Early season tournaments continue to emerge and increase from a competition standpoint. Non-conference schedules have gotten tougher as college basketball fans prepare for premier match-ups and upsets even in November.
Let’s take a look at the Las Vegas Invitational:
No. 5: Sophomore Sensation B.J. Young- After considering a leap to the NBA, Arkansas point guard, B.J. Young, ultimately made the decision to return for his sophomore season. Now, expectations are soaring for Young and his ability to be an all-SEC performer in 2012-13 could bode huge dividends for the Razorbacks. The Las Vegas Invitational gives Young a great spotlight to help the Razorbacks make a statement early on in the year. However, the competition is stiff and Young will be matched up with fellow star and Arizona State point guard Jahii Carson in the tournament’s semifinal round.
No. 4: No More Jordan Taylor For the Badgers- Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan is preparing to move on in 2012-13 without star point guard Jordan Taylor. However, the Badgers return to solid core of talent from last season’s squad that fell to Syracuse in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament. There is enough for Ryan to work with in the back court this season, but it will be interesting to who will step up and assume a leadership role early on in the season. The Badgers are pinned up against Creighton in the tournament’s semifinal round.
No. 3: Is Creighton the Early Favorite?- Doug McDermott is back for the Blue Jays and so too is many of the key contributors off a squad that found themselves among the nation’s Top-25 for much of last season. McDermott has all the intangibles to compete for National Player of the Year in 2012-13, while Austin Chatman and Gregory Echenique also return. Creighton should once again begin the season ranked, so taking advantage of some potential resume-building wins in Las Vegas will be crucial.
No. 2: Herb Sendek’s Hot Seat- Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek has found himself sitting directly on the hot seat heading into the 2012-13 season. After a pair of assistant coaches left the program to pursue similar positions elsewhere this off-season, Sendek brought in a pair of former NBA coaches to help the improvement process and complete his staff. Sendek will need to find a way to produce this upcoming season or it just might be his last in Tempe.
No. 1: It’s Jahii Carson Time- After sitting out the entire 2011-12 season due to academic ineligibility issues, Jahii Carson is ready to go. The former top-100 recruit is widely considered as the Sun Devils’ best player and overall prospect since James Harden. Carson was patient in waiting out the past year and now his time to shine is right in front of college basketball fans. Carson’s ability to produce and improve the Sun Devils’ squad this season may hold huge dividends in head coach Herb Sendek’s job status.
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