Big East Basketball Tournament - Cincinnati v Syracuse

Save the best for last: 5 players rolling entering the tournament

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It happens every year. One player steps up his game and carries his team to a huge upset or a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Here are five guys to keep an eye one. Five who are playing the best hoops of their lives.

Ray McCallum – Detroit: McCallum, a sophomore, has been lighting up the Horizon all year. He led the team in scoring and finished 2nd in the conference. In the conference opener he had a pedestrian 10 points on 2-7 shooting. And then he got hot. In the next three games Detroit knocked off Youngstown State, the #2 seed (Cleveland State) and the #1 seed (Valparaiso) to clinch an automatic bid. In those 3 games the 6’2 McCallum made 78% of his 2s and 18-20 FTs.  He averaged 23 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5 assists.

Opening round opponent: Kansas (2)

Mike Scott – Virginia: Mike Scott was able to terrorize ACC opponents this season since he got hurt last year and qualified for a medical redshirt. He was 1st Team All Conference, but turned it up a notch when Virginia needed a win to secure a bye in the conference Tourney. In the past three games he’s averaged a ridiculous 28.7 points and 10.3 rebounds.

Opening round opponent: Florida (7)

Dion Waiters – Syracuse: The 2nd sophomore on this list, Waiters nearly doubled his scoring output this year, going from 6.6 as a freshman to 12.6 as a soph. But in the final regular season game and the two Big East Tourney games, he went to the next level. Waiters made 55% of his 2s and 63% of his 3s on his way to 19.7 points a game.

Opening round opponent: UNC-Asheville (16)

Andrew Nicholson – St Bonaventure: The A-10 champs finished 3rd in the regular season, and won the A-10 Tourney without having to face the #1 or #2 seed. But the way Nicholson was playing it probably wouldn’t have mattered. After the Bonnies loss to Temple on February 15th dropped them to 6-5 in the conference, Nicholson took over.  In the following 8 games he averaged 26 points and 10.6 rebounds.

Opening round opponent: Florida State (3)

Michael Snaer – Florida State: The Seminoles have been in the ACC for 20 seasons, and they just locked up their first ever conference championship. And to accomplish that they had to go through Miami, Duke and North Carolina. How’d they do it? Michael Snaer. Starting with the regular season finale which clinched the 3-seed, Snaer averaged 19.3 points and couldn’t miss when he set up for a 3. He made 14-19 (74%) in those games.

Opening round opponent: St Bonaventure (14)

Michael Rogner is the founding editor of Run the Floor, and you can find him on Twitter: @RunTheFloor

Florida freshman will miss the season with stress fracture

GAINESVILLE, FL - JANUARY 19: Head coach Mike White of the Florida Gators gestures during the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center on January 19, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Florida freshman forward Dontay Bassett is out for the season with a stress fracture, according to a release from the school.

Bassett will require surgery in his right foot and his projected recovery time will be four-to-six months. The injury will force Bassett to redshirt the 2016-17 season.

A three-star recruit coming out of Oldsmar Christian in Florida, the 6-foot-9 forward wasn’t expected to be a big contributor during his first year with the Gators, but his loss does hurt some of the team’s frontcourt depth. With John Egbunu, Devin Robinson, Justin Leon and Kevarrius Hayes all returning, the Gators should have plenty of players to use in the frontcourt this season without Bassett.

Once Bassett is healthy and able to play next season he showed good athleticism and an ability to hit the glass hard while he was in high school. Bassett should be able to join Florida’s rotation as an energy defender and rebounder right away.

Iowa State lands four-star Class of 2017 guard Lindell Wigginton

GREENVILLE, SC- July 9, 2016:  adidas Gauntlet Finale at Upward Stars Center (Jeff Hinds/adidas)
GREENVILLE, SC- July 7, 2016:  adidas Gauntlet Finale at Upward Stars Center (Jeff Hinds/adidas)
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Iowa State has its point guard of the future as four-star Class of 2017 prospect Lindell Wigginton pledged to the Cyclones on Friday.

The 6-foot-1 Wigginton is regarded as the No. 40 overall prospect on as the Canadian has spent the last few seasons at powerhouse Oak Hill Academy. With an ability to play both guard spots and defend a few spots, Wigginton is a valuable addition to head coach Steve Prohm’s ballclub as Wigginton could help replace Monte Morris after he exhausts his eligibility.

Wigginton is going to need to improve his consistency on his perimeter jumper, but he’s a good pull-up scorer who can make plays for himself or others off the bounce. Iowa State’s Class of 2017 recruiting haul now includes Wigginton, four-star wing Terrence Lewis and three-star guard Darius McNeill.

This commitment is huge for Prohm as Wigginton is the most highly-regarded recruit that he has landed with the Cyclones. With Prohm’s point guard history with guys like Isaiah Canaan at Murray State and Monte Morris now with Iowa State, Prohm did a nice job of finding his next young guard to mold for the future.

Davidson star Jack Gibbs to miss a few weeks with shoulder injury

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 11:  Jack Gibbs #12 of the Davidson Wildcats celebrates a basket against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies during the Quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament at the Barclays Center on March 11, 2016 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Davidson senior guard Jack Gibbs is one of the most under-the-radar players in college basketball as he will be among the nation’s leading offensive threats this season if he’s healthy.

But health is going to be a question for the 6-foot-1 guard as Gibbs is dealing with a shoulder injury that will sideline him for 2-to-3 weeks, according to head coach Bob McKillop. McKillop told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman that tests came back negative for Gibbs and he’s expected to be back for the Wildcats’ season-opener. The injury for Gibbs occurred during Thursday’s Davidson practice.

As a junior, Gibbs averaged 23.5 points, 4.9 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game as he became one of the nation’s premier offensive players.  Gibbs is going to be a huge key for Davidson this season as he needs to be healthy in order for the Wildcats to make it back to the NCAA tournament.


VIDEO: Dennis Smith Jr. electrifies N.C. State fans at team’s scrimmage

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N.C. State freshman point guard Dennis Smith Jr. excited fans with some absurd plays at the team’s Primetime with the Pack event last night.

The highly-touted, five-star prospect is the most electric prospect to come to the Wolfpack in years and Smith had the crowd buzzing with some highlight-reel dunks during the team’s 20-minute scrimmage.

Smith made one teammate look silly by putting it between his legs and throwing down a vicious dunk during one play while he also threw an alley-oop to himself to finish another break.

(h/t: Ball is Life)

VIDEO: Kentucky freshman Malik Monk throws down vicious dunks during scrimmage

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 15:  West Team MVP Malik Monk (L) (Bentonville, AR) in action during the 15th iteration of the Jordan Brand Classic at Barclays Center on April 15, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Jordan Brand )
(Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Jordan Brand )
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Kentucky freshman guard Malik Monk is going to be one of the newcomers to keep an eye on this season as the 6-foot-3 Arkansas native is an explosive scorer who packs vicious athleticism.

Monk showed Big Blue Nation some of what they can expect to see during Friday night’s Blue/White Scrimmage as he unleashed a ferocious dunk in some traffic and also had another good dunk in transition. While Monk has great lift off the floor, he also isn’t afraid to cock the ball back and put some authority on his dunks. He’s going to be a ton of fun to watch this season.