Jackson, Waldon honored

B.B. Waldon and Altron Jackson began the year on the Conference USA Preseason All League Team. They ended the season on the outside looking in.

Both South Florida standouts were snubbed from the 2002 All C-USA First Team, with Jackson selected to the second team and Waldon chosen for the third.

Five guards comprise the six-man first team, including Cincinnati’s Steve Logan, Charlotte’s Jobey Thomas, Marquette’s Dwyane Wade, Memphis’ Dajuan Wagner and Louisville’s Reece Gaines. Memphis forward Kelly Wise was the lone frontcourt representative.

Jackson led the Bulls in scoring at 18.8 points per game. The 6-foot-6 senior also averaged 6.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. Waldon averaged 12.9 points and a team-high 9.2 rebounds per game.

Jackson was a first-team selection last season and a second teamer in 1999-2000, while Waldon was tabbed for the second team in each of his first three years at USF.

The Oracle’s men’s basketball beat writer takes a look at the contenders and pretenders in the upcoming Conference USA Tournament in Cincinnati.

The Favorites

Cincinnati (27-3, 14-2 in C-USA): As usual, the conversation about C-USA heavyweights begins – and ends – with the No. 4 Bearcats. They have the best player in the league (Steve Logan), the best defender in the league (Immanuel Mcelroy) and the best stare-down in the league. Cincinnati, winner of all seven C-USA regular-season titles, draws a line in the sand and dares any team in the nation to cross it. The Bearcats’ combination of muscle, machismo and talent makes them a 400-pound gorilla and heavy favorite to win the tournament on their home floor.

Marquette (24-5, 13-3): The No. 9 Golden Eagles went on an impressive 12-game winning streak before losing 63-62 to Cincinnati Feb. 22. Dwyane Wade and Cordell Henry make up the best backcourt in the league, and if another team has the moxy to stand up to the Bearcats, its Marquette.

Memphis (24-5, 13-3): The Tigers dropped 4-of-6 games to close the season, but two of those losses came without Kelly Wise. There has been talk Memphis is on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, but one win this week should make them a lock. The Tigers depth and athleticism – combined with a healthy Wise – make them a dangerous team.

The Rest

Charlotte (17-10, 11-5): The 49ers will go as far as Jobey Thomas and Cam Stephens take them. This is a scrappy team that mirrors the personality of coach Bobby Lutz and will give Cincy a run for its money in the semifinals.

Louisville (17-11, 8-8): The Cardinals may be the hottest team heading into the tournament. Led by Reece Gaines, Louisville wrapped up the regular season by beating Cincy and Charlotte, and may be the wildcard of the tournament.

Houston (16-13, 9-7): The Cougars may not be the most talented team in the league, but Ray McCallum got his players to buy into his system toward the end of the season. The result was a three-game winning streak halted by the suspension of three starters (Dominic Smith, Louis Truscott, and Kevin Gaines). Smith and Truscott returned for a season-ending win against UAB, and the Cougars’ bruising style is capable of causing matchup problems for smaller teams.

South Florida (18-11, 8-8): The Bulls limped down the stretch, losing 3-of-4 to end the season. Perhaps even more disturbing for the Bulls were their uninspired performances in losses to UAB and Southern Miss. Don’t be surprised if USF doesn’t make it to the second round.

  • Brandon Wright covers men’s basketball and will be on location in Cincinnaticovering the 2002 C-USA Tournament. Contact him at oraclebrandon@yahoo.com