The Secondary Break: Thursday’s Links

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Karvel Anderson finds a home (ESPN)
Robert Morris senior guard Karvel Anderson’s path to college was anything but smooth. With his mother being incarcerated, life eventually dealt Anderson the hand of being homeless as a teenager. But he refused to give up, working hard to eventually realize his dream of becoming a Division I basketball player. And on Monday he was named Northeast Conference Player of the Year.

Which college basketball programs made a mistake going to Division I? (Land Grant Holy Land)
The number of Division I programs this season is up to 351, with a few provisional programs going through the transition process to the game’s highest level. And with that many teams it’s natural to wonder if any have made the mistake of moving up. This story looks at all aspects of the moves being made to Division I and even picks out a few winners and losers.

Chris Perez: Tenacious player is a fan favorite (Albuquerque Journal)
New Mexico honored its senior class on Wednesday night following the Lobos’ 80-52 win over Air Force, and while Cameron Bairstow and Kendall Williams receive plenty of attention there’s a third player who was honored. Walk-on Chris Perez has been a part of the program for four years, and he became a fan favorite of many of the UNM faithful during his time in Albuquerque.

DePaul senior Brandon Young has shown leadership in tough times (Chicago Sun-Times)
It’s no secret that the DePaul Blue Demons have struggled mightily in recent years, with the downturn occurring within a couple years of their move into the Big East in the mid-2000s. One player who’s been present for the last four seasons in guard Brandon Young, who has worked to remain positive despite the lack of success.

Zach LaVine shaking off slump just in time for homecoming trip (Los Angeles Times)
UCLA freshman guard Zach LaVine found himself mired in a shooting slump prior to last week’s games against the Oregon schools. At one point an explosive scorer off the bench for the Bruins, LaVine was not producing at that level. Luckily for he and the Bruins the freshman turned things around last week, just in time for the team’s trip to his native Washington for games against Washington and Washington State this week.

Coaching is a path Virginia’s Tony Bennett once resisted and now embraces (Yahoo Sports)
After a professional career spent in the NBA, Australia and New Zealand, Tony Bennett needed to figure out what his next step would be. One profession he had no desire of entering: coaching, as he’d seen the impact of the game on his father. But an experience coaching overseas lit the fire, leading Bennett on a career path that would ultimately wind up in Charlottesville.

Andrew Wiggins experiences mixed emotions in home finale (Lawrence Journal-World)
It was “Senior Night” in Lawrence on Wednesday, with No. 8 Kansas closing the home portion of its season with a win over Texas Tech. But there was also the prospect of it being the final home game for Andrew Wiggins, who had mixed emotions regarding the experience and lamented that the season went by too fast.

Keith Appling, Adreian Payne don’t want to break Final Four streak (Detroit Free-Press)
Michigan State’s hit a rough stretch of late, with health and rust issues being two of the contributing factors. On Thursday night their seniors will be honored when the Spartans host Iowa, and Keith Appling and Adreian Payne are hungry for their first Final Four appearance. On the line is an impressive streak, with every senior class under Tom Izzo having reached at least one Final Four.

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.