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Russ Smith named KenPom Player of the Year


Ken Pomeroy runs one of the most-trafficked advanced analytics websites in the country, and one of the things that he has done the last four years is to put together his very own Player of the Year ratings system.

This year, he named Russ Smith the KenPom Player of the Year, bucking the trend of every single other outlet that names a National Player of the Year, as they all went with Doug McDermott.

The thinking is more valid that you probably realize.

Essentially, Pomeroy’s thinking was that Smith was the most important player offensively and the most important player defensively for the team that finished sitting atop his efficiency rankings this season. Pomeroy values defense as much as he does offense, which, he says, is what dropped McDermott all the way into third in his rankings, behind Shabazz Napier.

I agree that Smith had a fantastic season — there’s a reason that we listed him as a first-team all-american — but when it comes to McDermott, I still don’t think there is an argument to be made. Creighton was overmatched from a talent perspective in just about every meaningful game they played, but they won because of their powerhouse offensive attack, which was built around McDermott.

But that’s neither here nor there, because the best part about Smith being named the KenPom Player of the Year is seeing him congratulate himself for it:

Report: Four-star center reclassifying to 2015; down to three

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An interesting recruiting development hit on Friday as Josh Gershon of reported that four-star center Jayce Johnson is reclassifying to the Class of 2015 and looking to join a program at semester break.

The 7-foot native of California is down to Cal, Colorado and Utah and Johnson is on an official visit to Utah this weekend after transferring to a charter school this week. As Gershon notes, only Cal has a scholarship to offer Johnson this season, but the family is willing to pay a semester at the other programs if it’s the right fit. Johnson would like to redshirt and train with his future college while playing against more mature players.

But if Johnson is persuaded not to redshirt, he could be an intriguing big man off the bench later in the season for a couple of teams looking to make a postseason appearance. As the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson is a talented prospect and he isn’t afraid to score with either hand. With some time to fill out, Johnson can turn into a talented Pac-12 player down the road.

VIDEO: Utah Valley’s Mark Pope dances, lip syncs with daughters

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New Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope made quite an impression on fans at the team’s Midnight Madness celebration last night. That’s because Pope did a dance and lip sync routine with his four daughters that turned out to be pretty impressive.

The former BYU assistant looks to be the leader in the clubhouse for best coach dance so far this preseason. We’ll see if any other coaches pull out elaborate routines at madness celebrations the next few weeks.