In the first half of Penn State’s 85-60 loss to Akron in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off last November, Penn State guard Tim Frazier saw his senior season come to an end due to a ruptured Achilles tendon. Without their starting point guard the Nittany Lions struggled for much of the 2012-13 campaign, winning just ten games and finishing last in the Big Ten (2-16).
On Saturday Frazier played in his first regular season game since the injury and despite some struggles from the field the fifth-year season posted his first double-double since February 11, 2012, accounting for 25 points, ten rebounds and four assists in Penn State’s 74-62 victory over Wagner. Frazier made just six of his sixteen shots from the field but made up for that with a solid outing at the charity stripe, making 12 of 17 free throws. And Frazier wasn’t the only Nittany Lion to finish with a double-double, as fellow guard D.J. Newbill tallied 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Penn State outscored Wagner by ten points at the foul line (30-20), a margin that helped make up for the Seahawks scoring 32 points in the paint. If Penn State is to improve on its conference (and overall) win total of a season ago, the interior play has to get better. But it certainly helps head coach Patrick Chambers that he’s got his leader back on the floor.
With Frazier back in the fold the Nittany Lions should improve when it comes to taking care of the basketball, as last season they ranked tenth in the Big Ten in turnover margin and 12th in assist-to-turnover ratio. And the hope at Penn State is that the experienced tandem of Frazier and Newbill will open things up for their teammates and make the Lions a tougher group to corral.
“Obviously it’s exciting to have that dynamic duo to put a Penn State jersey on this year. I think D.J. learned so much about the point guard position in general. And now you have two guys that can make plays for teammates,” Chambers said at Big Ten Media Day last month.
“You can’t just focus on one or the other. You’ve got to focus on both those guys. There’s gotta be a lot of space on the floor for other guys to step up and make plays.”
Caleb Swanigan is leaving Purdue and staying in the NBA draft, according to reports.
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 reportedly 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.