College Basketball Talk’s Player of the Year Power Rankings

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The 2013-2014 season is sure to be a thrilling Player of the Year race, so to keep track of it, we will be posting weekly Player of the Year Power Rankings for your reading goodness.

Who’d we miss? Who’s ranked too high? We love to overlook your team’s best player and overrate your rival’s superstar.

1. Jabari Parker, Duke: You hear all the time about how Jabari Parker is one of the most well-rounded offensive weapons we’ve seen at the college level in a long time. He scores in the post, he spreads the floor with his ability to shoot, he’ll take people off the dribble, he’ll go coast-to-coast off of a defensive rebound.

To get an idea for just how effective Parker is offensively, here are Synergy’s points-per-possession numbers for post-up, catch-and-shoot, transition and isolation situations:

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How do you stop someone that can do that?

2. Shabazz Napier, UConn: For the first time in what feels like Napier’s career, he struggled in the final minutes as UConn lost at home to Stanford, 53-51. Napier was 0-for-5 from three in the second half, missed a pull-up jumper that would have tied the game with 30 seconds left and gave the ball up to Omar Calhoun on the game’s final possession. That’s enough to get him dropped out of the Player of the Year top spot. Harsh, I know. He did bounce back with 20 points in a win at Washington on Sunday.

3. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State: Smart continued his terrific season on Saturday, bouncing back from an off-night against Delaware State to go for 18 points and three assists in a win over Colorado out in Vegas. Smart has improved his shot selection a bit this season, but he’s still a long way from being a consistent perimeter jump-shooter. According to Synergy, he’s shooting 28.1% from the floor on jump shots.

4. Doug McDermott, Creighton: Comparing him to Jabari Parker, here are those same numbers for Dougie McBuckets:

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5. Julius Randle, Kentucky: Coming off of a loss at North Carolina where Randle finished with just nine shots while only getting to the line six times, the Wildcats got back to their bread-and-butter, pounding the ball into the paint to Randle. He finished with 29 points and 10 boards in the come-from-behind win over Belmont.

6. Chaz Williams, UMass: Williams had his worst game of the season in a loss to Florida State on Saturday, finishing with 10 points and three assists while committing four turnovers and shooting 4-for-14 from the floor and missing all four of his threes.

7. Russ Smith, Louisville: It may be hard to believe, I know, but according to KenPom, Louisville is the nation’s most efficient offensive team. Smith is a huge part of that, as he’s become an even more efficient scorer than he was last season as KenPom’s Player of the Year.

8. Casey Prather, Florida: Prather’s breakout senior season has been the result the fact that he is now embracing his ability as a slasher. Of the 117 field goals that Prather has taken through 11 games, only three have come from beyond the arc. Only six other field goal attempts have been jump shots, according to Synergy’s logs. He’s thriving as a guy that attacks the rim, in both half court sets and transition.

9. Nick Johnson, Arizona: The versatility of Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is what makes Arizona a national title contender, but Johnson is still their most important player. A lockdown defender, his value only skyrockets with Gabe York’s inability to make anything over the course of the last month.

10. Keith Appling, Michigan State: Appling did not play his best game in Michigan State’s win over Texas, and while he’s been Michigan State’s best player for much of the early part of the season, Adreian Payne is making a push as the Spartan’s most valuable player.

Others: Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, Ron Baker, Cameron Bairstow, Jahii Carson, Jordan Clarkson, Aaron Craft, Joel Embiid, Tyler Ennis, Aaron Gordon, Rodney Hood, Roberto Nelson, Marcus Paige, Lamar Patterson, Elfrid Payton, T.J. Warren, Andrew Wiggins, Joseph Young

N.C. State adds grad transfer Sam Hunt

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N.C. State added its fourth transfer this offseason. Like ex-Baylor guard Al Freeman, the latest one is eligible to play next season.

Sam Hunt, a double-digit scorer the past two seasons at North Carolina A&T, officially enrolled at North Carolina State on Monday morning.

“Sam is a great young man and will bring much needed depth to our backcourt,” N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts said in a statement. “I want guys who are excited about being a part of our program and Sam really wants to be here.

“Sam is a combo guard that can space the floor with his ability to shoot the basketball. He is a good fit for the system and will bring a wealth of experience to our roster.”

Hunt, the 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 12.7 points per game last season, a dip from the 15.4 points per game he posted for the Aggies as a redshirt sophomore.

Hunt joins a roster that lost its three leading scorers from a season ago, one that ended 15-17 (4-14 ACC). Dennis Smith Jr. is a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Maverick Rowan also pursued a professional career and Terry Henderson was denied an additional year from the NCAA.

The Wolf Pack bring back forwards Abdul-Malik Abu and Omer Yurtseven as well as Torin Dorn.

Keatts, who took over the program after leading UNC Wilmington to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, has already built for the future. UNC Wilmington transfer C.J. Bryce, 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Seahawks, has followed him to Raleigh. Utah transfer Devon Daniels committed to the Wolf Pack the same day as Bryce. Both will have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules. Bryce will have two years of eligibility while Daniels will have three.

LaVar Ball stars in an uncomfortably entertaining segment on WWE’s Raw

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LaVar Ball’s statements and antics over this past year always seemed better suited a professional wrestling ring.

It was only natural that the patriarch of the Ball family — and the head of the Big Baller Brand — made an appearance on WWE’s Monday Night Raw at the Staples Center for an awkwardly entertaining segment with WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz.

With sons, Lonzo — in his first appearance in the Staples Center as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers — and LaMelo looking on, LaVar was the center of attention. When The Miz mentioned something about a partnership between the two, the scripted interview went south. It resulted in LaVar saying nonsensical things like, “There’s only two dudes better than me, and I’m both of ’em!” before later taking off his shirt. When Dean Ambrose, a WWE superstar feuding with The Miz came out on to the ramp, LaVar didn’t quite grasp the concept that that was his cue to stop talking.

This segment was somehow entertaining and cringeworthy at the same time.

Now that Lonzo is beginning his NBA career, maybe it’s time LaVar try something different. A manager in the WWE may just be his true calling. He’s certainly had plenty of practice.

Maryland lands commitment from five-star 2018 forward

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Maryland added to its 2018 recruiting class with its second commit, the newest addition being a five-star in-state product.

Jalen Smith, a 6-foot-9 forward from Baltimore powerhouse Mount St. Joseph, committed to the Terrapins, making the announcement on Twitter.

“I believe that I can academically and athletically achieve my goals at home through my commitment to the University of Maryland … Go Terps,” he tweeted as part of a long passage.

Smith is listed as the No. 13 overall recruit in the Class of 2013 by Rivals. He joins four-star swingman Aaron Wiggins in Mark Turgeon’s current recruiting class.

Playing for Team Takeover on the Nike EYBL circuit, Smith is averaging 10.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game.

Recent grad’s joyride reportedly did $100,000 of damages to Mizzou Arena

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A recent graduate and temporary employee of the University of Missouri took an early morning joy ride that reportedly could rack up around $100,000 to Mizzou Arena.

According to Dave Mater of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nathaniel J. Contant, 23, who graduated from the school in December 2016, drove his Volkswagen Passat through a gate and eventually on to the floor of the 15,000-seat on-campus arena.

At 7:15 a.m. Sunday, MU police were dispatched to Mizzou Arena for a report of property damage. Officers determined that around 4 a.m., the suspect drove his vehicle through a closed gate on the south side of the arena. He ran through a garage door and drove into a dock area where he damaged several golf carts that were stored in the area. He also drove his car onto the basketball court. The man couldn’t leave through the area he used to enter the building, so he drove through the arena’s press gate.

Contant, unsurprisingly, is no longer an employee of the university. He’s being charged with second-degree burglary and first-degree property damage, both of which are felonies. He was released on a $4,500 bond.

The motive for this early-morning joyride remains unclear.

Despite the hype surrounding the upcoming Mizzou season — one that includes the debut of new head coach Cuonzo Martin and the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft Michael Porter, Jr. — Twitter users couldn’t help but poke fun at the dismal recent history the Tigers have had.

(h/t Kansas City Star)

Vance Jackson transfers to New Mexico

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With more than a handful of departures this offseason, New Mexico is set to have a new-look roster for the 2017-18 season. On Monday, Paul Weir, now at the helm of the program, landed a player who should make an impact in the three remaining seasons of eligibility he has left.

Vance Jackson, who spent this past season at UConn, decided to make the move from Storrs to Albuquerque, picking the Lobos over Rutgers, San Diego State, TCU, and Washington.

The 6-foot-8 rising sophomore will have to sit out next year due to NCAA transfer rules before resuming his collegiate career in the fall of 2018.

“The coaches — they trust in me,” Jackson told Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal last month during his official campus visit. “We’re on the same page. They see a vision.”

Weir, who led New Mexico State this past season to a NCAA Tournament appearance in his one and only season as head coach, succeeded Craig Neal in April.

This offseason has been headlined by transfers, though, those mostly were about players leaving the program. Jackson is the second transfer to land at UNM with Akron’s Antino Jackson electing to use his final season of eligibility with the Lobos. Antino Jackson is a graduate transfer, allowing him to play immediately next season.

Vance Jackson, who was rated as the No. 80 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals, averaged 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game while shooting just under 40 percent from three for the Huskies as a freshman.