Michael Carter-Williams

Michael Carter-Williams is finally hitting some jumpers?

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Anyone that has seen Michael Carter-Williams play will give you essentially the same scouting report.

6-foot-6 point guard with sensational passing skills. A slippery penetrator, who isn’t overly explosive but has long enough strides and a good enough change of pace to beat a defender off the dribble. A terror defensively due to his wingspan and anticipation. And, perhaps most importantly, a future NBA All-Star if he can ever learn how to shoot.

It really is that simple right now.

Carter-Williams entered Thursday night leading the nation in assists and fourth in the nation in steals, averaging 9.5 dimes and 3.7 steals per game. He didn’t disappoint in an 84-53 win over Long Beach State either, finishing with 10 assists and three steals to go along with 15 points.

But the most important stat to come out of Thursday’s win is that MCW hit three of his first four threes after entering the game just 1-15 from long distance on the season. He finished just 3-8 on the night, but the fact that he hit three threes in one game leaves some room for hope that maybe, possibly, somewhere inside MCW there is a shooter.

Because, in addition to how much better it makes him as a prospect, being able to consistently knock down threes will make Syracuse just that much better as a team. Given the fact that they are already widely considered a serious challenger to Louisville in the Big East, that should tell you what the upside is for the Orange.

Syracuse only has two real “shooters” on their roster: James Southerland and Trevor Cooney. Neither of them start, although Southerland plays starter minutes. Brandon Triche can shoot — he hit 35% from beyond the arc last season — but he’s a long way from what you would label a dangerous shooter and entered Thursday knocking them down at a 26.1% clip. As a team, the Orange are shooting 29.5% from beyond the arc on the season.

MCW is on another level as a playmaker, but as the level of competition for the Orange increases, so will the defensive resistance he faces when attacking the basket. If he — and the Orange as a whole — improve on their perimeter shooting, that only creates more space for MCW and that big, athletic Syracuse front line.

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

Henry Ellenson wins Marquette Madness dunk contest

Steve Wojciechowski
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Marquette freshman forward Henry Ellenson won the Marquette Madness slam dunk contest on Friday night with a between the legs dunk.

The 6-foot-10 Ellenson, the top recruit in Steve Wojciechowski’s freshmen class, defeated sophomore Sandy Cohen, fellow freshman Sacar Anim and Wally Ellenson, his older brother.

Ellenson joins the Golden Eagles as the No. 11 overall recruit in the Class of 2015.

Bill Self signs $10,000 check for KU student

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Late Night in the Phog is typically a night to remember for Kansas fans. For Kansas student Jerrod Martin Castro, Friday night’s event is one he won’t forget.

Castro, a sophomore, was selected as a contestant for a $10,000 giveaway. The only thing standing in the way of a big payday was a half-court shot. Brennan Bechard, the Kansas director of basketball operations, attempted the long-distance shot and hit nothing but net.

Kansas head coach Bill Self signed a $10,000 check on the spot.