Kevin Hervey, AP Photo/Paul Vernon

2016-17 Mid-Major All-Americans

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Before we get into the meat of this post, let’s hold the annual tradition of laying out our “mid-major disclaimer”, or how we determined who was eligible for this team:

The schools from the Power 5 conferences were excluded, obviously, as well as any program in the Big East, the American, the Atlantic 10 or the Mountain West. The WCC, with the exception of Gonzaga and BYU, were included, as was the Missouri Valley, with the exception of Wichita State. The Zags and the Shockers are top 25 programs nationally paying their head coaches many millions of dollars and recruiting like the big boys. And to me, BYU is still a Mountain West program that was forced to relocate because #football.

This is our plea: Don’t argue the semantics of who we rated as high-major vs. mid-major. That’s not the point of this. The point is to highlight the best players in the country that you’re probably not aware of.

So without further ado …

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POSITION RANKS: Lead Guards | Off Guards | Wings | Big Men

MID-MAJOR ALL-AMERICAN FIRST TEAM

ALEC PETERS, VALPARAISO

Alec Peters could have not appeared on this list. He initially declared for the NBA Draft before withdrawing his name. After Bryce Drew left for Vanderbilt, it would have been understandable if Peters elected to enroll in a high-major school as a graduate transfer. But the 6-foot-9 big man decided to stay at Valparaiso for his final year. In many eyes, he’s the best mid-major player in the country this season, ranked the highest by NBC Sports.

A well-rounded forward, Peters averaged 18.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game, shooting better than 44 percent from three (and that percentage was down from his sophomore season). He also led the Crusaders to the NIT championship game.

MIKE DAUM, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE

The Summit League race will be one to monitor throughout the winter. The Jackrabbits will be in the mix because of Mike Daum. The 6-foot-9 sophomore, who is certainly on NBA radars like others on this list, averaged averaged 15.2 points and 6.1 rebounds in his first season in Brookings.

MARCUS EVANS, RICE

The Conference USA Freshman of the Year burst onto the scene last season, averaging 21.4 points and leading the league in steals. Evans will likely be one of the top scorers in the nation, especially if he can improve upon his 30 percent three-point shooting. While he continues to put up the points — and being a pest on the other end of the floor — he could see an increase in assists per game, as he will undoubtedly have the ball in his hands on the majority of the Owls’ possessions.

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KEVIN HERVEY, UT ARLINGTON

Kevin Hervey was a breakout star through 15 games of last season. He was close to averaging double-double, putting up 18.1 points and 9.8 boards. More importantly, the Mavericks were 13-2 and held wins over Memphis and Ohio State while taking Texas to overtime. His season — and subsequently, UT Arlington’s Cinderella hopes — were dashed when he tore his ACL during warmups of a showdown game with league champs Little Rock. He’s still working his way back to healthy, tbut he 6-foot-8 forward is the face of one of the scariest mid-majors in the country, bringing back all five starters from a 24-win team. Texas and Saint Mary’s are on UT Arlington’s non-conference schedule, and should be on upset alert.

EMMETT NAAR, SAINT MARY’S

The latest in a long line of Australians to star for the Gaels, Naar, like Matthew Dellavadova, Patty Mills and Mickey McConnell before him, led one of the best offenses in the country, ranked top-20 in offensive efficiency by kenpom.com. The 6-foot-1 junior was first-team all-West Coast Conference as a sophomore, averaging 14.0 points, 6.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.

  • January 14th
  • February 11th

Mark those dates down in your calendar. Emmett Naar going up against Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss will be appointment viewing.

CONTENDER SERIES: Duke | Oregon | Kentucky | Kansas | Villanova

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 19: Makai Mason #11 of the Yale Bulldogs dribbles the ball in the first half against the Duke Blue Devils during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 19, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Yale’s Makai Mason (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

MID-MAJOR ALL-AMERICAN SECOND TEAM

EVAN BRADDS, BELMONT

This time last season, Craig Bradshaw was tabbed as a Mid-Major All-American. However, by season’s end, Evan Bradds was the leading scorer for the Bruins. The 6-foot-7 senior is coming off a breakout junior campaign, posting 17.6 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. He led the nation in field goal percentage, connecting on 72 percent of his attempts. Somehow, he only shot 71 percent from the free throw line. How many players shoot better from the floor than they do from the charity stripe?

TIM KEMPTON, LEHIGH

Entering his senior season, Tim Kempton is poised to win the Patriot League Player of the Year for the third time. The 6-foot-10 center averaged 17.7 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game as a junior. With several guards capable of knocking down shots, teams are forced to pick their poison: double Kempton and give up open looks, or let him go to work on the block. He anchors the Patriot League favorite.

MAKAI MASON, YALE

On the biggest stage, Makai Mason had a breakout performance: dropping 31 points win over Baylor in first round of the NCAA Tournament. Mason did average 16.0 points per game last season, but the reason for Yale’s success was its rebounding. It was among the best in the country. With Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod graduating, Mason is going to need to take over on a nightly basis. After spending the offseason working with the German National Team, Mason should be up for the challenge.

DALLAS MOORE, NORTH FLORIDA

The reigning Atlantic Sun Player of the Year was highly efficient on offense during his junior campaign. He averaged 19.8 points, dished 6.0 assists (to 1.9 turnovers) and grabbed 4.0 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-1 guard also shot 52 percent from the field and a tick under 40 percent from three. The Ospreys have won 61 games (back-to-back 20-win seasons) and made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament during Moore’s career.

JUSTIN ROBINSON, MONMOUTH

Despite several upset wins, Monmouth received more national attention for the four guys at the end of the bench than the five players on the floor. That’s unfortunate because the Hawks, who ended up being snubbed for an at-large bid, were really good. They should be the MAAC favorite again this season, with Justin Robinson leading the way. The diminutive point guard averaged 19.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists last year.

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17: Chris Flemmings #1 of the North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks reacts during the game against the Duke Blue Devils in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
UNC Wilmington’s Chris Flemmings (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

MID-MAJOR ALL-AMERICAN THIRD TEAM

ANTONIO CAMPBELL, OHIO

The senior forward averaged 17.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, shooting 56 percent from the field, en route to MAC Player of the Year honors. The 6-foot-9 forward has improved leaps and bounds from his freshman season (3.8 points in 9.6 minutes per game). His improved ability to step out and shoot (37 percent from three last season) only benefits a Saul Phillips’ offense that requires spacing for its screen and rolls.

CHRIS FLEMMINGS, UNC WILMINGTON

Chris Flemmings began his career in Division II. He ended last season as first-team all-CAA guard. Read more on his rise here. He averaged 16.2 points per game, 5.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 31.9 minutes per game. The last time we saw Flemmings he was putting a scare into Duke, dropping 18 points on the Blue Devils in a near upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

WILLIAM LEE, UAB

UAB returns four starters from a 26-win team last season. One of those players poised to make a jump should William Lee. The 6-foot-9 junior was named Conference-USA Defensive Player of the Year and earned third-team all-league honors. He was seventh in the nation in blocked shots, posting 10.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks in 24.8 minutes per game.

JEREMY MORGAN, NORTHERN IOWA

Northern Iowa, like Saint Mary’s, isn’t far off from joining the other teams in the “mid-major disclaimer” mentioned above. Northern Iowa is a solid program and should be in store for another successful season despite the loss of Paul Jesperson, Matt Bohannon and Wes Washpun. That’s because Jeremy Morgan, who averaged 11.3 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 48.5 percent from the floor and 40.7 percent from 3-point range, should take a leap as a senior. While it’s certainly an ending Panther fans would like to forget, Morgan showed a glimpse of what he’s capable of in the second round of the NCAA Tournament by scoring 36 points — of 10-of-20 shooting — with 12 boards in a double-overtime loss to Texas A&M.

OMAR PREWITT, WILLIAM & MARY

The 6-foot-7 senior is coming off a junior year where he averaged 17.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game for the Tribe. He’s truly hard to matchup with. He’s got great size for a guard at that level, which allows him to get to the bucket — and the free throw line — with regularity. Defenses can back off him either considering that he connected on 36 percent of his threes last season.  Chris Flemmings is the preseason Player of the Year in the CAA, but Omar Prewitt will compete with him for those postseason honors, as William & Mary and UNC Wilmington fight for the top spot in the league.

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has refuted NCAA allegations against its men’s basketball program in the wake of a federal corruption scandal, requesting that the highest-level violation be reclassified.

The university also is challenging that former coach Rick Pitino failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in his program.

Louisville filed a 104-page response last week to the Notice Of Allegations sent to the school in May. The document stated that college sports’ governing body seeks to ignore wire fraud convictions against several people involved in the scheme – including a former Adidas executive – by suggesting they were representing its athletic interests. Louisville’s contract with the apparel maker was a standard sponsorship agreement rather than a promotional deal, the response added.

“This argument is as novel as it is wrong,” the school wrote in its response. “Even if an institution has some responsibility for the conduct of its suppliers, that responsibility plainly does not extend to acts of fraud perpetrated against the institution itself.”

Louisville also seeks to have several second-tier violations reclassified even lower. The NCAA has until Nov. 15 to respond with the school responding 15 days after before a decision is made whether the case will proceed through the traditional Committee on Infractions or Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP).

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations states that Louisville committed a Level I violation, considered the most severe, with an improper recruiting offer and extra benefits along with several lesser violations. Those lesser violations also include Pitino failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The NCAA notice completed a two-year investigation following a federal corruption probe of college basketball announced in September 2017. Louisville acknowledged its involvement in the federal investigation related to the recruitment of former player Brian Bowen II. Pitino, who’s now coaching Iona, was not named in the federal complaint and has consistently denied authorizing or having knowledge of a payment to a recruit’s family.

Louisville has previously indicated it would accept responsibility for violations it committed but would contest allegations it believed were not supported by facts. The school also noted corrective measures taken in the scandal’s immediate aftermath, such as suspending and then firing Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.

Louisville also dismissed the NCAA’s contention that former Adidas executive James Gatto and amateur league director Merl Code represented the school while funneling illegal payments to recruits at several schools.

“The enforcement staff’s remaining allegations lack factual support and overread the relevant Bylaws,” the response stated, “and rest on the erroneous contention that the conspirators were representatives of the University’s athletics interests.

“For these reasons and others set forth, the panel should reject the enforcement staff’s dramatically overbroad theory, and classify this case as involving a Level II-Mitigated violation.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.