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College Basketball Player of the Year Power Rankings

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1. Doug McDermott, Creighton: What else can be said about McDermott’s season — and his career — at this point? He had 26 points on 11-for-19 shooting in a win at Butler in which he just so happened to hit the game-winning three with 47.8 seconds left. He followed that up by scoring 39 points on 13-for-17 shooting from the floor in another blowout win over No. 6 Villanova. Here’s what Jay Wright had to say about him after the game:

“I think I have a unique perspective in that I was with the USA team last summer when he played with the developmental team against the pros, and he played very well. Sometimes you watch a guy in college and you think about how that’s going to transfer to the NBA. But I saw it, and everything he does here in college he did this summer with those guys. I think he’s as complete a player with size as I’ve ever seen. 6-foot-8, 6-foot-9, there’s nothing he can’t do. He can take you off the dribble, he guards, he’s tough as hell, he defends, he rebounds, he moves without the ball, he seals. He’s the best post player that we’ve played against and he’s the best perimeter player, and he may be one of the best passers. And he’s 6-foot-9. He’s as good of a basketball player as I’ve seen.”

McDermott set a Big East record by earning Player of the Week honors for the seventh time this season. According to Rob Anderson, Creighton’s SID, McDermott has now won Player of the Week or Newcomer of the Week in 27 of the 63 weeks he’s played college basketball.

2. Jabari Parker, Duke: Parker was making up a bit of ground on McDermott before that 39-point outburst, as the freshman’s slump is nothing but a distant memory. We’ve been over this: when Parker is attacking the basket instead of settling for jumpers, he’s as dangerous as any scorer in the country. During this eight-game resurgence, he’s taken 75 free throws and just 21 three-pointers. In the five games before that, his slump, he took 21 threes and just 14 free throws.

Here’s Exhibit A of what I mean: instead of settling for a jumper, Parker went to the rim and managed to land himself the game-winning dunk against Maryland:

3. Shabazz Napier, UConn: Ho-hum, just another 34-point, five-rebound, four-assist performance from Napier in an overtime win over Memphis. He’s been so good this season that numbers like that are hardly even surprising anymore.

4. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse: Luke Winn came up with the nickname “Ennions” for Ennis, a play on Bill Raftery’s favorite saying. Personally, I like Captain Clutch. Syracuse is still undefeated after a pair of last-second wins, and Ennis had a major hand in both of them. He hit the running 35-footer to give the Orange the win at Pitt on Wednesday and had the game-winning assist to C.J. Fair on Saturday to beat N.C. State.

On the season, in final five minutes and overtime of one-possession games, Ennis is now 8-for-10 from the floor and 14-for-14 from the line with seven assists and just a single turnover.

5. Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati: Kilpatrick played one game last week, scoring 28 points and handing out six assists in a win over Houston. The Bearcats are built entirely around their defense. Kilpatrick is, for the most part, the only guy on the roster that can score. Let’s put it into context: Cincinnati is 108th in the country in offensive efficiency, while Kilpatrick is third in the nation in offensive efficiency for players that use more than 28% of their team’s possessions. In other words, Kilpatrick is putting up McDermott-esque numbers in an offense that’s no where near as good.

6. Russ Smith, Louisville: Smith has been better this season than he was last season. The problem? Louisville only has two notable wins this season: SMU and at UConn. In their last five games, however, the Cards play at Cincinnati, at Memphis, at SMU and at home against UConn. Big performances in those games will get Smith more attention nationally.

7. Nick Johnson, Arizona: Johnson was terrific earlier this season, but with Brandon Ashley, more offensive responsibility has fallen into Johnson’s lap. In the four games since Ashley went out, Johnson is averaging 11.5 points while shooting 25.0% (15-60) from the floor and 1-for-18 from three, or 5.6%. That’s … not good.

8. Xavier Thames, San Diego State: Thames is in the same boat as Kilpatrick, a talented scorer on a team that doesn’t have many of them. In two games last week, Thames was 6-for-26 from the floor and 2-for-13 from three. SDSU lost at Wyoming and struggled against Air Force.

9. Kyle Anderson, UCLA: The Bruins swept Utah and Colorado this week while Slo-Mo averaged 19.0 points, 8.5 assists and 8.0 boards. He’s averaging 15.4 points, 8.7 boards and 6.8 assists on the season.

10. Jabari Brown, Missouri: Brown needs some love. His numbers this season are ridiculous: 20.5 points, 4.6 boards, 45.7% 3PT, 126.4 oRTG. In SEC play, they get even better: 22.8 points and 50.0% 3PT.

Others: Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, Cameron Bairstow, Bryce Cotton, Sam Dekker, Cleanthony Early, Joel Embiid, C.J. Fair, Marcus Foster, Aaron Gordon, Gary Harris, Rodney Hood, Deandre Kane, Kevin Pangos, Lamar Patterson, Adreian Payne, Elfrid Payton, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, Juwan Staten, Nik Stauskas, Fred Van Vleet, T.J. Warren, Andrew Wiggins, Scottie Wilbekin, Chaz Williams

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

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Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)

POSTERIZED: Class of 2016 forward Chris Seeley has a massive dunk on defender

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The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.

At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.

The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.

 

 

 

Five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt cuts list to nine

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Five-star Class of 2017 forward Jarred Vanderbilt has been one of the most sought-after recruits in the country since he was a freshman in high school.

The 6-foot-8 native of Houston is beginning to wind things down in the recruiting process as he cut his list to nine schools on Friday. Vanderbilt’s list includes some of the most storied programs in college basketball and plenty of schools from his home state of Texas.

“I just followed my heart. Went with the schools I liked the most and who I have the best relationships with. Thear were the schools I could see myself playing for,” Vanderbilt told NBCSports.com.

Regarded as the No. 13 overall prospect in the Rivals.com national rankings, Vanderbilt is currently recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

Vanderbilt will see a doctor in three-to-four weeks as he’s currently in a boot to help his foot heal.

Report: Michigan State and Penn State will play at the Palestra

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Head coach Patrick Chambers of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has previously expressed a desire to coach a game at the legendary Palestra in Philadelphia and it appears he’ll get his chance in a Big Ten game this season.

According to a report from Brendan F. Quinn of MLive, Penn State will use the Palestra as its home gym for the Jan. 7, 2017 Big Ten game against Michigan State. It is the only time the two teams are scheduled to play during Big Ten season and Penn’s home gym will offer a unique setting for the game.

Since the capacity of the Palestra is 8,722, it should make for a fun atmosphere for both programs since this will be a game both fan bases will likely want to attend.

With Nittany Lions head coach Pat Chambers making Philadelphia a major recruiting priority for his program, a game like this in Philadelphia makes sense while Michigan State has always been open to playing games in unique settings such as aircraft carriers.

The Palestra has been a college basketball mainstay since it was built in 1927 as it hosts all Penn home games and, in the past, hosted a lot of Big 5 Philadelphia college games between La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova.

Overall, a fun idea that should make for an interesting experience for both programs. It’s not often that a team will change its home venue for a conference game, but it could be the start of something we see other schools look to do.