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Bubble Banter: Saturday’s are always a wild day on bubble watch

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The latest NBC Sports bracketology can be found here. This is where the seeds listed below are from.

WINNERS

Georgetown (RPI: 66, KenPom: 57, next four out): The Hoyas beat Marquette at home in decisive fashion, which adds a top 100 win to their résumé. That’s not enough for the Hoyas to make up the ground they need to make as one of the next four out, but it is a good sign beating up on another bubble team like this. Georgetown, sitting at 13-12 on the season, more or less has to run the table in the regular season to have a real chance of not being disappointed on Selection Sunday.

Wake Forest (RPI: 31, KenPom: 34, next four out): At this point, beating N.C. State doesn’t mean all that much. It’s another top 100 win for the time being, but come Selection Sunday, at the rate the Wolfpack are going, it probably won’t be. Still, winning this game is a far better outcome than losing it would have been.

Michigan State (RPI: 50, KenPom: 58, No. 11 seed): The Spartans picked up a win over an Iowa team that is barely inside the top 100 in the RPI, so they didn’t exactly add to their profile on Saturday. But the more concerning thing for the Spartans is that there were no Big Ten teams ranked in the top 16 of the bracket preview that was released Saturday morning. Michigan State is going to be firmly on the bubble come Selection Sunday, and if the selection committee doesn’t think much of the Big Ten, that’s not a good sign for Sparty.

Iowa State (RPI: 48, KenPom: 26, No. 9 seed): The Cyclones kept themselves firmly on the right side of the bubble on Saturday by knocking off Oklahoma at home in impressive fashion. Iowa State had previously played themselves off the bubble … and then they went and lost to Texas. Avoiding a second straight loss to the Sooners was a smart idea.

VCU (RPI: 27, KenPom: 48, No. 8 seed): For the first time in ten days, VCU has won a basketball game without needing to get a gift from the officials with 0.4 seconds left in a game they trailed. The Rams beat Davidson in pretty emphatic fashion and are now 20-5 on the season. With losses to Davidson and Fordham this season, VCU does not have much margin for error right now.

Middle Tennessee (RPI: 38, KenPom: 50, No. 11 seed): The Blue Raiders kept their at-large pipe dream alive by knocking off Charlotte on Saturday. I don’t think they can afford another loss in league play without winning the league’s automatic bid.

Valparaiso (RPI: 78, KenPom: 91, No. 12 seed): Valpo still has an outside chance of getting an at-large bid, and they kept that dream alive with a win over Youngstown State on Saturday. I’m just worried that a team that cannot add anything else of substance to their résumé has done enough with a month left in the season.

Arkansas (RPI: 46, KenPom: 59, first four out): The Razorbacks used a terrific second half to erase a deficit and avoid the indignity of losing to Missouri and LSU in back-to-back games.

Georgia Tech (RPI: 77, KenPom: 81, first four out): Despite scoring just 15 first half points the Yellow Jackets kept themselves in the bubble discussion by avoiding a terrible home loss to Boston College.

Illinois State (RPI: 33, KenPom: 44, No. 12 seed): The Redbirds beat Bradley, but what is a win over a team ranked 235th in the RPI going to do? None of Illinois State’s remaining opponents are in the RPI top 140. They better hope no top 50 wins, two top 100 wins and no road wins inside the top 150 is going to be enough. (Hint: it won’t be.)

Oklahoma State (RPI: 30, KenPom: 21, No. 9 seed): The Pokes avoided a résumé loss to Texas and kept themselves sitting on the right side of the bubble with a little bit of room to spare.

Minnesota (RPI: 22, KenPom: 39, No. 9 seed): The best thing about beating Rutgers? It means you didn’t lose to Rutgers.

SYRACUSE, NY - JANUARY 28: Tyler Roberson #21 of the Syracuse Orange dunks the ball against the Florida State Seminoles during the first half at the Carrier Dome on January 28, 2017 in Syracuse, New York. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

LOSERS

Syracuse (RPI: 59, KenPom: 46, No. 8 seed): The Orange lost on Saturday at Pitt, which is not a killer on the surface. Pitt has not had a good season but they’re still a borderline top 50 team, and road losses to borderline top 50 teams don’t make or break a team’s tournament profile. Where this hurts is that Syracuse is now 16-10 on the season with losses to Boston College, UConn and St. John’s. They don’t have all that much margin for error as it is, and they still play Louisville twice and have to host Duke.

Seton Hall (RPI: 36, KenPom: 53, play-in game): The Pirates took a brutal loss on the road to a bad St. John’s team on Saturday, the kind of loss that is a nightmare scenario for a team slotted in the play-in game. But it doesn’t change the fact that Seton Hall’s bid will get earned when they play Creighton, Villanova and Xavier at home in consecutive games, starting next week.

Clemson (RPI: 53, KenPom: 43, next four out): The Tigers had a chance to vault themselves past some other teams on the bubble on Saturday afternoon, playing Duke tough in Cameron Indoor Stadium. But they lost by two points in a winnable game, meaning that they’re in a spot down the stretch of the season where, as a 13-11 team, they may not be able to survive another regular season loss.

Miami (RPI: 49, KenPom: 40, No. 9 seed): The Hurricanes had a 14-point first half lead and went into halftime up 33-24 on No. 4 Louisville in the Yum! Center and lost. So while this is not a loss that is going to hurt their résumé – losing on the road to a top five team is what’s supposed to happen – this is a loss that is going to sting in Miami ends up on the wrong side of the bubble on Selection Sunday. This was a winnable game, and the ‘Canes blew it.

Texas Tech (RPI: 85, KenPom: 41, bubble): Like Miami, Texas Tech had a chance to land an elite win on Saturday. They took Kansas to the buzzer at home in a game where the Jayhawks left five points at the foul line in the final minute and played the final three minutes without Frank Mason III. The Red Raiders are barely in the bubble picture at this point, but this was a win that would have put them right back in the conversation. That is going to sting.

UNC Wilmington (RPI: 45, KenPom: 56, No. 12 seed): A loss at Elon on Saturday probably ensures that UNCW, who doesn’t have a top 50 win, will need to get the automatic bid from the CAA.

ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 27: Ja'Quan Newton #0 of the Miami (Fl) Hurricanes drives past KeVaughn Allen #5 of the Florida Gators during the game at HP Field House on November 27, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Marquette (RPI: 72, KenPom: 35, play-in game): That win over Villanova is starting to look more and more like a fluke, as Marquette has lost four of five since then. With three games left against Xavier and Creighton, the Golden Eagles still have a chance to make a run and play their way onto the right side of the bubble.

Cal (RPI: 33, KenPom: 47, No. 8 seed): Cal is still in a good spot, but there is a distinct lack of quality wins on their résumé. They won at USC and … that’s it. Princeton on a neutral, Utah and Stanford aren’t exactly great wins. they probably aren’t in danger of missing the tournament yet, but with a loss to San Diego State, there isn’t room for them to make mistakes.

Tennessee (RPI: 37, KenPom: 37, first four out): The Vols are slowly playing their way out of tournament contention after that huge win over Kentucky, losing 76-75 at home to Georgia on Saturday. They’re not 15-11 overall and just 6-6 in the SEC. It’s not over for the Vols – they still play at Kentucky and at South Carolina, two wins that can change what a profile looks like – but as of today, they just have too many losses to have a real chance to dance.

Ohio State (RPI: 62, KenPom: 60, next four out): Ohio State needed a win at No. 21 Maryland to really put themselves into the bubble conversation, and they didn’t get it. This team is now 15-11 overall and 5-8 in the Big Ten.

Kansas State (RPI: 43, KenPom: 28, No. 10 seed): Kansas State lost at West Virginia. It’s not the worst loss they’ve taken this year, but it would have been a great résumé win.

TCU (RPI: 33, KenPom: 33, No. 10 seed): TCU lost at Baylor. That would have been a great win for them, but this isn’t a loss that will hurt them.

 

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Commission on College Basketball says ban cheats, end 1-and-done

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Commission on College Basketball sharply directed the NCAA to take control of the sport, calling for sweeping reforms to minimize one-and-done, permit players to return to school after going undrafted by the NBA and ban cheating coaches for life.

The independent commission, led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, released a detailed 60-page report Wednesday, seven months after the group was formed by the NCAA in response to a federal corruption investigation that rocked college basketball. Ten people, including some assistant coaches, have been charged in a bribery and kickback scheme , and high-profile programs such as Arizona, Louisville and Kansas have been tied to possible NCAA violations.

“The members of this commission come from a wide variety of backgrounds but the one thing that they share in common is that they believe the college basketball enterprise is worth saving,” Rice told the AP. “We believe there’s a lot of work to do in that regard. That the state of the game is not very strong.

“We had to be bold in our recommendations.”

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the report ahead of Rice presenting its findings to top NCAA officials. It’s not yet clear how the governing body would pay for some of the proposals, and some of the panel’s key recommendations would require cooperation from the NBA, its players union and USA Basketball.

The commission offered harsh assessments of toothless NCAA enforcement, as well as the shady summer basketball circuit that includes AAU leagues and brings together agents, apparel companies and coaches looking to profit on teenage prodigies. It called the environment surrounding college basketball “a toxic mix of perverse incentives to cheat,” and said responsibility for the current mess goes all the way up to university presidents.

The group recommended the NCAA have more involvement with players before they get to college and less involvement with enforcement. It also acknowledged the NCAA will need help to make some changes and defended its amateurism model, saying paying players a salary isn’t the answer.

“The goal should not be to turn college basketball into another professional league,” the commission wrote in its report.

Rice was scheduled to present the commission’s report to the NCAA’s Board of Governors and Division I Board of Directors on Wednesday morning. The two groups of university presidents planned to meet after Rice’s presentation to consider adopting the commission’s recommendations. If adopted, the hard work of turning the recommendations into NCAA legislation begins.

NCAA President Mark Emmert has said he wants reforms in place by August. The commission does, too. And it wants to review the NCAA’s plans for implementation before it goes before the boards for approval.

The 12-member commission made up of college administrators and former coaches and players was tasked with finding ways to reform five areas: NBA draft rules, including the league’s age limit that has led to so-called one-and-done players; the relationship between players and agents; non-scholastic basketball, such as AAU, meant to raise the profile of recruits; involvement of apparel companies with players, coaches and schools; and NCAA enforcement.

NCAA officials mostly stayed out of the process. Emmert and Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson were part of the commission, but not included in executive sessions, when proposals were being formed. The commission spent 70 percent of its time in executive session, Rice said, and kept its work secret until Wednesday’s reveal.

The overarching message to those in college athletics: Take responsibility for problems you have created.

ONE-AND-DONE

The commission emphasized the need for elite players to have more options when choosing between college and professional basketball, and to separate the two tracks.

The commission called for the NBA and its players association to change rules requiring players to be at least 19 years old and a year removed from graduating high school to be draft eligible. The rule was implemented in 2006, despite the success of straight-from-high-school stars such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. The commission did, however, say if the NBA and NBPA refuse to change their rules in time for the next basketball season, it would reconvene and consider other options for the NCAA, such as making freshmen ineligible or locking a scholarship for three or four years if the recipient leaves a program after a single year.

“One-and-done has to go one way or another,” Rice told the AP, expressing hope the NBA would act.

The commission decided against attempting to mirror rules for baseball but said it could reconsider. Major League Baseball drafts players out of high school, but once an athlete goes to college he is not eligible to be drafted until after his third year. Baseball players can also return for their senior seasons after being drafted as long as they do not sign professional contracts.

The commission did take a piece of the baseball model and recommended basketball players be allowed to test the professional market in high school or after any college season, while still maintaining college eligibility. If undrafted, a college player would remain eligible as long as he requests an evaluation from the NBA and returns to the same school. Players could still leave college for professional careers after one year, but the rules would not compel them to do so.

ENFORCEMENT

The commission recommended harsher penalties for rule-breakers and that the NCAA outsource the investigation and adjudication of the most serious infractions cases. Level I violations would be punishable with up to a five-year postseason ban and the forfeiture of all postseason revenue for the time of the ban. That could be worth tens of millions to major conference schools. By comparison, recent Level I infractions cases involving Louisville and Syracuse basketball resulted in postseason bans of one year.

In those cases, then-Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who was later fired after being tied to the FBI investigation, received a five-game NCAA suspension for violations related to an assistant coach hiring strippers for recruits, and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was suspended for nine games for academic misconduct and extra benefits violations. The commission said suspensions should be longer, up to one full season.

Instead of show cause orders, which are meant to limit a coach’s ability to work in college sports after breaking NCAA rules, the report called for lifetime bans. The commission also said coaches and administrators should be contractually obligated comply with NCAA investigations.

AGENTS

The commission proposed the NCAA create a program for certifying agents, and make them accessible to players from high school through their college careers.

AAU AND SUMMER LEAGUES

The NCAA, with support from the NBA and USA Basketball, should run its own recruiting events for prospects during the summer, the commission said, and take a more serious approach to certifying events it does not control.

The NCAA should require greater transparency of the finances of what it called non-scholastic basketball events and ban its coaches from attending those that do not comply with more stringent vetting, the report said. Such a ban could wipe out AAU events that have flourished in showcasing future talent.

APPAREL COMPANIES

The commission also called for greater financial transparency from shoe and apparel companies such as Nike, Under Armour and Adidas. These companies have extensive financial relationships with colleges and coaches worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and Adidas had two former executives charged by federal prosecutors in New York in the corruption case.

The commission also called out university presidents, saying administrators can’t be allowed to turn a blind eye to infractions.

To that end, the commission said university presidents should be required to “certify annually that they have conducted due diligence and that their athletic programs comply with NCAA rules.”

The commission recommended the NCAA Board of Governors, currently comprised of 16 university presidents and chancellors, include five public members with full voting privileges who are not currently employed as university leaders.

Finally, the commission admonished those within college sports who use the NCAA as a scapegoat for the problems in basketball, saying universities and individuals are accountable for keeping the game clean.

“When those institutions and those responsible for leading them short-circuit rules, ethics and norms in order to achieve on-court success, they alone are responsible,” the commission wrote. “Too often, these individuals hide behind the NCAA when they are the ones most responsible for the degraded state of intercollegiate athletics, in general, and college basketball in particular.”

2018 NBA Draft Early Entry List: Who declared? Who is returning? Who are we waiting on?

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Here is a full list of the players that have signed with an agent, declared and are testing the waters and those that have decided to return to school.

Underclassmen have until April 22nd to declare for the NBA draft this season and until 11:59 p.m. on May 30th to remove their name from consideration.

The NBA Combine will be held May 16-20 this year. 

The full list of early entrants, from both the collegiate and international ranks, can be found here.

DECLARED, SIGNING WITH AGENT

TESTING THE WATERS

  • ESA AHMAD, West Virginia
  • MIKE AMIUS, Western Carolina
  • KOSTAS ANTETOKOUNMPO, Dayton
  • UDOKA AZUBUIKE, Kansas
  • SEDRICK BAREFIELD, Utah
  • TYUS BATTLE, Syracuse
  • LAMONTE BEARDEN, Western Kentucky
  • BRIAN BOWEN, Louisville
  • KY BOWMAN, Boston College
  • JORDAN BRANGERS, South Plains
  • BARRY BROWN, Kansas State
  • BRYCE BROWN, Auburn
  • TOOKIE BROWN, Georgia Southern
  • TROY BROWN, Oregon
  • C.J. BURKS, Marshall
  • JORDAN CAROLINE, Nevada
  • HAANIF CHEATEM, FGCU
  • KAMERON CHATMAN, Detroit
  • YOELI CHILDS, BYU
  • CHRIS CLEMONS, Campbell
  • TYLER COOK, Iowa
  • ISAAC COPELAND JR., Nebraska
  • BRYANT CRAWFORD, Wake Forest
  • MIKE DAUM, South Dakota State
  • JON DAVIS, Charlotte
  • JORDAN DAVIS, Northern Colorado
  • SHAWNTREZ DAVIS, Bethune Cookman
  • TERENCE DAVIS, Ole Miss
  • TYLER DAVIS, Texas A&M
  • NOAH DICKERSON, Washington
  • DONTE DIVINCENZO, Villanova
  • TORIN DORN, N.C. State
  • NOJEL EASTERN, Purdue
  • CARSEN EDWARDS, Purdue
  • JON ELMORE, Marshall
  • JACOB EVANS, Cincinnati
  • BRUNO FERNANDO, Maryland
  • JARREY FOSTER, SMU
  • MELVIN FRAZIER, Tulane
  • WENYEN GABRIEL, Kentucky
  • KAISER GATES, Xavier
  • EUGENE GERMAN, Northern Illinois
  • ADMON GILDER, Texas A&M
  • MICHAEL GILMORE, FGCU
  • JESSIE GOVAN, Georgetown
  • TYLER HALL, Montana State
  • JAYLEN HANDS, UCLA
  • ZACH HANKINS, Xavier
  • ETHAN HAPP, Wisconsin
  • JARED HARPER, Auburn
  • MALIK HINES, UMass
  • ARIC HOLMAN, Mississippi State
  • JALEN HUDSON, Florida
  • DEWAN HUELL, Miami
  • KEVIN HUERTER, Maryland
  • TRAMAINE ISABELL, Drexel
  • DEANGELO ISBY, Utah State
  • JUSTIN JAMES, Wyoming
  • ZACH JOHNSON, Miami
  • CHRISTIAN KEELING, Charleston Southern
  • DEVONTE KLINES, Montana State
  • SAGABA KONATE, West Virginia
  • KALOB LEDOUX, McNeese State
  • MARQUEZ LETCHER-ELLIS, RICE
  • ABDUL LEWIS, NJIT
  • MAKINDE LONDON, Chattanooga
  • DOMINIC MAGEE, Southern Miss
  • FLETCHER MAGEE, Wofford
  • CALEB MARTIN, Nevada
  • CODY MARTIN, Nevada
  • ZANE MARTIN, Towson
  • CHARLES MATTHEWS, Michigan
  • LUKE MAYE, North Carolina
  • JALEN MCDANIELS, San Diego State
  • MARKIS MCDUFFIE, Wichita State
  • CHRISTIAN MEKOWULU, Tennessee State
  • AARON MENZIES, Seattle
  • ELIJAH MINNIE, Eastern Michigan
  • SHELTON MITCHELL, Clemson
  • TAKAL MOLSON, Canisius
  • JUWAN MORGAN, Indiana
  • MATT MORGAN, Cornell
  • TRAVIS MUNNINGS, Louisiana-Monroe
  • RENATHAN ONA EMBO, Tulane
  • JOSH OKOGIE, Georgia Tech
  • JAMES PALMER JR., Nebraska
  • LAMAR PETERS, Mississippi State
  • JALON PIPKINS, CSUN
  • SHAMORIE PONDS, St. John’s
  • JONTAY PORTER, Missouri
  • MARCQUISE REED, Clemson
  • TRAYVON REED, Texas Southern
  • ISAIAH REESE, Canisius
  • CODY RILEY, UCLA
  • KERWIN ROACH II, Texas
  • JEROME ROBINSON, Boston College
  • AHMAAD RORIE, Montana
  • QUINTON ROSE, Temple
  • ADMIRAL SCHOFIELD, Tennessee
  • MICAH SEABORN, Monmouth
  • RONSHAD SHABAZZ, Appalachian State
  • TAVARIUS SHINE, Oklahoma State
  • CHRIS SILVA, South Carolina
  • YANKUBA SIMA, Oklahoma State
  • FRED SIMS, Chicago State
  • OMARI SPELLMAN, Villanova
  • MAX STRUS, DePaul
  • DESHON TAYLOR, Fresno State
  • KHYRI THOMAS, Creighton
  • REID TRAVIS, Stanford
  • JARRED VANDERBILT, Kentucky
  • LAGERALD VICK, Kansas
  • CHRISTIAN VITAL, Connecticut
  • JAYLIN WALKER, Kent State
  • NICK WARD, Michigan State
  • TREMONT WATERS, LSU
  • PJ WASHINGTON, Kentucky
  • QUINNDARY WEATHERSPOON, Mississippi State
  • ANDRIEN WHITE, Charlotte
  • DEMAJEO WIGGINS, Bowling Green
  • LINDELL WIGGINTON, Iowa State
  • AUSTIN WILEY, Auburn
  • KRIS WILKES, UCLA
  • JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN, Hofstra

RETURNING TO SCHOOL

 

Former Texas center James Banks III transfers to Georgia Tech

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After playing sparingly in two seasons at Texas, 6-foot-10 center James Banks III made the decision to transfer. Tuesday night Banks announced his next stop, with the Decatur, Georgia native committing to Georgia Tech.

After sitting out the 2018-19 season per NCAA transfer rules, Banks will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

In 46 total games at Texas, Banks averaged 1.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 10.7 minutes per game. As a freshman Banks appeared in 32 games and averaged 12.4 minutes per appearance, contributing 1.7 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. With the additions of Mohamed Bamba and Jericho Sims, Banks’ playing time decreased in 2017-18, as he appeared in 14 games and averaged 1.6 points and 1.7 rebounds in 6.8 minutes per game.

Georgia Tech currently has four scholarship front court players for the 2018-19 season, with one being rising redshirt senior forward Abdoulaye Gueye. Rising redshirt junior Sylvester Ogbonda and rising sophomores Evan Cole and Moses Wright will have eligibility remaining when Banks becomes available to compete at the start of the 2019-20 season.

Villanova basketball team snaps photo with Meek Mill prior to 76ers game

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Tuesday’s Game 5 between the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers was a big one for both teams, as the visiting Heat were looking to stave off elimination and the 76ers were one win away from their first playoff series victory in six years.

What added to the atmosphere at Wells Fargo Center was the release of hip hop artist Meek Mill, who due to a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling was released from prison. Among those also in attendance were the reigning national champion Villanova Wildcats, who along with comedian Kevin Hart, Meek Mill and the artist’s lawyers took a photo prior to the game.

Villanova was originally scheduled to handle the pregame ringing of the replica Liberty Bell, but they were bumped due to Meek Mill’s release.

City prosecutors were of the belief that Meek Mill, who had been imprisoned without bail since November, was entitled to a new trial after being found guilty of a probation violation stemming from a conviction handed down in 2009. This was a factor in the Supreme Court’s decision to grant Meek Mill, who rang the bell prior to the start of Tuesday’s game, his freedom.

Meek Mill received a groundswell of support throughout his incarceration from members of the 76ers and Super Bowl champion Eagles and other public figures, including 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Ohio State lands grad transfer Keyshawn Woods

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With three of the team’s top five scorers from this season, led by Big Ten Player of the Year Keita Bates-Diop, moving on Ohio State entered the offseason in need of players who could potentially have an immediate impact in 2018-19.

Tuesday evening the Buckeyes picked up a commitment from a grad transfer, as former Wake Forest guard Keyshawn Woods announced that he will play his final season at Ohio State.

Woods appeared in 28 games for the Demon Deacons in 2017-18, averaging 11.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 25.7 minutes per game. The 6-foot-3 guard was used primarily as a reserve this past season, making just five starts for Wake Forest. Woods began his collegiate career at Charlotte, playing the 2014-15 season there before transferring to Wake Forest.

During the 2016-17 season, the first in which he was eligible to play at Wake Forest, Woods started 22 of the 33 games he played in and averaged 12.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Woods shot 49.5 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from three during that campaign, and the hope in Columbus is that he can get back to that level in his lone season as a Buckeye.

Ohio State’s best returnee on the perimeter next season will be rising junior C.J. Jackson, who averaged 12.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game as a sophomore. Ohio State also adds a talented freshman class that includes guards Duane Washington Jr. and Luther Muhammad. Florida State transfer C.J. Walker will have two seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the upcoming campaign per NCAA transfer rules.