The offseason has been thrilling so far: We’ve seen Nevada win the month of May on Twitter alone, South Alabama build a win-now team in the Fun Belt and Grand Canyon keep Dan Majerle despite rumors he’d bolt for an NBA job, amongst a mountain of transfer and scheduling news.
Most exciting of all, however, was my trip to the dentist. After weighing my options, talking to coaches (read as: my dentist), friends and family, I decided to forego my fourth and final wisdom tooth and enter oral surgery.
Naturally, my first instinct was to Periscope this event and answer your mid-major basketball questions, but I don’t want to subject any of you to my swollen face. So I’ll answer your questions in this column instead.
Let’s get started.
A10 standings for next year— John Bjerkness (@johnbj14) May 31, 2018
Give me Davidson, St. Bonaventure, Duquesne, VCU and Saint Louis at the top. Rhode Island and Saint Joseph’s round out my top half. The bottom six teams will be a crapshoot after Dayton, but I’d bank on George Washington, George Mason, La Salle, Richmond, Massachussetts and Fordham.
[Remembers my past record of preseason predictions] uh, maybe don’t put money on these.
How long do you think it might take Lorenzo to get Pepperdine to March Madness?— Jackson Hogan (@JacksonHogan94) May 31, 2018
As usual, this question hinges on two things. The first is Gonzaga, the Death Star of the West Coast Conference. If the Bulldogs eventually bolt for the Mountain West like they nearly did this past spring, then Lorenzo Romar and Co. have much better chances.
The second is the ceiling and development of freshman point guard Colbey Ross, who is one of the best young point guards you’ve never heard of.
For those unfamiliar with Ross, his excellent freshman season one of the lone bright spots in Pepperdine’s 6-26 season. The two-time Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year snagged the starting point guard spot on opening night an never looked back. Eight 20-plus point games, 32 consecutive starts and an all WCC-Freshman Team nod later, and Ross looks like the key to the Waves’ success in the early years of the Romar era.
Pepperdine’s first, best chance will be point guard Colbey Ross’s junior year. By that time, Oregon transfers Michael Gage and Keith Smith will be eligible, Kameron and Kessler Edwards will add length and athleticism at the three spot, and hopefully Ross will be able to lead Romar’s crew of versatile, high-upside wings to Pepperdine’s first WCC Championship game since 2002.
But I’ll reign in my unabashed homerism for a sec and say Romar will lead Pepperdine dancing sometime in the next five years. He’s already hit the ground running on the recruiting trail, so it doesn’t seem like he’s wasting any time preparing for the future.
How long will it take Cal Baptist to be any good at basketball?— Ellie Lieberman (@ellieliebs) May 31, 2018
Sooner than we’ll expect. The WAC couldn’t be a better landing spot for the Lancers, and I think they’ll be a .500 team by the time their incoming freshmen are seniors.
GCU and NMSU have all but cemented their stranglehold atop the WAC for the long term, but the middle of the conference is up for grabs now that Bakersfield will join Big West. Although expansion teams have had a bad rap over the past few years, I think Cal Baptist will exceed expectations and not be a total pushover in the next few seasons. Coach Croy won’t let that happen.
Does Rick Stansbury ever leave WKU for another p5 job? Does the Mitchell Robinson recruiting saga harm future recruiting for WKU while Rick is there?— Joshua Claytor (@JoshuaClaytor) May 31, 2018
Is Gonzaga a midmajor?
It took me about eight times to read Joshua’s tweet because my brain is still fuzzy from anesthetics, but here goes nothing:
- Stansbury will only bolt for a prestige Power-5 job. Do I have any insider knowledge or reasoning behind this? Absolutely not. But look out for the UCLA job in the next two years. Steve Alford’s been underperforming despite having loads of blue-chip prospects; another underwhelming year might put him on the hot seat for someone like Stansbury or (gulps) Eric Musselman to snag the job.
- The Mitchell Robinson saga was bizarre, but it seems like that hasn’t stopped Western Kentucky from going after the big-name recruits. Skilled five-star 2019 prospect Charles Bassey took an official visit to WKU earlier this month and has kept the Hilltoppers in his top five for a while. And it doesn’t seem like the Hilltoppers are striking out in the transfer market either: Auburn grad-transfer Desean Murray and Northern Kentucky transfer Carson Williams committed early in the offseason as well. Stansbury will be fine.
- Gonzaga is a mid-major full stop. Clearly the painkillers didn’t addle me that much.
How can I get an Adidas sponsorship out of high school?— Rudy Gonzalez (@_rudyglez) May 31, 2018
Do you want to be in line with the NCAA’s asinine “amateurism” policy or not? Because those would be two very different answers.