DeAndre Daniels

UConn junior forward DeAndre Daniels to enter NBA Draft

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UConn’s chances of repeating as national champions next season hinged, in part, on the decisions of guard Ryan Boatright and forward DeAndre Daniels. With both considering entering the 2014 NBA Draft, head coach Kevin Ollie would have more holes to fill with Shabazz Napier, Niels Giffey and Lasan Kromah out of eligibility if those two juniors were to leave.

And Friday afternoon it was learned that there will be one more hole to fill.

As first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports that Daniels, whose improved play during the NCAA tournament made him a more enticing prospect to NBA scouts, has decided to forego his final season of eligibility and enter his name into the 2014 NBA Draft pool.

MOREThe list of players entering the 2014 NBA Draft

Daniels averaged 13.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game as a junior, and in the NCAA tournament he found the level of consistency that wasn’t always there during the regular season. Daniels reached double figures in five of UConn’s six NCAA tournament wins, including a 27-point, ten-rebound performance in their Sweet 16 win over Iowa State.

Draft Express projects Daniels, who was one of the best high school players in his class back in 2011, to be a late-first round selection.

Marcus Paige, Joel Berry lead No. 9 North Carolina past No. 2 Maryland

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.

For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the Preseason National Player of the Year.

On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.

Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.

Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.

In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.

As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.

(More to come from Chapel Hill…)

VIDEO: Melo Trimble drops Nate Britt with a crossover

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North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.

(H/T: The Cauldron)