College Basketball’s Dream Team

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With the Olympics right around the corner, we got to thinking about what a college Dream Team would look like. So, through a thorough and strenuous email conversation that took way too long to complete, Raphielle Johnson and myself put together a 12 man roster that we believe would be the best that college hoops can produce. Agreements? Disagreements? Why are we morons? We love the feedback.

Point Guard: Aaron Craft, Ohio State: Going with the best defensive point guard as the starter, given the fact that this group has enough offensive ability to flourish with Craft running the show. He’s a pest defensively, which can prove to be problematic for many teams. Craft averaged 4.6 assists and 2.5 steals per game for Ohio State last season, and while he may not be a great perimeter shooter the rising junior did shoot 50% from the field overall. – RJ

Shooting Guard: Isaiah Canaan, Murray State: Canaan gets the start at off-guard thanks to his ability to shoot the basketball. The 6-foot-0 combo-guard averaged 19.2 points during an all-american campaign as a junior, knocking down 45.6% of his threes — while taking 6.5 per game — despite being the focal point of every defensive game plan the Racers faced. His size is a bit of a concern defensively, but it is nullified a bit by the number of quality defenders in the starting lineup. – RD

Small Forward: Mike Moser, UNLV: Moser gets the start thanks to his versatility. A 6-foot-9 forward, Moser can rebound the ball, he can make plays defensively and he can help keep the floor spread with his ability to shoot. It also helps that he will be able to play multiple positions, giving more versatility to the lineup. – RD
Power Forward: Cody Zeller, Indiana: Zeller is the best low-post scorer in the country. It’s that simple. He also runs the floor extremely well for a player his size. Zeller’s presence will be the most effective when he slides over to the center spot and a guy like Doug McDermott is at the four. Imagine a lineup of Craft, Canaan, Moser and McDermott playing around Zeller. Who do you help off of? Do you allow Zeller to go one-on-one on the block? That’s scary. – RD
Center: Nerlens Noel, Kentucky: Noel may not have played a collegiate game yet but it’s impossible to deny his talent. Noel’s a mobile shot-blocker who should be fine defensively when involved in pick and roll situations, which has become more commonplace in the international game in recent years. Offensively he’s not at the stage where you make him the focal point of the offense, but Noel is plenty talented enough to cause some issues. And with the likes of Canaan and Moser, not being a dominant offensive big man isn’t a problem. – RJ
Bench:
  • CJ McCollum, Lehigh: McCollum provides depth at both guard positions, given his ability to operate either with or without the ball in his hands. His ability to apply pressure to defenses off the dribble (McCollum ranked 9th nationally in free throw attempts) will definitely help off the bench, and he’s a very good rebounder for his position as well. – RJ
  • Doug McDermott, Creighton: McDermott has a skill set that should fit well with the international game. Versatility tends to serve teams well on the international level, and when you can use a player of McDermott’s caliber in a variety of roles (it can be argued that he should be starting) that’s a positive. – RJ
  • Solomon Hill, Arizona: Hill may be underrated nationally due to the Wildcats’ inconsistent 2011-12 campaign, but his versatility makes the rising senior a good fit for the international game. Hill averaged 12.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game last season, shooting 50% from the field and nearly 39% from three. – RJ
  • Tony Mitchell, North Texas: We went with Mitchell over Mason Plumlee as a last minute decision for three reasons: 1) his ability to step out and hit a three; 2) he’s a better shot blocker; and 3) he’s not a Plumlee. – RD
  • Patric Young, Florida: Young is a freak athlete, the kind of guy that will be always be the best leaper and strongest player on the floor during an international tournament. Combine that with the effort he gives on a possession-by-possession basis, and his inclusion was a no-brainer. – RD
  • Allen Crabbe, Cal: Crabbe made the roster because we were looking for someone with size and the ability to shoot that can play the two. One thing that became painfully obvious is that there are not a lot of big guards in college hoops this season.
  • Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA: Muhammad may not have played a college basketball game yet, but he’s simply too talented to leave off of this team. His ability to slash and attack the rim will be valuable on a roster that has a number of jump-shooters. A back court pairing of Muhammad and McCollum will be fun to watch. – RD

Coach: Rick Pitino, Louisville: I just think that this roster looks like a Rick Pitino roster. A lot of shooters. A lot of small guards. A lot of athletes and shot blockers up front. I can see this team giving people fits with a 2-2-1 full court press. – RD

Final Cuts: Trey Burke, Michigan; Adonis Thomas, Memphis; Mason Plumlee, Duke; Jamal Franklin, SDSU; DeShaun Thomas, Ohio State; James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina; Wayne Blackshear, Louisville.

Five-star 2018 recruit Anfernee Simons could test NBA Draft process

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Five-star Class of 2018 guard Anfernee Simons is interested in potentially entering the 2018 NBA Draft.

According to a report from Jonathan Givony of ESPN, the former Louisville commit will likely be eligible to jump to the NBA straight out of high school since he graduated high school last year while turning 19 next June. The 6-foot-4 Simons, considered the No. 16 overall prospect in the Rivals’ Class of 2018 national rankings, is playing a post-grad season at IMG Academy for 2017-18 after reclassifying as a sophomore.

If Simons opts to go pro than college basketball loses a potential star as he’s been shooting up the national rankings over the past year. Simons was committed to the Cardinals since the beginning of his junior year but he opened things up once former head coach Rick Pitino lost his job in a fallout from the FBI investigation on college basketball.

Simons started his season at the National Prep Showcase this weekend as six NBA teams sent people to watch him play, according to Givony’s report.

It’ll be fascinating to see what happens in this situation as Simons hasn’t done much with the recruiting process over the last several months. Now that NBA teams are already watching him play, Simons could follow in Thon Maker’s footsteps and turn pro right away.

LaVar Ball on Trump’s involvement in bringing son home: ‘Who?’

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The war of words none of us wanted is now upon us.

LaVar Ball downplayed the impact that Donald Trump had in ensuring that his son, LiAngelo, along with two other UCLA players were released from custody and returned to the United States following a shoplifting incident on the team’s trip to China.

“Who?” the eldest Ball told ESPN on Friday night when asked about Trump’s involvement. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

When the players arrived back in Los Angeles, and before they had a chance to speak publicly, Trump had already taken to twitter to complain about the fact that the trio had not yet thanked him. Trump happened to be in China at the same time and, in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he reportedly asked for his counterpart’s help in assuring an expedited legal process.

Trump got the thank you that he so desperately needed when UCLA held a press conference announcing that the three players would be suspended indefinitely, but LaVar was not going to let the President have the last word. And you can bet that Trump is not going to let this be the end of it, either, which means that two men that have risen to prominence through their willingness to say the audacious whenever the spotlight is on them will have the floor.

And unless someone has managed to change the passcode on Trump’s cellphone, you can rest assured that this will not be the end of it.

Bridges perfect from 3, No. 5 Villanova blows out Lafayette

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ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Mikal Bridges set a school record by hitting all six of his 3-point shots and scored a career-high 24 points in No. 5 Villanova’s 104-57 rout of Lafayette on Friday night.

Jalen Brunson added 22 points and hit 4 of 6 3s in another dominant performance by the Wildcats (3-0), who made 16 of 30 from long range.

Three nights after setting a school record with 13 blocked shots in a blowout of Nicholls, the versatile and deep Wildcats showed another strength and overwhelmed the Leopards (0-3).

Led by Bridges’ 4 of 4 long-distance shooting, Villanova hit 11 of its first 14 3s in racing to a 39-16 lead. The Wildcats had a stretch of nine straight baskets being 3s en route to a 56-23 halftime lead.

Matt Klinewski had 16 points and six rebounds for Lafayette, which was 7 of 29 from 3-point range.

Bridges finished 9 of 10 from the field before he sat out the final 10 minutes. The junior bested his previous career-high by one point set Tuesday.

While it was a Villanova home game, it was played about 50 miles from campus at the PPL Center, home of minor league hockey’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms. It was a 20-mile drive for Lafayette, but the Wildcats sure seemed at home.

Villanova spent much of the second half going inside to score. Omari Spellman had 15 points and nine rebounds and Eric Paschall had 14 points and eight boards.

BIG PICTURE

Lafayette: Try as a Patriot League school squaring off against one of the best teams in the nation and watching the opponent shoot like that, Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s alma mater never had a chance.

Villanova: The Wildcats have perimeter shooting, depth inside and play good defense. They’ve been dominant against inferior competition, and will finally get tested next week.

SO MANY 3-POINTERS

Bridges surpassed Doug West in 1988 and John Celestand in 1999, each of whom went 5 of 5 from long range. Villanova finished one shy of the school record of 17 3s set against Lehigh on Nov. 27, 2005.

NO LUCK

Lafayette coach Fran O’Hanlon fell to 0-6 against his alma mater. O’Hanlon still holds the Villanova record for assists in a game with 16 set against Toledo on Feb. 24, 1970.

Only six Division I coaches have been at their schools longer than O’Hanlon, in his 23rd season.

UP NEXT

Lafayette visits Princeton on Wednesday.

Villanova faces Western Kentucky on Wednesday in the first of three games at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. No. 19 Purdue and No. 3 Arizona are possible opponents the following two days.

Mykhailiuk helps No. 4 Kansas rout South Dakota State, 98-64

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — Svi Mykhailiuk scored a career-high 27 points, Lagerald Vick finished with 22 and fourth-ranked Kansas routed Summit League favorite South Dakota State 98-64 on Friday night.

Udoka Azubuike added 17 points and Malik Newman had 13 for the Jayhawks (3-0), who shot 60 percent from the field and didn’t commit a turnover until midway through the second half.

By that point, the Jackrabbits (3-1) were staring at a 30-point deficit.

Mike Daum led South Dakota State with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Tevin King contributed 12 points and David Jenkins Jr. scored 10 off the bench.

Once again without heralded freshman Billy Preston, the Jayhawks were forced to use the same reduced rotation that managed to top seventh-ranked Kentucky on Tuesday night. But their perilous lack of depth became crippling in the first half when Azubuike and Mitch Lightfoot picked up two fouls each.

That forced coach Bill Self to use walk-on Clay Young in the post.

The 6-foot-5 senior turned out to be a bright spot, too, keeping the ball moving on offense and handling the 6-9 Daum inside. The Jackrabbits’ leading scorer at more than 21 points per game had eight on 2-for-8 shooting in the first half, when Young spent a good chunk of time covering him.

Nobody could cover Mykhailiuk, though.

The senior from the Ukraine hit his first three shots — the Jayhawks made eight of their first nine — while getting into an easy rhythm. Even on the seemingly rare occasion that his jumper didn’t splash the net, it often rattled around the rim and dropped through to a thunderous ovation.

Several of his baskets came on feeds from Devonte Graham, who didn’t hit a field goal until deep in the second half. He finished with eight points but also had 11 assists and five boards.

PRESTON SITS

Preston went through early warmups but remained on the bench as Kansas investigates an on-campus incident that raised questions about the “financial picture” of the car he was driving. Self declined to discuss the situation other than to say “we’re definitely going to hold him out until we get to the bottom of this.” Self did say he expects a resolution soon.

BIG PICTURE

South Dakota State can recover from its thumping in paradise with a trip to the Cayman Islands Classic up next. But their next trip to the Sunflower State figures to be just as tough: They visit No. 6 Wichita State on Dec. 5.

Kansas cruised despite a shortened lineup again, and help is only a month away. Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe becomes eligible for a trip to Nebraska on Dec. 16, and there is a chance five-star prospect Silvio De Sousa from Florida’s IMG Academy enrolls at the semester break.

UP NEXT

South Dakota State plays Wyoming on Monday in George Town, Cayman Islands.

Kansas continues a four-game home stand against Texas Southern on Tuesday night.

No. 18 Louisville hangs on over Omaha 87-78

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Ray Spalding had a career-high 19 points and 11 rebounds, Deng Adel had a game-high 21 points and Anas Mahmoud had eight of his team’s 15 blocked shots as No. 18 Louisville outlasted Omaha 87-78 on Friday night.

Spalding scored 14 points after halftime, and Adel made 7 of 8 shots from both the field and the free-throw line to pace the offense for the Cardinals (2-0), who led by 20 early in the second half but didn’t make a field for the last 4:36 of the game.

Omaha (0-4) was competitive in facing its highest-ranked opponent since becoming an NCAA Division I program in the 2011-12 season. The Mavericks hung around with a 12-0 second-half run and got within 71-64 on KJ Robinson’s 3-pointer with 5:45 left, but Louisville answered with seven straight points to keep the lead large enough to stay unbeaten under interim coach David Padgett.

Louisville’s three primary big men — Spalding (6-foot-10), Mahmoud (7-0) and Malik Williams (6-11) — bothered Omaha with their length around the rim. Mahmoud flirted with a triple-double, posting 10 points and eight rebounds to go with his blocks. Williams, a former five-star recruit who made his first career start in place of Mahmoud, had eight points, four rebounds and three blocks. Spalding blocked three shots, too.

Daniel Norl led five Omaha scorers in double figures with 16 points and eight rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Omaha: The Mavericks averaged 83.9 points in their first three games but dug a hole in the first half when they shot only 24.4 percent to go down 40-25 at halftime. Louisville finished the first half on an 18-7 run, and Omaha made only one of its final nine shots before the break.

Louisville: Adel, who scored 20 points in the season-opening win over George Mason, continues to impress with his slicing drives and up-tempo play and shapes up as one of the top wings in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He made his first seven shots and added eight rebounds.

UP NEXT

Omaha plays at TCU on Monday as part of the Emerald Coast Classic, the fourth of seven straight games away from home to start the season while the Mavericks’ home arena hosts the U.S. Olympic Curling Trials.

Louisville has home games against Southern Illinois on Tuesday and Saint Francis next Friday before traveling to Purdue on Nov. 28 for the Big 10/ACC Challenge.