Victor Oladipo

Dougie McBuckets is new straw poll Player of the Year, but where’s Victor Oladipo?

Leave a comment

The latest Player of the Year straw poll is out, and not surprisingly, it’s topped by the three players that most believe are competing for the award: Doug McDermott (who shall henceforth be referred to only as Dougie McBuckets), Trey Burke and Mason Plumlee.

McDermott had 26 of the 54 first place votes while Burke managed to grab 17 of them and Plumlee notched 10. The remaining first-place vote went to Zeller, an issue I’m going to get to in a minute.

First, the Plumlee discussion. Everyone saw Duke get pulverized by Miami last night, which came after a less-than-inspiring win over Georgia Tech and a loss to NC State prior to that. Plumlee has been a different player in those last three games than he was over the course of the first 15, but that stretch has happened to coincide with the injury to Ryan Kelly. Without Kelly on the floor to draw opposing bigs out of the paint — he shoots over 52% from three — there is less room for Plumlee to operate on the block and less space for Quinn Cook to penetrate, which helps create layups and offensive rebounding lanes for Plumlee.

In short, Plumlee’s not as effective without his front court mate on the floor. We knew this prior to Kelly’s injury, and we’ve had that reinforced since he’s been out. So why should we punish Plumlee, who was absolutely dominant during Duke’s early-season success, because his teammate has a bad foot? If Kelly continues to miss time and Plumlee continues to struggle, than by all means he will drop in these rankings.

But as of right now, none of the other players on this list — including Cody Zeller — deserve to be ranked over him.

Which brings me back to the Indiana center.

Somehow, he managed to finish fourth in the straw poll and earn a first-place, which is ironic since he’s not even the most deserving player on his team. That would be Victor Oladipo. In addition to being the best perimeter defender in the Big Ten this side of Aaron Craft, Oladipo has become one of the most efficient scorers in the country. He’s shooting 55.2% from three — up from 20.8% last year — and while that’s been on limited attempts (16-29), the improvement can be seen in his shooting from inside the arc, where the junior two-guard is shooting 68.7%. Oladipo is also just as good of an offensive rebounder as Zeller.

Zeller’s been very good this year, and perhaps the biggest reason that he’s been seen as a bit of a disappointment this season is that a) he had such high expectations coming into the season and b) the supporting cast he has on this Indiana roster means that he doesn’t need to be the only piece offensively.

But the biggest reason that the Hoosiers a national title favorite this season is the improvement in their defense, and that starts with Oladipo. Throw in his immense development on the offensive end of the floor — Oladipo was a liability last year — and there you have it.

Simply put, there is a reason that Oladipo was a starter on the Dream Team that we put together last week and that Zeller didn’t make the team.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
Leave a comment

Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

Leave a comment

Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
Leave a comment

Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
Leave a comment

Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.