Late Night Snacks: Baylor and Syracuse advance to Maui Invitational final

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GAME OF THE DAY: Baylor 67, Dayton 66

Baylor trailed by double-digits in the second half, but some late-game 3-pointers from Royce O’Neale and Gary Franklin set up Cory Jefferson’s heroics. He corralled a miss from Kenny Chery to put Baylor up 67-66 with 16 seconds to play. Baylor lead for a total of 2:08 on the evening. Dayton outplayed the Bears, but the Flyers will head to the third-place game to play Cal. Baylor and Syracuse meet in a battle of two top-20 teams on Wednesday night in the Maui Invitational final.

What would Maui be without a crazy finish?

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

No. 10 Wisconsin 63, Saint Louis 57: The Badgers handed the Billikens their first loss of the season, while they stay undefeated. Frank Kaminsky led the way with 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.

No. 12 Wichita State 75, BYU 62: The Shockers won the CBE Hall of Fame Classic, holding the Cougars without a field goal for the final eight minutes. BYU entered the game scoring 93.2 points per game. Ron Baker had a career-high 23 points.

Syracuse 92, Cal 81: The Golden Bears kept it close even without Richard Solomon, but career highs from Jerami Grant and Tyler Ennis put the Orange in the Maui Invitational final against Baylor.

STARRED

Jon Severe, Fordham: If you don’t know about this Fordham freshman, now you do. The 6-foot-3 Brooklyn native led Fordham over Manhattan with 30 points and five rebounds.

Metro State: The top team in Division II defeated its third Division I program during the NIT Season Tip-Off with an 83-69 win over MAAC contender Canisius. Mitch McCarron led the way with 28 points. He’s averaging 27.5 points per game against D1 teams this year.

Jordan Dykstra, South Dakota State: The Jackrabbits picked up their second straight win behind the senior forward’s 32-point, 13-rebound performance.

STRUGGLED

Tyler Haws, BYU: He scored 17 points, but he struggled, shooting 3-of-15 from the field in a loss to Wichita State.

Rutgers: Fairleigh Dickinson defeated Rutgers on Tuesday, the program’s first win over a Division I program in 21 games. The Knights lost to Division II Metro State earlier this season.

Rico Gathers’ celebration: Courtesy of Mark Titus:

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 13 Connecticut stayed undefeated with a 76-66 win over Loyola (Md.). Shabazz Napier only scored four points, but had seven points and seven assists along with three steals.

NOTABLES

  • Pittsburgh won the Legends Classic in Brooklyn in an 88-67 win over Stanford.
  • Boston College trailed at half, but defeated Sacred Heart behind Ryan Anderson’s 28 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Syracuse may have the best dunking team. Example A HERE. Example B HERE.
  • Gonzaga bounced back with a 113-81 win over Chaminade behind 18 points and seven assists from Kevin Pangos.
  • Marshall Henderson only logged 13 minutes, scoring eight points in an 84-50 win over North Carolina A&T.
  • Pendarvis Willaims scored 32 points, grabbed seven rebounds and five assists in Norfolk State’s win. OK, it was against against a D2 opponent, but the reigning MEAC Player of the Year is a legitimate pro prospect.
  • Elon bounced-back from a loss to Metro State with a 90-85 win over Georgia State. Kentucky transfer Ryan Harrow had 34 points for Georgia State.
  • Noah Vonleh connected on his first collegiate three. More importantly, he posted his fifth double-double in Indiana’s 77-46 win over Evansville.
  • Chris Obekpa had six of St. John’s 15 blocks in the Red Storm’s 65-47 win over Longwood.

Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

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Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

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Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

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Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

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De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.

Vanderbilt the sixth Kentucky player declares for the NBA draft

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Jarred Vanderbilt is now the sixth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the NBA draft this spring, joining P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel in testing the waters without signing with an agent.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have all declared for the draft and signed with an agent.

Vanderbilt announced his decision on Friday afternoon.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said. “At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA.”

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school.”

Vanderbilt missed the first 17 games of his freshman season with a left foot injury, a foot that he had injured twice before during his high school career. He then missed all four of Kentucky’s postseason games with a left ankle injury, and there is a chance that he could end up needing surgery to correct this issue this offseason.

All told, the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt played in 14 games as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 boards in just 17 minutes a night. But issues with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and a lower left leg that has proven to be extremely problematic, there is a good chance that Vanderbilt would go undrafted should he decide to turn pro.