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Michigan State’s Bridges tops AP preseason All-America team

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Michigan State’s Miles Bridges has everyone’s attention.

The 6-foot-7 sophomore headlines The Associated Press preseason All-America team as the leading vote-getter by a wide margin for the five-player squad. Bridges received 61 votes from the 65-member national media panel that selects the weekly AP Top 25 poll, 14 more than Notre Dame senior forward Bonzie Colson — the preseason Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year and the No. 2 vote-getter.

Arizona junior Allonzo Trier, Villanova junior Jalen Brunson and Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. rounded out the rest of the five-man team released Monday.

Bridges was forced to play inside last season for the undersized Spartans, but averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks. Second-ranked Michigan State has more size and depth this season, so Bridges will likely see more time at small forward on the perimeter.

“He’s got some things he’s got to get better at,” coach Tom Izzo said. “He’s going to be moving around different positions. Got to get better with the ball, better guarding. There are going to be some things that are more difficult for him. I can’t think of a guy that’s worked harder all summer to make sure he’s ready. I think he’ll be more than ready for an incredible season.”

The 14-vote gap between Bridges and Colson marked only the third time there was a double-digit difference between the top two vote-getters since the AP preseason All-America team launched for the 1995-96 season. The last time was in 2003-04.

The 6-6 Colson averaged 17.8 points and an ACC-best 10.1 rebounds to go with a league-best 19 double-doubles. He knows that he’ll wear a target this season; assistant coach Ryan Humphrey recently gave him a poster featuring Colson sporting a photoshopped bullseye on his chest and the message of “Every game.”

“I’m always going to be humble and hungry,” Colson said. “That’s just who I am, that’s just how my parents raised me. Just going out there every day and playing loose.”

The 6-5 Trier was third with 39 votes. He opted to return to the third-ranked Wildcats instead of entering the NBA draft after averaging 17.2 points and 5.3 rebounds last year despite missing the first 19 games due to a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

“Allonzo has a special place in my heart because I don’t know if I’ve been around a player that has overcome so much adversity and at the same time continued to be an outstanding player,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said, adding: “He’s had a terrific offseason, and I think all of us are hoping that he can do it from start to finish, from the first game to the end.”

The 6-3 Brunson, who earned 33 votes, averaged 14.7 points and 4.1 assists while shooting 54 percent last year for the Wildcats.

“Last year he stepped up a little bit more,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “But this year, he’s stepped up to become the player and leader that he is. He’s just a natural born leader.”

The 6-10 Porter earned 30 votes for the final spot, making him the fifth freshman to make the preseason AP All-America team — joining North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins, Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and LSU’s Ben Simmons.

“I feel there’s a lot of people that would like to be in my situation,” Porter said. “But I try to stay grounded, stay humble and realize I’m nowhere near where I want to get to, so I just have to take all the attention with a grain of salt and just keep getting better and better.”

North Carolina senior Joel Berry II, last year’s Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four for the reigning national champions, was the top vote-getter who missed the squad. Berry, who had 25 votes, is recovering from a broken bone in his hand that could sideline him for the start of the season.

Duke senior Grayson Allen, a preseason AP All-American last season, had 20 votes.


The Associated Press’ 2017-18 preseason All-America team, with school, height, year and votes from a 65-member national media panel (key 2016-17 statistics in parentheses):

Miles Bridges, Michigan State, 6-7, 225, sophomore, 61 votes (16.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.5 blocks)

Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame, 6-6, 224, senior, 47 (17.8 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 52.6 fg pct, 1.4 blocks)

Allonzo Trier, Arizona, 6-5, 205, junior, 39 (18 games, 17.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.7 apg, 81.0 ft pct)

Jalen Brunson, Villanova, 6-3, 190, junior, 33 (14.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 4.1 apg, 54.1 fg pct, 87.6 ft pct)

Michael Porter Jr., Missouri, 6-10, 215, freshman, 30 (HS: 36.2 ppg, 13.6 rpg)

Others receiving votes: Joel Berry II, North Carolina, 25; Grayson Allen, Duke, 20; Devonte’ Graham, Kansas, 19; Ethan Happ, Wisconsin, 17; Angel Delgado, Seton Hall, 15; Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s, 6; Trevon Bluiett, Xavier, 5; Marvin Bagley III, Duke, 3; Deandre Ayton, Arizona, 3; Yante Maten, Georgia, 1; Landry Shamet, Wichita State, 1.

VIDEOS: Villanova team bus stuck on icy roads trying to leave campus

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Villanova’s road to the Sweet 16 hit its roughest patch yet on Wednesday as the team attempted to leave campus for the team’s flight to Boston.

Since the Philadelphia area has been slammed with a snowstorm, the Wildcat team bus had issues leaving to get to the team’s chartered flight.

A struggle between team bus and ice ensued. The bus was delayed by 30 minutes before finally being able to leave.

Villanova continues its NCAA tournament journey on Friday when the No. 1 seed Wildcats play No. 5 seed West Virginia in Boston.

Wake Forest guard Keyshawn Woods to transfer or go pro after graduation

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Wake Forest will be down a key player next season as the school announced that guard Keyshawn Woods will either transfer or go pro after graduation.

The 6-foot-3 Woods was the team’s second-leading scorer this season as he put up 11.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Woods shot 43 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three-point range for the 2017-18 campaign.

Also a key member of last season’s NCAA tournament team for the Demon Deacons, Woods transferred to Wake Forest after spending his first season at Charlotte.

“I appreciate the opportunity that Coach Manning gave me to be a part of this program and to graduate from this great university,” said Woods in the release. “I am proud that I was able to help the coaches change the culture of the program and build a foundation for the future.”

The loss of Woods won’t be easy for Wake Forest, but the team is scheduled to return some talented guards like Bryant Crawford and Brandon Childress next season. Incoming freshmen like Jaime Lewis and Sharone Wright Jr. are also signed to add to the perimeter depth.

David Padgett not retained as Louisville coach

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Louisville announced on Wednesday afternoon that interim head coach David Padgett would not be retained.

Padgett, who is 32 years old, stepped in and took the program over in the wake of a scandal that cost Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino his job.

“We all owe a great debt of gratitude to David for his leadership and poise this season,” said U of L Interim Director of Athletics Vince Tyra. “He took over during incredible circumstances, has handled himself respectfully throughout the season and I believe he has a bright future in coaching. We expect to determine a new head coach in a short period to build upon the great basketball tradition of this university.”

Pitino was fired because an FBI complaint contained an allegation that he and his staff had arranged for a $100,000 payment to be funneled to Brian Bowen from Adidas.

In his one season with the Cardinals, Padgett went 22-14 and reached the quarterfinals of the NIT.

Louisville will now conduct a search for their next head coach, and current Xavier coach Chris Mack has long been considered the favorite to take that job.

Kansas State’s injured star hoping to play Thursday

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One of the most surprising parts about Kansas State’s run to the Sweet 16 is that they have done it without the services of their leading scorer, Dean Wade.

Wade injured his foot prior to the Big 12 tournament loss to Kansas. He did not play in that game or in either of Kansas State’s first two tournament games, but it is looking more and more like he’ll be on the floor on Thursday night when they play Kentucky.

“I don’t play percentages very well, but I’m feeling good,” Wade said, via SEC Country. “I’m very positive about it. It’s getting better every day and today I felt great out there, doing a little more than usual. It felt good.”

Wade averaged 16.5 points per game, but the big question is going to be whether or not he is actually healthy when he takes the court. Just because he’s on the floor doesn’t mean he’s at 100 percent.

“Really just trying to get it out of my mind that it’s not hurt,” Wade said. “Just more of a mental thing, just getting out there and running around. I think I got moved past that and it’s feeling better.”

Arizona’s Sean Miller: ‘I am not a candidate’ at Pitt

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With speculation mounting about who Pitt will hire to replace Kevin Stallings as their new head coach, current Arizona head coach Sean Miller released a statement saying that he is not in the running to fill the opening.

“I am not a candidate for the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball head coaching vacancy. I wish them well in their search for a new coach,” the statement read.

Miller is a native of Pittsburgh and an alumni of the school — he’s the guy that had the assist on Jerome Lane’s famous dunk — and with the issues that are currently swirling around him and the Arizona program, there was speculation that he was looking for an escape plan.

Maybe he wasn’t.

Maybe he was and the Pitt administration decided they couldn’t risk hiring someone who had an assistant coach arrested in the FBI’s sweep of college basketball and who himself may be on wiretaps talking about who knows what. Releasing this statement would then be a way for him to save face and say he was never interested.

And then maybe there’s option No. 3: Pitt has won the Dan Hurley sweepstakes.

As it stands, both the Panthers and UConn are in the process of chasing after the Rhode Island head coach, and it’s not uncommon in coaching searches for a coach to announce that he is not a candidate for the job after the job decides they want someone else. Call it a professional courtesy.

But that’s neither here nor there.

What we do know now is that Sean Miller will not be the next head coach at Pitt.