The NCAA Basketball season is 100 days away, which is not forever, but not exactly a time of stagnation. Players need to begin to prepare themselves for the arrival of autumn, which draws ever closer, and the start of practice leading into the new season.
Here are changes you should know about:
Biggest Transfer: Sterling Gibbs From Seton Hall To Connecticut
The Seton Hall Pirates and Connecticut Huskies used to share space in the Big East. Now, only Seton Hall is there while UConn lives in the American Athletic Conference. It was perhaps easier for Gibbs, widely regarded as the top transfer on the board, to move to a nearby school without sending the message to Seton Hall that he wanted to beat the Pirates within their own conference. Had Seton Hall and UConn still shared the same conference, Gibbs probably wouldn’t have made this move, but things are what they are. Gibbs can fill in for Ryan Boatright at the point and give the Huskies yet another quality point guard, after Kemba Walker left to go to the NBA. The Huskies just keep getting the right man to handle the ball and lead their offense.
Biggest Freshman Move: Jamal Murray To Kentucky
There are other high-profile freshmen such as Diamond Stone of Maryland, but Murray just might be the top newcomer in all of college basketball. The point guard displayed his shotmaking flair for Team Canada at the Pan-American Games in Toronto a few weeks ago. He led Canada past the United States in the semifinals and onward to a silver medal in the tournament, behind Brazil. Murray gave Kentucky head coach John Calipari every impression that he’s going to be a star for the Wildcats next season. Kentucky’s guard play has been less impressive than its frontcourt play the past few years. Murray could be the new arrival who transforms that reality and makes the Wildcats a faster team, one more suited to run in the open court instead of overpowering opponents in the low post. You’re going to see a different kind of Kentucky team next season, thanks to what Murray offers.
Biggest Coaching Move: Florida
The Gators’ icon, Billy Donovan, finally felt he needed to test himself in the NBA, and that he had the right coaching opportunity for professional basketball. Donovan went to Oklahoma City to coach the Thunder, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook. This left Florida searching for its first coach in roughly two decades. The Gators came up with Michael White, previously the head coach at Louisiana Tech. White’s familiarity with the South and the SEC in particular (he played at Ole Miss) should enable him to recruit reasonably well. However, White has to win games early to establish trust and tell recruits that the Gators are still going to be a big winner under his leadership.
Biggest Injury: Tracy Abrams, Illinois
The sad part about Abrams is that he tore an ACL for the second straight year, missing his second straight season when slated to be Illinois’ point guard. The loss of his floor general leaves Illinois head coach John Groce – on the hot seat according to many – in a very difficult position. Groce might get the benefit of the doubt, but if his team completely collapses against the NCAA Basketball odds without Abrams, he could be gone anyway.