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

Miller Time: Indiana coach cashes in with $24 million deal

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — New Indiana coach Archie Miller will make $24 million under his seven-year deal — and potentially even more in bonuses.

Miller accepted the job in March, but the athletic department didn’t announce details of the contract until Tuesday.

He will receive a base salary of $550,000 per year and $1 million in deferred income each season. Miller also will receive an additional $1.85 million in outside marketing and promotional income — and will get a $50,000 per year raise each year through March 2024.

Miller can earn a $250,000 bonus for winning a national championship. He can earn an additional $125,000 for a Big Ten regular-season title, reaching the Final Four and producing multiyear Academic Progress Rate scores over 950.

Utah, BYU rivalry back on after one-year hiatus

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The BYU-Utah annual rivalry series will be back on this season after taking a one-year hiatus last year.

For just the second time since 1909, the Utes and the Cougars did not play in 2016-17 after Utah head coach Larry Kyrstkowiak asked for a one-year cooling off period stemming from an intense and emotional game against BYU in 2015-16. In that game, then-freshman Nick Emery was ejected as a result of this punch that he threw:

The last time those two teams did not play was due to World War II.

The game will be played at BYU on Dec. 16th.

Utah will also play Utah State this season, the first time that they have played the Aggies since 2011.

 

California bans state-funded travel to eight states; does it affect college hoops?

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A new California law could end up causing a headache for the sports teams for public universities in the state.

Because of recently-added laws that are perceived as discriminatory against the LGBT community, California has now banned travel to eight states: Texas, Alabama, Kentucky and South Dakota join a list that already includes Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee.

The law states that contracts that were signed before Jan. 1st, 2017, are exempted and can be fulfilled, but there’s not guarantee that will be the case in the future.

“Moving forward, the athletic department will not schedule future games in states that fail to meet the standards established by the new law,” a UCLA spokesman told the Sacramento Bee. That said, the university does not use state funding for travel sports teams as it currently stands, and the goal of the law to avoid “spending taxpayer dollars in states that discriminate,” according to California’s Attorney General.

On the college basketball side of things, the biggest question mark here is whether or not this law will prevent teams from playing in the NCAA tournament if they are sent to a site in one of those eight states. Next season alone, there are first weekend sites in Kansas, Texas, North Carolina and Tennessee, not to mention the Final Four taking place in San Antonio. The location for many of those events were determined prior to January 1st.

“We are generally not going to deny student-athletes the opportunity to compete in the postseason,” a UCLA spokesman told NBC Sports.

The next question then becomes whether or not regular season travel will be allowed. Earlier this year, Cal dropped out of talks with Kansas about a potential home-and-home series due to this law, and if regular season travel is not allowed, it would mean that Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Louisville and Wichita State, along with Kansas, are not allowed to be visited by California public schools that need state funding to travel. A request for a clarification on the legality of college sports teams traveling to those states has been filed with the Attorney General by Fresno State, whose football team is headed to Alabama for a game this year.

Travel for recruiting is also a question that needs to be answered, but at the highest level of the sport, that is typically funded by boosters.

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.