NCAA Basketball Tournament - Cincinnati v Florida State

Cincinnati looking for increased production from guards Ge’Lawn Guyn and Jeremiah Davis III

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Mick Cronin’s Cincinnati Bearcats looked to be dead in the water on that fateful day at the Cintas Center in early December, but they proved many wrong by winning 26 games and reaching the Sweet 16.

And even with Yancy Gates and Dion Dixon gone there’s optimism amongst the Bearcat faithful as three starters and ten letterwinners return for the 2012-13 season.

But if the Bearcats are to not only return to the Sweet 16 (and possibly go further) but also become a leader in the Big East, they’ll need to develop depth that hasn’t been there during the Cronin era.

“For us to be a dominant program, our numbers are key for us the way our program is set up right now. We have 12 on scholarship and all 12 have to be able to play effectively,” said Cronin to Bill Koch of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

“We won six of our last eight all against great teams, but when you assess the Ohio State loss we expended too much energy to get back in the game and our lack of depth hurt us.”

Returning starters Cashmere Wright, JaQuon Parker and Sean Kilpatrick are known commodities for the Bearcats heading into the 2012-13 season.

Kilpatrick and Wright are Cincinnati’s two leading returnees in regards to minutes per game, with Kilpatrick averaging a team-high 34.5 mpg and Wright not too far behind at 31.2 mpg, and Parker averaged 26.7 mpg.

But to Cronin’s point about the team’s depth, two of the players who will need to increase their production this season are guards Ge’Lawn Guyn (2.3 ppg) and Jeremiah Davis III (2.5 ppg).

“It comes to a point where I can’t play 35 to 40 minutes a game. So one of them or both of them have to play if we’re going to try to get to where we want to go,” said Wright of Guyn and Davis III before the team’s first practice on Friday.

“There’s no way I’m going to be able to play those minutes and we make it to the Final Four and then still have all the gas in the tank. We’re going to need them and they are going to be a big help.”

With Dixon and Gates out of the picture more may be required of Wright from a scoring standpoint, and the emergence of a Guyn or Davis III at the point would allow the senior more opportunities to work off the ball.

Of the two players Davis III was more involved offensively, finishing the season with a possession percentage of 20.4% to Guyn’s 15.6% according to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers (subscription required).

But both finished the season averaging around one assist for every turnover (Guyn just about that mark, Davis just below), and that’s something they’ll need to change this season.

The Bearcats have the talent to be a factor in the Big East when considering not only their returnees but also front court newcomers David Nyarsuk, Titus Rubles and Shaquille Thomas (Thomas redshirted last season).

But how much of a factor Cincinnati turns out to be will depend on what they can get from two guards who weren’t asked to to be major contributors last year.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Illinois dismisses Kendrick Nunn

Illinois guard Kendrick Nunn (25) tries to go up for a basket against Indiana center Thomas Bryant (31) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at in Champaign, Ill., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Heather Coit)
(AP Photo/Heather Coit)
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Illinois announced on Tuesday that they have dismissed Kendrick Nunn from the basketball program.

Nunn was sentenced to community service after pleading guilty to a battery charge that stemmed from a domestic violence incident. He was alleged to have hit a woman in the head and pushed her to the ground before pouring water on her.

“We have made the decision to dismiss Kendrick Nunn from the men’s basketball team, effective immediately,” a statement put out by head coach John Groce and athletic director Josh Whitman read. “After extensive deliberation, we think it best for our program to reaffirm our core values of trust and respect, to send a strong message about what is acceptable behavior.”

Nunn averaged 15.5 points as a junior last season.

Delaware hires Martin Inglesby as head coach

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Joe Raymond, AP
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Delaware has finally hired a head coach, a little more than two months after Monte’ Ross was fired.

The man that earned the right of taking over a program with just four returning scholarship players is Martin Inglesby, a Notre Dame assistant that has been under Mike Brey’s tutelage for more than a decade. A source confirmed the news with NBCSports.com. Brey spent his first six seasons as a Division I head coach in Newark.

The reason that the search for a new basketball coach took so long is that the university was in the midst of looking for a new athletic director. Chrissi Rawak was hired as AD on May 13th, and one of her first orders of business was finding a replacement for Ross.

CBS Sports was the first to report Inglesby’s hiring.

Report: UCLA signs record apparel deal with Under Armour

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The latest arms race in the collegiate ranks centers around apparel deals, and UCLA has reportedly signed the largest in the history of amateur athletics.

Under Armour will pay the university $280 million over the next 15 years, according to ESPN.com, in exchange for their athletes to work as unpaid models, turning Pauley Pavilion and the Rose Bowl into a runway for the athletic apparel company to hawk their wares.

Here are the details from ESPN:

At those numbers, the deal would be the largest in college football history. In January, Ohio State said its 15-year deal with Nike was worth $252 million. Texas signed a 15-year deal with Nike worth $250 million in October, and Michigan signed an 11-year deal, with a four-year option, that could be worth up to $173.8 million.

Landing UCLA only furthers Under Armour’s presence on the west coast. Their most famous client is Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors.

Kentucky-Kansas headlines the 2017 SEC/Big 12 Challenge

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The Big 12 and the SEC announced the matchups for the 2017 SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Tuesday, and the highlight is, of course, Kansas and Kentucky.

The two schools, who played an instant classic in Phog Allen Fieldhouse last season, will square off in Lexington this season. If that wasn’t enough, Kentucky and Kansas are currently sitting second and third, respectively, in the NBCSports.com Preseason Top 25.

So that should be fun.

The game will be played on January 28th along with the rest of the matchups in the series. Those matchups are:

Texas at Georgia
Texas A&M at West Virginia
Florida at Oklahoma
Baylor at Ole Miss
Iowa State at Vanderbilt
Kansas State at Tennessee
Arkansas at Oklahoma State
Auburn at TCU
LSU at Texas Tech

To be frank, the rest of that schedule is not all that enticing. West Virginia should be a top 25 team, and they host a Texas A&M team that is talented but young. Florida and Georgia are arguably the two best non-Kentucky teams in the league, but they face off with a rebuilding Oklahoma and a young Texas squad, neither of whom are guaranteed to make the tournament.

The problem here?

Both the SEC and the Big 12 are likely going to be down this season, which puts a damper on just how excited we can get about this challenge.

Purdue forward to return to school, withdraw from NBA Draft

Purdue center A.J. Hammons (20) celebrates with forward Vince Edwards (12) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan State in West Lafayette, Ind., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Purdue defeated Michigan State 82-81 in overtime. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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Purdue announced on Tuesday that forward Vince Edwards will be returning to school for his junior season.

Edwards declared for the NBA Draft without signing with an agent and went through the process to gauge his value at the next level.

“After getting the NBA experience and going through the evaluation process, I have talked with my family and Coach Painter and decided it is best for me to return for my junior year,” Edwards said in a statement. “Although the NBA is still a dream for me one day, I am coming back to Purdue to make next year a special one. Thank you to all the organizations who gave me the chance to not only showcase my talents, but also the chance to know me as a young man and not just an athlete.”

Edwards averaged 11.3 points and 5.4 boards last season.

Purdue now has to wait to hear from Caleb Swanigan, a rising sophomore that was a top 20 recruit in the Class of 2015. The deadline to withdraw from the draft is Wednesday.