College Hoops Week in Review: Player of the Week

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Team of the Week

Five Thoughts

Co-Players of the Week: Anthony Davis, Kentucky, and Thomas Robinson, Kansas

The National Player of the Year debate has been whittled down to just two plays — Thomas Robinson and Anthony Davis — and this past week, both of them proved why they are in the center of the debate. It started Saturday afternoon with Anthony Davis, the nation’s most intimidating defense presence, who followed up a 13-point, 11-rebound performance against Mississippi State with 28 points (on 10-11 shooting), 11 boards and five blocks as the Wildcats knocked off Vanderbilt and clinched the regular season title in the SEC. The performance was enough to get my colleague Mike Miller to say “at this rate, Davis is going to be the top player taken in the 2012 NBA draft and snag the national Player of the Year award from Kansas’ Thomas Robinson.”

Oh, you didn’t think T-Rob had an answer? He did, lighting up Missouri to the tune of 28 points and 12 boards, including a number of big buckets in crunch time as the Jayhawks fought all the way back from 19 points down in the second half to beat Missouri and all-but seal up the Big 12 regular season title. It certainly helped that Robinson had this kind of performance in arguably the best game of the season to date when the nation’s attention was focused on him.

So who you got? Who is the player of they year? While Davis clearly has an advantage with what he brings to the table defensively as a shot-blocker, Robinson may answer that with the way that he cleans the defensive glass as Jeff Withey plays the role of rim-protector for the Jayhawks. Robinson also carries a bigger load for his team offensively, as Davis has much more talent surrounding him and, at times, is really only used to finish alley-oops offensively.

At this point, my honest opinion is that there is no winner. I think the award should be split, much the way that this weekly award is split. (See? It can be done.) But if I had to bet on who would win, my money is on Robinson. His story is just too inspiring.

The All-They-Were-Good-Too Team:

G: Kendall Marshall, North Carolina: Marshall had what may be the most impressive performance from a point guard this season in UNC’s 86-74 win over NC State on Tuesday. 22 points, 13 assists, 7-8 from the floor, 4-5 from three and not a single turnover to his name. That’s unbelievable, and I don’t care how bad the Wolfpack is. While Marshall wasn’t nearly as impressive in the Heel’s win at Virginia on Saturday — one points, six assists, two turnovers — he did enough on Tuesday to warrant inclusion here.

G: Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State: Franklin injured his ankle late in SDSU’s loss to New Mexico two weeks ago. It was bad enough that he was forced to miss the Aztec’s loss at Air Force last Saturday, but Franklin was able to return to the court this week. He started out slowly, finishing with just 12 points in an overtime win at Wyoming, helping SDSU erase a nine-point second half lead, before going for 31 points and 16 boards in a win over Colorado State. The MWC is tough this year, and those are two good wins.

F: Jae Crowder, Marquette: Crowder is becoming a main-stay on this list and quickly making people rethink voting Kevin Jones Player of the Year in the Big East. Crowder was the model of efficiency against Rutgers on Wednesday, as he went for 27 points (on 11-14 shooting), seven boards, four assists, four steals and three blocks. That’s not a bad all-around game. He followed that up with 26 points, four boards, two blocks and two steals in a come-from-behind win over West Virginia where four different Marquette players were suspended for at least a half.

F: Robbie Hummel, Purdue: It really should be no surprise that, as Purdue has made a run to get themselves into perfect position for the NCAA Tournament, Robbie Hummel has looked like the old Robbie Hummel. After going for 29 points and seven boards in a win over Nebraska, he followed that up with 19 points and nine boards as the Boilermakers knocked off Michigan in Ann Arbor, giving themselves their first win of the season of a top team in the Big Ten.

C: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies look like they’re peaking at the right time thanks to Nicholson, who is playing his best basketball of the season. After 30-point, nine-rebound performance in a win at Fordham, Nicholoson went for 25 points, 11 boards, three blocks and two steals. All of a sudden, their game against St. Joe’s to close out the regular season looks huge.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Mississippi State losing two to transfer

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Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.

Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.

Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.

 

N.C. State lands second transfer of day with Utah’s Devon Daniels

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A big recruiting day for N.C. State continued on Saturday afternoon as Utah transfer and guard Devon Daniels pledged to the Wolfpack.

Earlier in the day, N.C. State and new head coach Kevin Keatts landed another quality transfer in UNC Wilmington guard C.J. Bryce.

The 6-foot-5 Daniels just finished his freshman season with the Utes in which he put up 9.9 points 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 57 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range. Just like Bryce, Daniels will have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations before he has three more seasons of eligibility.

N.C. State now has two potential starters on the perimeter for the 2018-19 season with the addition of Bryce and Daniels as it will be interesting to see what kind of talent the Wolfpack can get around them.

 

UNC Wilmington transfer C.J. Bryce follows Kevin Keatts to N.C. State

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N.C. State landed an impact transfer on Saturday as UNC Wilmington guard C.J. Bryce will be following former head coach Kevin Keatts to the Wolfpack, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com

The 6-foot-5 Bryce averaged 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game last season as he helped the Seahawks to an NCAA tournament appearance. Bryce will have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations, but he’ll have two seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out one season.

With N.C. State getting center Omer Yurtseven back for next season, and with the addition of Bryce, it means that Keatts has retained, or added, some talented players for the next few seasons. The Wolfpack still have to fill a lot of roster spots from last season’s team, but Keatts seems to be having a really good week.

Seven identified after threats made against referee John Higgins following Kentucky Elite Eight loss

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College basketball referee John Higgins received threats to his home and business in late March after some controversial calls in North Carolina’s win over Kentucky in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

Seven people have now been identified for making threats against Higgins, according to an Associated Press report. The FBI’s Omaha, Nebraska field office said that information on the seven people will be referred to authorities in their jurisdictions.

An investigation over the last few months helped find the culprits, as the Omaha-based Higgins received emails, phone calls and voicemails to his personal home and roofing company following Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament departure. Wildcat head coach John Calipari might have ignited some of the anger in Kentucky fans by criticizing the officiating following the North Carolina loss.

“Based on the investigation’s findings, our office has determined that no local charges will be filed and that pursuit of any criminal charges would be best served by deferring to authorities in the appropriate jurisdictions,” Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov said in a statement to The Associated Press. “The length of the investigation was drawn out due in part to the large volume of potential evidence requiring analysis, and the multi-jurisdictional issues arising from the multiple states in which the communications originated.”

Polikov also said that at least two media outlets were exposing and promoting Higgins’ contact information.

“This information has been referred to the Federal Communications Commission for further investigation of the potential violations related to applicable federal communications regulations,” Polikov said.

Higgins received about 3,000 phone calls at his office in the two days following the game. Sheriff’s investigator Matt Barrall told the AP that an estimated 75 percent of the calls were from Kentucky area codes.

The roofing business that Higgins owns was also flooded with bad online reviews and negative star ratings, causing his Google rating to fall while also forcing Higgins to take down the Facebook page for his business.

Beilein still upbeat after Michigan loses another to NBA

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — For a major program, Michigan is a somewhat unlikely candidate for this kind of NBA-induced attrition.

The Wolverines have fielded some very good teams under John Beilein, but they haven’t been relying on prospects expected to jump to the pros as soon as they can.

“We’re not depending all our success on one-and-dones,” Beilein said. “Given that, our numbers right now are extraordinary.”

Beilein was referring to the number of players Michigan has sent to the NBA, particularly as early entrees. The Wolverines lost D.J. Wilson to the draft this offseason with two years of eligibility remaining, and now they’ll go through the familiar process of trying to replace a key player who turned pro.

The most significant early exodus occurred in 2013 and 2014, when Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary all went pro before their eligibility was up. Michigan won a lot of games with those players, reaching the Final Four and Elite Eight those two years, but their development made them attractive to NBA teams and shortened their college careers.

Wilson’s rise followed a similar pattern. He averaged only 2.7 points per game in 2015-16, and then increased to 11.0 this past season and became Michigan’s leading rebounder. His efforts helped Michigan win the Big Ten Tournament and reach the Sweet 16, and now he’s off to the NBA draft. The entire sequence of events would have seemed highly improbable a year ago.

The Wolverines won’t receive much sympathy from their Big Ten opponents, especially since Michigan will still have big man Moe Wagner, who tested the NBA waters but ultimately decided to stay in school. The 6-foot-11 Wagner averaged 12.1 points last season and shot 39.5 percent from 3-point range, showing huge improvement in much the same way Wilson did.

After losing senior point guard Derrick Walton, it will be interesting to see how Michigan’s offense operates if Wagner becomes even more of a focal point. When Beilein was at West Virginia, the Mountaineers achieved success behind center Kevin Pittsnogle, whose skill set and 3-point shooting ability was at least somewhat similar to Wagner’s.

“We’re not going to put him in that category yet,” Beilein said. “Let’s just say, having a big man who can shoot the ball like that changes a lot of things.”

Michigan was also able to add a new point guard recently in Jaaron Simmons, a graduate transfer from Ohio. Simmons is eligible immediately in 2017-18 and will move up from the Mid-American Conference to the Big Ten.

“A lot of the mid-majors are having this happen to them, and I don’t like it at all, but the fact is if Jaaron doesn’t come here, he ends up probably somewhere else in the Big Ten,” Beilein said. “He’s just fundamentally so sound. He’ll be here this summer. Just as a person, I just wanted to coach the kid after spending an hour with him — just the leadership, the desire to win.”

Simmons could help the Wolverines withstand the loss of Walton, and Beilein indicated he could serve as a bit of a mentor to players like point guard Xavier Simpson, who is entering his sophomore season.

“We went all-in with (Simmons), knowing we had that scholarship,” Beilein said. “We felt that was a huge need for us, is to just have a little bit more experience in the backcourt next year.”

Follow Noah Trister on Twitter @noahtrister