Late Night Snacks: Mike Brey should always wear sleeves

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Games of the Day

1. Arkansas State 73, Central Arkansas 72: Cameron Golden hit a three with 4.8 seconds left to cap off an 8-0 run over the last two minutes as the Red Wolves knocked off Corliss Williamson’s club. UCA called a timeout to diagram a play, but they turned the ball over when LaQuentin Miles stepped out of bounds with 2.2 seconds left. After Raeford Worsham missed both ends of a 1-and-1, a prayer from Miles was almost answered when a heave hit the front of the rim.

2. Kansas State 66, Delaware 63: Cramping in the legs of Jamelle Hagins and Jarvis Threatt allowed the Wildcats to go on a quick, 15-8 surge to take a 54-43 lead with eight minutes left in the game. But Delaware’s Devon Saddler brought the Blue Hens back. Saddler, who played the final eight minutes without two-thirds of the team’s big three, scored 32 points and hit a number of tough jump shots to give the Blue Hens a fighting chance in the final minutes.

With 1.0 seconds left, Saddler was fouled on a three-pointer down 66-62, but he missed the first of three free throws.

3. No. 4 Michigan 67, Pitt 62: Trey Burke, Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardway Jr combined for 61 of Michigan’s 67 points, but it wasn’t until the second half, when John Beilein used those four to go small and throw a 1-3-1 zone at the Panthers that the Wolverines finally made a run to take the lead. Pitt looked very good, but a lack of penetrators on the wing made it tough for Jame Dixon’s team to attack the zone.

Important Outcomes

1. Wichita State 75, Iowa 63: I know this is going to sound weird, but this is somewhat of a statement win for Wichita State. Granted, Iowa is still a middle of the pack Big Ten team, but they are improved enough that they should compete for an NCAA tournament spot this season. Wichita State graduated quite a bit of talent from last year’s team, but have now improved to 6-0 on the season, which includes a win at VCU. Cleanthony Early, a 6-foot-8 JuCo transfer, had 25 points and nine boards while Malcolm Armstead finished with 14 points, five assists and five boards.

2. No. 8 Kentucky 81, Morehead State 70: We’ve all seen the video of Sean Woods losing his temper on a player on the sideline, so I’m not going to get into that here. Instead, I’ll talk about the fact that Kentucky struggled against the pressure that the Eagles were able to provide without Ryan Harrow on the floor. Archie Goodwin finished with 28 points and four assists, yes, but without Harrow in the mix, Kentucky has even more work left to do.

3. SMU 83, Rider 70: Don’t look now, but SMU is 5-0. Granted, only four of those wins came against D-I schools, only one of those four came against a team from a BCS conference, and that team happened to be TCU. But keep in mind, this team went 13-19 last year and own just three Conference USA games. Beating bad teams is an improvement from last year.

Starred

1. James Southerland, Syracuse: Southerland had arguably his best game at Syracuse on Wednesday night, finishing with 22 points, grabbing five steals and hitting 4-6 from beyond the arc in a 73-53 win over Princeton. His role on this team is to be problematic in their zone and to knock down open threes. I think it’s safe to say he did just that.

It’s also worth noting that, as a team, Syracuse had 19 steals in the game. The length they have in that zone is not fun to go up against.

2. George Beamon, Manhattan: Beamon was the biggest reason that Manhattan entered this season as the favorite to win the MAAC, but he began the season on the bench as he battled an ankle injury. He made his debut in grand fashion on Wednesday, scoring 29 points on 10-15 shooting to lead the Jaspers to a 67-56 win over a Hofstra team that had just beaten Marshall and South Dakota State.

3. Michael Lyons, Air Force: I love big-time scorers that fall below the national radar, and Lyons plays that role to perfection. He had 29 points on 11-15 shooting on Wednesday night as the Falcons knocked off Montana State 86-72.

Struggled

1. DePaul: The Blue Demons lost to Western Kentucky. Six days after losing to Gardner-Webb.

2. Anyone on Butler not named Rotnei: Those named Rotnei were 10-19 from the floor and 6-13 from three for 27 points. Those not named Rotnei were 12-42 from the floor and 1-15 from three for 34 points in a 78-61 loss to Illinois in the Maui Invitational title game.

3. Chris Udofia, Denver: Udofia came into Wednesday’s game with Colorado State averaging 17.7 points. He finished with two points on 1-6 shooting. Denver lost, 60-53.

4. Robert Covington, Tennessee State: Covington entered the season with some NBA folks curious about his potential. Through six games, TSU is 1-5, and he’s averaging 12.7 points while shooting 33.3% from the floor and 24.0% from three. An 81-70 loss to Monmouth was rock bottom, as Covington was 3-14 from the floor, 0-3 from three and had just 12 points.

Three Facts

1. Vander Blue: Blue took an ugly fall late in Marquette’s 72-64 win over USC out in Maui, but it looks as if it’s nothing too serious. “One doctor here said he didn’t tear his ACL, just sprained it,” Buzz Williams said.

2. Ian Miller: Miller suffered a bone bruise in his right foot and was in a walking boot, but he’s expected back by Tuesday. The Seminoles struggled to beat North Florida without him.

3. Mike Brey: Brey is a George Washington alum, a former player and now the head coach at Notre Dame. This is how he showed up to his postgame press conference:

source:

(Photo credit: @cbrinks5)

Notable Results

Texas 69, Mississippi State 55

SDSU 79, Arkansas Pine-Bluff 43

Elon 65, South Carolina 53

Report: Western Kentucky’s Lamonte Bearden staying in 2018 NBA Draft

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Western Kentucky guard Lamonte Bearden will stay in the 2018 NBA Draft after hiring an agent, according to a report from ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The 6-foot-3 Bearden just completed his redshirt junior season with the Hilltoppers as he averaged 11.8 points, 3.4 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game. A slippery guard with good size, Bearden shot 47 percent from the field and 82 percent from the charity stripe while also getting in the passing lanes for 1.7 steals per game.

Although Bearden has good size and athleticism at lead guard, his perimeter jumper has been inconsistent during his college career. He was 31 percent from three-point range (a career high) this past season. Starting his college career at Buffalo, Bearden helped lead the Bulls to the NCAA tournament before opting to play in Conference USA for Western Kentucky.

The Hilltoppers will certainly miss Bearden’s presence in their backcourt as the program has seven new players signed for next season.

USC makes a statement landing Class of 2019 four-star forward Isaiah Mobley

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USC ended a strong week of recruiting with another major statement on Friday afternoon as four-star Class of 2019 forward Isaiah Mobley pledged to the Trojans.

The second major Class of 2019 commitment for USC during the week, the 6-foot-9 power forward joins five-star big man Onyeka Okongwu. The Compton Magic teammates should be able to help replace the loss of Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu, with Mobley playing the skilled, floor-spacing Boatwright’s role and Okongwu providing the interior energy of Metu.

Having two highly-touted big men commit in the same week is huge for USC. And it looks like the start of even bigger things in a continually-evolving SoCal recruiting war against Pac-12 rival UCLA.

Landing both Mobley and Okongwu is significant for the Trojans for a number of reasons. As previously mentioned, both come from the famous Compton Magic grassroots program that runs on the adidas Gauntlet. While landing AAU teammates from a regional program is common for high-major programs of USC’s stature, the commitments signify that the Trojans are the ones with the biggest pull with the Magic at the current moment.

And the Magic used to get raided by UCLA.

In the past few years, the Bruins signed T.J. Leaf, Ike Anigbogu, Jaylen Hands and Jalen Hill from the Compton Magic. Now, it’s USC who looks to be in the driver’s seat recruiting the program.

The Trojans aren’t done, either.

Newly-hired USC assistant coach Eric Mobley is the father Isaiah Mobley, as well as five-star Class of 2020 big man Evan Mobley. As Rivals national recruiting analyst Eric Bossi noted in his story about Isaiah, “Barring something strange happening, look for the younger Mobley to join his brother and father by committing to USC within the next two weeks.”

That would mean the Trojans would have landed three top-30 caliber big men in the span of a few weeks. That allows the USC coaching staff to recruit other positions extremely hard. Outside of Kentucky, USC has arguably the best future recruiting status of any program in the country.

The Trojans have taken full advantage of UCLA letting go popular assistant coach David Grace. The Bruins are still pulling in top-100 prospects, as evidenced by Grant Sherfield and Jaime Jaquez’s commitments in the Class of 2019, but losing two Magic kids in a week to a rival has to sting.

Considering where USC was last fall with the FBI investigation, who saw this type of recruiting swing coming? Other programs involved in the investigation like Arizona, Auburn and Oklahoma State have landed solid recruits. They also haven’t pulled in nearly the high-level talent that the Trojans currently have committed.

Even amidst the uncertainty surrounding the FBI investigation, USC is still pulling in elite talent while beating local rivals. It’ll be fascinating to see if the Trojans can continue to recruit at this level as they try to fill out the rest of an important recruiting class.

USF signs Oklahoma State transfer Zack Dawson

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USF landed a major addition on Friday as the school announced the signing of Oklahoma State transfer guard Zack Dawson.

The 6-foot-3 Dawson is a former consensus top-100 prospect coming out of high school as he’ll have to sit out the 2018-19 season due to NCAA transfer rules. A native of the region, Dawson will have three years of eligibility remaining once he’s able to play again.

Dismissed from Oklahoma State on Dec. 14 for violating team rules, Dawson averaged 4.4 points and1.6 assists per contest as he only suited up in five games for the Cowboys. Once Dawson is eligible to play for USF, he gives the Bulls a potentially dynamic backcourt along with rising sophomore guard David Collins.

“We are excited to welcome Zack back home to Florida as a member of the Bulls family,” USF head coach Brian Gregory said in a release. “He is a dynamic and versatile guard who can impact the game in a variety of ways. Zack comes from one of the best high school programs in the state, South Miami High School, so he immediately brings a championship attitude here to the University of South Florida.”

This is a really nice pickup for the Bulls, as they utilized a local transfer to help bolster the roster. Landing top-100 kids out of high school is going to be tough until USF boosts its basketball credibility. But getting a former top-100 player on the transfer market is a solid approach to building the Bulls into a respectable threat.

Michael Porter Jr.: ‘I’m the best player in this draft’

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The more I think about it, the more that Michael Porter Jr. is becoming the most interesting prospect at the top of the 2018 NBA Draft.

As a high school senior, he was considered by many to be the top player in the class, a 6-foot-10 combo-forward with a lethal three-point shot, NBA dunk contest athleticism and the versatility to, one day, be a multi-positional defender that would seamlessly fit into fit into the modern NBA.

But his one and only season at Missouri was derailed by back surgery, and that has allowed the rest of the class of 2017 to shine while we have focused on everything else that comes with drafting Porter. The reputation that he had for the majority of his high school career of being soft. The intel that was coming out of Missouri, that he was cocky and arrogant and something of a bad teammate. Questions about whether or not he is truly a wing or a four, more like a more athletic Lauri Markkanen.

When the only thing that we’ve had a chance to see this season is an out-of-shape Porter struggling in postseason games, it shouldn’t really be a surprise that his hype train has derailed.

“I know without a doubt that I’m the — I played against all these guys, they’re all great players — but I’m the best player in this draft,” Porter told ESPN. “And I just can’t wait to show what I’m capable of.”

And therein lies the conundrum for any team drafting him.

I have little doubt that Porter is going to be able to score and score a lot in the NBA. I think he and Bagley are the safest bets to average 20 points at the NBA level before their rookie contract runs out.

But putting up points and playing on winning basketball teams are not one and the same. For a ten-year stretch after his rookie season, Rudy Gay averaged at least 17.2 points while making the playoffs once during that stretch. Is that what Porter is going to turn into at the next level? Or will be find a way to become the kind of NBA defender his athleticism says he should be and, by the time he signs his first contract extension, end up the player that Paul George is?

The mitigating factor here is that Porter is going to do a fantastic job in every interview he has. He’s an intelligent, charismatic and articulate kid that is going to be able to sell himself. The red flags that he has aren’t going to show when he’s sitting down in front of NBA general managers.

They would have shown up — or been written off — if there was a season’s worth of game-tape available, but there isn’t. What that means is that scouts are going to have to decide whether or not Porter, who by all accounts had a very impressive senior season in high school, is that player or the one that had the reputation for being soft for years before that.

And all of that is going to come after the doctor’s have a chance to examine his back to see if the surgery he underwent fixed what was wrong, or if this is the kind of situation where a recurrence is likely.

The result is the widest range for any player at the top of the draft.

He could sell someone on taking him as a top four pick. He could also slide his way down to the Knicks at No. 9 or the 76ers at No. 10.

Which is what makes him the most interesting prospect at the top of this draft.

P.J. Washington ‘definitely going back to school’ without first round guarantee

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Kentucky forward P.J. Washington is one of the handful of players that currently finds themselves in the tenuous position of having their name in the NBA draft pool without having a clear picture of where, exactly, they are going to end up getting picked.

Will they be a late-first round pick? Will he be an early second round pick? Will he even be drafted at all?

Washington told reporters at the NBA combine this week that, if he’s a first round pick, he’ll be heading to the NBA. If he only gets a second round guarantee, he’ll be returning to school.

As we detailed last week, getting selected in the second round does not mean a player is destined to end up being broke his first year out of school. In the last six drafts, only one college player picked in the top ten picks of the second round (31-40) did not receive a guaranteed contract. In the 2017 NBA Draft, every college player selected in the top 50 received a guaranteed deal of at least one year, and Thomas Bryant was the only player whose one-year guaranteed deal was at the league minimum.

That doesn’t mean that Washington should leave Kentucky if he’s going to be a second round pick. If he returns to school, becomes a 42 percent three-point shooter (and can make free throws) and proves that he’s more versatile defensively than he was his year, then he could move up into the first round in a weaker 2019 draft.

It’s a risk for him, financially, to leave after this year if he doesn’t get that first round guarantee. It’s also a risk to return to school, where the best-case scenario isn’t always what happens.

I don’t envy the decision he has to make, but I am glad that Washington will have every chance in the world to be informed about the decision.