Indiana v Purdue

Doug McDermott, Cody Zeller among 12 on Oscar Robertson Award midseason watch list

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It was a busy day for the United States Basketball Writers Association on Thursday, as the association released its midseason watch lists for both the Wayman Tisdale and Oscar Robertson awards. The Oscar Robertson Award is given annually to the best player in the country as voted upon by members of the USBWA.

Two teams (Indiana and Kansas) have multiple candidates on the list with the Hoosiers being represented by guard Victor Oladipo and center Cody Zeller, and guard Ben McLemore and center Jeff Withey represent the Jayhawks.

Of the 12 players two are freshmen: McLemore and UNLV forward Anthony Bennett. Seven conferences have players on the list with the Big Ten leading the way with four. In addition to Oladipo and Zeller, Michigan point guard Trey Burke and Ohio State forward Deshaun Thomas are on the watch list.

The full list is as follows:

F Anthony Bennett, UNLV (6-8, 240, Fr., Brampton, Ont.)

G Trey Burke, Michigan (6-0, 190, So., Columbus, Ohio)

G Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse (6-6, 185, So., Hamilton, Mass.)

F Doug McDermott, Creighton (6-8, 225, Jr., Ames, Iowa)

G Ben McLemore, Kansas (6-5, 195, Fr., St. Louis, Mo.)

G Victor Oladipo, Indiana (6-5, 214, Jr., Upper Marlboro, Md.)

F Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga (7-0, 238, Jr., Kamloops, B.C.)

F Mason Plumlee, Duke (6-10, 235, Sr., Warsaw, Ind.)

G Russ Smith, Louisville (6-0, 165, Jr., Brooklyn, N.Y.)

F Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State (6-7, 215, Jr., Fort Wayne, Ind.)

C Jeff Withey, Kansas (7-0, 235, Sr., San Diego, Calif.)

F Cody Zeller, Indiana (7-0, 240, So., Washington, Ind.)

Overall this is a good list, but if there’s one change to consider it would be San Diego State’s Jamaal Franklin in place of Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams, with Franklin currently leading the Aztecs in both points (17.4 ppg) and rebounds (9.4 rpg).

But to be fair to Carter-Williams he has been one of the major reasons why Syracuse has been a Top 10 team all season long, so it’s difficult to say that he doesn’t merit consideration.

And it’s good to see players who have displayed a great amount of improvement over the course of their respective careers (not to mention this season) in Oladipo and Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk get some recognition.

Of the 12 players on this season’s midseason watch list two, McDermott and Zeller, were named to last season’s midseason watch list. Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis won the Oscar Robertson Award last year.

(Note: While a member of the USBWA, I did not have a vote for the midseason list)

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

Kentucky used Calipari-Chaney fight in media training

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Kentucky held some media training sessions yesterday, and one of the topics that head coach John Calipari used to make a point was … his blow-up with John Chaney. The moment was captured on SnapChat by a trio of Kentucky newcomers.

You remember that incident. Chaney, then the head coach at Temple, and Cal, who was coaching Atlantic 10 rival UMass at the time, nearly came to blows over the way that Cal handled officials during the game. Before the video below picks up, the two shared this exchange:

“Could I say this to you, please?” Chaney said, before the video above picks up. “You’ve got a good ball club. But what you did with the officials out there is wrong, and I don’t want to be a party to that. You understand?”

Cal responded: “You weren’t out there, Coach. You don’t have any idea.”

Chaney fired back: “You got a game given to you by officials right here with G.W. on three bad calls, O.K.? Then you send your kids out there pushing and shoving. You had the best officiating you could ever get here. And for you to ride them, I don’t want to be a party to that.”

And that led to “I’ll kill you”:

(h/t KSR)

VIDEO: Shaq’s son, Shareef O’Neal, with monster dunk in Vegas

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Shareef O’Neal is a top 50 prospect in the Class of 2018. In Vegas this past weekend, he threw down a monster put-back dunk.

South Dakota State gets two commits

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Tuesday was a busy and productive one for South Dakota State on the recruiting trail.

The Jackrabbits secured two 2017 commitments from the state of Wisconsin in Ryan Krueger and Alex Arians, a source tells NBCSports.com.

Krueger is a 6-foot-5 wing player from New London, Wisc. while Arians is a 6-foot-4 guard from Madison, Wisc., who also held an offer from Wright State, which is coached by former SDSU coach Scott Nagy. Both players spend their summers playing for the Wisconsin Swing grassroots program.

The pair make it a trio of commits for the Jackrabbits in 2017 with another Wisconsinite, Alou Dillon, pledging to first-year Jackrabbits coach T.J. Otzelberger, himself a Wisconsin native, earlier this summer.

South Dakota State went 26-8 last year and the bulk of the team that made the NCAA tournament last year, including sophomore Mike Daum, who led the team in scoring and rebounding as a freshman.

Incoming Gator freshman ineligible for upcoming season

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Florida will need to wait a year before seeing 6-foot-11 recruit Gorjok Gak playing games for the Gators.

The NCAA ruled that the incoming freshman will be able to enroll at Florida this year and practice with the team, but will be ineligible for games this season, the school announced Tuesday.

Should he meet all his progress marks during his freshman year, he’ll have three seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2017-18.

Gak’s eligibility issue centered on his playing games during his postgraduate year at Victory Rock Prep, according to his coach there.

“Following his graduate year from Australia, he was supposed to play from December to December,” Loren Jackson told the Gainesville Sun, “but instead played from December until the following May.”

Gak originally signed with Oklahoma State, but de-committed following Travis Ford’s firing in Stillwater this past spring. Gak averaged 13.8 points and 9.3 rebounds last season at Victory Rock in Bradenton, Fla.

Florida went 21-15 last season under first-year coach Mike White.

Video: Coach K talks Team USA with Dan Patrick

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Team USA has blown through its competition in its first two exhibition games ahead of next month’s Olympics in Rio De Janeiro with wins over Argentina and China by a combined a combined 96 points.

Tonight, they’ll have a rematch against China, which they defeated 106-57 on Sunday, but it will also serve as the unofficial debut of Kevin Durant in front of his new hometown fans with the game taking place at the home of the Golden State Warriors, Oracle Arena, in Oakland.

“Excited for Kevin tonight to make his debut in front of the Golden State fans,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said Tuesday on the Dan Patrick Show. “He got a great reception (Monday) at a function. He was, as he should be, warmly welcomed.”

The team has been together since July 18 in the run-up to its first Olympic contest on Aug. 6 against China. For Krzyzewski, a couple of players have made an impression already.

“You see these guys on TV,” the Duke coach said, “but I don’t get a chance to see them in person. (Clipper) DeAndre Jordan is such a good player. A great athlete, a great guy. To see him run, defend, holy mackerel. He’ s really good.

“I haven’t seen Paul George in two years when he had that horrific (leg) injury in Las Vegas at one of our camps, and he’s so darn good. On defense, tremendous.”

It’s on the defensive side of the floor that Coach K believes his team can really make its mark even with the incredible collection of offensive talent the roster has.

“We’re very athletic so defensively we could be a very good defensive team,” he said. “We’ve shown a willingness to want to do that in the first two games.”

As usual, Team USA is the prohibitive favorite to bring back gold for the third consecutive Olympics, which will be Coach K’s last at the helm after taking over after the 2004 bronze medal debacle.

“I’m excited about the team,” he said. “It’s a short time. to see our guys working so hard and they get along so well, I’m excited about the team we might be in Rio. We’ll use tonight to get a little bit better.

“I kind of have the blinders on. You only have a short time. It’s a little over a month, and we want to win the gold medal in Rio.”