Hoopsworld.com lists their picks at the Top Ten rising juniors next season. Their list includes Villanova’s Mouphtaou Yarou. They write, "As of right now all indications point towards Yarou having a big junior season for Villanova. The big man from Natitingou, Benin has steadily been improving throughout his first two years with the program and has earned a much more prominent role in the Wildcats' attack. Nova is still going to be who they've always been: a team led by their guard play. Yarou gives them an added dimension, though. He's become much better at utilizing his size and making his presence felt on both ends. After averaging eight points and seven rebounds as a sophomore, Yarou should be aiming for a double double this season."
Not to be outdone, BleacherReport has its own list The Top 25 Juniors to Be, which lists three Villanova players -- Maalik Wayns, Dominic Cheek and Mouph Yarou. They write, "Dominic Cheek played for legendary coach Bob Hurley out in New Jersey and came to Villanova with a lot of hype. He has not lived up to this but don't discount a student of Bob Hurley. The 6'6" guard should feature more in Jay Wright's offense for the coming season." Mouphtaou Yarou, one of 12 siblings, came to America [from the Republic of Benin] at 18. He spent one year in high school before enrolling at Villanova. He averaged 8.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and a block in 24 minutes last season. His scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a win over Louisville, his best game of the season. Or that could also be a 13 point, 16 rebound win over UCLA early in the season. It is safe to say Villanova's coming season will be tied directly to Yarou's play. Jay Wright's formula of starting two quality point guards together is well known; however next season Maalik Wayns will have an opportunity to be the only starting point guard. Recruit Tyrone Johnson, a 6'3" point guard will get some minutes, but other players like Dominic Cheek deserves that chance to show what they bring to the table. At 6'2", Wayns averaged almost 14 points a game and 4.5 assists playing in the shadow of Corey Fisher. Now that Fisher has graduated, the ball will feature more prominently with Wayns. Will he be the next Scottie Reynolds or Kyle Lowry? Point guards are the latest craze in the NBA, so Wayns have a lot to play for."
Joining the party, BasketballProspectus.com’s list of its Top 100 D-1 players has Villanova’s Maalik Wayns at 36. They write, "Wayns has largely the same resume as Santa Clara PG, Kevin Foster, minus the shooting (Wayns was 27 percent on 118 threes, although his good free throw shooting suggests improvement to come) but compiled against a Big East schedule. Something interesting: Wayns and the now-graduated Corey Fisher both ranked in the top 60 nationally in assist rate, but Villanova ranks somewhere near the middle of the pack in assists per field goal. Basically no one else on Villanova was ever credited with an assist. Ever. Fisher and Wayns dominated the ball to the point that Fisher's departure means Wayns will have to change his game. I could see Wayns handling the ball constantly this season. If that happens, and especially if Wayns isn't prepared to be a solo ball handler, this ranking will be on the high side and Villanova could be in trouble."
‘Nova’s Mouphtaou Yarou and Jayvaughn Pinkston did not make BasketballProspectus.com’s list the Top 100, but did make their list of "Guys Who May Completely Explode" next season.
MidwestSportsFans.com writes, "We continue to be concerned about Villanova. Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, and Antonio Pena are all gone, which leaves Maalik Wayns as the top dog. Wayns boasts a terrific assist rate and draws plenty of fouls, but there are some warning signs as well. First among those is a 44.5 eFG%, due in large part to his 27.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc in 118 attempts. And with that trio of talented players gone, Wayns will see even fewer clean looks and will be tempted to increase his 25.9 shot percentage. Based on what I have seen from Wayns, that isn’t necessarily a good thing."
RumbleInTheGarden.com continues its Big East preview, saying this about 'Nova's prospects next season: "Returning minutes: 52.5% | Returning points: 46.8% | Returning rebounds: 60.5%. Key gaps in the Wildcat roster: Accurate outside shooting, post depth, team-wide defense. In short: The Wildcats lose a lot of shots and a lot of skill. Can the backups from last year improve their shooting? And can new blood improve the Villanova defense? Dominic Cheek and Maalik Wayns both struggled with their shots. Was it a confidence issue? Wayns, at least, is a very good passer. Mouphtaou Yarou is a strong Big East center who handles his business in the post. Maurice Sutton can provide some help on defense, but he's still skinny and still has the offense of a guy who spends much of his time towel-waving from the bench seats. I'm not sure what Isaiah Armwood really does, but he's long and put up decent numbers against Syracuse during the Wildcats' late season loss streak. Then he spent 85 minutes on the court, barely denting the box score. James Bell is the defensive hope of the new generation; he shows signs of being a good, long, tough defender but little sign of offense so far. JayVaughn Pinkston should return this year and finally take the court; he has the chance to be a difference maker as a face-up power forward or power small forward or - why not just call his role The Pinkston? Pinkston is probably a player who can really fill some gaps. He can score, and he can score in the post. And he's a strong fellow; can he play defense? Markus Kennedy is even bigger and also strong. If they two of them can run with the speedy Wayns, they'll get a chance to make a difference. Among the newcomers, Ach Yacoubou can be a physical scorer for the Wildcats, and Darrun Hilliard is known to be a smart player. Tyrone Johnson will get minutes both on and off the ball for the Wildcats. For all we know, the Wildcats could play a far different style than they have in the past few years. Looking at their late-season swoon and their defensive results in Big East play, maybe a change is just what Coach Jay Wright needs."
Luke Winn of SI.com wrote Nineteen Thoughts from 2011's FIBA U19 World Championships which included this comment about ‘Nova’s James Bell (16.1 mpg, 3.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg): "Earned his way into the starting lineup for all nine games due to Hewitt's belief that Bell was the best on-ball defender on the roster. The U.S. failure to put Bell on Russian star Dmitry Kulagin -- who lit them up for 14 first-quarter points -- may have doomed them, though."
Under NCAA regulations, July features two periods during which college coaches are permitted to watch and recruit high school players at NCAA-sanctioned events. The first period began last Wednesday and ends on Friday. The second period runs from July 22 through July 31. NBEBasketeball.com reports that Jay Wright was spotted along the sidelines of the Peach Jam Tournament in North Augusta, Georgia this week with the Who’s Who of high major college coaches, which included John Calipari (Kentucky), Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh), Kevin Willard (Seton Hall), Thad Matta (Ohio State), Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), John Thompson (Georgetown), Billy Donovan (Florida), Ed Cooley (Providence), Steve Lavin (St. John’s), Mike Brey (Notre Dame), Ben Howland (UCLA), Jim Calhoun (Connecticut), Rick Barnes (Texas), Bob Huggins (West Virginia), Rick Pitino (Louisville), Phil Martelli (Saint Joseph's), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), and Brad Stevens (Butler).
In an article previewing the Peach Jam Tournament, NBEBasketball.com had this humorous comment about Villanova signee, Savon Goodman: "Villanova commit Savon Goodman runs well, and defenders not truly invested in defending him may be best served to get out of his way when he attacks the rim."
The Asbury Park Press reports that "after registering a triple-double at the Jersey Shore Basketball League on Wednesday former Villanova star Mike Nardi’s postgame self-assessment wasn’t exactly glowing." I think I was a little bit passive the whole game," Nardi said. "Maybe it was just one night of night being too aggressive and that turned into a night of not making shots and not scoring, but I picked it up at the end." Nardi did indeed pick it up at the end. When his Investors Savings Bank teammates needed him down the stretch, he made it happen. Nardi keyed a 19-7 run to close the game as he finished with 29 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds in a 121-117 win over Asbury Park Recreation. "
Philly.com reports that Ryan Arcidacono will lead his Playaz team in two high-profile AAU tournaments this month. On Wednesday, they will tip off at the four-day West Virginia Jam Fest Showcase on the campus of West Virginia University before heading to the Super Showcase in Orlando, Fla. In Florida, they'll become one of the first area teams to play in the Gold Division." Philly.com further reports that when Arcidacono is not playing basketball, he and his Playaz teammates are working as paid summer internships one of the nation's largest executive-search firms, Rice Cohen International, headed by their coach, Gene Rice. "They answer phones, conduct research, and set up appointments for the Yardley-based company, which boasts clients such as Disney. Along with office work, the players learn life skills and goal setting as they prepare to make the jump to the collegiate level. With the help of his staff, the head coach has instructed the players how to create and maintain a bank account, properly evaluate a potential college, and prepare for the SATs. At the start of each shift, the players are given a quiz on the 100 most common SAT words, which were distributed at the start of the internship. Depending on how well they do, the players receive a bonus to their base wage of $10 per hour. The incentives continue. The players can cash in on bonuses for scheduling conference calls, entering data, and for successful e-mails."
WestVirginiaMetroNews.com reports that 'Nova target, Amile Jefferson, also will play in the Jam Fest Showcase AAU tournament in Morgantown.
BleacherReport.com lists ‘Nova commit, Daniel Ochefu at #22 on its list of the Top 30 2012 recruits. They write, "Daniel Ochefu is a 6'9" center who is verbally committed to the Villanova Wildcats. Ochefu is dangerous offensively. He can play extremely well facing the basket, and he can also hit jumpers from about 15 feet away. He is a great ball-handler for his size, and a good shot-blocker on defense. Ochefu faces up too much, and he needs to learn to play with his back to the basket if he wants to take his game to the next level."
With JayVaughn Pinkston returning to the Wildcats this season after a one-year suspension after his involvement in a fight at a Villanova fraternity house, it is always interesting to watch how other universities handle similar incidents involving their players. ESPN reported this week that "Iowa State has reinstated suspended center Jordan Railey, who was suspended following his arrest in April for fighting in public. Railey will be allowed to practice with the team and go on its trip to Italy next month. He will not play during the exhibition season and the first three regular season games." Essentially Railey got a three game slap on the wrist vs. a one year suspension for Pinkston. Clearly there is a double-standard in college basketball.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Matt Szczur "continues his adjustment to pro baseball, and the Cubs are thrilled about how well he's handling it."This is definitely the longest I've ever played, and I'm doing it on top of a football season (last fall)," Szczur said Sunday. "It gets to be a grind, but I'm still going out there every day and playing baseball. It's fun. I've been eating it up." VUHoops reported last week that Szczur after hitting .314 with five homers and 17 stolen bases in 66 games for low-A Peoria, he was promoted to high-A Daytona Beach. Commenting on his priorities for the offseason, Matt said, "I'll be honest, first I'm going to take a little time off," he said. "This will be the first time since high school that I've gotten time off." Szczur, an outfielder, joins Double-A center fielder Brett Jackson and right-hander Trey McNutt on the list of the Cubs' best prospects. The move to Daytona Beach opens a possibility for him to start 2012 at Double-A Tennessee and get to Chicago before the end of the season."
MLB.com writes ,"To be honest with you, I don't miss it at all," Szczur said of football. "I have no regrets. I'm having the time of my life playing baseball. It's just been awesome. It's the first time I've ever focused on one sport. I think sky's the limit for my potential." For all his athletic ability, the 21-year-old Szczur already understands that his work ethic will probably decide how far he gets in baseball. "I'm going to go out and work hard every day and try to get early hitting as much as possible," Szczur said. "Even the outfield work, just trying to get out there and get as much experience as I can. Unlike some other guys, I don't have the [same] baseball experience because I've been juggling sports my whole life." The juggling act has been replaced by tunnel vision for baseball."