You don't always think of the Patriot League when looking for the current big things in college basketball and one of the next big things in the NBA.

But Mike Muscala, a 6-foot-11 center from Bucknell who played high school basketball for Roseville -- and traveling basketball with a group of inner-city Minneapolis kids -- is looking like a big deal, according to a story posted Friday on the Sports Illustrated website.

Pete Thamel writes: "A true senior, Muscala has developed into arguably the country's most productive player. He's become a household name with NBA scouts and is the only player in the country to be in the top 20 in scoring (19.4), top 15 in blocks (2.86) and top 10 in rebounding (11.1)."

Bucknell, which lost to the Gophers at Williams Arena in Decmber, is 18-4, including victories over Purdue and George Mason.
Here are two of the interesting points raised in Thamel's story.
One is about a decision Muscala made when he was in middle school to play traveling basketball in Minneapolis instead of with the local program in Roseville.
Thamel writes: "Some of the sophistication in Muscala's game can be traced to a decision as an eighth grader to eschew his normal suburban travel team and play for an inner-city one. Muscala was tired of playing center, and the new team -- the Midtown Kings in Minneapolis -- gave him the opportunity to expand his game and shoot three-pointers. 'He learned to shoot threes and shoot from the outside,' [his father] Bob Muscala said, pointing out that his son was the only white player. 'He also learned from the culture. It made it easier for him at the high school level and collegiate level.' "

The other is about how (and why) Minnesota has become a recruiting magnet for coaches of mid-major programs.

"Minnesota has earned a unique recruiting niche as a place savvy mid-majors coaches mine for overlooked talent. There's just one Division I basketball school in Minnesota, and the Gopher have 13 scholarships like everyone else. Consider that everyone from Troy Bell (Boston College) to Jordan Taylor (Wisconsin) has slipped out of Minnesota. But perhaps more apt are players like Ryan Wittman (Cornell), Matt Janning (Northeastern), Noah Dahlman (Wofford) and Nate Wolters (South Dakota State) becoming program altering players."

You can read the entire story here.



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