Player of the Week: Trey Burke, Michigan
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)
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.
After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.
The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.
A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.
“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”
While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.
Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.
Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.
The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.
Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.
(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)
The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.
At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.
The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.
LAS VEGAS, NV — Five-star Class of 2017 forward Jarred Vanderbilt has been one of the most sought-after recruits in the country since he was a freshman in high school.
The 6-foot-8 native of Houston is beginning to wind things down in the recruiting process as he cut his list to nine schools on Friday. Vanderbilt’s list includes some of the most storied programs in college basketball and plenty of schools from his home state of Texas.
“I just followed my heart. Went with the schools I liked the most and who I have the best relationships with. Thear were the schools I could see myself playing for,” Vanderbilt told NBCSports.com.
Regarded as the No. 13 overall prospect in the Rivals.com national rankings, Vanderbilt is currently recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot.
Vanderbilt will see a doctor in three-to-four weeks as he’s currently in a boot to help his foot heal.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has previously expressed a desire to coach a game at the legendary Palestra in Philadelphia and it appears he’ll get his chance in a Big Ten game this season.
According to a report from Brendan F. Quinn of MLive, Penn State will use the Palestra as its home gym for the Jan. 7, 2017 Big Ten game against Michigan State. It is the only time the two teams are scheduled to play during Big Ten season and Penn’s home gym will offer a unique setting for the game.
Since the capacity of the Palestra is 8,722, it should make for a fun atmosphere for both programs since this will be a game both fan bases will likely want to attend.
With Nittany Lions head coach Pat Chambers making Philadelphia a major recruiting priority for his program, a game like this in Philadelphia makes sense while Michigan State has always been open to playing games in unique settings such as aircraft carriers.
The Palestra has been a college basketball mainstay since it was built in 1927 as it hosts all Penn home games and, in the past, hosted a lot of Big 5 Philadelphia college games between La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova.
Overall, a fun idea that should make for an interesting experience for both programs. It’s not often that a team will change its home venue for a conference game, but it could be the start of something we see other schools look to do.