College Basketball Player of the Year Power Rankings

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1. Doug McDermott, Creighton: Since 1997-1998, no college basketball player has averaged 24.5 points, 7.2 boards and shot 43.0% from beyond the arc. In NBA history, no player that has shot more than 15 threes in a season has averaged 24.5 points, 7.0 boards and shot 43.0% from three. Right now, McDermott is averaging 24.3 points and 7.2 boards while shooting 42.98% from beyond the arc, and that’s because he’s been in a “slump” the last three games.

His numbers over that stretch? 19.3 points, 7.3 boards and 40.0% shooting from three. Those are all-american caliber numbers. How many players would love to be mired in that slump?

2. Shabazz Napier, UConn: Outside of a forgettable trip to Texas, Napier has been sensational for an otherwise thoroughly mediocre UConn team. The Huskies have won four of their last five and regained their footing in the AAC thanks to Napier, who is now averaging 17.8 points, 6.0 boards, 5.9 assists and 2.0 steals while shooting 44.3% from long range.

3. Jabari Parker, Duke: Parker’s shooting percentages have dipped, but that was something that was bound to happen. As terrific as he was in the first month and a half of the season, Parker was never really known for having the kind of shooting stroke that Doug McDermott does. You should get used to seeing nights where he shoots 5-for-12 or 7-for-19, which is why I think it’s fair to say he’s busted out of his five-game slump. The most important stat for Parker? Free throws. When he’s shooting free throws, it means he’s attacking the basket instead of settling for jumpers. The last four games he’s taken 34 free throws. The five before that, when he was slumping? All of 14.

source: Getty Images4. Nick Johnson, Arizona: Johnson’s athletic enough that he’ll throw down some impressive dunks from time-to-time, but outside of that, he’s never going to do much that will ‘wow’ fans in the stands or watching on TV. He’s not going to score 30 or control a game offensively or completely change the way a defense plays. But he’s the best player on the best team in the country — their best perimeter shooter, their best slasher, their best defender, their leader, their go-to guy at the end of a clock. Your game doesn’t always have to be ‘loud’ to be great.

5. Nik Stauskas, Michigan: It’s fun to follow the ebbs and flows of the Player of the Year race in college basketball because it tends to highlight the guy that got hot at the right time. Napier was the favorite to win the award back in November, as he posted monstrous numbers and repeatedly made big shots in clutch moments for the Huskies. Then it was Jabari Parker’s turn to take the lead, as his star turn carried us through the holidays. But as the calendar changed, it was Dougie McBuckets who staked his claim to the award and, essentially, put himself in a position where it’s his title to lose over the final month and change of the season.

At this point, Stauskas may be the guy that puts together the run that can spring an upset in the Player of the Year race. Playing without their three best players from last season’s run to the National Title game, Michigan has climbed right back to the top of the Big Ten standings, and Stauskas is the biggest reason why. It’s good news and bad news for the Wolverines. They look like a title contender again, but it means that Stauskas won’t last in Ann Arbor that much longer.

6. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse: I know what Jim Boeheim told Kelli Anderson of SI.com about C.J. Fair. I don’t care. Ennis is the most important player on this Syracuse team, and he’s playing at an elite level on both ends of the floor.

7. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State: Between the flopping, the tantrum against West Virginia and his insistence on trying to be a jump-shooter, Smart has become one of the more frustrating players in the country to watch. There may not be a better all-around player in the country this season. He’s not playing like it right now.

8. Julius Randle, Kentucky: Randle is still the same player he was in November. Here’s the issue: he plays in the SEC, so he’s not landing knockout blows over title contenders on a nightly basis, and he’s the focal point of every defensive game-plan. Want to know why the Harrisons and James Young are starting to have bigger scoring nights? Because Randle gets double- and triple-teamed on every touch.

9. Xavier Thames, San Diego State: I wanted to give Thames some love on this list because I don’t think he is getting enough attention nationally. SDSU’s defense is why they are a top ten team with a win at Kansas under their belt. They’re not a good team on the offensive end, however, which means that: a) everything runs through Thames, and b) his 17.6 points are just that much more impressive. He’s hit as many big shots this year as Shabazz Napier has.

10. Joel Embiid, Kansas: I have to leave Embiid here. He’s turned into arguably the most dominant paint presence in the country.

The next five:

  • Kyle Anderson, UCLA
  • Bryce Cotton, Providence
  • Lamar Patterson, Pitt
  • Casey Prather, Florida
  • Russ Smith, Louisville

Others: Jordan Adams, Keith Appling, Cameron Bairstow, Sam Dekker, C.J. Fair, Aaron Gordon, Gary Harris, Rodney Hood, Deandre Kane, Sean Kilpatrick, Kevin Pangos, Adreian Payne, Elfrid Payton, Jayvaughn Pinkston, Fred Van Vleet, T.J. Warren, Andrew Wiggins, Chaz Williams

Former Penn coach allegedly took bribes from potential recruit’s father

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Former Penn head coach Jerome Allen allegedly took bribes from a Miami businessman who wanted his son to get into the school as a “recruited basketball player” — increasing his chances to gain entry to the Ivy League school.

According to a report from Bloomberg’s Michael Smith, David Voreacos and Eben Novy-Williams, Allen was involved with Miami businessman Philip Esformes, who had a son, Morris, who was allegedly recruited by several Ivy League schools. When Philip Esformes was accused of health-care fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and bribery, the government uncovered more than $74,000 in gifts that Esformes gave to Allen in 2013 and 2014.

Allen is identified strictly as “Coach-2” in the indictment that alleges that he took multiple cash payments, paid trips from Philadelphia to Miami, and a private jet trip that included Allen, Esformes and his son. The benefits are alleged to be $74,558 — including three separate wired payments of $15,000, $20,000 and $18,000 to Allen from Esformes.

These alleged incidents took place in 2013 and 2014, when Allen was still head coach at Penn and Morris Esformes was a high school basketball player trying to make it to the Division I level. Esformes was eventually granted admission to Penn as he was allegedly going to be on the basketball team. But Allen was fired before Esformes enrolled at the school. So Esformes went to school at Penn, but he never played for the basketball team. Esformes is currently still a senior at Penn.

Allen has been an assistant coach under Brad Stevens with the Boston Celtics since leaving Penn in 2015. He hasn’t been criminally charged for any of these alleged benefits while the NCAA also hasn’t been involved with anything yet.

But this is yet another black eye on college basketball — and this time coming from a prestigious Ivy League institution. It shows that cheating and using leverage happens at all levels of Division I college basketball. Lately, the schools have been paying to get players. This shows there are instances of wealthy people attempting to gain influence through athletics.

This case at Penn is certainly a rare one. Esformes tried to exploit a loophole that would allow his son entry into a great school under the guise that he was a potential Division I-caliber basketball player. And Morris Esformes did end up at Penn — and seems to be doing well. So, this didn’t end poorly for Morris or Allen.

Since Allen is coaching at the NBA level, this likely won’t alter his coaching career, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the NCAA get involved with Penn and Allen going forward.

Elite Class of 2020 point guard to reclassify

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Nico Mannion, a five-star point guard from Arizona, announced on Friday that he will be reclassifying into the Class of 2019.

Mannion was a top 20 player in 2020 but, according to 247 Sports, he will be ranked No. 11 in 2019. The athletic, 6-foot-3 Mannion was long-rumored to be considering a move up a class because of his age. He’ll turn 18 in March of next year, meaning that he’ll arrive on campus the same age as a typical college freshman.

Mannion cut his list to ten schools in June — Duke, Arizona, Villanova, Kansas, USC, UCLA, Oregon, Vanderbilt, Marquette and Utah — but Duke and Arizona appear to be the favorites at this point.

Mannion plays his high school ball for Pinnacle High School in Phoenix and with West Coast Elite on the Under Armour Association circuit. He played for Team USA’s youth ranks, but his mother is Italian and, in June, he was called up to the Italian men’s senior national team, scoring nine points in 29 minutes of a FIBA World Cup Qualifier.

Nebraska to lose junior big man to transfer

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Nebraska’s frontcourt depth took a blow on Thursday as junior big man Jordy Tshimanga informed the program that he will be transferring.

“Jordy called me tonight and asked for his release,” head coach Tim Miles said in a statement that was given to the Lincoln Journal-Star. “The University of Nebraska and our program wish Jordy and his family the best.”

Tshimanga averaged 4.0 points and 4.6 boards in 13 minutes this past season, and a source close to the program told NBC Sports he wasn’t expected to play much more than that this season.

Miles’ has spent the better part of the last two seasons on the hot seat, and this certainly doesn’t make his job easier, but with the talent the Cornhuskers have on their roster, they look like an NCAA tournament team already. They bring back their top four scorers, including former five-star prospect Isaac Copeland and potential first-team all-Big Ten wing James Palmer. With or without Tshimanga, Nebraska has a shot to finish top four in the Big Ten.

North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State part of Las Vegas event

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State and Texas will play in an early season basketball tournament in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Invitational will include games at campus sites, then the final two rounds on Nov. 22-23 in Las Vegas. North Carolina takes on Texas in one semifinal, and Michigan State faces UCLA in the other.

UNC, UCLA and Michigan State are all top 20 teams in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.

The championship is Nov. 23, and the semifinal losers also play each other that day.

NCAA to study possible effects of widespread legal wagering

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA plans to study how the expansion of legalized betting could affect college athletics and member schools.

The NCAA announced Thursday it will create a working group of “subject matter experts” to assess areas such as officiating, NCAA rules, federal and state laws, and the use of integrity services. NCAA leadership has already called for federal regulation on sports betting. NCAA rules prohibit sports wagering by athletes and athletic department employees.

The Supreme Court opened the door for states to have legal wagering on sporting events when it struck down a federal ban in May. Schools in some states such as West Virginia, Mississippi and New Jersey are already exploring the possibility of collecting integrity fees in anticipation of legal sports books opening in their states.

“While we certainly respect the Supreme Court’s decision, our position on sports wagering remains,” said Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer. “With this new landscape, we must evolve and expand our long-standing efforts to protect both the integrity of competitions and the well-being of student-athletes.”

The NCAA Board of Governors has already suspended the association’s ban on holding championships in states with legalized sports betting, a policy that only affected Nevada.

“Legalized sports gambling across the country is rather new, but the NCAA and its members have committed significant resources over the years to policy, research and education around sports wagering,” said Joni Comstock, senior vice president of championships and alliances. “With student-athlete well-being as the centerpiece, we will continue to build upon these efforts to assist members as they adapt to legalized sports wagering in their states and regions.”