USC's scary scenario
Vince Iwuchukwu collapsed this summer and now sidelined indefinitely to monitor his health. Plus, Harvard add a baller, 2025 rankings updates and Saint Louis's '23 outlook.
We’ve celebrated the start of college basketball practices, but it’s also brought a reminder that sports injuries and scary scenarios are part of the game. (Let alone what happens in football. Yikes.)
It’s a reminder that nothing is guaranteed in sports, and that while no one wins a national championship in September, some teams definitely can lose it if something happens. Here are the top stories of the day, both positive and negative.
1. What to do about Vince Iwuchukwu?
An incredibly scary situation happened in USC's offseason workouts. Freshman big man Vince Iwuchukwu reportedly suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed on July 1, which sent him to the hospital for a few days. He hasn’t played since and gave this statement to Matt Norlander of CBS Sports:
“This past summer I had a sudden cardiac arrest during a workout,” Iwuchukwu wrote in a statement CBS Sports. “Since the event, I have received optimal care from the university and my personal expert medical team. Currently, I am adhering to the standard protocol designed to ensure my health and safety. I'm feeling great and my recovery and rehabilitation remain positive.”
He sounds optimistic when it comes to his long-term health, but the school has withheld Iwuchukwu from all basketball activities. There’s no timetable for his return. And it could be a while.
When Keyontae Johnson collapsed on the court in Dec. 2020, he was the SEC preseason Player of the Year. He was never cleared to play for the Gators and transferred to Kansas State this summer. It’s unclear if Iwuchukwu will have a similar wait, which is challenging on several fronts.
He’s a 5-star recruit who hopes to one day play in the NBA. That’s secondary to general health and well-being, but that goal isn’t going away. Reconciling that with careful decisions about his health will be an ongoing discussion for him and his family.
As for USC, assuming Iwuchukwu is out for a long time and potentially for the season, the center position for the Trojans will be taken up by returning big man Joshua Morgan and recent international pickup, Iaroslav Niagu.
Washington State’s Myles Rice diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma
The Trojans weren’t the only program issuing statements about player health on Thursday.
Myles Rice won’t play this season due to a Hodgkin's lymphoma diagnosis. The 6-2 Washington State guard was a redshirt freshman last season.
Here’s his GoFundMe fundraiser page if you’d like to contribute to his treatment.
2. There’s a clear Top 2 in the Class of 2025
Cameron Boozer, son of former Duke star and NBA forward Carlos Boozer, is at No. 1 for 247. Boozer’s play this Summer elevated him — notable given he dominated Flagg in two head-to-head matchups.
There’s not much consensus on the rest of the top 10, though there are some players that made both cuts. Shooting guards Darryn Peterson and Isaiah Hartwell are both in the top 7, while guards Meleek Thomas and Mikel Brown Jr. are the top ball-handlers in the class.
This group is comprised of high school sophomores, so plenty could change in the next few years, including the “one and done” rule. Will it remain a Boozer vs Flagg battle or will another prospect make a case to be No. 1 overall?
3. Francis Okoro free of pain and ready to excel
There’s been plenty of hype for Saint Louis (I’m driving that train) for the upcoming season. The backcourt is set. Yuri Collins, the nation’s assists leader, is back, along with perimeter players Gibson Jimerson and Javonte Perkins, who missed last season with an injury.
It’s the frontcourt that’s the biggest question. Returning starter Francis Okoro is a former top-50 prospect who started his career at Oregon before transferring to Saint Louis last offseason. He was solid, averaging 10.8 ppg and 8.1 rpg and starting the final 22 games after originally coming off the bench.
What’s important to note is that Okoro has been dealing with health issues for years, including his recovery from shoulder surgery. However, now he feels energized and fully healthy. Considering how effective he was in the final 15 games last season, Saint Louis could have one of the best frontcourt players in the Atlantic 10 this year.
Coach Travis Ford recognizes that potential, which he told Ky McKeon for The Almanac.
So, Okoro is set to have a big impact on Saint Louis. The perimeter is among the nation’s best. But does that mean the Billikens are good enough to win the A-10 this season? You’ll need to buy The Almanac for the full rundown. Best $20 you’ll spend.
4. ‘One-and-dones’ who should’ve stayed
The NBA reportedly will lower the age limit for the NBA Draft, which would take away some “one and done” stars in college hoops. But what if we flipped it? What about the players who would’ve benefitted from 3-4 years in college?
This week’s list focuses on the guys who didn’t have to leave. So no Zion Williamson or Cade Cunningham.
Zach Collins, Gonzaga (2017)
The first 5-star prospect to join Gonzaga out of high school, Collins was a highly efficient big man off the bench, scoring in double figures in just 17 mpg. The 6-11 center could stretch the floor, block shots, and most famously, foul a lot. Considering his skill and Mark Few’s history of developing bigs, Collins would've been unstoppable in the WCC.
Zhaire Smith, Texas Tech (2018)
Smith averaged 11.3 ppg and 5.0 rpg in his lone year at Texas Tech and was a freshman sensation alongside Jarrett Culver, who stayed another year and became a national star and eventual lottery pick. Smith had all the tools to do the same as a 6-5 versatile defender that shot over 40 percent from deep on limited attempts. He was a tremendous athlete that could’ve been the difference in the 2019 national title game.
Bol Bol, Oregon (2019)
The 7-2 center and former 5-star prospect was as good as advertised in the nine games he played in college, averaging over 21 ppg and 9.0 rpg. Bol played like a guard at times and shot over 50 percent from 3-point range. Few frontcourt players could match his skillset. A few years of Bol would've seen him become a household name, and dare I say, earn the same kind of coverage as Zion Williamson.
Nico Mannion, Arizona (2020)
There's something about Arizona and lightning rod point guards — before Kerr Kriisa, there was Nico Mannion. Mannion, a former 5-star prospect, had the attention of the internet, but he also proved to be effective on the court in his lone year. The playmaker averaged 14.0 ppg and 5.3 apg and had the type of game that opposing fan bases loved to hate. Had he stayed around all four years, Pac-12 fans would've had a field day with Mannion — though he would've had a field day with opposing defenses too.
Day’Ron Sharpe, North Carolina (2021)
He ended up as a first-round pick, but it's hard not to feel cheated by Sharpe's lone year. He was part of a four-man frontcourt featuring Armando Bacot, Walker Kessler and Garrison Brooks. Sharpe was highly effective while on the court and had he gotten 25-30 minutes a game, he could've been a mini Oscar Tshiebwe based on the similar physical dominance and high-energy play.
5. Will Robert Hinton be the next Ivy League star?
In 15 seasons under coach Tommy Amaker, Harvard has consistently been a top-tier Ivy League team, mostly thanks to some of the league’s best talent. It’s almost a given that anytime the program can land a quality recruit, they’ll end up being a star.
And it looks like they may have found the next one in Robert Hinton.
Hinton is a 6-5 shooting guard out of California and is in the 2024 class. By then, both Noah Kirkwood and Chris Ledlum will be gone, allowing the talented scorer to come in and be a primary contributor to the offense. Harvard always has at least one star on its team every year, and if the past is any indication, look for Hinton to be the next Crimson great.
Other recruiting news:
UCF lands 3-star small forward Comeh Emuobor in the 2023 class, joining 6-5 shooting guard commit, Joey Hart.
Four-star forward Zayden High will announce a top-5 list on Monday.
Toledo lands 6-0 class of 2023 guard Jamarion Wilson.
THE GOODMAN AND HUMMEL PODCAST
Following in a father’s footsteps
There’s a litany of famous basketball players whose sons worked their way through the high school ranks and into college. Bronny James, as the son of perhaps the best player who ever lived, gets more than most.
But he wasn’t the first to have that type of attention.
Jeff Jordan, Michal Jordan’s oldest son, recently joined the Goodman and Hummel podcast and discussed what life was like on the recruiting trail for him in the mid-2000s and how that played into eventually attending Illinois.
THE FAST BREAK
Links as you debate what is the true home run record.
Florida State is without Jaylan Gainey and Chandler Jackson to open practice.
Dayton’s annual Red-Blue game will be Saturday, Oct. 15.
Former Indiana assistant Dan Fife talks about his past and future in coaching.
Louisville unveiled its new $23 million player dorm, Denny Crum Hall. Here’s a tour.
A bill was introduced into the U.S. Senate that would add a key wrinkle for NIL Collectives.
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