Nigel Hayes had arguably the best week of his career in what might turn out to be the most important week of Wisconsin’s season.
It started on Tuesday night, when Hayes had nine points, 10 assists and 11 boards as he eviscerated No. 22 Syracuse’s zone in a dominating, 77-60 win for the Badgers. Four days later, Hayes finished with a season-high 28 points, adding six assists and shooting 10-for-13 from the floor as Wisconsin pulled away late to be Oklahoma, 90-70.
The past week was the best week of basketball that the Badgers have played this season, and so much of that credit falls on the shoulders of Hayes, who has refocused the way that he’s playing the game. The knock on Hayes during his junior year and through the first two weeks of his senior season was simply: He settled for way too many threes. As a junior, he shot 29.3 percent while shooting 3.8 threes per game. Prior to the last three games, Hayes was shooting 29.0 percent from three while taking 4.5 per game.
In other words, after a year where Hayes essentially proved that he was not a good enough shooter to be a ‘shooter’, he was shooting even more.
The last three games, however, Hayes has taken just two threes and made them both. He’s playing inside-out, he’s operating as a facilitator as much as he is a scorer and, as a result, he’s looked every-bit the part of the guy that was picked to be Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year.
When Hayes plays like this, the Badgers are right there with Indiana as the favorite to win the Big Ten title this season.
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THEY WERE GOOD, TOO
- T.J. Leaf, UCLA: Leaf was the best player on the floor for the Bruins as they went into Rupp Arena and knocked off No. 1 Kentucky. Leaf showed off his versatile skill-set, but he also played with a toughness and a defensive mettle that wasn’t exactly expected of him entering the season. We know how good the Bruins are on the offensive end of the floor, but if they’re getting stops, too? Scary.
- Josh Hart, Villanova: Hart is playing some of the best basketball of his career, and never was that more evident than this week. He averaged 14.0 points and 8.5 boards while chipping in with 19 total assists in wins over Penn and Saint Joseph’s. We’ve already talked about how Hart has added a consistent three-point shot and how he can make plays in ball-screen actions, now he’s handing out double-figure assists? Entering the week, Hart had never averaged two assists per game for a season, including this season.
- Rodney Bullock, Providence: It’s too early in the year to make any blanket statements about Bullock or a young Friar team, but he’s averaging 21.4 points on the season and, this week alone, had 36 points in a win over New Hampshire and followed that up with 17 points as the Friars beat No. 21 Rhode Island.
- Kevin Hervey, UT Arlington: Hervey, who may be the best NBA prospect in the mid-major ranks, posted a pair of double-doubles in road wins this week, including 18 points and 10 boards as UTA went to Austin and knocked off Texas.
- Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame: Colson, the 6-foot-5 power forward for the Fighting Irish, is averaging 18.7 points and 10.7 boards this season. He’s notched five straight double-doubles, two of which came this week, including a 24-point, 17-rebound, three-block performance in a win over Iowa.
Throughout his tenure at Providence, head coach Ed Cooley has dealt with hits to his team’s depth and unfortunately for him that will once again be the case in 2014-15.
Days after reports that he’d suffered a knee injury, redshirt freshman Rodney Bullock has been declared out for the entire 2014-15 season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee according to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal. Bullock’s college debut will have to wait for another season, as he was suspended for the entire 2013-14 campaign after being investigated (but not charged) for sexual assault.
The 6-foot-7 Bullock is a talented player who was capable of helping the Friars account for the graduation of starter Kadeem Batts in the front court. Returnees such as seniors Carson Desrosiers and LaDontae Henton and junior Tyler Harris will obviously be factors, as will freshmen Jalen Lindsey, Paschal Chukwu and Ben Bentil.
However it should be noted that Bentil, who is practicing with the team, has yet to be cleared for competition. Losing Bullock adds even greater importance to the NCAA’s decision on Bentil, with the school according to McNamara’s report confident that he’ll be cleared to play.
Cooley’s navigated personnel issues throughout his tenure, molding the program into one that won the Big East tournament title and earned its first NCAA tournament bid in a decade last March. With one of the players expected to compete for minutes now sidelined for the season, Cooley’s Friars will once again have to adjust.
Providence redshirt freshman forward Rodney Bullock arrived on campus last summer as one member of a talented freshman class reeled in by head coach Ed Cooley. However the Virginia native did not take the court for the Friars last season, as he was suspended for the entire season after being involved in an investigation for an on-campus sexual assault along with former teammate Brandon Austin. No charges would be filed in relation to the incident.
In 2014-15 Bullock is expected to compete for playing time as the reigning Big East tournament champions account for the loss of key contributors Bryce Cotton and Kadeem Batts. Unfortunately for Bullock, the process of earning minutes has been derailed due to a knee injury. According to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, Cooley is unsure of how long he’ll be without the 6-foot-7 Bullock.
“The news isn’t good but we’re trying to get through a couple more tests and see what happens,” Cooley said. “We’re evaluating to see just how bad it is.”
Asked if he knows if Bullock could be lost for the upcoming season, Cooley said “no, not yet.”
Providence lost Batts but they return other key front court contributors from that team, including seniors LaDontae Henton and Carson Desrosiers and junior Tyler Harris. Freshmen Ben Bentil (who has yet to be cleared for games) and Paschal Chukwu (6-foot-7 Jalen Lindsey is listed as a guard but will factor into the wing rotation) are also expected to help the Friars in 2014-15.
Depth won’t be as much of an issue for Providence as it had been in the years (under Cooley) leading up to last season’s NCAA tournament appearance, but Bullock is a talented player who can help them. Bullock averaged 21.4 points and 16.0 rebounds per game as a high school senior in 2012-13.
Prior to the start of the 2013-14 season, newcomers Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock were expected to compete for playing time as freshmen at Providence. However the two players were alleged to have sexually assaulted a female student in November, with a school disciplinary board ruling that Austin and Bullock would be prohibited from playing for Ed Cooley at all in 2013-14. With the school coming to that conclusion there was still the issue of whether or not a Rhode Island grand jury would indict them on charges of sexual assault.
Wednesday afternoon it was reported by the Providence Journal that the grand jury has declined to indict the two, citing insufficient evidence as the reason for the decision.
“The investigation into allegations of sexual assault by Rodney Bullock and Brandon Austin has concluded,” the office of Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin said in a statement according to the Journal. “The allegations concerned an incident which allegedly occurred on November 3, 2013, in Providence.
“The investigation was presented to a Statewide Grand Jury. The Grand Jury determined there was insufficient evidence to bring any charges against Rodney Bullock. After presentation of the evidence to the Grand Jury with respect to Brandon Austin, it was determined there was legally insufficient evidence to ask the Grand Jury to consider charges against Austin.
“The Office of Attorney General cannot release further details surrounding the Grand Jury as disclosure is prohibited by law.”
The two players chose different paths in the aftermath of their suspension, with Austin transferring to Oregon and Bullock remaining at Providence. And while the remainder of the season was relatively quiet for the suspended Bullock the same can’t be said for Austin, who was investigated for another sexual assault at Oregon.
Austin, Damyean Dotson and Dominic Artis weren’t charged in the case, but all three were dismissed from the program and subsequently banned from the Oregon campus for up to ten years. It remains to be seen where the three players wind up, with Artis and Dotson still looking for schools and Austin not headed to Hutchinson (Kansas) CC despite reports earlier this month that he would be joining the program.
Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock are being investigated by Providence police for an alleged sexual assault of a student, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday night.
Austin and Bullock were both suspended on November 6th for what head coach Ed Cooley said at the time was a result of the two freshmen “not upholding their responsibilities as student-athletes.” In December, the school announced that the suspensions would be for the entire season. Bullock is still a member of the team, but Austin transferred out of the program over winter break and has since enrolled at Oregon. He’s eligible to play this December.
The report states that the alleged victim approached the Providence police department “a couple of weeks ago”, but that the incident itself occurred in November before the basketball season had started. It also states that the victim, who knew the players, went to campus police immediately after the alleged assault occurred.
Austin was unable to be reached for comment, but Bullock’s attorney told the Journal that the school carried out an investigation by a former Rhode Island state police officer, and that the police have not spoked to his client.
Austin, a 6-foot-7 point guard, was a top 50 recruit in the Class of 2013. Bullock was a top 150 recruit.
Just two days before Christmas, Providence College announced that freshmen Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock, who were suspended prior to the start of the season, would remain suspended for the remainder of the season due to a violation of the school’s Code of Conduct. With that ruling being handed down, the two freshmen had a decision to make: either remain in school (they would be allowed to work out with the team) or transfer to another institution.
According to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, Austin has decided to transfer. A highly regarded perimeter prospect from Philadelphia, Austin was expected to be an immediate contributor for Ed Cooley’s Friars. And with Kris Dunn out for the season due to a shoulder injury, Austin would have been of even greater help to a rotation that has relied heavily on senior Bryce Cotton thus far.
“We wish Brandon success with his basketball career and with his academic future,” Cooley said in the school release announcing Austin’s departure.
McNamara’s story also mentioned a couple possible destinations for the 6-foot-6 guard:
Word from several Philadelphia basketball sources is that Austin’s advisors were calling other schools early last month as PC’s administration weighed its decision. Penn State, Oregon and Temple are a few of the schools being mentioned as potential landing spots.
Austin was originally gave a verbal commitment to Penn State in February 2012, only to change his mind five months later. Bullock has remained with the team and is working out in hopes of being ruled eligible to play next season.