We're less than two months away from the start of college basketball season, which means that it's time to begin the second annual Sweet 16.
For those who missed it last year, The Sweet 16 is my list of Baltimore's top college basketball players. The selections have been made based on prior college success and projections for this coming season. I consulted college coaches, sports information directors, writers and others in compiling this list.
The order in which these stories appear online doesn't necessarily constitute a ranking. In print, as part of our college basketball preview section in November, we'll rank these players from bottom to top. But for now, we'll forget about the rankings and just focus on these 17 players.
Before we take a look back at the 2011 selections and how they performed last season, I should probably explain why something called The Sweet 16 will feature 17 players. It's a simple explanation, really: I couldn't decide who to cut from the list. There was a decent drop-off from 17 to 18, but the last four or five in the Top 17 were interchangeable. So I'm rolling with 17 and will have a tie for 16th place in November's final rankings.
The eligible athletes for this list have to be returning players or transfers who can play right away. Roscoe Smith, for example, will sit out this year at UNLV after leaving UConn, so he won't be listed. But there is one fifth-year senior on the list who graduated from his previous school and can play right away. And there are two transfers who redshirted last season at their new schools and will play major roles this season. Freshmen and JUCO transfers were not considered.
This is far from an exact science, as evidenced by a huge whiff last year with my exclusion of Georgetown's Henry Sims (Mount St. Joseph). Sims had averaged just 3.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists as a junior, so what proved to be a massive improvement his senior year (11.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.4 blocks per game) was something I didn't see coming. If I were to re-rank last year's list, Sims would have to be in the Top 5.
The most difficult omission this year is Allan Chaney, a Baltimore native who graduated from high school in New London, Conn. The 6-foot-9 power forward played sparingly in his freshman season at Florida before transferring to Virginia Tech, where he was diagnosed with viral myocarditis, an infection of the heart that causes inflammation. Chaney never suited up for the Hokies, but he was recently medically cleared to play and has enrolled at High Point, where he's expected to play a prominent role for the Panthers. I wouldn't be surprised to see Chaney blow up this year, but since I'm also factoring in previous college success, I couldn't quite take the leap of faith.
I looked at all of Baltimore's returning college players, but some who received serious consideration and just missed the cut were: UMBC guard Ryan Cook (Pallotti), Mount St. Mary's forward Raven Barber (Edgewood native), Elon forward Ryley Beaumont (Mount St. Joseph), Loyola guard R.J. Williams (St. Frances), Akron guard Chauncey Gilliam (Hammond) and Bryant guard Raphael Jordan (John Carroll).
One more note before we revisit the 2011 Sweet 16. After the 17th player has been featured, I'll set up a bracket-style tournament (complete with a play-in game) with polls on the blog for readers to vote on who they think is Baltimore's best college basketball player.
Here's a look at last year's list, and how each selection fared during the 2011-12 season:
13.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.6 steals, 46.1% FG, 33.3% 3, 67.5% FT, 31 minutes per game, 30 starts in 32 games. Second-leading scorer on Greyhounds' first NCAA tournament team since 1994.
7.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.13 assists, 35% FG, 32% 3, 68% FT, 20.5 minutes per game, 11 starts in 30 games. Transferred to NAIA powerhouse Pikeville (Ky.) for final year of eligibility.
7.6 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 34% FG, 26% 3, 73% FT, 23.9 minutes per game, 36 starts in 36 games. Helped Catamounts to second round of NCAA tournament. Gave up final year of eligibility to graduate early from Vermont, study for LSATs and apply to law school.
12.1 points, 4.1 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 37.9% FG, 37.5% 3, 71.3% FT, 37.9 minutes per game, 32 starts in 32 games. Starting point guard guided Irish to second round of NCAA tournament.
14.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 43.9% FG, 37.2% 3, 75% FT, 30.3 minutes per game, 27 starts in 29 games. Second-team All-Patriot League selection. Works in global equity trading in Boston area.
10.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.25 blocks, 51.6% FG, 57.9% FT, 29.3 minutes per game, 22 starts in 28 games. Named to the NABC All-District 14 team. Will play professionally in Slovakia.
10.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1,0 steals, 38.6% FG, 36.4% 3, 83.5% FT, 32.4 minutes per game, 32 starts in 32 games.
6.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 48.2% FG, 40% 3, 68.9% FT, 21.9 minutes per game, 19 starts in 34 games. Helped Memphis to Conference USA championship, second round of NCAA tournament.
14.5 points, 4.7 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 42.3% FG, 28.1% 3, 76.5% FT, 30.5 minutes per game, 30 starts in 31 games.
18.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.75 assists, 39.1% FG, 31.1% 3, 80.2% FT, 35.6 minutes per game, 32 starts in 32 games. Named second-team All-CAA.
4.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 42.4% FG, 64.7% FT, 18.2 minutes per game, 14 starts in 33 games. Transferred to UNLV.
8.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 46.4% FG, 74.3% 3, 26.4 minutes per game, 9 starts in 37 games. Helped Orange to Elite Eight of NCAA tournament.
14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.3 steals, 52.1% FG, 45.9% 3, 72.5% FT, 33.6 minutes per game, 35 starts in 35 games. Named Big 12 All-Tournament Team, Most Outstanding Player. Honorable Mention Big 12 (AP). All-Big 12 Third Team (Coaches). Drafted by the Detroit Pistons with the No. 44 overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft.
12.1 points, 5 rebounds, 46.9% FG, 73.1% FT, 28 minutes per game, 31 starts in 31 games. Academic All-Big 12 Second Team.
17.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, 44.8% FG, 63.5% FT, 32.1 minutes per game, 30 starts in 31 games. Named All-Big East honorable mention.
18 points, 8 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 50.9% FG, 34.6% 3, 74.9% FT, 35.3 minutes per game, 34 starts in 35 games. Named Conference USA Player of the Year. Drafted by the Portland Trailblazers with the No. 40 overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft.
Check back with Recruiting Report later this week for the beginning of The Sweet 16.
- College Basketball
- College Sports
- NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament
- Big 12 Conference
- Henry Sims
- Memphis Tigers
- Roscoe Smith
- Will Barton
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish
- UConn Huskies
- DePaul Blue Demons
- Conference USA
- Loyola University Maryland
- Kim English
- Kevin Thompson
- Syracuse Orange
- Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens
- Loyola Greyhounds