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Introducing Cinderella: Winthrop Eagles headed to NCAA tournament

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Conference: Big South

Coach: Pat Kelsey

Record: 26-6, 15-3 (T-1)

Ratings and Rankings:

Kenpom: 114
RPI: 70
AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding: The Eagles are likely headed to a seed in the 14 range. They have just one win of serious significance – at Illinois in November – and home losses to Radford and High Point depress their seeding ceiling.

Names you need to know: The offense is centered around Keon Johnson and Xavier Cooks in a big way. The 5-foot-7 Johnson, the Big South player of the year, is averaging 22.4 points per game and shoots better than 40 percent from 3-point range. Cooks is at 16.2 points per game and also pulls down nine boards per night.

Stats you need to know: 43.4. That’s the percentage of its shots Winthrop take from 3-point range. The Eagles convert at a 38 percent clip and have four players shooting 33 percent or better, with two Johnson (40.0) and Anders Broman (45.9) at 40 or better. That amount of shooting makes them dangerous to higher seeds.

Big wins, bad losses: The Eagles knocked off Illinois in Champaign in November, 84-80 in overtime, for their only top-100 KenPom win, though they do own victories over Furman (109) and UNC-Asheville (104). Losses to Radford (295) and High Point (269), both coming at home, are pretty serious blemishes.

How’d they get here?: They blasted Charleston Southern in their first game of the Big South tournament before surviving overtime against Gardner Webb in the semifinals. The Eagles avoided a rubber-match with Big South co-champs UNC Asheville when the Bulldogs lost in the semifinals to seventh-seeded Campbell, which was throttled by the Eagles, 76-59, on the Winthrop campus Saturday to capture the Big South title.

Outlook: Johnson, Cooks and the team’s 3-point shooting could give the Eagles a fighting chance, but the high-major opponent they’ll undoubtedly be matched up against will likely have plenty of length and defensive versatility to try to bottle up the 5-foot-7 Johnson. It’s a tough ask for any 14 seed to make it through the first round, but Winthrop’s 3-point shooting makes than an intriguing team. Also, the Eagles have been on the NCAA doorstep for the last three years, losing in the conference title game, so there’s a serious foundation there under Kelsey, who could be a coach bigger programs target once the coaching carousel gets spinning.

How do I know you?: Winthrop got the Big South’s first-ever NCAA tournament victory when as an 11-seed the Eagles defeated six-seed Notre Dame, 74-64, in 2007.

VIDEO: Jay-Z’s nephew posterizes nation’s No. 1 recruit Marvin Bagley III

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Nahziah Carter is an unsigned 6-foot-6 wing in the Class of 2017.

He’s also Jay-Z’s nephew, and he just so happened to posterize Marvin Bagley III — the clearcut No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2018 — while Hova was in the stands watching him.

NCAA denies extra-year request by NC State guard Henderson

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.

Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.

The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.

Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.

SMU gets transfer in Georgetown’s Akoy Agau

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SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.

South Carolina loses big man Sedee Keita to transfer

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South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.

Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.

A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.

Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.

Mississippi State losing two to transfer

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Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.

Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.

Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.