Bryce Cotton has been a really good player for the Friars for a long time, but since Providence has spent the entirety of his tenure on campus mired in national irrelevance, he hasn’t gotten near the amount of attention that he deserves. This week that changed. Cotton averaged 21.5 points and 6.5 assists while playing all 80 minutes and committing no turnovers in wins over Xavier and Butler. Providence has now won five straight games, moving them into a tie for the second-best record in the Big East and right back into NCAA tournament contention.
But looking at Cotton’s season as a whole, it’s tough not to wonder whether he should be getting quite a bit more all-american hype. His numbers are impressive: 20.5 points, 5.9 assists, 2.0 turnovers and countless big shots in big moments. He’s doing all that despite playing a ridiculous number of minutes as the primary ball-handler in a season where he was expected to see more time off the ball. But with Kris Dunn out and Brandon Austin gone, this is what Cotton is forced to do:
In his last 12 games, he’s averaging 41.8 minutes.
On the season, he’s played 94.9% of the available minutes. In Big East play, the number jumps to 99.3%.
The only time he’s sat out in Big East play was the final two minutes of a 30 point blowout at Villanova. He’s played all 50 minutes in a pair of overtime games.
His efficiency numbers haven’t taken too big of a hit in the process, as his offensive rating is “down” to 119.3.
They were good, too:
Nik Stauskas, Michigan: Stauskas has been awesome all season long, but in the last nine games, he’s played his way into the National Player of the Year discussion. This week, he averaged 22.5 points, 5.0 boards and 4.5 assists in wins over Iowa and at Michigan State.
Ethan Wragge, Creighton: Wragge averaged 19.5 points this week in wins at Villanova and over Georgetown. 21 of those points came when he hit his first seven threes in six minutes against Villanova.
Alex Poythress, Kentucky: Poythress is finally starting to turn a corner, it seems. He averaged 13.5 points and 5.0 boards in a pair of wins this week.
Le’Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State: Nash kept Oklahoma State afloat on Marcus Smart’s off-night as he went for 29 points on 10-for-13 shooting and nine boards in a win over West Virginia on Saturday.
Billy Baron, Canisius: Baron might be the Mid-Major Player of the Year right now. He averaged 34.5 points in a pair of wins this week.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: Texas Longhorns
Believe it or not, Texas is currently sitting tied with Oklahoma for second place in the Big 12. They’ve won five straight games, the last three of which came against ranked teams. This week, they beat Kansas State at home and knocked off Baylor in Waco. Safe to say, at this point in the season, there isn’t a more surprising team in the country than the Longhorns.
Is it sustainable?
Well, it appears to be. The Longhorns have a vastly underrated front court in Cameron Ridley, Jonathan Holmes and Prince Ibeh. Their back court is young, but there are enough pieces there that they have survived some youthful inconsistency. Isaiah Taylor had 27 points against Baylor, making up for Javan Felix’s off-night. Felix, on the other hand, had been terrific in Big 12 play prior to Saturday. Demarcus Holland has struggled of late, but he’s been known to pop off for 20 points and is one of the better back court rebounders in the country.
I still think Texas is closer to fourth or fifth in the Big 12 than they are second, but the fact that we’re having that conversation is a testament to how well Rick Barnes has done this year.
They were good, too:
Michigan: They beat Iowa and won at Michigan State. That about says it all.
UCLA: It is now UCLA’s turn to be considered the second-best team in the Pac-12 after they beat both Stanford and Cal at home this week.
VCU: The Rams bounced back from a loss at VCU by winning at Dayton and La Salle this week.
American: The Eagles blew out Boston University at home and then whipped up on Army on the road this week. Those teams are sitting in second and third behind American in the Patriot League.
Richmond: The Spiders closed out a key three-game homestand with wins over UMass and St. Joe’s this week.
Clemson will get a four-star recruit on campus a year earlier than it expected, though his on-court debut for the Tigers will remain on schedule.
A.J. Oliver, a guard from South Carolina, will enroll early at Clemson and redshirt this upcoming season, he announced via social media Wednesday.
“I woke up this morning and realized that the greatest opportunity for me is to enroll early into Clemson,” he wrote on Twitter. “I will redshirt a year & start my college career early.”
Oliver, whose mother is the head women’s basketball coach at Clemson, was a consensus top-100 player in the class of 2017 who committed to the Tigers last December. Texas Tech and the College of Charleston were involved before his commitment.
A three-star shooting guard, Scott Spencer of Virginia, was previously the only member coach Brad Brownell’s 2016 class. While Oliver’s decision to redshirt will keep him off the court for the 2016-17 season, he’ll have spent a full season in the Tiger program before making his debut in 2017
The cupboard isn’t bare in 2017 for the Tigers due to Oliver’s reclassification because Clemson received a commitment from power forward Malik Williams, a consensus top-150 player, earlier Wednesday.
Kentucky used Calipari-Chaney fight in media training
Kentucky held some media training sessions yesterday, and one of the topics that head coach John Calipari used to make a point was … his blow-up with John Chaney. The moment was captured on SnapChat by a trio of Kentucky newcomers.
You remember that incident. Chaney, then the head coach at Temple, and Cal, who was coaching Atlantic 10 rival UMass at the time, nearly came to blows over the way that Cal handled officials during the game. Before the video below picks up, the two shared this exchange:
“Could I say this to you, please?” Chaney said, before the video above picks up. “You’ve got a good ball club. But what you did with the officials out there is wrong, and I don’t want to be a party to that. You understand?”
Cal responded: “You weren’t out there, Coach. You don’t have any idea.”
Chaney fired back: “You got a game given to you by officials right here with G.W. on three bad calls, O.K.? Then you send your kids out there pushing and shoving. You had the best officiating you could ever get here. And for you to ride them, I don’t want to be a party to that.”
Tuesday was a busy and productive one for South Dakota State on the recruiting trail.
The Jackrabbits secured two 2017 commitments from the state of Wisconsin in Ryan Krueger and Alex Arians, a source tells NBCSports.com.
Krueger is a 6-foot-5 wing player from New London, Wisc. while Arians is a 6-foot-4 guard from Madison, Wisc., who also held an offer from Wright State, which is coached by former SDSU coach Scott Nagy. Both players spend their summers playing for the Wisconsin Swing grassroots program.
The pair make it a trio of commits for the Jackrabbits in 2017 with another Wisconsinite, Alou Dillon, pledging to first-year Jackrabbits coach T.J. Otzelberger, himself a Wisconsin native, earlier this summer.
South Dakota State went 26-8 last year and the bulk of the team that made the NCAA tournament last year, including sophomore Mike Daum, who led the team in scoring and rebounding as a freshman.
Incoming Gator freshman ineligible for upcoming season
Florida will need to wait a year before seeing 6-foot-11 recruit Gorjok Gak playing games for the Gators.
The NCAA ruled that the incoming freshman will be able to enroll at Florida this year and practice with the team, but will be ineligible for games this season, the school announced Tuesday.
Should he meet all his progress marks during his freshman year, he’ll have three seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2017-18.
Gak’s eligibility issue centered on his playing games during his postgraduate year at Victory Rock Prep, according to his coach there.
“Following his graduate year from Australia, he was supposed to play from December to December,” Loren Jackson told the Gainesville Sun, “but instead played from December until the following May.”
Gak originally signed with Oklahoma State, but de-committed following Travis Ford’s firing in Stillwater this past spring. Gak averaged 13.8 points and 9.3 rebounds last season at Victory Rock in Bradenton, Fla.
Florida went 21-15 last season under first-year coach Mike White.