Shabazz Muhammad

Late night snacks: Shabazz and Chaminade make the headlines

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The first day of Maui and we had to classic moments from a tournament that always delivers a few. Shabazz Muhammad makes his UCLA debut in Brooklyn, and all the stats you can shake a stat sheet at. Here’s your daily recap.

Games of the Night

Chaminade 86, Texas 63 – This one takes it. Division II Chaminade takes down mighty Texas in a game that they controlled from the beginning. A 32-point night from De’Andre Haskins propelled the Silverswords. Great night for the hosts of the Maui Invitational.

New Mexico 66, UConn 60 – It’s a statement game for New Mexico, who has been buried under San Diego State and UNLV in terms of headlines in the Mountain West Conference this preseason. They hit all 21 of their free throws and Kendall Williams had 15 points, five rebounds and five assists in the win to give the Lobos the Paradise Jam title.

Butler 72, Marquette 71 – It was more about the shot than the game. Junior Cadougan missed the second of two free throws, Butler’s Khyle Marshall rebounded and got it to Rotnei Clarke, who weaved his way down the court and launched a running 30-footer as the buzzer sounded that dropped and gave Butler the win. Great way to start the Maui Invitational.

Georgetown 78, UCLA 70 – Retuuuurn of Shabazz (get it?). Yea, well, anyway, Shabazz Muhammad made his collegiate debut to the tune of 15 points in the Bruins first loss of the season. He was sporadic, he was indecisive, he was a freshman in his first game of the season. He’ll be fine. It’s just good to have him on the court.

St. Louis 70, Texas A&M 49 – With all the buzzer-beaters, upsets and debuting superstars, this game was lost. The Billikens, playing in their first game since hearing the news that coach Rick Majerus would retire after taking a leave of absence from coaching for the season, ran the Aggies off the court. Dwayne Evans had 21 points for St. Louis, who shot 51-percent from the field (25-for-49).

Starred

Rotnei Clarke, Butler – It’s all about the shot. Despite a 7-for-21 shooting night, Clarke shook it off and hit a running 30-footer at the buzzer to give the Bulldogs the win over the Golden Eagles. The line itself was vintage Clarke, who never saw a shot he didn’t like. One great shot can make up for a night of bad ones.

De’Andre Haskins, Chaminade – A special shoutout to the Division II boys in this one. A former Division I player at Valparaiso, Haskins went for 32 points in the Silverswords stunner over Texas. The guy played like he deserved to be back in the high ranks and showed absolutely no fear on the court.

Kendrick Perry, Youngstown State – The Horizon League Player of the Year candidate furthered his case, pouring in 34 points on 13-of-25 shooting and eight boards in 83-80 loss to North Dakota State. The loss doesn’t make the production any less impressive, considering Perry does so much for the Penguins. He’s incredibly legit.

Bilal Dixon, Towson – The opponent is what kept Dixon from getting the “stuffing the stat sheet” honor, but nonetheless, 10 points, 11 rebounds, six blocks in 79-40 victory over Cincinnati Christian isn’t a bad day at work.

Tony Mitchell, North Texas – Looks like the Mean Green are starting to come out of their earlier funk — including a loss to Division II Alabama-Huntsville. Franklin dropping 21 points, nine rebounds, four blocks, three steals and two assists in 80-66 win over IUPUI. Franklin’s starting to post the consistent numbers everyone thought he would from the beginning this season.

Struggled

USC – Blame it on Hawaii? From beginning to end, the Trojans just didn’t show up in a 94-64 loss to Illinois in the nightcap of the Maui Invitational. The Trojans shot 42-percent overall (22-for-50), but hit just three threes and never seemed to find a rhythm at all. The reward for losing? A date with the recently-upset Texas Longhorns on Tuesday.

Elston Turner, Texas A&M – He led the Aggies with 16 points but went 5-for-12 to get it and committed four turnovers. He’s the leader and clear-cut best player on a team that got housed by St. Louis 70-49. They’ll need better overall games from him.

Arsalan Kazemi, Oregon – The transfer from Rice learned he was eligible this season  a matter of weeks ago, I’ll admit, but he hasn’t had the best start to the season in a situation he asked for. The senior went 1-for-5 for two points in 24 minutes in a 67-45 victory over Jacksonville State. To his credit, he did have eight rebounds and five steals. But he’s a scorer and the Ducks will need points from him down the road.

Stuffing the stat sheet

Travis McKie, Wake Forest – The Demon Deacons beat Mercer 74-71 tonight behind McKie’s 23 points, 15 rebounds, three steals in 37 minutes. He was also 11-for-14 from the free throw line. The junior is averaging 13.3 points and eight rebounds so far this season. He’ll need more games like that for the Deacs to make a return to any postseason tournament.

Fanbases that can take a breath

New Mexico – There’s been a number of question marks in the post for the Lobos. None of that seems to matter now. After a comeback win in Marathon Madness a week ago, the Lobos earned the Paradise Jam title with the victory over UConn. Big man Alex Kirk had 10 points and four rebounds while the guards hit the boards too, with Hugh Greenwood ripping down seven rebounds to go along with 12 points. They were a perfect 21-for-21 from the free throw line and four starters finished in double figures. New Mexico looks good early.

Fanbases that can take a seat

Texas – I’ve said it enough tonight. The Longhorns lost to Chaminade 86-73 and it didn’t even seem as close as the score. Texas has a lot of work to do to get better and as long as Myck Kabongo is out, it’s not going to make the work any easier.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

White decides to return to Nebraska

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Nebraska’s second-leading scorer from last season will return for his senior season as Andrew White III announced Wednesday he will withdraw his name from the NBA Draft.

“I felt good about the pre-draft process, White said in a statement released by Nebraska. “It was encouraging, and I gained as much ground as anyone throughout the process. I wanted one more year to fine tune my game and put myself in better position for the NBA next summer.  

“I want to thank the teams who invited me their in-house workouts, and Nebraska for supporting me during this process.  It has been very helpful in gathering information in preparation for my future Thank you to everyone who has been following my progress throughout the spring and being understanding and supportive, as I evaluated whether to turn pro or return for my senior year.”

White, a Kansas transfer, tallied 16.6 points per game last season while shooting 48.1 percent from the floor and 41.2 percent from 3-point range. He also pulled down 5.9 rebounds per game.

“We are excited to have Andrew remain with our program,” coach Tim Miles said. “This has been a valuable time for him, as he has tested his skills against some of the best competition and received very important insight from key NBA personnel.  

“We look forward to continuing to help Andrew’s development to improve his NBA profile even more than he already has done through this process.  I believe next year could be our most complete team with a great opportunity for success in the Big Ten and NCAA tournament, I’m happy Andrew will be with us to go out and prove it.”

The news is certainly welcome for the Cornhuskers and Miles, who will be under pressure to show improvement after back-to-back disappointing seasons following an NCAA tournament appearance in 2014. Shavon Shields, last year’s leading scorer, has exhausted his eligibility and the Huskers will need White to help fill the void.

Trimble coming back to Terps

Maryland guard Melo Trimble (AP Photo/Matt Hazlett)
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Melo Trimble is returning to Maryland.

The Terrapin guard will be back to for his junior season in College Park, according to multiple reports.

Trimble went from freshman first-rounder to question mark after a rough end to his sophomore season for Maryland in which his points per game, shooting percentage (both overall and from 3-point range) and rebounding dipped from his first season. Only his assists per game showed any sort of improvement. He waited until the last possible day to announce his intentions to return to school, but really his options were limited after seeing his production drop.

His decision to come back to school gives him a shot to restore his draft stock while Maryland gets its floor general back to help ease the transition from last year’s Sweet 16 squad that lost Diamond Stone, Rasheed Sulaimon and Jake Layman. The Terps might not be a sure-fire top-25 team with Trimble back, but their NCAA tournament chances are now significantly higher.

Nevada lands Martin twins

Caleb Martin, Jordan Roper
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Eric Musselman keeps adding reinforcements to his roster. For the 2017-18 season.

Musselman and Nevada received commitments from N.C. State transfers and twin brothers Caleb and Cody Martin, according to multiple reports.

That brings Nevada’s sit-out transfer count for this upcoming season to four with Hallice Cooke (Iowa State) and Kendall Stephens (Purdue) already in the fold. Under NCAA transfer rules, the quartet will have to sit out the upcoming season before being eligible in 2017-18.

Caleb averaged 11.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists while shooting 36 percent from deep while Cody put up 6.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists, shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc.

The timing of having four sit-out transfers works well for the Wolf Pack given that two of the team’s three leading scorers from last year, D.J. Fenner (a senior) and Cameron Oliver (a sophomore), return while senior transfers Marcus Marshall (Missouri State) becomes eligible. Having those four experienced transfers begin playing in 2017-18 while all but two players from this upcoming team slated to return makes Nevada an interesting team, a year from now.

Louisville big man heading to NBA Draft

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After a day of mixed messages, Louisville’s Chinanu Onuaku finally made it official.

He’s staying in the NBA Draft.

“After talking to my family and going through the NBA process,” Onuaku wrote in an Instagram post, “me and my family have decided that it would be best for me to keep my name in the draft.”

The day started out with Cardinals coach Rick Pitino telling multiple media outlets that the 6-foot-10 sophomore would remain in the draft after he declared last month without an agent and attended the draft combine. Onuaku, though, appeared to at least mildly refute that with an Instagram post that said his decision wouldn’t come until later Wednesday evening. Which it did, confirming Pitino’s words.

The confusion may have been frustrating for observers, but Onuaku’s social media presence no doubt has benefited from the bizarre day.

Onuaku averaged 9.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.6 assists in 24.6 minutes per game last season, making his per-40 numbers, a metric NBA teams like to take into consideration, nothing short of fantastic. He also shot a not-so-shabby 62.0 percent from the floor. His size, athleticism and ability to score around the basket (he’s taken one 3-pointer in two seasons) make him a potential first-round selection in next month’s draft.

The 19-year-old Onuaku underwent a procedure on his heart last week due to Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. It has been described as a minor procedure that will not affect his ability to play long-term or work out with teams leading up to the draft.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, should be able to absorb Onuaku’s loss seemlessly as they return the bulk of last year’s team that went 23-8 and was ranked 10th in KenPom, but was banned from the postseason as a result of the Katina Powell bombshell. Newcomers Tony Hicks (Penn transfer) and V.J. King (consensus top-30 recruit) will also make for solid additions.

Swanigan staying for sophomore season

Purdue's Vince Edwards (12), Purdue's Caleb Swanigan (50) and Purdue's A.J. Hammons (20) celebrate during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against the Illinois in the quarterfinals at the Big Ten Conference tournament, Friday, March 11, 2016, in Indianapolis. Purdue won 89-58. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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Purdue will once again be rolling out a formidable frontcourt in the 2016-17 season.

Boilermaker big man Caleb Swanigan is withdrawing from the NBA Draft to return to West Lafayette for his sophomore season, the school announced Wednesday.

The NBA is right there and always will be,” Swanigan said in the school’s press release, “but you always have to have patience and do what’s best for you.”

Purdue is losing 7-foot senior A.J. Hammons, but will be once again teaming Swanigan with Isaac Haas (7-2) and Vince Edwards (6-8) that will allow them to roll out a supersized lineup that is sure to be a difficult one to face off against.

The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Swanigan, who likely would have landed as a second-round pick, averaged 10.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists and was a finalist for the Wayman Tisdale Award for the country’s top freshman.

“We are excited that (Swanigan) has withdrawn from the NBA Draft and will return to Purdue,” head coach said Matt Painter in a statement released by the school. “He has the potential to make a huge jump from his freshman season and will be a big part of what we do next year. He received great experience going through this process and will use the feedback he received to make him a more diverse player.”

Purdue is probably a rung down from Michigan State and Wisconsin at the top of the league, but the return of Swanigan pulls them closer to competing at the top of the league next season.