Week in Review: Kevin Jones and Seton Hall get love, but the Big East doesn’t


The #BIAHRoadTrip will be cutting into our national coverage a bit, so the Week in Review’s will be limited over the next three weeks.

Player of the Week: Kevin Jones, West Virginia

All of a sudden, the Mountaineers look like a team that has to be considered a contender in a wide-open Big East. After winning at Rutgers (a place when both Florida and UConn have fallen in the past two weeks) by 21 and knocking off Georgetown by 12 in Morgantown, the ‘Eers are sitting at 12-4 overall and 3-1 in the Big East, just a game off the pace set by Syracuse. And Jones, as much as anyone, is the reason for that.

He finished the week with 36 points and 30 boards in the two games, moving his season averages to Big East highs of 19.8 ppg and 11.9 rpg. He also played 78 of 80 minutes in the two games, which isn’t exactly unusual for a guy that averages 37.1 mpg. As good as Herb Pope and Henry Sims have been, Jones is making a very strong case as the best big man in the Big East. The scary part? There is still room for him to improve. KJ has always been a good three-point shooter, but he’s hitting just 23.3% from beyond the arc this season. What happens when he regains that stroke?

The All-They-Were-Good-Too Team:

G: Kevin Dillard, Dayton: The Flyers moved themselves right back into the conversation for the Atlantic 10’s top team as they knocked off both St. Louis and Temple. Dillard was instrumental in that performance, averaging 17 points and 9 assists in the two games.

G: Jordan Theodore, Seton Hall: Theodore led the Pirates to their first national ranking in over a decade thanks to wins over UConn and at Providence. Theordore averaged 16.5 ppg, 10.0 apg and 4.5 spg on the week.

G: Damien Lillard, Weber State: Doug McDermott gets all the mid-major love, but Lillard is having an incredible season out at Weber State. After scoring 68 points, grabbing 12 boards and handing out 10 assists while shooting 12-21 from three in two wins last week, he’s now averaging 26.3 ppg on the season.

F: Travis Releford, Kansas: Releford may strides towards becoming that second weapon for the Jayhawks offensively, going for 16 points and 11 boards in a big win over Kansas State and following that up with a career-high 28 points in a win over Oklahoma.

F: Royce White, Iowa State: The Cyclone’s point forward thrust ISU into the national picture by leading them to big wins over both Texas and Texas A&M. He averaged 12.0 ppg, 12.0 rpg and 6.0 apg in the two games, including a 10 point, 18 rebound and 10 assists performance against the Aggies. Imagine, now, if he shot better than 10-21 from the free throw line.

F: Dominique Morrison, Oral Roberts: No one in the country is playing better than Dominique Morrison is right now. In the last seven games, he is scoring 26.0 ppg while shooting 61.8% from the field, 63.6% (28/44) from three and 89.9% (44/49) from the line. ORU is 7-0 in that stretch, including wins against Texas Tech, at Xavier and, in the last week, at Oakland and at home against North Dakota State and South Dakota State. In the win over SDSU on Saturday, Morrison scored 38 points as the Golden Eagles moved a game in front of the Jackrabbits for first place in the Summit.

Team of the Week: Seton Hall

The Pirates earned their first national ranking in more than a decade on Monday, and they have a legitimate gripe that they are still being underrated. The AP put the Pirates at 24th and the Coaches left the unranked. Frankly, the Pirates have a legitimate case to be considered for the top 15. Just take a look at who they’ve beaten: VCU, Dayton, UConn, St. Joe’s, West Virginia. There are not many teams in the country that can boast that kind of resume right now.

This week, the Pirates looked at their best. They ran the Huskies out of the gym on Tuesday, getting 19 points and 11 assists out of point guard Jordan Theodore, and followed that up with a tough win on the road against a better than you think Providence team. As good as Theodore has played and as impressive as Herb Pope has been this year, don’t forget about Fuquan Edwin, who went for 24 points, nine boards and five steals against Providence after notching a double-double against UConn.

Five more teams that impressed:

Dayton Flyers: The Flyers are making a strong case to be considered the favorite to win the Atlantic 10 this season. They started off league play with wins over St. Louis at home and followed that up with a win at Temple just three days after the Owls knocked off Duke in the same building.

Colorado Buffaloes: So guess who the only undefeated team left in the Pac-12 is? Granted, all three of Colorado’s wins have come at home and two of them were against Washington State and Utah (Washington the third). We’ll learn a lot more about this group as they head to the Bay Area to take on Cal and Stanford the week. Could a team that lost Alex Burks and Cory Higgins really be the Pac-12’s best this season?

George Mason Patriots: The Patriots got off to a slow start this season, but it looks like Paul Hewitt’s club is finally starting to hit their stride. This week, they won at Old Dominion and snapped Georgia State’s 11 game winning streak to move to 4-0 in the CAA.

Arkansas Razorbacks: Arkansas got a nice start to conference play as they knocked off visiting Mississippi State 98-88 despite not having Marshon Powell, who is out for the season with a knee injury. Julysses Noble and BJ Young both went for 24 points to lead five players in double figures.

La Salle Explorers: La Salle was picked to finish 11th in the Atlantic 10, but they have been quietly surging, winning 10 of their last 11 games. They put together a dominating performance in a win over Xavier on Wednesday and followed that up by knocking off another sneakily successful team in UMass.

Five Thoughts:

Todd O’Brien needs to put up or shut up: The latest in the Todd O’Brien hostage crisis is that his most recent appeal to the NCAA has been denied. He has come out and said that he is willing to waive the privacy laws if St. Joe’s wants to tell the world why he is not being allowed to play at UAB this season. Well, Todd, if you don’t care if the information comes out, than why don’t you just tell everyone the truth? I know that college coaches can be vindictive SOB’s, but I refuse to believe that Phil Martelli and St. Joe’s would take this kind of PR hit without having what they believed was a valid justification for ending this young man’s collegiate career.

I think it is incredibly unfair that coaches and schools are able to wield this kind of power. I think that it is one of the first rules that needs to be changed in college athletics. And I think that Martelli is being unreasonable. This decision needs to get reversed. But to paint Todd O’Brien as an angel that is being tortured by Martelli for the fun of it is incorrect. There is more to this than you think.

The Big East is way, way down: Syracuse is ranked No. 1 in the country, and deservedly so. They are undefeated, they are drilling good teams (ask Seton Hall) and they have the roster make up that puts them up with the UNCs and UKs of the world as legitimate national title contenders. But after that? Pitt has lost to Notre Dame and DePaul and is currently winless in league play. Villanova is 1-3 in the conference with a 17 point loss to South Florida at home and their only win coming against DePaul. UConn got smacked around by Seton Hall on Tuesday and then lost at Rutgers on Saturday. Louisville has proven themselves to be more overrated than we initially thought, losing to Notre Dame in double-overtime at home. Hell, even Marquette has tumbled after a strong start to the year.

With all due respect to Cincinnati, West Virginia and Seton Hall, when they all can legitimately be considered top five teams in the Big East, you know the league is down.

Be worried about Missouri: There is valid reason to be alarmed by Missouri’s loss at Kansas State on Saturday. They were manhandled. There are two concerns about this Tiger team: 1) Can they beat teams with a powerful front line by playing four guards?; and 2) Are they going to be able to win on the road this year? They did against Old Dominion last Saturday. They didn’t this Saturday. On Wednesday they are at Iowa State and on January 21st they are at Baylor. It will be interesting to see what happens in those two games.

The Pac-12 and ACC are going to get more bids than you think: Why? Its simple math. There have to be 37 at-large teams, and once you get towards the bottom of the pool, there really isn’t all that much to work with. The bubble is going to be very weak once again this year, which means that a team from the Pac-12 or the ACC that didn’t little to nothing in non-conference play is going to sneak in because they put together a solid season in their league. I’d say that the Pac-12 gets three and the ACC gets five.

Who those teams are, however, is anyone’s guess at this point.

Royce White can play: I gotta admit, I’m rooting for Royce White. He’s brought most of his issues on himself, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s been through an incredible amount in the first two years of his collegiate experience. I got a chance to see him play on Wednesday against Texas, and he was out there playing great basketball with a big smile on his face. Good for him.

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.”