Thursday, February 6, 2014

College BB '14 - First Look

College basketball does not have a comeback player of the year award; but if there was such an award, you'd find one of this year's leading contenders for it playing his senior season in the MAC - more specifically, in northeast Ohio. Through nobody's fault but his own, Quincy Diggs was suspended last season - not just from the team, but from school altogether - at Akron, a devastating blow to a player who is planning on playing pro basketball after finishing college. After sulking for a couple of weeks when his suspension went into effect in September 2012, Diggs, who had already transferred once (from New Orleans to Akron), decided his best course of action was to not transfer again and instead stay and try to get himself un-suspended.

But the road back would not be easy. No longer on scholarship, Diggs had to get a job; and on top of that he needed to take a bunch of classes online so that he would have enough credits to be eligible once his suspension ended. As a result, according to the story on Diggs from 6 weeks ago in the Akron Beacon Journal (link below) he ended up putting in some 22-hour days. But when you want to play as badly as he did, you have no other choice.

http://www.ohio.com/sports/zips/marla-ridenour-ua-s-quincy-diggs-rebounds-from-suspension-year-in-basketball-exile-1.455104



Having successfully fulfilled all the requirements to be reinstated, Diggs is back on the team this season, and the versatile 6-foot-6 swingman has averaged 12.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.7 steals in helping lead the Zips to a 15-7 overall record, 7-2 (1st place) in the MAC East. But as usual, the MAC is not one of the top conferences in Division 1; so if Quincy wants that trip to the NCAA Tournament he missed out on last season, Akron's only way in will be to win the MAC tournament.

I do not want to diminish the incidents that caused Diggs to be suspended. They are detailed (somewhat) in the article on the link below. It's sad to read about such behavior. But we all make mistakes; and the bottom line is that Diggs' mistakes weren't serious enough for him to be charged with a crime, so he was given a second chance.
http://www.akronsportsnow.com/archives/1007/apd-diggs-hit-ex/

If you're a long-time follower of this blog, you might remember Diggs from his junior season in 2011-12. He's the player who let his hair grow into a significant afro before converting it to dreads. But then, not satisfied with how they looked (and I don't blame him), he switched back to the 'fro for a few days before getting it twisted again - into much better looking beginner dreads. And as you can see in the photos above, nearly two years later his dreads are doing just fine now. (If you don't remember, here's the link to DG125 - Diggs is in photos 22-24: http://www.yardbarker.com/forum/2/6/discussion/dg_125/11073911 )
.

Of the 64 players with dreads who were in action last season and had dreads when the season ended, 14 were seniors (none of whom are currently playing in the NBA), 29 are back this season, 8 don't have dreads anymore, and the other 13 are not playing for Division 1 teams this season.

But this first look at the 2013-14 season isn't about the players who appeared in last season's dread galleries but rather the 30 that I know of so far who either have dreads and are newcomers to D-1 this season or played for D-1 teams last season but didn't have dreads until this season. I have been able to find photos of most of the 30, so let's take a look at them now along with 6 players who redshirted last season. FYI: I did not spend a lot of time searching for these photos. For most players I just saved the first photo I could find. But like last year, I should have some better photos than these later this year. Stats are through games of Sunday, Feb. 2.

.
















1. Memphis F Shaq Goodwin is no newcomer, of course; but I'm leading off with him to let you know I've welcomed him to the house this season. I didn't last year because I wasn't sure he had switched from braids to dreads. And I'm still not totally convinced; but this certainly looks a lot more like dreads than braids. Goodwin, a 6-9, 242-pound F, being named MVP of the Old Spice Classic tournament over Thanksgiving weekend in the left photo, and battling for possession against Cincinnati F Jermaine Sanders on Jan. 4 on the right, is one of the better players on a team that has been ranked in the top 25 most of the season. He's averaging 12.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.7 blocked shots per game.

.

2. Paris Massey, 6-7, 220 senior F for UMass-Lowell, also is not a newcomer. But thanks to my own incompetence, I didn't have him on my roster of players with dreads the last two seasons after he transferred from Sacred Heart. Massey, here defending against F Jermaine Lawrence in a 79-49 loss at Cincinnati on Nov. 26, is averaging 2.1 points and 2.5 rebounds in 11 minutes per game. 

.

3. At 7-foot-6, UC-Irvine freshman C Mamadou Ndiaye is the tallest player in Division 1 (and a probable future NBA draft pick); and when the season began, it looked like he also was trying to be the tallest ever player with dreads. Here he makes 6-10 F Richard Solomon of California look pretty small while waiting for the ball to be passed to him during 1st half on Dec. 2. It's hard to tell, but if you save this photo and get a close-up look, it looks like Ndiaye has his hair in beginner dreads. Unfortunately though we're not going to get the chance to see them turn into full blown dreads, because a couple of weeks later he decided to cut off his hair and is now going with the clean cut look.








.
Several other players didn't wait until after the season got underway before getting their hair cut. Here are the players I had to kick out of the house after they cut off their dreads sometime between the end of last season and the start of this season.
  • John Brown - High Point SOPH F
  • Teraes Clemmons - Jacksonville State JR F
  • Josh Hagins - UALR SOPH G
  • Jalen Robinson - Dayton SOPH F/C
  • Tavon Sledge - Iona JR G
  • Kendrick Washington - Arkansas State SR F
  • Juwan Wells - Radford SOPH F
  • Jeff White - Loyola (Chicago) SOPH G
  • R.J. Williams - Loyola (Maryland) JR G
Almost exactly cancelling out the number of ex-dreads is the number of players with new dreads. Obviously beginner dreads aren't as impressive as the finished product; but everybody has to have a starting point. Hopefully these 7 players have started their journey to having much longer dreads in the seasons ahead.



4. 6-6, 210 sophomore G Michael Qualls of Arkansas goes to the basket (left photo) as Tennessee-Martin G Terence Smith tries to stop him during 2nd half on Dec. 19. On the right Qualls celebrates one of his two dunks during 1st half of the season opener against SIU-Edwardsville on Nov. 8. (Who's that standing next to Qualls? Stay tuned.) You might remember that Qualls was the player who had that dunk at the buzzer to beat Kentucky three weeks ago. After averaging 4.6 PPG without dreads as a freshman, Michael is up to 11.7 PPG this season, although he has recently spent time in Coach Anderson's doghouse, including being suspended for 1 game.

.

5. Sophomore G Korey Billbury of ORU gets beaten to a loose ball by Kansas State G Marcus Foster during 2nd half on Nov. 13. Billbury has been in the Golden Eagles' starting lineup almost every game and is one of the best players on the team, averaging 12.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in 30 minutes per game.

.

6. 6-7 F James Siakam, clean cut in his first two seasons at Vanderbilt, shoots a layup against G Retin Obasohan during a 68-63 road loss to Alabama on Jan. 7. After not playing much as a freshman and averaging 9 minutes per game as a sophomore, Siakam, a native of Cameroon, is in the starting lineup this season, playing 24 minutes per game and averaging 7.5 points and 5.1 rebounds.

.

7. Baylor F Taurean Prince, who debuted his dreads in the Bears' first game after Christmas, battles for a rebound against G Andrew Wiggins during a 78-68 road loss to Kansas on Jan. 20. Prince, a 6-7, 220 sophomore, has been a key reserve this season, averaging 8.1 points and 3.3 rebounds in 17 minutes. Baylor has gone 4-7 since the debut of these dreads; but I think that has more to do with their tougher schedule than the dreads.

.

8. Sophomore F Tyrel Hunt of Alcorn State defends as star F Doug McDermott of Creighton drives to the basket during the season opener on Nov. 8. Hunt, a 6-5, 205-pounder from NYC, is averaging 3.4 points and 1.6 rebounds in 10 minutes per game off the bench but has mostly been on the bench during the Braves' recent hot streak (5-2 in their last 7 games).

.

9. Valparaiso C Moussa Gueye defends a shot by C Nnana Egwu during Illinois' 64-52 victory in the Crusaders' first road game of the season on Nov. 13. You may remember that Gueye played the last two seasons in the SEC for Alabama. Opting for more playing time, he transferred to VU for his senior season after graduating from Alabama. You may also remember that Gueye at various times last season had his hair natural, in braids, and in dreads. So far this season the 7-0, 270-pound native of Senegal, has been sticking with the dreads and is averaging 4.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.7 blocked shots in 16 minutes per game. 

.

10. The more familiar Malik Jackson had 5 tackles for the Broncos in the Super Bowl a few days ago; but this Malik Jackson is a starting G for Bethune-Cookman, here putting up a shot during the Wildcats' 68-64 road loss to North Florida on Dec. 21. These dreads are a bit longer than normal beginner dreads, and the reason for that is that Jackson let his hair grow long last season before switching to dreads. Unfortunately this season will be our only chance to see these dreads. The 6-6, 185-pounder is already a senior and is averaging 10.4 points and 4.4 rebounds in 26 minutes.

.
A total of 7 players with dreads are back in action in 2013-14 after redshirting last season. You already know about Quincy Diggs. Now let's find out about the other 6.
















11. All during last season I was eagerly awaiting the start of the 2013-14 season, just so that we would get the chance to see forwards David Rivers and Terran Petteway on the court at the same time for Nebraska, as they are here (left photo) on Jan. 20, celebrating with G Shavon Shields during a 68-62 home victory over Ohio State on Jan. 20. But things haven't gone as well as I was hoping. First (and worst) of all, Petteway, who sat out last season after transferring from Texas Tech, has had his dreads reduced for each and every game so far this season. If you clicked on that link to DG125 earlier, you probably noticed Petteway from his days with the Red Raiders. With his dreads 2 years longer since then, I was expecting to see some spectacular dreads now; but instead all I've seen are reduced dreads, and that's extremely disappointing. And on top of that, he and Rivers haven't been on the court together very much, as his arrival in Lincoln has actually meant less playing time for Rivers.
The good news is that Petteway, who for some reason didn't play much as a freshman (averaging 3.1 PPG) in 2011-12, has become the outstanding player he was expected to be. The 6-6 sophomore has started all 20 games and is the Cornhuskers' best player, averaging 18.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 31 minutes. But please Terran, why not let the dreads flow?


.

12. In effect, Dwight Smith, 6-4, 185 junior G, redshirted last year because Colorado State had too many guards; so he sat out instead of playing only a few minutes per game. Expected to be a major contributor this season, Smith instead has been bitten by the injury bug. Three different injuries, the most serious of which was a broken hand very early in the season, have caused him to miss games. Smith, here losing control of the ball near F JJ O'Brien during a 71-61 home loss to San Diego State on Jan. 1, has played in only 8 games, averaging 1.6 points and 1.1 assists in 9 minutes. 

.

13. JerShon Cobb did not have dreads during his sophomore season at Northwestern in 2011-12; so it was a very pleasant surprise to see him looking like this after he returned from an academic suspension that caused him to miss last season. Cobb, a 6-5 G, here being double teamed by F Melsahn Basabe (#1) and G Roy Devyn Marble during a 93-67 loss at Iowa on Jan. 9, is one of the Wildcats' best players, averaging 11.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 33 minutes per game.

.

14. 6-6, 240-pound junior F Nate Rucker battles for a rebound against Georgia Tech C Daniel Miller as he makes his debut in a Kennesaw State uniform on Dec. 16. Rucker played his freshman season at Northern Illinois in 2010-11 then at a junior college the next season before transferring to KSU and redshirting last season. He is averaging 8.7 points and 3.5 rebounds in 23 minutes per game for the Owls since becoming eligible in mid-December.

.

15. In photo #10 we saw Malik Jackson; now here's another player with dreads on the Bethune-Cookman roster. Ineligible last season after a transfer from High Point, 6-8, 230-pound junior C Travis Elliott has been in the Wildcats' starting lineup for 20 of their 24 games and is averaging 4.5 points and 5.1 rebounds in 20 minutes. Unfortunately it appears Elliott is another player who prefers to have his dreads reduced while he's on the court. I haven't seen photos of very many Bethune-Cookman games. But in all the ones I have seen Elliott has reduced dreads. 

.

16. The sick dreads here are on the head of Aron Nwankwo, 6-7 junior F for Pittsburgh. Nwankwo, on the bench with teammates Jamel Artis (#1) and Chris Jones near the end of an 80-65 home loss to Duke on Jan. 27, is attending Pitt on an academic scholarship and is a walk-on on the basketball team. After playing a total of 23 minutes his first two seasons, he redshirted last year. So far this season he has played a total of 12 minutes in 7 games and has 7 points and 4 rebounds.  

.
Now let's look at the newcomers - freshmen and junior college transfers making their Division 1 debut this season.

17. Two freshman with dreads are on the roster of the VCU Rams. This is Doug Brooks, a 6-3, 180 G from Lake Wales, FL, here guarding G Kaza Keane during the season opener on Nov. 8. Brooks played 10 minutes that night in a 96-58 victory over Illinois State but hasn't played any longer than 8 minutes in any game since. He's averaging 1.7 points in 4 minutes per game.

.

18. Also debuting for VCU this season is redshirt freshman Mo Alie-Cox, a 6-6, 250-pound power F, here putting up a shot against F Mikael Hopkins during an 84-80 loss to Georgetown on Nov. 24. Alie-Cox plays more often than Brooks, averaging 2.6 points and 3.5 rebounds in 14 minutes per game as a key reserve. Look for both he and Brooks to make more of an impact in the seasons ahead. 

.

19. Not to be confused with the NFL cornerback with the same name, this Aaron Ross is a 6-8 redshirt freshman F for Texas Tech, here pulling down one of his 3 rebounds in an 82-72 home win over Baylor on Jan. 15. Up until this game against Baylor Ross had been a key reserve; but he hasn't played or done much lately, scoring a total of 2 points in the last 6 games. That has lowered his season averages to 4.0 points and 2.2 rebounds in 11 minutes per game. 

.





















20. 6-7, 190-pound redshirt freshman F Steven Davis of Wright State had his dreads reduced (left photo) in the Raiders' first road game of the season, as he has his 3-point attempt blocked by C Joshua Smith during an 88-70 road loss to Georgetown on Nov. 13. But usually Davis has his dreads flowing normally, as on Nov. 18 (right photo), as he dribbles upcourt in an 83-33 rout of Manchester (who?). Davis played a lot of minutes in November but has played just 28 minutes (in 6 games) since the Raiders began Horizon League play on Jan. 2. For the season he is averaging 3.3 points and 1.7 rebounds per game. 

.

21. Just like last year Delaware State has one player with dreads on the team; but it's a different player than last year. 6-3 sophomore G Larry Haley tries to rebound his own missed 3-pointer but is beaten to the ball by G Austin Ajukwa during 2nd half of a 58-37 road loss to Clemson on Nov. 13. Haley, who joined the Hornets after playing one season in junior college, hasn't played much - just 36 minutes all season - and has totals of 9 points and 4 rebounds in 7 games.

.

22. More dreads in the MEAC ...... Here's Richie Spiller, 6-0, 185 freshman G for FAMU, defending against G Denzell Watts during an 85-73 road loss to UAB on Nov. 27. Spiller has started a few games but mostly has been a key reserve, averaging 3.4 points and 1.3 assists in 13 minutes per game.  

.

23. As Coach Hayes gives directions during Alabama A&M's season opener at New Mexico on Nov. 9, 6-2 freshman G Isaiah Edwards takes his usual seat on the bench. Edwards has yet to appear in any games, so I'm assuming that he's redshirting this season.

.

24. Also spending a lot of his freshman season on the bench (but not all of it) is Syracuse G Ron Patterson, a 6-2, 200-pounder from Indianapolis. Thanks to a 10-point game against Binghamton on Dec. 7, Patterson, here being double teammed by F Matt McMullen (left) and C John Fenton of Colgate on Nov. 16, is averaging 2.8 PPG. But he has played just 3 minutes since ACC play began in January.

.

25. Another freshman G from Indy, but from a different HS than Patterson, here's 6-3, 185-pound Tony Wills, trying to keep up with a driving Briante Weber of VCU in the season opener on Nov. 8. Wills has been a key reserve in his first season in an Illinois State uniform, averaging 3.7 points and 3 rebounds in 16 minutes per game. 

.

26. I had to double check; but yes, these are dreads on the head of 6-8, 215-pound junior F Dominique McKoy of Duquesne. A JC transfer, McKoy, here blocking a layup by Pittsburgh F Talib Zanna on Nov. 30, has started all 20 games for the Dukes and is averaging 10.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in 30 minutes per game. 

.

27. I asked the question back in photo 4. And now here's the answer. Rozell Nunn, 6-4 junior G/F for SIU-Edwardsville, drives to the basket against Texas-Pan American F Shaquille Hines on Dec. 2. Nunn, a JC transfer, scored 15 points in the Cougars' 55-49 home victory over UTPA. He has started almost every game this season and is averaging 7.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 22 minutes per game.

.

28. Maurice N'dour, a 6-9, 203-pound junior F for Ohio U, dribbles upcourt against UMass (left photo) on Dec. 18 and slams home an offensive rebound (right photo) at Ohio State on Nov. 12. N'dour, a JC transfer, is having a fantastic season, starting every game for the Bobcats and averaging 15.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.9 blocked shots in 30 minutes per game. I was checking Google to make sure I got his name spelled correctly and in the process found an article on the native of Senegal from the Cleveland Plain Dealer (first link below). Please take a couple of minutes to read it, because N'dour is a fascinating person. I also found a video on the OU website (second link below) featuring N'dour and teammate John Smith.

http://www.cleveland.com/sports/college/index.ssf/2013/11/ohio_university_basketball_pla.html
http://www.ohiobobcats.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/013114aaa.html

.

29. There are 4 teams in the MAC that have a player with dreads this season, and that includes Kent State. 6-8 freshman F Marquiez Lawrence has played in only 9 games and only 4 minutes per game; so there aren't that many photos of him available. This was the best I could find, as he puts up a shot against Western Michigan F Connar Tava on Jan. 23. Lawrence played 14 minutes in KSU's season opener but only a total of 22 minutes since. He's averaging 1.3 points and 1.1 rebounds. Hopefully we'll be hearing much more from him in the seasons ahead. 

.

30. When the season began, there were no players with dreads in uniform for Mississippi State. Now suddenly, there are two. A 6-3 junior G with sick dreads, Tevin Moore drives to the basket during the Bulldogs' 76-72 win over Mississippi on Jan. 11. After playing just 17 minutes per game in his two junior college seasons, Moore didn't figure to be playing for an SEC team now. But he walked on at Mississippi State and has made brief appearances since becoming eligible on Dec. 17. This shot doesn't do justice to his dreads; so I hope to find better pictures of him later on this season.

.
31. Freshman F De'Runnya Wilson defends an inbounds pass by G Rodney Cooper during the Bulldogs' 80-61 loss at Alabama on Jan. 15. At 6-5, 215 pounds, Wilson has the size to be a good wide receiver. Oh, wait a minute, he is a wide receiver. After making 3 TD catches for the Bulldogs last fall, De'Runnya joined the MSU basketball team; but he hasn't played very much. so far he has 0 points and 4 rebounds in 2 games.

.

32. North Florida junior G Devin Wilson tries to drive against G Denzel Valentine during 1st half of a 78-48 loss at Michigan State on Dec. 17. A 5-11, 175 JC transfer, Wilson is averaging 2.6 points and 1.5 assists in 14 minutes per game for the Ospreys.

.

33. When I announce my freshman all-America with dreads team, Tulane G Jonathan Stark will be a starter on it (as long as he still has his dreads). Stark, here driving against G Jevon Thomas during a 72-41 loss to Kansas State on Dec. 28, is playing 37 minutes per game (which is almost unheard of for a freshman). He is averaging 15.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 4 assists per game for the Green Wave, who are currently 11-11. If you like, you can find out a little more about Stark in this article from 4 weeks ago in the Times-Picayune: http://www.nola.com/tulane/index.ssf/2014/01/tulane_freshman_jonathan_stark.html 

.

34. With dreads like these, Austin Peay junior G Fred Garmon is looking good to be included on my dread all-America team. Here defending a shot by Samford G Raijon Kelly on Dec. 7, Garmon is a 5-11, 175-pound JC transfer. Unfortunately these dreads haven't been on the court often enough, especially lately. Fred is averaging 1.3 points in 11 minutes per game but has played double figure minutes just once in the Governors' 8 OVC games.

.

35. Northern Arizona G Aaseem Dixon, another JC transfer with sick dreads, drives against G Chass Bryan during a 67-63 road loss to USC on Nov. 15. Not only a likely selection for the dread all-America team, Dixon is making a strong case for the all-America with dreads team too, starting all 21 games for NAU and averaging 12.6 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in 33 minutes per game. He has three 20-point games so far.

.

36. Wins have still been hard to come by at Lamar (they're 3-19), but the Cardinals are looking better than ever, now with 3 players with dreads on the team. Joining Amos Wilson and Donnell Minton, here's 6-1 freshman G Marcus Owens. Owens exploded for a 19-point game against Tennessee Tech on Dec. 15 but has just 29 points in his 13 games since. He's been in the starting lineup 7 times and is averaging 3.9 points and 2.0 rebounds in 15 minutes per game. I'm looking forward to seeing him become a star player for Lamar in the seasons ahead.

.

37. And finally ..... if you're looking to see the team with the most players with sick dreads, you need to try to find wherever it is that Mississippi Valley State is playing. Joining Ervin Thomas and Cameron Dobbs on the team this season is 6-6 freshman F James Currington, here defending against F Aaron Jones during 2nd half of a 111-82 road loss to Mississippi on Nov. 22. Currington has been a bright spot for the Delta Devils, starting 18 of their 21 games and averaging 10.5 points and a team-leading 6.3 rebounds in 24 minutes per game, with 2 double-doubles. 
There actually is a fourth player with sick dreads for Valley - 6-2, 185 junior G Jurmelle Hall, who apparently is redshirting this season after transferring from JC. I have no photos of him.

.

I mentioned earlier that there are 13 players with dreads who no longer are with the Division 1 teams they played for last season. I did a brief check on each of them and found where many of them are. So in case you're wondering what happened to these guys, here's what I have found out so far.
  • F Brandon Bolden - transferred from Georgetown to Kansas State (eligible next season)
  • F Angelo Chol - transferred from Arizona to San Diego State (eligible next season)
  • G Nate Henry - was supposed to be a senior at Chicago State but is not on roster - whereabouts unknown (I'm guessing he already graduated)
  • G Roman Higgins - was supposed to be senior at Grambling but is not on roster - whereabouts unknown
  • C Montreal Holley - transferred from Mississippi Valley State to Division 2 Ft. Valley State (averaging 2.1 points and 2.2 rebounds this season)
  • G Reese Holliday - transferred from Toledo to UMKC (eligible next season)
  • G Terrence Linton - was supposed to be sophomore at South Carolina State but is not on roster - whereabouts unknown 
  • G Stefan Moody - transferred from FAU to Kilgore College (JC) - averaging 18.6 points and 4.9 assists this season - verbal commitment to play for Mississippi next season
  • F Sidki Muwallif - was supposed to be sophomore at Troy but is not on roster - whereabouts unknown
  • F Jacoby Roddy - transferred from Wright State to Lincoln Trail College (JC) - not playing much this season (I'm guessing he may be injured)
  • C Bryan Scott - transferred from Delaware State to Division 2 Winston-Salem State (averaging 0.8 points and 0.8 rebounds this season)
  • G Greg Tucker - transferred from Northern Colorado to Iowa Western (JC) - redshirting this season
  • G Estan Tyler - transferred from UMKC to North Dakota (eligible next season)
.
Prospects are not looking good for this to be the season where we finally see a player with dreads in the final 4. Certainly Syracuse has a good chance and Pittsburgh an outside chance. But as I mentioned earlier, Ron Patterson and Aron Nwankwo never play. The best teams that have players with dreads actually playing are VCU, Saint Louis, and Louisiana Tech, and they're all longshots (at best) to reach the final 4.

No comments:

Post a Comment