Late Night Snacks: No. 2 Arizona survives, Sean Kilpatrick thrives

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Belmont 99, Murray State 96

Belmont hasn’t been in the OVC very long, but their three games against Murray State have all been good. Thursday’s meeting was the latest chapter in this series, with the Bruins hanging on to beat the Racers with Blake Jenkins and J.J. Mann scoring 25 points apiece to lead the way. As a team Belmont shot 56% from the field, with Murray State shooting 48% and hitting 12 three-pointers to remain close. Cameron Payne scored 29 points and Jarvis Williams added 21 and 13 rebounds to lead Murray State offensively. The two teams remain atop their respective divisions, with Belmont maintaining a one-game lead in the loss column on Eastern Kentucky in the OVC’s East Division.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

1) No. 2 Arizona 67, Oregon 65

In their first full game without the injured Brandon Ashley the Wildcats struggled for much of the night, and some suspect foul shooting helped keep Oregon in the game. But the Ducks also missed some key free throws late, falling by two points with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (14 points, ten rebounds) giving Arizona a much-needed spark.

2) No. 7 Cincinnati 63, No. 22 UConn 58

Senior guard Sean Kilpatrick added more evidence to the argument that he’s one of the nation’s best players, accounting for 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in the Bearcats’ 15th consecutive victory. UConn shot just 32% from the field in the second half, and their offensive struggles in the final 20 minutes contributed to the outcome as well.

3) No. 9 Michigan State 82, Penn State 67

Keith Appling didn’t play due to an injured write but Adreian Payne returned to the court, scoring 12 points and grabbing three rebounds in his first action since January 7. The stars for Michigan State in their win over the Nittany Lions were Kenny Kaminski and Denzel Valentine, with Kaminski scoring a career-high 19 points and Valentine adding 11 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.

STARRED

1) Tyler Stone (Southeast Missouri State)

In the Redhawks’ 93-88 overtime loss at SIU-Edwardsville, Stone tallied 37 points (15-for-19 FG), eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.

2) Charlie Lee (Cleveland State) and Travis Bader (Oakland) 

In the Vikings’ 92-85 win at Oakland both Lee and Bader stood out for their respective teams. Lee accounted for 31 points, six assists and three rebounds to lead Cleveland State to the win, with Bader hitting ten of his 13 three-pointers and scoring 35 points. Bader set the NCAA record for made three-pointers in a career on Sunday.

3) Brett Comer (FGCU) 

30 points on 11-for-17 shooting from the field, eight assists and four rebounds in the Eagles’ 100-71 win over Jacksonville.

STRUGGLED

1) Andrew Andrews (Washington) 

Made just one of his 12 field goal attempts in Washington’s 78-69 loss at Utah.

2) Shabazz Napier (UConn) 

UConn’s leading scorer shot 5-for-19 from the field (2-for-12 in the second half) in the Huskies’ 63-58 loss at No. 7 Cincinnati.

3) Xavier Munford (Rhode Island)

Munford shot 4-for-15 from the field in Rhode Island’s 68-52 loss at VCU. As a team URI shot 34.6% from the field and committed 20 turnovers.

NOTABLES

  • LSU suffered a defeat that won’t look good on its resume, falling 91-78 at Georgia. The Bulldogs shot 60% from the field.
  • Arizona State’s Jordan Bachynski put together one of the best games of his career, finishing with 17 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks in the Sun Devils’ 86-82 overtime win over Oregon State. In the win Bachynski also became the Pac-12’s all-time leader in blocked shots (279).
  • Karvel Anderson scored 16 points to lead Robert Morris to a 65-56 win at LIU Brooklyn, maintaining their one-game lead atop the NEC. In the loss LIU’s Jason Brickman moved into 11th on the NCAA’s all-time assist list (941), passing Gary Payton.
  • Juvonte Reddic accounted for 14 points and 11 rebounds as VCU beat Rhode Island 68-52, staying within a game of Saint Louis in the Atlantic 10.
  • Markus Kennedy and Shawn Williams scored 14 points apiece to lead five players in double figures as SMU beat Temple 75-52.
  • Georgia State moved to 10-0 in Sun Belt play with a 68-57 win at UALR, putting the game away with a 16-6 second half run.
  • Davidson shot 16-for-22 from three in its 109-88 win at Samford, with Brian Sullivan making seven of his ten attempts from beyond the arc.
  • Weber State maintained its two-game lead in the Big Sky with an 84-72 win at North Dakota. After the Wildcats and Northern Colorado (7-4) there are eight teams with either five or six conference losses. Only the top seven qualify for the Big Sky tournament.
  • Luke Nelson scored 28 points to lead UC Irvine to a 61-58 win over Long Beach State in a battle of teams tied for first place in the Big West.

Illinois lands important commitment from four-star Class of 2017 guard Mark Smith

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Illinois landed a very important Class of 2017 commitment on Wednesday as guard Mark Smith pledged to the Illini.

The 6-foot-4 Smith was previously a Missouri commit for baseball, but some issues with his arm caused him to look back into basketball last summer. A native of Edwardsville, in the St. Louis metro area, Smith came out of nowhere to win the Illinois Mr. Basketball award as a senior this season as he averaged 21.9 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds while becoming a consensus national top-100 prospect.

Rivals rates Smith as the No. 52 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 as he could come in and earn immediate minutes at Illinois next season at either guard spot.

This is a very important commitment for head coach Brad Underwood and the Illini as the new head coach was able to hold off some elite programs like Kentucky and Michigan State for Smith’s services.

Northwestern gets commitment from Boston College transfer A.J. Turner

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Northwestern landed a transfer on Wednesday as former Boston College wing A.J. Turner pledged to the Wildcats, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The 6-foot-7 Turner just finished his sophomore season with the Golden Eagles as he averaged 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. A well-rounded wing who also shot 37 percent from three-point range, Turner will have to sit out one season due to NCAA transfer regulations before getting two more years of eligibility.

With Scottie Lindsay and Vic Law only having limited time left in Evanston, Turner provides a bit of insurance on the wing for the Wildcats for the future as he’s a proven rotation player coming from the ACC.

Oakland’s Greg Kampe hosting charity golf event with big-name coaches

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Oakland head coach Greg Kampe hosted a successful charity event for cancer research two years ago by allowing people to bid online to play a round of golf with some of college basketball’s best coaches.

Kampe is back again this year as he’s hoping to eventually raise $1 million for the American Cancer Society.

According to a report from Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press, Kampe has 11 high-profile names that fans can play with this year.

  • Tom Izzo, Michigan State
  • Frank Martin, South Carolina
  • Rick Barnes, Tennessee
  • Mick Cronin, Cincinnati
  • Chris Holtmann, Butler
  • Kevin Willard, Seton Hall
  • Greg Kampe, Oakland
  • Stan Van Gundy, Detroit Pistons
  • Steve Lavin
  • Fran Fraschilla
  • Bill Raftery

Fans can find more details about the auctions and all of the details here.

The minimum bid is $15,000 per coach. A “buy now” bid of $24,000 is also available.

Each round includes the following, according to the event’s website:

Up for auction will be 11 spectacular packages, featuring a private dinner with elite basketball coaches and VIPs, a one night stay at MotorCity Casino Hotel on Sunday, June 4, and an afternoon of golf on Monday, June 5 at Oakland Hills Country Club on the South Course. The winning bidders and their two guests will round out the foursomes with their selected VIP: Rick Barnes, Mick Cronin, Fran Fraschilla, Chris Holtmann, Tom Izzo, Greg Kampe, Steve Lavin, Frank Martin, Bill Raftery, Stan Van Gundy, or Kevin Willard.

There are a lot of great selections to choose from for this sort of thing, but I can’t imagine a better afternoon than playing golf with Bill Raftery and a few friends. There are some other tempting choices on this list, but that’s the one I would have to jump at.

If you think 137 players declaring for the draft is stupid, you’re probably stupid

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The NBA Draft’s full early entry list came out on Tuesday afternoon, and there were 137 underclassmen listed on it.

137.

For 60 spots in the NBA Draft, only 30 of which guarantee you a contract in the NBA.

And that’s before you factor in the 45 international players that also declared for the NBA Draft, as well as the crop of seniors — Josh Hart, Monte’ Morris, Jaron Blossomgame, Alec Peters — that are going to end up hearing their names called. All told, there are going to be roughly 200 players competing to be one of the 60 people that end up getting drafted on June 22nd, and you don’t have to be any good at math to realize that 200 is a much, much bigger number than 60.

This unleashed a torrent of bad takes on the decision of these players.

And bad may not be doing those takes justice.

Because the bottom-line is this: You cannot paint the decision on whether or not to go pro with a broad brush.

For some players, making money of any kind is something they need to do to support their family, whether it’s what they’ll get with a first round guarantee, the $75-100,000 they’ll get for making a training camp roster to subsidize their time in the D-League while teams develop them or the money they can make in the D-League or overseas. You don’t know what their financial situation is. Maximizing their ability to capitalize on every available dollar they can make off of their athletic gifts may be more important than working towards a degree.

And it’s worth noting here that a guaranteed contract isn’t the only way to make a living in professional basketball. To say nothing of the money that can be made overseas or the number of second round picks and undrafted players that make guaranteed money — which is more than you probably realize — it needs to be noted that D-League salaries are getting a bump this year with the new CBA.

The NBA has also instituted something new called a “two-way contract”. Without getting into the legalese, it’s essentially a retainer worth well into the six figures that they will be able to give to two players that will allow them to retain that player under contract while sending them between the D-League and the NBA roster. In a sense, it creates an extra 60 NBA roster spots for players that have 0-3 years worth of professional basketball on their résumé.

Some players are simply declaring without signing with an agent because they want to get feedback directly from NBA personnel on what their professional prospects. Some will hear that they need to return to school to work on their body, or work on their jumper, or mature as a person to be able to handle everything that comes with being a professional. Others will be told they’re going to make a lot of money by staying in the draft, or that they need to go back to school because, frankly, they are not professional basketball players. Not getting invited to the NBA combine is a pretty good indication of where you stand in the eyes of NBA teams.

Still other players are putting their name into the draft to leave their options open should they be recruited over by the program they are a part of. Take Frank Jackson, for example. If he can return to school and thrive as Duke’s point guard, maybe he turns into a top 20 pick. But what happens if Trevon Duval, the best point guard in the Class of 2017 and a top five pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, picks Duke? Would it be in Jackson’s best interest to come back to Duke when he won’t be playing the position that he needs to learn to play to turn himself into a lasting NBA player?

Jackson, like the roughly 100 underclassmen that have declared without an agent, has until May 24th to make his decision on whether or not he will keep his name in the draft. Until then, he can return to school without damaging his eligibility.

The entire reason that the NCAA changed their rules to allow players to test the waters is so that they can make the most important decision of their lives with as much information as humanly possible. This thing exists for the sole purpose of allowing the kids to have as much knowledge about their options as possible.

And that is exactly what these kids are doing.

So the idea that this rule, or players taking advantage of that rule, however high that number may be, is a bad thing is stupid.