Post-draft deadline, a look at the landscape for '07-08
By Luke Winn
Posted: Tuesday May 1, 2007
I present the first, post-draft-deadline Power Rankings, based on a few educated guesses: Georgetown's Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert, Kansas' Brandan Rush and Julian Wright and Georgia Tech's Thaddeus Young will stay in, while Texas A&M's Joseph Jones, USC's Gabe Pruitt and Marquette's Dominic James will come back.
1) North Carolina - I present the first, post-draft-deadline Power Rankings, based on a few educated guesses: Georgetown's Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert, Kansas' Brandan Rush and Julian Wright and Georgia Tech's Thaddeus Young will stay in, while Texas A&M's Joseph Jones, USC's Gabe Pruitt and Marquette's Dominic James will come back.
2) UCLA - Darren Collison's return to the Bruins mattered far more than Luc Richard Mbah a Moute's. Collison should be a preseason first-team All-America, and with him, UCLA could win its first post-milennium national title. Yet I'm more curious about what Luc will do as a junior. Will he prove that his quiet '06-07 was just an injury-induced fluke? Will a likely move to the three spot -- with Kevin Love and Poolside Mata playing the four and five -- enhance or hurt the Prince's game? Mbah a Moute's sophomore year was a letdown, as was his admission to me during the Final Four that he had shelved FIFA Soccer (a topic of an offseason Q&A tangent) in favor of Madden '07, on which his favorite team is the Falcons. Please, Luc, ditch the virtual Mike Vick and reunite with Eto'o.
3) Memphis - The Tigers might be the biggest winners of the offseason. Forward Joey Dorsey could have made an ill-advised decision to enter the NBA Draft early. He didn't. Guard Chris Douglas-Roberts could have turned pro early, too -- and he might have played his way into the first round. CD-R opted not to take the risk. Coach John Calipari could have jumped ship on an active offseason carousel. He took a $500,000-per-year raise instead. Thus the Tigers have their coach and their top nine players coming back, plus the nation's best point guard prospect, Chicagoan Derrick Rose, coming in. They're going to destroy the rest of Conference USA ... and I expect to see them in San Antonio.
4) Louisville - Rick Pitino's personal Web site started off strong in '06-07. He was posting revealing assessments of his young team during its Canadian tour in August, from the point guard battle to Derrick Caracter's weight issues. The dispatches were regular through November, then pretty much died. The last team-related post was from March 1; it seems to be the results of a team bowling trip (Pitino had the high score, a 183, while Earl Clark rolled a team-worst 54). The most recent post, from April 18, has the title "Horse buyers and Blood Stock Agents Red Alert!!!" and a recommendation for a horse appraiser. The point of all this being, it seems that when Pitino's team was bad, he wrote a lot, and once they got good, he wrote a lot less. Seeing that the Cardinals should be phenomenal next year, I wouldn't expect many new posts.
5) Kansas - With an elite starting backcourt of Sherron Collins, Mario Chalmers and Russell Robinson, the Jayhawks are still top-five material, but I still get the feeling '06-07 may have been their year to win a national title. KU won't be such a well-oiled, unselfish offensive machine with Brandon Rush and Julian Wright gone, and the most interesting storyline will be the progression of Collins from auxiliary frosh to sophomore star. Is he ready to become a 13- or 14-point-a-game scorer, like Rush was, or will Collins take over games and regularly drop 20? If the latter happens, KU can contend. In the meantime Collins is just getting over the surprise of Rush's late departure. "I think Brandon could have told us and had us ready for something like this," Collins told the Lawrence Journal-World. "We are upset with him a little bit."