Malik Newman (Getty Images)

Diamond Stone, Malik Newman and package deals

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The most interesting story line in the Class of 2014 involved Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and the way they marketed themselves as a package deal to the teams that were recruiting them.

The story has been told hundreds of times by now. Okafor, who was the top recruit in the country, and Jones, a top five recruit nationally, played together for Team USA in the U16 World Championships and, as a result, developed a bond on and off the court that they wanted to build on in college.

The way that it played out, both players ended up committing to Duke, automatically giving Coach K one of the best recruiting classes in the country and a top five ranking heading into the 2014-2015 season.

That’s why Malik Newman and Diamond Stone have immediately become the most intriguing prospects in the Class of 2015.

In case you missed it over the weekend, Stone confirmed to Scout.com that he and Newman are seriously considering playing their college ball together. The pairing is a bit odd — Newman is a 6-foot-3 combo-guard from Mississippi and Stone is a 6-foot-10 center from Wisconsin — but the weight of what they are saying isn’t. Newman, according to Rivals.com, is the No. 1 recruit in the class while Stone checks in at No. 3.

The Class of 2015 is not considered strong by many in the industry, but even with that disclaimer, landing two of the top three players in the class will be enough to push any of the schools pursuing the two prospects into a position where they are an immediate threat to win their league and reach the Final Four.

If Newman and Stone truly are going to play their college basketball together, than that makes them both by far the most important recruits in the country.

That’s a big ‘if’, however.

No one would blame you if you had ‘package deal fatigue’. Once prospects saw the kind of press that Jones and Okafor were getting for talking package deal, other recruits began to do the same. Whether it was a calculated ploy by the athletes to up their profile and bring in some bigger programs into their recruitment, an overreaction by the media that covers these things or simply a couple of kids saying they wouldn’t mind attending college with a friend, too many stories about ‘package deals’ that were never deals in the first place made the rounds.

In other words, there is no guarantee that Newman and Stone will actually end up at the same school.

But given their talent level relative to the rest of the class, any coach pursuing either player would be foolish not to try to bring them in together.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: A Big 12 and a Big Ten showdown

Denzel Valentine
(AP Photo/Al Goldis)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.

The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.

We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
  2. Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
  3. Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
  4. Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
  5. No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
  • No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.

 

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POWER RANKINGS: Buddy Hield isn’t going anywhere

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) drives to the basket as LSU guard Antonio Blakeney (2) defends in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
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It’s Tuesday, which means that it is once again time for the NBC Sports Player of the Year Power Rankings.

And you’ll be shocked to find out that Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield is still No. 1 in those rankings. By a pretty wide margin.

The rest of the top 10?

They can be found here, at the CBT FaceBook page. Follow that page for the countdown: