Tuesday’s Shootaround: The Maui, CBE and Legends all on the same time

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Legends Classic

No. 22 Vanderbilt 64, Oregon State 62: See here.

NC State 77, Texas 74: See here.

Maui Invitational

No. 15 Michigan 73, No. 8 Memphis 61: Everyone has always said that once John Beilein gets “his guys” into this Michigan program, that the Wolverines would be tough to beat. Well, guess what. He’s got his guys in, and that prophecy has proven to be correct. The Wolverines got 21 points from Tim Hardaway Jr. and 14 points and four assists from freshman point guard Trey Burke as they knocked off the talented-but-undisciplined Tigers.

There are a couple of things to take out of this game. For starters, it appears that not only will Burke be the answer at the point for Michigan this season, he’ll be a very good player before his days in Ann Arbor are over. That, above anything, was the biggest concern for the Wolverines coming into the season. Perhaps the most impressive part of this win is that Michigan did it while hitting just 6-20 from long range. They competed on the glass, outrebounding Memphis by a wide margin, and executed offensively. This will be a fun team to watch.

As for the Tigers, the issues they had last season reared their ugly head again. A big much and more athletic team than Michigan, the Tigers were pounded on the glass, struggled to deal with Michigan’s unique offensive and defensive sets and generally made bad decision after bad decision offensively. There is a lot of talent on this roster, but the question still remains whether or not Josh Pastner will ever be able to gain control of this group.

No. 5 Duke 77, Tennessee 67: The Blue Devils got 18 points out of Austin Rivers and 17 apiece from Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly to beat the Vols, but the Blue Devils weren’t the story of this game. The effort out of Tennessee was. The final difference was 10, but that doesn’t indicate how closely this game was contested well into the second half. Tennessee has some talent on their roster, but there is a scrap in this group that we didn’t see out of this team under Bruce Pearl. Take this as a shot at Bruce Pearl if you will, but it looks like this team is finally getting coached.

UCLA 92, Chaminade 60: The Bruins were up jut two at the half, but they turned it on down the stretch. Zeke Jones and Jerime Anderson combined for 37 points and UCLA’s front line just proved to be too big for the Silver Swords. Of note: Reeves Nelson was only suspended for the first half of this game despite missing the team’s flight to the islands.

No. 15 Kansas 67, Georgetown 63: The Jayhawks got 20 points and 12 boards from Thomas Robinson, but they were never quite able to put away the Hoyas. Every time that Kansas seemed poised to break this game open, Georgetown was able to counter with a run to keep things close. Jason Clark and Hollis Thompson combined for 29 points while Otto Porter added 12 off the bench, but Markel Starks finished with just six points and no assists. The Hoyas had just six assists as a team, a worrisome number for a group that relies on their ability to move the ball offensively.

CBE Classic

No. 18 Cal 70, Georgia 46: The Bears got 16 points from Harper Kamp and 14 points from Jorge Gutierrez as they rolled through yet another overmatched opponent. Cal is looking more and more like the favorite to win the Pac-12 this season. They are balanced, they are smart and they played within the offense that Mike Montgomery wants to run.

No. 25 Missouri 87, Notre Dame 58: It looks like the Tigers are still going to be able to put up points even without Mike Anderson running this program. Mizzou took a 52-37 lead into halftime and pulled away in the second half. Marcus Denmon had 26 points on just 9-11 shooting while Phil Pressey, Ricardo Ratliffe and Kim English all reached double figures.

The rest of the top 25

No. 3 Ohio State 85, North Florida 50: Jared Sullinger had 27 points and 13 boards as the Buckeyes throttled the overmatched Ospreys.

No. 9 Florida 78, Wright State 65: Brad Beal and Kenny Boynton went for 22 points each and Mike Rosario added 11 off the bench as the Gators knocked off a feisty Raiders team. Wright State was able to cut a big lead all the way down to nine with five minutes to go in the game.

No. 17 Marquette 59, Norfolk State 57: After drilling Norfolk State by 30 last week, Marquette had much more trouble this time around, squandering a 14 point second half lead. Darius Johnson-Odom had 20 to lead the way for the Golden Eagles, but it was a dunk from Jae Crowder with 1:09 on the clock that was the eventual difference.

Other notable scores:

– Virginia 60, Drake 52
– George Washington 86, Detroit 73
– Ole Miss 80, TCU 69
– Indiana 73, Gardner-Webb 49
– UMass 82, Boston College 46
– Butler 57, Savannah State 42
– Cincinnati 71, Northwestern State 43
– Minnesota 85, Mt. St. Mary’s 56
– George Mason 74, Brown 48
– Mississippi State 78, Louisiana-Monroe 63
– Davidson 68, Presbyterian 54

Top Performers

Jared Sullinger, Ohio State: The big fella had 27 points and 13 boards in the win.

Marcus Denmon, Missouri: Denmon showed why he made some all-american teams as he shot his way to 26 points on just 11 field goals.

Dominique Morrison, Oral Roberts: Morrison finished with his best game of the young season, a 30 point outburst, in a six point win over SMU.

Jason Guerrier, Albany: The big man had 28 points and 10 boards on 9-10 shooting off the bench in an 85-49 win over Monmouth.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

John Petty Jr. returns to Alabama for senior season

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama guard John Petty Jr. is staying in school instead of entering the NBA draft.

The Crimson Tide junior announced his decision to return for his senior season Monday on Twitter, proclaiming: “I’m back.”

Petty, the Tide’s top 3-point shooter, averaged 14.5 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds rebounds last season. He was second on the team in assists.

Petty made 85 3-pointers in 29 games, shooting at a 44% clip.

Alabama coach Nate Oats called him “one of the best, if not the best, shooters in the country.”

“He’s made it clear that it’s his goal to become a first round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and we’re going to work with him to make sure he’s in the best position to reach that goal,” Oats said.

Fellow Tide guard Kira Lewis Jr. is regarded as a likely first-round draft pick.

McKinley Wright IV returns to Colorado

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McKinley Wright IV will be back for season No. 4 with the Colorado Buffaloes.

The point guard tested the NBA draft process before announcing a return for his senior year. It’s a big boost for a Buffaloes team that’s coming off a 21-11 mark in 2019-20 and was potentially looking at an NCAA Tournament bid before the season was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wright was an All-Pac-12 first team selection a season ago, along with an all-defensive team pick. He and athletic forward Tyler Bey declared for the draft in late March. Bey remains in the draft.

“We’ve got unfinished business,” said Wright, who averaged 14.4 points and 5.0 assists per game last season.

Midway through the season, the Buffaloes were looking like a lock for their first NCAA Tournament appearance since ’15-16. Then, the team hit a five-game skid, including a loss to Washington State in the Pac-12 tournament. Simply put, they hit a defensive rut they just couldn’t shake out of, Wright said. It drove him to work that much harder in the offseason.

“This is my last go-around and I’ve got big dreams,” the 6-footer from Minnesota said. “I want to take CU to a place they haven’t been in a while. We want to go back to the tournament and win high-level games.”

The feedback from NBA scouts was reaffirming for Wright. He said they appreciated his transition game, movement away from the ball and his defensive intangibles. They also gave Wright areas he needed to shore up such as assist-to-turnover ratio and shooting the 3-pointer with more consistency.

He took it to heart while training in Arizona during the pandemic. He recently returned to Boulder, Colorado, where he’s going through quarantine before joining his teammates for workouts.

“The work I put in and the time I spent in the gym compared to all my other offseasons, it’s a big gap,” Wright said. “Last offseason, I thought I worked hard. But it was nothing compared to the time and different type of mindset I put myself in this year.”

Another motivating factor for his return was this: a chance to be the first in his family to earn his college degree. He’s majoring in ethnic studies with a minor in communications.

“My grandparents are excited about that. My parents are excited about that,” Wright said. “I’m excited about that as well.”

Wright also has an opportunity to take over the top spot on the school’s all-time assists list. His 501 career assists trail only Jay Humphries, who had 562 from 1980-84. Wright also ranks 13th all-time with 1,370 career points.

NOTES: Colorado announced the death of 95-year-old fan Betty Hoover, who along with her twin sister, Peggy Coppom, became fixtures at Buffs sporting events and were season ticket holders since 1958. Wright used to run into them not only on the court, but at the local bank. “I’ve never met anyone as loving and supporting and caring as those two,” Wright said. “They hold a special place in my heart. It sucks that Betty won’t be at any games this year. Maybe we can do something, put her name on our jersey. They’re two of the biggest fans in CU history.”

Jared Butler returns to Baylor

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Baylor got some huge news on Monday as potential All-American Jared Butler announced that he will be returning to school for his junior season, joining MaCio Teague is pulling his name out of the 2020 NBA Draft to get the band back together.

Butler was Baylor’s leading scorer a season ago, averaging 16.0 points and 3.1 assists for a team that went 26-4, spent a portion of the season as the No. 1 team in the country and was in line to receive a 1-seed had the 2020 NCAA Tournament taken place.

With Butler and Teague coming back to school, the Bears will return four starters from last season’s squad. Starting center Freddie Gillespie is gone, as is backup guard Devonte Bandoo, but those are holes that can be filled. Tristan Clark, who was Baylor’s best player during the 2018-19 season before suffering a knee injury that lingered through last year, will be back, and there is more than enough talent in the program to replace the scoring pop of Bandoo. Matthew Mayer will be in line for more minutes, while transfer Adam Flagler will be eligible this season.

Baylor will enter this season as a consensus top three team in the country. They will receive plenty of votes as the No. 1 team in the sport, making them not only a very real contender for the Big 12 regular season crown but one of the favorites to win the national title.

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As MaCio Teague returns, Baylor now awaits Jared Butler’s NBA draft decision

Butler is the key.

Baylor was one of college basketball’s best defensive teams last year. They finished fourth nationally in KenPom’s defensive efficiency metric, a ranking that dropped after they Bears lost two of their last three games to TCU and West Virginia. Where they struggled was on the offensive end of the floor. The Bears would go through droughts were points were at a premium and their best offense was a missed shot. Butler’s intrigue for NBA teams was his ability to shoot and to create space in isolation. He’s the one guy on the roster that can create something out of nothing for himself.

And now he is back to try and lead Baylor to a Final Four.

Arizona State’s Martin to return for senior season

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TEMPE, Ariz. (–Arizona State guard Remy Martin is withdrawing from the NBA draft and will return for his senior season in the desert.

“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to coach Remy Martin for one more season,” Sun Devils coach Bobby Hurley said in a statement Sunday. “Remy will be one of the best players in college basketball this year and will be on a mission to lead Arizona State basketball in its pursuit of championships.”

A 6-foot guard, Martin is the Pac-12’s leading returning scorer after averaging 19.1 points in 2019-20. He also averaged 4.1 assists per game and helped put the Sun Devils in position to reach the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year before the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Martin’s return should put Arizona State among the favorites to win the Pac-12 next season.

Martin joins fellow guard Alonzo Verge Jr. in returning to the Sun Devils after testing the NBA waters. Big man Romello White declared for the draft and later entered the transfer portal.

Hurley has signed one of the program’s best recruiting classes for next season, headed by five-star guard Josh Christopher.

Michigan State forward Xavier Tillman will remain in the 2020 NBA Draft

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In the end, Xavier Tillman Sr.’s decision whether or not to return to remain in the 2020 NBA Draft for his senior season came down to security.

A 6-foot-8 forward that averaged 13.7 points, 10.3 boards, 3.0 assists and 2.1 blocks this past season, Tillman was an NBC Sports third-team All-American a season ago. He’s projected as the No. 23 pick in the latest NBC Sports mock draft. He was the best NBA prospect that had yet to make a decision on his future until Sunday.

That’s when Tillman announced that he will be foregoing his final season of college eligibility to head to the NBA.

In the end, it’s probably the right decision, but it’s not one that the big fella made easily.

Tillman is unlike most college basketball players forced to make a decision on their basketball future. He is married. He has two kids, a three-year old daughter and a six-month old son. This is not a situation where he can bet on himself, head to the pro ranks and figure it out later on.

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He needs something stable, particularly given the fact that we are living in the midst of a pandemic that has put the future of sports in doubt, at least for the short term.

He needs security.

He needed to know that there would be a job for him in the NBA. Not a two-way contract. Not a spot on a camp roster or a chance to develop in the G League. Hell, there might not even be a G League next season. That was an option at Michigan State. He was living in an apartment with his family that was covered by his scholarship and stipend. He had meals paid for. He was able to take food from the training room home and have dinner with his family. He was able to get to class, to the gym, to practice and back home in time to do the dishes at night. He told NBC Sports in March that the school was able to provide him with $1,200-a-month to help pay for things like diapers high chairs. That was all going to be there if he returned to school. It was a great situation, one that lacked the uncertainty that comes with the professional level.

Because as much as I love Tillman as a role player at the next level, NBA teams do not all feel the same. The tricky thing about the draft is that it makes sense to swing for the fences on the guys that can be locked into salaries for the first four years of a contract. The Toronto Raptors took Pascal Siakam with the 27th pick and have paid less than $7 million in total salary in his first four years for a player that made an all-star team. Kyle Kuzma is averaging 16.0 points through three seasons and is on the books for $3.5 million in year four.

Tillman’s ability to defend, his basketball IQ, his play-making and his professional demeanor means that he can step into the modern NBA and do a job as a rotation player for just about any team in the league. But he doesn’t have the upside that other bigs in the same projected range have — Jalen Smith, Daniel Oturu, Jaden McDaniels, Zeke Nnaji — so there are teams that are scared off.

I don’t get it.

But Tillman’s decision to head to the professional ranks indicates that he does, indeed, feel confident in the fact that he will have gainful and steady employment next season. Since he would have walked at Michigan State’s graduation in May had it been held, that doesn’t leave much to return to school for.

The Spartans will now be left in a tough spot. There are quite a few pieces to like on this roster. Rocket Watts had promising moments as a freshman, as did Malik Hall. Gabe Brown and Marcus Bingham are both talented players. Joey Hauser had a good season at Marquette, and the early returns on freshman Mady Sissoko are promising. But this is going to be a young and unproven group.

Izzo has had less at his disposal before, but this is certainly not an ideal situation for Michigan State.