The Tip-Off Marathon Awards


So ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon happened yesterday, and like I’m sure many of you did, I stayed up for over 40 hours straight to watch the entire thing.

Yes, I’m tired today.

And yes, it was totally worth it.

Basketball at 4 am is, generally speaking, completely unnecessary. But the event is worth it for two reasons. For starters, ESPN completely dedicates their programming to college hoops at a time when the sport is not in the forefront of the national consciousness. Secondly, we got a look, in one night, at many of the teams that will be at or near the top of the national rankings.

Now, before I lose your attention (we all have fantasy football waiver wires to take a look at), we at Beyond the Arc present to you the Tip-Off Marathon Awards!

The Award for Best Game goes to: San Diego State and Gonzaga

It doesn’t get much better than two good teams going back and forth. Billy White (30 points, 9 boards) and Kawhi Leonard (18 points, 12 boards) led the Aztecs to a 79-76 win over the Zags. SDSU was in control for much of the first half, but Gonzaga used a 7-0 spurt to start the second half to take a 44-42 lead on an Elias Harris three-point play. SDSU threw a counter punch, however, as they took control of the offensive back boards. If the Aztecs missed, White and Leonard where there to clean up the mess as they built up a 66-59 lead. Steven Gray, who had 35 points, did his best to keep Gonzaga’s hopes alive, twice scoring to cut the Aztec lead to one point. The latter instance came with 23 seconds left, and after Leonard hit two free throws to make the lead 79-76, Gray lost the ball out of bounds with four seconds left. Chase Tapley missed the front end, but Gray’s half court heave was off the mark.

This was a huge win for San Diego State. The Aztecs have been a trendy pick by many to win the MWC, but picking up a win at The Kennel has thrust them into the conversation as the best team on the west coast.

The Award for Most Important Win goes to: Louisville

The Cardinals welcomed the reigning runners-up to the unveiling of their new arena, the KFC Yum! Center. They weren’t all that gracious as hosts, however, as they spent 40 minutes wiping the floor with the Bulldogs. Butler was simply not ready for the press that Louisville threw at them, turning the ball over 17 times and shooting a dismal 35% from the floor. The final score — 88-73 — doesn’t do justice to the whipping Butler took, as they were down by as much as 24 in the second and were able to maintain a level of respectability by fouling for the last 2:13.

Louisville looks like a team that was underrated coming into the season. They have a lineup that is deep and full of athletes and a back court that is chock full of lengthy defenders and knock-down shooters. Making the win all the more impressive is that Jared Swopshire missed the game as he is still recovering from a sports hernia and Peyton Siva played jut 15 minutes due to foul trouble. Raheem Buckles (17 points 11 boards) looks like a star waiting in the wings.

The Award for the Biggest Statement goes to: Ohio State

Florida was considered a potential title contender coming into the season, and Ohio State went into the O-Dome and universally changed that opinion. Down 41-38 at the half — thanks to the tremendous interior play of Vernon Macklin and the rest of the Gator front line — the Buckeyes dissected the Florida defense for the final 20 minutes, scoring 57 points and shooting 71% from the floor. Jared Sullinger had a coming out party, going for 26 points and 10 boards, while the combination of David Lighty, Jon Deibler, and William Buford completely outclassed Florida’s talented perimeter players. Perhaps the most important performance came from freshman point guard Aaron Craft, who had 7 points, 5 assists, and 3 turnovers in 29 minutes off the bench, proving capable of breaking a press and handling a raucous road arena.

The Award for the Biggest Loss goes to: Elias Harris

Losing to San Diego State is a loss Gonzaga can overcome. The Aztecs are criminally underrated (well, maybe not anymore) and got a career game out of one of their best players. The Zags still have plenty of opportunities to pick up enough quality wins to earn an at-large big. A loss they cannot overcome would be Elias Harris. Harris injured his shoulder a few weeks ago, so when he wasn’t on the floor at the end of the game, that was the reason that some suspected. It turns out that he suffered a potentially serious foot injury: “I think it’s my Achilles’ (tendon),” said Harris told The Spokesman Review. “I heard something pop. I couldn’t get up in the air and I couldn’t run any more.”

If that’s the case, then Harris will miss the rest of the season. He’s getting an MRI today. It would be a huge blow to the Zags, as he was the favorite to win the WCC Player of the Year award in the preseason. You can’t replace a talent like Harris — he’s going to be a lottery pick whenever he turns pro — but Gonzaga does have some pieces to make up for the loss. Kelly Olynyk and Sam Dower have been good early in the season, and Steven Gray is playing the best basketball of his career right now. This team is still good enough to win the WCC. But with the injury to Harris, their Final Four aspirations may be headed out the window.

UPDATE: Good thing we just did a post on this…

According the Jeff Goodman of, Elias Harris did NOT tear his achilles. He’ll miss about a week. Now, the question is whether or not he will be available for the CBE Classic. Gonzaga gets Kansas State on Monday, and could face Duke or Marquette on Tuesday depending Monday’s results.

The Award for the Biggest Disappointment goes to: Virginia Tech

Kansas State played essentially played the first half without Jacob Pullen due to foul trouble and played the entire game without Curtis Kelly, who was suspended by Frank Martin. The Hokies still trailed at the break, 30-29. In the second half, K-State’s supporting cast woke up, as the Wildcats slowly built their lead. Malcolm Delaney, Tech’s star guard, tried over and over again to answer, but with every ill-advised shot and turnover (he had 22 points on 6-18 shooting with 9 turnovers) he dug his team into a bigger hole.

Delaney seemed to lose confidence in his teammates, and he wasn’t necessarily wrong to do so. They weren’t finishing the sots he created for them, and second leading scorer Dorenzo Hudson was off throughout the game. This was a game called extremely tight by the referees, and it looked like the Hokies got frustrated. I’ll chalk the loss up to that, because there is no way this team is as bad as they played yesterday.

The Coming Out Party Award goes to: Quincy Acy

The Baylor forward has always been known as a dunker. Acy is just 6’6″, but his awesome athleticism and his wingspan that rivals taller teammates Perry and Anthony Jones has made him reknowned for his ability to rebound the ball and finish above the rim. But against La Salle, Acy had 25 points. He got those 25 points not on dunks and free throws, but with a variety of mid-range jumpers and even a post move or two. As Draft Express says:

Real story here is Quincy Acy. What a game for him. Seems to have improved significantly. Quincy Acy’s energy, toughness, athleticism is all where you want it to be, but now he’s scoring, making mid-range jumpers. Very interesting.

The Chris Webber Award for Boneheadedness goes to: Southern Illinois

Apparently they are too young to have learned a lesson from C-Webb, as they lost on a free throw from a technical foul that was assessed for using too many timeouts. Actually, I put this on head coach Chris Lowery. Its a a coach’s responsibility to make sure his players are aware of how many timeouts they have.

The Tip-Off Marathon MVP goes to: Scoop Jardine

Syracuse looked bad yesterday, like they have all season long. For a team that was predicted to be in the top ten and a potential Final Four contender, the Orange have been a conundrum thus far. They aren’t getting the perimeter shooting they need, Kris Joseph and Fab Melo have fallen well short of expectations, and they’ve come out of the gates sluggish in all three game. Last night was no exception, as they were down for the majority of the first half to Detroit, and if it wasn’t for Scoop Jardine’s performance, the Orange would have lost. Scoop had 27 points, 8 assists, and 5 steals. He was 11-18 from the floor. The rest of the team was 13-46. And he assisted on eight of those field goals.

The All-Tip-Off-Marathon Team:

* G: Steven Gray, Gonzaga: 35 points, 5 assists
* G: Clint Steindl, St. Mary’s: 22 points, 7-10 3’s
* F: Justin Greene, Kent State: 20 points, 12 boards
* F: Quincy Acy, Baylor: 25 points, 11 boards, 2 blocks
* F: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State: 26 points, 10 boards
* Honorable Mention: David Lighty, Ohio State (26 points), Draymond Green, Michigan State (18 points, 12 boards, 6 steals, 4 blocks), Billy White, San Diego State (30 points, 9 boards)

Purdue’s Edey returning to school at NBA draft deadline; Kentucky’s Tshiebwe stays in

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Purdue’s Zach Edey decided it was the right call to go back to school instead of staying in the NBA draft. His predecessor as national player of the year, Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, is sticking with his pro pursuit.

And Connecticut’s reign as NCAA champion will begin with multiple starters having left for the NBA draft and one returning after flirting with doing the same.

The 7-foot-4 Edey and UConn guard Tristen Newton were among the notable names to announce that they were withdrawing from the draft, the NCAA’s deadline for players who declared as early entrants to pull out and retain their college eligibility.

Edey’s decision came in social media posts from both the center and the Boilermakers program that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament behind Edey, The Associated Press men’s national player of the year.

But Tshiebwe announced late in the afternoon that he would remain in the draft after a college career that included being named the AP national player of the year in 2022.

For the current champions, Newton (10.1 points, 4.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds) is returning after being one of four Huskies to declare for the draft after a run to UConn’s fifth national championship in early April. He scored a game-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds in the victory over San Diego State in the title game.

The others were Final Four Most Outstanding Player Adama Sanogo, wing Jordan Hawkins and versatile guard Andre Jackson Jr. Sanogo (17.8 points) and Hawkins (16.3) have made it clear they have closed the door on their college careers, while team spokesman Phil Chardis said that Jackson (6.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists) would remain in the draft.

The Huskies have 247sports’ No. 3-ranked recruiting class for next year to restock the roster, led by McDonald’s All-American point guard Stephon Castle.

The NBA’s withdrawal deadline is June 12, but is moot when it comes to college players returning to school due to the NCAA’s earlier timeline to retain playing eligibility.


TREY ALEXANDER: Creighton gets back a 6-4 guard who averaged 13.6 points and shot 41% from 3-point range in his first full season as a starter.

ADEM BONA: The 6-foot-10 forward and Pac-12 freshman of the year is returning to UCLA after starting 32 games as a rookie and averaging 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks – with coach Mick Cronin praising his toughness for “competing through multiple injuries for as long as he could” in a statement Wednesday.

EDEY: He averaged 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.5 assists while shooting 60.7% from the field. His presence alone helps Purdue be a factor in the Big Ten race.

JOSIAH-JORDAN JAMES: The 6-6 guard went through the NBA G League Combine and had workouts with multiple teams before opting to return to Tennessee for a fifth season alongside teammate Santiago Vescovi.

JUDAH MINTZ: The 6-3 freshman averaged 16.3 points and 4.6 assists for Syracuse, ranking third among Division I freshmen in scoring behind only Alabama’s Brandon Miller and Lamar’s Nate Calmese.

OWLS’ RETURNEES: Florida Atlantic got good news after its surprise Final Four run with the return leading scorers Johnell Davis (13.8) and Alijah Martin (13.4). ESPN first reported their decisions, while Martin later posted a social media statement.

TERRENCE SHANNON JR.: Illinois got a big boost with Shannon announcing his night in a social media post. The 6-6 guard is returning for a fifth college season after averaging 17.2 points.

SPARTANS’ RETURNEES: Michigan State announced that guards Jaden Akins and A.J. Hoggard have withdrawn from the NBA draft. Standout guard Tyson Walker had previously withdrawn in April, setting up Tom Izzo to have five of his top scorers back.


KOBE BROWN: Missouri’s 6-8 swingman opted against returning for a fifth college season after being an AP first-team all-Southeastern Conference pick averaging 15.8 points last season.

JAYLEN CLARK: The third-year UCLA guard averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds while leading the Pac-12 with 2.6 steals en route to being named Naismith national defensive player of the year. Cronin called him a winner with strong intangibles who made UCLA “a better program because he chose to be a Bruin.”

BRICE SENSABAUGH: The Ohio State freshman averaged 16.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in 31 games before missing his final two in the Big Ten Tournament due to a knee injury. He’s a potential first-round prospect.

TSHIEBWE: The 6-9, 260-pound forward is a tough interior presence who led the country in rebounds for two straight seasons (15.1 in 2022, 13.7 in 2023) while racking up 48 double-doubles. But he faces an uncertain next stop and is projected at best as a second-round prospect.

North Carolina transfer Caleb Love commits to Arizona

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Caleb Love is now headed to Arizona.

The North Carolina transfer tweeted, less than a month after decommitting from Michigan, that he will play next season with the Wildcats.

“Caleb is a tremendously talented guard who has significant experience playing college basketball at a high level,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said in a statement. “We look forward to helping Caleb grow his game at Arizona. And as we near the completion of the roster for the upcoming season, we feel great about how everything has come together. Now it’s time for the real work to start.”

A 6-foot-4 guard, Love averaged 14.6 points and 3.3 assists in three seasons at North Carolina. He averaged 17.6 points in seven NCAA Tournament games, helping lead the Tar Heels to the 2022 national championship game.

Love entered the transfer portal after leading North Carolina with 73 3-pointers as a junior and initially committed to Michigan. He decommitted from the Wolverines earlier this month, reportedly due to an admissions issue involving academic credits.

Love narrowed his transfer targets to three schools before choosing to play at Arizona over Gonzaga and Texas.

Love will likely start on a team that will have dynamic perimeter players, including Pelle Larsson, Kylan Boswell and Alabama transfer Jaden Bradley.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”