Report: New Mexico State’s Sim Bhullar to enter 2014 NBA Draft

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After averaging 10.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocked shots per game as a sophomore, New Mexico State center Sim Bhullar was named to the WAC’s All-Defensive team. Named Most Outstanding Player of the 2013 WAC tournament, the 7-foot-5 Bhullar was a key figure in two NCAA tournament trips for Marvin Menzies’ Aggies.

According to multiple reports, Bhullar will forego his final two seasons of eligibility and turn pro. In two seasons at New Mexico State Bhullar played an average of 25.3 minutes per game, and the “shelf life” for a player of his size (he was listed at 360 pounds) can be noticeably shorter than that of smaller players.

MOREThe entire list of players entering the 2014 NBA Draft

Bhullar shot 64.8% from the field as a sophomore (63.3% for his career), and his best performance of the season was a 24-point, 14-rebound, five-block outing in New Mexico State’s WAC quarterfinal victory over Seattle.

Draft Express currently ranks Bhullar as the 75th best player amongst college sophomores, and he isn’t projected to be selected in June’s NBA Draft.

Georgia’s plane slides off runway, delays trip to Temple

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It’s the season of travel nightmares, and just four days after Washington was forced to evacuate their bus after a flat tire turned into a car fire, Tom Crean’s first road trip as the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs ended up stuck in the mud.

Due to issues with runways at the airport in Athens, Georgia, the Bulldogs team flight to Philadelphia for a game against Temple was scheduled to depart from the airport in Anderson, S.C.

“The Bulldogs were scheduled to depart from the airport in Anderson, S.C., at 5:00 p.m.,” the school said in a statement. “The team boarded the plane at approximately 6:15. While the plane was taxiing on the tarmac at a slow rate of speed, it drove off the concrete and became stuck in mud. At 9:00 p.m., it was determined the plane would need inspections which would not allow it to be used on Monday. The team will spend the night in South Carolina and fly to Philadelphia on Tuesday morning.”

Crean is hoping this travel delay does not end up being a metaphor for his success with Georgia.

The Bulldogs are still scheduled to play Temple Tuesday night.

Player of the Year Power Rankings: Two Dukies, stars from Auburn, Buffalo head the list

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We are now a week into the new season, which means it is time for us to do what we do every Tuesday: Player of the Year Power Rankings!

The season is just a week old, which means that this list is going to be comprised of players that were on the list during the preseason and players who have put together massive performances in the first couple of weeks of the season. 

So without further ado, here are the Week 1 Player of the Year Power Rankings:

1. R.J. BARRETT, Duke

Barrett has been as good as advertised through the season’s first week. After putting up 33 points, six assists and four boards in a 34-point blowout win over Kentucky in the opener, the 6-foot-8 favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft made 23 points, six boards and a pair of assists look pedestrian in was what a disappointing, 94-72 win over Army. Hey, when you set standards as high as Duke did in their first game of the season, expectations follow.

2. ZION WILLIAMSON, Duke

The numbers that Zion has posted this season speak for themselves. He went for 28 points in the opener against Kentucky, following that up with an absolutely overwhelming performance against an Army did that simply did not have the athletes to compete with him — 27 points, 16 boards, six blocks, four assists. Through two games, Zion is shooting 81.5 percent from the floor.

But where things get really interesting are with this move, and with Zion’s jumper in general:

This is a defensive lineman creating two-feet of space with an off-hand, in-and-out dribble into a step-back 18-footer. The second clip is a great, slow-motion look at his release. He’s on balance, which is more important for him than getting a ton of lift; he’s not going to be taking jumpers like Kobe did. He needs to be able to force defenders to guard him from the three-point guard and have the balance to be able to make shots like the step-back he hit earlier.

Put another way, the biggest concern with Zion Williamson as a basketball player doesn’t look like it is too much of a concern.

I’m scared.

3. C.J. MASSINBURG, Buffalo

Massinburg put together the single-best performance of the first week of the college basketball season on Friday night, going for 43 points, 14 boards and three assists in an overtime win at West Virginia. 26 of his 43 points came in the second half. He scored nine points in an 11-3 run in the final three minutes of regulation, including hitting the three that forced overtime. He scored nine of Buffalo’s 15 points in the extra frame. He was awesome:

We’ll see just how long he can remain on this list. While Buffalo is 3-0 on the season, Massinburg has combined for 18 points on 2-for-11 shooting from three in the other two wins. For now, however, he deserves every bit of his place here.

4. CHUMA OKEKE, Auburn

Who had Okeke as the best player on Auburn this season? If you did, you might end up proving smart. The 6-foot-8 sophomore has been sensational for the Tigers through two wins this season, including a 22-point blowout win over then-No. 25 Washington. He’s averaging 19.5 points, 9.5 boards, 3.5 assists and 2.5 blocks while shooting 6-for-8 from three.

I discussed Okeke on the most recent podcast with Dalen Cuff and why he, and Anfernee McLemore, are so important to the way that Auburn wants to play:

5. RUI HACHIMURA, Gonzaga

Even without Killian Tillie eligible, the Gonzaga star is putting up impressive numbers. He had 33 points in Gonzaga’s opener and followed that up with 17 points in a win over a Texas Southern team that beat Baylor at Baylor. Gonzaga’s schedule kicks up a notch this week, as they play Texas A&M before heading to Maui for a tournament that includes Duke, Auburn and Arizona.

6. CARSEN EDWARDS, Purdue

The preseason first-team all-american hasn’t been anything less than what we expected. In two Purdue wins, he’s averaging 26.5 points.

7. TY JEROME Virginia

We all thought that De’Andre Hunter or Kyle Guy would end up being the best player on Virginia this season, but it might end up being Ty Jerome. At least that has been the case through the first two games of the season. Through two blowout wins, he’s averaging 20.0 points, 5.5 assists, 4.5 boards, 3.0 steals and shooting 68 percent from the floor and 71 percent from three.

8. CAMERON JOHNSON, North Carolina

I’m not ready to call anyone other than Luke Maye the best player on North Carolina just yet, but to date, Johnson has played the best of anyone on the Tar Heels. Through three games, he looks like a different player than he was last season. He’s averaging 18.3 points and 6.7 boards while shooting 10-for-14 from three. He looks more mobile and athletic than he was last season, and gives the Tar Heels a third long, athletic wing that — in theory — should allow them to matchup with Duke.

t-9. GRANT WILLIAMS, Tennessee and MARKUS HOWARD, Marquette

It is tough to delineate between these two at this point. Both have been as good as advertised early on this season. In one game against Division I competition, Williams went for 31 points, 10 boards and three assists. Howard, through two games, is averaging 26 points, eight boards and six assists while shooting 9-for-22 from three.

10. SOMEONE ON KANSAS, Kansas

I’m not really sure who to pick here. At the end of the day, I think it will be Dedric Lawson. He’s the guy they run offense through, he’s the perfect four-man for Bill Self’s offense and he’s the player that went for 20 points, 14 boards and six assists in the win over Michigan State in the Champions Classic. But he also went scoreless in Monday night’s win over Vermont as LaGerald Vick, who had just two points in the opener, had 32 points on 8-for-8 shooting from three against the Catamounts.

Monday’s Things To Know: Buffalo notches another road win, North Carolina routs Stanford and Lagerald Vick goes wild

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We’ve entered the second week of the college basketball season after an eventful first few days. The week didn’t get off to exactly a rousing start, but there were some notable results – and performances – on Monday evening across the country.

1. Buffalo outlasts Southern Illinois

Kentucky isn’t the only team to have a little trouble with the Salukis. Just a weekend removed from its overtime win at West Virginia, 25th-ranked Buffalo could never get great separation from Southern Illinois but claimed a 62-53 win in Carbondale on Monday.

It was a second-straight impressive road win for the Bulls, who won despite shooting just 35.5 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from 3-point range. They did it with a defense that forced 19 turnovers and held the Salukis to a 3 of 13 mark from distance. CJ Massinburg came back to earth after scoring 43 against the Mountaineers, being held to just seven points on 3 of 9 shooting. Montell McRae and Jeremy Harris both had 11 to lead the Bulls. It may not have been a pretty win for Nate Oats’ team, but against a feisty opponent on the road coming off an emotional victory, it’s undoubtedly a welcome one.

For Southern Illinois, it was a second close-but-no-cigar effort after it pushed Kentucky to the limit in a 12-point loss last week. Kavion Pippen had 18 points to lead the Salukis in scoring. The Bulls and Salukis will have a rematch Dec. 15 in Buffalo.

2. North Carolina stomped Stanford

In what was really the marquee matchup of the night, the Tar Heels had little trouble dispatching Stanford in Chapel Hill, 90-72. Luke Maye had 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Cameron Johnson continued impressive play as the former Pitt transfer put up 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting while also grabbing seven rebounds. The 6-foot-9 senior has scored at least 17 points in all three of UNC’s games this season.

After putting up 21 points on 9 of 13 shooting against Elon on Friday, freshman Nassir Little struggled, making just 4 of 10 shots (0 of 3 from deep), though he did play a season-high 24 minutes off the bench. North Carolina’s start t the season isn’t likely to get much tougher in the near-term with games against Tennessee Tech and St. Francis up next before the Las Vegas Invitational pits them against Texas and then either Michigan State or UCLA before tilts with Michigan (Nov. 28) and Gonzaga (Dec. 15) really test them.

3. Lagerald Vick perfect from distance as Kansas overcomes early troubles

A cascade of 3s put Vermont up early, but an 8 of 8 performance from Lagerald Vick from behind the line helped propel Kansas past the Catamounts. 84-68. Vick finished with a career high 32 points while going 12 of 14 overall from the floor. Pretty good for a guy who wasn’t even going to be a member of the Jayhawks program after three years in Lawrence not too long ago.

An early 18-4 run staked Vermont to an early lead, but the Catamounts couldn’t keep pace as Vick went wild and Udoka Azubuike produced inside to the tune of 23 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman point guard Quentin Grimes had 10 points and 10 assists. The game proved to be a pretty solid encapsulation of the depth and weapons that Bill Self has at his disposal this season as Dedric Lawson, a popular first-team All-American pick, went scoreless with an 0 for 6 night, yet the Jayhawks had two seniors put up monster numbers and a rookie drop 10 dimes. Kansas can beat you in a variety of ways with a variety of players.

Anthony Lamb had 24 points while Ernie Duncan added 17 and Stef Smith 13 for the Catamounts, who face Louisville on Friday.

Vick hits 8 3s, has 32 as No. 2 Kansas beats Vermont 84-68

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — Lagerald Vick was 8 of 8 from beyond the 3-point arc and scored a career-high 32 points, Udoka Azubuike added 23 points and 10 rebounds, and second-ranked Kansas slogged its way to an 84-68 victory over Vermont on Monday night.

The Jayhawks (2-0) were jumped by Duke for the top spot in the AP poll earlier in the day, even though they beat then-No. 10 Michigan State in the Champions Classic last week. And for most of their game against the Catamounts (1-1), they did little to prove the voters wrong.

Kansas led just 40-36 at halftime before two big runs allowed coach Bill Self to breathe easy.

Anthony Lamb had 24 points, Ernie Duncan added 17 and Stef Smith scored 13 for the Catamounts, who have lost nine straight to ranked teams dating to a win over Boston College in 2006.

The Catamounts looked as if that streak might end when they went on an early 18-4 run, hitting a series of quick 3-pointers while double-teaming Azubuike on defense whenever he got the ball.

The Jayhawks’ 7-footer still muscled his way to 12 first-half points.

But while the Catamounts sent waves of bodies at Azubuike inside, and made fellow Kansas forward Dedric Lawson a non-factor, they didn’t account for Vick on the perimeter.

After struggling mightily in the Jayhawks’ season-opening win over the Spartans, Vick poured in four first-half 3s and piled up 16 points. Most of them came while the Jayhawks struggled to run offense through their two freshman guards, Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes.

Eventually, the Jayhawks’ depth and talent wore down Vermont.

It was 44-40 before Azubuike added another of his rim-rattling dunks and then scored on a putback. Vick followed a jumper with his sixth 3-pointer and added his seventh a couple of minutes later as the Jayhawks’ lead swelled to 61-45 midway through the second half.

Vermont went on one last run to get its deficit under 10, but Azubuike added two more baskets and Vick curled in his eighth 3-pointer. That matched Mario Chalmers for the most in the Self era at Kansas and left Vick trailing only Terry Brown, who hit 11 in a game in 1991.

Vick finished 12 of 14 from the field in helping Kansas win its 46th straight home opener.

BIG PICTURE

Vermont: The favorites to win America East did nothing to diminish their outlook, standing toe-to-toe with the reigning Big 12 champs for nearly 30 minutes. In a league where they should match up better physically, keep an eye on Vermont to roll toward another NCAA Tournament appearance.

Kansas: Lawson followed his excellent debut against the Spartans, when he had 20 points and 14 boards, with a dud at the Phog. The transfer from Memphis and the Big 12’s preseason player of the year was held scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting.

No. 7 North Carolina beats Stanford 90-72 in 1st home game

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Kenny Williams scored 12 points after starting the season by missing his first 10 shots, and No. 7 North Carolina dominated the first half to beat Stanford 90-72 on Monday night in its home opener.

Cameron Johnson had 17 points to lead four players in double figures for the Tar Heels (3-0), who shot 60 percent in the first half to take a 52-26 lead on Luke Maye’s 3-pointer just before the buzzer.

Stanford (2-1) got no closer than 15 points after halftime.

It was a good sign for Williams, a senior starting guard whose 0-for-10 shooting start through two games included missing all eight of his 3-point tries. But he scored on a layup less than 90 seconds in Monday, then followed with 3 a few minutes later to finally break through.

KZ Okpala scored 16 points to lead the Cardinal.

BIG PICTURE

Stanford: The Cardinal won at UNC Wilmington on Friday night, part of an opening-month schedule that has them crisscrossing time zones with stops in the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis and at No. 2 Kansas on Dec. 1. Coach Jerod Haase, a former Kansas player and UNC assistant under Tar Heels coach Roy Williams, acknowledged Friday the slate is “pretty insane” but will prepare his players for handling road games. Still, this was a reminder of how difficult that can be, with the Cardinal starting 1 for 12 in a first half that quickly got away from them.

UNC: The Tar Heels opened the season with wins at Wofford and Elon, marking the first time the program had opened with two road games since 1986-87. One avenged a stunning December home loss from last year, while the other ended up being North Carolina’s best scoring output since November 2008. That bumped the Tar Heels up a spot in Monday’s latest AP Top 25 poll, then they built a big lead against a team picked to finish ninth in the Pac-12 before coasting to the finish.