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The 23 best college basketball buzzer-beaters of 2014

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1. Michael Qualls’ buzzer-beating dunk in Arkansas’ overtime win over Kentucky — Jan. 14

Kentucky left Michael Qualls alone on the baseline, and he made the Wildcats pay with a buzzer-beater putback dunk. This was the first of two overtime wins for Arkansas over Kentucky during the 2013-14 season. This play was listed as the third best dunk of 2014.

2. Tyler Ennis’ 35-footer keeps Syracuse perfect — Feb. 12

What made Tyler Ennis such an impactful freshman last season was how clutch he was late in the game for the Orange. With 3:14 left in the game at Pittsburgh, Ennis committed a turnover. Up until that point, he hadn’t turned the ball over in the last five minutes of any game. He made up for it with this shot to improve Syracuse to 24-0.

3. Dylan Garrity sinks 70-footer in wild win for Sacramento State over Weber State — Feb. 2

In the final 15 seconds of overtime involved two technical fouls, eight free throws and two 3-pointers. After Davion Berry tied the score for Weber State, Dylan Garrity hoisted this attempt a foot outside the 3-point line on the opposite side of the court.

4. George Mason’s Jalen Jenkins hits a game-winner from 75 feet away — Nov. 29

Not much is expected from the Patriots in the Atlantic 10 this season, however, George Mason had one of the early highlights of the season when Jalen Jenkins stole a game from Manhattan with a 75-foot bomb to beat a pretty good Jaspers team, 64-63. George Mason had trailed by eight with 1:14 left.

5. Rasheed Sulaimon extends Duke-Syracuse Part 1 — Feb. 1

Rasheed Sulaimon endured a sophomore slump last season, though, he did step up in crunch time in one of the most anticipated college basketball games of the 2013-14 season. In front of 35,446 fans inside the Carrier Dome, Sulaimon raced down the floor for this game-tying 3-pointer, forcing overtime. While Duke ended up losing in overtime, 91-89, we thank Sulaimon for extending it.

6. A.J. Hess breaks UT San Antonio’s heart with a 40-foot game-winner — Nov. 30

Southern Utah hadn’t won a road game since Feb. 7, 2013 and with 2.5 seconds left, trailing by two, it didn’t look like that streak would be snapped. That was until A.J. Hess connected on this 40-footer. The call really makes the clip. The announcers were in disbelief, as the same thing happened to the Roadrunners the previous season against Division II McMurry University.

7. Sterling Gibbs pulls a Kemba to beat Villanova — March 13

A stepback game-winner in the Big East Tournament. Sounds familiar. In the quarterfinals, Sterling Gibbs did his best Kemba Walker impression with Villanova unfortunately playing the role of Gary McGhee. This turned out to be one of two early exits for the Wildcats in March. 

8. Cedric Bowen, Charleston Southern uses a tip slam to beat Ole Miss — Nov. 14

This isn’t really the way the SEC wanted to begin the 2014-15 season. On opening night, the Rebels let Charleston Southern walk away with an upset win, as Cedric Bowen charged from the top of the key to throw down the game-winner right before time expired.

9. Rayvonte Rice gives Illinois ‘Braggin’ Rights’ over Missouri — Dec. 20

What’s better than the throwback uniforms the Illini wore against Missouri? Rayvonte Rice’s stepback 3-pointer at the buzzer for the win in the Bud Light Braggin’ Rights game in Saint Louis.

10. Jordan Gathers’ three helps St. Bonaventure upset Saint Louis — March 14

The Bonnies entered the Atlantic 10 Tournament as the No. 9 seed. St. Bonaventure extended its stay in Brooklyn with a buzzer-beater from Jordan Gathers over top-seeded Saint Louis. This upset was part of a late-season unraveling for the Billikens.

13 more buzzer-beaters from 2014:

2014 NBA Draft Preview: Six first round prospects that will be busts

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The NBA Draft is on June 26th, meaning that there are less than a week until the next crop of potential NBA all-stars find out where they will be headed to begin their professional basketball careers. Over the course of the next few days, we will be using the expertise that we’ve gained from watching far too much college basketball to give you our insights on some of these prospects.

Today, we take a look at six first round prospects from this draft will think will be busts in the NBA:

MOREUnderrated Prospects | Overrated Prospects | Top Ten Players in Five Years

1. Zach LaVine, UCLA

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 13), Chad Ford (No. 18)
  • Scott Phillips: “LaVine was head-and-shoulders above every other prospect participating in the NBA DraftCombine, but not many potential lottery picks were going through the drills. He’s a ridiculous vertical athlete with a good one-dribble pull-up, but he has no clue how to play the game of basketball. LaVine looked lost in half-court settings and has a step learning curve ahead of him if he wants a long NBA career.”
  • Raphielle Johnson: “Excellent athlete, but I’m not sold on his ability to run a team at this point in time. Maybe he’ll be best as a combo, but we’ll see.”
  • Rob Dauster: “Zach LaVine will win any dunk contest that he enters. He’s got three-point range, too. But beyond that, LaVine’s essentially a blank canvas when it comes to basketball. On the one hand, that means that whoever drafts him can mold him into the player they want. It also means it’s up to LaVine to put in the work to reach his admittedly high ceiling. Drafting him is essentially betting on his work ethic.”

2. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 19), Chad Ford (No. 20)
  • RD: “Ennis is dropping on draft boards as we get closer to the big day, and it makes sense. The NBA is trending towards big, elite level athletes at the point, and for all Ennis does well, he’s not on that level athletically. He knows how to play, so I think he’ll be able to hang around for a few years, but I don’t know what he does at an NBA level.”
  • SP: “Tyler Ennis had a wonderful freshman year at Syracuse, but I don’t think he’s a big-time NBADraft prospect. He’s an average athlete with average shooting percentages (41% FG, 35% 3PT) and that doesn’t even factor the giant question mark he is on the defensive end. With so many elite NBA point guards, I don’t see how Ennis makes a big impact in the league without a good first step or an ability to finish at the rim.”

RELATEDElfrid Payton, the Draft’s biggest sleeper | Balancing potential, running a program

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3. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 6), Chad Ford (No. 8)
  • RJ: “What happens when teams force him to hit perimeter shots? That’s the big question.”
  • SP: “For being such a highly-touted player and floor leader, Smart never got better at Oklahoma State and never won a NCAA Tournament game in two seasons. His power game won’t translate nearly as well in the NBA and his jump shot needs to improve a lot for him to be a complete weapon on offense.”

4. Mitch McGary, Michigan

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 30), Chad Ford (No. 26)
  • Terrence Payne: “Six NCAA tournament games in 2013 launched him into the lottery, but he has played eight games in the last 15 months.”
  • RD: “The offensive skill set at this time is a concern. But he works hard, so maybe strides can be made in that area.”

RELATED2014 NBA Draft Preview

5. Jerami Grant, Syracuse

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 27), Chad Ford (No. 40)
  • RD: “Grant is an elite-level athlete, but he’s stuck in that spot where he’s not really a small forward but not big enough to play along the front line. Does he have a post move? Can he play on the perimeter? What position does he guard?”

6. P.J. Hairston, North Carolina/D-League

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 23), Chad Ford (No. 24)
  • SP: “Besides the off-the-court questions that Hairston will face from every team, he’s a bonafide shot-jacker that rarely passes — Hairston averaged less than an assist a game in over 32 minutes a game in the D-League — and is prone to mental lapses on the defensive end. The D-League is filled with professional players, but the structure of the league, especially defensively, leaves a lot to be desired and his scoring numbers could end up being inflated because of this.”

Tyler Ennis downplays Jim Boeheim’s critical remarks on NBA Draft decision

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CHICAGO — Much has been made of Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim being critical of his own players after they make a decision to enter the NBA Draft early.

After a tremendous freshman season as the Orange’s starting point guard, Tyler Ennis became the latest former Syracuse player to leave for the NBA Draft after appearing in the lottery of multiple mock drafts.

Despite those promising projections for Ennis, Boeheim went on SportsCenter in April and made some critical remarks about his starting point guard and how he wasn’t fully prepared to join the professional ranks.

“I think he is a great college player, but I think physically he could have used another year,” Boeheim said on SportsCenter. “I think when you get to the NBA, you need to be as physically ready as you can be, so I think Tyler could have benefited from another year, but certainly he is a tremendous player and a very smart point guard.

“I think point guard is probably the hardest position to break into in the NBA … but he has the skill set to be able to do that … it’s just a question of landing in the right place.”

But during last week’s NBA Draft Combine at Quest Multisports in Chicago, Ennis downplayed his former head coach’s remarks and he told NBCSports.com that he viewed Boeheim’s take in a different way.

“That situation, I think the media and the outside people that really don’t know the situation kind of got a different angle than (the players) did,” Ennis told NBCSports.com. “Even through my decision to enter the draft, I sat down with coach a few times and talked to him. And even to this day we’re able to speak and be on the same page. We’re both loyal people, we have a good relationship and he just wants what is best for me.”

It’s not surprising to see Ennis downplay Boeheim’s remarks because he’s probably used to his former coach bringing a certain dose of truth into the equation. Ennis has probably heard plenty of critical remarks from Boeheim in practice, during games and in film sessions so this is likely nothing new for him.

Those kinds of remarks from Boeheim rub certain people the wrong way because it looks like he’s putting the Syracuse program’s interests above the interests of his individual players, but I’m sure his players don’t think much of it after playing for him and hearing it straight from him all season.

As for the NBA Draft process, Ennis is viewing the proceedings much like he did when he entered Syracuse last fall — as an underdog.

“It’s been great and it’s been a journey but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. As an underdog, I had a lot to work for and I had to impress a lot of people and that’s what I’ve had to do my whole career,” Ennis said. “That’s what kept me motivated (entering college) and going through this (NBA Draft) process, I’m going through the same thing. I’m just finding ways to keep myself motivated and I know going to the next level won’t be easy. So even after this process of being drafted, I have a lot of work ahead of me.”

Much has been made about Ennis playing in Syracuse’s 2-3 zone throughout the season, as many basketball analysts question the point guard’s ability to defend in the more man-to-man focused NBA. Ennis believes he’ll be fine on the defensive end at the next level.

“I think my defense is going to surprise a lot of people,” Ennis said. “At Syracuse people question the defensive end (because of the 2-3 zone). I think through workouts and when teams watch me defend I think I’ll surprise a lot of people on the defensive end.”

Ennis averaged 12.9 points, 5.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game during his freshman season at Syracuse.

Report: Syracuse freshman Tyler Ennis to enter the NBA Draft

Tyler Ennis

Tyler Ennis will forgo his final three years of eligibility and enter the NBA Draft, according to a report from Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com.

Ennis had a terrific freshman campaign, averaging 12.9 points, 5.5 assists and just 1.7 turnovers, but the years ended in disappointment as the Orange were upset early in both the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

“I’d like to thank Coach Boeheim, the coaching staff, my teammates and the amazing fans of Syracuse for the opportunity to play at a great university like Syracuse,” said Ennis. “I feel this experience has helped prepare me to fulfill my lifelong dream – to play in the NBA.”

Ennis is not a next-level athlete like a Derrick Rose or a John Wall, but he’s as heady as point guards come, the kind of player that doesn’t get sped up by defensive pressure. He’s got a terrific feel for the game and is able to get his team into their offense without turning the ball over, and he’s shown an exceptional ability to execute in the clutch. Draft Express currently projects him as the 14th pick in the draft and the third point guard taken after Dante Exum and Marcus Smart.

MOREThe entire list of players entering the 2014 NBA Draft

This will be the second straight season where the Orange have sent a point guard off to the NBA quicker than expected. Ennis was forced into a starting role this season because Michael Carter-Williams left after his sophomore year. The good news is that Boeheim landed a commitment from Kaleb Joseph, a point guard from New England that was the No. 55 recruit in the country in the Class of 2014. Like Ennis, he will be thrust into a starting role early in his tenure.

All eyes in Upstate New York now turn to Jerami Grant, who is still deciding whether or not he will enter the draft. If he leaves, that means the Orange will lose their top three players from this season, as C.J. Fair is graduating as well.

ACC Tournament: No. 11 Syracuse’s shooting a concern entering NCAA tournament

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A familiar refrain from Syracuse fans as much of the nation expressed concern about their offense in ACC play was that the 11th-ranked Orange were still an efficient group, ranking 28th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers. But there’s no denying the fact that Syracuse was having issues making shots, and that was once again the case as they lost 66-63 to N.C. State in an ACC tournament quarterfinal.

Syracuse made just 32.7% of its shots from the field, with leading scorer C.J. Fair scoring nine points on 3-for-16 shooting. Tyler Ennis scored 21 points but did so on 6-for-18 shooting, with N.C. State’s Anthony Barber being assigned that defensive responsibility for a decent portion of the night, and Trevor Cooney (he sprained his ankle in the first half) made just one of his six shot attempts. The only starter to score in an efficient manner was Jerami Grant, who scored 19 points on 5-for-7 shooting.

Unfortunately for Syracuse, the shooting percentages show that this can’t be passed off as the Orange simply having a bad night from the field. In their last eight games Syracuse has shot 40% or better from the field just twice, in wins over Maryland (40%) and Florida State (48.5%). Their defense will keep games close, and that was once again the case Friday night, but the question of whether or not Syracuse can consistently knock down shots is a big concern heading into the NCAA tournament.

With that being an issue Syracuse has been able to take advantage of the offensive glass, rebounding 37.2% of their misses against ACC opponents entering Friday, and they corralled 15 of their misses against N.C. State (five came in that wild sequence in the game’s final seconds). Removing that last sequence the Orange scored just 11 second-chance points on those ten offensive rebounds, and N.C. State was just a minus-4 (seven second-chance points) in that statistical category.

Ennis, Fair and Grant are still to be respected, as all are gifted enough to make opponents pay when they’re on. But the percentages can’t be ignored when discussing Syracuse’s chances of getting to the Final Four. Regardless of where they’re seeded, Syracuse needs to regain its offensive “mojo” and quickly.

College Basketball Talk’s Player of the Year Power Rankings

Doug McDermott , Isaiah Philmore
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1. Doug McDermott, Creighton: Remember when people were worried whether or not McDermott would be able to succeed outside the Missouri Valley? Well, he’s averaging 26.0 points and 7.2 boards while shooting 52.0% from the field, 44.1% from three and 88.7% from the line on a top ten team that still has a chance to win the Big East title. I think he’s done alright. With this being the last edition of the Player of the Year Power Rankings, I think that it’s safe to say that McDermott has got this in the bag.

2. Jabari Parker, Duke: The biggest internal struggle that I have with putting Parker this high in the Player of the Year rankings is that he’s a terrible defender. But he can score, and he’s the player that allows Duke to be such a matchup nightmare with his ability to defend in the post and score on the perimeter. If he wasn’t cleaning the defensive glass as effectively as he has been, this may be a different conversation.

3. Russ Smith, Louisville: Every time I watch Louisville play, I am more impressed with the development of Russ Smith. He’s a playmaker on both ends of the floor, a guy that simply fits perfectly in what Rick Pitino wants his team to be able to do. Add in the fact that his leadership and ability to handle the point has improved dramatically, and what you get is the No. 3 player in our Player of the Year rankings.

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4. Shabazz Napier, UConn: Shabazz has struggled with his shot a bit of late, but that doesn’t hurt his standing. Where would UConn be this season without him? He’s a facilitator, he’s their best scorer, their best playmaker, an excellent defender, their leading rebounder (at 6-foot-1!!), and the guy that takes and makes the big shots.

5. Nick Johnson, Arizona: Johnson has been going through a bit of a shooting slump lately, but Arizona’s offense has taken off with Sean Miller’s new uptempo approach. Johnson’s athleticism in transition and ability on the defensive end should allow him to thrive.

6. Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati: The Bearcats have lost three of their last five games, but that doesn’t change the fact that Kilpatrick is by far the best offensive weapon on a top 15 team that struggles to score.

7. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse: Ennis is still the same player that he has been all season despite his team’s struggles. It’s not his fault that Jerami Grant’s back is acting up and that Trevor Cooney, when you factor out the 9-for-12 that he shot against Notre Dame, is just a 28% long range shooter in ACC play. Ennis is a facilitator at the point. If the Orange need him to take over scoring the ball, they are going to be in some trouble.

8. Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico: The Lobos are back in the top 25 and are playing as well as anyone west of the Mississippi not named Arizona. So while Kendall Williams is having a better season than he did when he won Mountain West Player of the Year and Alex Kirk has been terrific, the reason why New Mexico is this good is because Cameron Bairstow has turned into one of the best low-post players in the country.

9. Kyle Anderson, UCLA: Anderson is still putting up just massive numbers on what is probably still the Pac-12’s second-best team. That said, he’s going to want to go ahead and make sure that he isn’t suspended for anymore games. If he plays against Oregon at home, the Bruins probably beat the Ducks in double overtime.

10. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas: It’s been too long that I’ve kept Wiggins off of this list. He’s the leading scorer, third leading rebounder and best perimeter defender on a top five team that is currently up three games in what many believe to be the toughest conference in the country. And he’s a disappointment? We’ve got some high standards.

Others: Jordan Adams, Billy Baron, Malcolm Brogdon, Jabari Brown, Bryce Cotton, Cleanthony Early, Joel Embiid, C.J. Fair, Marcus Foster, Aaron Gordon, Gary Harris, Rodney Hood, Frank Kaminsky, Deandre Kane, Kevin Pangos, Lamar Patterson, Adreian Payne, Elfrid Payton, Marcus Smart, Juwan Staten, Nik Stauskas, Xavier Thames, Fred Van Vleet, T.J. Warren, Scottie Wilbekin, Chaz Williams