Doug McDermott, Marcus Smart among players on Robertson Award midseason list

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One day after the John R. Wooden Award’s midseason list was released, the United States Basketball Writers of America released its list of 23 midseason candidates for the Oscar Robertson Award. Like the Wooden Award, not being on this list does not prohibit a player from winning the award when it’s handed out in early April.

As expected, players such as Creighton’s Doug McDermott, Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart and Syracuse’s C.J. Fair, are among the 23 on the list. The senior class has 12 players on the list, followed by six freshmen, four sophomores and just one junior (Arizona guard Nick Johnson).

Conference-wise the ACC has five players on the list, followed by the Big 12 (four) and six conferences with two candidates apiece. The Atlantic 10 (UMass PG Chaz Williams) and Big East (McDermott) are represented by one player apiece. Six schools, Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Michigan State, Syracuse and Wichita State, have two players on the list.

Here’s the full list as released by the USBWA:

  • Keith Appling, Michigan State
  • Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico
  • Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
  • Joel Embiid, Kansas
  • Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
  • C.J. Fair, Syracuse
  • Aaron Gordon, Arizona
  • Gary Harris, Michigan State
  • Rodney Hood, Duke
  • Nick Johnson, Arizona
  • DeAndre Kane, Iowa State
  • Doug McDermott, Creighton
  • Shabazz Napier, UConn
  • Jabari Parker, Duke
  • Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh
  • Casey Prather, Florida
  • Julius Randle, Kentucky
  • Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
  • Russ Smith, Louisville
  • Xavier Thames, San Diego State
  • Fred Van Vleet, Wichita State
  • Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
  • Chaz Williams, UMass

Not a bad list, with Patterson and Thames making this list one day after being omitted from the Wooden Award’s midseason list. But where’s Michigan guard Nik Stauskas?

Stauskas has been outstanding for the Wolverines this season, averaging 18.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game for a team that hasn’t lost since Mitch McGary was shut down indefinitely due to a back injury. With Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. now playing for pay Stauskas’ responsibilities are greater as a sophomore, and he’s been a more efficient player this season than last. Stauskas is still shooting 44% from beyond the arc but he’s improved in his ability to attack the basket, and his overall field goal percentage has increased by three percentage points (from 46.3% to 49.5%) in his sophomore season.

Such lists can be difficult because in order to put an omitted player on the list, someone who may be just as deserving has to come off. However even with that being the case it’s extremely tough to justify Stauskas not making either of the major awards’ midseason lists.

As noted above not being on the list doesn’t prohibit a player of Stauskas’ caliber from winning the honor. If anything, it can serve as a motivational factor for a player who may feel slighted by those who put together the list.

Nevada gets transfer commitment from Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman

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Nevada continues to build its roster through transfers as the Wolf Pack added Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman on Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 Thurman will have to sit out one season before playing his senior season but he is coming off of a very good campaign for the Mavericks. The versatile forward put up 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the field.

One of the Summit League’s better players the last two seasons, Thurman should be a solid rotation forward for Nevada as he has a chance to be a breakout player with one more year of development. If Thurman can improve his 25 percent three-point shooting then he could be a major factor for Nevada.

D-League salaries, two-way contracts increase NBA Draft early entries

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Yesterday, I wrote a piece about how it’s dumb to criticize players for entering the NBA Draft without costing themselves their collegiate eligibility when the NCAA’s new NBA Draft rules are specifically designed for said players to be able to do that.

In that column, I mentioned that D-League salaries are on the rise and that the NBA’s new CBA instituted something called “two-way contracts,” and I wanted a chance to elaborate and clarify a couple of the points that I made.

Let’s start with the “two-way contracts,” which NBA teams each get two of. They are essentially a retainer that those teams can place on younger players they want to be the 16th and 17th men on their roster, holding their rights as they bounce between the D-League — where they will likely spend the majority of the year — and the NBA. The catch is that those players have to have less than three years service as a professional, and the point of it is to provide a financial incentive for younger players with the potential to reach the NBA to remain stateside while allowing those NBA teams to develop them.

That financial incentive is fairly large, as well: Two-way players will make $75,000 guaranteed and will be able to make up to $275,000, depending on the amount of time they spend with the NBA team.

That means there are an extra 60 jobs this season that can end up paying players with less than three years of professional basketball experience upwards of a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

That’s not a bad starting salary.

The other point that I wanted to address is the rising D-League salaries which, technically, will not be rising. There are still going to be Tier A and Tier B players, who make $26,000 and $20,000 respectively. But the NBA has something called affiliate players, which each of the now-25 NBA teams with a D-League affiliate can pay up to $50,000 for training camp. NBA teams are allowed a maximum of four affiliate players, who will still make their $26,000 salary from their D-League team.

In other words, that’s 100 more jobs available in the United States where a professional basketball player can make $76,000, and that’s before you consider that the five NBA teams that do not yet have a D-League affiliate will still have to play players to get them into training camp.

That $76,000 is not a life-changing amount of money. Neither is the $275,000 that a two-way contract can pay. But it’s a pretty damn good paycheck to make for an entry-level job into the industry that you always dreamed of being in.

Athletes have an unbelievably small window where they can capitalize monetarily on their gifts.

If a 21-year old sophomore decides that he wants to continue to develop his game and chase his NBA dream by making $76,000 as a D-League player, is that really all that crazy?

After all, 135 of the 450 players, or 30 percent of the roster spots, on NBA’s opening night were taken by guys that had spent time in the D-League.

There’s more than one way to make a dream come true.

A record $439 million was bet on basketball in March in Las Vegas

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The month of March was quite friendly to Las Vegas.

According to ESPN, more money was bet on basketball during the month of March than in any month in the state’s regulated sports betting history.

And while the numbers produced by Las Vegas books don’t separate college and professional basketball betting, the money coming in on college hoops is pretty clear: $439 million was bet on basketball in March, more than double the $213 million bet on the sport in February.

It was profitable, too.

Those Vegas books kept more than $40 million dollars of the money that was gambled on basketball, which shattered the previous record of roughly $28 million in winnings.

Gonzaga lands their first post-Final Four commitment

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Gonzaga capitalized on their run to the national title game by landing a commitment from French point guard Joel Ayayi, who announced the news on twitter.

Ayayi is an interesting long-term prospect, according to Draft Express. He has the size and the frame to eventually be a significant contributor in the college game, but he’s raw. His handle needs work, as does his ability to create off the dribble and find teammates off of the bounce.

That said, he’s 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-7 wingspan and the ability to shoot it from the perimeter, and if Gonzaga can do anything, it’s develop players that enter their program.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson, top three prospect in 2018, breaks defender’s ankles

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Zion Williamson, one of the most sought-after recruits in college basketball, had himself a highlight-worthy moment at the Adidas Gauntlet event in Dallas over the weekend, breaking a defender’s ankles before hitting a three.