Weekly Awards: Kansas returns to form, Belmont star explodes for 42

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Craig Bradshaw (Getty Images)

Player of the Week: Craig Bradshaw, Belmont

It simply does not get any better than the week that Craig Bradshaw just had. In three games — all Belmont wins — Bradshaw averaged 33.0 points while shooting 58.2% from the floor and 58.6% from three. Those are absurd numbers, but they didn’t come against no-names. Belmont knocked off intra-city rival Lipscomb for the second time this season, following that up with wins against two of the country’s best mid-major programs in Denver and Ohio.

It still gets better. The win against Ohio came on the road, and Bradshaw just so happened to hit the game-winner on Saturday:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/uCOvSW0cNuo?t=1m24s]

Belmont looks like they will once again be a favorite to win their league despite the fact that leading scorer J.J. Mann has graduated. Rick Byrd always has a never-ending line of talented scorers coming through the ranks.

The All-They-Were-Good-Too Team

  • Nigel Williams-Goss, Washington: Washington won the Wooden Legacy on Sunday, and Williams-Goss averaged 16.7 points, 8.7 assists and 5.3 boards in the three wins.
  • JayVaughn Pinkston, Villanova: Pinkston led Villanova to a 24-point win over VCU on Monday, following that up with the game-winning bucket and the game-saving block as the Wildcats knocked off Michigan in the Legends Classic final.
  • Aaron Bacote, Old Dominion: Bacote entered Saturday shooting 4-for-25 from the floor and 3-for-13 from three. He had 20 points in five games. In a win over VCU, he went for 31 points, shot 8-for-8 from the field and hit four threes.
  • Wesley Saunders, Harvard: The Crimson picked up a pair of quality wins this week, blowing out Houston before scraping by UMass. Saunders was the star for both, averaging 25.5 points, 6.5 boards and 3.5 assists.
  • Melo Trimble, Maryland: Trimble averaged 21.3 points in four wins this week for Maryland, including 31 in a win over Alabama. The Terps also knocked off Iowa State in the finals of the CBE Classic.
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Perry Ellis (AP Photo)

Team of the Week: Kansas Jayhawks

This was the bounce back that the Jayhawks needed. After getting utterly embarrassed against Kentucky in the Champions Classic, Kansas went down to the Old Spice Classic in Orlando and picked up three wins, including a hard fought victory over a good Michigan State team. Perry Ellis led the way, averaging 19.3 points and 9.0 boards, and Cliff Alexander started to looked like the Cliff Alexander that was a top five recruit.

Kansas still has a ways to go, however. Frank Mason looks like he’s coming along at the point, and Svi Mykhailiuk is probably the best option on the wing. But until Wayne Selden works through his shooting issues and Devonte’ Graham and Kelly Oubre find a way to be significant contributors, this team can only go so far.

They were good, too

  • Arizona Wildcats: The Wildcats may not have hit their stride yet offensively, but this group sure does know how to defend and how to rebound. They won the Maui Invitational with a win over SDSU in the title game.
  • Wisconsin Badgers: The Badgers won the Battle 4 Atlantis, the nation’s best early-season tournament, with impressive wins over Georgetown and Oklahoma. But they didn’t get to play against North Carolina, who was the second-best team in the field.
  • Butler Bulldogs: Was there a bigger surprise this week that seeing Butler return to form? The Bulldogs knocked off North Carolina and Georgetown in Atlantis.
  • Northern Iowa Panthers: Northern Iowa looks like they be ready to give Wichita State a fight in the Missouri Valley. They are now 7-0 on the season with wins over Virginia Tech, Northwestern and Richmond. They haven’t allowed more than 55 points since that overtime win over Stephen F. Austin.
  • Ole Miss Rebels: Ole miss had an ugly loss to kick off the season, but they’ve bounced back. Wins over Creighton and Cincinnati this week helped that.
  • Colorado State Rams: The Great Alaska Shootout isn’t as good as it once was, but the Rams still notched a trio of nice wins en route to the title.
  • Seton Hall Pirates: Seton Hall won the Paradise Jam, which wasn’t all that noteworthy. But they did beat George Washington in Newark on Saturday, which was.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.