CJ McCollum is not an example of why staying in school is wrong

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Over the weekend, CJ McCollum broke the fifth-metatarsal in his right foot as Lehigh visited VCU, an injury serious enough that it essentially ended any chance of McCollum suiting up for a regular season college basketball game ever again.

On Monday, David Steele of the Sporting News filed a column that essentially said McCollum’s injury is yet another example of why players should leave for the seven figure contracts of the NBA when their stock is the highest. If you remember, after sparking the Mountainhawks to an upset of Duke in the opening round of the 2012 NCAA tournament, McCollum declared for the draft but eventually ended up pulling his name out and, obviously, returning to school for his senior year.

In principle, I agree with Steele. The career of a professional athlete is limited. Eventually, knees break down and backs give out as old age kicks in, with each offseason bringing in a new crop of physically blessed 20 year olds that want nothing more than to win your job.

I firmly believe that it makes sense to capitalize on those physical gifts as much as possible. That’s why I think that it’s silly when a guy that’s a lock for the first round returns to school. If you’re looking to set yourself up financially for life and provide for your family, why would you pass on the guaranteed, seven-figure contract that will allow you to avoid pretending to care about class and get rid of those pesky practice limits?

But here’s the problem with Steele’s argument: McCollum was not one of those guys. There was no guarantee that he would get picked in the first round last season. He’s a 6-foot-3 scoring guard whose strength is as a slasher. He’s Dwyane Wade minus three inches and no where near as explosive. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great player, but he would have been one of those guys sweating out the end of the first round, hoping that someone was willing to make an investment on him.

The same can be said for Mike Moser, another guy that has been injured this season after returning to school. Steele uses him in his argument as well. Moser was terrific last season, but he’s a combo-forward that’s not strong enough to play in the post in the NBA and that shot 33.1% from three last season. He may have gotten drafted, but it all-likelihood it would have been in the second round.

Those two both came back to school for three reasons:

1) A chance for another season playing with their teammates. We can make fun of college sports for simply being a proving ground for the next level, but that doesn’t change the fact that those 19 and 20 year olds become a family during their time together.

2) The opportunity to spend another season working on their game and proving themselves for the next level. McCollum had been shooting the ball much, much better this season and, prior to the injury, was projected as a lottery pick by DraftExpress.com. Moser, before the injury, was going to get a chance to prove himself on the perimeter as UNLV’s front line is populated by Anthony Bennett and Khem Birch.

3) The 2013 Draft is wide-open. Think about it like this: Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones III, two guys that could have been top five picks in 2011, went late in the 20’s in 2012. Those are the guys that McCollum and Moser would have been battling with to earn a spot in the first round.

Steele is right.

It’s dumb to return to school and risk injury when you have guaranteed millions staring you in the face.

But neither Moser nor McCollum were in that situation.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

No. 12 Duke beats No. 11 Clemson as defensive resurgence continues

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Grayson Allen finished with 19 points, four assists and four steals, scoring 17 of his points in the first half, and Wendell Carter added 15 points, 10 boards and three blocks as No. 12 Duke won their fourth straight game without Marvin Bagley III, 66-57.

No. 11 Clemson was short-handed as well, and that’s something that needs to be noted. Not only are they playing without Donte Grantham, who tore his ACL earlier this year, but Shelton Mitchell was not in the lineup after suffering a nasty concussion at Florida State on Wednesday.

The Tigers were a No. 3 seed when the bracket reveal occurred last Sunday, but like Ohio State and Oklahoma, they have now lost back-to-back games; 11 of the top 16 teams have lost a game in the last week.

But the story here more than anything is Duke.

Yes, Allen finished with 19 points and continues to play well without Bagley on the floor. Getting him into a rhythm is critically important for this team. He was averaging 14.7 points in 24 games with Bagley. He is averaging 22.3 points in the last three games that Bagley has missed, and that does not include the 37-point outburst he had when Bagley went down with an injury against Michigan State.

Coach K also has had a chance to develop some confidence in his bench. Javin DeLaurier had 10 boards on Sunday. Marques Bolden didn’t play a done of minutes, but he still finished with five points, three boards and a pair of blocks. He was, generally speaking, a positive influence on the game.

But here is the most important and perplexing nugget: Duke, for the third straight game, was excellent defensively. They’ve now allowed fewer than 1.0 points-per-possession in each of the last three games. They are clearly not the same time offensively without Bagley’s presence on the floor, but it is impossible to ignore what they have been defensively in the last 10 days without him.

The question we need to ask is whether or not that will continue once Bagley makes his return.

Because the only thing standing between Duke and a Final Four is their inability to defend.

No. 8 Ohio State falls at No. 22 Michigan, Michigan State moves into first in Big Ten

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After all of the drama and the speculation about whether or not Ohio State or Purdue was the best team in the Big Ten, water has seemingly found its level.

On Sunday afternoon in Ann Arbor, No. 8 Ohio State lost their second straight game, falling 74-62 at No. 22 Michigan and allowing No. 2 Michigan State — who had one of college basketball’s greatest comebacks on Saturday at Northwestern — to slide into sole possession of first place in the Big Ten with just one week left of the regular season.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman led the way with 17 points while Jordan Poole added 15 off the bench in the win.

The Wolverines did a good job of slowing down Ohio State’s all-american forward, Keita Bates-Diop. KBD finished with 17 points and seven boards, but he shot just 5-for-17 from the floor. Jae-Sean Tate led the way with 20 points and 15 boards for the Buckeyes.

There was a special moment before this game even started as Austin Hatch, a two-time survivor of plane crashes that killed his entire immediate family, took part in the team’s Senior Day.

VIDEO: Michigan celebrates plane crash survivor Austin Hatch’s Senior Day

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If you don’t know the story of Michigan senior Austin Hatch, you should.

He’s survived two plane crashes in his life. The first, in 2003, robbed him of his mother, 11-year old sister and five-year old brother. In 2011, to celebrate his commitment to the Wolverines, Hatch’s father flew them up to the family’s vacation home, but the plane crashed into a garage killing Hatch’s dad and his stepmom and leaving Austin critically injured.

He had a severe brain trauma, a punctured lung, broken ribs and a broken collarbone, and in order to manage the swelling in his brain, he was put into a medically-induced coma for eight months.

He managed to return and even played for the Wolverines during the 2014-15 season, but he eventually made the decision to retire from basketball at the end of the year. He did, however, remain a part of the program and on Sunday, during Michigan’s Senior Day, he warmed up with the team and was introduced to the crowd as a starter and no, I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying:

Bubble Banter: All of Sunday’s bubble action in one place

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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Sunday.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

YET TO PLAY

SETON HALL
NEBRASKA
HOUSTON
TEMPLE
PENN STATE

Gamecocks reserve guard Kory Holden leaves team

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — Injured South Carolina guard Kory Holden has left the team.

Gamecocks coach Frank Martin announced Holden’s decision Saturday, before South Carolina took on No. 10 Auburn at home.

Holden is a 6-foot-1 fourth-year junior who had sat out last season for the Gamecocks after transferring from Delaware. He was expected to be a big part of South Carolina’s backcourt this season with the departures of guards Sindarius Thornwell, Duane Notice, P.J. Dozier and Justin McKie from last year’s Final Four team.

Instead, Holden played just 14 games off the bench and missed the past 11 games with a hamstring strain. He had averaged about 11 minutes and 3.4 points per game this season.