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The Perry Ellis All-Stars: Yes, these guys are all still in school

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Beginning in September and running up until November 10th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2017-2018 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Some careers never seem to end.

Some players seem destined to wreak havoc on your alma mater year after year after year.

Sadly, the career of Kansas star Perry Ellis did eventually come to an end after a decade or two, but his legacy lives on, now and always.

Here are the Perry Ellis All-Stars, honoring those players who, through some defiance of the space-time continuum, are indeed really still in school.

MORE: 2017-18 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

FIRST-TEAM PERRY ELLIS ALL STARS

MVP Grayson Allen, Duke: Allen’s junior year packed enough drama for an entire career, but here he is again. It seems like a millennia ago that Allen went from little-used reserve to Final Four star back in 2015 as a freshman, which even prompted some early entry discussions back then. He’s gone from the darling of a national title winning team to an All-American to a pariah within the sport, and he still has a year of eligibility remaining. Allen’s career and legacy will be one that’s debated for generations, which is fitting because that’s how long it feels like he’s been suiting up for Coach K.

Svi Mykhailiuk, Kansas: This is the most truly atypical selection for the Perry Ellis All-Stars, even if it does come from the alma mater of the team’s namesake. Mykhailiuk has been around forever, but he’s never redshirted, he’s never transferred and – here’s the kicker – he’s only 20 years old, four months younger than Josh Jackson and four months older than current Kansas freshman Billy Preston. Mykhailiuk, a Ukrainian national, became the youngest player to ever appear in the Big 12 when he joined the Jayhawks as a 17-year-old in 2014. He’s like that child star you’re shocked to find out is still in his 20s. Like Haley Joel Osment (yeah, that dude is only 29).

MORE: The Enigma of Miles Bridges | NBC Sports Preseason All-American Team

Jalan West, Northwestern State: When Jalan West started his college season, Barack Obama was still in his first term as president, Charlie Sheen was in the midst of a public meltdown and the No. 1 pick in this past June’s NBA draft, Markelle Fultz, was 13 years old. I’m saying the dude has been around awhile. West sat out his first season of 2011-12 due to academic eligibility issues, blew out his knee in the first game of 2015-16 and then suffered another knee injury last August. The NCAA granted him a waiver to make one last go of it, his seventh season at Northwestern State. What a run.

Cullen Neal, St. Mary’s: Back in November 2012, Neal committed to St. Mary’s, but ultimately followed his father to New Mexico, where the elder Neal was head coach. Then he made the nearly unprecedented decision to leave his dad and the school behind, transferring to Ole Miss after graduating with two years of eligibility remaining. But things did not go was well as he expected in Oxford, and Neal became the first-ever two-time grad transfer, ending his career where it was supposed to start – in Moraga with the Gaels.

Jevon Carter, West Virginia: Carter took over for Perry Ellis as the oldest-looking man – or the man with the worst hairline – in college basketball. He’s finally a senior and may end up being the Big 12 Player of the Year, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s time for Carter, who became synonymous with hero-ball after the way the the Mountaineers went out of the 2017 NCAA tournament, to come on home:


(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

SECOND-TEAM PERRY ELLIS ALL STARS

Devonte’ Graham, Kansas: It feels like Graham has been in the national consciousness for a decade. He’s a rising senior and a potential all-american on a Kansas team that seems destined to win another Big 12 title, which comes six years after he became a national talking point when he was forced to go to prep school because Appalachian State wouldn’t release him from a Letter of Intent.

Jalen Brunson, Villanova: It’s hard to believe, but Brunson is only a junior. After a tumultuous recruitment that involved his father’s arrest and a near-commitment to Big 5 rival Temple, Brunson helped lead Villanova to a national title as a freshman in 2016, a win that already feels like it happened a decade ago.

Al Freeman, N.C. State: Freeman started his career back in 2013 at Baylor, where an injury forced him to redshirt his first season. He became a consistent contributor for Scott Drew for the next three years before deciding to head east and graduate transfer to the Wolf Pack after he saw his role reduced as a junior.

Marcus Lee, Cal: Lee was a five-star prospect in the Class of 2013, enrolling at Kentucky alongside Julius Randle and the Harrison twins. After spending two years being the trendy pick to be a breakout superstar for the Wildcats, Lee left Lexington and returned back to the west coast, where he will now try to anchor a depleted Cal roster.

Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame: Colson is another all-american that feels like he’s been around for ages. I still remember his breakout performance against Jahlil Okafor in 2015 when Notre Dame snagged themselves an upset-win over the Blue Devils. For comparison’s sake, that game was the last game that Rasheed Sulaimon ever played for Duke.

Can Kentucky cure what is ailing them?

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For the second straight game against mid-major competition, the Kentucky Wildcats looked like everything but the team that beat No. 1 Michigan State in the season opener.

On Tuesday night, the Wildcats blew a 14-point second half lead and allowed Mark Madsen’s Utah Valley Wolverines to have a couple of shots to take the lead in the final three minutes of what eventually turned into an 82-74 win. This came just six days after the Wildcats, as the No. 1 team in the country, found a way to lose to Evansville, who turned around and lost to SMU at home Tuesday.

So things have been better in Lexington.

Much better.

But panicking over anything would be silly right now.

Because the thing that this Kentucky team needs more than anything else is the only thing that cannot be rushed: Time.


What’s wrong with Kentucky? We broke it down last week.

One of college basketball’s most annoying bits of coachspeak and cliche is the saying, “This will be a different team come March.”

Sometimes it’s accurate. Sometimes it’s a coach or a columnist trying to explain away the dumb mistakes that a team keeps making.

And sometimes, it’s said in regard to this iteration of the Kentucky Wildcats, who will be a completely different team in, what, two weeks? A month? Surely not much more than that. Right now, Kentucky more closely resembles a MASH unit than it does a college basketball. Look at this seemingly ever-growing list of injuries:

  • E.J. Montgomery has missed the last three games with an ankle injury he suffered in the opener against Michigan State.
  • Ashton Hagans has been dealing with some kind of leg injury that John Calipari hasn’t specified but that had limited him early on this season.
  • Nick Richards is still battling an ankle injury that has kept him out of practices.
  • Immanuel Quickley missed the Utah Valley game with what was termed a chest injury.
  • Dontaie Allen is still recovering from a torn ACL.
  • Kahlil Whitney appeared to dislocate a finger with three minutes left before popping it back in himself. He did not return to the game.

Do the math, and the Wildcats finished this game with six scholarship players, two of whom are not at 100 percent.

That’s rough for any team to deal with, especially when three of the opening night starters are on that injured list.

But the issue is magnified for Kentucky.

The Wildcats are not only incredibly young, but they also lack the kind of elite talents we typically associate Big Blue with. There is no surefire lottery pick on this roster. More importantly, there may not be a college All-American on this roster. Tyrese Maxey is the most dangerous scorer they have, but he’s shooting 28 percent from three, has eight assists and nine turnovers in four games and has looked far from the star guard he played like against Michigan State. Ashton Hagans and Nick Richards were terrific on Tuesday, but if they’re the two best players on this team that’s a far cry from Devin Booker and Karl-Anthony Towns, or John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis.

Hell, there isn’t anyone on this roster that is as good as P.J. Washington or Tyler Herro were last season.

At least right now. That’s the important part here.

Because, if you remember, neither P.J. Washington or Tyler Herro were as good in November as they were in February and March. They got better as the season went on, just like the guys on this roster will get better (and healthier) as the season goes on.

So when you put it all together, what you have is a team that we knew was going to need time to gel dealing with injuries to half their roster that is keeping key pieces out of games and, perhaps more importantly, out of practice. Don’t gloss over that. If injuries are keeping these guys from practicing, it’s keeping them from getting better, from learning their roles, from growing into the player they will hopefully be once league play begins. That is in no way insignificant.

Frankly, Maxey going absolutely bonkers in Madison Square Garden while Michigan State paired foul trouble with 5-for-26 shooting from three papered over a lot of these cracks.

We knew Kentucky was going to take their lumps early on these season and we ranked them where we ranked them anyway.

They are taking their lumps.

And if you are patient, they’ll look like Kentucky again soon enough.

No. 9 Kentucky gets another scare, holds off Utah Valley

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Ashton Hagans scored a career-high 26 points, and No. 9 Kentucky survived another close game against what should have been a lesser opponent, beating Utah Valley 82-74 on Monday night.

The Wildcats (3-1) dropped out of the No. 1 spot in The Associated Press Top 25 after losing at home to Evansville last week, and they had to overcome a late surge to hold off the Wolverines.

Kentucky led by 16 points early in the second half, but Utah Valley steadily chipped away until T.J. Washington’s 3-pointer got the Wolverines (3-2) within one at 68-67 with 3:26 remaining. Nate Sestina responded with a three-point play that helped the Wildcats pull away.

Kentucky was without second-leading scorer Immanuel Quickley, who sat out because of a chest injury. Quickley has scored 16 points in each of the last two games.

The Wildcats also have been without forward EJ Montgomery, who has missed the past three games because of an ankle injury. Coupled with Quickley’s injury, Kentucky’s roster has dwindled to seven scholarship players, leaving the Wildcats short-handed in practice.

Nick Richards had 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Tyrese Maxey added 14 points.

Washington led the Wolverines with 22 points, followed by Trey Woodbury with 17 and Jamison Overton with 10.

BIG PICTURE

Kentucky: The Wildcats are used to shooting free throws and averaged 29.7 attempts per game in their first three. Kentucky made 31 of 34 from the line against the Wolverines, including 14 of 15 in the first half. The Wildcats held a 46-27 edge in rebounding, including 34 on the defensive end.

Utah Valley: Just as Evansville did in its upset, the Wolverines spread the floor and forced the Wildcats to play defense in the open court. The Wolverines made 11 3-pointers to keep the game close.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Wildcats play two more games this week and could move up a spot or two with three victories, although games like this will surely give voters pause. The Wildcats don’t play a ranked opponent again until they take on No. 10 Ohio State at Las Vegas on Dec. 21.

UP NEXT

Utah Valley hosts Lamar on Thursday.

Kentucky hosts Mount St. Mary’s on Friday

Villanova’s Antoine medically cleared for game action

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Freshman guard Bryan Antoine has been medically cleared for game action, Villanova announced on Monday.

Antoine is a former five-star prospect that has missed the first two weeks of the season. He underwent surgery on his shoulder on May 31st.

“Bryan has been fully cleared to play in games and we’re happy for him,” head coach Jay Wright said in a statement. “He’s worked extremely hard in his rehab with Jeff Pierce and John Shackleton to get to this point.

“Our plan is to bring Bryan along slowly. He’s only just returned to practice and the learning curve is steep for any freshman. Bryan’s working hard to catch up and we’re going to do all we can to help him in this transition.”

UConn guard charged with evading police is granted probation

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VERNON, Conn. — UConn guard James Bouknight was accepted Monday into a probation program designed to leave him without a criminal record in connection with a September traffic accident.

The freshman, who was charged with evading responsibility, interfering with police, driving without a license and driving too fast for conditions, was approved by a Connecticut Superior Court judge for admission into the state’s accelerated rehabilitation program for first-time offenders.

Police say Bouknight smelled of alcohol and fled from an officer after driving another student’s car into a road sign near campus early in the morning of Sept. 27.

Under the terms of his probation, the 19-year-old from New York City must stay out of trouble for a year and pay the car’s owner for the damage to the vehicle.

“I made a terrible mistake,” Bouknight told Judge Hope Seeley. “I would like to apologize to my family, my coaches and my team.”

The car’s owner initially told police that about 20 people were in her apartment the night of the accident and her keys had been taken from a counter without permission.

She amended her statement Oct. 13 to say she had been drunk, does not remember giving Bouknight permission to drive the car but did not want to pursue theft charges.

Her family submitted a letter to the court saying it supported accelerated rehabilitation for Bouknight.

Bouknight turned himself in to police Oct. 3 and gave a statement acknowledging responsibility for the crash and saying he had been given permission to drive the car.

The 6-foot-4 guard served a three-game suspension and is expected to play Thursday when UConn (2-1) faces Buffalo in the Charleston Classic.

Outside the courtroom, Bouknight apologized and told reporters he’s learning to be “the student, best athlete, best citizen I can be.”

Dion Waiters seeks advice from Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim

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Dion Waiters returned to his alma mater over the weekend to connect with his college coach and “try to find solutions.”

Waiters is currently a member of the Miami Heat, but he was suspended earlier this month for 10 games after an incident on the team’s charter flight. According to reports, he suffered what has been termed a panic attack after eating edibles infused with THC. This is his second suspension of the season.

“I just wanted to come up and talk to Coach (Boeheim),” Waiters told Syracuse.com. “I know that’s a person who will always be there for me if I ever need anything. It’s a chance for me to come up, be around, talk to the coaches, things like that. And that’s important.”

Waiters was in attendance for Syracuse’s win over Seattle on Saturday and said that he is learning that what his former coach taught him carries some weight.

“I’m older. I understand much more what he tried to teach me when I was 18, 19. I probably was a stubborn kid back then and really didn’t understand at that time,” he told Syracuse.com. “I’m 27 and life is a lot different. Being here, talking to him, picking his brain.

“I’m pretty sure we’ve all been through situations before and Coach, too. Different situations, how he handled it. Just talk to him and try to find solutions.”