Marquette will need Cadougan, Mayo as the games get bigger

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To say that guards Junior Cadougan and Todd Mayo struggled in Marquette’s one game at the Big East Championship last week would be an understatement.

Neither played well in the Golden Eagles’ quarterfinal loss to Louisville, and it was imperative that those two raise their level of play if Marquette were to reach their goals in the NCAA tournament.

If the play of Cadougan and Mayo in Marquette’s 62-53 win over 6-seed Murray State is any indication, both are ready to be key contributors as the Golden Eagles look to return to the site of their most recent Final Four appearance (2003).

Cadougan scored eight points and dished out four assists with just one turnover and Mayo scored eight and grabbed six rebounds off the bench, with both getting their shot at guarding All-America point guard Isaiah Canaan.

They were two big reasons (along with Vander Blue) why Canaan made 4 of 17 shots from the field, scoring 16 points while Donte Poole scored seven on 3 of 13 shooting. And their play did not go unappreciated by their higher-profile teammates.

“I think everybody was able to see Junior Cadougan as the point guard of our team nationally,” said Darius Johnson-Odom of Cadougan. “He’s always been an elite player, but I think everybody who watches basketball was able to see it today.”

It would have been easy for them to get discouraged in the aftermath of the 84-71 loss to Louisville that featured a stunning 26 turnovers, but they didn’t.

Both continued to work, and at the current level they’re playing at Cadougan and Mayo are more than capable of helping Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder lead the Golden Eagles to the Final Four.

“And what about D.J.’s answer about Junior, after all you guys are going we need a point guard,” asked head coach Buzz Williams.  “You think those kids don’t pay attention?  You think those kids don’t want to fight?

“That a senior who’s a pro is talking about a junior who everybody jumped off the boat when we left New York.  Everybody jumped off the boat when Todd couldn’t make a shot.”

Cadougan finished the weekend in Louisville with nine assists to just four turnovers, posting an assist-to-turnover ratio (2.25) better than his ratio over the prior six games (1.5).

Mayo was also better in Louisville, averaging nine points and six rebounds after accounting for 4.5 points and 1.5 rebounds per game during that same six-game stretch.

Clearly Crowder and Johnson-Odom will lead the way if Marquette is to reach the Final Four, but based on what happened on Saturday and the reactions following it’s safe to say that they all understand that Cadougan and Mayo will be important as the games get bigger.

And in front of a pro-Murray State crowd, the two guys outsiders pegged to crack first showed no signs of doing so.

Raphielle Johnson is the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed at @raphiellej.

Nevada’s Jordan Caroline pulls out of 2018 NBA Draft

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Jordan Caroline has opted to pull his name out of the 2018 NBA Draft as he will return to Nevada for his senior season, he announced on Saturday.

The 6-foot-7 Caroline put together a strong season for the Wolf Pack as he averaged 17.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game as Nevada made the Sweet 16 behind one of the most talented offenses in the country.

Caroline’s return is a huge boost for Nevada as they still await the NBA draft decisions of Caleb and Cody Martin.

Currently ranked No. 17 in the NBCSports.com Preseason Top 25 (without the Martin twins), the Wolf Pack will still have a ton of talent around Caroline next season. Five-star freshman center Jordan Brown recently committed to Nevada. The program also a number of talented transfers entering the mix, including Tre’Shawn Thomas, Nisre Zouzoua and Ehab Amin.

If the Martin twins return to school (and that is a big if) then Nevada could have a potentially elite offense next season. But even if the Martin twins go pro, Nevada should still be the favorite in the Mountain West and a threat to once again make the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

Dewan Huell returning to Miami for junior season

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Miami received some positive news on Saturday afternoon as the school announced the return of forward Dewan Huell for his junior season.

After testing the NBA draft waters without an agent, the 6-foot-11 Huell will be back for the Hurricanes. Starting all 32 games for the program last season, Huell averaged 11.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting 57 percent from the floor.

“After getting feedback from NBA teams and talking it over with my family and coaches, I would like to announce that I will be returning to Miami for my junior season,” Huell said in the release. “I’m really excited to get back to work with my brothers so we can accomplish more than ever during the 2018-19 season.”

A former McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school, Huell’s return gives the Hurricanes stability in the front court for next season as he’ll play with other returning players like Sam Waardenburg and Ebuka Izundu. With Miami losing both Lonnie Walker and Bruce Brown early to the 2018 NBA Draft, Huell could be expected to provide more offensive production as a junior.

Bruce Weber receives contract extension at Kansas State

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Kansas State and head coach Bruce Weber have agreed to a two-year contract extension, according to a release from the school.

After leading the Wildcats to a surprising Elite Eight appearance in March, Weber will be the head coach at Kansas State through the 2022-23 season, which gives him another five seasons to work with. Weber will be paid $2.5 million in 2018-19 and he’ll receive a $100,000 increase to his salary in each remaining contract year.

Weber had already signed a two-year extension in August 2017, but this move gives the veteran head coach more job security (and positive recruiting perception) for the next few seasons.

“We are very fortunate to have not only such an outstanding basketball coach but also a man in Coach Weber who conducts his program with integrity and class and is widely respected across the nation,” Kansas State Director of Athletics Gene Taylor said. “Certainly last season was one of the most memorable postseason runs in our program’s history, and we are excited for next season and the years ahead under Coach Weber’s leadership.”

With Kansas State returning most of its roster from last season, including the return of guard Barry Brown from the 2018 NBA Draft process, expectations are sky-high for Weber and the Wildcats this season. Currently ranked as the No. 8 team in the NBCSports.com Preseason Top 25, Kansas State’s veteran club could give Kansas a serious run for a Big 12 regular season title this season.

Northwestern loses incoming freshman point guard

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Northwestern and incoming freshman point guard Jordan Lathon are parting ways. The 6-foot-4 Lathon was viewed as a potential candidate to replace Bryant McIntosh at lead guard for the Wildcats this season, but Northwestern has reportedly revoked his offer of admission and basketball scholarship.

It is unclear why Lathon was unable to be admitted into Northwestern, but the school’s VP for University Relations, Alan Cubbage, gave a statement to Inside NU’s Davis Rich and Caleb Friedman.

“Northwestern University has revoked its offers of admission and an athletic scholarship for Jordan Lathon, a recruit for the Northwestern men’s basketball team,” the statement said. “Out of respect for the privacy of the student, the University will have no further public comment.”

Lathon later acknowledged the situation in a tweet explaining to fans that he will no longer be attending Northwestern.

While it is unclear why Lathon and Northwestern are parting ways, other high-major programs are already very interested in bringing in Lathon for next season. Oklahoma State immediately jumped in with a scholarship offer. There is also speculation that Lathon, a native of Grandview, Missouri, could also hear from the in-state Tigers as well.

It’ll be interesting to see where Lathon lands, and how this also affects Northwestern’s point guard situation. The loss of a four-year starter like McIntosh will be tough to fill, especially since Lathon was committed to Northwestern since last June. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Wildcats and head coach Chris Collins seek out a veteran point guard graduate transfer to try and get some immediate help.

Nebraska’s James Palmer Jr. returning to school

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Nebraska received some important news on Friday night as senior guard James Palmer Jr. will be back for next season.

The 6-foot-6 Palmer had tested the NBA draft waters, but he decided to return to the Cornhuskers. After putting up 17.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game last season, Palmer is expected to be an All-Big Ten candidate once again this season. Palmer shot 44 percent from the floor and 30 percent from three-point range last season.

After transferring in from Miami, Palmer became the Huskers’ go-to scorer last season in helping Nebraska to a 22-win season and NIT appearance.

With Palmer back, Nebraska will have some legitimate expectations for the upcoming season, especially if the team’s second-leading scorer, Isaac Copeland Jr., also returns from the NBA draft process.