Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum to miss 8-10 weeks with broken fifth metatarsal in left foot

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The news that many in the college basketball world feared on Saturday evening came to pass on Sunday, as Lehigh head coach Dr. Brett Reed revealed that star guard C.J. McCollum will miss anywhere from eight to ten weeks with a broken bone in his left foot.

McCollum suffered a broken fifth metatarsal in the first half of the Mountain Hawks’ 59-55 loss at VCU, and was seen on camera upon his return to the bench in the second half telling a teammate that he broke his foot.

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Through 12 games the Patriot League Player of the Year averaged 23.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game for Lehigh, who is looking to return to the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row and the third time in four seasons.

The question now, with conference play beginning next Saturday against Holy Cross (Lehigh plays Muhlenberg on Tuesday night), is whether McCollum’s injury means that the Mountain Hawks can forget about winning the Patriot League regular season title.

While this news makes a Bucknell team led by Mike Muscala the favorite to win the title (the Bison won the regular season title last year but fell to Lehigh in the Patriot League title game), ruling out Dr. Reed’s team out would be a mistake.

Lehigh has three other players averaging double figures with senior forward Gabe Knutson (15.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg) leading the way, and with he, senior forward Holden Grenier and junior guard Mackey McKnight the Mountain Hawks have plenty of experience (not to mention skill) to call on.

With McCollum sitting out due to an ankle injury Lehigh hung 90 points on North Texas on December 20, shooting 48.5% from the field (and 11-of-23 from three) and assisting on 21 of their 32 made field goals. Knutson (28 points) and McKnight (25) led the way offensively on that night.

If McCollum’s recovery time is closer to eight weeks than ten the senior could return in time for the Patriot League tournament, which begins on March 6.

But with the NBA future that McCollum is projected to have don’t expect anyone involved to risk that if he isn’t 100%.

“We are going to make sure C.J. is fully recovered and will place the highest priority on quality of care and be certain the injury has healed properly before full activity is resumed,” Dr. Reed said according to Nicole Auerbach of USA Today.

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

Felder no longer part of South Carolina basketball program

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina point guard Rakym Felder is no longer part of the Gamecocks basketball team.

Felder, a key freshman reserve for South Carolina’s Final Four team two years ago, was dismissed from the program by coach Frank Martin on Monday.

The 5-foot-10 Felder, from Brooklyn, New York, was suspended last summer after his second arrest in less than a year. Felder was not enrolled last fall. He was allowed to return in the spring semester although he did not play.

Martin said there were guidelines Felder had to follow upon coming back “and unfortunately, he has not met those expectations.”

Martin has not detailed those guidelines for Felder’s return to the court.

Felder had 15 points in South Carolina’s NCAA Tournament win over Duke in 2017

Washington’s Thybulle returning for senior season

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Matisse Thybulle will return to Washington for his senior season after contemplating declaring for the NBA draft following a junior campaign in which he was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the year.

“The NBA is really enticing and it was definitely something that I seriously considered when the season was over,” Thybulle told the Seattle Times. “I talked it over with my family and we came to the conclusion that it would be in my best interest to stay and get my degree (in communications) and grow as a basketball player and take this last year to mature and fine tune everything so I can be fully prepared to take that next step when it’s time.”

The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 11.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game last season. He shot 44.5 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from 3-point range.

“I talked to coach (Mike Hopkins) and he gave me some good advice that was honestly something that helped in the grand scheme of things,” Thybulle said. “He told me that if I do it (enter the draft), then I should be all in because that’s what I’m going to be up against is a whole bunch of guys fighting for their lives. He thought it would be a better idea for me to stay in school until I’m at that point.”

Washington is awaiting the decision of Noah Dickerson, who declared for the draft but has not hired an agent. The 6-foot-8 averaged 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds last season.

Koby McEwen transferring to Marquette

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Steve Wojciechowski added a significant piece to his 2019-20 team over the weekend.

Koby McEwen announced his intention to transfer to Marquette from Utah State late Sunday evening.

“I would like to thank God, my family, inner circle and all the schools/coaches that recruited me during this process!” McEwen tweeted. “With that being said, I’m proud to announce that I’ll be furthering my college career at Marquette University.”

McEwen picked the Golden Eagles over fellow finalists Creighton and Grand Canyon after he decided to transfer when the Aggies announced South Dakota coach Craig Smith was taking over the program last month. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore.

After sitting out the upcoming season, McEwen will have to years of eligibility remaining. Marquette went 21-14 last season, but missed the NCAA tournament for the third time in Wojciechowski’s four years in Milwaukee.

Minnesota adds Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis

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Minnesota has added some depth for the future.

The Golden Gophers received a pledge from Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis over the weekend, giving him a guard with two seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2019-20.

Willis will sit out the upcoming season under NCAA transfer rules.

The 6-foot-4 guard played a limited role in two seasons in Nashville, never averaging more than 18. 5 minutes or 5.2 points per game. He scored in double figures in three games as a sophomore.

Willis was a top-150 prospect in the Class of 2016 coming out of Fayetteville, Ark. with offers from the likes of Tulsa, Rice and Dayton. Vandy and Minnesota were his two high-major offers.

After being ranked in the top-15, Minnesota was beset by injury and suspensions last season as they limped to the finish line in a 15-17 season that featured losses in 12 of its last 13 games.

Richard Pitino still has two available scholarships for the 2018-19 campaign.

Report: Quade Green returning to Kentucky

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John Calipari just landed a critical recruit for 2018-19, and he was already on the roster.

Quade Green, who averaged 25 minutes per game last season, is returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season, his mother told the Lexington Herald-Leader on Monday.

Given that six Wildcat players have entered the draft (Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hami Diallo are signing with agents), getting the 6-foot point guard back for a second season is a massive deal for Calipari and Co. The Wildcats have always been at their best under Calipari with returning players as the cornerstones of the roster with talented one-and-dones providing the extra boost. Getting one such returner at the point guard position is even more critical.

Green, who came to Kentucky as a five-star recruit last year, averaged 9.3 points and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and a respectable 37.1 percent from 3-point range, an area where Kentucky continually needs help.

With Green back in the fold, Kentucky will now await the decisions of PJ Washington, Wenyen Gabriel and Jarred Vanderbilt, who are all going through the pre-draft process without hiring agents, which will potentially allow them to return to school and bolster a Kentucky roster has the look of a top-five team.