PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Kendrick Perry, Youngstown State
Perry led the Penguins to a championship in the Kennesaw State Tournament this weekend, becoming the only team in the country to go 3-0 in the first three days of the season. The wins themselves weren’t overly impressive — Kennesaw State, Florida International and Eastern Kentucky — but Perry’s play was. He averaged 22.0 points, 5.7 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals in the three games, including a 31-point, nine-rebound, seven-assist performance in the championship game against EKU.
They were good, too:
- Julius Randle, Kentucky: Randle’s college basketball career started in impressive fashion, as he averaged 22.4 points and 14.5 boards while leading Kentucky to a 2-0 start heading into Tuesday’s showdown with Michigan State.
- Cady Lalanne, UMass: The Minutemen big man went for 27 points, 12 boards and three blocks in an impressive, 13-point win over Boston College on Sunday.
- Casey Prather, Florida: With the Gators struggling and shorthanded, Prather went for 28 points in Florida’s opener against North Florida, a game the Gators only won by eight points.
- Trevor Cooney, Syracuse: Cooney struggled to find confidence as a freshman, but he certainly didn’t lack it on Friday night. He finished with 27 points and hit 7-for-8 from three to lead Syracuse to a win over Cornell after trailing by 14 in the first half.
- Dylon Cormier, Loyola (MD): Cormier led the Greyhounds to a 2-0 week by averaging 32.5 points, 8.5 boards and 3.0 blocks in wins over Binghamton and Cornell.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: Providence Friars
Providence entered their season opener against Boston College short-handed, as Kris Dunn continues to battle the shoulder injuries that slowed him last season and Brandon Austin has managed to get himself suspended from the team already. But that didn’t matter, as Ed Cooley’s club knocked off a better-than-you-think Eagles club in overtime on Friday night. Bryce Cotton led the way with 28 points, six boards and four assists.
They were good, too:
- UConn: The Huskies nearly blew a 17-point second half lead to Maryland, but ended up pulling out a 78-77 win at the Barclays Center on Friday night. Shabazz Napier led the way with 18 points, seven boards and seven assists.
- Wisconsin: The Badgers put together an impressive win over St. John’s on Friday, jumping out to an 18-point first half lead, never allowing the Johnnies to get back within four points. Five Badgers finished in double figures, but it was seldom-used big man Duje Dukan’s 15 points off the bench that were most notable.
- Oregon: Playing without Dominic Artis or Ben Carter, the Ducks picked up a key non-conference win against Georgetown on Friday, surviving despite watching their depleted front line get dominated by Josh Smith.
- Northern Colorado: Credit where credit is due: UNC was the first team to knock off a high-major program when they went into Manhattan and knocked off Kansas State.
- Nebraska: It was the first game of the season and it came against a team that finished second in the Atlantic Sun last season while losing their head coach and leading scorer, but the Cornhuskers’ blowout win over Florida-Gulf Coast was impressive. Not because of the final score, but because Nebraska actually looked like a basketball team that will be able to compete in the Big Ten. That conference is going to be really, really balanced this season.
Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.
The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.
Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.
DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.
Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.
TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.
“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”
Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.
Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.
Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.
Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.
Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.
Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.
DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.
The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.
Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.
Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.
The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.
Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.
Former UNLV center Ben Carter announced on Wednesday that he will be transferring to Michigan State to finish his collegiate career.
Carter, who began his career at Oregon, averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 boards in his one season with UNLV before tearing his ACL in late January. He spent two seasons with the Ducks before transferring to Vegas, which is why he’s eligible immediately for the Spartans.
And that’s the biggest reason that Tom Izzo and company targeted him.
The Spartans lost Deyonta Davis to the NBA Draft after one season, a fact that became an inevitability midway through the year but one that the Spartans didn’t necessarily plan for heading into last season. Carter isn’t going to be an instant impact kind of player, particularly not when he’s coming off of an ACL injury, but he is a big body and a veteran presence on a front line that wasn’t going have much of either.