Posted: Wednesday November 16, 2005 1:52PM; Updated: Thursday November 17, 2005 12:32PM
Duke senior guard J.J. Redick has the Blue Devils atop the preseason polls.
Jeffery A. Salter/SI
Grant Wahl will periodically answer questions from SI.com users in his mailbag.
After eight months of hibernation, the 'Bag is back.
But we haven't been sleeping the whole time. No, we've been touring the Duke campus in J.J. Redick's snazzy 2001 Toyota Corolla, teasing out confessions from college hoops' Most Hated One: "If we do everything in our control to try and win the national championship and come up short, then I think there will be a little bit of satisfaction there," the MHO told us. Full stop. "Naw, I'm lying. There wouldn't be. We've got to win it all."
We've checked in with Darius Washington, whose Memphis blues have subsided (What missed free throws?) to the point that he's laying down the smack on Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli, who cut him from the U.S. under-21 world championship team over the summer: "They made their decision," D-Wash intoned. "I guess their decision was to come in fifth."
And we've chatted up Boston College's Jared Dudley, our favorite fearless headband-wearer, who can't wait -- can't wait! -- to mix it up with Maryland's notorious home fans at BC's inaugural ACC game in College Park on Dec. 11. "That should be fun," says the ACC's newest loudmouth. (Why on earth a marquee conference game would be taking place in early December is a topic for another day.)
What we haven't been doing is receiving any of your college hoops questions for the new season. So let me take this occasion to solicit queries for next week's 'Bag. Just remember to keep 'em clean and smart. How does (insert college here) look this year? won't cut it. Faithful readers will know what we're looking for: Probing questions, fun parlor-game ideas, solid Where-Are-They-Now suggestions. (Speaking of which, if anyone has spotted Phi Slamma Jamma alum Benny Anders, we'd love to hear about it.)
For now, though, we thought we'd drop a different sort of top 20 on you -- the top 20 Hoops Hotbeds in the nation (well, actually 21). In Sports Illustrated's college hoops preview (out this week), you'll find a four-page gatefold showing the U.S.'s top talent sources and the recent players they've produced. It's the result of way too much research compiling the metropolitan areas that have contributed all of:
Scout.com's Top 100 players for the four high-school classes (2002-05) currently in college basketball, The past five years of Top 50 preseason nominees for the Wooden Award and The past four years of NBA first-round draft picks.
What's more, we've kept track of Pipelines for each Hotbed, noting which schools have had success landing the greatest number of each area's top talents. (For this category we also included Scout.com's Top 100 players for the high school class of '06 and the Top 50 of 2007 who have already made commitments.)
If you're a hoops junkie like me, you can't get enough of this stuff. Below are our top-20 hotbeds with notable products in parentheses:
1. Los Angeles (33) Top College Players: Craig Smith (Boston College), Hassan Adams (Arizona), Brandon Bowman (Georgetown), Arron Afflalo (UCLA), Bryce Taylor (Oregon), D.J. Strawberry (Maryland), Ekene Ibekwe (Maryland), Gabe Pruitt (USC), Jordan Farmar (UCLA), Marcus Slaughter (San Diego State) and Marcus Williams (UConn).
Top Recent Products: Tayshaun Prince (Kentucky), Josh Childress (Stanford), Antoine Wright (Texas A&M), Casey Jacobsen (Stanford), David Bluthenthal (USC), Dorell Wright (Miami Heat), Trevor Ariza (UCLA), Jason Kapono (UCLA), Kirk Snyder (Nevada) and Amir Johnson (Detroit Pistons).
2. New York City (28) Top College Players: Carl Krauser (Pittsburgh), Curtis Stinson (Iowa State), Curtis Sumpter (Villanova), Allan Ray (Villanova), Gavin Grant (N.C. State), Joakim Noah (Florida), Louie McCroskey (Syracuse), Russell Robinson (Kansas), Sammy Mejia (DePaul) and Shagari Alleyne (Kentucky).
Top Recent Products: Julius Hodge (N.C. State), Sebastian Telfair (Portland Trail Blazers), Francisco García (Louisville), Charlie Villanueva (UConn), Ben Gordon (UConn) and Chris Taft (Pittsburgh).
Pipelines: Pittsburgh (4), Villanova (3), UConn (3), N.C. State (3), Louisville (3), Iowa State (2) and Mississippi State (2).
3. Chicago (22) Top College Players: Dee Brown (Illinois), Alando Tucker (Wisconsin), Shannon Brown (Michigan State), James Augustine (Illinois), Julian Wright (Kansas), Dameon Mason (LSU), Mike Thompson (Northwestern) and Sean Dockery (Duke).
Top Recent Products: Dwyane Wade (Marquette), Tony Allen (Oklahoma State), Luther Head (Illinois) and Melvin Ely (Fresno State).
4. Dallas (20) Top College Players: LaMarcus Aldridge (Texas), Daniel Horton (Michigan), Byron Eaton (Oklahoma State), Jason Horton (Missouri) and Jeremis Smith (Georgia Tech).
Top Recent Products: Deron Williams (Illinois), Ike Diogu (Arizona State), Chris Bosh (Georgia Tech), Bracey Wright (Indiana), Andre Emmett (Texas Tech), C.J. Miles (Utah Jazz), Jason Maxiell (Cincinnati) and Keith Langford (Kansas).
Pipelines: Oklahoma State (3), Georgia Tech (2), Texas (2), Illinois (2) and Texas Tech (2).
T-5. Houston (18) Top College Players: Daniel Gibson (Texas), Jawann McClellan (Arizona), Cartier Martin (Kansas State), Tack Minor (LSU) and Dion Dowell (Texas).
Top Recent Products: Emeka Okafor (UConn), T.J. Ford (Texas), John Lucas (Oklahoma State), Lawrence Roberts (Mississippi State), Gerald Green (Boston Celtics), Kendrick Perkins (Boston Celtics) and Ndudi Ebi (Minnesota Timberwolves).