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When is it time to talk about whether Wichita State is the best team in college basketball?


There is going to come a point in time where we, as college basketball fans and members of the college basketball media, need to sit down and have a real discussion about whether or not Wichita State is the best team in college basketball.

On Friday night, in a season-opening win over UMKC, the No. 6 Shockers barely broke a sweat. They were up 15 points before you could blink. The lead was 30 by the last TV timeout of the first half and, come the break, the Shockers were up by 39 points.

But UMKC isn’t much to write home about.

We’re not looking at them as a potential league champ and NCAA tournament team.

That is, however, how we’re looking at the College of Charleston, who Wichita State eviscerated on Monday evening in the Koch Center. The Cougars managed all of 11 points in the first 13 minutes on Monday, they found themselves down by 25 points at halftime and, with about 18 minutes left in the game, Gregg Marshall mercifully called off the dogs with his team up 56-24.

Charleston was a top 100 team on KenPom a season ago. They finished second to a very good UNC Wilmington in the CAA, losing to those same Seahawks in the CAA tournament title game. They return everyone of consequence from that group, including Joe Chealey, and are widely considered to be one of the best mid-major teams in the country this season. Not only are they good and experienced, but they’re coached by a rising star in this business – Earl Grant – who just so happens to be a Marshall disciple; he spent six seasons on Marshall’s staff, three at Winthrop and three at Wichita State.

And he was totally, utterly embarrassed by his former boss.

This is a Wichita State team that is still playing without Markis McDuffie, the second-best player on the roster, and has yet to really get Landry Shamet going, the best player on their roster. Through two games, their front line of Shaq Morris, Darral Willis Jr. and Rauno Nurger has looked absolutely unbeatable, and that’s to say nothing of the fact that the Shockers may just be the toughest defensive team in the country.

There is no question that this team is one of the nation’s best, a Final Four contender and probably the favorite to win the AAC title.

And while this may alienate the Shocker fan base, I still think that we need to wait and see on Wichita State, at the very least until they actually beat another team that is close to their level. Since the start of the 2016-17 season, which is basically the post-Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet Shockers, these are their five best wins: Dayton on a neutral, Illinois State on a neutral, Illinois State at home, Oklahoma on a semi-neutral and … Tulsa? LSU? Colorado State on the road?

We know that Wichita State is “for real”. I don’t even think Gregg Marshall’s worst enemy would be able to say anything else.

But before we can definitively say that this team is better than, say, Duke or Michigan State, Arizona or Kansas, even Villanova or Cincinnati, they need to collect the wins to back that up. That should happen next week, when the Shockers travel to Hawai’i for the Maui Invitational.

Win that tournament and we can reassess.

And until then, we can still talk about the one thing that anyone who watched Wichita State play this season is thinking: That the Shockers could very well be college basketball’s best.

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.