#Twitter Game Strong: The best CBB players to follow

It took (almost) 72 years, but it finally happened. Grant Gibbs exhausted his eligibility at Creighton. With that, Gibbs must give up his unofficial title as “College Basketball’s Best Player Twitter Follow”.

It’s with this thought in mind that we search. We search for the best college basketball players to follow on Twitter. We kept the search strictly to those that play, and kept coaches and administrators out of the quest because, we all know @CoachMiles and @CoachChrisMack have the Coach Twitter game on lockdown.

We judged players on three main criteria:

1.) Tweet volume – It’s a subjective phrase. It could be enough that they warrant a follow, but not so many tweets that they’re just simply responding to every little RT and subtweet they see. It’s not worth it to get 1-2 entertaining tweets to wade through a swamp of “haha ur crazy bruh!!!!” tweets. You’ve got to find a happy medium.

2.) Entertainment value – Duh. If you want to be the best college basketball player in the Twitter game, you’ve got to be able to get and keep an audience. Equal parts funny, interesting and smart. Though it doesn’t necessarily mean funny is a requirement. If it’s a guy who has thought-provoking or informative tweets, that’s definitely a good place to start.

3.) Personal quality – College dudes are gonna be college dudes. Lord knows I was one once. So it’s cool to have weird stuff going on in their feed. But as long as that feed is also fun to read, it’s fine. Keep cursing to a minimum, fandom and diversity to the maximum.

So, with the parameters set, we searched. Here’s what we found to be the top follows on the college basketball hardwood (complete with a ton of — probably unnecessary — hashtags).

Georges Niang (@GeorgesNiang20) – He’s a thought-provoking type who #appreciates the fan base he plays for at (RT) #IowaState. He also doesn’t mind crowd-sourcing things for his future, something that could serve the almost-#surefire pro after college. If that doesn’t work out, maybe he has a career as a #motivationaspeaker . He likes to tweet — over 11,200  to his credit — but most are with a positive vibe, so it’s alright.

Fred VanVleet (@FredVanVleet) – VanVleet might be the most #grateful college #hooper on #Twitter. He came out of high school with little #fanfare and since the success of the 2012-13 #WichitaState squad he’s been one of the best point guards in the nation. He doesn’t take much for granted and lets you know it, but won’t clog up your #feed (less than 5,000 tweets). He’s also cool with passing along the love to others. Also, dude’s a #realist.

Kyle Wiltjer (@kwiltj) – The guy loves to #clown. The former #Kentucky forward and current #Gonzaga transfer loves to roll over his #Instagram game into Twitter, but still uses the good stuff in 140 characters. He also likes to throw in a few #struggletweets. All in a neat package of less than 5,000 tweets.

Dakari Johnson (@SafariDakari44) – The #Kentucky big man loves to #motivate, isn’t afraid to #askaquestion and, damn it, he’s proud to be from #Merica. The probable future #NBADraft pick give you an #insideview into his day and loves a good #movie. He also does it all in less than 7,000 tweets. On a team full of stars, Johnson takes the Twitter prize.

Oh and that Twitter name is awesome.

Sam Dekker (@samdek1) – Dekker, along with being one of the top returning players in the #B1G and a linchpin in the #WisconsinBadgers hopes for a second straight #FinalFour, mixes a blend of bro humor, sports savvy and general opinion . A true pioneer in the #TwitterCBB game with #HotSportTakes, #diverse #sports interests and all that. It’s just a shame he doesn’t tweet more, with only 325 to date.

Did I miss anyone? Let me know on Twitter at @David_Harten or at tbbchronicles@gmail.com.

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Want to play now? Transfer to Iowa State!

Royce White is one of eight transfers on the Iowa State roster...and by far the one with the best hair (even if he did cut it off later.)

-Iowa State is the poster child for the one-year tournament push.

The Cyclones have eight transfers (six eligible, two redshirting) on their roster, and not only do they play, they produce. With five of their top scorers starting their careers on a different campus than the one they’re currently on in Ames.

What’s more interesting is that these aren’t mainly freshman transfers that have spent the last few years with the Cyclones. Michigan State guard Chris Allen is a one-year hired gun for coach Fred Hoiberg, with two other transfers — another Michigan State transfer in Korie Lucious and former Utah guard Will Clyburn — waiting in the wings for their final victory laps next season.

Iowa State’s biggest contributor, redshirt sophomore Royce White, spent a non-playing semester at Minnesota before deciding to take his game to Ames.

This proverbial Noah’s Ark of new faces came with the hiring of Hoiberg, now in his second season at the helm of his alma mater. Dude likes his experience, even if that experience came on a different home floor before last season.

It’s almost comical how Hoiberg stacked this team for a one-year run at glory, with White, Allen and already-on-campus redshirt senior and Marquette transfer Scott Christopherson all leading the way for Hilton Magic and a run at the Big Dance. It’s already helped the ‘Clones to a 20-win season, a no.34 ranking in the KenPom and a no.36 ranking in the Sagarin Ratings.

I can see the infomercial for a team like this. A current high-major Division-I player, contemplating his future at his current university, flips through the channels at 2 a.m. after a summer’s night of Busch Light and XBox and….

“Current program gotcha down? Need a fresh start but don’t want to feel like “that transfer” on your new team? Well there’s a place for you….IOWA STATE!

You’ll feel right at home in scenic Ames, IA, not only does coach Fred Hoiberg embrace the transfers, he’s made it a practice in only one season!

Not convinced? The Cyclones — who currently sit at 20-8 overall and 10-5 in the Big 12 — have not one, not two, not three, BUT EIGHT junior college or four-year program defections currently on their roster! 

And after your year-in-residence, not only will you play under the seemingly god-like majesty of Hilton Coliseum, YOU’LL GET RESULTS! Just ask our many satisfied transfers.

Royce White

r-Soph., Forward

Previous school: Minnesota

2011-12 stats: 12.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, leading the team in both categories.

Chris Allen

r-Sr., Guard

Previous school: Michigan State

2011-12 stats: 12.5 points, 82-percent from the free throw line.

Scott Christopherson

r-Sr., Guard

Previous school: Marquette

2011-12 stats: 11.5 points, 45.5 percent (51-for-112) from 3-point range.

Tyrus McGee

Jr., Guard

Previous school: Crowley County Community College

2011-12 stats: 8.6 points, 3.4 rebounds.

Chris Babb

r-Sr., Guard

Previous school: Penn State

2011-12 stats: 8.4 points, 4.3 rebounds.

If you’re keeping score at home — and we know you were  — that’s five of the top six scorers on the team, and they’re all, you guessed it, TRANSFERS!

So if you’re looking for a place to start over, fit in and produce in whatever amount of eligibility you have left, c’mon down to Iowa State. Where we not only take whatever transfers we can, WE TAKE THEM TO THE NEXT LEVEL!”

…So maybe Hoiberg has a future in sales if the whole coaching thing doesn’t work out. But while the success is coming in droves now, it’ll be more interesting to see if he can maintain this next season. White could very well turn pro, Allen and Christopherson are gone, and insert Lucious, Clyburn while Babb will get his shot as the resident senior transfer.

It’s some that’s enamored this blog all season. It’s working, and sounds like a formula that Hoiberg is having short-term success with, but not one he should fall in to.


On The Edge (2-21)

Things are starting to shape up for several teams in hopes of making it to the NCAA Tournament. After last week, it’s safe to say that Vanderbilt, Virginia and Notre Dame have punched in their tickets for the Big Dance. But who else is close to joining them?

Shabazz Napier shocked Villanova on Monday, pushing his UConn team near a NCAA Tournament berth.

Connecticut: Shabazz Napier had the biggest shot of the season for the Huskies on Monday, a 30-foot buzzer beater to beat Villanova. I realize ‘Nova is not playing up to par this year, but this could be a win for Connecticut that can shoot some life into them. A win against Syracuse on Saturday and they are a lock. If not, wins against Pittsburgh and Providence, as well as a couple wins in the Big East Tournament will be enough. The strength of schedule (1) and RPI (23) will be the biggest things the selection committee will look at. Feb. 21 status: In

Seton Hall: It’s hard to believe a team that lost six straight in conference play still has a shot, but that’s the case for the Pirates. A win against West Virginia and splitting the season-series with Connecticut could go a long way. If they beat Georgetown tonight, they will be a lock. At 18-9. they don’t have too many flashy wins, but they have beaten the teams they should, and now will look to pull of a big upset to get their bid. Feb. 21 status: In

West Virginia: This is a big week for the Mountaineers, as they face both Notre Dame and Marquette. They have to win one of those, or else they can say goodbye to their chances of making the tournament. Easier said than done though, with those two teams are playing some of the best ball in the country. They’ve lost five out of their last seven games, so they will certainly still have a lot to do in order to punch in their bid. Feb. 21 status: Out

Miami: How crucial is next week’s game against North Carolina State for the Hurricnaes? Whoever wins that one will likely be in, while the other may be out, depending on how they do in the ACC Tournament. But before that game, Miami has a home date with Florida State, who they lost to by just five points two weekends ago. If they win that one, the game three days later against the Wolfpack may not be as crucial for the Hurricanes. I don’t see both Miami and NC State making it, and I’d give the edge to the Hurricanes, thanks to that victory at Duke Feb. 5. Feb. 21 status: In

Illinois: What is going on in Champaign? The Illini look to be doing everything they can to go to the NIT. They’ve now lost five straight games, and it’s hard to find the light at the end of the tunnel with games still to play against Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin. They will need to win a couple of those, which is definitely easier said than done. Feb. 21 status: Out

Purdue: The Boilermakers had a solid week last week, beating fellow bubble teams Northwestern and Illinois before falling to the hot Michigan State squad. They have now swept the season series with both Northwestern and Illinois. Barring a late-season collapse, that may be all Purdue needs. A .500 Big Ten record should be enough to get them in. Feb. 21 status: In

Northwestern: It’s hard to overlook the Wildcats, but with a strong SOS (9) and RPI (40), they are just one big win away. They have already beaten Michigan State, and will now look forward to a home game tonight against Michigan, who they lost to in overtime back in January. If they win that one, they have a shot at going .500 in the Big Ten and becoming a virtual lock of making the tournament. Feb. 21 status: In

Texas: Two straight losses have hurt the Longhorns a little bit, but they aren’t out of it just yet. They need to beat Texas Tech and Oklahoma in their next two games, and they should. But with no big wins on their schedule, and an early season loss to fellow bubble team NC State, they certainly need a win to brag about. Feb. 21 status: Out

Iowa State and Kansas State: I’m bunching these two teams together because they have similar resumes and they are in the same conference. They play each other on Saturday in a win-and-you’re-in game. The loser still has a good shot though, as they each have a big marquee conference win (Baylor for Kansas State, Kansas for Iowa State). We’ll see what happens on Saturday.

Alabama and Mississippi State: Just like the last two teams, both of these two SEC squads have similar resumes and will meet this weekend. The Bulldogs probably need this one more, as they have dropped three straight (and a likely fourth tonight to Kentucky), while Alabama has won four out of six after dropping four straight. Alabama has beaten Wichita State and Purdue this year, but haven’t gotten a big SEC win this year, unless you count splitting with LSU or beating Tennessee. Wins against West Virginia and Vanderbilt were the big ones this year for Miss. State, as well as the first meeting of the year against the Crimson Tide.

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