DeAndre Kane

After beating No. 7 Baylor, just how good is No. 9 Iowa State?

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I listed Deandre Kane No. 3 in my Player of the Year Power Rankings earlier today, which turned out to be really convenient timing as Kane put on a show on Tuesday night.

The Iowa State point guard went for 30 points, nine assists, eight boards and five steals while shooting 11-for-18 from the floor as the No. 9 Cyclones put a whipping on No. 7 Baylor in Ames, winning 87-72. It took a while for Fred Hoiberg’s boys to find a rhythm offensively, but once they did, Baylor didn’t stand a chance.

Iowa State finished the night shooting 54.8% from the floor and 10-for-25 from three. They aren’t going to lose many games when they do that, let alone games in Hilton Coliseum.

The win pushed Iowa State to 14-0 on the season and 2-0 in Big 12 play and will likely make them seem all-the-more likely to push Kansas and Oklahoma State in the Big 12 race.

So just how good are the Cyclones?

Honestly, I don’t think we know yet.

Look, this is one of the most entertaining teams in the country to watch. They love to get up and down the floor. They jack up threes like few teams in the country are capable of. They are actually defending this season, instead of merely looking at the defensive end of the floor as an inconvenience. Kane is an all-american at this point in the season, and Melvin Ejim, Georges Niang and Dustin Hogue are all all-Big 12 caliber talents.

They’re also a nightmare to try and matchup with. Kane is a physical, 6-foot-5 presence at the point guard spot. He can post up and overpower smaller defenders. The three big men on this team — Ejim, Niang, and Hogue — are all atypical forwards. Ejim and Hogue are terrific athletes that can run the floor. Niang is slow and looks like an overweight gym teacher but he is one of the most skilled offensive players in the Big 12. Every player on the Iowa State roster can hit threes.

They spread you out, they let Kane create off the bounce and they trust that they’ll find the mismatch or the open three on the perimeter. The beauty of it is its simplicity.

So yeah, I think Iowa State is a good basketball team. I have them ranked in my top 20.

But I’m still not completely convinced that this is really a top ten team for a couple of reasons. ISU shot up in the polls because of wins over Michigan, BYU and Iowa. Well, neither that Michigan win or that BYU win looks nearly as impressive now as it did when it happened, and if we’re being completely honest, the Cyclones beat Iowa because the Hawkeyes gave that game away down the stretch.

Smacking around Baylor is a statement, and trust me when I tell you that point is not lost on me. But it’s a win that came at Hilton Coliseum, which is one of the best home environments in the country. I’m not sure there are ten tougher places to pick up a win in the country when Iowa State is good, and they’re good this year.

Prove it with wins on the road this year, wins that have some more umph that at BYU or at Texas Tech or over Boise State in Hawaii.

ISU’s next seven games look like this: at Oklahoma, Kansas, at Texas, Kansas State, at Kansas, Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State.

Let’s see how they fare during that stretch. If they’re still sitting in the top ten, I’ll gladly eat these words.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.

 

Report: Izundu’s San Diego State transfer ban rescinded

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Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.

Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.

Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.

Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.

Ex-Michigan State player Keith Appling faces weapons charges

Keith Appling
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.

Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.

The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.

UNLV transfer to finish career at Michigan State

UNLV forward Ben Carter, right, celebrates after his team defeated Oregon in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Las Vegas. UNLV won 80-69. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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Former UNLV center Ben Carter announced on Wednesday that he will be transferring to Michigan State to finish his collegiate career.

Carter, who began his career at Oregon, averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 boards in his one season with UNLV before tearing his ACL in late January. He spent two seasons with the Ducks before transferring to Vegas, which is why he’s eligible immediately for the Spartans.

And that’s the biggest reason that Tom Izzo and company targeted him.

The Spartans lost Deyonta Davis to the NBA Draft after one season, a fact that became an inevitability midway through the year but one that the Spartans didn’t necessarily plan for heading into last season. Carter isn’t going to be an instant impact kind of player, particularly not when he’s coming off of an ACL injury, but he is a big body and a veteran presence on a front line that wasn’t going have much of either.