Adam Silver, Quincy Miller

The biggest losers from the NBA Draft

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Will Barton and Quincy Miller: I’m not exactly a proponent of returning to school for underclassmen, especially for guys that are guaranteed to get guaranteed contracts. I hate to make things so simple, but I truly believe that it is smart to capitalize on your potential; when the money is there, go get it. Miller and Barton were both a long way from being first round locks in the 2012 NBA Draft, and that became abundantly clear as they plummeted through the first round to the 38th and 40th picks, respectively.

Miller went pro after initially announcing that he would be returning the school, ending his collegiate eligibility after a mediocre freshman season in which he was coming off of a torn ACL. If he had returned for his sophomore campaign with the quickness and explosiveness that he had lost, I don’t think it’s even a question of whether or not he could have locked up a first round pick. Barton doesn’t have the same kind of upside that Miller does, but if he returned for his junior season at Memphis after spending the summer improving his handle and jump shot, he has the heart and the talent to be a first round pick. Instead, both players will have to play their way into a contract.

Indiana Pacers: The Pacer’s first pick in the 2012 NBA Draft ended up being Miles Plumlee. This wouldn’t have been terrible if Indiana didn’t have a first round pick, but they did. The 26th pick, to be exact. Now, I understand how impressive it is to see a man that stands 7-feet tall in shoes show off his 40.5″ vertical, I really do. But Plumlee averaged career-highs of 6.6 points, 7.1 boards and 20.5 minutes as a nearly-24 year old senior at Duke last season. And he just got a guaranteed contract. I don’t get it.

Milwaukee Bucks: I’m not a huge fan of John Henson’s professional prospects, but I don’t think he’s a horrible pick in the 14th spot. He is long and he can block shots at the NBA level. But I do think this is a horrible pick when a) Tyler Zeller is still on the board and b) the Bucks picked Larry Sanders just two years ago.

Anyone recruiting against John Calipari: The Wildcats had six players drafted. Four went in the first round — including the fifth straight Calipari freshmen point guard — and that included the top two picks. That ain’t bad. You know what ain’t worse? Kentucky has more players drafted during Calipari’s tenure the past three years (15) than the Big Ten (10), the Pac-12 (10) and the rest of the SEC (11). During that time, 11 of those 15 draft picks were first rounders. In the 15 YEARS prior to Calipari’s arrival, Kentucky had 15 players drafted and 10 first rounders.

Maalik Wayns, Hollis Thompson, J’Covan Brown, Dominic Cheek and Dominique Ferguson: These five players entered the NBA Draft with collegiate eligibility remaining, and none of the five were picked. They were far from the only underclassmen that went undrafted, but the others — Renardo Sidney, Tony Mitchell, Terrell Stoglin, etc. — had extenuating circumstances that made returning to school nearly impossible. Each one of these guys has the talent to put together a long career as a pro ball player, but it is a shame to see them leave school without a degree when the riches of the NBA aren’t waiting.

No. 22 Cincinnati’s loss to No. 16 Butler shines light on AAC’s struggles

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 10: Head coach Mick Cronin of the Cincinnati Bearcats reacts against the Butler Bulldogs in the first half of the game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on December 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Kelan Martin scored 20 points and Andrew Chrabascz added 12 points, four boards and five assists as No. 16 Butler bounced back from a tough loss at Indiana State to beat No. 22 Cincinnati, 75-65.

The Bulldogs had been undefeated on the season prior to the loss to the Sycamores, but their ranking was built on the fact that they had beaten Arizona, who was No. 8 at the time, as well as a trio of high-major programs that look destined for the NIT.

Cincinnati probably isn’t destined for the NIT. Their top 25 ranking is justified, which is what makes this win valuable. Quality non-conference wins matter, and this is just one of a handful of good wins for what has proven to be one of the most top-heavy conferences in the country. Villanova, Creighton, Xavier and Butler all look capable of reaching the Sweet 16 this season.

The opposite is true for Cincinnati, who look like the flag-bearer in a conference that isn’t really all that good. They’re the best team in the AAC this season, but that’s a conference that has consistently disappointed this year. SMU, Temple and UConn have all struggled more than we expected them to. Tulsa and Memphis are in rebuilding mode. Houston was supposed to be good this season but they’ve yet to live up to the preseason hype.

Think about it like this: The only team in the AAC without multiple losses on the season is now UCF. That’s … not ideal, and it’s going to be interesting to see just how many bids the league is able to generate.

Think about it. Temple has beaten West Virginia and Florida State while losing to New Hampshire and UMass. SMU’s best win is either Pitt or TCU, both of whom are borderline tournament teams. UConn beat Syracuse but has some atrocious losses on their resume. Houston beat Rhode Island but lost to Arkansas and LSU. Memphis beat Iowa, but Iowa’s not all that good. UCF’s best win is … Mississippi State?

Cincinnati’s lone quality win is at Iowa State, who is about to drop out of the top 25.

POSTERIZED: Wichita State’s Daishon Smith dunks on Oklahoma big man

WICHITA, KS - NOVEMBER 13:  Guard Daishon Smith of the Wichita State Shockers drives up court past forward Roschon Prince #23 of the Long Beach State 49ers during the first half on November 13, 2016 at Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, Kansas.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
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Daishon Smith is 6-foot-1.

Kristian Doolittle is 6-foot-7.

The lil guy won this battle:

Here’s another angle of the dunk, which sent Wichita State’s bench into hysterics:

POSTERIZED: Duke’s Grayson Allen with a Dunk of the Year candidate (VIDEO)

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It looks like Grayson Allen’s toe is healthy. I’d say his explosivness is back:

Whoa.

Yeah.

POSTERIZED: Five-star Class of 2017 guard Trevon Duval dunks on 6’8″ defender

CHARLOTTE, NC - JULY 9: Trevon Duval during the 2015  Under Armour All-America Basketball Camp on July 9, 2015 at Queens College in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
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Class of 2017 point guard Trevon Duval put down a huge poster dunk on a 6’8″ defender on Saturday as the five-star prospect showed why many consider him the top lead guard in high school basketball.

The 6-foot-2 Duval is considered the No. 3 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.

Nigel Hayes shines against as No. 17 Wisconsin beats Marquette

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 10:  Nigel Hayes #10 of the Wisconsin Badgers is fouled by Luke Fischer #40 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first half of a game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on December 10, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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What a difference a year makes.

Last season at this time, Wisconsin dropped a home game to a Marquette team that was headed to the NIT.

This year?

The Badgers put six players in double-figures as they went into Milwaukee and knocked off Marquette, 93-84.

Bronson Koenig continued his hot shooting, finishing with 18 points and six assists while shooting 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. Vitto Brown chipped in with 15 points, Khalil Iverson had 16 and Ethan Happ chipped in with 11 despite battling foul trouble all afternoon.

But the really story here – hell, the story of Wisconsin’s season to date – has been the change in the way that Nigel Hayes plays.

Hayes was terrific again on Saturday. He had 17 points, nine boards, four assists and three steals. He shot 6-for-10 from the floor and attempted just a pair of threes, making one of them. He had the ball in his hands when Wisconsin was trying to kill off the game, and, more importantly, head coach Greg Gard has seem to start to take advantage of just how good Hayes can be as a facilitator.

There are a couple of points that need to be made here:

  1. When Hayes plays like this, he deserves to be in the all-american discussion. He’s averaging 18.0 points, 7.3 boards and 6.7 assists in the three games Wisconsin has played against high-major competition since the change, and the Badgers have won five straight games while playing easily their best basketball of the season.
  2. And it’s not just because of the numbers he puts up. When Hayes operates as Wisconsin’s de-facto point guard, it makes everyone else on the roster better. For starters, it allows Koenig to play off the ball, where he seems to be more effective. He’s at his best when he’s hunting shots and trying to create off the bounce, but his aggressiveness can be detrimental when he’s the only one touching the ball. It also means offense runs through Happ more often since Koenig isn’t dominating possession, and it lets guys like Brown space the floor because they’re actually able to get rhythm threes.

As of today, Wisconsin is the favorite to win the Big Ten, even if Indiana is far more likely to end up being a No. 1 seed in March.