College Hoops Week in Review: Wisconsin’s for real, and so is Chaz Williams

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Chaz Williams, UMass

UMass has been one of the nation’s most impressive teams this season, and the reason has been the emergence of guys like Raphiael Putney, Cady Lalanne and Sampson Carter. As good as those three have played, the MVP of this UMass team has been dynamic point guard Chaz Williams, a 5-foot-9 dynamo that ended the season’s first month averaging 17.5 points and 7.6 assists while shooting 43.6% from three and operating as the engine that drives the Minutemen’s high-octane offense.

Never was that on display more than it was on Saturday, as Williams went for 32 points and 15 assists — while committing just a single turnover and shooting 9-for-14 from the floor and 5-for-7 from three — in a 105-96 win over BYU. Williams’ 15 assists led directly to 35 points, meaning that Williams was responsible for 67 points in 34 minutes. There’s a chance that the Minutemen could end up being the best team in the A-10 this season, and while it’s ridiculous to expect Williams to play like he did on Saturday all season long, the fact that he’s able to produce like that on a given night should help Derek Kellogg sleep easy at night.

They were good, too:

  • Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico: Alex Kirk gets all the attention, but Bairstow has been fantastic this season. He averaged 22.0 points and 11.5 boards in wins at New Mexico State against Cincinnati.
  • Jordan Clarkson, Missouri: Clarkson led the Tigers to a 2-0 week in their first full week with Frank Haith running the show again. He averaged 23.5 points and 5.0 assists in wins over West Virginia and UCLA.
  • Maurice Creek, George Washington: Creek had 25 points and hit the game-winner against Maryland on Sunday to help the Colonials move to 8-1 this year.
  • Jonathon Loyd, Oregon: The Ducks played just one game this week, but Loyd had 23 points and 15 assists as Oregon won at Ole Miss in that one game. He’s been terrific this season, and Dominic Artis will have a fight for that starting spot on his hands.
  • Shabazz Napier, UConn: It seems like a long time ago now, but Napier hit the game-winner for UConn against Florida on Monday. He had 26 points on the night.
  • LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State: The Buckeyes need Ross to be a 15-17 ppg scorer this season. He averaged 21.5 points in two games this week.

source:  TEAM OF THE WEEK: Wisconsin Badgers

It’s time to start taking the Badgers seriously this season. That’s not to say that, from a national perspective, we aren’t. They’re a top ten team that will get heavy consideration for the top five this week. We have them No. 3. What I mean is that we should start talking about whether or not these Badgers are the best team in the Big Ten. Seriously. Michigan State is all kinds of beat up right now. Ohio State has issues offensively with LaQuinton Ross doing standard, inconsistent LaQuinton Ross things. Michigan looks lost without Trey Burke. Indiana desperately needs to find some of those Hoosier-state shooters. Iowa is good but not on the same level.

And here comes Wisconsin, rolling along and ripping off what is arguably the best resume in the country at this point. St. John’s, Florida, at Green Bay, St. Louis, and this week, at Virginia and against Marquette. Even wins over Oral Roberts, North Dakota and West Virginia are more impressive than you probably think. The story line of the Badgers becoming this uptempo team are inaccurate. They’re more opportunistic in transition this season — 8.7% of their possessions are coming via the fast break this year as opposed to 6.4% last season — but they still are 314th in tempo and 349th in average time per possession. What makes them good? Well, their three guards are all typical Wisconsin guards — smart, good shooters, don’t turn the ball over — and Sam Dekker’s an atypical Wisconsin star in that he’s the kind of talent that could thrive anywhere in the country.

Bo Ryan’s boys are legit this year, even if KenPom is “down” on them. Take notice.

They were good, too:

  • Baylor: Baylor’s win over Colorado is looking more impressive by the day. The Bears also happened to beat some team from Kentucky on Friday as well.
  • Colorado: The Buffaloes beat their in-state rival Colorado State and followed that up with a buzzer-beating win over Kansas.
  • Missouri: Wins over West Virginia and UCLA are impressive, but both came at home. Love the Tiger’s perimeter, but still am not sold on them. Getting closer, though.
  • North Carolina: The Tar Heels went into East Lansing and knocked off then-No. 1 Michigan State. That’s impressive.
  • Syracuse: Their second half dominance in a 69-52 win over Indiana was something impressive. The back court of Trevor Cooney and Tyler Ennis has been sensational.
  • Texas: The Longhorns beat Vanderbilt and Temple this week. Not overly impressive, but UT now sits at 8-1. Hadn’t we all written this group off this year?

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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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 to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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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 to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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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, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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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.

Report: Nike, Adidas and Under Armour all pass on sponsoring Lonzo Ball

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Lonzo Ball will enter his rookie season in the NBA without a sponsorship deal from Nike, Adidas or Under Armour, only his family’s Big Baller Brand apparel.

That, according to a report from ESPN, is due to his father LaVar’s insistence that Lonzo not sign with one of the three major apparel companies unless they opted to sign a licensing deal for Big Baller Brand merchandise instead of outfitting Lonzo with their own gear.

“We’ve said from the beginning, we aren’t looking for an endorsement deal,” LaVar told ESPN. “We’re looking for co-branding, a true partner. But they’re not ready for that because they’re not used to that model. But hey, the taxi industry wasn’t ready for Uber, either.”

LaVar had been representing his son in the negotiations, and is now expected to reach out to other shoe brands, including Chinese apparel companies like Li-Nang.

Big Baller Brand is a startup apparel company launched by LaVar Ball. They sell t-shirts, sweatshirts and hats, with most of their products costing at least $50.

Lonzo declared for the NBA Draft after an all-american season that saw him and the UCLA Bruins flame out of the NCAA tournament in the Sweet 16. UCLA lost to Kentucky in that game, and Lonzo had a quiet night while his point guard counterpart, De’Aaron Fox, went off for 39 points.

Lonzo is a likely top three pick in the NBA Draft and, potentially, could still end up going No. 1. He has two younger brothers as well. LiAngelo will be a freshman with the Bruins next season while LaMelo just finished his sophomore season in high school. Both will attend UCLA.