Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick is awesome, again, vs. UConn. When will we notice?

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One of my favorite twitter feeds to follow is @NoEscalators. It’s run by a group of UConn fans who (I’m assuming) imbibe an adult beverage or nine during Husky games and let loose with often hilarious — usually quite vulgar — analysis of the game.

Once in a while, however, the feed is actually quite insightful. Take, for example, this tweet:

Now, it’s not totally accurate. Justin Jackson has developed a bit of a face-up game. Ge’Lawn Guyn is starting to make threes a bit more consistently. Shaq Thomas and Titus Rubles and Troy Caupain are all capable role players.

But that’s what we in the business like to call picking nits.

For all intents and purposes, No. 7 Cincinnati really only has one option on the offensive end of the floor, and that would be their leading scorer Sean Kilpatrick. The 24-year old New York native lit up No. 22 UConn on Thursday night, finishing with 26 points, 12 boards and six assists. He finished 8-for-15 from the floor, and while it may not be entirely accurate, if felt like each one of those eight field goals was a massive, momentum-changing shot.

Safe to say, it was Kilpatrick that was Cincinnati’s MVP in their 63-58 win on Thursday. He’s been their MVP the entire season, averaging 19.4 points, 4.2 boards and 2.3 assists as the primary offensive option on a top ten basketball team that is 21-2 on the season, 11-0 in the AAC and undefeated outside of a two-game losing streak they suffered in the second week of December.

That’s impressive.

But that’s not the most impressive part of his season.

Entering Thursday, Kilpatrick was using 27.8% of Cincinnati’s possessions with an offensive efficiency rating of 121.6. Now, I know advanced stats aren’t for everybody, so let me start off by saying that those numbers are, in a word, tremendous.

By comparison, Kilpatrick would be the third-most efficient scorer in the country for players that use 28% of their team’s possessions, notching him one spot in front of the Creighton’s Doug McDermott, who is the runaway favorite for the National Player of the Year award.

That’s before you factor in the 26 points he scored on 15 shots on Thursday night.

Now, McDermott is a much higher-usage player that Kilpatrick, but he also happens to find himself in a program that’s built around offensive efficiency. Cincinnati? They’re the nation’s 125th-best offense despite the fact that Kilpatrick is having the kind of season that he is having.

Maybe @NoEscalators is right after all: “literally no one but Kilpatrick can score for Cincy.”

And the Bearcats still look like a legitimate Final Four contender. Imagine where that offense would be without him. Imagine where Cincinnati would be without him.

Kilpatrick is having an unbelievable year, one that is worthy of heavy all-american consideration, and he just so happens to be peaking at the right time. In his last four games, he’s averaging 25.3 points.

Will that be enough for people to start noticing?

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averagedΒ 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.