AP Photo

NBCSports.com National Freshman of the Year: Jabari Parker, Duke

AP Photo

Jabari Parker’s season, as a whole, was quite impressive. He finished the year averaging 19.2 points and 9.0 boards while shooting 48.7% from the floor and 37.1% from three while leading Duke to a top ten ranking and, potentially, a top three seed in the NCAA tournament when the brackets are released.

What made Parker’s season so special, however, was how he was able to adjust the way that he was playing in the middle of the year.

RELATED: Player of the Year | Coach of the Year | NBC All-American Team

Early on in the season, Parker couldn’t miss from the perimeter. It seemed like every jump he took was destined for the bottom of the net, but as defenses adjusted and he was guarded by bigger, more athletic defenders, settling for step-backs and challenged threes just wasn’t working. That’s why he had that five-game slump right around the turn of the calendar.

Down the stretch, however, Parker made a concerted effort to get to the rim, whether it was in transition, in the half court or in the post. In his last 14 games, there was only one game when he didn’t notch at least six free throws attempts. He also embraced becoming the team’s best defensive rebounder. He had 10 double-doubles during that same stretch — including the last six games of the regular season — and never finished with fewer that seven boards.

What Parker can do on a basketball court didn’t change all that drastically over the course of the season, but his ability to tweak how he played was the difference-maker for Duke this season.

PHOTO: Ohio State’s new LeBron James shoe display

during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
Leave a comment

Ohio State has capitalized on its close relationship with NBA superstar LeBron James over the years and now has a new shoe display that should come in handy during recruiting.

The Buckeyes put out a tweet late this week with the display, calling themselves “THE LeBron school.” While this is something small, recruits like that the Buckeyes are tied into the best player in the world and it’s cool to them that Ohio State gets some exclusive gear.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
Leave a comment

Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.