Victor Oladipo

New Player of the Year straw poll: Trey Burke and Victor Oladipo go 1, 2

7 Comments has released their latest Player of the Year straw poll, and not surprisingly, Trey Burke of Michigan is still leading the way.

But all of a sudden, Burke has real competition, and not just for National Player of the Year.

Indiana’s Victor Oladipo is making a serious push up the rankings. And deservedly so. Tom Crean’s do-it-all guard has put together just a sensational season, turning himself into not only one of the best on-ball defenders in the country, but also into Indiana’s most dangerous offensive weapon on the perimeter.

Oladipo received 18 of the 51 first place votes, and while that was two behind Burke’s tally of 20, once you factor in Cody Zeller’s two first-place votes — which he got despite not even being the Player of the Year on his own team — this race is getting tighter at the top.

Which is a weird thing to say given the fact that this is as wide-open as I can remember a Player of the Year race being.

Burke and Oladipo are the top two contenders right now, but neither of them have taken the kind of control of the race that Anthony Davis had last season or that the combination of Jimmer Fredette, Kemba Walker and Nolan Smith had in 2011.

Five other players — Doug McDermott, Kelly Olynyk, Cody Zeller, Mason Plumlee and Marcus Smart — received at least one first place vote. The next four on the list — Ben McLemore, Otto Porter, Shane Larkin and Erick Green — all deserve heavy consideration for the top three. And there are even a couple of players — Jeff Withey and Deshaun Thomas, to name a few — who didn’t even make the list in this vote.

(Full disclosure: I had a vote, and may ballot went Burke, Oladipo and Smart, but that was submitted before last night’s performance.)

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out, because if Michigan can’t right their ship and if Cody Zeller comes on strong down the stretch, this whole race will get turned on its head.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Iowa State lands three-star SG Jakolby Long

Steve Prohm
Associated Press
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Iowa State received its fourth verbal commitment in the Class of 2016 Friday morning, as 6-foot-4 shooting guard Jakolby Long made his pledge to Steve Prohm’s program. A native of Mustang, Oklahoma, Long attends Mustang HS and played for the Athletes First grassroots program this summer.

In Nike EYBL play for Athletes First, Long averaged 16.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

According to Cyclone Fanatic, Long was also considering Georgia, Texas and Utah before deciding that he’ll play his college basketball at Iowa State.¬†Long will join junior Matt Thomas, sophomore Hallice Cooke and transfer Nick Babb in the competition for minutes off the ball when he arrives on campus next year. According to Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune, Long could be a in a position where he sees solid playing time immediately.

Long joins junior college products Donovan Jackson and Emmanuel Malou, and 2016 forward Solomon Young in Iowa State’s 2016 class to date. And the Cyclones, who won’t use all 13 scholarships this season, still have room for a couple more additions for next season.

Iowa State has four seniors (Naz Long, Abdel Nader, Georges Niang and Jameel McKay), and junior point guard Monte’ Morris is considered by some to be a candidate to enter the 2016 NBA Draft.

UofL foundation hires firm to review escort allegations

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An independent Louisville affiliate has hired a law firm to review an escort’s allegations that former men’s basketball staffer Andre McGee hired dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players.

The University of Louisville Foundation announced the hiring Thursday of the Stites & Harbison law firm. The foundation does fundraising for the university.

Louisville President James Ramsey also said Thursday he “fully” supports athletic director Tom Jurich “as we work to identify the facts in this situation.” Ramsey reiterated the school has hired former NCAA enforcement official Chuck Smrt to lead the athletic department’s investigation.

Men’s basketball spokesman Kenny Klein had no comment on a CBS Sports report that former Cardinals recruit JaQuan Lyle, now an Ohio State freshman, confirmed the “gist of allegations” detailed in Katina Powell’s book during a meeting Tuesday with the NCAA.

Lyle originally signed with Louisville before de-committing and eventually landing with the Buckeyes. OSU spokesman Dan Wallenberg confirmed the NCAA meeting via email on Wednesday but said there were no issues with Ohio State. He did not mention Louisville.

Powell’s book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen” was released online last weekend by a publishing affiliate of the Indianapolis Business Journal. A hardcover version of the 104-page book is scheduled for release on Monday.

The book states that McGee hired Powell and other dancers, including three of her daughters, for 22 shows allegedly performed from 2010 to 2014 at the players’ Billy Minardi Hall dormitory.

McGee left Louisville in 2014 for Missouri-Kansas City, which placed him on paid leave Friday. A message left Thursday with his Louisville attorney, Scott C. Cox, was not immediately returned. A spokeswoman for IBJ’s publishing arm could not be reached either.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino has said McGee denied Powell’s allegations. In a radio interview Tuesday he denied knowledge of what took place and said last week that others he talked to didn’t know about the activities described in the book.

“I’m going through 15 people who worked here, and not one person even had a premonition of something wrong,” Pitino said Friday. “Not one person living in the dorm had even the slightest premonition. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

The Hall of Fame coach wasn’t mentioned in Ramsey’s statement in which the chancellor praised Jurich’s athletic program as “exemplary” at the school.

“It is important that the university – all of us – stay focused on our day-to-day work of providing our outstanding students with a world-class education,” Ramsey said. “The investigation of the allegations may take time and we must, as one university, continue doing the work we do to move our university and our community forward.”