle of the pack.

What's likely to happen: Expect Fresno State to affect the WAC race but fall short of a postseason berth.

Rice
2008-09 season: 4-12 in CUSA, 10-22 overall

Reason for optimism: The Owls recruited well under Ben Braun. The freshman class should increase the talent quickly in Houston.

What could happen: If the freshmen can produce quickly, a four-win improvement isn't totally out of the question.

What's likely to happen: The problem with moving up to eight wins is that the league is even more balanced this season with Memphis, UTEP, Tulsa and Houston capable of winning the conference.

Florida Atlantic
2008-09 season: 2-16 in the Sun Belt, 6-26 overall

Reason for optimism: Owls coach Mike Jarvis is talking up freshman point guard Raymond Taylor as the next Shawnta Rogers, his former diminutive but highly productive scorer at George Washington. The Owls will be one of the youngest teams in the league, but they should be more talented and productive.

What could happen: The Sun Belt will be led by Western Kentucky, North Texas and Denver, but it's not as if any of those teams is intimidating. There is room for FAU to climb significantly in the league standings from two wins into the seven or eight range.

What's likely to happen: FAU will climb, but it won't be enough to yield a postseason berth. If there is improvement this season, then postseason could be in the discussion in 2011.

Hartford
2008-09 season: 2-14 in the America East, 7-26 overall

Reason for optimism: Let's start with Binghamton's implosion. That should send last season's champ down to the bottom of the league, pushing up a team like Hartford. The rest of the conference is solid and has some noteworthy players, including Vermont's Maurice Joseph and Marqus Blakely. New Hampshire and Boston University should be in the mix for the title, too. But there is room for advancement for the Hawks. Newly named assistant Rick Brunson, a longtime NBA player, was added to Dan Leibovitz's staff and has raved about junior college transfer Milton Burton. Having a healthy Joe Zeglinski on the perimeter will help the balance. If this team can defend and rebound, it will have a shot to move into the eight-win range in the America East.

What could happen: Remember, the Hawks played for the America East automatic berth in 2008, and they'll host the first two rounds of the conference tournament this season. So a run to the title game isn't out of the question if they can make the Chase Arena at Reich Family Pavilion rock.

What's likely to happen: The Hawks will improve their win total but won't reach the postseason.

Mike Jarvis is down to one car, which his wife drives. So rather than get a rental while he waits to get another, he has his son, Mike Jarvis II, pick him up every morning to take him to work at Florida Atlantic University.

"It's allowing me to feel big time," the elder Jarvis said by phone from his Boca Raton, Fla., home. "I have a chauffer."

The 64-year-old Jarvis paused for a moment, reflecting on where his career has taken him at this later stage in his coaching life.

"How many guys can say they live, No. 1, in Boca Raton, Florida, one of the nicest cities in the world? How many guys can go outside and it's 70s and 80s and sunny? How many guys can have their son come by, pick up the newspaper, drive them to work and then work side-by-side. I've got great kids on the team. It's almost like I'm back at Cambridge Rindge and Latin [High School in Massachusetts], coaching Patrick Ewing again."

Jarvis' decision to pursue the Florida Atlantic coaching opening in the spring of 2008 should be an example to all fired coaches from major conferences. Jarvis found a spot where he wanted to live, a school that welcomed him with open arms and had only expectations to one day be competitive for a conference title, no small feat in a league like the Sun Belt, where Western Kentucky regularly claims NCAA tournament wins.

Sure, Bobby Cremins found a similar type of formula for himself by landing at the College of Charleston. But Cremins' exit at Georgia Tech was celebrated, not soured.

John Brady found his own space at Arkansas State after being fired at LSU in the middle of the team's SEC schedule of the 2007-08 season.

There are homes for coaches who have had a taste of the big time. You just have to find the right one. Jarvis has.

"You try to find a good job in a place that your family would be happy and you'll be happy," Jarvis said. "It's more about finding the right fit. You have to think about the other people who have suffered with you a lot that deserve consideration. You can't just take any job."

[+] Enlarge
Mike Jarvis
Chris Morrison/US PresswireThe competitive fire still burns for Jarvis, who is working his fourth Division I head-coaching job.

Jarvis began coaching in Division I in 1985, finding success at Boston University and George Washington before landing at St. John's. He went to the NCAA tournament twice with the Terriers and four times at GW, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 1993.

He took over at St. John's when the Red Storm were loaded and coached them to the Elite Eight in 1999 in his first season at the school. Jarvis would go to two more NCAA tournaments, in 2000 and 2002, and win the postseason NIT in 2003 before the program collapsed the following season. Jarvis was out after six games into the 2003-04 season amid an NCAA investigation that would ultimately lead to a vacation of games from the 2000-01 to 2003-04 seasons.

Jarvis settled in as an TV analyst for a few years while pursuing head coaching gigs. But there were no significant bites at a high level. It was the reality that hits so many fired coaches.

"It's about the five-minute, the 10-minute or the 20-minute press conference -- especially in this day and age," Jarvis said. "A lot of athletic directors aren't guys who have coached or played. The search committees have more of a say of who gets hired than anybody. It's about the press conference and the perception after you get fired."

Jarvis coached the Owls to a 6-26 record last season, 2-16 in the Sun Belt. If he was looking to bolt as soon as possible, he would be searching for high-risk talent and junior college players.

That's not the case.

FAU has 12 freshmen and sophomores on its 14-player roster.

"I don't know if he's not going anywhere else, but he's committed to making this as good a program as he can, somewhat like George Washington," Mike Jarvis II said. "He's doing it the right way. He's more energized and excited. It's fun. He's coaching. It's not as big time, but we can make it something and make a mark again."

Jarvis II said going to the high-risk route, like Binghamton did, is risky business these days.

"If anything goes wrong, it's out there so fast, there's no damage control," Jarvis II. "You can't hide anything. You have to recruit really good kids that can help you win some games or else it will backfire if you go the other way."

Jarvis II drew the parallels to George Washington. When his father was at GW, he had a player named Shawnta Rogers. He was just 5-foot-4, but could dominate the game with his scoring ability. Jarvis is convinced that he has found another Rogers in 5-6 freshman point guard Raymond Taylor.

Taylor played at Plantation (Fla.) High alongside Florida freshman guard Kenny Boynton. He played on an AAU team, Team Breakdown, with Boynton and 2010's No. 4 ranked senior, Brandon Knight.

"When I coached Shawnta Rogers, I never thought I'd coach another one like him," Jarvis said. "But every time I watch Ray play I get flashbacks. He's worth the price of admission. He's the real deal."

Jarvis said Taylor is "impossible to defend because he's so quick." He said Taylor doesn't need a lot of space to get open.

"He's one of those great little players who can get all over the court," Jarvis said. "He doesn't need space. I haven't seen anybody yet who can defend him from hitting his shot."

Jarvis said Taylor can hit the deep 3-pointer, drive to the hoop, dish and finish on the fast break.

While Isiah Thomas is searching for elite-level talent at nearby rival Florida International, Jarvis is looking to find the hidden gems. If Taylor is as good as Jarvis says, then the attention could shift to FAU this season as Thomas attempts to load up for the 2010-11 season, which is also when FAU expects to be a realistic contender in the Sun Belt.

The schedule is daunting with games at Georgia, at Maryland and against Miami in Sunrise, Fla. But Boca Raton is an attractive site to host as the Owls do play seven nonconference home games, a decent number for a fledgling program.

• Kentucky coach John Calipari has already seen freshman guard John Wall being tabbed as a possible national player of the year. But he's not certain Wall will put up the numbers on a balanced team to command that honor. Obviously, Wall could fail to win national player of the year and still be the top pick in the 2010 draft.

When was the last time that happened? Two years ago, when Calipari's most recent elite point guard, Derrick Rose, was the top pick in the draft but wasn't the player of the year.

The comparison to Calipari's past two freshmen lead guards is hard to ignore. Calipari coached Rose and Tyreke Evans for one season at Memphis before they both became lottery picks. Rose led the Tigers to the national title game while Evans led them to another Conference USA title and a berth in the Sweet 16.

"He's way beyond both Tyreke and Derrick in being outgoing," Calipari said of Wall. Calipari said Evans practically lived in the practice facility, watching television, doing school work and lounging in the offices before spending time making free throws.

Calipari said Wall will do some of the same things, like shooting at 11 p.m., but will also hang with the players in social settings. With that, he can already feel comfortable enough to tell a player to do the right thing on the court without any hesitation. The respect is already in place for Wall among his teammates.

"He has a chance to be like the other two and may be a little further ahead with the dribble-drive," Calipari said. "We need to see if he'll be where they were at the end of the season. We won't know that yet."