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Team of the Week: Texas A&M Aggies

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Without a doubt, the most surprising result from the first weekend of college basketball was No. 25 Texas A&M absolutely demolishing No. 11 West Virginia, 88-65, in Germany.

The Aggies were down 23-10 in the first ten minutes of the game. They outscored Press Virginia by 36 points the rest of the way, a number that came down after the Mountaineers were able to make the score more respectable in the final minutes. What makes the final even more impressive is that Texas A&M was not only playing without their lottery pick center Robert Big Bob Williams, they were without J.J. Caldwell, their redshirt freshman point guard who was expected to start.

And they were going up against Press Virginia?

And they were down 13 points and still won by 23?

What?

To be frank, some of that result has to do with the fact that West Virginia, who was without Esa Ahmad, is not who we thought they were entering the season. I get that. But the statement that the Aggies made cannot be overlooked here. Tyler Davis was absolutely dominant. Admon Gilder looked like an all-SEC guard. D.J. Hogg’s jump shot, which is a picturesque stroke that doesn’t go in as much as it should, was falling. The Aggies cleaned the glass and protected the ball and just never left WVU get into their rhythm.

I had Texas A&M winning the SEC before the season began, and four days into it, it looks like that prediction might end up coming to fruition.

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Indiana State: The Sycamores went into Assembly Hall on Friday night and dropped a hammer on the Hoosiers. They made 17 threes. They put up 54 points in the first half. They won by 21 points. And they did all of this as new Indiana head coach Archie Miller was making his debut in Bloomington. Not bad for a bunch of Hoosier-state kids that didn’t get recruited by the Hoosiers.
  • Georgia Southern: The Sun Belt favorites and the team with arguably the best back court is all of mid-major hoops, Georgia Southern went into Winston-Salem on Friday night and knocked off Wake Forest, 85-83.
  • Davidson: How about this for a good shooting night: Davidson went 26-for-53 from three on Friday night as they knocked off Charleston Southern, 110-62. They made more threes than the Buccaneers did field goals. They had five players make at least three threes and three players make at least five threes.
  • Lamar: Winning a season-opener on the road is never easy to do, and Lamar did just that by going into Tulsa and knocking off the Golden Hurricane, 74-67. Buyer’s remorse strikes again.
  • UC Riverside: The Wyking Jones era did not get off to a rousing start for California, as they dug themselves a 40-21 first half hole and lost to UC Riverside.

Washington’s Thybulle returning for senior season

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Matisse Thybulle will return to Washington for his senior season after contemplating declaring for the NBA draft following a junior campaign in which he was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the year.

“The NBA is really enticing and it was definitely something that I seriously considered when the season was over,” Thybulle told the Seattle Times. “I talked it over with my family and we came to the conclusion that it would be in my best interest to stay and get my degree (in communications) and grow as a basketball player and take this last year to mature and fine tune everything so I can be fully prepared to take that next step when it’s time.”

The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 11.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game last season. He shot 44.5 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from 3-point range.

“I talked to coach (Mike Hopkins) and he gave me some good advice that was honestly something that helped in the grand scheme of things,” Thybulle said. “He told me that if I do it (enter the draft), then I should be all in because that’s what I’m going to be up against is a whole bunch of guys fighting for their lives. He thought it would be a better idea for me to stay in school until I’m at that point.”

Washington is awaiting the decision of Noah Dickerson, who declared for the draft but has not hired an agent. The 6-foot-8 averaged 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds last season.

Koby McEwen transferring to Marquette

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Steve Wojciechowski added a significant piece to his 2019-20 team over the weekend.

Koby McEwen announced his intention to transfer to Marquette from Utah State late Sunday evening.

“I would like to thank God, my family, inner circle and all the schools/coaches that recruited me during this process!” McEwen tweeted. “With that being said, I’m proud to announce that I’ll be furthering my college career at Marquette University.”

McEwen picked the Golden Eagles over fellow finalists Creighton and Grand Canyon after he decided to transfer when the Aggies announced South Dakota coach Craig Smith was taking over the program last month. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore.

After sitting out the upcoming season, McEwen will have to years of eligibility remaining. Marquette went 21-14 last season, but missed the NCAA tournament for the third time in Wojciechowski’s four years in Milwaukee.

Minnesota adds Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis

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Minnesota has added some depth for the future.

The Golden Gophers received a pledge from Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis over the weekend, giving him a guard with two seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2019-20.

Willis will sit out the upcoming season under NCAA transfer rules.

The 6-foot-4 guard played a limited role in two seasons in Nashville, never averaging more than 18. 5 minutes or 5.2 points per game. He scored in double figures in three games as a sophomore.

Willis was a top-150 prospect in the Class of 2016 coming out of Fayetteville, Ark. with offers from the likes of Tulsa, Rice and Dayton. Vandy and Minnesota were his two high-major offers.

After being ranked in the top-15, Minnesota was beset by injury and suspensions last season as they limped to the finish line in a 15-17 season that featured losses in 12 of its last 13 games.

Richard Pitino still has two available scholarships for the 2018-19 campaign.

Report: Quade Green returning to Kentucky

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John Calipari just landed a critical recruit for 2018-19, and he was already on the roster.

Quade Green, who averaged 25 minutes per game last season, is returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season, his mother told the Lexington Herald-Leader on Monday.

Given that six Wildcat players have entered the draft (Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hami Diallo are signing with agents), getting the 6-foot point guard back for a second season is a massive deal for Calipari and Co. The Wildcats have always been at their best under Calipari with returning players as the cornerstones of the roster with talented one-and-dones providing the extra boost. Getting one such returner at the point guard position is even more critical.

Green, who came to Kentucky as a five-star recruit last year, averaged 9.3 points and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and a respectable 37.1 percent from 3-point range, an area where Kentucky continually needs help.

With Green back in the fold, Kentucky will now await the decisions of PJ Washington, Wenyen Gabriel and Jarred Vanderbilt, who are all going through the pre-draft process without hiring agents, which will potentially allow them to return to school and bolster a Kentucky roster has the look of a top-five team.

CBT Podcast: NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline: Winners, losers and who has the most on the line?

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The NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline came and went on Sunday night, meaning there are now roughly 60 college players that have signed with an agent and another 100 or so that have declared for the draft while retaining their college eligibility. Who were the winners? Who were the losers? Who has the most on the line? Sam Vecenie of the Game Theory podcast joined Rob Dauster to talk through all of it. The rundown:

OPEN: What do NBA teams value in players these days?

10:00: Villanova has more on the line during this testing the water process than anyone

19:00: Just how important was De’Andre Hunter’s decision to return to Virginia

25:25: Gonzaga getting Rui and Killian Tillie back makes them a title favorite

32:10: Nevada has a top ten season on the line with the Martin twins and Jordan Caroline

36:15: #RANTALERT – The decision to turn pro is so much more complicated than “is he a first round pick”

48:30: Rapid fire: Maryland, Kansas, Syracuse, Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan. What do they have on the line?