Coming off of an all-american season as a freshman much was expected of Trey Burke this season and, amazingly enough, the Columbus, OH, native has lived up to expectations, averaging 18.0 points and 7.0 assists as the Wolverines have emerged as one of the best teams in the country. So when I tell you that Burke averaged 19.0 points, 6.5 assists, 4.5 boards and 2.0 steals this week while shooting 71.4% from the floor and 50% from three with just a single turnover in 68 minutes of action, you should accept it as business as usual.
Here’s the thing that makes Burke so impressive: he understands that his role as a point guard is, first and foremost, distribution. Early on in games, he’ll focus on making sure that the rest of his team gets their shots and their points. He gets everyone involved, and it isn’t until his opponent makes a run or keeps things close in the second half that he takes over. Burke hasn’t been perfect this season — his play down the stretch against Arkansas bordered on selfishness, as he over-dribbled and forced a couple bad shots that allowed the Razorsbacks to stay in the game longer than necessary — but overall, Burke has turned himself into a legitimate Player of the Year candidate.
The All-They-Were-Good-Too Team:
G: Daniel Barnes, Illinois-Chicago: Barnes is a backcourt player for the Flames, and despite playing more than 30 minutes per game, Barnes has just six assists in ten games this season. That should tell you something: that Barnes is out there to score, and he did just that against Eastern Michigan on Saturday. The 6-foot-2 senior finished with 30 points on 10-18 while hitting six threes and, yes, handing out one assists as UIC moved to 9-1 on the season with a win over Eastern Michigan. It’s worth noting that Barnes transferred to UIC after spending a year at EMU.
G: Anthony Drmic, Boise State: The Broncos bounced back from an ugly loss at Utah two weeks ago with a 19 point win over LSU at home on Saturday. Drmic led the way for Leon Rose’s team, finishing with a career-high 34 points on 12-18 shooting. He also hit 6-10 from beyond the arc. Drmic is now averaging 16.4 points on the season and shooting 43.6% from three.
F: Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa: Marble finished with 30 points on just 14 shots on Saturday as the Hawkeyes knocked off Northern Iowa in the Big Four Classic, a double-header featuring the four Division I schools in the Hawkeye State.
F: Greg Whittington, Georgetown: In his previous four games, Greg Whittington was 14-45 from the floor and 2-17 from three, averaging just 8.0 ppg as the Hoya’s offense had stalled. Prior to putting up 89 points in a win over Longwood, Georgetown’s previous three games saw them average 48.3 points — all wins, over Tennessee, Texas and Towson. But Whittington finished with 25 points and 11 boards in a win over Western Carolina on Saturday. Slumpbuster for the x-factor?
C: Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota: Mbakwe had surgery to repair a torn ACL a year ago, and early on this season it was evident that he hadn’t yet regained the same amount of explosiveness in that knee. Slowly but surely, however, he’s begun to look like he’s getting closer and closer to being back to the Mbakwe of old. Against North Dakota State, he finished with 14 points and 18 boards, including a pair of tip-dunks where he actually got fairly high off the ground. He’s now averaging 9.2 points and 7.4 boards on the season.
Bench: Chane Behanan (Louisville), Roosevelt Jones (Butler), Doug McDermott (Creighton)
Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.
Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.
Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.
Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.
Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.
O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:
O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.
Is he a one-and-done prospect?
Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.
But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.
Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.
The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.
Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.
That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.
Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.
The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.
The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.
“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.
Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools
Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.
An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.