Buzz Peterson, Keith Rendleman

Keith Rendleman returned to UNCW because he liked the beach?

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ARLINGTON, Va – Keith Rendleman, buried in the depths of the CAA standings, is one of the nation’s best kept secrets.

A 6-foot-8, 220 pound pogo stick — his head coach at UNC-Wilmington, Buzz Peterson, said he once reached 12-feet, one-inch when testing his max-jump — Rendleman averaged 15.1 points and 10.0 rebounds for the Seahawks last season, one of just 22 players nationally to average a double-double. You can probably understand why, then, Rendleman evokes comparisons with former mid-major rebounding machine.

They both even have long hair.

You should also be able to understand why, when UNCW’s APR scores came back and the Seahawks were hit with the news that they wouldn’t be allowed to play in the NCAA tournament this season, some bigger schools came-a-callin’. Since Rendleman’s senior season was to be played under a postseason ban, he was allowed to transfer anywhere in the country without sitting out the mandatory one season.

Who wouldn’t want to add a rebounding machine whose motor never stops running?

And why would Rendleman turn down the chance to make the jump to a bigger school — Peterson said ACC, Big East and SEC schools inquired — with an opportunity to make one final run at an NCAA tournament big on the line?

Well, actually it’s quite simple.

“He likes the beach,” Peterson said with what can only be described as a relieved chuckle. “He loves to go down there a lot. When practice is over with, he’s gone.”

UNCW, known as “the state’s coastal universtiy”, is the perfect place for a beach bum to go to school, as the campus is just a couple of miles from Wrightsville Beach.

“[The beach] was one of the main reasons I came here,” Rendleman said. “I hadn’t really been that much before my freshman year, but when I got here? I like to get out there and play in the water all the time.”

As much appeal as bikinis, waves and beach football has for a college student, there was much more that went into Rendleman’s decision than proximity to the water. UNCW isn’t the only school close to the ocean. He has friends on campus. He has fans in and around town. His teammates are his family. His coaches have his back. Missing out on the postseason will be tough, but for Rendleman, missing out on a final chance to play college ball with the same guys he’s spent the past three years with was unimaginable.

“It’s kind of like my home, so I’m not ready to go anywhere else,” he said.

It’s refreshing, really. At times, it almost seems as if the one-and-done era has made way for the transfer era, as key players are seemingly bouncing from team to team more than ever. Rendleman, however, values loyalty, both from and for his coaching staff and the rest of his team. What’s more, he doesn’t seem to understand why the decision that he made is noteworthy.

“A lot of people are thanking me for staying and talking about how loyal I am and stuff, but it’s just part of my personality,” he said. “A lot of people thought I was going to do something else, and I already made up my mind that I was going to try and stay and just play here. I didn’t see it as as big of a deal as everyone else, but I’m just thankful for having everyone support me behind it.”

Part of the reason that Rendleman feels indebted to the university is that the school was one of the only ones that offered him a scholarship for basketball. He was a much more highly-regarded football prospect as a high schooler in rural, northwest North Carolina. He caught 15 touchdowns as a senior. Some major programs were on his tail, but Rendleman knew hoops was his true love.

So Rendleman wound up at UNCW. And it’s why he’ll finish up at UNCW as well, playing out what is more or less a meaningless season for the chance to win the CAA’s regular season title and bring the CAA player of the year trophy back to Wilmington “because we haven’t had that in a while”.

He’s back for no reason other than the fact that he simply enjoys where he goes to college.

Well, that, and the opportunity to become a flag football legend.

“Our guys say all the time, ‘Coach, you should see him throw a football,'” Peterson said. “It’s incredible how far he can throw it. Unbelievable athlete. He goes to the beach, he’s whipping that thing 70 yards.”

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: A huge Saturday of hoops

Maryland players, including Jaylen Brantley (1) and Varun Ram (21), cheer after Jake Layman (10) scored against Nebraska during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lincoln, Neb., Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. Nebraska's Shavon Shields (31) and Benny Parker react. Maryland won 70-65. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 18 Purdue at No. 4 Maryland, 4:00 p.m.

From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview.

We’re going to be getting an interesting contrast of styles in College Park on Saturday afternoon, as the Boilermakers — with arguably the biggest front line in college basketball and one of the best defenses in the sport — take on a Maryland team that likes to spread the floor and relies on the ability of their two talented guards to make plays. The issue for Purdue all season long has been their back court play. Will Johnny Hill and P.J. Thompson make enough plays? Can they get the ball to A.J. Hammons, Isaac Haas and Caleb Swanigan in a position where those big bodies can be effective?

Hammons is going to be the key here. Diamond Stone has had an up-and-down season. There are nights he looks like a top five pick and games where he seems to be completely overmatched. Hammons is a first-team all-Big Ten performer and a guy with an outside shot of making an all-american team that is playing his best basketball of the season right now. So while Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon — along with Robert Carter — get the headlines, the matchup with Stone and Hammons may be the most important of the game and the one that brings out the NBA scouts en masse.

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: No. 3 Villanova at No. 11 Providence, 2:30 p.m.

This game was far more intriguing before Providence forward and Big East leading scorer Ben Bentil injured his ankle in Wednesday’s loss to DePaul. Why was it intriguing? Because Villanova is all alone in first place in the Big East, and if the Friars have any prayer of catching the Wildcats, this is a must-win game. It’s also a rematch of a game from earlier this season, when Providence overcame the two feet of snow Snowzilla dumped on Philly to beat Villanova in overtime. Then throw in the fact that the Friars are looking to right their ship after losing to DePaul (!!!) this week, and there were all kinds of intriguing story lines heading in.

And then Bentil had to go and sprain his ankle.

AND DON’T FORGET THIS ONE: No. 15 Baylor at No. 14 West Virginia, 8:00 p.m.

The Big 12 race is not for the faint of heart this season, but both the Bears and the Mountaineers currently find themselves in the thick of the race. After knocking off Iowa State in Ames this week, West Virginia has climbed into a tie for first place with Oklahoma while Baylor is sitting a game out in a tie for third. Jonathan Holton is not expected back for this one, which should give Baylor an advantage on the interior. The key here: How will Lester Medford deal with the WVU pressure?

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 2 North Carolina at Notre Dame, 7:00 p.m.

From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview:

Does anyone know what’s wrong with Marcus Paige? Over the course of his last six games, the former all-american is shooting just 21.3 percent from the floor and 14.3 percent from beyond the arc. That’s atrocious, particularly when you consider just how good Paige has been at times during his career. The other problem for the Tar Heels? Joel Berry II isn’t playing his best basketball right now, either, and Justin Jackson was in the midst of a slump of his own until Monday’s loss at Louisville. Notre Dame isn’t quite as good as we thought they would be this season, but the Fighting Irish are still a tournament team with one of the best point guards in the country in Demetrius Jackson. The key for them is getting stops, but if they do, they’re potent offensively.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. Pitt has a big, big game this weekend as they host No. 9 Virginia at 12:00 p.m. We’re still in a position where we don’t really know all that much about the Panthers. Just how good is this team? The only ranked team they’ve played is Louisville (they scored 41 points and lost by 18) and the only quality wins on their profile came against Notre Dame and Syracuse. The could use a home win against a top ten team that has been inconsistent on the road this season.

2. No. 10 Michigan State seemed to find their stride last week, as Denzel Valentine returned to his Player of the Year caliber form while Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello have been playing some of their best basketball of the season. The Spartans will pay a visit to rival Michigan at 2:00 p.m., and while the Wolverines have picked off Maryland in Ann Arbor without Caris LeVert, they’re coming off of a blowout loss in the same building to Indiana.

3. Florida visits No. 20 Kentucky at 4:00 p.m. and I can’t help but feel like we’re going to learn quite a bit about both teams in this game. Kentucky followed up their terrific performance at Kansas by … blowing a 21 point lead at Tennessee and losing. The Gators? They’re streaking right now, having landed a blowout win over West Virginia last weekend. Going into Rupp and winning is a different beast, however.

4. No. 23 Arizona is in a bit of an interesting position right now, as they don’t have much in the way of quality wins on their NCAA tournament profile right now. They’re also two games off the pace in the Pac-12 regular season standings and are still playing without Allonzo Trier. Washington, on the other hand, has been one of the nation’s most entertaining teams. The two will square off on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

5. There are two games that will be featured on NBCSN on Saturday: Davidson at Duquesne (12:30 p.m.), Delaware at William & Mary (2:30 p.m.).

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Saturday afternoon.

OTHER TOP 25 GAMES

  • No. 1 Oklahoma at Kansas State, 6:00 p.m.
  • Marquette at No. 6 Xavier, 12:00 p.m.
  • No. 7 Kansas at TCU, 12:00 p.m.
  • No. 25 South Carolina at No. 8 Texas A&M, 4:00 p.m.
  • No. 13 Iowa State at Oklahoma State, 2:00 p.m.
  • Boston College at No. 19 Louisville, 12:00 p.m.
  • No. 21 Wichita State at Illinois State, 10:00 p.m.
  • No. 22 Indiana at Penn State, 8:00 p.m.
  • No. 24 Dayton at George Mason, 6:00 p.m.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • Florida State at Wake Forest, 12:00 p.m.
  • Temple at UCF, 12:00 p.m.
  • George Washington at VCU, 12:00 p.m.
  • Cincinnati at Memphis, 12:00 p.m.
  • Texas Tech at Texas, 2:00 p.m.
  • Rutgers at Nebraska, 2:00 p.m.
  • N.C. State at Duke, 2:00 p.m.
  • DePaul at Creighton, 2:00 p.m.
  • Missouri at Alabama, 3:00 p.m.
  • New Mexico at San Diego State, 4:00 p.m.
  • Clemson at Virginia Tech, 4:00 p.m.
  • Stanford at Cal, 4:00 p.m.
  • Butler at St. John’s, 4:30 p.m.
  • Auburn at Georgia, 5:30 p.m.
  • Mississippi State at LSU, 6:00 p.m.
  • Tennessee at Arkansas, 8:00 p.m.
  • Vanderbilt at Ole Miss, 8:00 p.m.
  • Georgetown at Seton Hall, 9:00 p.m.

No. 13 Iowa State suspends Jameel McKay indefinitely

Iowa State forward Georges Niang, forward Jameel McKay, forward Abdel Nader and guard Deonte Burton celebrate after center Stuart Nezlek scored late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Coppin State, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 104-84 (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)
AP Photo/Justin Hayworth
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Already lacking depth, No. 13 Iowa State will be short a key contributor Saturday when they take on Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

Friday night it was announced that senior forward Jameel McKay has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Steve Prohm and did not make the trip with the team. McKay, who’s been dealing with knee issues recently, is averaging 12.4 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds per game on the season.

Over the last six games he’s averaging 7.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest, shooting 60.6 percent from the field.

McKay has been asked to man the middle for a team lacking in both size and depth, with Georges Niang shifting over to the five when McKay needs a break for either rest or foul trouble reasons. Without McKay even more responsibility falls upon the shoulders of Niang, Abdel Nader and Deonte Burton in the front court.

The Cyclones are looking to end a two-game losing streak, and even with Oklahoma State’s struggles accomplishing that gets tougher with McKay out of the lineup.

News of McKay’s suspension was first reported by the Ames Tribune.