Late Night Snacks: No. 7 Indiana outlasts No. 13 Michigan State

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Game of the Day: No. 7 Indiana 75, No. 13 Michigan State 70

The showdown in Bloomington did not disappoint, with the Hoosiers holding Michigan State scoreless over the final 3:33. Victor Oladipo led the way with 21 points, seven rebounds, six steals and three blocked shots in a performance that should open more eyes when it comes to the Big Ten Player of the Year award. Freshman Gary Harris led Michigan State with 21 points, but with fellow guards Keith Appling and Travis Trice struggling the Spartans fell five points short.

Important Outcomes

1. No. 2 Michigan 74, Illinois 60

With the victory the Wolverines could ascend to the top of the national polls for the first time since the 1992-93 season. Trey Burke scored 19 points and as a team Michigan shot 52.5% from the field. The bad news for John Beilein’s team? Jordan Morgan played just two minutes due to a sprained ankle suffered in the first half, but the contributions of Jon Horford, Mitch McGary and Max Bielfeldt (combined for 17 points and 15 rebounds) more than made up for Morgan’s absence.

2. Niagara 66, Canisius 65 

The “Battle of the Bridge” provided the finish of the day, as Billy Baron’s jumper was ruled to have been released after time expired. A Marvin Jordan three-pointer with 2.9 seconds remaining proved to be the difference, keeping Niagara alone atop the MAAC standings with a 9-1 conference record. Jordan scored a game-high 23 points off the bench for the Purple Eagles, who will look to avenge their lone MAAC defeat on Thursday night when they host 8-2 Iona.

Video from maacsports.com

3. Purdue 65, Iowa 62 (OT) 

If the Hawkeyes are to have any chance of working their way into the NCAA tournament conversation they can ill afford to lose games like this one. Freshman Mike Gesell scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half but ultimately Iowa’s 31.1% shooting from the field was too much to overcome. Terone Johnson led four Boilermakers in double figures with 17 points, and the win moves Purdue to 4-3 in the Big Ten ahead of Wednesday’s game against rival Indiana.

Starred

1. F O.D. Anosike (Siena) 

Anosike was outstanding in the Saints’ 79-75 win at Marist, accounting for 20 points, 21 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocked shots. Anosike is the fourth player this season to put up at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in the same game. Oral Roberts’ Damen Bell-Holter, Towson’s Jerrell Benimon and FIU’s Tymell Murphy are the others.

2. G/F Trevis Simpson (UNC Greensboro) 

Simpson tied a school record for points in a game in the Spartans’ 77-69 win over Chattanooga, scoring 41 points (14-of-25 FG) while also grabbing seven rebounds. This comes on the heels of his scoring 30 on Thursday night to lead UNCG past Samford.

3. F Milton Jennings (Clemson) 

Jennings may have played the best game of his career in the Tigers’ 77-70 win over Virginia Tech. The senior finished with 28 points (6-of-12 FG, 16-of-18 FT) and 14 rebounds, establishing a new career high in points (the rebounds tied a career high).

Struggled 

1. Florida State 

The Seminoles continue to struggle offensively, as evidenced by their 71-47 loss at No. 25 Miami. Florida State shot 30.8% from the field with 11 players managing to score (Ian Miller was the lone player in double figures with 12 points).

2. G Keith Appling and G Travis Trice (Michigan State) 

Struggling to score as Appling and Trice did is one thing, as they combined to shoot 4-of-16 from the field and score 11 points. But nine combined turnovers? Can’t win a road game against a team like Indiana doing that.

3. G/F Dane Miller and F Wally Judge (Rutgers)

Given Connecticut’s struggles in the paint Sunday’s matchup in Hartford seemed to set up as one in which these two could be productive. Miller and Judge (both starters) would combine to play just 30 minutes, finishing with two points and six rebounds on 1-of-5 shooting (all five shots taken by Judge) in the 66-54 loss.

Three Facts 

1. Northeastern expanded their lead in the CAA to three games with a 71-51 win over George Mason in Boston. Quincy Ford and Joel Smith scored 15 points apiece for the Huskies, who haven’t lost since December 29.

2. Lafayette handed Lehigh its first Patriot League loss on Sunday, shooting 70% from the field in the second half of their 78-57 victory at Lehigh. The win moves Fran O’Hanlon’s Leopards to within a game of Lehigh and Bucknell, who are now tied atop the Patriot League standings.

3. St. John’s is now 5-3 in Big East play, a record that has Steve Lavin’s team sitting in a tie for third place with Pittsburgh. D’Angelo Harrison scored 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the Red Storm’s 71-67 win over Seton Hall, and they also have the odds-on favorite for Big East Rookie of the Year in forward JaKarr Sampson.

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

Wichita State getting more national respect with non-conference scheduling

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Wichita State is starting to gain more national respect with regards to its non-conference schedule.

Since moving to the American Athletic Conference this spring, the Shockers have not only gained the benefit of being in a multi-bid league every year, but they’re also getting better teams to play them outside of conference play.

According to a report from Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle, the Shockers now have non-conference games scheduled with Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State this season. With Wichita State also playing in the Maui Invitational, it gives the Shockers plenty of opportunities to schedule quality opponents and improve its NCAA tournament seeding. And that’s before Wichita State starts conference play.

Although Wichita State was getting invited regularly to prestigious non-conference tournaments such as Maui or the Battle 4 Atlantis, they were having a tough time getting certain schools to book home-and-home series. The Baylor series signifies a small, but significant, change to how Wichita State might be able to do things now.

USC forward Bennie Boatwright returning for junior year

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USC has a chance to be really good next season as forward Bennie Boatwright announced that he’s returning for his junior season.

The 6-foot-10 forward put up 15.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 36 percent from three-point range as his return means that the Trojans should be a major contender in the Pac-12 next season. Elijah Stewart also announced this week that he is returning as USC could start Jordan McLaughlin, De’Anthony Melton, Stewart, Boatwright and Chimezie Metu next season.

With Duke transfer Derryck Thornton Jr. also becoming eligible and McDonald’s All-American guard Charles O’Bannon Jr. entering the program, the Trojans are a potential top-10 team.

Following decommitment, four-star recruit makes eye-opening remarks about Ohio State

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Ohio State lost a four-star recruit on Wednesday when in-state Class of 2018 wing Darius Bazley opted to open up his recruitment.

As a rising senior who is just finishing his junior season of high school, Bazley’s decommitment isn’t going to immediately hurt the Buckeyes next season. But the 6-foot-7 wing’s comments about why he opted to open up his recruitment are pretty jarring.

In a story with Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch, Bazley opened up about why he decommitted from Ohio State. Bazley’s eye-opening remarks include how the Buckeyes might not get him ideal NBA exposure and how Ohio State might miss the NCAA tournament in his freshman year.

“I was excited when I first got the offer,” Bazley said to Jardy. “Ohio State is still a great place. It’s nothing against the school or anything, but my one ultimate goal is to get to the NBA and I just didn’t feel as confident as I did when I first committed that Ohio State was one of those schools that could get me there. At the end of the day I’ve got to perform no matter where I go, but I think there’s other schools out there that could put me on a bigger stage and in a better position to show those NBA scouts when I get to college what I can do.”

Bazley also didn’t appear to be pleased at the recruiting class coming into Ohio State for the Class of 2017, which is the class that is coming in this season. Remember, Bazley is a Class of 2018 recruit who still has to finish his senior season.

“Ohio State, they didn’t make the NCAA Tournament this year,” Bazley said to Jardy. “They didn’t even make the NIT, which is unfortunate, but I looked into the recruits they have coming into next year, they didn’t look too good for the future. So I felt like when my class came in, yeah, we would’ve been OK, but good enough to make the tournament? I don’t know. I just felt as if I was to de-commit, actually take my time, figure everything out it would just be a lot better.”

Ohio State was once one of the major destinations for one-and-done players a decade ago so these remarks are very surprising. D’Angelo Russell was a top-five pick in the NBA Draft only two years ago, and while the Buckeyes might not be as successful in recent years as they once were, they still get plenty of national exposure with regards to producing NBA talent.

The NCAA tournament comments might carry some more weight though. The Buckeyes have missed the NCAA tournament in two consecutive seasons and things are also looking difficult for them to reach the Big Dance for next season. If Bazley wants to play in the NCAA tournament, then I could understand him wanting to open things up and explore more options.

Still, you don’t often see a player make comments like this about a school after decommitting–especially a program with as much national exposure as Ohio State. Bazley is likely going to face some heat for his remarks, but if those are his true feelings about a future life decision, then he should explore what else is out there.

Nevada gets transfer commitment from Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman

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Nevada continues to build its roster through transfers as the Wolf Pack added Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman on Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 Thurman will have to sit out one season before playing his senior season but he is coming off of a very good campaign for the Mavericks. The versatile forward put up 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the field.

One of the Summit League’s better players the last two seasons, Thurman should be a solid rotation forward for Nevada as he has a chance to be a breakout player with one more year of development. If Thurman can improve his 25 percent three-point shooting then he could be a major factor for Nevada.

D-League salaries, two-way contracts increase NBA Draft early entries

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Yesterday, I wrote a piece about how it’s dumb to criticize players for entering the NBA Draft without costing themselves their collegiate eligibility when the NCAA’s new NBA Draft rules are specifically designed for said players to be able to do that.

In that column, I mentioned that D-League salaries are on the rise and that the NBA’s new CBA instituted something called “two-way contracts,” and I wanted a chance to elaborate and clarify a couple of the points that I made.

Let’s start with the “two-way contracts,” which NBA teams each get two of. They are essentially a retainer that those teams can place on younger players they want to be the 16th and 17th men on their roster, holding their rights as they bounce between the D-League — where they will likely spend the majority of the year — and the NBA. The catch is that those players have to have less than three years service as a professional, and the point of it is to provide a financial incentive for younger players with the potential to reach the NBA to remain stateside while allowing those NBA teams to develop them.

That financial incentive is fairly large, as well: Two-way players will make $75,000 guaranteed and will be able to make up to $275,000, depending on the amount of time they spend with the NBA team.

That means there are an extra 60 jobs this season that can end up paying players with less than three years of professional basketball experience upwards of a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

That’s not a bad starting salary.

The other point that I wanted to address is the rising D-League salaries which, technically, will not be rising. There are still going to be Tier A and Tier B players, who make $26,000 and $20,000 respectively. But the NBA has something called affiliate players, which each of the now-25 NBA teams with a D-League affiliate can pay up to $50,000 for training camp. NBA teams are allowed a maximum of four affiliate players, who will still make their $26,000 salary from their D-League team.

In other words, that’s 100 more jobs available in the United States where a professional basketball player can make $76,000, and that’s before you consider that the five NBA teams that do not yet have a D-League affiliate will still have to play players to get them into training camp.

That $76,000 is not a life-changing amount of money. Neither is the $275,000 that a two-way contract can pay. But it’s a pretty damn good paycheck to make for an entry-level job into the industry that you always dreamed of being in.

Athletes have an unbelievably small window where they can capitalize monetarily on their gifts.

If a 21-year old sophomore decides that he wants to continue to develop his game and chase his NBA dream by making $76,000 as a D-League player, is that really all that crazy?

After all, 135 of the 450 players, or 30 percent of the roster spots, on NBA’s opening night were taken by guys that had spent time in the D-League.

There’s more than one way to make a dream come true.