(AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

WEEKLY AWARDS: Kris Dunn’s big week overshadowed by Iowa?

Leave a comment

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Kris Dunn, Providence

Kris Dunn was the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year, but ever since Denzel Valentine went for 29 points, 12 boards and 12 assists, the Michigan State Spartan has found himself atop out Player of the Year rankings. That may end up changing on Tuesday, as Dunn kicked off Big East play in impressive fashion.

On New Year’s Eve, Dunn had 15 of his 20 points and seven of his nine assists in the second half as No. 12 Providence went into Hinkle Fieldhouse and erased a 13-point deficit in a win over No. 9 Butler. Dunn was totally unstoppable, just like he was two days later when St. John’s paid a visit to The Dunk, when he totaled 26 points, nine boards and six assists, the third time this season Dunn has gone for 25-5-5 in a single game.

Right now, Ben Simmons is the best player in college basketball and I’m not sure that anyone in their right mind would argue that fact. But Dunn, when he’s playing like this and given what he can do on the defensive side of the ball, is not all that far behind. There’s a reason that Providence is a top ten team. He is it.

THE ‘ALL THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM

  • Diamond Stone, Maryland: Stone was solid in a win at Northwestern, finishing with 10 points, but it was his 39-point, 12-rebound performance in a come-from-behind win over Penn State — when he scored 32 points in the second half — that got him on this list.
  • Mark Donnal, Michigan: Donnal came up huge for the Wolverines in a 2-0 week to kick off Big Ten play, averaging 21.0 points and 8.5 boards while shooting 72.0 percent from the floor. Michigan needs consistency from the front court, a fact that is all the more important with Caris LeVert’s injury.
  • Jordan Mathews, Cal: The Golden Bears had a statement week, beating Davidson, Colorado and No. 21 Utah in Berkeley. Mathews was the most consistent player for them, averaging 19.3 points while shooting 13-for-24 from three.
  • Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall: The Pirates kicked off Big East play with a pair of wins as Whitehead led the way, averaging 17.0 points and 8.0 assists.
  • Rob Gray Jr., Houston: The most underrated player in the American? Kelvin Sampson has a talented Cougar team and Gray is their best player. He averaged 21.0 points in a pair of road wins to kick off league play.
Iowa forward Jarrod Uthoff (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Iowa forward Jarrod Uthoff (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Iowa Hawkeyes

If you had doubts about the Hawkeyes this season, you weren’t alone. The reputation that Iowa has built for themselves is of a program with the talent to compete with anyone in the country and the inability to close out games. That was only reinforced when Iowa blew a 20-point second half at Iowa State earlier this year.

But it may be time to change that scouting report.

Iowa kicked off the week by handing then-No. 1 Michigan State their first loss of the season, the kind of win where the NCAA tournament Selection Committee won’t factor in that it came with Denzel Valentine injured. They followed that up by going into West Lafayette and knocking off No. 14 Purdue despite the fact that they trailed by 19 points late in the first half. And here’s the best part: The Hawkeyes won the Michigan State game despite a pedestrian (relatively, by his standards) effort from Jarrod Uthoff and completed their comeback against Purdue without having to rely on their star to do the heavy lifting.

All of those things are great signs for a team that suddenly looks like they’re the elusive fourth-best team in the Big Ten.

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Washington Huskies: The Huskies sit atop the Pac-12 standings right now. How about that? After a double-overtime win over No. 25 UCLA on Friday night, U-Dub followed that up by erasing a 22-point deficit in the final 14 minutes against USC. Andrew Andrews has been awesome awesomes.
  • Kansas Jayhawks: After cruising to a win over UC Irvine mid-week, the Jayhawks absolutely beat down No. 23 Baylor in Phog Allen Fieldhouse, winning by 28 points in a game that was really never in doubt. Kansas should be the AP’s No. 1 team in the country on Monday.
  • Oklahoma Sooners: The Sooners matched Kansas, setting up a potential No. 1 vs. No. 1 game thanks to a win over No. 11 Iowa State on Saturday. Oklahoma is currently No. 2 in the Coaches Poll, one spot behind Michigan State.
  • Villanova Wildcats: Like Iowa, there are quite a few people who have had their doubts about Villanova. After beating Xavier by 31 points, those people may now have an answer.
  • San Diego State Aztecs: SDSU has not looked like the program that has become a powerhouse atop the Mountain West under Steve Fisher. They kicked off league play this week and went 2-0. Does that say more about SDSU or the MWC?

SET YOUR DVR

No. 3 Oklahoma at No. 2 Kansas, Mon. 9:00 p.m.
No. 10 Kentucky at LSU, Tue. 9:00 p.m.
No. 8 Arizona at No. 25 UCLA, Thu. 9:00 p.m.
No. 23 Baylor at No. 11 Iowa State, Sat. 3:00 p.m.
No. 16 Villanova at No. 9 Butler, Sun. 7:30 p.m.

High school basketball player collapses, dies at AAU event

Jon Lopez/Nike
2 Comments

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

Getty Images
1 Comment

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.