Three-Point Play: Phil Martelli, Chris Harris, Final Four picks
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In today's Three-Point-Play, national basketball analyst Corey Evans discusses the firing of Phil Martelli, outlines the now open recruitment of Rivals150 guard Chris Harris and dishes out his Final Four predictions.
1. REPLACING A LEGEND ON HAWK HILL
A coach recently told me that while it is always difficult to replace a successful coach, it is even more difficult to replace a coach that that was well-liked. Well, good luck to the next man up at St. Joe's as Phil Martelli was not just the winningest coach in program history, but also one of the most respected and admired coaches in the business.
After 34 years, Martelli and St. Joe’s are synonymous with each other, which makes the split between coach and university that much more jarring. Known most for his Elite Eight squad that nearly ran the table in 2004, Martelli created one of the best foundations that one could find outside of the power-conference rung. He won over 400 games, coached future NBA standouts in DeAndre Bembry and Jameer Nelson, and took the Hawks to the NCAA Tournament seven times.
St. Joe’s had its struggles of late, thanks in part to the injury bug, but the firing of Martelli is not fair. He was deserving of leaving on his own terms instead of being forced out. I just hope that athletic director Jill Bodensteiner has a good sense of what the next coach is stepping into because replacing such a successful, legendary and well-liked figure in Martelli … well, that won't be so easy.
2. AGGIE RECRUITS BACK ON THE MARKET
Harris received his release on Tuesday and he was quickly offered by Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and SMU within 24 hours. Don't be surprised if other programs jump into the mix in short order.
I would be surprised if Harris leaves the South for college and many of the Big 12 programs will be expected to make a push. However, do not discount a potential return to Texas A&M. If the Aggies make the proper hire, Harris is open to sticking with his original plans and attending the SEC program.
3. CALLING MY SHOT: FINAL FOUR PICKS
The NCAA Tournament begins in earnest today, which means it's time to call my shot and offer up my Final Four and national title predictions.
I am going against the grain a little bit, but I think Gonzaga will cut down the nets next month. Sorry, Duke, I really do believe in Zion Williamson and his supporting cast but I think Mark Few not only defeats the Blue Devils in the Final Four but also guides the Bulldogs to their first-ever national title.
Gonzaga will meet Kentucky in the finals and I see the Wildcats getting there by exacting revenge on Tennessee. The fourth meeting of the season between the SEC foes, it is not the easiest thing to beat a team three times in one season, better yet, defeating a Kentucky squad with oodles of talent within a matter of six weeks.
In the end, Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke and Josh Perkins will be too much, and don’t underestimated the importance of Zach Norvell and Corey Kispert, two shot-making assassins that are major X-factors as March heats up.