Rhode Island got into the NCAA tournament after storming through the Atlantic 10 tournament, and the run of form hasn’t ended yet.
The No. 11 seed Rams blew out No. 6 seed Creighton in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday, getting 23 points from Jeff Dowtin to lead five players in double-figures in an 84-72 win.
It’s the first NCAA tournament win for Rhode Island since 1998, and it came in their first tournament appearance since 1999, when Lamar Odom was still Kingston. The Rams will advance to take on No. 3 seed Oregon, but it’s fair to wonder if this result was an upset in seed only. The Rams ended up being favored by the time this game tipped off, but more to the point, Creighton is simply not the same team that they were when the season started.
I’m not exactly breaking any news here when I say that Creighton’s season was a massive disappointment. They entered the season as a potential top 20 team, they entered Big East play as a top ten team and midway through the season, they looked like a real contender for the Big East title with a National Player of the Year candidate on the roster.
Then Mo Watson tore his ACL, and a month later was arrested and charged with sexual assault. He’s facing a long, long time in prison, and trust me when I say that I realize everything that alleged victim is dealing with makes what Creighton’s going through seem like a 90-minute deep tissue massage.
The point here isn’t to diminish what happened to her or what Watson was alleged to have done.
But that doesn’t change the fact that a year that started out with such promise for a program that doesn’t experience this kind of success often ended with the Bluejays quietly bowing out of the NCAA tournament in a 15-point first round loss that no one paid attention to as they made the trek from their St. Patrick’s Day Happy Hour to wherever it is that they were going to spend their evening downing Guinness and Jamesons.
With the season over, Creighton fans are left to wonder ‘What if?’ while the rest of America didn’t even notice it came to an end.
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 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 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.
A big recruiting day for N.C. State continued on Saturday afternoon as Utah transfer and guard Devon Daniels pledged to the Wolfpack.
Earlier in the day, N.C. State and new head coach Kevin Keatts landed another quality transfer in UNC Wilmington guard C.J. Bryce.
The 6-foot-5 Daniels just finished his freshman season with the Utes in which he put up 9.9 points 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 57 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range. Just like Bryce, Daniels will have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations before he has three more seasons of eligibility.
N.C. State now has two potential starters on the perimeter for the 2018-19 season with the addition of Bryce and Daniels as it will be interesting to see what kind of talent the Wolfpack can get around them.
N.C. State landed an impact transfer on Saturday as UNC Wilmington guard C.J. Bryce will be following former head coach Kevin Keatts to the Wolfpack, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com
The 6-foot-5 Bryce averaged 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game last season as he helped the Seahawks to an NCAA tournament appearance. Bryce will have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations, but he’ll have two seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out one season.
With N.C. State getting center Omer Yurtseven back for next season, and with the addition of Bryce, it means that Keatts has retained, or added, some talented players for the next few seasons. The Wolfpack still have to fill a lot of roster spots from last season’s team, but Keatts seems to be having a really good week.