Southern Illinois Wichita St Basketball

Cleanthony Early: 39 in comeback win. Gregg Marshall: Coach of the Year?

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You see that picture to the right?

The one right next to this text?

It’s Cleanthony Early, and that’s a picture of him not giving a good gull dern about Wichita State’s injury issues.

The Shockers are missing three starters — that includes their best perimeter shooter, Ron Baker, and Carl Hall, who, at the time of his injury, was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder. Throw in the fact that the Shockers were supposed to be in the midst of a rebuilding year because, you know, they lost their top five scorers from a season ago, and there wouldn’t be a single person that would be surprised if Gregg Marshall’s club was scooting along in the bottom half of the always-crazy Missouri Valley.

But no.

After an 82-76 win over Southern Illinois on Wednesday night, Wichita State is 15-1 on the season, 4-0 in the Valley ranked in the top 25. And Early is the biggest reason why. The 6-foot-8 JuCo transfer and Middletown, NY, native went for 39 points in last night’s win, shooting 13-19 from the floor and 5-9 from three as the Shockers came back from an 11 point halftime deficit to beat the Salukis. This came just one game after Early went for 24 points as the Shockers knocked off Bradley on the road.

Now it would be tough to credit Marshall for Early’s performance the past two games. That’s simply a great player being a great player.

But it is easy to credit Marshall for putting his team and his program in a position where they are not only prepared to weather the departure of their top five scorers, but the injury to three starters the following season as well. Marshall is consistently underrated and forgotten when discussing the best coaches in the country, but there no one has done a better job than he has this season.

With all due respect to Tubby Smith, John Groce, Larry Shyatt and every other coach having a great year, if the season ended today, Gregg Marshall would get my mythical vote for National Coach of the Year.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Tennessee G Hubbs undergoes arthroscopic knee surgery

Robert Hubbs III, Anton Beard
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee guard Robert Hubbs won’t practice this week after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Tuesday.

The school said in a news release that Hubbs had it done “to address chronic swelling issues that have been present since the preseason.”

No timetable has been set for when Hubbs could return to action, but he is considered doubtful for Tennessee’s next game on Dec. 12 at Butler. Tennessee (4-3) is in the midst of a 13-day break from games, which marks the program’s longest layoff during a season since December 1967.

Hubbs is averaging 15.3 points per game to rank third on the team. The 6-foot-4 junior has scored at least 13 points in each of Tennessee’s seven games.

Clemson lands 2017 guard

Brad Brownell
AP Photo
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Clemson landed a quality commitment on Tuesday as Class of 2017 guard A.J. Oliver committed to the Tigers. The son of Clemson women’s head coach Audra Smith, Oliver is regarded as a three-star prospect, according to Rivals, although some others view him as a top-100 caliber player.

The 6-foot-4 Oliver attends nearby Daniel High School and should have some time to get acclimated with the players and coaches before he sets foot on campus. A versatile guard who plays hard, Oliver showed that he can make plays with the ball in his hands this summer with the Upward Stars.

Oliver is Clemson’s first commitment in the Class of 2017 and it’s a strong start for head coach Brad Brownell.