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WEEKLY AWARDS: Purdue and Miami shine, as does Denzel Valentine

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Denzel Valentine, Michigan State

Through three games this season, these are Valentine’s numbers: 16.3 points, 10.7 assists and 9.0 boards while turning the ball over just six times. The seven points, seven boards and 11 assists he had in a blow-out win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday was the second-best stat-line he had this week.

The best?

Those 29 points, 12 boards and 12 assists that he had as No. 13 Michigan State stormed back from a double-digit deficit late in the second half to knock off No. 4 Kansas in the Champions Classic. It was dominant, quite possibly the best all-around performance that we are going to see from anyone at any point this season. He scored or assisted on 22 of Michigan State’s 28 baskets, and only turned the ball over once in those 38 minutes.

[MORE: Draymond Green’s texts inspire Valentine]

Valentine was a popular pick as an All-American in the preseason, and he looks every bit the part through the first two weeks of the year,

THE ‘ALL THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM

  • Grayson Allen, Duke: Allen was sensational in New York this weekend, averaging 31.0 points, 5.5 boards and 3.5 assists in wins over VCU and Georgetown to take home the Legends Classic title. He’d be a shoo-in for Player of the Week again if it wasn’t for that six-point, four-turnover performance against Kentucky on Tuesday night. I told you it was too early to write them off.
  • Patricio Garino, George Washington: The man they call ‘Pato’ was the best player on the floor as the Colonials knocked off No. 6 Virginia at home on Monday night, going for 18 points and five boards. He followed that up with 18 points in wins over Army and at South Florida.
  • Shaquille Harrison, Tulsa: Harrison was terrific in Tulsa’s two games in the Paradise Jam, sparking come-from-behind wins over Ohio and Indiana State by averaging 27.5 points, 6.5 boards, 3.5 assists and 3.0 steals. And that came after he went for 20 in Tulsa’s win over No. 9 Wichita State.
  • Tyler Ulis, Kentucky: Ulis has been Kentucky’s best player through the first week and change of the college basketball season, and it was on display in his 18-point, six-assists, four-rebound performance in the win over Duke.
  • Wes Washpun, Northern Iowa: Washpun was the best player on the floor for the Panthers as they knocked off No. 1 North Carolina on Saturday afternoon, finishing with 21 points and eight assists.
  • BENCH: Jakob Poeltl (Utah), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Evan Bradds (Belmont)
Miami's Sheldon McClellan (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
Miami’s Sheldon McClellan (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

TEAMS OF THE WEEK: Purdue and Miami

No two teams in the country made as much of a statement as the Boilermakers and the Hurricanes did this week.

We kind of saw it coming with Purdue. The Boilermakers shot the ball incredibly well from three during the season’s first weekend, overpowered teams with their front court and did so before A.J. Hammons was able to play. Throw in the fact that Caleb Swanigan has been excellent in his role at the four and it was really not a surprise that this group rolled over Old Dominion and Florida in the Hall of Fame Classic at Mohegan Sun this weekend. Purdue’s ranking probably isn’t going to skyrocket — they’re currently No. 21 — because they didn’t beat anyone all that impressive, but it’s easy to watch this team and know just how good they are.

Miami, on the other hand, will likely go from unranked to the top 15, if not the top ten. That’s what happens when you spend a weekend steamrolling Mississippi State (who stinks), No. 16 Utah and No. 22 Butler (who don’t stink). This group reminds me quite a bit of the 2013 Miami team that won the ACC: They have tough, veteran guards and a slew of high-motor bigs, all of whom are totally bought into what head coach Jim Larrañaga wants from them. There hasn’t been a consistently more impressive team in the country this season.

I wrote a column on Saturday about how wide-open this season is and why it is that way, and that’s very much the case in the Big Ten and the ACC. As a result, while it is still early, I’m willing to say that both of these teams will be in the mix for their respective regular season titles. That’s how impressive they’ve been.

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Xavier: The Musketeers woke up a lot of people on Friday night as they went into Ann Arbor and knocked off No. 24 Michigan by 16 points. The Big East race looks like it is going to be a fun one, and at this point, it’s tough to imagine Xavier not finding a way to be relevant in that race.
  • Northern Iowa: The Panthers picked off a good Stephen F. Austin team during the Tip-Off Marathon and followed that up by knocking off North Carolina, the No. 1 team in the country, over the weekend.
  • George Washington: The Colonials picked up a huge win on Monday night at home over No. 6 Virginia, one that could very well have locked up their NCAA tournament chances, assuming they do the things they’re supposed to do this season.
  • Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane landed a key win over No. 9 Wichita State on Tuesday night, an impressive win that they followed up with two come-from-behind wins in the Paradise Jam.
  • Oregon: The Ducks have now beaten No. 20 Baylor and one of the nation’s best mid-major, Valparaiso, without their best big man and their senior point guard.

SET YOUR DVR

These are the tournaments to keep an eye on this week:

11/23-11/25: Maui Invitational, featuring Indiana, Kansas, UCLA and UNLV
11/25-11/27: Battle 4 Atlantis, featuring Gonzaga, Washington, UConn and Michigan
11/26-11/29: Advocare Invitation, featuring Wichita State and Notre Dame
11/26-11/29: Wooden Legacy, featuring Arizona and Michigan State

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.