Chase for 180: Corey Hawkins turns UC Davis into a Big West contender

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The “Chase for 180″ is back for a second year, and for those who may not be familiar with the project it’s our attempt to identify some of the best shooters in America. But what makes one an “elite shooter?” For some it’s merely the ability to knock down perimeter shots at a high rate, but that isn’t the case for all players. High-level shooting requires proficiency from three, the field overall, and from the foul line. 

“180” refers to the resulting number when adding a player’s field goal, three-point and free throw percentages, with the best shooters either approaching or surpassing that mark. 50 percent or better from the field overall, 40 percent or better from three and 90 percent or better from the foul line. This achievement has occurred more often in college basketball than it has in the NBA, where just six players (Steve Nash did it in four different seasons) have done it in the history of the league. 

We’ll update this list throughout the season, with players also needing to qualify to be ranked by the NCAA in each of the three percentage categories in order to be considered. In order to qualify to be ranked a player needs to have played in at least 75 percent of his team’s games and have averaged: 

  • five or more field goal attempts per game;
  • two or more three-point attempts per game;
  • 2.5 or more free throw attempts per game.

To read prior installments of the Chase for 180, click here

While UC Davis senior guard Corey Hawkins was a preseason all-conference selection back in October, his team was picked to finish seventh in the Big West by the league’s media. However to this point in the season Jim Les’ team has exceeded those expectations, as they’re 16-4 overall and part of a three-way tie for first in the Big West with a 6-1 record. And as expected Hawkins has been a big reason why the Aggies have been so successful, as he’s averaging 21.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.

Hawkins has been a prolific scorer in each of his three seasons at UC Davis after transferring in from Arizona State, but the difference now is that he’s a more efficient player. Hawkins averaged 18.0 points per game in 2013-14, which is a good number, but he did so shooting 44.4% from the field and 32.2% from beyond the arc. Through 20 games this season Hawkins’ shooting percentages are 51.2% (field) and 52.6% (three-pointers), and he’s also shooting 80.6% from the foul line.

According to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers Hawkins’ offensive rating is up to 122.2 this season after finishing the 2013-14 campaign with a rating of 108.3, and that jump is one reason why UC Davis has improved significantly on the offensive end of the floor. UC Davis is ranked third nationally in effective field goal percentage (59.1%), fourth in field goal percentage (50.1%) and first in three-point percentage (45.4%), and they’re ranked 25th in offensive efficiency (not adjusted) after ranking 23oth in that category a season ago.

With Josh Ritchart (12.4 ppg) being the only other Aggie averaging double figures and Josh Fox at 9.4 ppg, a lot is asked of Hawkins (who also leads the team in rebounding and assists) on that end of the floor. Yet even with the attention that opposing teams pay him, Hawkins has flourished for a team that has a realistic shot at its first NCAA tournament berth as a member of the Big West.

In wins over UCSB and Cal Poly last week Hawkins averaged 25.0 points per game, shooting 53.1% from the field and 64.3% from beyond the arc while also averaging 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per. UC Davis’ schedule down the stretch will be tougher, beginning with a road game at UC Irvine Thursday night and remaining games against Long Beach State, Hawaii (which gave them their lone conference loss) and a rematch with UC Irvine.

But if Hawkins can continue to play as he has to this point in the season, Jim Les’ team will be a factor in the Big West title race. And given his ability to shoot the basketball, Hawkins is the kind of player who can carry a team through a conference tournament.

50-40-90 Players

Jack Gibbs (Davidson)
51.7% FG, 41.4% 3PT, 90.8% FT = 183.9

Gibbs remains sidelined due to a slight tear of the meniscus in his knee.

He’s Close to 50-40-90 Status

Derrick Marks (Boise State)
52.7%, 54.7%, 83.8% = 191.2

Marks (23 points on 9-for-13 shooting from the field) was too much for Utah State on Tuesday, helping to propel Boise State to its first-ever win in Logan after losing their last 18 games there.

Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington) 
50.5%, 47.6%, 86.1% = 184.2

Harvey shot just 4-for-13 from the field in the Eagles’ win over Idaho on Saturday, and he’ll need a better performance Thursday night at Montana.

Seven More “180” Players

Corey Hawkins (UC Davis)
51.2%, 52.6%, 80.6% = 184.4

Jacob Parker (Stephen F. Austin)
55.6%, 44.9%, 81.8% = 182.3

The Lumberjacks still haven’t lost since late November, and Parker’s shot 50 percent or better from the field in each of the last six games.

Marc Loving (Ohio State)
49.1%, 53.2%, 79.7% = 182.0

Loving didn’t make the trip with the team Wednesday night, and the Buckeyes could have used his shooting as they lost by two at Purdue.

Alec Peters (Valparaiso) 
50.5%, 46.3%, 84.8% = 181.6

In the Crusaders’ three-game win streak Peters has shot 22-for-36 (61.1%) from the field and 7-for-15 (46.7%) from three.

Tim Huskisson (Northern Colorado) 
50.8%, 45.0%, 77.3% = 180.3

Huskisson shot 5-for-11 in a 2-0 week for the Bears, which included a win over Weber State on Saturday.

Justin Anderson (Virginia)
49.7%, 50.0%, 80.6% = 180.3

Anderson bounced back from his showing in the Cavaliers’ loss to No. 4 Duke, shooting 6-for-10 from the field (3-for-5 3PT) in a win at No. 12 North Carolina Monday night.

Rayvonte Rice (Illinois)
51.5%, 48.3%, 80.3% = 180.1

Rice was expected to return to the court against Rutgers, but he and teammate Aaron Cosby were suspended by head coach John Groce.

 

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
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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.