Marcus Foster

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Big East Conference Reset: It’s still Villanova’s league, but for how long?

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The NBA Draft’s Early Entry Deadline has come and gone. Just about every elite recruit has decided where they will be playing their college ball next season. The coaching carousel, which ended up spinning a bit faster than initially expected, has come to a close. The transfer market is slowly winding down.

In other words, by now, we have a pretty good feel for what college basketball is going to look like during the 2017-18 season. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what has happened — and what will happen — in the Big East over the next six months.

OFFSEASON STORYLINES 

1. Patrick Ewing returns to Georgetown: The Hall of Fame center who took the Hoyas to three Final Fours — winning the 1984 national championship — returns to his alma mater for his head coaching debut after 14 years as an NBA assistant coach. He replaces John Thompson III, who was relieved of his duties following a second straight losing season, the third time in four years Georgetown failed to reach the NCAA Tournament. Ewing’s hire shows that John Thompson Jr. still has a lot of pull in the university but Ewing has been praised for his work ethic and player development during his decade-plus as an NBA assistant. But he has an uphill battle on the Hilltop.

2. NBA Draft didn’t hurt the league: Angel Delgado, who reportedly was set to stay in the draft, decided to return to Seton Hall for his senior season. That made the Pirates a realistic threat to knock Villanova off the throne it sat upon since the relaunch of the Big East Conference. Trevon Bluiett, who averaged 20.4 points per game during the conference and NCAA Tournament, also returned. With Villanova point guard Jalen Brunson as another option, both Delgado and Bluiett should find themselves on every single preseason All-American team. Not every team was as lucky as Seton Hall and Xavier, Justin Patton, a redshirt freshman who flew under the radar for much of the season, decided to remain in the draft. He’s projected to be a first round pick.

3. Recruiting classes: At the moment, Xavier commit Paul Scruggs is the highest ranked recruit joining the Big East, according to Rivals. In fact, the Musketeers have two of the top three prospects joining the league, both of whom are listed in the top-50. Butler, according to the Indy Star, has the school’s best recruiting class coming in, headlined by Kyle Young, Christian David, Jerald Butler and Aaron Thompson. Four seasons ago, both programs were in the Atlantic-10.

Trevon Bluiett (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

IMPORTANT ADDITIONS

  • Omari Spellman, Villanova: Expected to replace Daniel Ochefu in Villanova’s quest for a repeat, the heralded freshman big man was forced to academically redshirt due to his freshman year of high school when he transferred from a public high school and reclassified at a prep school several months later. Spellman is a better offensive player than his would-be predecessor, even capable of scoring from the perimeter. Rivals had the 6-foot-9 Spellman listed as a top-20 recruit in the Class of 2016.
  • Makai Ashton-Langford, Providence: One of the most coveted point guards in the Class of 2017 had originally committed to UConn. He decommitted in March. Ed Cooley, who was in early on the likes of Donovan Mitchell and Wenyen Gabriel before seeing them commit to bluebloods, got a second chance and landed the New England native several weeks later. Whether it be with Mass Rivals on the grassroots circuit or Brewster Academy (N.H.) in the prep school scene, by the time Ashton-Langford debuts for the Friars he’ll have played a year and a half without losing a game.
  • Harry Froling, Marquette: With Luke Fischer exhausting his eligibility, the Golden Eagles, who weren’t deep on the frontline to begin with, needed some help. Marquette was able to land Froling, the SMU transfer following a visit in mid-January. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he’ll be eligible for the second semester. In 10 games, the 6-foot-10 Froling averaged 4.3 points and 3.2 boards per game. Matt Heldt and newcomers Theo John and Ike Eke will hold down the fort while Froling continues to sit out until late December.

SURPRISING DEPARTURES

  • L.J. Peak, Georgetown: Currently, Peak is projected as the last pick in the 2017 NBA Draft according to DraftExpress.com. That didn’t stop the Georgetown junior from forgoing his final season of eligible. The 6-foot-5 power guard averaged 16.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game for the Hoyas. His departure means Georgetown has lost its top two scorers from a season ago, as Rodney Pryor, a graduate transfer, exhausted his eligibility.
  • Duane Wilson, Marquette: It’s clear that the program is focused on building around rising sophomore guard Markus Howard. Moreover, Wilson had seen his role diminished for the majority of the 2016-17 season but worked his way into the starting lineup as the Golden Eagles made their run at the program’s first NCAA Tournament under head coach Steve Wojciechowski. Wilson, the Milwaukee native, who redshirted his first season due to injury, elected to use his final season of eligibility at Texas A&M.
Patrick Ewing (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

COACHING CHANGES

  • Patrick Ewing, Georgetown: As mentioned above, Ewing replaces John Thompson III after 13 seasons with the program, leading the Hoyas to the Final Four in 2007. By all accounts, this appears to have Big John’s fingerprints all over it. However, Ewing at least had coaching experience, 14 as an NBA assistant, before he got his first coaching job. That wasn’t the case two years ago when Chris Mullin took over at his alma mater. Arguably Ewing’s biggest task will be filling out a coaching staff that can hit the recruiting trail, especially the greater Washington D.C. area.

WAY-TOO-EARLY ALL-CONFERENCE PREDICTIONS

Trevon Bluiett, Xavier (Player of the Year)
Jalen Brunson, Villanova
Angel Delgado, Seton Hall
Marcus Foster, Creighton
Kelan Martin, Butler

WAY-TOO-EARLY POWER RANKINGS

  1. Villanova: All-American Josh Hart is gone but Jalen Brunson, a floor general who will end up on many preseason All-American lists, is back, as is Mikal Bridges, Eric Paschall and Donte DiVincenzo, a two-guard many peg as a breakout star next season. Jay Wright brings in a pretty good recruiting class but the biggest new addition is redshirt freshman Omari Spellman. The Big East Conference belongs to Villanova until someone proves it can knock it off.
  2. Seton Hall: Angel Delgado’s decision to return to for his senior season makes the Pirates the biggest threat to Villanova’s conference dominance. Delgado, the nation’s leading rebounder, rejoins Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, and Ismael Sanogo. Madison Jones is gone but Myles Powell is a strong replacement after averaging double figures his freshman season. The Pirates are the most experienced team in the Big East. They are tough as nails and are likely the best defensive team in the league.
  3. Xavier: The Musketeers lost six of seven to close out the regular season but found themselves in the Elite Eight thanks in large part to the play of Trevon Bluiett. The 6-foot-5 wing returns, which puts Xavier in another good position for 2017-18. Edmond Sumner remained in the NBA Draft but that tournament run was made after his season ended following an ACL tear. J.P. Macura is back while Quentin Goodin and Tyrique Jones both made strides in their freshmen seasons. Chris Mack is also bringing in arguably his best recruiting class, headlined by Paul Scruggs and Naji Marshall.
  4. Providence: The most surprising team in the Big East last season was the Friars. Despite losing Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, Providence went to its fourth straight NCAA Tournament under Ed Cooley. The Friars bring back everybody of value (sorry, Casey Woodring) for this season. I’ll catch heat for leaving Rodney Bullock off all-conference predictions but I’ll end by saying Kyron Cartwright, who averaged 6.7 assists per game, may have a better chance of earning that postseason honor.
  5. Butler: Despite losing Andrew Chrabascz, Avery Woodson, Tyler Lewis, and Kethan Savage, it’s hard to bet against Chris Holtmann. The Bulldogs retain Kelan Martin, one of the league’s top scorers, in addition to rising star Kamar Baldwin. Butler’s Class of 2017 is considered the best in program history.
  6. Creighton: The Bluejays are in a much different place if Justin Patton returns to Omaha for a sophomore season. That isn’t to say Creighton isn’t in line for a second straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Greg McDermott is hoping to strike gold again as Kaleb Joseph, the Syracuse point guard, spent several months practicing against Maurice Watson Jr. He’ll pair up in the backcourt with Marcus Foster, a fifth-year senior who will make sure the Bluejays have one of the conference’s most potent offenses.
  7. Marquette: Depth took a hit with the graduation of Luke Fischer, Katin Reinhardt and Jujuan Johnson, in addition to the departure of Duane Wilson. But Marquette has Markus Howard, who is expected to have a big sophomore season, while the frontline gains a boost at midseason with Harry Froling debutting after sitting out the spring and fall semester following his transfer from SMU.
  8. St. John’s: Shamorie Ponds, Marcus LoVett and Bashir Ahmed, the team’s three top scorers, return while Tariq Owens and Kassoum Yakwe are back to man the frontline. The Johnnies add transfer Justin Simon to the perimeter and Marvin Clark to the frontcourt. Sidney Wilson, like Ponds, is another coveted New York City recruit, will be joining the program. Chris Mullin had a lot of work to do when he took the job at his alma mater but has landed talented, especially local ones.
  9. DePaul: One of the biggest offseason additions, which resulted in immediate results, was when DePaul hired Shane Heriman, head coach of prep powerhouse La Lumiere. Northern Illinois graduate transfer Marin Maric, a potential starter for next year’s team, and 2019 point guard Tgyer Campbell both committed to DePaul this spring. Both played at La Lumiere under Heriman. Billy Garrett Jr. is gone but leading scorer Eli Cain is back in Lincoln Park.
  10. Georgetown: The Hoyas have lost their two leading scorers and the top incoming recruit since season’s end, one that resulted in the school parting ways with John Thompson III. The cupboard isn’t bare for Patrick Ewing’s first season. Jessie Govan and Marcus Derrickson return while Trey Dickerson joins the program as a graduate transfer. Nonetheless, Georgetown was 14-18 last season, in a league where seven teams made the tournament. This is a realistic placement, as odd as it seems, to slot the Hoyas.

No. 12 Creighton lands come-from-behind win over Ole Miss

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Marcus Foster scored 25 points and Khyri Thomas chipped in 16 points of his own as No. 12 Creighton landed a come-from-behind win over Ole Miss in the title game of the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, 86-77.

The Rebels were up by as many as 12 points in the second half before the Jays caught fire from deep – Creighton finished shooting 16-for-26 from beyond the arc – but the real difference came on the defensive end of the floor. The Bluejays finally started getting stops, and it’s not a coincidence that those stops came at the same time that they started clearing the defensive glass.

Ole Miss took a 46-40 lead into the break. With 15 minutes left in the game, a jumper from Cullen Neal gave Ole Miss a 59-51 lead. They mustered just 18 points the rest of the way. It’s also worth noting that Ole Miss grabbed 14 of their 17 offensive rebounds in the first 25 minutes; they finished with 20 second chance points.

The defense is going to be the key long-term for Creighton. This is easily the most athletic team that Greg McDermott has had in his time at Creighton – there’s probably an argument to be made that it’s the most talented as well, although that’s a different discussion for a different day – but what they have in shooting prowess and back court dominance they lack in true difference-makers defensively.

Deandre Burnett and Rasheed Brooks, who both had 22 points, are good basketball players – Burnett had 41 points in the opening game of this event – but they got anything they wanted in the first half on Monday night. It helped that they made seemingly all of the open shots that they got, and it also helped that Justin Patton, Zach Hanson and Toby Hegner looked helpless against Sebastian Saiz on the glass. Again, Saiz is a good player, but he should not have been able to dominate the glass like that against a team that’s many believe is a top 15-20 team in the country.

The Bluejays are going to score a lot of points this season. They have shooters everywhere on their roster, they have a group of guards that are as good as any in the country and they those guards thrive in transition and when their spacing creates driving lanes.

But their ceiling will be limited if they cannot get more consistent defensively.

On the other side, Ole Miss is a better basketball team than I thought they were. They may even be the second-best team in the SEC. Burnett is going to score a lot of points this season while Neal and Brooks seem like capable compliments in the back court. Throw in Saiz, who is as underrated as anyone in that conference, and this is a typically-good Andy Kennedy team.

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Former Kansas State guard transferring to Creighton

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Marcus Foster, a guard whose sophomore season at Kansas State was an inconsistent one, has found a new home. Foster, who entered last season as a candidate for Big 12 Player of the Year, has decided that he’ll complete his college career at Creighton.

Foster announced the decision on Twitter, and after sitting out the 2015-16 season he’ll have two years to play under head coach Greg McDermott.

As a sophomore Foster averaged 12.5 points per game, shooting just under 39 percent from the field and 34.7 percent from beyond the arc. He and head coach Bruce Weber clashed on multiple occasions throughout the season, but that was the story for most of the Kansas State team as a group that reached the NCAA tournament in 2014 finished below .500. In the case of Foster a change of scenery may benefit him, and he joins a Creighton system that should serve him well once eligible.

While Foster sits out this season Creighton will look for major contributions from two other transfers in guard Maurice Watson and forward Cole Huff, both of whom sat out the 2014-15 campaign per NCAA transfer rules. Both were productive options at their previous stops, Watson at Boston University and Huff at Nevada, and that will need to be the case next season as the Bluejays lost their lone double-digit scorer in guard Austin Chatman.

Foster is the fifth newcomer who will join the Creighton program this summer with the other four being freshmen. Guards Malon Stewart and Khyri Thomas, and forwards Justin Patton and Martin Krampelj complete the class, with the 6-foot-10 Patton the most highly regarded of the freshman quartet.

Kansas State losing three players, including Marcus Foster (UPDATED)

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source: Getty Images
(Getty Images)

Kansas State took a hit to its rotation on Tuesday as three players are leaving the program. Leaving the Wildcats due to dismissal from the program is sophomore guard Marcus Foster and freshman shooting guard Tre Harris, according to a release from the school. Sophomore point guard Jevon Thomas will also transfer.

The loss of Foster is the major news here. As a freshman, Foster was one of the best players in the Big 12 as the 6-foot-2 guard averaged 15.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game for the Wildcats. As a sophomore, Foster started to become a problem in the locker room. He was benched in a Big 12 game against Oklahoma State and appeared to lose confidence at times during the season. His shooting percentages dropped to 38 percent from the field and 34 percent from 3-point range.

The 6-foot-1 Thomas was a major part of the Kansas State backcourt rotation this season. Thomas averaged 25 minutes per game and put up 4.5 points and 3.3 assists and 3 rebounds per contest in his sophomore season. One of the premier perimeter defenders in the Big 12 when he was engaged, Thomas also had 1.1 steals per game and was a difference-maker on that end when he was providing pressure.

At 6-foot-5, Harris showed some ability to score in bursts as a freshman role player. In 21 games, Harris was 20-for-44 from 3-point range and seemed to find his niche in the rotation by being a spark plug. Harris wasn’t overly productive in other facets of the game, however, as he had 18 rebounds and 11 assists in 211 minutes played.

Foster leaving means the Wildcats are losing their most talented player with two more seasons of eligibility. It’s a major hit for Bruce Weber’s program and now there isn’t a clear go-to guy on the roster without him.

Losing Thomas and Harris could hurt the backcourt depth for Kansas State going forward, but the Wildcats underachieved this season in-part to bad attitudes, so many losing some players could be an addition by subtraction scenario.

Marcus Foster’s three-pointer gives Kansas State controversial win over No. 17 Oklahoma (VIDEO)

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By this point, No. 17 Oklahoma has to be sick of Kansas State’s Marcus Foster.

For the second time this season the Sooners fell victim to Foster’s late-game heroics, as he hit a three-pointer with 3.4 seconds remaining to give Kansas State the 59-56 victory. Foster, in his first game back from a three-game suspension, scored 14 points in 25 minutes of action off the bench.

In the first meeting of the season between the two teams, Foster hit both the game-tying (in regulation) and game-winning shots in Kansas State’s 66-63 win in Norman.

However, Saturday’s win did not lack for controversy. With 9:24 remaining in the game Justin Edwards hit a three-pointer as the shot clock expired to give the Wildcats a 46-41 lead.

The officials ruled that the ball left Edwards’ hand before the shot clock expired, but that does not appear to have been the case upon closer inspection. Also of note is the fact that the LED lights around the shot clock are on. Per NCAA rules, schools can use such a setup to indicate the expiration of the shot clock.

Here’s a still picture of Edwards attempting the shot, thanks to CBT’s Rob Dauster.

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Rob Dauster

Per the NCAA rule book, when it comes to a shot clock violation there can only be an official review in the final two minutes of the second half and at any point in overtime. At any other point in the game, an official review regarding the shot clock can only take place if there’s a malfunction or mistake in starting, stopping or setting/resetting the shot clock:

Determine whether the shot clock malfunctioned or a timing mistake occurred in failing to properly start, stop, set or reset the shot clock. The malfunction or mistake may only be corrected in the shot clock period in which it occurred. Any activity after the mistake or malfunction has been committed and until it has been rectified shall be canceled, excluding a flagrant 1 or 2 personal foul or any technical foul.

Unfortunately for Oklahoma, the rules prohibited the game officials from taking another look at what is viewed to be a judgment call.

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Kansas State suffers catastrophic loss after another disciplinary issue for Marcus Foster

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For the second time this season, Marcus Foster has faced the wrath of Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber.

And for the second time this season, it cost the Wildcats a win.

On Wednesday, just an hour or two before they were set to tip off at Texas Tech, Weber announced that Foster and freshman reserve Malek Harris had been suspended for a violation of team rules. They lost 64-47 to a team that had just one Big 12 win entering the night. That came nearly a month to the day from K-State’s visit to Oklahoma State, a 61-47 loss in which Foster came off the bench, played just 14 minutes and finished the afternoon scoreless.

It’s been the story of the season for Foster, who has been as disappointing as any player in the country this year. And it’s showing. Kansas State is now 12-11 on the year, with losses to Long Beach State and Texas Southern on their resume. They’re 5-5 in the Big 12, having lost three in a row and four of their last five. They do have seven games left against ranked teams, so they’ll have their chances to improve that resume, but if their star guard is getting himself suspended during road trips and they’re coming off of an ugly loss to a league bottom-feeder, why should we believe a turn-around is in the cards?

“Our whole team, we have been plagued from the start of the season by immaturity, by a lack of discipline and a lack of consistency,” Weber told reporters after the game. “That has been on and off the court, all year. I gave them a sheet of paper at the beginning of the year, because I saw it coming – I guess I’m brilliant. I feared, because we had so many young guys, we wouldn’t have maturity as a team. Plus, they had too much hype. They hadn’t earned anything. Second thing I wrote on the paper was: discipline, to do the right thing all the time on and off the court. I said, ‘If you do those two things you will have consistency,’ and we just have not have had consistency, obviously. That is why we are 12-11 and 5-5.”

Last time Foster had to be disciplined, he responded by playing his best basketball of the season, igniting Kansas State’s hot-start in the Big 12 and hitting the game-tying and game-winning shots in an overtime win against at Oklahoma.

But at this point, that was all for naught.

Barring a miracle, Kansas State is not going to the NCAA tournament.

And you’d be foolish to pin the blame on anyone other than Kansas State’s supposed leader.