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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

Indiana lands four-star Class of 2017 wing Justin Smith

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Indiana landed an athletic wing commitment on Monday night as four-star small forward Justin Smith pledged to the Hoosiers on Twitter.

The 6-foot-6 Smith is a native of Lincolnshire, Illinois and comes from Stevenson High School as he’s regarded as the No. 105 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2017 rankings.

A high-flying wing who is great in the open floor, Smith should fit the Hoosiers’ uptempo system perfectly and if he’s able to get a more consistent perimeter jumper then he has a chance to be a really nice piece for Indiana.

Smith joins three-star guard Al Durham in Indiana’s recruiting Class of 2017.

Michigan State addingTom Izzo Hall of History wing in remodeled Breslin Center

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 22:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans reacts against the Virginia Cavaliers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has already been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this fall and the longtime Spartans head coach is receiving another unique honor in the remodeled Breslin Center.

The school announced over the weekend that the Tom Izzo Hall of History will be added to the Breslin Center renovations as the building is supposed to be completed by the fall of 2017.

“The Tom Izzo Hall of History will become a great gathering place on our campus where together we can celebrate the excellence of Spartan Basketball and MSU Athletics,” athletic director Mark Hollis said in a release. “When this facility project is complete it will be the finest college basketball facility in the country, so it’s only fitting that Tom’s name will be a permanent part of it.”

Overall, this is a nice addition to the Breslin Center, especially since Izzo and Michigan State basketball will forever be associated with one another. It should be cool for fans to go through it and re-live great moments in Michigan State history and the wing is another nice recruiting tool that can help point out all of Izzo’s biggest accomplishments.

 

Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament moving to Orlando amid Zika concerns

Lon Kruger
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Amid concerns over the Zika virus, the annual Puerto Rico Tip-Off announced a change in venue on Monday. Rather than staying on the island, the tournament will move to Orlando and all games will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney.

The dates and teams will remain the same for the event as it will be played Thursday, Nov. 17, Friday, Nov. 18 and Sunday, Nov. 20. The field for the event includes Arizona State, Clemson, Davidson, Missouri, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Tulane and Xavier.

“We enjoy the beauty and accommodations that are afforded in Puerto Rico and wanted to make every effort in playing the event in San Juan, but the concern for student-athlete and spectator welfare became the primary driver in the decision,” Pete Derzis, senior vice president of ESPN Events said in the official release.  “We intend to return to Puerto Rico in the future.”

Puerto Rico is currently under a Level 2 alert for Zika according to the CDC. Since there have been cases of Zika on the island with native mosquitoes, it’s probably a smart move to eliminate all concerns over the virus if they can easily move the tournament elsewhere. It probably isn’t ideal for fans who purchased travel packages to Puerto Rico to watch the event, but it’s a small price to pay for the safety of everyone involved.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company is also upset with the decision as Executive Director Ingrid Rivera Rocafort released a statement on Monday night.

“We are disappointed about this decision that we believe has been based on fear not the facts about Puerto Rico,” the statement read.

“There is no public health reason to cancel the Puerto Rico Tip Off or any sporting event in Puerto Rico. There is no doubt that our strong fan base and local spectators would have turned out to support their teams. Less than one percent of Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million population has contracted Zika, a far cry from projections. The hype and misinformation is fostering irrational decisions.”

PHOTO: Purdue unveils statue of John Wooden outside Mackey Arena

John Wooden (Purdue Athletics)
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John Wooden will forever be associated with the UCLA program for what he did while coaching there.

10 national titles in 12 years, including seven in a row. Not bad, right?

What some people may forget is that before he got into coaching, Wooden was one of the best basketball players in the world. He played his collegiate ball at Purdue, where he was a three-time all-american and the 1932 National Player of the Year.

To honor Wooden’s legacy as one of the greatest Boilermakers ever, Purdue built a statue of Wooden and unveiled it in front of Mackey Arena this weekend:

“Not many people think of Johnny Wooden as a Boilermaker, but when I got here in 1957, some of the old-timers still remembered him as a player,” Jim Hicks, the alumnus that donated the statue, said. “I’m so delighted that people will see this statue and read his Pyramid of Success because I think the pyramid was his most important contribution.”

One of the neat touches of the statue: Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is right there for all to see.

North Carolina lands third commitment in 2017 class

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 23: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Iowa State Cyclones at the AT&T Center on March 23, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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North Carolina picked up their third commitment in the Class of 2017 on Monday in big man Brandon Huffman.

A four-star prospect who will play his final season of high school ball at Word of God Academy in North Carolina, Huffman’s strength at this point in his development is as a defensive presence around the basket. He stands 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan and should be able to help replace Kennedy Meeks, who graduates this spring.

Huffman’s development on the offensive end of the floor isn’t quite there yet. A native of Anchorage, Alaska, Huffman is still learning how to be more influential on that end.

Huffman joins Jalek Felton and Andrew Platek in UNC’s 2017 class.