Kansas puts together loaded non-conference slate for 2013-14

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Even with the loss of all five starters from this season’s Big 12 champion squad, Kansas head coach Bill Self won’t be accused of ducking competition in 2013-14.

Kansas released its non-conference schedule on Thursday, and to say the least the Jayhawks will be well-tested by the time Big 12 play rolls around.

In addition to appearances in the Champions Classic (vs. Duke in Chicago) and the Battle 4 Atlantis, Kansas has road games against Colorado and Florida while also welcoming solid mid-majors such as Iona and Towson to Lawrence.

Oh, there are also games against New Mexico (in Kansas City), Georgetown and San Diego State.

“We’ve always played a schedule that has a great RPI (rating percentage index) and we’ve always played a tough non-conference schedule that prepared us for the league, but this year our schedule will rival any schedule that we’ve ever played,” Self said in the release.

“Duke, at Colorado, at Florida, New Mexico, Georgetown, San Diego State, then you throw in the Battle 4 Atlantis and other schools that have experienced success of late – this will certainly be as difficult a schedule, especially when you’re replacing five starters.

“This is probably not the brightest thing I’ve done since I’ve been here, but it’s a schedule that will force us to get ready at an accelerated pace.”

Also taking part in the Battle 4 Atlantis are Iowa, Xavier, UTEP, Villanova, Tennessee, Wake Forest and USC. The Jayhawks’ full non-conference schedule breaks down as follows:

Oct. 29 (Tuesday) – PITTSBURG STATE, Lawrence, Kan. (Exhibition)

Nov. 5 (Tuesday) – FORT HAYS STATE, Lawrence, Kan. (Exhibition)

Nov. 8 (Friday) – LOUISIANA MONROE, Lawrence, Kan.

Nov. 12 (Tuesday) – Duke, Chicago, Ill. (Champions Classic, United Center)

Nov. 19 (Tuesday) – IONA, Lawrence, Kan.

Nov. 22 (Friday) – TOWSON, Lawrence, Kan. (Battle 4 Atlantis first round game)

Nov. 28 (Thursday) – TBD, Paradise Island, Bahamas (Battle 4 Atlantis)

Nov. 29 (Friday) – TBD, Paradise Island, Bahamas (Battle 4 Atlantis)

Nov. 30 (Saturday) – TBD, Paradise Island, Bahamas (Battle 4 Atlantis)

Dec. 7 (Saturday) – at Colorado, Boulder, Colo.

Dec. 10 (Saturday) – at Florida, Gainesville, Fla.

Dec. 14 (Saturday) – NEW MEXICO, Kansas City, Mo. (Kansas City Shootout at Sprint Center)

Dec. 21 (Saturday) – GEORGETOWN, Lawrence, Kan.

Dec. 30 (Monday) – TOLEDO, Lawrence, Kan.

Jan. 5 (Sunday) – SAN DIEGO STATE, Lawrence, Kan.

The Jayhawks have won at least a share of the last nine Big 12 regular season titles, a streak that could be in jeopardy based not only on the talent leaving Lawrence but also returning to Baylor and Oklahoma State.

But if anything has been learned during Self’s tenure it’s to not write off the Jayhawks. This non-conference schedule certainly doesn’t lack for challenges, and that will help Kansas in its preparation for league play.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Swanigan to stay in draft

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Caleb Swanigan is leaving Purdue and staying in the NBA draft.

The Boilermaker big man held as much sway on the college basketball landscape with his decision as nearly any player who declared for the draft without an agent. After a season in which he became a double-double machine and averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, Swanigan would have been one of – if not the – favorites for National Player of the Year while also making Purdue right at the top of the Big Ten with Michigan State.

Instead, he’ll end his collegiate career after a pair of seasons and one Sweet 16 appearance in West Lafayette. As a professional prospect, Swanigan is an interesting case. He was as productive of player as college basketball has seen in recent years as a sophomore, putting up 20-20 games with ridiculous consistency. He’s got some range, but limited quickness and athleticism. The question will be how his game – and frame – will translate into the new NBA that prioritizes versatility, shooting and athleticism. Right now, not many have him pegged as a sure-fire first-round pick.

The loss for Purdue is hard to overstate given just how good “Biggie” was. There’s just no replacing that type of production in the lineup. Still, Matt Painter and the Boilermakers still have an intriguing group, with Isaac Haas and Vince Edwards both electing to return to school after dipping their toes in the NBA waters. There’s some other intriguing young pieces there that will keep Purdue interesting in the Big Ten race.

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.