College Basketball Player of the Year Power Rankings

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1. Doug McDermott, Creighton: Since 1997-1998, no college basketball player has averaged 24.5 points, 7.2 boards and shot 43.0% from beyond the arc. In NBA history, no player that has shot more than 15 threes in a season has averaged 24.5 points, 7.0 boards and shot 43.0% from three. Right now, McDermott is averaging 24.3 points and 7.2 boards while shooting 42.98% from beyond the arc, and that’s because he’s been in a “slump” the last three games.

His numbers over that stretch? 19.3 points, 7.3 boards and 40.0% shooting from three. Those are all-american caliber numbers. How many players would love to be mired in that slump?

2. Shabazz Napier, UConn: Outside of a forgettable trip to Texas, Napier has been sensational for an otherwise thoroughly mediocre UConn team. The Huskies have won four of their last five and regained their footing in the AAC thanks to Napier, who is now averaging 17.8 points, 6.0 boards, 5.9 assists and 2.0 steals while shooting 44.3% from long range.

3. Jabari Parker, Duke: Parker’s shooting percentages have dipped, but that was something that was bound to happen. As terrific as he was in the first month and a half of the season, Parker was never really known for having the kind of shooting stroke that Doug McDermott does. You should get used to seeing nights where he shoots 5-for-12 or 7-for-19, which is why I think it’s fair to say he’s busted out of his five-game slump. The most important stat for Parker? Free throws. When he’s shooting free throws, it means he’s attacking the basket instead of settling for jumpers. The last four games he’s taken 34 free throws. The five before that, when he was slumping? All of 14.

source: Getty Images4. Nick Johnson, Arizona: Johnson’s athletic enough that he’ll throw down some impressive dunks from time-to-time, but outside of that, he’s never going to do much that will ‘wow’ fans in the stands or watching on TV. He’s not going to score 30 or control a game offensively or completely change the way a defense plays. But he’s the best player on the best team in the country — their best perimeter shooter, their best slasher, their best defender, their leader, their go-to guy at the end of a clock. Your game doesn’t always have to be ‘loud’ to be great.

5. Nik Stauskas, Michigan: It’s fun to follow the ebbs and flows of the Player of the Year race in college basketball because it tends to highlight the guy that got hot at the right time. Napier was the favorite to win the award back in November, as he posted monstrous numbers and repeatedly made big shots in clutch moments for the Huskies. Then it was Jabari Parker’s turn to take the lead, as his star turn carried us through the holidays. But as the calendar changed, it was Dougie McBuckets who staked his claim to the award and, essentially, put himself in a position where it’s his title to lose over the final month and change of the season.

At this point, Stauskas may be the guy that puts together the run that can spring an upset in the Player of the Year race. Playing without their three best players from last season’s run to the National Title game, Michigan has climbed right back to the top of the Big Ten standings, and Stauskas is the biggest reason why. It’s good news and bad news for the Wolverines. They look like a title contender again, but it means that Stauskas won’t last in Ann Arbor that much longer.

6. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse: I know what Jim Boeheim told Kelli Anderson of SI.com about C.J. Fair. I don’t care. Ennis is the most important player on this Syracuse team, and he’s playing at an elite level on both ends of the floor.

7. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State: Between the flopping, the tantrum against West Virginia and his insistence on trying to be a jump-shooter, Smart has become one of the more frustrating players in the country to watch. There may not be a better all-around player in the country this season. He’s not playing like it right now.

8. Julius Randle, Kentucky: Randle is still the same player he was in November. Here’s the issue: he plays in the SEC, so he’s not landing knockout blows over title contenders on a nightly basis, and he’s the focal point of every defensive game-plan. Want to know why the Harrisons and James Young are starting to have bigger scoring nights? Because Randle gets double- and triple-teamed on every touch.

9. Xavier Thames, San Diego State: I wanted to give Thames some love on this list because I don’t think he is getting enough attention nationally. SDSU’s defense is why they are a top ten team with a win at Kansas under their belt. They’re not a good team on the offensive end, however, which means that: a) everything runs through Thames, and b) his 17.6 points are just that much more impressive. He’s hit as many big shots this year as Shabazz Napier has.

10. Joel Embiid, Kansas: I have to leave Embiid here. He’s turned into arguably the most dominant paint presence in the country.

The next five:

  • Kyle Anderson, UCLA
  • Bryce Cotton, Providence
  • Lamar Patterson, Pitt
  • Casey Prather, Florida
  • Russ Smith, Louisville

Others: Jordan Adams, Keith Appling, Cameron Bairstow, Sam Dekker, C.J. Fair, Aaron Gordon, Gary Harris, Rodney Hood, Deandre Kane, Sean Kilpatrick, Kevin Pangos, Adreian Payne, Elfrid Payton, Jayvaughn Pinkston, Fred Van Vleet, T.J. Warren, Andrew Wiggins, Chaz Williams

Villanova lands four-star 2018 guard

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Villanova added its first recruit in the Class of 2018 on Wednesday night.

Jay Wright and his staff landed a verbal commitment from Paul VI Catholic High School’s Brandon Slater, a four-star guard by Rivals as the No. 42 overall prospect in the rising senior class.

The 6-foot-5 Slater announced his decision via Twitter.

Slater, according to Jeff Borzello of ESPN, picked the Wildcats over Maryland, Miami, South Carolina, and Virginia.

He is currently playing the Nike EYBL with Team Takeover, the same grassroots program that produced current Villanova guard Phil Booth.

Comic-Con forces Providence to play at Alumni Hall for home opener

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Providence will play its first game at Alumni Hall, the on-campus facility, for the first time in 35 years this fall.

The Friars unveiled their 2017-18 non-conference schedule on Thursday afternoon. The team’s home opener will play either Houston Baptist or Belmont in Mullaney Gym inside Alumni Hall.

According to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, the reason for that is a schedule conflict at Providence’s home arena, the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, in downtown Providence. A Comic-Con convention is scheduled Nov. 10-12. As McNamara notes, it’s a busy part of the season for The Dunk. The arena also is home to the Providence Bruins, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Boston Bruins, and by mid-November, their season is in full swing.

The Friars haven’t played at Alumni Hall since 1972, the same year the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was opened. In the three decades since Providence last played a regular season game there, the facility has gone under necessary renovations, as you could imagine. Even with added seats, Mullaney Gym can host a maximum of 1,549. That’s a fraction of what The Dunk’s capacity of 12,400.

Providence will return to its downtown home on Nov. 13, hosting Minnesota as part of the Gavitt Games. The Golden Gophers will likely be a top-20 team to open the season. The Friars, who bring back every notable player from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, is a fringe top-25 team.

Jalen Coleman-Lands to transfer out of Illinois

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The already-thin Illinois roster got thinner on Thursday afternoon.

Evan Daniels of Scout.com reported that sophomore guard Jalen Coleman-Lands has requested and received his release from the program. He will have to sit out next season but will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Coleman-Lands was a top-40 recruit in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals. He becomes the second player from that recruiting class this month to exit the school. Reserve guard D.J. Williams elected to transfer on May 8. With Jeremiah Tilmon and Javon Pickett, two incoming recruits, both previously reopened their recruitments following John Groce’s firing.

Even with the addition of Wright State graduate transfer Mark Alstork, who officially joined the Fighting Illini on Wednesday, Illinois is left with only nine scholarship players as of right now.

Coleman-Lands’ production dipped from his freshman campaign, ending the 2016-17 season averaging 8.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, shooting 38 percent from three.

One destination that will likely be rumored will be nearby DePaul. Coleman-Lands played for new DePaul assistant coach Shane Heirman at prep school powerhouse La Lumiere School. Heriman quickly tapped into that prep pipeline, helping secure a commitment from La Lumiere from five-star 2019 point guard Tyger Campbell earlier this month.

Coleman-Lands had taken official visits to Notre Dame and UNLV before committing to the Illini in September 2014.

North Carolina releases response to latest NCAA Notice of Allegations

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North Carolina is still trying to convince the NCAA that their investigation into the paper classes given by the university’s African-American Studies Department is not, in fact, an NCAA matter.

On Thursday afternoon, the University released their response to the NCAA’s third iteration of the Notice of Allegations, and the core argument in that response is that the school’s “inadequate academic oversight” does not fall under the jurisdiction of the NCAA’s bylaws. In other words, North Carolina is arguing that a rogue professor creating fake classes is not an NCAA issue. It’s a school issue.

What’s more, North Carolina is also arguing that athletes taking these classes should not be classified as an extra benefit because they were available to the entire student body.

“No special arrangements were made for student-athletes in violation of NCAA extra-benefit legislation,” the response reads. “Student-athletes were not treated differently than other students who took the Courses.”

“The public narrative for the last six years, popularized by media accounts, is that Department of Athletics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took advantage of ‘fake classes’ in the Department of African and African-American Studies to keep student-athletes eligible. That narrative is wrong and contradicted by the facts in the record.”

The NCAA’s allegations center around the idea that UNC’s athletes, most notably members of the football and men’s and women’s basketball teams, were guided to the fake classes within that department in order to keep their GPAs high enough to remain eligible. The classes in question had a disproportionate percentage of athletes.

A hearing in front of the Committee on Infractions is expected to take place at some point this summer.

No indictment for escort, staffer in Louisville sex scandal

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A grand jury declined to indict an escort and former Louisville men’s basketball staffer in a sex scandal that engulfed the program.

The Jefferson County grand jury decided Thursday there wasn’t enough evidence for charges of prostitution and unlawful transactions with a minor against Katina Powell and Andre McGee.

Powell wrote in a book published in 2015 that McGee hired her to provide dancers to perform sex acts for Cardinal recruits and players from 2010-2014.

The announcement by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office comes as the school awaits discipline in early June by the NCAA after an investigation.

Louisville has imposed its own penalties, including a postseason ban in 2015-16 and reductions in scholarships and recruiting visits by coaches.