1. Division II West Georgia lost twice as many games as it won last season, finished tied for last in the Gulf South Conference and already fell by 13 against Jacksonville State in an exhibition game last week. As a result, it's probably not a great sign for Alabama that the Tide needed overtime to escape with a one-point win over the Wolves on Monday night. Trevor Releford scored 27 points and sank key free throws down the stretch as the Tide erased an eight-point second-half deficit to win 65-64. Many familiar problems arose for Alabama, which shot only 41.7 percent, got out-rebounded by nine and lacked enough scorers around Releford to pull away.
2. When Fresno State guard Kevin Olekaibe announced this summer he was transferring to UNLV, the rising senior seemed to have an ironclad case for a hardship waiver. Olekaibe's dad had previously suffered a pair of strokes that left him paralyzed from the waist down and unable to speak. It took far longer than expected, but the NCAA finally approved Olekaibe's waiver request Monday, just four days before UNLV's season opener. Now Olekaibe is only waiting for approval from the Mountain West to play, a necessity since he transferred between schools in the same conference.
3. Monday's release of the Associated Press All-American team featured only one notable surprise: No Julius Randle. The highly touted Kentucky freshman was left off the five-man team in favor of Michigan's Mitch McGary, likely on the strength of McGary's brilliant NCAA tournament last March. You could make a case Michigan State's Gary Harris or Ohio State's Aaron Craft should have been included, but the rest of the AP's choices were solid. Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart was a unanimous selection, while Kansas' Andrew Wiggins, Louisville's Russ Smith and Creighton's Doug McDermott rounded out the list.
4. The Mountain West may be the only league that fares better against Division I teams than Division II. San Jose State's 78-69 loss to Cal State Monterey Bay on Monday night gives the league three losses in the past four days in exhibition play. UNLV fell to Dixie State on Friday and Air Force was upset by Regis University on Sunday. Granted San Jose State and Air Force are likely the Mountain West's two worst teams, but there have been other close calls. Colorado State eked out a one-point over Regis and San Diego State only led Cal State San Marcos by five late in the second half before pulling away.
5. The preseason watch list for the Wayman Tisdale Award given to the best freshman in the country has a decidedly Big Blue tint to it. The 10-player list includes four members of Kentucky's vaunted freshman class: Julius Randle, James Young, Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison. Only forward Marcus Lee and center Dakari Johnson failed to make the cut among the Wildcats' six top 30 recruits. Kansas also has multiple freshmen on the list in Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden, while Arizona's Aaron Gordon, Syracuse's Tyler Ennis, Duke's Jabari Parker and Florida's Kasey Hill were also nominated..
It took one relatively routine transition dunk to convince me freshman Zach Lavine is UCLA's most explosive athlete since Russell Westbrook took his talents to Oklahoma City. Lavine's slam was the most crowd-pleasing moment from UCLA's rout of Cal State San Marcos on Monday night, but the most significant development was sophomore big man Tony Parker's 17 points and 16 rebounds. That's a sign of progress from the slimmed-down center, even if it came against a Division II team without much size.
"Yeah, it was tempting. You think of the unlimited possibilities. You could go to a lot of different places. I had a lot of options." — Northwestern guard Drew Crawford on the interest he received from numerous elite programs this offseason because he had already graduated and could have been eligible as a one-year transfer immediately. The fifth-year senior ultimately opted to remain loyal to Northwestern. (SportingNews.com)
The regular season tips off Friday evening. Until then, perusing exhibition box scores and season preview material is the best you'll do for an early college basketball fix.
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