‘Nova building tournament-worthy resume. Can they win in March?

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It was senior night in Villanova, but a sophomore led the Wildcats to a Big Dance resume-enhancing win over No. 17 Marquette.

Darun Hilliard came up huge for a team teetering on the bubble, pouring in 22 points to help his team defeat the Golden Eagles 60-56. Another sophomore, JayVaughn Pinkston, chipped in 11, as did freshman phenom Ryan Arcidiacono. Maphtou Yarou was the only senior to have a strong showing, adding 10 points and 7 tough rebounds in a crucial win.

The Wildcats will have to win out to exceed 20 wins in the regular season, but they’re over .500 in the Big East, and that’s not chicken feed. They own big wins over Syracuse, Louisville and now Marquette – all on their home floor. Their only really bad loss is to Columbia, but there have been a few too many losses of any sort – ten overall at this point – to call the Wildcats a lock for an NCAA berth just yet. They’re tough at home, where they’ll face Georgetown to end the season in March, but they’re wobbly on the road, where they’ll spend the next week, with dates at Seton Hall and Pitt.

Villanova may very well end up with a tourney-worthy resume, but the question then becomes, do they have a tourney-worthy team? By which I mean, can they make it to the second week with the players they have, or will they be a novelty upset pick that fades away?

The answer to that question is partially coded in the first sentence of this article. ‘Nova has dynamite players who lack experience. Senior Yarou in the post is a big plus for a young team, but the real March pressure will fall on the shoulders of a young guard corps led by freshman Arcidiacono. He’ll need to show, over the next few weeks, that he can continue to direct Villanova’s offense through a series of gut-checks that won’t end until the season is over, one way or another.

The television-producer cliche is to cut away to a shot of the Rocky statue during games in Philadelphia. To extend the metaphor, right now Villanova looks like a team with a puncher’s chance in March. If they can take a couple of eight counts and still bounce back for the unlikely win on the road, like they have at home, there could be great days ahead.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Memphis center Karim Sameh Azab diagnosed with leukemia

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Memphis center Karim Sameh Azab announced on Saturday that he’s been battling leukemia lymphoma.

The 6-foot-11 big man from Egypt has been receiving medical treatment since the beginning of April as he took to Twitter to announce his current status.

Sameh Azab played in 15 games this season for the Tigers as he saw action for 84 total minutes. The reserve big man was a late addition in former head coach Tubby Smith’s first recruiting class at Memphis as he didn’t quality to play during his first season.

“Karim has my full support and the support of our whole team,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said in a statement earlier this month. “While we appreciate the support of the Tiger family in this matter, we would also like to protect the privacy of Karim and his family.”

South Dakota State’s Mike Daum declares for 2018 NBA Draft without an agent

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South Dakota State big man Mike Daum will enter the 2018 NBA Draft without an agent, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 redshirt junior has been a mid-major draft darling the past few seasons as Daum was one of the most productive players in the country last season. Putting up 23.9 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, Daum shot 46 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range during the season.

With his size and unique floor-spacing ability, Daum is going to be an interesting player to track during the NBA draft process. Teams are always looking for big men who can space the floor, and if Daum shoots well in workouts, he could wind up staying in the draft.

If Daum returns to South Dakota State, then he once again makes them a major NCAA tournament contender after the Jackrabbits won the Summit League last season.

Marquette lands Fordham grad transfer Joseph Chartouny

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Marquette pulled in a quality graduate transfer commitment on Friday as Fordham guard Joseph Chartouny pledged to the Golden Eagles.

The 6-foot-3 Chartouny was a three-year starter for the Rams as he should help offset the loss of guard Andrew Rowsey to graduation. While Chartouny isn’t nearly the perimeter threat that Rowsey was, he should be able to help significantly on the defensive end for Marquette. Chartouny put up 12.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.3 steals per game last season as he was one of the more productive all-around players in the Atlantic 10.

One of the nation’s leaders in steals the past three seasons, Chartouny has much better size to play alongside Markus Howard in the Marquette backcourt than Rowsey (5-foot-11) had. Since Howard is also 5-foot-11, Chartouny can now guard the bigger and more athletic perimeter matchup as Marquette tries to improve its porous defense from last season.

Marquette still has an open scholarship for next season as they’ve been investigating other transfer options to bolster the roster. Returning most of last season’s roster, the expectation will be for the Golden Eagles to make it back to the NCAA tournament next season.

Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

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Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

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Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.