Marcus Smart, Elijah Johnson

Bill Self lays into Kansas: “We don’t have a point guard”

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Bill Self was not happy about the way that his Kansas team lost to Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon. The Jayhawks erased a 14 point deficit in the first half and took the lead for a stretch in the second half, but the Cowboys were able to close in the final four minutes thanks to a terrific performance from Marcus Smart. And Self? He let loose with some vicious verbal barbs in the post game press conference:

“We have been getting unbelievably poor play from some individuals and we have got to do a better job teaching them.”

“I wish we could play without guards to be honest with you, but that would be kind of an ugly game if you have five big guys playing out there at all times.”

“It’s a joke what we did today.”

“We are mentally tough in some ways, but physically this is our softest group of all time. We have never had a team like this.”

It’s atypical to hear a coach avoid the standard sporting cliches after a game and really unleash on his team like this, but Self has a right to be frustrated. The Jayhawks have not played well, especially on the offensive end of the floor, in Big 12 play. We’ve all seen the horrid turnovers that are starting to pop up, especially over the course of the last two games, but there’s more to it than that.

Kansas hasn’t been executing their sets well offensively, but that tends to happen in league play. There’s a familiarity in the league. Everyone knows what Self wants to run at this point in the season. Defenses are going to be more prepared and offenses are going to run into situations where they need to rely on individual creativity to score their points.

And that’s the crux of the problem for the Jayhawks.

“We don’t have a point guard,” Self told the Topeka Capital-Journal after the game. “It’s sad. […] We were definitely a better team with (Johnson) sitting down next to us and putting somebody else in the game.”

This isn’t a surprise. We knew heading into the season that Johnson would be making a transition to the point guard spot and that he would be doing so because Naadir Tharpe is not ready to run the show. But it is a concern to hear about it at this stage of the season, because at this point in the year, the problem isn’t getting fixed easily. If they haven’t come up with an answer by now, they aren’t going to.

That issue is exacerbated by the fact that the guy that’s supposed to be the Jayhawk’s go-to scorer is at his most effective in transition, coming off of screens, and when he’s spotting up and taking catch-and-shoot threes. According to Synergy, 58% of his offense comes out of those situation.

Only 16% comes in situations where McLemore has to create for himself — 11% in the pick-and-roll and just 5% in isolations. That totals 62 possessions for McLemore, and he’s scoring just 0.774 PPP in those 62 possessions. When you “don’t have a point guard” and your most talented offensive player can’t create for himself, your offensive is going to bog down at times.

The good news?

Those offensive struggles aren’t why the Jayhawks lost on Saturday.

They lost because they couldn’t stop Markel Brown in the first half and because Marcus Smart got two offensive rebounds and putbacks in the final four minutes. Those are issues that won’t rear their head too often for Kansas.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Auburn continues to stockpile talent, adds top 50 prospect in 2017

Bruce Pearl
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
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Auburn’s hire of Bruce Pearl was almost universally lauded as the first step towards the return of relevance for the Tiger basketball program.

And while the results have yet to shine through on the floor, Pearl is unequivocally stockpiling the kind of talent that will allow him to push for trips to the NCAA tournament and maybe one day contend for a league crown with Kentucky.

The latest step came on Sunday, when Pearl landed a commitment from Chuma Okeke, a top 50 wing prospect out of Georgia.

“He is a versatile wing who can handle and score,” said NBCSports.com recruiting analyst Scott Phillips. “Coming off of a big July, Okeke could move up the national rankings and Auburn pounced on him right away.”

Okeke joins big man Austin Wiley, a top ten player in the class, and Davion Mitchell, who is likely one of the five best point guards in the country, in what is currently the nation’s best recruiting class in 2017. That’s before you consider that Pearl already has Mustapha Heron, a top 25 prospect, joining the mix this season.

“This group has the makings of a monster recruiting class for Auburn,” Phillips said.

Okeke picked the Tigers over Florida State, Georgia and a number of other programs across the southeast.

VIDEO: Watch Virginia freshman Jay Huff dunk from the free throw line

Tony Bennett
AP Photo/Nell Redmond
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Jay Huff is a member of Tony Bennett’s best recruiting class to date, a 6-foot-11 top 50 recruit from North Carolina.

He also happens to be pretty athletic.

Don’t believe me?

Check out this video that McDonald’s All-American Kyle Guy tweeted out on Sunday night:

Yup, that’s Huff taking off from the foul line to dunk.

Not bad, young fella.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)

POSTERIZED: Class of 2016 forward Chris Seeley has a massive dunk on defender

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The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.

At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.

The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.