Early season tournaments continue to emerge and increase from a competition standpoint. Non-conference schedules have gotten tougher and college basketball fans prepare for premier match-ups and upsets even in November.
Let’s take a look at the Hall of Fame Tip Off.
Tournament Date(s): November 9, 11-13, 17-18, & 23, 2012.
Tournament Location(s): Mohegan Sun Area, Uncasville, CT.
Tournament Summary: The Hall of Fame Tip Off is basically divided between the smaller schools and the bigger schools, with Ohio State, Washington, Rhode Island, and Seton Hall playing in the championship round. Let’s start with the little guys first. Albany lost Gerardo Suero, a dominant scorer who averaged 21.5 points per game last year, so senior Mike Black will have to make this team his. The Greyhounds of Loyola made it to the NCAA Tournament last year, and return their top three scorers and four starters, including Erik Etherly who really shined late. Another tournament team from last year, Norfolk State actually won a game against Missouri. However, they will be without Kyle O’Quinn, a rebounding machine who moved forward to the NBA. UMKC has a squad full of transfers and redshirts. We’ll see if they have the chemistry to make some noise. Now, onto the bigger schools. I won’t lie, Ohio State is the clear favorite for this one. With Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas, they’re going to be a factor on the national level. Seton Hall could be a very interesting team this year. Fuquan Edwin is the leader of the Pirates, but with players blossoming like Aaron Cosby and Patrik Auda along with transfers Brian Oliver and Gene Teague, the Pirates could turn some heads. Rhode Island is looking to get back on track after a miserable season. The Rams won only seven games last year and lose some key players in Jamal Wilson and Orion Outerbridge. Dan Hurley takes over the program this season, however. Finally, Washington will be a factor in the Pac-12, as usual. I’m expecting a breakout year for C. J. Wilcox.
Player to Watch: Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State: Thomas really broke out for the Buckeyes last season, but he could explode with Jared Sullinger no longer in Columbus. He averaged 15.9 points and 5.4 rebounds last season and was an athletic nightmare. Thomas is a great finisher around the basket, has a solid mid-range jumper, and is now the main show in Ohio St. Combine that with Craft getting him great looks and Thomas is destined for stardom. From recent interviews, it appears that he’s very focused and prepared for his larger role this season. With that being said, the country, not just the Hall of Fame Classic teams, better watch out for Thomas.