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Player of the Year Power Rankings: Frank Mason III makes up ground on Josh Hart

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1. Josh Hart, Villanova: Hart had his worst game of the season at Butler on Wednesday, as he finished with 13 points on 3-for-11 shooting as he battled foul trouble and the Wildcats dropped their first game since last March. His response? 19 points and seven assists in a win over Marquette at home.

2. Frank Mason III, Kansas
: I’m going to keep on beating this drum, but it’s ridiculous how under-appreciated Mason is this season. Here are his numbers: 19.9 points, 5.7 assists, 4.5 boards and just 2.4 turnovers while shooting 53 percent from the floor and 52.3 percent from three on more than four threes a night. Here is Kansas’ record since a season-opening, overtime loss to Indiana in which Mason had 30 points and nine assists: 14-0.

3. Lonzo Ball, UCLA: After playing a fairly poor game at Oregon to open Pac-12 play, Ball has bounced back in his last three games by averaging 19.3 points, 7.3 assists, 5.7 boards, 2.3 steals and 1.7 blocks while shooting 52.8 percent from the floor and 45 percent from three. I think he bounced back from his “slump”.

4. Caleb Swanigan, Purdue: Caleb Swanigan now has 13 double-doubles and eight in his last eight games, a stretch that has also seen him notch three 20-20 games, two of which he eclipsed 28 points. He’s averaging 18.3 points and 12.9 boards on the season, and if Big Ten play, he’s posting 20.8 points and 14.0 boards. Oh, and should I mention Purdue is coming off of a statement win over Wisconsin on Sunday?

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 17:  Caleb Swanigan #50 of the Purdue Boilermakers dunks the ball during the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on December 17, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Caleb Swanigan (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

5. Luke Kennard, Duke: In the last two games, I think we’ve started to get a glimpse of what Kennard’s role is going to be moving forward. He scored 25 combined points against Georgia Tech and Boston College on just 13 total shots. That’s what happens with Grayson Allen back, Jayson Tatum hitting his stride and Harry Giles III moving into the starting lineup. What a luxury it would be to have a guy as good as Kennard taking six shots a night.

6. De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky: For my money, Fox is the best player on Kentucky. He’s the point-man of their defense, he’s the engine of their fast break and he’s the guy that creates shots for the players on the roster that can’t do it for themselves. As good as Malik Monk is and as lethal as he can be as a scorer, he can’t affect a game is as many different ways as Fox.

7. Mo Watson, Creighton: Like Fox, Watson is the engine of one of the nation’s most high-powered offenses. The nation’s leader in assists, Watson is the guy that leads the break and he’s the guy who, in the half court, can get into the lane and find the myriad of shooters that populate the Creighton lineup.

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8. Dwayne Bacon, Florida State: Bacon has developed into one of the best and most efficient wing scorers in college hoops this season. How? His turnovers are way down and his shooting numbers are up across the board, specifically from beyond the arc, where he’s hitting 37.1 percent from deep. He also has a signature performance already, when he scored 26 second half points and hit the game-winner at Virginia. He’s very much in the race for all-american.

9. Malik Monk, Kentucky: Monk’s last five games:

  • 47 points, 18-28 FGs, 8-12 3PTs
  • 16 points, 6-17 FGs, 1-9 3PTs
  • 34 points, 11-16 FGs, 5-7 3PTs
  • 26 points, 8-11 FGs, 5-7 3PTs
  • 12 points, 4-10 FGs, 0-5 3PTs

That’s the streakiness reputation that Monk has developed in action. The good news for Kentucky is that A) it only has cost them once this season, a road game against a top 10 team, and B) when Monk is hot, he’s been far better than anyone could have predicted.

10. Johnathan Motley, Baylor: Baylor is undefeated and the No. 1 team in the country, but the only player from that team that sniffs this list slid a spot to No. 10? That’s just how this team is built. Motley is their leading scorer, but is he their best player? Is Manu Lecomte? Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated made the argument last week that a guy that is averaging 5.5 points is actually their most valuable player. The Bears are good, but star power isn’t the only way to win college basketball games.


Joel Berry II, North Carolina
Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame
Markelle Fultz, Washington
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s
Lauri Markkanen, Arizona
Kelan Martin, Butler
Yante Maten, Georgia
Alec Peters, Valparaiso
Melo Trimble, Maryland

Louisville’s Deng Adel and Ray Spalding to test draft process

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A season that began with the firing of Rick Pitino in mid-October came to an end Tuesday night, as Louisville lost to Mississippi State 79-56 in a Postseason NIT regional final. There are a lot of questions to be answered, most notably who will lead the program moving forward after interim head coach David Padgett led the Cardinals to 22 wins.

As for the players, two announced following the loss that they will be going through the NBA Draft process. Junior wing Deng Adel and junior forward Ray Spalding both confirmed that they will be entering the NBA Draft but not hiring agents, so as to preserve their collegiate eligibility should they decide to return to school.

This will be the second time that Adel has entered the NBA Draft, doing so last spring before making the decision to return to school.

Playing just over 33 minutes per game, the 6-foot-8 Adel averaged 15.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per contest, shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 35.0 percent from three. Moving into the starting lineup after serving as a reserve in each of his first two seasons at Louisville, the 6-foot-10 Spalding averaged 12.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 27.4 minutes per game.

Mississippi State advances to NIT semifinals at MSG

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Quinndary Weatherspoon scored 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds and Mississippi State advanced to the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York with a 79-56 victory over Louisville on Tuesday night.

Mississippi State (25-11) will face Penn State (24-13) on March 27.

Lamar Peters opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer and Mississippi State led by at least nine points the rest of the way. Weatherspoon scored eight points during a 12-3 run to start the third for a 51-31 advantage and MSU cruised.

Aric Holman added 16 points and eight rebounds for Mississippi State, which has won its most games since the 2009-10 season. Xavian Stapleton and Nick Weatherspoon each chipped in with 12 points. Abdul Ado had three blocks to tie Jarvis Varnado for the most blocks by a MSU freshman with 67.

Ray Spalding paced Louisville (22-14) with 13 points and 11 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season. The Cardinals shot 35 percent from the floor and were outrebounded 42-32.

Gregg Marshall does right by Alex Lomax with NLI release

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Memphis introduced Penny Hardaway as its new head coach Tuesday morning, with the former Tiger great and Memphis native making his triumphant return to campus.

And it didn’t take long for Hardaway’s hiring to have an impact on the recruiting trail either, as the point guard who led Hardaway’s Memphis East squad to its third straight TSSAA AAA state title is expected to play for his longtime mentor.

Alex Lomax, who signed a National Letter of Intent to play for Gregg Marshall at Wichita State, requested to be released from his NLI on Tuesday. It didn’t take Marshall long to make his decision, granting Lomax’s request and citing the unique circumstances in his statement as to why.

“Obviously, we take commitments to the Shocker program very seriously, but this is a very unique situation where a young man’s mentor and coach since the 5th grade has become a Division I head coach,” Marshall said. “Allowing him out of his NLI without any penalty is the right thing to do.”

The National Letter of Intent, for those who may not be too familiar with it, is a document that when signed binds the recruit in question to the school they’ve committed to. If the circumstances surrounding the recruitment change, getting released from the NLI can be incredibly difficult. Coaches and universities have no obligation to release a recruit once they sign, and it seems like every year we run into a situation where a coach is refusing to so.

Kansas point guard Devonte’ Graham is only a senior this season because, after signing an NLI with Appalachian State, he was not given a release and forced to go to prep school for a year. That’s not as uncommon as you might think.

That is also perfectly within the bounds of the rules, if not the laws of being a decent human being.

Wichita State and Marshall could have taken this opportunity to make life miserable for Lomax, and there would have been those who rushed to say that since the young man made a commitment he should stick by it no matter what. Lomax was a noteworthy recruiting win for the program during its first season in the American Athletic Conference, as the Wichita State went into Memphis and landed a pledge from a prospect who was likely to be a key part of the program’s plans moving forward.

But the hit that comes with allowing Lomax to leave without fuss is far less severe than what happens if Wichita State and Marshall make things difficult for him.

Faced with the opportunity to do the right thing and help out a young player, Marshall and Wichita State did just that.

The program should, and will, be applauded for it.

Stevens’ 30 points leads Penn State past Marquette in NIT

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Lamar Stevens tied his career high with 30 points, Tony Carr added 25 and Penn State beat Marquette 85-80 on Tuesday night to advance to the NIT semifinals.

The Nittany Lions (24-13) will face either Mississippi State or Louisville at Madison Square Garden in New York on March 27. They advanced to the NIT semis for the first time since winning the 2009 tournament.

Stevens hit three crucial buckets in the final three minutes, including a dunk off an alley-oop pass from Josh Reaves for an eight-point lead with one minute left. The 6-foot-8 Stevens then maneuvered through a couple Marquette players to secure a rebound off Andrew Rowsey’s missed 3 with 46 seconds left.

Carr went 5 of 8 from the foul line over the final 30 seconds to give Marquette another chance. Rowsey hit a 3 and a layup to get the Golden Eagles as close as 83-80 with six seconds left before the Golden Eagles ran out of time.

Rowsey, a senior, scored 29 points for Marquette (21-14).

The Golden Eagles had whittled a 14-point deficit early in the second half to 72-68 with 2:39 left on three foul shots by Rowsey. Penn State went nearly three minutes without a bucket and got sloppy with the ball and the sharpshooting Golden Eagles started hitting 3s to get back in the game.

Report: Joseph Chartouny to transfer from Fordham

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After three seasons at Fordham, guard Joseph Chartouny will be leaving the school to play his final year elsewhere. News of Chartouny’s transfer was reported Tuesday afternoon by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, and the 6-foot-3 guard from Montreal will be eligible immediately as a graduate transfer.

Chartouny made 28 starts for the Rams this season, averaging 12.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.3 steals in 36.0 minutes per game. Leading the nation in both total steals and steals per game, Chartouny was an Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team selection.

In three seasons at Fordham Chartouny, the 2016 Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year, averaged 11.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.9 steals per game. Given his abilities as a defender and a distributor, Chartouny stands to be a popular player amongst programs looking to add an immediately eligible contributor who also has ample experience at the Division I level.

With Chartouny reportedly moving on, Fordham head coach Jeff Neubauer has a significant hole to fill in his backcourt rotation for 2018-19.

Transfers Antwon Portley (Saint Peters’s) and Erten Gazi (DePaul) will be eligible next season, with reserve Cavit Havsa set to be a junior next season. Fordham’s also landed three perimeter recruits in its 2018 class, with three-star point guard Nick Honor among that trio.