10 Things to Watch Until the College Hoops Season Begins
By now you've probably heard that Jabari Parker is the best high school player in the country right now (and if you haven't, get ready for a storm of articles calling him such), and the end of his monumental recruiting process is in sight.
However, Parker's recruitment isn't the only story line in college hoops these days.
Even though the season is over and we still have another couple of months before the next season starts, there is plenty going on in the college hoops world.
As the recruiting of the class of 2013 picks up and the natural flurry of offseason changes occur, these are the top story lines as the summer ends and the season nears.
Will Pac-12 Recruiting Stay Hot?
The Pac-12 owned the class of 2012, dominating the recruiting process.
While Kentucky naturally had a top class, Arizona and UCLA had the top two classes. The two schools combined to bring in four of the top 10 players and seven of the top 25, according to my own rankings.
This domination of the last class could bring the Pac-12 from the worst power conference, and trailing some of the mid-majors last season, to one of the elite conferences this season (although it will be top-heavy).
Now we will see if the class of 2012 was a recruiting fluke or if the Pac-12 can repeat its incredible performance.
Jabari Bird's commitment to Cal gave the Pac-12 its best recruit in the class of 2013 so far, but before the season starts, we will see a wave of recruits commit. It will be interesting to see if they choose the Pac-12.
What Will Ricardo Ledo Do?
Ricardo Ledo was supposed to be part of Providence basketball's revitalization along with point guard Kris Dunn. Both of these guys are elite guards, and as a backcourt they would have been difficult to stop.
However, the NCAA ruled Ledo ineligible for this season, and one of the nation's top recruits cannot play college ball this season.
Now Ledo has a few options. He can take a season off and play next year while practicing with the team this year, he can play professionally overseas for a year or two, or he could join the NBA's D-League.
While he has said that he will remain at Providence, that's certainly not the only thing he can do. These next few months could be very telling of what the star will do this year, and his choice will have a huge effect on the college basketball world.
Which Other Stars Are in Hot Water?
The NCAA is cracking down on top recruits and their backgrounds. They currently have several investigations of some of the best players in the country, and now we're left to wonder if any will suffer any problems like Ledo.
There were once five of the top 25 recruits who were under scrutiny, as ESPN's Dana O'Neil told us. However, there was also a report that UCLA's freshman Tony Parker was under investigation, along with Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson. The NCAA also took interest in Nerlens Noel and his investigation.
With so many stars under fire, it will be interesting to see if the class of 2012 loses any more of its studs to NCAA inquiries.
The Billy Gillispie Saga
Billy Gillispie has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
After being hospitalized for experiencing what he said felt like "a stroke or heart attack," some of his players said that they didn't like the way he was treating them just days after the incident.
It looked like a very bad situation for Gillispie to be in, and then mixed signals were sent on Sept. 8.
That was a big day for the situation, but it didn't end there.
Two days later the Red Raiders' leading scorer, Jordan Tolbert, said that he didn't want Gillispie back. That same day he was put on "indefinite sick leave" but was then told on Sept. 11 that he was told not to have anything to do with the program until after he met with the athletic director.
Yeah, it's kind of a big deal.
This Gillispie saga is far from over, and it will be interesting to see how it pans out over the next few weeks.
Who Will Be Helped by the New Recruiting Rule?
The NCAA's new recruiting rule that allows for unlimited texts and phone calls from coaches could have a big impact on the recruiting of the class of 2013.
This new amount of freedom is certainly going to help some coaches, but we have yet to see which ones.
I think that we can say without a doubt that it will help Baylor, whose basketball programs sent 738 impermissible texts and made 528 impermissible phone calls over a two-and-a-half-year period.
Scott Drew could have the potential to bring in a few more elite players in the class of 2013 now, and it will be interesting to see how this affects who does well when recruiting the next class.
Will Duke Be Punished?
After Lance Thomas' $100,000 jewelry shopping spree at Rafaello & Co. brought about a lawsuit, Duke's basketball program could see an investigation or reprimand over the next few weeks or months.
You may remember Thomas as one of Duke's starters on the 2010 team that won the NCAA tournament. That could potentially be in jeopardy.
While we can only speculate about punishments or the NCAA's course of action at this time, it will be interesting to see if this lawsuit brings about any NCAA action.
Jim Calhoun's Retirement
Yes, this has been a story line in college basketball for the last five years or so, but the coverage of Jim Calhoun's retirement is similar to that of Brett Favre's: It won't end until it actually happens—for real.
He's had ample opportunity to step down and ride off into the sunset, but he's decided that he'd rather be sitting on the bench than watching from home. However, that could all change soon.
Will Florida Top Kentucky on the Recruiting Trail?
John Calipari and Kentucky have absolutely dominated on the recruiting trail in recent years, but they might be slipping just a bit.
Last year was the first time in four years that Kentucky didn't have the No. 1 recruiting class according to ESPN's rankings.
The Wildcats had to settle for No. 2. However, I had them at No. 3 in my own rankings, behind both UCLA and Arizona.
While Calipari remains college basketball's best recruiter by far, this could be the year that a team in the SEC surpasses Kentucky—if only for one year.
Billy Donovan has been busy at Florida, bringing in three recruits, including two of the top 10. Kentucky only has one commit from outside the Top 100 as of now, but Calipari usually racks up two or three huge commitments in the last few months.
While Cal will undoubtedly make a push at the end, Donovan can still keep building on his already impressive class and put too much ground between himself and Calipari to be passed.
This could be the year Florida tops UK on the recruiting trail, but the next few months will have a huge impact on that with so many elite players deciding soon.
The Jabari Parker Decision
Among those elite players who will be committing soon is the nation's top player, Jabari Parker.
Parker will likely be announcing his decision in November because he wants to know where he's going before the season starts.
Parker told SNY.tv by phone that he wants to "get it over with" prior to the season.
“'I’m on a setback not making as much progress as I should be [cutting his list] but I’m looking to make my choice in November.
'I want to do it for me because I want to get it over with before the season starts.'”
If he does make his pick before the season starts, we are going to get a wave of coverage over the next couple of months.
The Harrison Twins' Recruitment
While Jabari Parker is the best player in the country, his decision isn't the biggest. The Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron, will be deciding together, and this package deal brings with it two of the top five players in the country.
These two make up an elite backcourt that will automatically make their school a top-25 team, if not a national championship contender.
These crucial steps show that we are nearing the end of their recruitment, and their decision date of Oct. 29 looks a lot closer than it did during the summer.
When these two decide, it will change the landscape of college basketball for sure, and this is arguably the most important story line to watch before the season tips off.