2012-2013 NBCSports.com Postseason Awards

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PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Trey Burke, Michigan

We wrote about this on Thursday, so I’m not going to go into too much detail about this again. The bottom-line? Burke is averaging 19.1 points and 6.9 assists while posting one of the best individual seasons in the history of the efficiency era. He’s playing on a top ten team that is just as young as Kentucky’s team was when they won the 2012 National Title, and he does everything for them. Oh, and if this shot had fallen to the right instead of to the left, the Wolverines would be co-Big Ten champions.

Otto Porter is phenomenal, but you cannot forget about the way he played early in the season. Victor Oladipo has been great, but he’s a glorified role player (that’s a compliment) on arguably the best team in the country. Burke’s carried one of the youngest teams in the country.

Co-COACH OF THE YEAR: Jim Larranaga, Miami, and Jim Crews, St. Louis

I was glad when our voting ended with Larranaga and Crews tied, because I think that it’s impossible to differentiate between these two.

What Larranaga did at Miami this year was amazing. He took a team that no one expected much out of at a program that’s an afterthought at their own school, let alone in the ACC, and took them to an outright regular season title. He turned Shane Larkin from a kid that was going to DePaul to an ACC Player of the Year candidate as a sophomore. And he did it with the guys that he had; he didn’t need to bring in a dozen McDonald’s All-American and JuCo transfers.

But Crews?

He kept a team together after the coach that recruited all of them left the team in the offseason and passed away on Dec. 1st. Read this story. And now think about the fact that the Billikens are the outright winners of the Atlantic 10 despite playing the first month of the season without their starting point guard, Kwamain Mitchell. What he’s done on the court is incredible. What he’s done with this group off it is probably even more special. He deserves the recognition.

source:  FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State

Despite losing two key players at the start of the season to injury, the Cowboys surprised much of the country and finished third in the Big 12. The biggest reason for that? Marcus Smart. Yes, Markel Brown turned himself into an excellent and dangerous perimeter scorer and LeBryan Nash took over his fair share of games, but it was Smart’s intangibles — the leadership, the winning attitude, the numerous big plays late in games — to go along with his 15.1 points, 5.7 boards, 4.3 assists and 3.0 steals that made the difference.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER: Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga

This was easy. Olynyk went from a seldom-used sophomore to a first-team all-american as a redshirt junior. His emergence is the reason that the Zags went from being a good team to the No. 1 team in the country. Any argument to the contrary is foolish.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jeff Withey, Kansas

Withey’s shot-blocking ability is well-known at this point. He’s sixth-nationally in block percentage, anchoring the defense of a team that is sixth in the country (according to Kenpom), while leading the nation in defensive effective field goal percentage and defensive two-point FG%. And while he didn’t finished the season as the nation’s leading shot-blocker, the biggest reason for that is the way that teams game-planned around him.

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.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

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Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

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De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.

Vanderbilt the sixth Kentucky player declares for the NBA draft

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Jarred Vanderbilt is now the sixth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the NBA draft this spring, joining P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel in testing the waters without signing with an agent.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have all declared for the draft and signed with an agent.

Vanderbilt announced his decision on Friday afternoon.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said. “At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA.”

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school.”

Vanderbilt missed the first 17 games of his freshman season with a left foot injury, a foot that he had injured twice before during his high school career. He then missed all four of Kentucky’s postseason games with a left ankle injury, and there is a chance that he could end up needing surgery to correct this issue this offseason.

All told, the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt played in 14 games as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 boards in just 17 minutes a night. But issues with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and a lower left leg that has proven to be extremely problematic, there is a good chance that Vanderbilt would go undrafted should he decide to turn pro.