College Hoops Week in Review: Player of the Week

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Team of the Week

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Co-Players of the Week: Anthony Davis, Kentucky, and Thomas Robinson, Kansas

The National Player of the Year debate has been whittled down to just two plays — Thomas Robinson and Anthony Davis — and this past week, both of them proved why they are in the center of the debate. It started Saturday afternoon with Anthony Davis, the nation’s most intimidating defense presence, who followed up a 13-point, 11-rebound performance against Mississippi State with 28 points (on 10-11 shooting), 11 boards and five blocks as the Wildcats knocked off Vanderbilt and clinched the regular season title in the SEC. The performance was enough to get my colleague Mike Miller to say “at this rate, Davis is going to be the top player taken in the 2012 NBA draft and snag the national Player of the Year award from Kansas’ Thomas Robinson.”

Oh, you didn’t think T-Rob had an answer? He did, lighting up Missouri to the tune of 28 points and 12 boards, including a number of big buckets in crunch time as the Jayhawks fought all the way back from 19 points down in the second half to beat Missouri and all-but seal up the Big 12 regular season title. It certainly helped that Robinson had this kind of performance in arguably the best game of the season to date when the nation’s attention was focused on him.

So who you got? Who is the player of they year? While Davis clearly has an advantage with what he brings to the table defensively as a shot-blocker, Robinson may answer that with the way that he cleans the defensive glass as Jeff Withey plays the role of rim-protector for the Jayhawks. Robinson also carries a bigger load for his team offensively, as Davis has much more talent surrounding him and, at times, is really only used to finish alley-oops offensively.

At this point, my honest opinion is that there is no winner. I think the award should be split, much the way that this weekly award is split. (See? It can be done.) But if I had to bet on who would win, my money is on Robinson. His story is just too inspiring.

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

G: Kendall Marshall, North Carolina: Marshall had what may be the most impressive performance from a point guard this season in UNC’s 86-74 win over NC State on Tuesday. 22 points, 13 assists, 7-8 from the floor, 4-5 from three and not a single turnover to his name. That’s unbelievable, and I don’t care how bad the Wolfpack is. While Marshall wasn’t nearly as impressive in the Heel’s win at Virginia on Saturday — one points, six assists, two turnovers — he did enough on Tuesday to warrant inclusion here.

G: Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State: Franklin injured his ankle late in SDSU’s loss to New Mexico two weeks ago. It was bad enough that he was forced to miss the Aztec’s loss at Air Force last Saturday, but Franklin was able to return to the court this week. He started out slowly, finishing with just 12 points in an overtime win at Wyoming, helping SDSU erase a nine-point second half lead, before going for 31 points and 16 boards in a win over Colorado State. The MWC is tough this year, and those are two good wins.

F: Jae Crowder, Marquette: Crowder is becoming a main-stay on this list and quickly making people rethink voting Kevin Jones Player of the Year in the Big East. Crowder was the model of efficiency against Rutgers on Wednesday, as he went for 27 points (on 11-14 shooting), seven boards, four assists, four steals and three blocks. That’s not a bad all-around game. He followed that up with 26 points, four boards, two blocks and two steals in a come-from-behind win over West Virginia where four different Marquette players were suspended for at least a half.

F: Robbie Hummel, Purdue: It really should be no surprise that, as Purdue has made a run to get themselves into perfect position for the NCAA Tournament, Robbie Hummel has looked like the old Robbie Hummel. After going for 29 points and seven boards in a win over Nebraska, he followed that up with 19 points and nine boards as the Boilermakers knocked off Michigan in Ann Arbor, giving themselves their first win of the season of a top team in the Big Ten.

C: Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies look like they’re peaking at the right time thanks to Nicholson, who is playing his best basketball of the season. After 30-point, nine-rebound performance in a win at Fordham, Nicholoson went for 25 points, 11 boards, three blocks and two steals. All of a sudden, their game against St. Joe’s to close out the regular season looks huge.

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

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.