Co-PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: The two Marcuses
Marcus Smart played his way to the top of our Player of the Year Power Rankings after he put together one of the most dominating two-way performances that we’ve seen this season. Smart went for 39 points and four assists along with five steals and two blocks, leading the Cowboys to a 101-80 win over then-No. 11 Memphis. He was terrific.
But he may not have been the best Marcus in the country this past week, as North Carolina’s Marcus Paige put on a show at Mohegan Sun this weekend. He had 26 points in a win over Richmond on Saturday and followed that up with a career-high 32 points in an impressive win over then-No. 3 Louisville. North Carolina has their issues, but Paige looks like he could be ready to step into that starring role.
They were good, too:
- Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams, UCLA: Anderson averaged 15.0 points, 11.0 boards and 9.0 assists and Adams scored 52 points in a 2-0 week for the Bruins.
- Jahii Carson, Arizona State: Carson led ASU to a 2-0 week, highlighted by 40 points and seven assists in a win over UNLV.
- Troy Huff, North Dakota: Averaging 34.5 points, 9.5 boards and 3.0 steals will get you recognized, even if a loss to Wisconsin is included.
- Jeremy Ingram, N.C. Central: Ingram averaged 31.3 points in a 3-0 week that included a 29-point performance in a win over N.C. State
- Alex Kirk, New Mexico: The Lobos finished in third place in the Charleston Classic, but it wasn’t Kirk’s fault. He averaged 21.3 points, 12.0 boards and 4.3 blocks.
- Cady Lalanne, UMass: Has Lalanne become UMass’ best player? He averaged 17.0 points, 11.7 boards and 3.0 blocks as they won the Charleston Classic.
- Shabazz Napier, UConn: UConn won the 2K Sports Classic. Napier went for 27 points and hit every clutch shot in the title game win over Indiana.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: UMass Minutemen
Is UMass the best team in the Atlantic 10 right now? They very well may be, especially after watching VCU struggle their way through the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Perhaps the best sign for UMass is that their star point guard Chaz Williams may not actually be the best player on the team right now. That honor goes to double-double machine Cady Lalanne.
They were good, too:
- North Carolina: The Tar Heels bounced back from a loss to Belmont by winning the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic, including a win over No. 3 Louisville.
- Charlotte: The 49ers came out of nowhere to win Puerto Rico Tip-Off at the buzzer against No. 24 Michigan in the title game.
- Florida State: So maybe we need to pay attention to the Seminoles this season? They blew out VCU and nearly knocked off Michigan before beating Northeastern.
- Providence: The Friars are now sitting at 6-0 after advancing to the final of the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.
- UConn: UConn swept Boston College and Indiana to win the 2K Sports Classic.
- Iowa State: After winning against Michigan at home last Sunday, the Cyclones went to Utah and knocked off BYU in one of the toughest home environments in the country.
- NCCU: Three wins, including one in overtime at N.C. State? Impressive.
Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.
The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.
Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.
With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.
Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.
A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.
The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.
It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.
Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.
Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.
“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”
Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.
Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.
Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.
There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.
McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.
Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.
“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”
Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.
“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”
Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.