Naismith Trophy’s 50 Watch List announced

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The Naismith Trophy announced the 50 players on their watch list for the Player of the Year award on Thursday. If you’re curious, here are our Player of the Year Power Rankings:

Jordan Adams, UCLA
Kyle Anderson, UCLA
Isaiah Austin, Baylor
Jerrelle Benimon, Towson
Jahii Carson, Arizona State
Semaj Christon, Xavier
Aaron Craft, Ohio State
Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado
Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
Perry Ellis, Kansas
C.J. Fair, Syracuse
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana
Aaron Gordon, Arizona
Treveon Graham, VCU
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
Montrezl Harrell, Louisville
Gary Harris, Michigan State
Joe Harris, Virginia
Andrew Harrison, Kentucky
Tyler Haws, BYU
Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss
Rodney Hood, Duke
Joe Jackson, Memphis
Cory Jefferson, Baylor
Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati
Alex Kirk, New Mexico
Doug McDermott, Creighton
Mitch McGary, Michigan
Jordan McRae, Tennessee
James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina
Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
Johnny O’Bryant, LSU
Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga
Jabari Parker, Duke
Adreian Payne, Michigan State
Julius Randle, Kentucky
Juvonte Reddic, VCU
Glenn Robinson III, Michigan
LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State
Wayne Selden, Kansas
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
Russ Smith, Louisville
Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee
Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke
Noah Vonleh, Indiana
Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
Kendall Williams, New Mexico
Chaz Williams, Massachusetts
James Young, Kentucky

Here is the conference-by-conference breakdown:

ACC: 7
American: 5
Atlantic-10: 3
Big East: 2
Big Ten: 9
Big 12: 6
Mountain West: 2
Pac-12: 5
SEC: 7
WCC: 2
Everyone else: 5

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.