Six weeks out
The Almanac releases this morning, recruits everywhere commit, the Big 12 announces its schedule, UCLA gets a last-minute addition and more.
A month and a half from today, college basketball will return. For the impatient crowd eagerly awaiting Nov. 7, that still may sound like forever. Well, here’s one encouraging tidbit: today marks the start of fall practice for Division I basketball teams.
And in honor of the start of practice, we are excited to announce the official release of The Almanac. Let’s get to the news.
1. The Almanac, coming to an inbox near you
Today is the day. After more than a month of promotion, The Almanac drops this morning. For those of you who pre-ordered, you can find it in your inbox at 10 am ET. For those who didn’t, here’s the link to get your digital copy.
The magazine covers all 363 D1 teams in painstaking detail with insight coming directly from the head coaches. Throughout the 1,300-word team previews, we cover topics like offensive and defensive philosophies, projected player development, and key tenets of programs’ cultures.
Additionally, The Almanac provides national content, such as our top 25 teams, top 100 players, top breakouts, top freshmen, top mid-major players and more. Our team of writers and designers is excited to share this with you. And we sincerely appreciate and thank everyone who has bought the magazine. (To those who haven’t, try this.)
2. KU takeover in the Lonestar State
Kansas’ good weekend didn’t stop on the gridiron.
Bill Self and the Jayhawk staff landed Jamari McDowell, a 4-star wing and top-75 prospect in the class of 2023. The 6-5 McDowell forecasts as a skilled, multi-positional perimeter player — an archetype that has brought Kansas tremendous success over the past few years (see: Agbaji, Ochai; Braun, Christian).
But beyond his on-court fit, the Jayhawk faithful will love his mentality. McDowell’s post-commitment quotes sound like that of a player who will endear himself to the fanbase rather quickly: “Kansas is getting a hard nose, high energy dawg that is an all-around hooper added to the team,” he told On3.
Additionally, McDowell becomes the second member of the Jayhawks’ 2023 class that hails from Houston. He’ll form a Texas tandem with combo guard Chris Johnson, and the two could serve as a solid foundation for years.
3. More recruiting news you can use
Beyond Kansas’ latest pull, this weekend was chock full of decisions from high school prospects. Seriously. It seemed like every hour Joe Tipton tweeted out another commitment.
Here are some of the most notable:
Top-100 big man Jacob McFarland (2023) chose Houston. The 6-10 lefty possesses length, spring-loaded athleticism and impressive instincts as a shot blocker. Plus, he’s entering into a program that excels at player development —don’t be surprised to see him grow into the Coogs’ defensive anchor. On offense, McFarland’s vertical pop gives him more upside than the typical big.
Nate Oats got a pledge from top-100 prospect Davin Cosby (2023), a 6-5 guard who plays for the storied Word of God Christian Academy (NC). Cosby flaunts good positional athleticism and a gorgeous 3-point stroke; it’s easy to envision his fit at Alabama.
Brian Dutcher and San Diego State reeled in top-150 guard BJ Davis (2023). The 6-1 floor general is the type of gritty defender that Dutcher loves. But he also teems with potential on the other side of the ball, thanks to his shiftiness, handles and vision.
A couple of years ago, Arizona State leaned heavily into the “Guard U” branding. While it hasn’t lived up to that billing in recent years (minus Remy Martin), perhaps it moved one step closer over the weekend. Braelon Green (2023), a 4-star combo guard from California, picked the Sun Devils over Nebraska, NC State, Texas and Kansas, among others.
The best of the rest:
ECU picked up 2024 4-star guard Jordan Vick.
The recruits keep rollin’ in for Frank Martin — like Rollie Castineyra, a 6-1 point guard in the class of 2023.
4. Big Monday belongs to the Big 12
On Friday, the Big 12 became the final power conference to announce its league schedule. And of course, it’s full of gems. The conference’s true round-robin format always makes for can’t-miss match-ups, usually between nationally relevant teams. (For the record, we have five Big 12 squads in The Almanac’s Top 25).
This season, in particular, the league has upped its Monday slates.
The Jan. 23 matchup between the past two champs obviously brings intrigue — Baylor’s bevy of dynamic guards will face off against what should be a stout Kansas defense in front of a raucous Waco crowd. But that’s far from the only noteworthy contest.
Chris Beard makes the dreaded trip to Lubbock on Feb. 13. Popular breakout team TCU gest a chance to prove itself at home against Kansas on Feb. 20. And the last Monday of the season gives a potentially resurgent Oklahoma State team one final shot to make a statement against Baylor.
Get your popcorn ready. The nation’s top conference will deliver once again.
5. UCLA adds a pro
In perhaps the latest of all additions, UCLA welcomes big man Ege Demir to its 2022-23 squad. The 6-10 behemoth migrates to the U.S. from Bursa, Turkey, where he played for Tofaş S.K. and was a recent All-Tournament selection atthe 2022 ANGT Belgrade with 12.5 points, 6.7 boards and 3.2 blocks per game.
It’s fair to question how much of an impact Demir can make after joining the Bruins so late in the offseason. He’ll have to adjust to a new coaching staff, new system and a new country on the fly.
Still, adding a high-upside player who competed alongside and against professionals can’t hurt. Plus, Demir won’t have much pressure on him as he’ll play his minutes behind 5-star freshman Adem Bona.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
It’s not the Xs and Os; it’s the Jimmers and Joes
BYU legend Jimmer Fredette went undercover for a walk-on tryout at his alma mater and fooled every kid in the gym. The hoodie/baggie gym shorts combo really accentuated the get-up.
THE FAST BREAK
Links to read as you kill time until The Almanac arrives.
Former Saint Mary’s big man Brad Millard, the “Big Continent,” died on Saturday. The 7-foot-3 center was a star in the 90s, but struggled with chronic illness the last 20 years, his sister said on social media.
The ACC discussed a merger with the Pac-12 or the Big 12 in an attempt to keep up in the conference arms race.
Providence announced a new NIL collective for its athletes.
Big men are back in college basketball. Know what else is back? Actual conversations. See why Blink Date’s focus on conversation ensures meaningful connections, not just countless swipes.*
*This sponsored content helps produce The Field of 68. To learn more, please connect with us here.
DAUSTER, T.O. AND FANTA
Where is the love?
On last week’s Dauster, T.O. and Fanta pod, the crew talked about the most under-the-radar teams in the country. Fanta hyped up Virginia, Dauster gave respect to Xavier and T.O. spotlighted Butler and Alabama. Watch for the full analysis.
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