Late Night Snacks: Statements made on Monday

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Another Big Monday has come and gone with the standard Big 12 and Big East games on tap. Some close match-ups and statements came with the territory. It’s Late Night Snacks.

Game of the night

No. 9 Syracuse 63, No. 25 Notre Dame 47 – The Orange were looking for a win after two-straight losses. They got a solid game from C.J. Fair (below) and shook off a bit of a sluggish offensive start to keep the Fighting Irish at bay in the second half. They never led by less than eight in the second half. Notre Dame has hit a bit of a rough stretch since the win over a ranked Cincinnati team on Jan. 7.

Games of note

Iowa State 83, Oklahoma 64 – This could’ve been a statement game for the Sooners on the road. Instead it was a game that showed the world that Will Clyburn can hoop. He had 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the victory.

No. 23 Pittsburgh 56, Seton Hall 46 – This was close one until Seton Hall’s Fuquan Edwin went down with a sprained ankle. He would return and had the best game of any player on the court (below), but injuries and bad luck keep hampering the Pirates. Pittsburgh got big games from Steven Adams (below) and Lamar Patterson in the victory.

Alcorn State 78, Grambling State 53 – Your weekly update on the only winless team in Division I men’s college basketball. They couldn’t get the first victory of the season, this one a road loss in Lorman, Miss. The loss makes the Tigers 0-20 overall.

Starred 

Jerrelle Benimon, Towson – The Georgetown transfer who is averaging 16.9 points and 11.5 rebounds per game for the Tigers had himself another game in a win over UNC-Wilmington. The junior finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

C.J. Fair, Syracuse – In a win the Orange needed to break a small losing streak, Fair showed the talent that he hasn’t been given credit for this year with 18 points and 10 boards in the win over Notre Dame.

Fuquan Edwin, Seton Hall – Edwin has been the man who has steadied (or at least tried to steady) the rough season for the Pirates. He had 23 points on 43.8-percent shooting at five steals in the loss at Pittsburgh.

Steven Adams, Pittsburgh – In the same game as Edwin, Adams cleaned glass. The freshman from New Zealand finished with eight points and 15 rebounds in the win.

Struggled

Romero Osby, Oklahoma – Osby has been having a great year for the Sooners, avearging 14.2 points and 6.6 rebounds. Monday night didn’t help that. He finished with six points and 6 rebounds on 2-of-10 shooting in loss to Iowa State.

Ben Averkamp, Loyola (Chicago) – Averkamp averages 15.6 points per game for the Ramblers. He clocked out Monday night with only eight points on 2-of-6 shooting a 62-59 loss to Wright State.

Stuffing the stat sheet

Lazabian Jackson, Arkansas-Pine Bluff – The Golden Lions’ senior went for 20 points, five rebounds and five steals (and six turnovers) in a 76-67 victory at Alabama A&M. UAPB is 8-2 in the SWAC, but aren’t eligible for the postseason this year due to low APR scores.

Another solid night to begin the week. Ready to the week ahead. It’s only going to get better.

 Follow David on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Florida State picks up late commit from McDonald’s All-American

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The losses sustained by Florida State have been numerous and significant. Three players declared early for the NBA Draft. Another two contributors were lost to graduation. All in all, the Seminoles haven’t had the greatest of springs.

Wednesday, though, they got some good news.

McDonald’s All-American wing M.J. Walker committed Leonard Hamilton’s program to give Florida State a late, and important, addition to its 2017 recruiting class, beating the likes of Ohio State, Georgia Tech and UCLA.

Walker, a 6-foot-5 guard, gives the Seminoles yet another five-star prospect after landing Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac in the last two recruiting classes. Walker will help Hamilton and Co. reboot after both Bacon and Isaac, along with Xavier Rathan-Mayes, all left school to pursue professional careers after the Seminoles’ 26-9 season that saw them advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Walker becomes the sixth member of Hamilton’s 2017 recruiting class that was previously headlined by four-star 7-footer Ikechukwu Obiagu. That group will be tasked to retool a team losing not only major NBA-level talent, but also major production. The Seminoles won’t return a single player who averaged double-digit points per-game last year and just one who played at least 20 minutes per night.

Michigan returns Mo Wagner, loses D.J. Wilson

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The best-case scenario did not take place for Michigan this week.

The Wolverines waited for four weeks to hear back from their pair of mobile big men, and the news on Mo Wagner was positive. The 6-foot-10 junior from Germany announced on Wednesday that he will return to school after testing the NBA Draft waters.

The news was not as fortunate with D.J. Wilson, who announced less than ten hours before the deadline that he will be signing with an agent and turning pro. Wilson is projected as a late first round or early second round pick.

Without Wilson in the fold, Michigan lacks some front court depth, which will probably be enough to keep them out of the preseason top 25.

Gonzaga to return Johnathan Williams III

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Losing Nigel Williams-Goss and Zach Collins to the professional ranks probably torpedoed Gonzaga’s chance of making another run to the NCAA tournament national title game, but after Johnathan Williams III announced on Wednesday that he will be returning to school and withdrawing from the NBA Draft, Gonzaga does appear to be a favorite to win the WCC title again.

Williams is now Gonzaga’s leading returning scorer and rebounder, anchoring a front court that also loses Przemek Karnowski to graduation. He was expected to go undrafted.

With Williams back in the fold, the Zags should be right there with Saint Mary’s in the race for the WCC title. Josh Perkins, Silas Melson and Killian Tillie all return as well.

ESPN was the first to report the news.

Injured Gamecocks point guard Blanton gives up basketball

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina guard TeMarcus Blanton is giving up basketball after struggling with a serious hip injury he suffered before his freshman season.

Gamecocks coach Frank Martin says Blanton told him he could not get his body to respond to a level that would allow him to continue playing basketball. Blanton is a 6-foot-5 junior from Locust Grove, Georgia, who hurt his hip during preseason for the 2014-15 season. He needed surgery and could not return to the court until his sophomore year.

Blanton played in 29 games, averaging 1.4 points a game.

He said on social media he is grateful to his coaches, teammates and South Carolina fans, “but my journey of basketball has come to an end.”

Blanton received a medical exemption from the Southeastern Conference to remain part of the Gamecocks’ program moving forward.

North Carolina’s Tony Bradley to remain NBA Draft

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For the first time in a decade and just the third time in 14 seasons as UNC’s head coach, Roy Williams has a one-and-done player.

North Carolina’s Tony Bradley will sign with an agent and remain in the NBA Draft.

Bradley had an impressive freshman season, averaging 7.1 points and 5.1 boards in less than 15 minutes per game as the sixth-man for the national title-winning Tar Heels. He initially declared for the draft without signing with an agent, testing the waters, and the feedback was positive: He’ll likely be a late first round or early second round pick.

As the process dragged on, it became fairly evident that Bradley would keep his name in the draft, and that is a massive blow for a UNC team that is already losing Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks, not to mention Justin Jackson.

As it stands, Roy Williams will likely start the following lineup next season: Joel Berry II, Kenny Williams and Theo Pinson on the perimeter with Luke Maye and either Brandon Huffman or Garrison Brooks, both freshmen, alongside him. Williams is one of the few coaches left in the sport that still relies on playing two bigs and utilizing an overwhelming front court to win games, and that is not going to be an easy thing to do with that group of bigs.

UNC’s perimeter is strong. Berry will likely be a preseason all-american while Pinson and Williams are both above average role players on the wings.

But without that hoss in the paint — Bradley, like Berry, would have popped up on preseason all-american teams — the Tar Heels are going to have a tough time making a run at an ACC title, let alone a third straight trip to the national title game.

North Carolina is currently ranked 18th in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.