Mark TurgeonStreeter Lecka/Getty ImagesMark Turgeon leads the Terrapins into their inaugural campaign in the Big Ten.
It’s difficult to imagine the ACC without founding member Maryland. The Terrapins played in some of the most memorable games in league history (for example, the 1974 ACC tournament title game against NC State) and won the national title in 2002.

Lefty Driesell set out to make the Maryland the UCLA of the East when he took over in 1969. He created Midnight Madness and made Cole Fieldhouse one of the toughest venues in all of college basketball. Gary Williams transitioned the program through the NCAA sanctions he inherited and made consecutive trips to the Final Four, as well as leading the program to 14 NCAA tournament berths, two trips to the Elite Eight and seven Sweet 16 appearances in 22 years in College Park.

As Maryland moves to the Big Ten under head coach Mark Turgeon, it comes off three consecutive seasons with no NCAA tournament appearances. The Terrapins also had had five players leave the program this past spring. Despite this, I feel they have turned the corner and are in position to finish in the upper half of the new conference
Domantas SabonisRodolfo Molina/EB via Getty ImagesDomantas Sabonis, son of Arvydas, has his sights set on NCAA hoops this season.
Emmanuel Mudiay, ESPN’s No. 5 recruit in the Class of 2014, was born in the Congo, raised in Dallas and will play next season in China. While he’s not an “international” player -- based on the fact that he built his reputation in the United States -- his travels underscore the point that talent can develop pretty much anywhere. There were 13 international players selected in the most recent NBA draft, and a plethora of young international players will be playing college basketball this season.

With the basketball globe continuing to grow smaller, here are nine players from around the world you need to know about now and in the future.

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Ukraine | 2014-15 team: Kansas Jayhawks

Mykhailiuk appeared on the scene as a late replacement for the Hoop Summit World Team in April, and although he played limited minutes in the game against Team USA, his performances in the practice sessions were impressive enough to alert a number of top programs, including the Jayhawks.

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BrownRay Carlin/Icon SMILarry Brown has the Mustangs poised to make a serious run during the 2014-15 campaign.
This past season, coach Larry Brown and his SMU Mustangs won 27 games and lost to the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the finals of the NIT. This was a Mustangs team many felt deserved an opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament, but their nonconference strength of schedule cost them in the eyes of the selection committee.

The Mustangs had a number of breakthrough wins that propelled them into the national spotlight and earned them a Top 25 ranking. SMU swept the eventual national champion Connecticut Huskies and defeated Cincinnati and Memphis by double figures.

The addition of Emmanuel Mudiay, ESPN's No. 5 player in the country, made the Mustangs a fashionable preseason top-10 team and a team many felt was positioned to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

Now Mudiay is set to play overseas. And while there is no doubt that SMU will miss the 6-foot-5 point guard's ability to get in the lane and make plays, the Mustangs should still challenge for an American conference championship.

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shot clockSam Forencich/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe NBA has played with a 24-second shot clock since 1954. Could it happen in college basketball?


To many, the idea of reducing the college shot clock from 35 seconds to 24 seconds is sacrilegious. But it makes too much sense to me.

To start: a 24-second clock would be more closely aligned to the NBA, NCAA and FIBA, creating a more cohesive global game.

The NBA has been playing with a 24-second shot clock since the 1954 season. Some might argue that the NBA is able to use a shorter clock since its rosters feature the very best players in the world. But FIBA has been utilizing the shorter clock at every level of basketball too -- including in preteen play. Young FIBA players grow up with an "internal shot clock" in their mind.

With proper instruction, college basketball players would make a quick adjustment to the new rule.

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Kentucky coachesCourtesy of Kelly Kline/Under ArmourCoaches, including Orlando Antigua and John Calipari, spend most of July recruiting top prospects.
The calendar for a college basketball coach has very few windows of free time. The job is a seven-days-a-week, 12-months-a-year commitment. I remember friends asking my wife, Karen, what I did in the offseason. Her response was, “What offseason?” Though the games are over, the work just begins.

Let’s take a look at what a typical college coach goes through from April until September.


April, May and June



April is a time to finish up the current recruiting class and evaluate underclassmen. May begins strength training, individual workouts, individual player meetings, program self-evaluations, official or unofficial underclassmen visits and helping the university with its grass-roots fundraising. Often the school will have as many as 16 events for a coach to attend throughout the institution’s geographic footprint. These are full-day events that take you away from your team and family.

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Gonzaga BulldogsChristopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY SportsPrzemek Karnowski, a 7-1 center, averaged 10.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game last season.
My ESPN colleagues have done a nice job of putting together teams that should be superlative in areas such as offense, defense, rebounding and passing heading into the upcoming college basketball season. All had strong selections for each of the characteristics, but they’re not the only correct answers.

What other programs are set to thrive in 2014-15? Let’s break it all down.


Offense: Gonzaga Bulldogs

Mark Few’s club had its lowest offensive efficiency rating this past season since Kenpom.com starting tracking such numbers back in 2002. The Zags finished 51st in the country in OER after 12 seasons, with an average rating of 19th. But things are about to get back to normal in Spokane.

Few’s backcourt of four-year starters, Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos, returns. Even better news is that the two are finally healthy. Pangos suffered through season-long ankle and turf toe issues last season, while Bell Jr. missed nearly a month with a broken right hand. Combined, these two have made 40 percent of their 3-point shots in nearly 1,000 attempts during their careers.

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Cauley-SteinPaul Abell/USA TODAY SportsKentucky forward Willie Cauley-Stein is part of arguably the nation's top frontcourt.
Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari understands the business of college basketball. He thinks outside the box and has created the new model of the game. Over the past five years, he has had 18 players taken in the first round of the NBA draft. But don’t take that to mean he’s a “one-and-done” coach. Calipari replaced that phrase with "succeed and proceed." A down year for the Wildcats is having one lottery pick and one top-20 draft choice.

A funny thing happened this year, though, when potential top picks Willie Cauley-Stein, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison and Alex Poythress decided to return to Lexington as opposed to putting their names in for the NBA draft. They will be joined by the nation’s No. 2 overall recruiting class (featuring four players in ESPN’s Top 25). What it has created is one of the deepest and most talented teams in college basketball.

How will Calipari manage the rotation? How do you satisfy the expectations and egos of a roster of McDonald's All-Americans?

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MichiganLeon Halip/Getty ImagesJohn Beilein has led Michigan to the NCAA tournament for four consecutive seasons.
Michigan’s John Beilein has never been an assistant coach. He has coached at four different levels (junior college, NAIA, NCAA Division II and NCAA Division I) and has won 701 games along the way. He has gone from driving the van at Erie Community College to the national championship game as head coach of the Wolverines.

What makes the upstate New York native so successful? It’s more than the two-guard, four-out offense.

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Mark FewBrian Spurlock/USA TODAY SportsMark Few has taken Gonzaga to 15 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.
Mark Few has built Gonzaga into one of the most consistent major college basketball programs in the country: 15 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, four Sweet 16s and multiple first-round NBA draft choices. There’s speculation every year about Few leaving for other destinations, but the reality is he isn't going anywhere.

Why is Few so content in Spokane, Washington? How has he built this program into the power it is today? What makes Gonzaga a destination job? Let’s break it all down.

1. Don't mess with happy

Few is a perfect fit at Gonzaga. He’s from the Pacific Northwest (Creswell, Oregon) and enjoys the lifestyle. An avid outdoorsman, Few is a fly fisherman and enjoys taking his bike out on the trail. He’s comfortable in his surroundings. Few is an old-school grinder who has balance in his life. Though constantly engaged in the Spokane community, he still has enough time for family and friends.

Few is also coaching on his own terms and not held hostage by boosters and the demands of working at a large state university.

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Larry BrownAP Photo/Sharon EllmanLarry Brown has Southern Methodist in position to reach the NCAA tournament next season.
Each season there are teams that break through and show significant improvement from the prior season. In 2013-14, we saw Tony Bennett's Virginia Cavaliers win both the ACC and ACC tournament. Tim Miles’ Nebraska Cornhuskers went from a Big Ten bottom-feeder to the Big Dance. Kevin Ollie's Connecticut Huskies -- ineligible for the postseason a season earlier -- won the national title.

Breakthrough teams typically return a core group of players, have excellent guard play, defend, are physically tough and have roles that are well-defined. Let’s take a look at which programs are poised to have major seasons.

Southern Methodist Mustangs

In two short seasons, Larry Brown has made the Mustangs relevant and created excitement in Dallas. In 2013-14, they went 27-10 and 12-6 in the American Athletic Conference. They had two wins over Connecticut as well as victories against Cincinnati and Memphis. Their nonconference schedule cost them an NCAA bid, but they used that motivation and advanced to the finals of the NIT (losing to fellow breakthrough team Minnesota).

As Larry Brown says, the Mustangs "play the right way." They get high-percentage shots and make them (48.3 field goal percentage), are hard to score against (38.5 percent field goal percentage defense) and were seventh in the country in defensive rebounding percentage (69.5), which also led the American. This season SMU could have one of the best backcourts in the country in dynamic Nic Moore, developing 6-5 sophomore Keith Frazier and point guard Emmanuel Mudiay. Mudiay, ESPN’s No. 5 overall recruit, is a big point guard who is terrific in transition and uses his size to see over the defense. He can finish as well as make his teammates better. Sterling Brown brings depth and toughness to the backcourt.

The addition of Xavier fifth-year transfer Justin Martin, at 6-6, gives the Mustangs another versatile piece that can play either forward position. Martin averaged 11.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and made more than 50 perimeter shots. His skill set will fit in well with coach Brown’s offensive system.

Up front, Markus Kennedy is a load. The Villanova transfer is a wide body (6-9, 245 pounds) who has an old school low-post game.

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Tom CreanAP Photo/Kiichiro SatoIndiana University's Tom Crean didn't make the Top 50 cut.
I will admit it. I am sensitive to coaching lists, as well as "who’s hot" and "who's on the hot seat" articles. After spending 23 years as a college coach, I understand, uniquely, how hard the job is and how circumstances, real and imagined, can affect how coaches are viewed.

I've also seen how just one key win can propel a coach into the fans' and media's consciousness, and one heartbreaking loss can turn a guy into "someone who can't coach." Every coach on the Top 50 list has lived both sides.

This month, ESPN is unveiling a Top 50 college coaches list, and I have been asked to weigh in on it, with particular regard to coaches ranked too low, in my judgment, and coaches I believe have been wrongly omitted. To me, these coaches deserve a slot (or a higher slot) on the list.

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WilliamsChris Coduto/Icon SMIBuzz Williams is known as a relentless recruiter. Will that success continue at Virginia Tech?
Coaching is about problem solving, and when a new coach takes over a program, more often than not there are many issues to resolve. How do you take a school with no positive history and make it a contender? If it has had past accomplishments, how do you help restore that?

Here are five outstanding coaches in new situations, each with a unique problem he must navigate in order to have success.


Buzz Williams, Virginia Tech Hokies
Challenge: Geography

Williams surprised many, not by leaving Marquette, but by leaving for one of the more challenging jobs in the ACC. And the major issue is overcoming the location of the Virginia Tech campus.

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Kansas has added one of the best young players in Europe to its 2014-2015 roster. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (pronounced ME-kuy-luke), a 6-foot-6, 16-year-old Ukrainian guard, signed with the Jayhawks today after considering scholarship offers, initially, from Virginia, Oregon and Iowa State.

Mykhailiuk, who averaged 25 points and eight rebounds at the 2013 European Under-16 B Division Championship last summer and was named to the all-tournament team, recently played in the Nike Hoop Summit. His minutes were limited as he arrived in Portland, Oregon, as a late addition to the World Team, but his appearance made him the youngest player to ever compete in the game.

It was during the practice sessions leading up to the Hoop Summit game where Mykhailiuk really shined.

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Greg McDermott, Doug McDermottTom Pennington/Getty ImagesGreg McDermott must replace his son Doug's scoring and leadership next season.
Maintaining a program at an elite level is not easy in today’s culture of college basketball. It’s becoming more and more difficult each year to balance recruiting classes and have that much-needed continuity. Kentucky, Kansas and Duke are among a select few programs that have the ability to reload each year. But most aren't able to do so. When either a dominant player graduates or leaves for the NBA draft, it could leave a team in disarray. Transferring is also a major problem, as the amount of players leaving programs early is at an all-time high.

Which programs are hit the hardest heading into next season and who could help fill those voids? Let’s take a look.

Creighton Bluejays

Who’s gone: Creighton has been a great story the past two years having earned bids to the NCAA tournament and winning games once getting there. Coach Greg McDermott had a special player in his son Doug, who was the consensus National Player of the Year in 2013-14 after averaging 26.7 points per game. He was complemented by big, smart, point guard Grant Gibbs and long-range specialist Ethan Wragge. Now the Bluejays must move on without that talented trio.

How the void is filled: Austin Chatman’s role is going to evolve next season. He needs to be a better leader and manage the basketball game more efficiently. The senior guard must demonstrate a sense of purpose and not try to do too much. Chatman has been part of a winning culture thus far with Creighton and will need to show the proper intangibles that are crucial for a young team. He’ll be joined in the backcourt by Devin Brooks, who, like Chatman, will be a senior. Though Brooks was solid last season for Greg McDermott’s squad, he would benefit from an improved 3-point shot (28.1 percent on the season).

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Jahlil OkaforRich Graessle/Icon SMIFreshman center Jahlil Okafor will give the Duke Blue Devils a go-to interior scorer.
This past season was all about the freshman focus. The exceptional first-year players started out as the face of college basketball, and although none of them won a national championship, they all impacted their respective teams.

Being the highest rated-player doesn't always translate into instant success at the collegiate level. To contribute as a freshman, there has to be an opportunity and a fit. Often a lower-rated player at his particular school can have a greater impact than a player who is rated higher. Playing time, style, system and their teammates are factors in how the player fares.

Which freshmen are set to make the biggest splash next season? Here are my top six.


1. Jahlil Okafor | C | Duke Blue Devils

Okafor is a wide-bodied, low-post scorer who will draw consistent double-teams. He has great hands and excellent feet, runs the floor, rebounds balls in and outside of his area, and can face up in the high post as well as the midpost. He will give Duke a go-to interior scorer who carves out space and is versatile enough to utilize in ball screens and catch-and-finish situations.

With the departure of leading scorers Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood, Okafor will be the focal point of the Blue Devils' offense. He will be playing on a team that has an excellent combination of youth and experience. Up front, he will joined by junior power forward Amile Jefferson -- or, if coach Mike Krzyzewski decides to go small, by rangy freshman Justise Winslow (ESPN’s No. 15 recruit).

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