Tag: Rakeem Christmas

Jerian Grant (AP Photo)

NBCSports.com’s College Basketball All-Americans

Frank Kaminsky (left, AP Photo), Jahlil Okafor (center, AP Photo) and Willie Cauley-Stein (right, UK Athletics)


Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin (18.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.6 apg, 41.0% 3PT)

Kaminsky has greatly outperformed expectations he had entering the season, even though he was a preseason all-american pick. He’s been sensational, leading the Badgers in scoring, rebounding, assists, blocks and steals. Not bad for a guy that averaged 10 minutes as a sophomore.

Jahlil Okafor, Duke (17.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg)

Okafor is an easy pick as well, as he was the most dominating offensive force in the country this season. To get an idea of just how good he can be, think about this: He’s not just a poor defender, he can be downright awful at times, and yet he’s going to finish the season as a consensus first team all-american and the runner-up to Kaminsky in the Player of the Year voting. Not bad.

D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State (19.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 5.2 apg)

If Kaminsky has been the nation’s best player and Okafor has been the most dominating offensive force, than Russell has to be the nation’s most entertaining player. He can take over a game with his ability to score, and he throws some absurd passes in transition. Can he be this year’s Shabazz Napier in the NCAA tournament?

Jerian Grant, Notre Dame (16.8 ppg, 6.7 apg)

The Irish have no business being a top ten team this season, but they are because Grant has been incredible. Notre Dame has one of the most potent offensive attacks in the country, and it all centers around Grant’s ability to make plays off the dribble and in ball-screen actions. He’s better than anyone else in the country at making his teammate’s better.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky (8.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.6 bpg)

Cauley-Stein’s numbers don’t measure up to anyone else on the first team, but what he does best doesn’t necessarily show up in the scorebook. The Wildcats are downright dominant on the defensive end of the floor, and Cauley-Stein is the engine that drives them. He’s the best perimeter and the best interior defender in the country all at the same time.


  • Delon Wright, Utah (14.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 5.3 apg, 2.1 spg): Wright did so much for Utah this season, and while his numbers were impressive, it was his defense and ability to understand his strengths offensively that were most important to the Utes.
  • Kris Dunn, Providence (15.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 7.4 apg): The only reason Dunn isn’t in the conversation for National Player of the Year is that he turns the ball over too much. He was completely dominant at times this season.
  • Buddy Hield, Oklahoma (17.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg): Hield has a rep for being one of the nation’s best defenders, dating back to his freshman season. Now he’s also one of the best wing scorers.
  • Rico Gathers, Baylor (11.6 ppg, 11.7 rpg): Gathers is the nation’s best rebounder, an improving scorer on the block and a critical component for arguably the nation’s most surprising team.
  • Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse (17.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.5 bpg): He won’t get to showcase his ability this March, but there was not a more improved player in the country than Christmas this season.


  • T.J. McConnell, Arizona (9.6 ppg, 6.3 apg, 2.1 spg): McConnell’s numbers are nowhere near as impressive as the other lead guards here, but if you watched Arizona play over the last two months, you understand just how important he was to that team’s success.
  • Melo Trimble, Maryland (16.1 ppg, 3.1 apg): Maryland is ranked 31st in KenPom. Yet, they’re a top ten team that’s going to be a top four seed because they’re 11-0 in games decided by six points or less. Trimble is their ‘closer’. He earned this spot.
  • Justin Anderson, Virginia (13.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 48.5% 3PT): Anderson was in the mix for first team all-american when he broke his finger. He deserves recognition despite missing time.
  • Bobby Portis, Arkansas (17.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.5 bpg): I was called out by an Arkansas assistant coach for having Bobby Portis ranked 62nd in our top 100 players list in the preseason. That coach was right.
  • Seth Tuttle, Northern Iowa (15.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.3 apg): I’m fully on the Tuttle bandwagon. He’s a low-post scorer with three point range, the ability to put the ball on the floor and terrific vision. He’s Frank Kaminsky 2.0.

Jim Boeheim uses classic rant about Gerry McNamara to praise Rakeem Christmas

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Syracuse is in a rebuilding mode.

Several players expected to be around for this season declared for the NBA Draft last spring. The front court depth took a hit with Dajuan Coleman having to redshirt while star freshman Chris McCullough tore his ACL in mid-January. And in February, with an on-going investigation for alleged NCAA violations, Syracuse self-imposed a postseason ban on a season that wasn’t likely destined for the NCAA tournament.

The bright spot during the 2014-15 year has been the emergence of Rakeem Christmas. The 6-foot-9 senior forward, who started 109 games entering this season, has put together an All-American caliber season with his scoring average jumping from 5.8 points to 18.1, in addition to his 9.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.

On Thursday night, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, during a radio interview with TK99, recycled a classic rant to describe Christmas’ importance to this team.

The interview was transcribed by Chris Carlson of Syracuse.com:

“I can make the same statement this year,” Boeheim said. “Without Rakeem we wouldn’t win 10 games. That’s pretty much for sure. Gerry [McNamara] might have been a little bit of an exaggeration, but Rakeem Christmas, no. Without him we wouldn’t have won 10 games. He’s been such a force for us all year, right from the beginning.”

Boeheim’s reference to McNamara is in regards to a 2006 poll of Big East assistant coaches, who voted McNamara, a senior at the time, as the most overrated player. That sparked this rant (begins at 1:01 mark):

“Without Gerry McNamara, we wouldn’t have won 10 f***ing games this year, ” Boeheim said at the time. “OK? Not 10. The other guys just aren’t ready. They needed him. Without him there, not 10.”

Of course, McNamara responded to that poll leading the Orange on a memorable charge through the Big East Tournament. However, Christmas won’t get the opportunity this March, but after his senior campaign he will get an opportunity to play at the next level, slotted as a second-round pick by DraftExpress.com.

What if today was college basketball’s trade deadline?

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AP Photo

In honor of today’s NBA trade deadline, where far too many people will spend the day obsessing over where Goran Dragic, Enes Kanter and Reggie Jackson will end up, we give you college basketball’s deadline deals. 

If teams at the collegiate level were allowed to swap players, what are some moves that could help turn pretenders into contenders, or contenders into favorites? Here are six trades that would fill holes on the roster of both teams:

1. North Carolina’s Isaiah Hicks for Cal’s Jordan Mathews

  • UNC makes this trade because: The Tar Heels have plenty of bodies up front. What they need is another player on their perimeter that can knock down jumpers. Mathews is shooting 45.0 percent from three on the season, meaning he is a guy that would allow Marcus Paige to play on the ball more.
  • Cal makes this trade because: They need help on the interior. Badly. Losing Mathews is not exactly ideal, but with Jabari Bird on the perimeter as well, they have the depth to be able to make a change. The Bears are not as far out of the bubble picture as you might think, and adding this piece for the stretch run could be the difference.

2. Ohio State’s Kam Williams for Texas’ Prince Ibeh

  • OSU makes this trade because: Ibeh is as big, as physical and as athletic as any front court player in the country. He can block shots, he can run the floor and he can go blow-for-blow in the post with anyone. Texas can spare him because he plays essentially the same role as Cameron Ridley, who is worlds better offensively, but Ohio State would make use of him as the shot-blocking presence that allows them to extend their defense.
  • Texas makes this trade because: One of the issues for Texas this season is that they have too many big bodies and not enough scoring pop in their back court. Williams is a streaky shooter, but he’s a guy with a reputation for being a big-time scorer that can provide scoring pop off the bench or from a starting role.
source: AP
AP Photo

3. Washington’s Nigel Williams-Goss for Louisville’s Shaqquan Aaron

  • Washington makes this trade because: This season is a bust for Washington, who watched as their chances to make the NCAA tournament disappeared when Robert Upshaw got the boot. They need to start over, and what better was to do that than by bringing in a former top 30 recruit from Seattle. Aaron was lambasted by Pitino after the loss to Syracuse on Wednesday, meaning he may be out the door already. Why not try and get something in return?
  • Louisville makes this trade because: The biggest issue for Louisville this season? They don’t have a lead guard on their roster that makes everyone else better. Terry Rozier is extremely talented, but he’s a scorer first, second and third. Chris Jones is an elite defender, but he’s a gunner that wants to be Russ Smith. Nigel Williams-Goss is not an ideal fit defensively for Rick Pitino, but he’s one of the nation’s most underrated point guards, a guy that will get easy shots for some of his new, offensively-challenged teammates.

4. BYU’s Skyler Halford for San Diego State’s Angelo Chol

  • BYU makes this trade because: The Cougars need some physicality in the paint, and Chol will provide that. He’s not really a low-post scoring threat, but he blocks shots, he rebounds, he plays hard and he’ll provide a big, physical body in the paint to help deal with guys like Brad Waldow and Gonzaga’s front line. He can be to BYU what Jameel McKay is to Iowa State.
  • SDSU makes this trade because: The Aztecs cannot score. They lack elite shooting and they don’t have enough playmakers on their roster to help breakdown a defense. Halford is a knock-down jump shooter and a better creator than he gets credit for, and he’s an expendable piece for the Cougars given how many talented perimeter players are on that roster.

5. Syracuse’s Rakeem Christmas for Kansas’ Svi Mykhailiuk

  • Syracuse makes this trade because: The Orange literally are not playing for anything this season beyond pride, thanks to the ludicrous decision that the school made to self-impose a postseason ban for this year. That means that Christmas, a senior having an all-american caliber season, is a valuable piece. Mykhailiuk is a freshman, but he’s only 17 years old. He’s long, he’s athletic and he can shoot, meaning he’ll fit in the Orange zone, and he needs at least one, maybe two more years in college before he’s ready to go pro.
  • Kansas makes this trade because: The one thing the Jayhawks are missing this season is a true low-post scoring threat, and that’s precisely what Christmas is. He’d take the pressure off of their perimeter players, and while giving up Mykhailiuk means giving up a terrific prospect, it would make Kansas a real national title contender versus being a streaky shooting team with a shot at the Final Four.

6. Indiana’s Stanford Robinson for Louisiana’s Shawn Long

  • Indiana makes this trade because: Indiana has been forced to play small-ball this season because of their lack of size in the paint. They spread the floor, they jack up threes and they are as entertaining as any team in the country when those threes are going down. But they’re also the worst power conference team on the defensive end of the floor, and Long should help that. He’s a 6-foot-9 shot-blocker that can score on the block and has three-point range.
  • Louisiana makes this trade because: Losing Long hurts, but adding Robinson might end up being more valuable. Remember, this is the program that turned Elfrid Payton into a lottery pick, and while Robinson is a different player than Payton, the former top 30 recruit can still be a dynamic slasher from the wing. He’s fallen out of favor at Indiana, averaging just 11 minutes.