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Player of the Year Power Rankings: A new Duke player tops the list, while three preseason all-americans fall out

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The latest edition of the only Player of the Year Power Rankings that you need to be paying attention to.

The player that was No. 1 in last week’s rankings is no longer in our top ten.

That’s what happens when you shoot 26 percent from three over a five-game stretch and struggle as another player on your team goes absolutely bonkers in the most riveting week of regular season college basketball in years.

What may be crazier is that players No. 4 and 5 from last week’s rankings are no longer on this list, either.

Allonzo Trier and Arizona fell off a cliff in the Bahamas, while Miles Bridges has been dealing with an ankle injury that has kept him from making much of an impact.

The result is that a freshman has climbed to the top while being chased down by four upperclassmen and a freshman having a season that we have literally never seen before.

1. MARVIN BAGLEY III, Duke: For the second straight week, we have a Duke player atop our Player of the Year rankings.

Only …

This week’s Duke player is different than last week’s Duke player, and that’s because Marvin Bagley III took over for the Blue Devils twice in the span of three days to lead them to wins against Texas and No. 6 Florida.

On the season, Bagley is now averaging 22.3 points and 11.3 boards through eight games despite the fact that, in one of those games, he was pulled midway through the first half with an eye injury. He has six double-doubles on the season, four 20-and-10 games and two 30-and-15 performances. He went for 34 points and 15 boards to lead Duke back from down 16 in the second half to beat Texas in overtime and, two nights later, had 30 points and 15 boards as he helped Duke erase a 17 point deficit in the final 10 minutes against Florida.

Through the first two-and-a-half weeks of the season, Bagley has proven to be the most dominant big man in college basketball and the best player on the best team in the country. That is a good combination of things to be.

2. JORDAN MURPHY, Minnesota: Minnesota has played seven games this season. Murphy has a double-double in all seven of them. He’s gone for 20-and-10 in four of those games, and if it wasn’t for Saturday’s matchup with No. 25 Alabama going utterly and completely off the rails, then Murphy would have probably ended up getting there again; he had 19 points and 12 boards in the first half, the biggest reason that the Golden Gophers were up by 17 points and cruising when things got weird.

There’s nothing pretty about Murphy’s game. He’s the best junkyard dog in the country. He attacks the glass, he finishes everything around the rim, he’ll out-tough anyone. This is who he’s been forever, but he finally found the motor to back his talent up. The results speak for themselves.

3. BONZIE COLSON, Notre Dame: Colson has continued to quietly go about his business, anchoring an offense that has vaulted the Irish into the top five of the AP Poll. After finishing last season as a second-team all-american, Colson is now averaging up over 20 points. He is the piece that Notre Dame’s offense orbits around. His ability to score one-on-one combined with the fact that the Irish have about 400 players around him that can shoot threes makes them so hard-to-guard. Ask Wichita State. Colson had 25 points and 11 boards as Notre Dame erased a 14-point halftime deficit in the Maui Invitational title game.

4. JALEN BRUNSON, Villanova: We entered the season expecting Brunson to separate himself as the best point guard in college basketball, and he has done just that. He’s leading the Wildcats in scoring while shooting nearly 48 percent from three as a junior. The one problem with placing Brunson this high at this point in the season is that we don’t really know how good Villanova is just yet. They won the Battle 4 Atlantis, but thanks to the dumpster fire that was Arizona, the best team they beat in the event was Tennessee. We may not get a real sense of just how good the Wildcats are until they square off with Gonzaga in the Jimmy V Classic.

Chris Chiozza (Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

5. CHRIS CHIOZZA, Florida: Florida is this year’s UCLA. They had moderate preseason expectations, and after putting up massive numbers against poor competition early, they proved themselves to be as dangerous and entertaining as anyone in the country when they started to play real teams. Chiozza is Lonzo Ball in this narrative, the engine that makes the Florida offense run.

But like UCLA, I’m not quite ready to fully jump on the bandwagon just yet. We need to see whether or not defense is going to be an issue for a team that doesn’t really have all that much size, and we need to see what happens to them when those threes stop falling at the rate they’re falling. But that’s neither here nor there when it comes to Chiozza, who has gone from an underlooked piece on last year’s to one of the best at his position in the country.

6. TRAE YOUNG, Oklahoma: I’m still not quite sure just how good Oklahoma is going to end up being this season, but I am sure that Young is going to end up being the most productive point guard in college basketball. Through five games, Young is averaging 28.2 points, 8.6 assists, 4.2 boards and 2.2 steals. He’s even blocked three shots. He’s using 36 percent of Oklahoma’s offensive possessions while posting an offensive rating of 127.5, which is an insane level of efficiency on that kind of usage. Here is how Young’s start compares to other players that have had similarly insane statistical seasons:

Since 2004, there has not been a single player with a usage rate of 36.0 and an offensive rating anywhere near the 127.5 that Young is putting up. If he keeps this pace up – he probably won’t, mind you – he’ll be the first player since 1992 to average 28 points and eight assists.

While his raw numbers are not as impressive – Sexton is averaging 25.2 points and 4.4 assists after going for 40 against Minnesota – but his advance statistics are just as insane as Young’s are.

 

7. TRA HOLDER, Arizona State: Arizona State has quite a bit in common with Florida in the sense that their current lofty record and media bandwagon is a direct result of having a roster loaded with talented, thrilling guards and a run of lights-out shooting. Holder personifies that. He’s currently averaging 23.3 points, 6.0 boards and 5.5 assists while shooting 50 percent from three on nearly seven attempts per game. He’s coming off of a 40-point outburst in a blowout win over No. 15 Xavier, and he’s one of two Sun Devils averaging better than 19.5 points and five assists. We’ll see how long it lasts, but for now, Holder deserves all the attention he’s getting.

8. TREVON BLUIETT, Xavier: Bluiett and Xavier had a dud last weekend, getting smoked by an Arizona State team that couldn’t miss. Bluiett did not play great in that game, but he is still having a fantastic start to the season, averaging 21.3 points and 3.3 assists while still shooting better than 50 percent from three.

9. MANU LECOMTE, Baylor: Lecomte was a decoy in Baylor’s win over Creighton in the title game of the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City. But he’s still be the best player for a Baylor team that looks like they will once again be a top 20 program.

10. COLLIN SEXTON, Alabama: See above.

Arizona releases non-conference schedule

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A trip to Maui, a home date against Baylor and trips to UConn and Alabama highlight Arizona’s non-conference schedule, which the school released Thursday, this season.

Despite losing nearly the entirety of last year’s talented-but-troubled group, Sean Miller still scheduled aggressively. The first test will come the week of Thanksgiving in Hawaii at the Maui Invitational. It’s an extremely competitive field with Duke, Auburn, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Illinois, San Diego State and Xavier. The bracket for the event has yet to be released.

The Wildcats travel to Storrs to face UConn in Dan Hurley’s first season on Dec. 2, and then a week later visit Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

The marquee home game will be Saturday, Dec. 16, when Scott Drew and Baylor come to Tucson.

Here’s the full schedule:

Day Date Opponent Location

Sunday Nov. 11 Cal Poly Tucson, Ariz.

Wednesday Nov. 14 UTEP Tucson, Ariz.

Monday Nov. 19 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Tuesday Nov. 20 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Wednesday Nov. 21 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Wednesday Nov. 28 Texas Southern Tucson, Ariz.

Sunday Dec. 2 at UConn Hartford, Conn.

Thursday Dec. 6 Utah Valley Tucson, Ariz.

Sunday Dec. 9 at Alabama Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Saturday Dec. 15 Baylor Tucson, Ariz.

Wednesday Dec. 19 Montana Tucson, Ariz.

Saturday Dec. 22 UC Davis Tucson, Ariz.

Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. is the posterchild for both sides of the one-and-done debate

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The NBA’s age-limit seems all but assured to disappear at some point.

The NBA sent out a memo this spring indicating that the age limit, the restriction of players under the age of 19 being drafted by NBA teams that created the one-and-done rule in college basketball, will be in effect through at least the 2021 draft. Last week reports suggested that the 2022 draft is more likely. The question isn’t if the rule will be changed, but when, which will be sure to create a contentious debate in the coming years over whether or not the one-and-done rule, which will have sent more than 100 stars through the college basketball ranks since its 2007 inception, was actually a good one.

If you’ve read this space over the years, you should know my stance by now: I’m staunchly against the idea of those in power — who are often old, rich and white — creating barriers to entry for young, often black, people from being able to capitalize monetarily on their value. It’s why I believe amateurism in college sports is reprehensible, and it’s why, with that rule in mind, I believe that the one-and-done rule should be abolished.

But I’m also not naïve.

Three months before the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball opened the eyes of some folks that wanted to remain in the dark I took a deep-dive into amateurism, the one-and-done rule and why going to college was still a pretty damn good option for college kids even with the knowledge that the money they accept could get them into trouble.

Read that before you read this, because I’m not here to today to talk about whether or not the one-and-done rule works.

I’m here to talk about Michael Porter Jr., who has managed to become the posterchild for people on both sides of this debate.

Heading into his freshman season at Missouri, Porter was considered by many to be a contender, if not the favorite, for the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. A 6-foot-11 athlete that plays the wing, that in theory has the tools to be a multi-positional defender and that is known for his ability to shoot the rock? Of course he’s going to ride that hype train in an NBA dominated by small-ball, pace-and-space and 7-footers trying to be Kevin Durant.

We all know what happened.

Porter had surgery on his back in November. He tried to return in March and it was clear he wasn’t back to being himself. He went through some workouts this spring, but suffered setbacks — at one point he reportedly couldn’t get out of bed — and has since undergone a second surgery on his back, according to a report for NBA.com.

That surgery came after Porter fell all the way to 14th in June’s draft, after Boston College’s Jerome Robinson.

If you’re an advocate for the players, Porter is the perfect example of everything that is wrong with the one-and-done rule. He lost nearly $20 million in guaranteed money dropping from the No. 1 pick to the No. 14 pick, which bloated NBA salaries might have made you forget is, quite literally, a fortune. You could make the argument that, if his back was so messed up, he would have fallen in the draft once NBA teams got a glance at his medicals, but he also could have withheld those medicals. He’s not required to give anyone anything pre-draft, and also ignores the red flags that were raised as intel leaked out about the kind of teammate he was at Missouri. Would he have been drafted higher than 14 had people close to the Missouri program called him something other than entitled and arrogant? Maybe? Probably?

Porter is the perfect example of the risk, for players, that comes with giving NBA decision-makers more information to make a decision.

And he’s also precisely why NBA owners wanted this rule in the first place, and why they likely wouldn’t complain about keeping players in college for another year if they could get that rule passed.

The one-and-done rule exists because NBA owners were tired of drafting high school kids that they couldn’t properly evaluate. Giving them a year to compete in college, where they play on national television every night against 22-year olds that have been coached by some great basketball minds, gives owners more data to analyze. Can the kid play a role? What happens when they play people the same size with comparable athleticism? Can they handle the rigors of league play? In Porter’s case, are they actually healthy?

Owners also didn’t want to give an 18-year old millions of dollars and let then loose in America’s best party cities with NBA celebrity attached to his name, and they didn’t want to pay a seven-figure salary to develop these kids as players only to see them bolt for greener pastures when they hit their prime. By delaying things for a year on the front end they are able to keep those players under contract and reap the benefits of their investment for an extra year on the back end. In other words, instead of paying an 18-year old to learn, put on weight and ride the bench, you send them to college for a year and then pay them to, hopefully, help your team win a lot of games as a 27-year old.

But it’s the former that was arguably the most important, because so much can be determined at the top of an NBA draft, especially for small-market teams that can’t attract big free agents. If, say, Milwaukee doesn’t draft Giannis Antetokounmpo, would they ever be able to sign a player of his talent? It’s why Sam Hinkie developed The Process. Drafting accuracy is so important in the NBA (see: Warriors, Golden State), and by sending the best prospects in the world to college for a year, NBA teams believe they will be more accurate.

And I can’t blame them for that.

The NBA is a business, and that’s just good business sense.

It’s why I’m starting to come around on the one-and-done rule.

I don’t want to see it go because I don’t think it’s necessarily the problem. Don’t listen to what Mark Emmert or Condoleeza Rice tries to tell you, college basketball is better for having the likes of Marvin Bagley III and Deandre Ayton on campus for a year. NBA teams are probably better off getting another 12 months to evaluate those prospects.

The issue, to me, isn’t that the kids have to go to college.

The issue is that they can’t get paid (legally) in college, and that heading to the G League is, by just about any measure imaginable, a lesser option.

Porter was compensated with one-year’s worth of an education that he may never actually use for a season that cost him $20 million.

It’s amazing how much in the sport of basketball can be solved if we stopped pretending that players getting paid was a bad thing.

Clemson, Brad Brownell agree to six-year contract

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Fresh off of leading the Tigers to the Sweet 16, Clemson agreed to a six-year contract extension with head coach Brownell that is worth $15 million.

“I want to thank Dan Radakovich, President Jim Clements and the Board of Trustees for continuing to support my leadership of our Clemson basketball program,” said Brownell. “I’m extremely thankful and blessed to have the opportunity to coach at this great University. I’m also grateful for the outstanding young men I’ve coached and for the dedicated assistant coaches and staff who’ve worked alongside me the past eight years. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish, both on and off the court, and look forward to building upon the success of last season.”

Brownell was on the hot seat entering the 2018-19 season, but the Tigers, who were picked 13th in the 15-team ACC, finished third in the conference, earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16. Brownell will also bring back a team talented enough to enter the year ranked in the preseason top 25.

Prior to last year’s run to the NCAA tournament, Brownell had gone six years — since his first season at Clemson back in 2010-11 — without reaching the Big Dance.

Nevada faces challenging non-conference schedule

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Nevada will likely be a preseason top 10 team as the Wolf Pack have major expectations following last year’s Sweet 16 appearance.

With head coach Eric Musselman returning most of last season’s roster, while adding some key new pieces, Nevada has huge expectations entering the 2018-19 season. That means a proper non-conference schedule to challenge this team, which was released on Wednesday.

A Sweet 16 rematch with Loyola is one of the key games on the schedule as the Wolf Pack will head to Chicago for a game on Nov. 27. Nevada will also play some Pac-12 opponents with road games at USC and Utah and a neutral court game against Arizona State. BYU, South Dakota State and Grand Canyon are a few of the challenging opponents from mid-major leagues while the team also had neutral court games against Tulsa and either UMass or Southern Illinois.

It seems as though Nevada will only have a few cracks at top-25 caliber opponents during non-conference play, but this schedule doesn’t have a lot of bad games while also including a healthy amount of neutral games. Since Nevada won’t get as many challenges playing in the Mountain West as a typical top-25 team, they’ll have a lot of eyeballs on them during some of these games — particularly the USC and Arizona State matchups.

The rematch with Loyola should be another fun road test as the crowd should be rocking in Chicago for that one.

Former Mizzou tutor plans to reveal ‘full list’ of participants in academic fraud case

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A former Missouri tutor that admitted in 2016 to providing improper academic benefits to multiple Tiger athletes on Monday said that she has been named in a new Notice of Allegations and intends to expose more people attached to the investigation.

Yolanda Kumar tweeted that she is planning on releasing “the full list of students, classes and coordinators on twitter” at 6:39 p.m. on Wednesday, adding that she was dropped from the original NOA but was added back into the latest version after she refused to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Missouri responded on Monday by acknowledging they had met with the Committee on Infractions and that the result of the investigation will prove that they acted with “integrity.”

“On June 13, 2018, the University appeared before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions to review its investigative findings, and the Committee has since added a previously unnamed involved party and given notice of the Committee’s allegation to that individual,” a statement Missouri released to ESPN said. “While the University may not disclose the names of any involved student due to FERPA, we remain confident that this review will reveal that the University, as well as its student-athletes and staff, have shown great integrity in responding to the allegations raised. In order to protect the investigation’s integrity and in accordance with NCAA rules relative to ongoing investigations, we are unable to comment further any part of the process until it is completed.”

In 2016, Kumar told the Kansas City Star that she had been asked to offer special assistance to football and men’s basketball players, and confirmed to compliance officials that she had acquiesced, helping a dozen athletes. That led to the NCAA’s investigation, and as a result, a defensive tackle named A.J. Logan was suspended for six games.

Kumar also tweeted in 2017 that she was willing to sell the information she had involving the case for the $3,000 fee she needed to pay Missouri to get her transcripts from the school. On Monday, she tweeted that her debt was cleared by a couple from Kansas City.

All of this allegedly occurred during the tenure of former Missouri head coach Kim Anderson.