University of Miami guard Shane Larkin shoots against University of Illinois forward Tyler Griffey during their third round NCAA basketball game in Austin, Texas

NBA Draft Early Entry losers: Six soon-to-be pros whose loss will sting

1 Comment

With the deadline to enter the NBA Draft having come and gone at midnight on Sunday night — and with the last-minute decisions made by Adreian Payne, Andre Roberson and Isaiah Austin — we now have a full list of all the meaningful college hoopers that made the decision to jump to the league early. 

Here are the early entry’s biggest winners

(CLICK HERE to follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.):

Miami: It’s not exactly a surprise that Miami’s Shane Larkin entered the NBA Draft over the weekend. And it’s probably not the wrong decision, either. Larkin was likely going to be a first round pick before Marcus Smart decided to pull his name out of the draft. But here’s the thing: without Larkin, Miami is going to be in a lot of trouble next year. They lose their top six scorers. Rion Brown is the only rotation player to return. Jim Larranaga’s going to have his work cut out for him.

NC State: After an abysmally disappointing season where the Wolfpack were anything but a top ten team, Mark Gottfried watched as Lorenzo Brown and CJ Leslie both left the program for the NBA, with Rodney Purvis’ transfer coming not too long after. TJ Warren and Tyler Lewis are still around, and the Wolfpack do have a pretty good recruiting class, but it looks like 2013-2014 will be another long season in Raleigh.

Texas: I might as well put Rick Barnes here instead of Texas, because he might end up finding himself on the hot seat after this season. With Myck Kabongo entering the draft, the Longhorns look headed for just a dreadful 2013-2014 season, which is a travesty given the unbelievable amount of hoops talent that the Lone Star State has been producing of late.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks are going to be in some trouble in their back court next season after the departure of BJ Young to the NBA. Mike Anderson’s club, one that plays ’40 Minutes of Hell’ pressure on the defensive end, needs back court depth to be effective.

Georgia: The Mark Fox experiment has not exactly done wonders for Georgia’s basketball program. He’s produced some talent, but that talent hasn’t produced many wins. With Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, by far the best player in his program, heading to the NBA, it looks to be another long season in Athens.

Marquette: With or without Vander Blue on the roster, Marquette was going to have a fairly deep and really talented back court rotation in 2013-2014. But Blue, who is projected to be a second round pick, at best, entered the draft and signed with an agent, meaning that Buzz Williams lost a veteran slasher that was also his best defender. Blue would have had an excellent season with the Golden Eagles as a senior had he returned. Marquette will be fine, but the loss will hurt.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
Leave a comment

The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
Leave a comment

With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.