College basketball bounces into play

The best time of year is approaching and I can’t wait. This time of year is college basketball season and it can’t get any better than this. This is the time of year that is full of joy and jubilation.

You have the Dookies (Duke) and the Heels (North Carolina), Rock-Chalk-Jayhawk (Kansas) and the Sooners (Oklahoma). Nothing compares to college basketball season, especially one year after my hometown Maryland Terrapins did what no one thought they could do by winning the national championship.

This year is full of question marks. A lot of superstars are gone: Jason Williams, Juan Dixon, Caron Butler and a host of others. But with every college basketball season there emerges a new crop of youngsters who are ready to take over the college basketball world and increase their chances of making money in the league next year. This year is no different.

Barring serious injury, my fashionable pick to win the national championship is the Arizona Wildcats.

It is the deepest team in the country, led by All-American Jason Gardener who made the best decision of his life when he decided to stay in school. The Wildcats are loaded with Luke Walton, Salim Stoudamire, Will ‘The Thrill’ Bynam and Hassan Adams to name a few.

In addition to Arizona, you probably expect Oklahoma, Kansas, Alabama, Texas and Duke to be good this year, but the surprises of the year will be the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Indiana Hoosiers.

There is no doubt about it. Carolina pride will be back and in full force headed by a class of “diaper dandies” (as Dick Vitale would say) including Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants, and Sean May.

You add them to Jawad Williams, Melvin Scott, and Jackie Manuel, and you have a very young and exciting team that will be ready to boogie come tourney time in March.

The Indiana Hoosiers, who lost Jared Jeffries to the NBA, bring back Tom Coverdale, and a great freshman class headed by Marshall Strickland and Bracey Wright (remember these names). Marshall Strickland is absolutely phenomenal and will be a star. Bracey Wright is a silky combo guard who can fill it up. They will be a dynamic team that will still shoot the ‘trifecta.’

Mike Davis’ job is definitely secure after last year’s final four run on top of this great recruiting class.

I also predict the biggest disappointment of the season is going to be the Florida Gators. They will be without the services of James White (the self-proclaimed “best dunker on the planet”) who transferred, and Brett Nelson for five weeks due to injury. The Gators have been disappointing lately and this year will follow suit.

So, get ready for a great year of college basketball full of slam-jam-bams, dipsey-do-dunkeroos, and Dick Vitale. Let’s do it.

-Brandon Ward, 21, is a senior newspaper journalism student from Riverdale, Md. He can be reached at