Late Night Snacks: The Diamond Head Classic matchup many expected is set

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Games of the Day

1. Northern Iowa 82, Saint Mary’s 75 
In a game that was scheduled to be played on Saturday but postponed due to inclement weather the Panthers picked up a good win for both themselves and the Missouri Valley Conference. Seth Tuttle led four UNI players in double figures with 18 points, and the Panthers scored 50 points in the second half on 56.5% shooting from the field and 5-of-7 from three. Jorden Page was the lone Gael in double figures with 26 points as the Panthers did a good job of neutralizing Matthew Dellavedova (nine points, 3-of-11 FG).

2. Ole Miss 85, San Francisco 78 
The Rebels got off to a slow start in the consolation bracket matchup at the Diamond Head Classic, but Andy Kennedy’s team played much better in the second half to hold off the Dons. Murphy Holloway led the way with 23 points and 13 rebounds and Nick Williams added 18 for Ole Miss, who will play host Hawaii on Tuesday afternoon. Cody Doolin paced USF with 20 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

3. Portland 57, Bradley 55
The Braves had the final possession of the game but a solid defensive stand by the Pilots gave Eric Reveno’s team their seventh win of the season. Ryan Nicholas posted a double-double (12 points, 12 rebounds) and Derrick Rodgers and Oskars Reinfelds combined to score 22 points off the bench as Portland matched its win total from all of last season. Dyricus Simms-Edwards led Bradley with a game-high 15 points, but their poor shooting (31.5% FG) did in the Braves.

Important Outcomes 

1. No. 4 Arizona 69, Miami 50
The absence of Reggie Johnson certainly didn’t help the Hurricanes on the boards as the Wildcats held a 44-19 edge in that department, but it wouldn’t have mattered if he were out there given how well Arizona played after a poor start. Mark Lyons (19 points) and Nick Johnson (12) led the way and Kevin Parrom added 11 points off the bench to push the Wildcats to 11-0 on the season. Kenny Kadji scored 19 as he was the lone Hurricane to give Arizona a great deal of trouble offensively, and as a team Miami shot 36.5% from the field. Durand Scott rolled his ankle in the first half but did return after a short stint on the bench, finishing with 15 points on 4-of-11 shooting.

2. Colorado State 88, Virginia Tech 52
The fact that the Rams won the title game of the Las Vegas Classic should surprise no one. But by 36 points? Larry Eustachy’s team had it rolling in the second half at the Orleans Arena, as they outscored the Hokies 55-25. Pierce Hornung tallied 18 points and ten rebounds, and three other CSU starters finished in double figures. Erick Green led Virginia Tech with 26 points, but both he (five turnovers) and the Hokies had problems dealing with the Colorado State defense (Virginia Tech finished with a total of four assists, with Green having three of them).

3. No. 18 San Diego State 62, Indiana State 55 
It wasn’t pretty but the Aztecs did enough in the second half to hold off the Sycamores, moving on to the title game of the Diamond Head Classic where they’ll play No. 4 Arizona. Jamaal Franklin finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds and SDSU forced 117 Indiana State turnovers, with the usually steady Jake Odum having five. San Diego State shot 4-of-17 from beyond the arc, a percentage that must improve if they’re to beat the Wildcats on Tuesday night.

Starred 

1. F Chris Gaston and G Branden Frazier (Fordham) 
Gaston tallied 25 points and eight rebounds while Frazier added 20 points, ten assists and six rebounds in the Rams’ 81-75 win over Siena.

2. G Parker Smith (North Florida) 
Smith scored 25 points and grabbed ten rebounds in the Ospreys’ 74-46 win over Georgia Southern.

3. F David Laury (Iona)
In his second game in an Iona uniform Laury put up 20 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots in the Gaels’ 100-72 win over Norfolk State. In his debut Laury dropped 21 and 14 in a loss at La Salle; keep an eye on him as he could be a difference maker in the MAAC race.

Struggled

1. New Hampshire
Bill Herrion’s Wildcats had a rough day shooting the basketball in their 72-45 loss at Penn State. For the game UNH shot 22.6% (12-of-53) from the field, and that includes a 5-of-29 first half.

2. G Matthew Dellavedova (Saint Mary’s) 
Ben Jacobson’s Panthers got the job done defensively on the reigning WCC Player of the Year, as Dellavedova shot 3-of-11 from the field (1-of-7 3PT) and scored nine points in the 82-75 loss.

3. F Julian Gamble and G Trey McKinney-Jones (Miami)
One day after combining to score 27 points in a win over Hawaii this duo struggled in the Hurricanes’ loss to No. 4 Arizona. Gamble and McKinney-Jones combined for three points (1-of-7 FG; all points scored by Gamble) and five rebounds, and with Reggie Johnson out Miami needed more from them to hang with a team the caliber of the Wildcats.

Three Facts

1. Pittsburgh’s 59-43 win over Kennesaw State was also the 250th for head coach Jamie Dixon. The Panthers shot 1-of-8 from three but grabbed 18 offensive rebounds, with Talib Zanna leading the way with 12 points and nine boards.

2. Six games were decided by 27 points or more, with Colorado State and Clemson (77-41 over South Carolina State) winning by the largest margin.

3. At halftime of their 68-52 win over Nebraska, UTEP retired Harry Flournoy’s number 44. Not familiar with the name? Flournoy was a key member of the Miners’ 1966 national title team, but played just six minutes in the win over Kentucky after twisting his knee. Flournoy ranks fourth in school history with 836 rebounds, and his average of 10.1 rebounds per game is third in the UTEP record book.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

NBC Sports 2017-18 College Basketball Preseason All-American Team

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The deadline for underclassmen that have not signed with an agent to withdraw from the NBA Draft came and went at midnight on Wednesday, meaning that we now know what the rosters for the best teams in the country are going to look like.

With that in mind, let’s take an early look at what the preseason all-american teams will be.

RELATEDNBC Sports Preseason Top 25

FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICA

Miles Bridges, So., Michigan State (Player of the Year)

There wasn’t a more surprising name to pull out of the NBA Draft and return to school than Bridges, who was a lock to be just the second lottery pick to come out of Tom Izzo’s Michigan State program. A thrillingly athletic, 6-foot-7 combo-forward, Bridges will end up being the star for a Spartan team that is currently sitting at No. 1 overall in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. He averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks last season playing mostly as a small-ball four. How will be handle playing the three full-time? Hint: He shot 38.9 percent from three last seaono. I think he’ll be OK.

Allonzo Trier, Jr., Arizona

Coming off of a season where he missed the first 19 games due to a suspension for testing positive for PEDs, Trier opted to return to school for his junior year. Trier averaged 17.2 points as a sophomore and should put up similar, if not better, numbers next season for an Arizona team that is going to be a consensus preseason top three team.

Devonte’ Graham, Sr., Kansas

Graham was excellent playing as a two-guard for the Jayhawks last season, averaging 13.4 points and 4.1 assists while shooting 38.8 percent from three. But Graham is a natural point guard, moved off the ball because Frank Mason III went all #BIFM. Graham will slide into the lead guard role this season for a team that should be a preseason top five program.

Michael Porter Jr, Fr. Missouri

Porter is a monster. He’s an athletic freak at 6-foot-9, but he plays the small forward spot and has three-point range. His recruitment has been well-documented — he is from Columbia, Missouri, but committed to Washington and moved to Seattle when his dad was hired by Lorenzo Romar only to move back to Missouri when his father was fired and then hired at Missouri by Cuonzo Martin — but it’s been deserving. Porter is going to put up monster numbers. Whether or not he ends up as a first-teamer come March will depend on just how good the Missouri team ends up being.

Angel Delgado, Sr., Seton Hall

Delgado was the best big man in the country for the last six weeks of last season. On the year, he averaged 15.1 points and 13.2 boards for a team that reached the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive season and returns essentially everyone from that team. The Pirates are old, they are tough, they are physical and they play hard, and no one epitomizes that quite like Deldago.

SECOND TEAM ALL-AMERICA

Joel Berry II, North Carolina: Justin Jackson was North Carolina’s best player last season, but Berry was the engine that made their offense run as well as the Final Four MOP. He’ll have his work cut out for him next season with everything that the Tar Heels are losing.

Grayson Allen, Duke: I know, I know. You hate Grayson Allen. This is ridiculous. I get it. He also was an NBC Sports second-team All-American in 2016 and the Preseason National Player of the Year last season that is finally healthy and will spend this season playing his natural position off the ball.

Trevon Bluiett, Xavier: Bluiett was one of the best players in last year’s NCAA tournament, and if it wasn’t for a sprained ankle that bothered him during the second half of last season, he might have been an all-american last season.

Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame: He only stands 6-foot-5 but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better power forward in college basketball. He averaged a double-double last season and will have to carry a heavier load offensively next year.

Ethan Happ, Wisconsin: Happ is one of the nation’s must underrated players, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. He’s not the kind of Wisconsin big man you’re used to seeing — he’s not Frank Kaminsky — but he’s a sensational rebounder and shot blocker that can score on the block.

THIRD TEAM ALL-AMERICA

Jalen Brunson, Villanova: With Josh Hart gone, Brunson will take over as the star of this Villanova program. There’s an argument to make he was the best player on the Wildcats last season.

Jevon Carter, West Virginia: Carter is a three-time all-Big 12 defensive team member and was the leading scorer last year for a team that will enter this season ranked in the top 15.

Bruce Brown, Miami: Brown is one of the most underrated players in college basketball. If he develops the way we expect him to, Miami will contend for an ACC title.

Robert Williams, Texas A&M: A freak athlete, Williams was a potential lottery pick that opted to return to school for his sophomore season. With a point guard on the Aggie roster this season, his production should go up.

Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s: Landale has an outside shot of averaging 20 points and 10 boards for a Saint Mary’s team that will enter the season ranked in the top 25.

HONORABLE MENTION

Deng Adel (Louisville), KeVaughn Allen (Florida), Deandre Ayton (Arizona), Mo Bamba (Texas), Mike Daum (South Dakota), Aaron Holiday (UCLA), Nate Mason (Minnesota), Jordan McLaughlin (USC), Collin Sexton (Alabama), Landry Shamet (Wichita State)

2017-18 College Basketball Preseason Top 25: Post Early Entry Deadline

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The NCAA’s deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft for early entry candidates that have not signed with an agent came and went last night, and while a few of the decisions took us right up to the deadline, it mostly played out the way it was expected to.

Some big names returned. Some surprising names left.

Next season’s top 25 is awful uninspiring. There also isn’t anything close to a clear-cut No. 1 team, although the consensus at this point seems to be that Michigan State, Arizona and Kansas, despite their flaws, are the three best teams in the country in some order. 

Drop us a line here or @CBTonNBC if you see any names missing.

Here is the top 25:

1. Michigan State

  • Who’s gone: Eron Harris, Alvin Ellis III
  • Who do they add: Jaren Jackson, Xavier Tillman
  • Projected starting lineup: Cassius Winston, Josh Langford, Miles Bridges, Jaren Jackson, Nick Ward
  • I like this Michigan State team a lot. Nick Ward was a beast last year and Jaren Jackson is the perfect sidekick. Cassius Winston and Josh Langford will both take a step forward. The key, however, is that a potential Player of the Year in Miles Bridges opted to return to school.

2. Arizona

  • Who’s gone: Lauri Markkanen, Kadeem Allen, Kobi Simmons, Chance Comanche
  • Who do they add: Deandre Ayton, Emmanuel Akot*, Brandon Randolph, Ira Lee, Alex Barcello, Dylan Smith
  • Projected starting lineup: Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Allonzo Trier, Rawle Alkins, Deandre Ayton, Dusan Ristic
  • The Wildcats add the most talented big man in the class in Deandre Ayton, as well as Emmanuel Akot and Brandon Randolph. The reason they’re a top five team, however is the return of Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins.

3. Kansas

  • Who’s gone: Frank Mason II, Josh Jackson, Landen Lucas
  • Who do they add: Malik Newman, Billy Preston, Marcus Garrett, Sam Cunliffe
  • Projected starting lineup: Devonte’ Graham, Malik Newman, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Billy Preston, Udoka Azuibuike
  • The Jayhawks are going to have a lot to replace, but they do have some players coming in. With Devonte’ Graham back, I think he’ll be a star and all-Big 12 player at the point, and he’ll be joined by a former top 10 prospect in Malik Newman and a current top ten prospect in Billy Preston.

4. Kentucky

  • Who’s gone: De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo, Isaiah Briscoe, Derek Willis, Mychal Mulder, Dominique Hawkins
  • Who do they add: Hamidou Diallo, Quade Green, Kevin Knox, Nick Richards, P.J. Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jemarl Baker
  • Projected starting lineup: Quade Green, Hamidou Diallo*, Kevin Knox, Jarred Vanderbilt, Nick Richards
  • Kentucky is a tough team to peg for next season. They should be really good defensively — Hamidou Diallo and Jarred Vanderbilt are elite defenders — and insanely athletic, but it’s going to be another year where we don’t know who shoots it for Kentucky. Adding Knox is big.

5. Duke

  • Who’s gone: Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles III, Luke Kennard, Frank Jackson
  • Who do they add: Gary Trent Jr., Wendell Carter, Alex O’Connell, Trevon Duval, Jordan Tucker
  • Projected starting lineup: Trevon Duval, Grayson Allen, Gary Trent Jr., Wendell Carter, Marques Bolden
  • Getting Grayson Allen back for his senior year is huge because Duke lost a lot of talent early to the draft, and that doesn’t include missing out on five-star forward Kevin Knox, but landing Trevon Duval is the difference-maker for them. They finally have a point guard to replace Tyus Jones.

6. Miami

  • Who’s gone: Davon Reed, Kamari Murphy
  • Who do they add: Lonnie Walker, Chris Lykes, Deng Gak, Sam Waardenburg
  • Projected starting lineup: Ja’Quan Newton, Bruce Brown, Lonnie Walker, Anthony Lawrence, Dewan Huell
  • Losing Reed and Murphy will hurt, but Bruce Brown was one of the best-kept secrets last year, Lonnie Walker is a big-time scorer and Dewan Huell is a former top 30 prospect in line for a big bump in minutes this year. Jim Larrañaga is exactly the coach to take advantage of this guard-heavy lineup, too.

7. Florida

  • Who’s gone: Kasey Hill, Canyon Barry, Justin Leon, Devin Robinson
  • Who do they add: Isaiah Stokes, Egor Koulechov, Chase Johnson, DeAundre Ballard, Michael Okauru, Jalen Hudson, Dontay Bassett
  • Projected starting lineup: Chris Chiozza, KeVaughn Allen, Egor Koulechov, Kevarrius Hayes, John Egbunu
  • Coming off of a trip to the Elite 8, the Gators bring back most of their key pieces while adding a talented recruiting class and two players that redshirted last season. Two keys to this team’s ceiling: The health of John Egbunu, who missed the second half of last season, and the development of KeVaughn Allen and Chris Chiozza.

8. Louisville

  • Who’s gone: Mangok Mathiang, David Levitch, Tony Hicks, Jaylen Johnson, Donovan Mitchell
  • Who do they add: Malik Williams, Darius Perry, Jordan Nwora, Lance Thomas
  • Projected starting lineup: Quentin Snider, VJ King, Deng Adel, Ray Spalding, Anas Mahmoud
  • Louisville has a chance to be very, very good next season, particularly now that Deng Adel is back in the mix. If guys like VJ King, Ray Spalding and Anas Mahmoud take a step forward, the Cardinals might compete for an ACC title. That says a lot this year.

9. Villanova

  • Who’s gone: Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, Darryl Reynolds
  • Who do they add: Jermaine Samuels, Collin Gillispie, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, Omari Spellman
  • Projected starting lineup: Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth, Donte DiVincenzo, Mikal Bridges, Omari Spellman
  • The Wildcats are going to take a major hit with Josh Hart finally graduating, but the good news is that Jay Wright is still around, as is Jalen Brunson. Omari Spellman getting eligible will help, and I know I’m not the only one that thinks Donte DiVincenzo has a chance to develop into an all-Big East player.

10. Wichita State

  • Who’s gone: No one
  • Who do they add: Samajae Haynes-Jones, Asbjorn Midtgaard
  • Projected starting lineup: Landry Shamet, Connor Frankamp, Zach Brown, Markis McDuffie, Shaq Morris
  • The Shockers finished the season ranked in the top ten at KenPom, but ended up with a No. 10 seed in the NCAA tournament because they struggled to get used to each other early on in the season. With everyone returning from last year’s team, don’t be surprised to see Gregg Marshall’s team as a Final Four contender.

11. West Virginia

  • Who’s gone: Tarik Phillip, Nathan Adrian, Teyvon Myers, Brandon Watkins
  • Who do they add: Derek Culver, Brandon Knapper, D’Angelo Hunter, Teddy Allen, Wesley Harris
  • Projected starting lineup: Jevon Carter, Daxter Miles Jr., Esa Ahmad, Lamont West, Sagaba Konate
  • At this point, I’m just going to assume that Bobby Huggins is going to put a good team on the floor regardless of the situation. The names don’t even matter, although Jevon Carter is back for what feels like his 17th season in college hoops while Esa Ahmad seems primed for a monster year.

12. USC

  • Who’s gone: Charles Buggs
  • Who do they add: Derryck Thornton, Charles O’Bannon, Jordan Usher
  • Projected starting lineup: Jordan McLaughlin, De’Anthony Melton, Elijah Stewart, Bennie Boatwright, Chimezie Metu
  • There is a lot of talent on the USC roster for now, especially now that Metu, Stewart and Boatwright are all returning. The Trojans will push Arizona for the Pac-12 title if they decide to defend.

13. Minnesota

  • Who’s gone: Akeem Springs
  • Who do they add: Isaiah Washington, Jamir Harris, Davonte Fitzgerald
  • Projected starting lineup: Nate Mason, Dupree McBrayer, Amir Coffey, Jordan Murphy, Reggie Lynch
  • The Golden Gophers bring everyone back from last season, a year where they were one of the most surprising teams in the country. Minnesota could win the Big Ten.

14. UCLA

  • Who’s gone: Lonzo Ball, TJ Leaf, Ike Anigbogu, Bryce Alford, Isaac Hamilton
  • Who do they add: Jaylen Hands, LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, Jalen Hill, Chris Smith
  • Projected starting lineup: Jaylen Hands, Aaron Holiday, Kris Wilkes, Cody Riley, Thomas Welsh
  • It’s going to be interesting to see how the Bruins move on from the Lonzo Ball era. It will also be interesting to see how LaVar Ball handles the fact that LiAngelo Ball isn’t Lonzo. Jaylen Hands and Aaron Holiday will be an elite back court.

15. Cincinnati

  • Who’s gone: Troy Caupain, Kevin Johnson
  • Who do they add: Keith Williams, Trevor Moore, Eliel Nsoseme, Cane Broome
  • Projected starting lineup: Cane Broome, Jarron Cumberland, Jacob Evans, Gary Clark, Kyle Washington
  • The Bearcats return a lot of important pieces from a team that won 30 games last season. Broome averaged 23 points for Sacred Heart as a sophomore.

16. Seton Hall

  • Who’s gone: Madison Jones
  • Who do they add: Myles Cale, Darnell Brodie
  • Projected starting lineup: Khadeen Carrington, Myles Powell, Desi Rodriguez, Ishmael Sanogo, Angel Delgado
  • This is the team that I’m going to probably overhype all offseason. I love this group.

17. Xavier

  • Who’s gone: Edmond Sumner, Malcolm Bernard, RaShid Gaston
  • Who do they add: Kerem Kanter, Paul Scruggs, Naji Marshall, Elias Harden, Jared Ridder, Kentrevious Jones
  • Projected starting lineup: Quentin Goodin, J.P. Macura, Trevon Bluiett, Kaiser Gates, Sean O’Mara
  • The Musketeers were thrust back into the top 25 and the Big East title conversation when Trevon Bluiett opted to return to school.

18. North Carolina

  • Who’s gone: Justin Jackson, Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, Nate Britt
  • Who do they add: Jaleek Felton, Sterling Manley, Brandon Huffman, Andrew Platek, Garrison Brooks
  • Projected starting lineup: Joel Berry II, Kenny Williams, Theo Pinson, Luke Maye, Garrison Brooks
  • The Tar Heels are coming off of back-to-back national title game appearances, but they lose three key seniors from that team as well as Justin Jackson and Tony Bradley. Berry will be a National Player of the Year contender and Luke Maye will move into the starting lineup.

19. Gonzaga

  • Who’s gone: Nigel Williams-Goss, Przemek Karnowski, Jordan Mathews, Zach Collins
  • Who do they add: Jacob Larsen, Zach Norvell, Corey Kispert, Jesse Wade
  • Projected starting lineup: Josh Perkins, Silas Melson, Zach Norvell, Johnathan Williams III, Killian Tillie
  • With Nigel Williams-Goss gone, the key to Gonzaga’s season will be the development of Josh Perkins. Can he play the point full-time and do it successfully?

20. Northwestern

  • Who’s gone: Sanjay Lumpkin, Nathan Taphorn
  • Who do they add: Anthony Gaines, Aaron Falzon, Rapolas Ivanauskas
  • Projected starting lineup: Bryant McIntosh, Scottie Lindsey, Vic Law, Aaron Falzon, Dererk Pardon
  • The Wildcats, a year removed from their first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament, bring back essentially everyone from last season and get Aaron Falzon healthy. Bryant McIntosh will contend for Big Ten Player of the Year.

21. Alabama

  • Who’s gone: Nick King, Jimmie Taylor, Shannon Hale, Corban Collins
  • Who do they add: Collin Sexton, John Petty, Daniel Giddens
  • Projected starting lineup: Collin Sexton, John Petty, Dazon Ingram, Braxton Key, Daniel Giddens
  • The Crimson Tide bring back a talented young core and add two five-star guards, including Collin Sexton, who could lead the conference in scoring.

22. Notre Dame

  • Who’s gone: Steve Vasturia, VJ Beachem
  • Who do they add: DJ Harvey, Nikola Djogo
  • Projected starting lineup: Matt Farrell, Temple Gibbs, Rex Pflueger, Bonzie Colson, Martinas Geben
  • At this point, I’m fine betting on Brey to have Notre Dame in the mix every year. They’re going to need Rex Pfleuger and Temple Gibbs to take a step forward, but Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell can carry the Irish.

23. Virginia Tech

  • Who’s gone: Seth Allen, Zach LeDay
  • Who do they add: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Wabissa Bede
  • Projected starting lineup: Justin Robinson, Ahmed Hill, Justin Bibbs, Chris Clarke, Khadim Sy
  • The Hokies return all five starters from last season despite the fact that the team graduates their top two scorers. A healthy Chris Clarke and Kerry Blackshear will help.

24. Saint Mary’s

  • Who’s gone: Joe Rahon, Dane Pineau
  • Who do they add: Kristers Zoriks, Malik Fitts, Cullen Neal
  • Projected starting lineup: Jordan Ford, Emmett Naar, Calvin Hermanson, Evan Fitzner, Jock Landale
  • Losing Rahon will hurt, but with Naar and Landale coming back, the Gaels are going to push Gonzaga in the WCC race once again.

25. Baylor

  • Who’s gone: Ishmail Wainright, Johnathan Motley
  • Who do they add: Mark Vital, Tyson Jolly, Tristan Clark
  • Projected starting lineup: Manu Lecomte, Jake Lindsey, King McClure, Terry Maston, Jo Lual-Acuil
  • Losing Johnathan Motley is a massive blow for the Bears, but there should be enough experience on the roster to keep them in the top 25.

Diallo withdrawing from draft, returning to Kentucky

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It took plenty of time for the news to make its way public, but it was a wait that proved welcome for Kentucky fans.

Wildcat freshman Hamidou Diallo will withdraw his name from the NBA Draft and return to Kentucky, the school announced

Diallo’s situation was one of the more interesting in college basketball as he became an incredibly intriguing pro prospect despite being on a college roster and never playing a minute.

The five-star recruit enrolled at Kentucky in January after attending a semester of prep school with the plan to redshirt the season and then play for the Wildcats in 2017-18. There were rumblings and rumors about Diallo potentially playing for John Calipari’s group last year, but ultimately they stuck to the plan to keep him on the bench and preserve his eligibility. Throughout it all, there was always the specter that Diallo could just decide to go the professional route anyway.

That possibility moved fully into the forefront earlier this month when Diallo showed off a 44.5-inch vertical leap at the NBA Draft combine in Chicago. The 6-foot-5 guard also recorded a wingspan that nearly measured 7-feet. With those types of physical traits, he makes for an awfully interesting professional prospect, regardless of refinement or experience.

Given Diallo’s lack of high-level experience, though, there was no guarantee he’d be a first-round selection as teams would be wary of drafting solely on potential, rather than the mostly they typically do.

“I hope to play in the NBA one day — just not this season,” Diallo said in a statement. “Based on the information I received by testing the waters, I believe it’s in my best interests to return to school. Although I was a part of the team last season and trained with my teammates, I never fulfilled another one of my dreams, which was to play for a major college program and win a national title.

“I am excited about returning to Kentucky for the 2017-18 season. I can’t wait to play in a Kentucky jersey for the first time.”

Going back to Lexington to play college basketball gives Diallo a chance to showcase his skills against competition the NBA will be able to evaluate him against. It also makes Kentucky – surprise, surprise – extremely formidable this season as they, once again, restock the roster with potential lottery- and first-round picks. With Diallo officially in the fold, Kentucky is a no-doubt top-five team that will be among the favorites to cut down the nets in April 2018.

“I’m really proud of Hami,” Calipari said in a statement. “He took in all the information, asked a lot of questions, including questions to the NBA teams. I love the fact that he wants to put himself in a better position and help lead this new team to a championship.
“I can’t wait to get him on the court and have all of you fans see what I know.  He’s a special player and a special person.”

LaVar Ball selling “Stay In Yo Lane” shirts

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Create controversy. Profit from controversy.

It’s not an especially new or original strategy, but it’s one that LaVar Ball continues to try to exploit.

The infamous basketball dad is at it again, looking to capitalize on the uproar/kerfuffle/news cycle/debate/ickiness he created when he belittled FS1’s Kristine Leahy, telling her to “stay in your lane” on multiple occasions when claiming the Big Baller Brand didn’t need to market to women.

Well, they are now, with a nod to Ball’s proclamation, selling “STAY IN YO LANE” tees, for both men and women.

Marketing misogyny. Isn’t that nice.

It’s clear that LaVar Ball isn’t going to shy away from the public spotlight anytime soon, especially with eldest son Lonzo looking destined for the Lakers and middle son LiAngelo set to join UCLA, and he’s going to do his best to use that light to push the BBB franchise that scared away the world’s biggest apparel companies.

This plan has no mystery, subtlety or taste. Which might as well be the Big Baller Brand slogan.

Mykhailiuk returning to Kansas for senior season

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Kansas’ attempt for a 14th consecutive Big 12 title, and run for Bill Self’s second national title, got a shot in the arm Wednesday.

Svi Mykhailiuk announced that he will return to Lawrence for his final season of eligibility. “Senior year going to be fun,” he wrote on his Instagram page.

Senior year gonna be fun😈👌🏼🤘🏼 #KUCMB

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The Jayhawks were already going to be loaded this season with Devonte Graham, a potential All-American, returning for his senior season and Udoka Azubuike healthy after missing last year due to injury along with Malik Newman becoming eligible after a transfer from Mississippi State and recruits Billy Preston and Marcus Garrett bolstering the ranks. The return of Mykhailiuk, though, only solidifies Kansas’ place not only atop the Big 12, but in the country.

Mykhailiuk, a 6-foot-8 forward, had something of a breakthrough season as a junior, posting career highs nearly across the board, including shooting 39.8 percent on nearly five 3-point shot attempts per game. With his size and shooting ability, Mykhailiuk was sure to garner professional interest, even though it would have been more likely than not he would been drafted in the second round of next month’s draft.

Mykhailiuk’s situation is certainly a unique one for college basketball as the Ukraine native enrolled at Kansas in 2014 just after his 17th birthday. He won’t turn 20 until next month, making him the same age as many sophomores and more likely to be viewed by NBA teams in the future as having upside, rather than a typical 22- or 23-year-old senior who scouts look at as having come close to reaching their ceiling.

Mykhailiuk wasn’t going to be the linchpin of Kansas’ success next season, but his decision to return shouldn’t be underestimated. His size, experience, skill and versatility provide the Jayhawks with a real weapon that will help alleviate pressure and expectations from other players up and down the roster. He’s very much a difference-maker for a team that will be contending for a spot in the Final Four.