The Secondary Break: Friday’s Links

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From Ontario to Wichita, Lufile and Wiggins reach senior day together (Wichita Eagle)
No. 2 Wichita State will play its final home game of the season on Saturday, and while much of the attention will focus on whether or not they can complete the regular season undefeated it’s also senior day. Two seniors being honored are forwards Chadrack Lufile and Nick Wiggins, who have been friends for years.

Seat owner at Assembly Hall says he’s “lucky” he wasn’t hit (Indianapolis Star)
On Thursday Indiana played its rescheduled game against No. 20 Iowa, beating the Hawkeyes 93-86 at Assembly Hall. A large piece of metal falling from the roof resulted in the game needing to be moved, and had the event occurred a couple hours later it would have been catastrophic. And the man who was planning on sitting in one of the damaged seats for the Iowa game spoke of his good fortune.

Bairstow appears to lead for Mountain West Player of the Year (Albuquerque Journal)
New Mexico senior forward Cameron Bairstow was one of 15 players named to the Robertson Award list of finalists on Thursday, and he was the only Mountain West player to be honored. And given his play throughout the season, Bairstow may be the frontrunner for league Player of the Year. But he’ll be challenged down the stretch, with teammate Kendall Williams and San Diego State’s Xavier Thames also having solid arguments.

Napier takes Samuel under his wing, and UConn benefits (Hartford Courant)
UConn wasn’t playing particularly well against USF on Wednesday night, but one player who provided the needed spark was freshman guard Terrence Samuel. With Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright being the primary options there hasn’t been much available playing time for Samuel this season, but he’s taken advantage of his situation by learning all he can from Napier.

My Wichita State talking points (Ken Pomeroy)
Much of the conversation regarding Wichita State has centered on two general themes: their schedule, and the fact that if they go undefeated the Shockers should automatically receive a one-seed. That’s far too simplistic for Ken Pomeroy, who offers his thoughts on the matter.

Marquette’s Chris Otule a study in resilience (USA Today)
Marquette sixth-year senior center Chris Otule may not have the statistics that some look for in assessing the impact of a player, but there’s no doubt that he’s been a key figure for Buzz Williams’ program. Playing with a prosthetic eye Otule’s persevered throughout his career, fighting his way back from three serious injuries that he didn’t alway believe he’d be able to come back from.

For Casey and Curry, a long road to Senior Night (Harvard Crimson)
Harvard seniors Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry have both experienced interesting careers at the school, highlighted by their being forced to withdraw for a year in the aftermath of an academic scandal that involved both athletes and non-athletes. That withdrawal led to them missing out on the basketball team’s first-ever NCAA tournament win, and their work to get back has helped a team looking to make a third consecutive trip to the Big Dance.

The real ACC champion is crowned in Greensboro (Duke Basketball Report)
On Saturday afternoon No. 4 Syracuse visits No. 12 Virginia with the Cavaliers looking to win the ACC’s regular season title. However while that would be a notable achievement for Tony Bennett’s program (and for Jim Boeheim’s should the Orange end up winning the conference), the fact of the matter is that the ACC acknowledges the winner of the conference tournament as its official “champion.”

Dinwiddie weighing options for future (Boulder Daily Camera)
When Colorado point guard Spencer Dinwiddie went down in late January with a torn ACL, there were two major concerns. First and foremost was the concern of what the injury would mean for the Buffaloes, who look to be headed back to the NCAA tournament after struggling in the immediate aftermath of his injury. The other concern was what the injury would do to Dinwiddie’s NBA hopes, something he’s currently evaluating.

Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

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Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

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Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

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Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

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De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.

Vanderbilt the sixth Kentucky player declares for the NBA draft

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Jarred Vanderbilt is now the sixth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the NBA draft this spring, joining P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel in testing the waters without signing with an agent.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have all declared for the draft and signed with an agent.

Vanderbilt announced his decision on Friday afternoon.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said. “At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA.”

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school.”

Vanderbilt missed the first 17 games of his freshman season with a left foot injury, a foot that he had injured twice before during his high school career. He then missed all four of Kentucky’s postseason games with a left ankle injury, and there is a chance that he could end up needing surgery to correct this issue this offseason.

All told, the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt played in 14 games as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 boards in just 17 minutes a night. But issues with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and a lower left leg that has proven to be extremely problematic, there is a good chance that Vanderbilt would go undrafted should he decide to turn pro.