After an eventful offseason that included failed drug tests and an indefinite suspension from the program, Ole Miss senior guard Marshall Henderson made his 2013-14 debut in the Rebels’ game at Coastal Carolina. With the reigning SEC tournament champions having lost both Reginald Buckner and Murphy Holloway from last season’s team, the return of Henderson is an important one based upon his ability to score.
Henderson came off the bench on Saturday night, finishing the game with 19 points (14 in the second half) on 6-for-16 shooting to go along with four rebounds, four steals and three turnovers. And while the field goal percentage wasn’t at the level that either he or head coach Andy Kennedy would like, Henderson made two key plays to help the Rebels hold off a tough Coastal Carolina squad by the final score of 72-70.
Coming out of a timeout with 4:14 remaining and a two-point lead, Henderson knocked down a three to push Ole Miss’ lead out to five (63-58). And then he would follow that up with a steal and dunk a minute later to increase that lead to seven points, a cushion the Rebels ended up needing in the end. Two turnovers (one committed by Henderson as he attempted to split a double-team) and spotty foul shooting gave Cliff Ellis’ Chanticleers life, but a Josh Cameron three-point attempt to tie the game with nine seconds remaining rattled in and out.
Those two plays illustrate why Henderson, the team’s lone senior, is so important to Ole Miss this season. He may be a lightning rod, but he also has the ability (and willingness) to go out and make those big plays when Ole Miss needs them the most. In total five Rebels scored in double figures, with Jarvis Summers adding 14 points after battling first-half foul trouble and Derrick Millinghaus 12, but if anyone’s going to get Ole Miss a key bucket in crunch time it’s going to be Henderson.
Henderson’s not completely out of the clear when it comes to his suspension, as he’ll have to sit out Ole Miss’ first two SEC games, but there should be no disputing the importance of his return. Ole Miss will have some growing pains to deal with as players who had minor roles last season adjust to being asked to do more, and they need to do a better job of focusing down the stretch. But with Henderson back the Rebels have a player they can look to for big plays, even if the wait to see what happens can be a nerve-wracking one at times.
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.