Most of the teams participating in this weekend’s Battle 4 Atlantis left cold environments for The Bahamas, and while the change in climate is definitely a bonus it can also affect the players in a negative manner. That was the case for the two best players on the floor during the quarterfinal matchup between Xavier and No. 23 Iowa, with Xavier’s Semaj Christon and Iowa’s Roy Devyn Marble being sidelined due to cramping.
The first player to go down was Christon, who was instrumental in the Musketeers’ ability to control much of the action in the game’s first 30 minutes. With their lead guard unable to contribute Xavier struggled offensively, with Marble (30 points) sparking a Hawkeye rally in the second half. But just as Marble looked poised to push Iowa to the win in regulation he went down with a cramp in his right calf, and the end result was both players missing the extra session.
In the extra session Iowa’s supplementary pieces proved to be more effective, resulting in the Hawkeyes picking up the 77-74 victory. And if there’s anything to be taken out of the result it’s that those players will need to become more consistent if Iowa is to factor into the Big Ten race and earn a bid to the NCAA tournament. Entering the game both Aaron White (13.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Jarrod Uthoff (11.8, 6.8) were averaging double figures, and as a team Iowa was shooting 47.5% from the field.
But against Xavier, which represented their toughest test to date, Iowa shot 35.3% from the field and 6-for-23 from beyond the arc. And players other than Marble (10-for-23) combined to shoot 14-for-45 (31.1%). Marble’s clearly Iowa’s best player, and as he goes so go the Hawkeyes. But if Iowa’s to reach its full potential he can’t be the only one doing the “heavy lifting” against quality opponents. With Marble sidelined Iowa was able to make the plays needed to complete the comeback, rebounding 40% of their missed shots (Gabriel Olaseni grabbed seven of their 20 offensive rebounds), and they’ll need to continue to do so as the schedule gets tougher.
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 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 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.
Kansas State, a preseason top ten team, announced on Friday afternoon that Barry Brown will be returning to school for his senior season.
“Although the process was more than enjoyable, I have decided to withdraw my name from the 2018 NBA Draft,” Brown said in a statement. “Thank you to everyone who supported me, and I am looking forward to finishing my senior season as a Wildcat!”
Brown declared for the draft nearly two months ago. According to Kansas.com, Brown was invited to two workouts with NBA teams but did not get an invite to the NBA Draft Combine last weekend in Chicago. There was not a great chance that he would be drafted had he kept his name in the mix.
A second-team all-Big 12 selection a season ago, Brown averaged 15.9 points, 3.2 boards and 3.1 assists for a team that won 25 games and advanced to the Elite Eight as a No. 9 seed.
Kansas State is currently No. 8 in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.
Over the course of the next month, I will be putting together NBA Draft Prospect Profiles for our sister site, Pro Basketball Talk, of the most talented and promising prospects from the college ranks.
Today, the first example of those profiles went live. It’s of Deandre Ayton and you can read all of the 1,500 words here. We take a good long look at why he’s the best prospect in the draft and the reasons why he may never actually reach his immense ceiling.
If you’re not into reading, here is a four-minute video breakdown of his strengths, his weaknesses and how he can turn the latter into the former.