Three-point play: Robinson’s impact, Vols in Europe, Stanford a Pac-12 sleeper

In CUSA, Pac-12, SEC by Ken Cross

Here’s to you, Mr. Robinson

One of the mysteries of the summer appeared at Western Kentucky where Chalmette, La. native and 5-star Mitchell Robinson indeed inked with the Hilltoppers as it pushed Western Kentucky into solid position to obtain a top 10 recruiting class in Rick Stansbury’s first full recruiting season in Bowling Green.  Fast-forward to July 3 and assistant coach Shammond Williams, Robinson’s godfather,  left the program and was the second assistant coach to leave this season.

Robinson seemed to stay the course as he was in Bowling Green for the first semester of summer school, even worked out with the team for their August trip to Costa Rica, but then left WKU near the end of July.  With the loss of Williams, Robinson then found himself in a tough situation and has decided to transfer out.

Since Robinson was officially enrolled at Western Kentucky, there is a good chance that if he transfers, he will have to sit out the season and then with that, he could declare for the NBA Draft, or go play professionally overseas.  The big thing is for him to make a decision and stick with it.  Losing an entire playing year could cause hi, to lose the sharpness to his game and basketball savvy as it might put him further behind players of his stature in this 2018 recruiting class.

Vols in Europe

Traveling to faraway lands and learning new cultures is a rite of August in college basketball and for the Tennessee Volunteers, a 3-0 trip into Europe provided a positive springboard going into the fall when practice begins in what has become a deep and ultra-talented SEC.

Coach Rick Barnes took inventory of this team after it’s loss to Georgia in the opening round of the SEC tournament and noted that he needed much better guard play to compete in the league.  With that he went out and signed JUCO all-America Chris Darrington and Howard transfer James Daniel, III.

Here’s a quick sketch of each of the three wins in Europe:

1.) Tennessee opened it up in Spain where the Vols defeated Catalon All-Stars, 86-79, behind 19 points from Darrngton.  Freshman Derrick Walker came the scene with 13 points and 10 boards in recording a double-double.

2.) In the second game in Spain, the Vols trailed by the Valencia all-stars by 11 before Lamonte’ Turner turned up for five of his six three-pointers in the second half as Tennessee took a 77-69 victory.  Walker and Grant Williams were one board away from a double-double.

3.) On the Paris for Game 3, sophomore Grant Williams scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Vols outlasted the Paris All-Stars, 84-79.

“We’re going to have to work on our defense and just focus on improving every day,” Williams told, “We have to build on what we did here and take that into our season for non-conference and SEC play.”

Fear that Sneaky Tree

While Arizona, USC, and UCLA are getting much deserved acclaim this summer as  Pac-12 and Final Four contenders in ’17-18, the Stanford Cardinal are just hanging out in that Pac-12 lounge like a that next Hollywood star who is yet to be discovered.

In a college basketball world, where there is much hype about the one-and-done, the youthful players who will develop, and about ratings of recruiting classes, the Cardinal return two productive seniors to the post in Michael Humphrey and Reid Travis.

Travis led the Cardinal in scoring with 17.4 points and rebounding with 8.9 per game.  He and Humphrey, who averaged 9.4 and 6.2, provide a physical presence in the paint that will rival any in the Pac-12 and will be among the nation’s finest.

Let’s go to the backcourt where Robert Cartwright and Marcus Sheffield return on the point and wing with senior Dorian Pickens at small forward.  Cartwright averaged 24.7 minutes last season as a freshmen while Sheffield came off the bench in a role at any of the three spots.

Look for Pickens atop most opponents’ scouting reports as he led the Cardinal in triples with 67 a year ago and also got to the foul line regularly.

So you want the youth, huh?  Well, it is served. Haase has currently the No. 13 recruiting class nationally with two 4-star players in combo guard Daejon Davis out of Seattle and Keize Okpala, a small forward from Placentia, California.  A pair of International players in German power forward Oscar De Silva and Australian point guard Isaac White provided a very solid four-man class.