The Secondary Break: Wednesday’s Links

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Ryan winning despite missing piece (ESPN)
Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan has his team off to the best start in school history, and that’s even with their loss at Indiana on Tuesday night. But this has been a tough season for the coach as it’s his first without his father, who passed away in August. This is a really good read on the connection between father and son, and how the Ryan we see on the sidelines differs from the one that his grandkids see.

7-footers making impact again in college basketball (San Francisco Chronicle)
While guard play tends to get the majority of the attention in college basketball, especially in March, the big men are important as well. And in regards to seven-footers, there seems to be a renaissance of sorts in college basketball this season. With players such as Kansas’ Joel Embiid and Arizona State’s Jordan Bachynski playing well, the big men are once again making an impact.

The Magic Eight: One of these teams will win the national title (Sports Illustrated)
How wide open is the national title chase? According to one article eight teams are best positioned to cut down the nets in Arlington, Texas in early April. Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky and Syracuse are among the teams on that list, and there are also some notes on teams omitted from the discussion.

Jim Baron, King Rice and the ties that bind (Pickin’ Splinters)
On Sunday afternoon Monmouth visited Canisius, with the Golden Griffins winning 87-67 in Buffalo. Also of note is the shared history of the two head coaches, with Monmouth’s King Rice being recruited by Canisius’ Jim Baron when Baron was an assistant at Notre Dame. Rice eventually chose to attend North Carolina, but on Sunday he had nothing but nice things to say about the way in which Baron went about the recruiting process.

Army’s Zach Spiker taking success one game at a time (Big Apple Buckets)
There are three teams in the Patriot League that are still undefeated in conference play: American, Boston University and Army, with the latter being run by 37-year old Zach Spiker. One season after leading the Black Knights to their first winning season since 1984-85, Spiker’s taking things one game at a time with a team capable of making a run at the Patriot League crown.

Want to fix college athletics’ academic crisis? Three words: major in sports (The Sporting News)
With the CNN study on the academic credentials, or lack thereof, of student-athletes revealing that many arrive on campus ill-equipped to take advantage of the education being offered, many have asked what can be done. One possible solution would be to allow student-athletes to major in their particular sport. Interesting read to say the least.

Markel Brown is the mayor of LobStilly (The Oklahoman)
Oklahoma State senior guard Markel Brown’s been a key figure for the Cowboys this season, posting averages of 16.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game for the nation’s ninth-ranked team. Brown’s also one of the nation’s best leapers, and as a result he’s thrown down some incredible in-game dunks for the Cowboys.

For sophomore students, Villanova and men’s basketball gradually became a lasting impression (Philly.com)
The connection between college basketball teams and the student body can be strong when it comes to your more prestigious programs, and that’s certainly the case at schools where the basketball team is the most recognizable team on campus. At Villanova some sophomores, who chose the school during a period when the basketball team was down (by Villanova standards), spoke about their experiences supporting the basketball team.

High school basketball player collapses, dies at AAU event

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James Hampton, a member of Team United and a senior at Liberty Heights, a private high school in Charlotte, collapsed and died during a Nike Elite Youth Basketball League game on Saturday night.

Hampton was 17 years old.

In the second half of a game against Nike Phamily, a Phoenix-based program that is run by the father of Marvin Bagley III, Hampton collapsed to the floor unresponsive. Trainers at the event began CPR on and administered chest compressions. Parademics arrived within 10 minutes, but Hampton could not be revived.

The cause of death has not yet been released, but this is not the first time that Hampton had an issue. Last spring, at an event in the Washington D.C. area, Hampton collapsed on the court and had to be given CPR.

“He just fell down on the floor,” Team United director Jacoby Davis told the Charlotte Observer. “He had seizures a year ago and I remember (one of the Team United coaches) telling me that, ‘I saw his eyes rolling back in his head.’ I ran on the court thinking he was having a seizure. A trainer came over and said he didn’t know what was wrong. Another trainer checked his pulse. He said he didn’t have a pulse. It got crazy after that.”

RIP James Hampton.

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.