1. Duke is not getting out of the one-and-done business
What a difference eight days make.
Last March — on the night before Selection Sunday — the Blue Devils won the ACC Tournament title against Notre Dame at the Barclays Center, finally putting together the type of run many had expected when practice began in the fall of 2016.
Jayson Tatum was a mismatch at power forward just as Justise Winslow was in 2015 when Duke won its fifth national title under Mike Krzyzewski. Similarly, it was expected that the Blue Devils were going to be the team to beat in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
Eight days later, Duke fell by seven to a South Carolina squad that was in control for the majority of the second half. The loss raised questions as to whether or not the Blue Devils would continue to assemble teams in the form they did a year ago.
Chatter in college basketball circles focused on the idea that having a slew of players who were only using the Durham campus as a brief stopover prior to heading to the NBA — Tatum, Harry Giles, and Frank Jackson — would potentially discourage Duke from continuing to build its teams that way.
The events of the past few weeks have abolished that narrative entirely.
In addition to securing a commitment from Marvin Bagley III via reclassification in mid-August, the Blue Devils have secured pledges from two top-10 prospects in the Class of 2018: point guard Tre Jones (Tyus Jones’ brother) and 6-7 wing Cameron Reddish.
What does all of this mean?
Despite the way last season ended, Krzyzewski is still committed to getting the best possible talent on an annual basis, regardless of whether these prospects stay in college for more than a year.
In addition to Bagley, three of Duke’s other freshmen next season — Trevon Duval, Gary Trent Jr., and Wendell Carter — are all potential one-and-done players.
2. Taurean Thompson ensures Seton Hall’s relevancy beyond this season
The Pirates are currently ranked 19th in the FanRag Sports Preseason Top 25 thanks to the return of four seniors — Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, Ismael Sanogo, and Angel Delgado — who should help this program reach the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season under Kevin Willard.
But what about Seton Hall’s future when these guys are no longer around?
This question, among others, was answered this past week when the Pirates landed Syracuse transfer Taurean Thompson, who opted to play closer to home due to family reasons.
The 6-10 big man would have logged 30-plus minutes each time he took the floor if he had stayed with the Orange for the upcoming season. Now he gives Willard a replacement for Delgado following the conclusion of the 2017-18 campaign.
With Thompson set to anchor the pivot and with Sacred Heart transfer Quincy McKnight (18.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists in 16-17) sitting out this season, the Pirates have two starting-caliber players for 2018-19 waiting in the bullpen.
That duo along with rising sophomore Myles Powell and top-100 freshman Myles Cale give Willard the nucleus he can feel comfortable with as he looks beyond this season in the Big East.
3. Vince Edwards is ready to take a seat at the table for Purdue.
The bouncy 6-8 forward has been an integral part of the Boilermakers’ operation throughout his college career, but he hasn’t been mentioned much nationally over the past two years because of Caleb Swanigan’s dominance.
That should change this season when Edwards, who averaged 12.6 points and 4.9 rebounds last year as a junior, emerges as a bonafide 17-18 point per night scorer.
Last week in Taipei, he scored 31 points on 15 shots, sending Purdue to gold medal contention at the World University Games. The Boilers wound up taking home the silver after falling to Lithuania in their final tilt.
Matt Painter needs his entire team to be more aggressive on the glass following the loss of Swanigan, and that definitely includes Edwards, a prototypical modern day college four-man, whose skill and elusiveness should make him one of the best players in the Big Ten next season.
This and That:
– One consistent theme from talking to those who attended Wisconsin’s foreign tour in August: Freshmen Kobe King, Brad Davison, and Nate Reuvers will all be in the Badgers’ rotation during the upcoming season.
– How about UConn’s stretch before Christmas? The Huskies will face Arizona in Tucson on Dec. 21 and then play at Auburn on Dec. 23. That’s the epitome of brutality.
– NBA scouts are doing early research on George Washington’s Yuta Watanabe. The 6-9 senior can guard multiple positions — including point guard — and should be one of the top players in the Atlantic 10 next season.
– Wisconsin, Virginia, Oklahoma, Florida, Stanford, Butler, Dayton, and Middle Tennessee will all headline the 2018 Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, multiple sources told FanRag Sports. Official matchups are yet to be determined.
– Saint Joseph’s guard Shavar Newkirk (knee) is now doing running and conditioning, Phil Martelli told FanRag Sports. There is still no timetable for when Newkirk will be fully cleared for all basketball-related activities. The 6-1 guard averaged 20.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in 12 games last season before suffering a torn ACL in December.
Jon Rothstein has been a college basketball insider for CBS Sports since 2010 and is the lead college basketball columnist for the FanRag Sports Network. He is also the host of the College Hoops Today Podcast via Compass Media Networks, which is available via iTunes. Rothstein is also a regular in-studio correspondent for both WFAN and CBS Sports Radio. He currently lives in Manhattan.