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Oregon State PG JaQuori McLaughlin to transfer

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Friday afternoon it was announced that sophomore point guard JaQuori McLaughlin has been granted a release from his scholarship and will transfer from Oregon State. McLaughlin, who started 30 games and averaged 10.5 points and 3.3 assists per game as a freshman, struggled to reach that level in Oregon State’s first six games of the season.

Making five starts, McLaughlin was averaging 2.7 points, 3.7 assists and 2.7 rebounds per contest while shooting just 23.8 percent from the field. In addition to the on-court struggles, McLaughlin mentioned challenges away from the court in the release sent out by the school Friday.

“Being a student-athlete is a lot of work and there are some challenges that I’ve been faced with that have impacted me and kept me from being able to compete to the best of my ability in a way that would help my team win games,” McLaughlin said in the release.

With McLaughlin no longer in the fold, redshirt sophomore Kendal Manuel is the player most likely to see an increase in minutes with both Stephen Thompson Jr. and Ethan Thompson averaging more than 30 minutes per game. Manuel, who’s played 12.7 minutes per game this season, is averaging 2.8 points and 1.5 rebounds per game.

The Thompson brothers, and even leading scorer Tres Tinkle, should have even more opportunities to make plays with the basketball in their hands moving forward as a result of McLaughlin’s departure from the program.

Pac-12 all-star team to tour Australia in July

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While the majority of summer tours in college basketball consist of teams making the trek overseas (or to Canada) together, there are all all-star teams put together to represent a conference or some other entity. The Pac-12 has put together an all-star team of sorts in recent years, and on Tuesday they announced the 12-member squad that will visit Australia to play three games in early July.

Two of those games will be played against the Australian men’s national team, which will be preparing for the Summer Olympics to be played in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August.

The coaching staff will be led by Mike Montgomery, who led the programs at both Stanford and California before retiring in 2014, with former Stanford head coach Trent Johnson and former Stanford players Casey Jacobsen and Brevin Knight serving as his assistants. Ten of the conference’s 12 teams will be represented on the roster, with Oregon (which has some players hoping to reach the Olympics for other countries) and UCLA being the teams without a player making the trip.

Also of note for Oregon is the fact that they’ll be taking a summer trip to Spain in August, so their players are already set up for a busy summer.

Arizona and Oregon State will each have two players on the roster, with Kadeem Allen and Chance Comanche making the trip representing Sean Miller’s program and Drew Eubanks and Stephen Thompson Jr. doing so for Wayne Tinkle’s program. Of the 12 players two earned honorable mention all-conference honors (USC’s Jordan McLaughlin and Washington State’s Josh Hawkinson), and Colorado’s Wesley Gordon was a Pac-12 All-Defensive Team selection.

Below is the full roster, and the team is scheduled to depart for Australia from Los Angeles July 7.

G Kadeem Allen (Arizona)
C Chance Comanche (Arizona)
G Tra Holder (Arizona State)
G Stephen Domingo (California)
F Wesley Gordon (Colorado)
F Drew Eubanks (Oregon State)
F Stephen Thompson Jr. (Oregon State)
G/F Dorian Pickens (Stanford)
G Jordan McLaughlin (USC)
G Lorenzo Bonam (Utah)
F Matisse Thybulle (Washington)
F Josh Hawkinson (Washington State)

Pac-12 Conference Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

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The expectation entering the season was that there were at least five teams capable of winning the Pac-12. Sure enough many of the expected contenders remained a factor for a significant portion of the season, with Oregon eventually rising as the class of the conference. Dana Altman’s Ducks went undefeated at home in Pac-12 play and finished above .500 on the road, which is generally a good formula to at the very least contend for a conference title. The play of Dillon Brooks, Elgin Cook and company may make Oregon the favorites in Las Vegas, but they’ll have plenty of challengers as well.

Utah has the conference’s Player of the Year in sophomore center Jakob Poeltl, Arizona and California both have talented rotations and teams such as Colorado, Oregon State, USC and Washington are all capable of making a run as well. As of right now the Pac-12 could be a seven-bid league depending upon not only what happens in Las Vegas but also in other conference tournaments across the country. This much is certain: given how balanced and talented the league is, whoever cuts down the nets Saturday night will have been pushed to their limit.

The Bracket

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When: March 9-12

Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas

Final: March 12, 10:00 p.m. (FS1)

Favorite: Oregon

The Ducks may have just a seven-man rotation, but it’s the versatility within that group that makes them so difficult to deal with. Dillon Brooks, Elgin Cook and Dwayne Benjamin are three forwards who can play just about anywhere on the floor. Freshman Tyler Dorsey can play either guard spot, and big man Chris Boucher is a 6-foot-10 senior who can score in the paint and also on the perimeter.

Both Boucher and Jordan Bell run the floor like gazelles and are incredibly active defensively, and point guard Casey Benson’s improved throughout the course of the season. They’ll score points thanks to the talent and Dana Altman’s offensive schemes. But if Oregon can make things happen defensively and get out in transition, they’re an incredibly tough team to beat.

And if they lose?: Utah

Utah’s rise from team that appeared to be headed towards the NCAA tournament bubble to second place in the Pac-12 is due in large part to the development of their perimeter rotation. Brandon Taylor’s embraced the facilitator role down the stretch, and Lorenzo Bonam’s made strides as well. The Runnin’ Utes can surround elite big man Jakob Poeltl with shooters, thus keeping the spacing that ultimately produces quality shots on a regular basis. Utah ranked second in the conference in field goal percentage defense and fourth in three-point percentage defense, and even with the occasional offensive issues they’ve been solid defensively.

Other Contenders:

  • Arizona: The Wildcats are still formidable, even with the end of their streak of two straight Pac-12 regular season titles. Gabe York’s been on fire of late, and with Ryan Anderson and Allonzo Trier leading the way Sean Miller’s team doesn’t lack for talent either.
  • California: The Golden Bears were the team many were waiting for to get going, and down the stretch they did. The return of Tyrone Wallace helped, and they’ve got two of the nation’s top freshmen Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb. But they’ve had their issues away from Berkeley, so we’ll see what they can do in Las Vegas.

Sleeper: USC

The Trojans have struggled a bit down the stretch, losing six of their final eight games of the regular season. That being said, USC’s offensive balance and tempo could lend itself to a run in Las Vegas. Jordan McLaughlin and Julian Jacobs make up a very good point guard duo, and the Trojans have capable scoring options both in the front court and on the perimeter (six players averaging double figures). They’ll need to keep the turnovers to a minimum, but Andy Enfield’s team is one to keep an eye on.

The Bubble Dwellers:

  • Colorado: The Buffs are in the field. But a loss to a bad Washington State team could make the wait more nerve-wracking than it should be.
  • Oregon State: The Beavers may have been overlooked by some when it comes to their NCAA tournament hopes. Beat Arizona State, and that should be enough.
  • USC: The Trojans arrive in Las Vegas in solid shape to land a bid. Avoiding a bad loss against UCLA in their tournament opener should be enough to make them feel comfortable.

Pac-12 Player of the Year: Jakob Poeltl, Utah

Poeltl was the preseason pick for the award, and despite Utah’s occasional issues on the perimeter he’s been very consistent for Larry Krystkowiak’s team. In conference play Poeltl averaged 17.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, shooting a Pac-12 best 62.4 percent from the field.

Pac-12 Coach of the Year: Dana Altman, Oregon

Three times in the last four seasons Altman’s won this honor, with this most recent award being for leading the Ducks to a regular season Pac-12 title. Oregon navigated injuries early in the season, most notably the loss of the player expected to run the point in Dylan Ennis, and found their groove in conference play when all healthy pieces were back in the fold. And in a season in which road teams had an incredibly hard time picking up wins on a consistent basis, Oregon was one of two teams to sweep two Pac-12 road trips this season (Utah being the other).

First-Team All Pac-12:

  • Jakob Poeltl, Utah(POY)
  • Andrew Andrews, Washington: Andrews has been the unquestioned leader for a very young squad, and in conference games he averaged 22.3 points (first in Pac-12) and 5.1 assists (third) per game.
  • Gary Payton II, Oregon State: Payton’s was named the league’s best defender for a second straight year, and there’s also his versatility. The senior ranked in the top ten in the league in rebounding (ninth), assists (first), steals (first) and assist-to-turnover ratio (third), and 11th in scoring.
  • Dillon Brooks, Oregon: As good as Brooks was as a freshman, he was even better this season. Averaging 17.1 points per game in Pac-12 play, Brooks was a serious contender for Pac-12 Player of the Year.
  • Ryan Anderson, Arizona: In his lone season on the court for Arizona, the Boston College transfer averaged 16.0 points and 10.2 rebounds per contest. He was one of two Pac-12 players to average a double-double in conference play (Washington State’s Josh Hawkinson).

Second Team All Pac-12:

  • Jaylen Brown, California
  • Rosco Allen, Stanford
  • Dejounte Murray, Washington
  • Elgin Cook, Oregon
  • Josh Scott, Colorado

Defining moment of the season: Oregon ends Arizona’s 49-game home win streak

CBT Prediction: Oregon’s the pick here, but it would not be a surprise if any of the top four teams left Vegas with the crown.

NEW PODCAST: Court storming, Villanova/Xavier and a weekend preview

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It’s Friday, which means time for another edition of the NBC Sports College Basketball Talk podcast. Today’s episode touches on a number of topics from the last couple of days in college basketball, beginning with Duke’s Grayson Allen and the events within the Blue Devils’ win over Florida State Thursday night.

Was the trip intentional? How’s he dealing with the attention that comes with being a player of his caliber at a school like Duke? Rob Dauster, Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips all provide their thoughts on this situation.

Also discussed in the podcast are Sean Miller’s comments on court storming following No. 9 Arizona’s loss at Colorado Wednesday night, the Big East “Game of the Year” between No. 1 Villanova and No. 5 Xavier, the controversial finish between Washington and Oregon State, and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher. Or if you prefer, just click “play” in the embedded player below. Thanks for listening!

Pac-12 says end of Washington-Oregon State handled properly

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SEATTLE (AP) The Pac-12 Conference says the conclusion of Oregon State’s last-second victory over Washington was handled properly by game officials.

The conference released a statement on Thursday after Washington contacted the league office to review the final seconds of the Beavers’ 82-81 victory on Stephen Thompson Jr.’s 3-pointer at the buzzer. Washington had asked that the timing of the game clock be reviewed after it appeared that the clock started late.

The conference said that “the clock timing was handled appropriately by the game officials and the clock operator.” Washington also asked whether Thompson should have been called for traveling after he shuffled his feet before the game-winning shot, but the conference said traveling is a judgment call and not reviewable.

VIDEO: Oregon State beats Washington on Stephen Thompson Jr. three

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Wednesday’s game between Washington and Oregon State was a critical one, as both still have work to do with regards to earning a big to the NCAA tournament. Predictably their contest went right down to the wire, with Oregon State freshman guard Stephen Thompson Jr. at the center of the “controversy.”

What controversy? Well, Thompson’s three-pointer as time expired gave the Beavers the 82-81 victory, but there were a couple issues with the game-winning sequence. First, there’s the matter that the clock didn’t start immediately when Thompson caught the inbounds pass. Second, and more importantly, Thompson got away with shuffling his feet before raising up to release the shot.

This is the second time this season Thompson’s been involved in a wild finish this season, the first of which being his making three free throws after being fouled while attempting a desperation shot to beat Utah.

While that situation was more clear-cut, and Utah’s going to be in the NCAA tournament, this outcome could be far more damaging. Washington’s one of many teams fighting for its tournament life, as is Oregon State. Both teams still have plenty of work to do, but Wednesday’s outcome could be one that both teams look back to come Selection Sunday.