I am a sports and music fanatic from Farmington, CT, currently attending Saint Joseph's University in Connecticut. I am mainly interested in College Basketball, CIAC High School Basketball, and Major League Baseball, though I follow just about all sports closely.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Previewing Potential JUCO Transfers: Panhandle Conference

Next up we have the Panhandle Conference, a small JUCO conference of five teams based in Florida. Some of the best junior college teams in the country play in this conference, including Northwest Florida State, which is currently #4.

Chipola College (Marianna, Florida) (16-1)
Lashay Page 6'2" Guard- Dillon, South Carolina (Dillon HS)
Lashay came out of high school as a 2* prospect who had been getting looked at by such schools as Clemson, South Carolina and Tennessee because of his ability to score the basketball and his deadly three-point range. But because of some behavioral issues, he was not able to play D1 ball right away and enrolled at JUCO powerhouse Chipola. He redshirted last year, because Chipola already had eight players receiving D1 scholarships, but has emerged as their leading scorer and go-to player this year. Page is reported to have an offer on the table from Coastal Carolina, while UAB and NC-Wilmington have also shown interest.

Dexter Ellington 6'0" Guard- Culthbert, Georgia (Randolph-Clay HS)
Ellington is a 6'0" point guard who played his first JUCO year at Trinity Valley CC in Texas. He is having a very solid year as Chipola's point guard, and supposedly has offers on the table from the likes of Mercer and Tennessee State.

Keith Dewitt 6'11" Forward- High Point, North Carolina (Charis Prep)
Keith Dewitt is a freakishly athletic big, who was supposed to make an immediate impact at Missouri but was not allowed admission into the university because of his academic record. From what I hear, Dewitt never graduated from his original high school in High Point, and eventually wound up PGing at Charis in an effort to turn his life around. Unfortunately for him and the University of Missouri, the 22 year old's academic record at Charis was not accepted by the NCAA and he had to settle for JUCO. If Keith can get his degree from Chipola, look for him to big a major pickup for a team in a few years.

Steadman Short 6'9" Forward- Simpsonville, South Carolina (Hillcrest High School)
Short originally signed and played one year for High Point University, but due to their poor record and coaching change his Freshman year, he decided to transfer to a JUCO school are relook his options. Short will instead take his ablity to score the basketball and athleticism to Marshall University in West Virginia, despite offers from Oklahoma, Kentucky, West Virginia and Missouri.

Gulf Coast Community College (Panama City, FL) (13-8)
Eric Buckner 6'10" Forward- Ehrnhart, South Carolina (Bamberg-Ehrnhart HS)
Eric Buckner wasn't very heavily recruited out of high school, but has improved incredibly since arriving at Gulf Coast, and is now considered a definate D1 prospect. He now has offers on the table from LSU and Georgia State, and is also getting interest from Alabama, Clemson, Iowa State, and Missouri among others. Buckner has transformed himself into an SEC-type prospect, and should be playing in a major or mid-major conference next season.

Michael Porrini 6'2" Guard- Massilon, Ohio (Massilon High School)
Porrini started his college career at Western Carolina, but was kicked off the team when he failed to accept a behavioral suspension from the team. After enrolling at GCCC, he has revamped his stock as a prospect, and has received interest from Southern Miss.

Willie Kirkland 6'4" Guard- Graceville, Florida (Graceville High School)
Willie is known for his ability to score the basketball, especially with his long range shot. He has signed a scholarship offer to play at Coastal Carolina next year.

Jeffrey Reese 6'5" Guard- Laural Hill, Florida (Laural Hill High School)

Paul Cooper 6'8" Forward/Center- Auburndale, Florida (Auburndale High School)
Standing in at 6'8" and 260 pounds, Cooper is a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball in the paint. Cooper signed a scholarship to play in the Big 12 at Texas Tech next season, turning down an offer from Central Florida.

Northwest Florida State College (Niceville, Florida) (19-1)
Brian Bryant 6'3" Guard- Albany, Georgia (Dougherty High School)
Brian Bryant was a mediocre 2* prospect coming out of high school, but opted to go to Junior College instead to raise his stock as a prospect. In doing so, he will now be playing basketball in the SEC next season. Brian is the leading scorer and leader of the #4 JUCO team in the country and the Mississippi State Bulldogs took notice of that. Despite also having offers from Auburn and Southern Mississippi, Bryant will be a Bulldog next year.

Toby Veal 6'7" Forward- Savannah, Georgia (Johnson High School)
Toby played all of last season with Colorado, but the Georgia native transferred after he felt too far away from his newborn daughter and family, and was not getting the minutes he necessarily wanted. Veal is treating this year as a buffer year between two D1 scholarships. He will be attending Virginia Commonwealth University next fall, where he should be a big part of their always successful team. He also had an offer from Southern Miss, and was looking at Georgia State and Troy as well.

Pensacola Junior College (Pensacola, Florida)
Daniel West 6'1" Guard- Saginaw, Michigan (Saginaw High School)
Daniel is another one of those high D1 level recruits coming out of high school that had to settle for junior college because of academic issues. The super quick guard was headed to Tennessee last year, but never cleared academically and is now in the JUCO ranks. I haven't heard anything about him making another attempt at D1 basketball, but for now he is among the best guards in the Panhandle Conference.

Tallahassee Community College (Tallahassee, Florida)
Marvell Waithe 6'9" Forward- Toronto, Canada (Sir Wilfred Lauier Collegiate)
Marvell was, a few years ago, one of the biggest prospects coming out of Canada, and Loyola University in Chicago looked like they were getting a steal in the athletic three-star forward. But once again academic issues, possibly having something to do with the change in country's, disallowed Waithe from playing NCAA basketball. He headed to Tallahassee where he has become one of the nation's top JUCO prospects. A guy who can score the basketball in a number of different ways, Waithe will be attending Arkansas next fall, choosing the SEC over Rutgers and the Big East. Look for him to be an impact player for the Razorbacks next year.

Bernard James 6'9" Forward- Savannah, Georgia (U.S. Air Force)
Bernard James has one of the most astounding stories coming from a JUCO player that I've ever heard. He never played basketball in high school, despite growing up in Savannah, Georgia. He tryed out his freshman year, but as a 6'3" skinny forward he did not make the team. School just wasn't going well for him, so he dropped out of high school. Eventually, he would enter the U.S. Air Force, and was deployed to Iraq and Qatar among other places. In between his high school years and now, he has grown about a half-of-foot. The 24 year old will be attending Florida State on a basketball scholarship next fall.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Previewing Potential JUCO Transfers: Scenic West Conference

Something that's really interested me over the last few weeks was the impact of Junior College transfers possibly having on college basketball. Players like Darington Hobson, Bobby Maze, Darius Johnson Odom, Dwight Buycks, Derwin Kitchen, and many others have been making big impacts on their team's potential postseason runs this season. JUCO has proven to be a great outlet for players that either need to get their academic or behavior issues straightened out, or are just too raw to immediately compete at the Division 1 level. Many JUCO stars are players that already had D-1 scholarships that were lost due to academic, behavioral, or other issues, and this gives them a good way to try and give them a second chance. Therefore, I will be running through the bigtime JUCO conferences, team-by-team, trying to discover the next big impact player out of the junior college ranks.

I am starting with the Scenic West Conference, which is based of teams in the upper rocky-mountain states like Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Nevada. It has consistently produced top-10 caliber JUCO teams, and many division one prospects. Here are the teams:

College of Eastern Utah (Prince, Utah) (12-7):
Michael Glover 6'6" Forward- Bronx, NY (American Christian HS)
Mike Glover joined this Eastern Utah team this season, after not playing an organzied game of basketball since early 2007. Glover was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school in the class of 2006, and enrolled on a basketball scholarship at Seton Hall University the next year. He was projected to be the best prospect in that recruiting class. Unfortunately, before even playing a game for the Pirates, Glover was removed from his scholarship based on an NCAA investigation into the validity of his academic record. He brought his case to court, but eventually lost and left the Seton Hall campus. He's wound up at Eastern Utah and is leading the team in scoring this year. Despite receiving interest from Kansas State, Arizona and Memphis, Glover will restart his college career back home, as he will enroll at St. Francis (NY) next fall. Look for him to be a major impact player in the NEC next year.

Vander Joaquim 6'10" Center- Luanda, Angola (MSA State Academy)
Joaquim is an extremely long and athletic big man from the African country of Angola, who committed to Nebraska out of the class of 2009, but decided he needed to get some things straightened out and instead will be most likely attending Nebraska after graduating from Eastern Utah. He was at one point a top-100 prospect in high school, and has even proven to be able to occasionally step out and hit a three. Look for Joaquim to be in a D-1 uniform next year, if not at Nebraska, at another major or mid-major program like San Diego, Arizona, UCLA or Washington.

Nick Thompson 6'9" Forward- Clinton, Utah (Clearfield High School)
Thompson committed to play at Weber State out of high school, but for whatever reason wound up at Eastern Utah. He has recieved an offer to play at Colorado State next season, while other major programs like Arkansas, Georgia and LSU are still in the loop.

Colorado Northwestern CC (Rangely, CO) (1-16)
As the record shows, no bigtime D-1 prospects here.

College of Southern Idaho (Twins Falls, ID) (11-5)
Carrick Felix 6'6" Guard- Phoenix, Arizona (Millenium High School)
Felix's college stock has gone full circle over the last couple of years, as he is now considered one of the most saught after JUCO prospects in the country. Felix was considered a low to mid-major D1 prospect out of high school, recieving a rating of 78 from ESPN, and instead opted to go to one of the most well-known and successfull junior college programs in the country. Despite breaking his hand and missing last season, Felix has grown a few inches and improved almost every facet of his game since high school and has even been hearing from Duke, a school that rarely considers JUCO transfers. If he doesn't wind up in Durham, he will be potentially a star for a mid-major program such as Pepperdine, St. Mary's or San Francisco.

Ndiaye 7'0" Center- Dakar Senegal (Lake Forest Academy)
Aziz has missed the whole first half of the season due to offseason knee surgery, but is still considered by many to be a major D1 level prospect and has even been mentioned in talks of the NBA. He is considered to be a freak of nature athletically, with the ideal height, weight and speed of a superstar post player. He averaged 8.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per game last year for USI, and looks to improve upon those numbers if he returns this season. He only shot 38% from the free-throw line though, which could be a very important weakness. Despite that, though, Ndiaye has gotten interest from such big name schools as Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

North Idaho College (Coeur d'Alene, Idaho) (18-2)
Guy Marc Michel 7'1" Center- Santa Marie, Martinique
Guy-Marc is a very raw, but incredibly athletic big-man prospect from the small French territory of Martinique, located in the Carribean. Michel is listed as having an astounding 7'6" wing span, and is supposedly excellent on the defensive end, while adequate enough offensively to dominate weaker competition. Michel is rumoured to be getting some major looks from Gonzaga, and we may see him in Spokane next year.

Salt Lake Community College (Salt Lake City, Utah) (16-3)
Collin Chiverton 6'4" Guard- San Jose, California (Archbishop Mitty HS)
Collin originally was a very highly touted recruit from San Jose, and signed a full scholarship to attend Saint Mary's and play on the basketball team. He did not play his first year due to a redshirt, and eventually left the team to go to Salt Lake. He is currently leading the team in scoring. No word yet on his recruiting for another D1 team, as he will probably play for SLCC next year as well.

Darian Norris 6'0" Guard- North Las Vegas, Nevada (Mojave High School)
Norris started his career as a backup guard for the MVL's Bradley Braves, and decided to transfer after his freshman year because he did not feel he was getting enough opportunity to play point guard, which is probably his natural position for the long run. Norris is having a very successful first year at SLCC, and will look to transfer back to a D1 school in the near future.

Snow College (Ephraim, Utah) (8-11)
No one real noteworthy here, either.

So there we go, some big-time prospects in this small JUCO conference.

Next Up: Panhandle Conference

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Farmington at Bristol Eastern: Game Notes

Tonight, I got my first taste of seeing my alma mater Farmington Indians in action this year after losing a very strong senior class which included Spencer Noon, Ryan Murphy and Devin Hahn, who are all playing at the next level. The game was at Bristol Eastern, and the first thing I noticed and was disappointed about was the lack of student support from Farmington, as it was virtually a home game for them, being that close. There were probably less than 5-10 Farmington students I saw that were not affiliated with the team. The Farmington student section's of past would've probably filled up a whole section of the gym with an away game so close.

That wasn't the only thing I was slightly disappointed about by Farmington. Bristol Eastern's fierce half-court trap defense forced numerous Farmington turnovers, and the Indians could just get absolutely no offense going whatsoever. Other than Ben Pollack, who as a 6'6" sophomore is a big name to watch in the CCC over the next few years, and at times Senior G Greg Rosshirt, Farmington has very few players that can be trusted with shooting or handling the ball. They've got many athletes that keep them in the game defensively, but a few of these players lack any offensive skillset and hurt the team that way. They must've had about about 30 turnovers in this game, a lot of them credited to Bristol Eastern's tough defense, but also some credited to poor handling skills from Farmington.

Ben Pollack, on the other hand, is going to be a great player for Farmington. He finished with 17 out of the team's 37 points, and could've scored more if he had converted some layups that he usually makes. He's a real big kid for his age, but also athletic down low and can make a jump shot or drive to the hoop from the high post. He is also a very good free throw shooter, which is a major plus for someone who gets to the line as much as he did. He's done a very good job replacing Murphy, but someone (or a few people) need to step up to try and replace Noon (and his 22 PPG) in order for this team to be competitive.

Growing pains are expected for this Farmington team...they return less than 10 points per game from last year. But they're going to need to handle the ball better if they want to get back to the state tournament again.

As for Bristol Eastern, they are a very good team, probably among the top 10 or 15 in the whole CCC. Xavier Wade impressed me very much at point guard, and Chris Colon, who sat out last season injured, is a major contributer as well. They came out with a big win against a Deshawn Hamlet/Chaz Arnold-less Bulkeley team about a week ago, and are still riding the momentum from that.