aaronvaldes

“Water polo All-American” joins Hawaii hoops team

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Nobody really knows what to expect from Hawaii basketball this season. The Warriors are joining the suddenly loaded Big West while still struggling to build a contender under third-year head coach Gib Arnold. The team has a solid inside presence, with senior center Vander Joaquim suiting up beside Nebraska transfer Christian Standhardinger, but the rest of the untested lineup is very much in doubt.

One last-minute addition to the team should draw attention. Two-sport star Aaron Valdes filed his paperwork to join the Hawaii program this week, getting in just under the wire for this season. Usually when we think of a two-sport star, we’re conditioned to imagine a basketball/football or basketball/baseball hybrid, maybe even hoops/track and field. To my knowledge, Valdes is the first DI player to be lured onto the hardcourt from the swimming pool.

He comes from a water polo family,” Arnold told the Honolulu Star-Adversiter. “His brothers played, and his dad was a coach. As he grew older he began spending more and more time on the court rather than in the pool. Even though he was a water polo All-American, he fell in love with basketball.”

Valdes is 6’5″, and his time in the pool will likely give him an early edge in conditioning. He’s already impressed his new teammates with his bounce, showing off a 38-inch vertical and a nose for the ball in early workouts.

“I like to drive and dunk, get open, get my teammates open and facilitate a lot,” Valdes told Warrior Insider. “I just like the team concept.”

If Arnold is able to make the Warriors a contender alongside current and future Big West members like SDSU, Boise State and The Beach, it will be in part because of his ability to find and develop overlooked players like Valdes. Check out Valdes’ version of a mixtape.

(photo: Warrior Insider)

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: A Big 12 and a Big Ten showdown

Denzel Valentine
(AP Photo/Al Goldis)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.

The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.

We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
  2. Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
  3. Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
  4. Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
  5. No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
  • No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.

 

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POWER RANKINGS: Buddy Hield isn’t going anywhere

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) drives to the basket as LSU guard Antonio Blakeney (2) defends in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
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It’s Tuesday, which means that it is once again time for the NBC Sports Player of the Year Power Rankings.

And you’ll be shocked to find out that Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield is still No. 1 in those rankings. By a pretty wide margin.

The rest of the top 10?

They can be found here, at the CBT FaceBook page. Follow that page for the countdown: