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Player of the Year Power Rankings: Marvin Bagley III holds his lead, Devonte’ Graham climbs

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It’s funny the way that the Player of the Year race plays out.

Prior to the start of the season, Miles Bridges seemed like a lock to be the Preseason National Player of the Year. You combine how good he was last season with how good he could be this season and the fact that Michigan State was a preseason top three team in the country, and it was a relatively easy pick to make.

Fast forward, and a little more than three weeks into the season, Bridges isn’t even one of the names that I’m considering for National Player of the Year.

Now to be fair, much of that has to do with the fact that he dealt with an ankle injury that limited him some what, and the improvement of the likes of Josh Langford and Cassius Winston has made it easier for Bridges to play the background while he gets back to 100 percent.

But it’s still funny how that works.

In fact, four of our five Preseason First-Team All-Americans are out of the top ten of these Player of the Year Power Rankings. None of them are in the top five, which essentially means that we would have whiffed on the First-Team All-Americans should the season end to day. Now, in our defense, Michael Porter Jr. had surgery and Bridges got hurt while Allonzo Trier and Grayson Allen are still in the mix and Devonte’ Graham could arguably be ranked higher.

So it might all even out in the end.

But as of today, this list still has some names that may not necessarily seem like they’re in the right spot.

1. MARVIN BAGLEY III, Duke: Bagley’s place atop these Power Rankings likely isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so instead of once against talking about the numbers he’s putting up (22.0 points, 11.2 boards) or the performances that he’s had in big games, I want to note something interesting I found about Duke’s offense: Have they turned into one of those teams whose best offense is a missed shot or a bucket in transition?

Duke is in the 11th percentile nationally points-per-possession on spot-up jumpers. Despite having Bagley and Wendell Carter on the roster, they are only in the 41st percentile nationally in PPP on post-ups; Bagley scores a respectable 1.0 PPP on post-ups, while Carter, who has had more post touches, according to Synergy, than Bagley this season, is at 0.732 PPP.

Despite that, Duke is still in the 80th percentile in half court offense and, according to KenPom, a top five offense in raw efficiency. They also lead the nation in offensive rebounding percentage and are checking in at the 96th percentile in transition offense, which accounts for a full 20 percent of their possessions.

This is not a criticism. Duke is wearing down teams and winning games. It’s working.

But it’s also weird seeing Duke turn into North Carolina.

2. JORDAN MURPHY, Minnesota: We’re now nine games into the season and Jordan Murphy has nine double-doubles. Murphy is the anchor of the Golden Gophers, and the biggest reason that they look like they might end up being the second-best team in the Big Ten this season.

3. JALEN BRUNSON, Villanova: There are some people out there that will tell you that Villanova’s best player is Mikal Bridges, and honestly, the argument for him is pretty strong. Considering the efficiency that he is playing with offensively and the versatility and playmaking that he provides defensively, it’s a compelling case.

But Brunson is still the guy. Let’s forget the intangibles, the fact that he’s the best pure point guard and leader in college basketball this year and most years, for a second and instead just focus on what he’s actually doing on the floor. Brunson leads the nation in offensive rating for players that use more than 20 percent of their team’s possessions, and he’s posting those kind of efficiency numbers despite playing the position where he has the ball in his hands the most. He’s shooting 71.7 percent from two, 51.7 percent from three and 84.6 percent from the free throw line. Most people want those shooting splits to add up to 180; Brunson checks in at 208. He has nine turnovers in 238 minutes.

Should I mention he’s averaging 17.9 points and 4.5 assists?

We’ll get a real sense for just how good Brunson, Bridges and Villanova truly is on Tuesday night when they take on Gonzaga in the Jimmy V Classic.

Jalen Brunson (Elsa/Getty Images)

4. DEVONTE’ GRAHAM, Kansas: After going for 35 points and five assists in back-to-back games, Graham is one of three players in college basketball this season to average at least 18 points and eight assists. Trae Young is one of them. Marshall’s Jon Elmore – who is putting up 24.9 points and 8.4 assists per game – is the other. The difference? Graham is doing it for the No. 2 team in the country who just so happens to have seven scholarship players and uses a 6-foot-4 walk-on as their third big man.

5. TRAE YOUNG, Oklahoma: Last week, we showed you just how much of an outlier season Trae Young is having. He’s doing things that have never been done, at least not in the 26 years on Basketball Reference’s database or the 14 years in KenPom’s database. To provide a quick update, Young’s usage rate is up to 37 percent, although his efficiency took a little bit of a dip, down to 125.9. Still: no one has ever come close to that. Ever.

6. TREVON BLUIETT, Xavier: Bluiett snapped out of a mini-slump by pumping in 28 points as the Musketeers beat archrival Cincinnati in the Crosstown Shootout. I’ll let Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News handle the explanation for this one.

7. TRA HOLDER, Arizona State: The Sun Devils have only played once since Holder’s 40-point outburst in the win over Xavier, but he’s still averaging better than 22 points, six boards and five assists, although his three-point shooting percentage dropped from 50 percent to 48.8 percent. Almost had to cut him from the rankings for that.

8. BONZIE COLSON, Notre Dame: Bonzie struggled offensively in the last two games – partly because he had to deal with Jaren Jackson, partly because he was ejected for swinging an elbow against St. Francis – but I do think it’s notable that he posted five steals and four blocks in that game. Colson has become much more of a playmaker on that end of the floor this season.

Desi Rodriguez (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

9. DESI RODRIGUEZ, Seton Hall: After averaging 26.5 points in wins over Texas Tech and at Louisville, the latter of which included a game-winning bucket, Rodriguez is now averaging an even 20 points for a top 20 team on which he wasn’t even supposed to be one of the two best players entering the season. His rise into matchup-nightmare and go-to scorer for the Pirates has kept them from a slow start to the season.

10. JEVON CARTER, West Virginia: We all kind of wrote off West Virginia after their awful start to the season, but maybe we should start paying attention to the Mountaineers again? They haven’t lost since that blowout loss to Texas A&M in Germany, and Carter has turned into a caricature of himself, averaging 19.0 points, 5.5 assists, 4.8 boards and an absurd 4.5 steals. Like Villanova, we’ll get a better sense of where WVU stands nationally as they take on Virginia Tuesday night.

ALSO CONSIDERED: GRAYSON ALLEN, Duke; DEANDRE AYTON, Arizona; MIKAL BRIDGES, Villanova; KEENAN EVANS, Texas Tech; D.J. HOGG, Texas A&M; DAKOTA MATHIAS, Purdue; YANTE MATEN, Georgia; LUKE MAYE, North Carolina; SHAKE MILTON, SMU; KHYRI THOMAS, Creighton; ALLONZO TRIER, Arizona

 

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.

Michigan, Beilien ink five-year extension

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Michigan announced on Wednesday that head coach John Beilein has signed a five-year contract extension with the school that will keep him in Ann Arbor through the 2023 season, at least.

“I am grateful for the opportunity the University of Michigan has given to me over the past 11 years,” said Beilein. “Kathleen and I love Ann Arbor, our University, our fans and the state of Michigan. We will continue to work very hard in the future to have our basketball team reflect the greatness of this University. I thank Mark Schlissel and Warde Manuel for their faith and commitment to our coaching staff and basketball program. The future of men’s basketball is bright and I am excited to be a part of it.”

The deal that Beilein signed is a rollover deal, which means that the contract will renew every year. In other words, as long as Beilein and Michigan want the option picked up each April, he will have a five-year contract with Michigan regardless of how long he coaches at the school.

This is Beilein’s 12th year with the Wolverines. Last season, they won a program-record 33 games and reached the Final Four, losing in the national title game for the second time in six seasons.

He is already Michigan’s all-time leader in wins with 248, and, through 41 seasons as a college coach, has amassed a career record of 799-461. In 11 seasons in Ann Arbor, Michigan has made eight NCAA Tournament appearances with four Sweet 16s and three Elite Eights in addition to the two trips to the Final Four. He was named the he 2013 Big Ten Coach of the Year and has won two Big Ten regular-season titles as well as the last two Big Ten Tournament titles.

There was some speculation earlier this month that Beilein would be leaving Michigan after he had an interview with the Detroit Pistons, but he withdrew from that search after the news became public and it seemed likely that Dwayne Casey would be hired.

VIDEO: Former Michigan athletes Austin Hatch and Abby Cole tie the knot

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The life of former Michigan basketball player Austin Hatch has not been without its challenges, as during his pre-college years he survived two separate plane crashes that took the lives of his parents, a stepmother and two siblings.

Hatch’s scholarship offer to Michigan was honored by head coach John Beilein despite the impact that the crashes had on Hatch physically, and Hatch would go on to earn his degree and land a job at the corporate office for Domino’s. This past spring, Hatch was honored during the team’s Senior Day festivities.

By that point Hatch was already engaged to Abby Cole, who played volleyball at Michigan from 2013 to 2016. And over the weekend, the two tied the knot in what was a highly emotional day for all involved. Below is a video of their wedding day, which was chronicled by Derek Postma.

Congratulations and best wishes to Abby and Austin on their marriage.

Arizona lands Cornell forward Stone Gettings for 2019-20 season

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Arizona landed its first addition for the 2019-20 season on Monday, as an Ivy League power forward revealed his intention to join Sean Miller’s program as a graduate student.

6-foot-9 forward Stone Gettings, who averaged 16.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game at Cornell last season, picked Arizona over Stanford and Vanderbilt according to Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com. A second team All-Ivy selection, Gettings is on course to graduate from Cornell in December. Instead of using his final season of eligibility at Cornell, Gettings will sit out this season before playing at Arizona.

Gettings does have a connection to the Arizona program, as one of his high school teammates was former point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright. The addition of Gettings will give Arizona a front court player who can score around the basket and from the perimeter, as he shot nearly 37 percent from beyond the arc last season.

Gettings isn’t the first Ivy League player to make his decision regarding a new school well in advance of his being able to move as a grad transfer, as former Yale point guard Makai Mason took a similar approach. Mason, who missed the entire 2016-17 season with a torn ACL, announced prior to last season that he be joining the Baylor program as a grad transfer for the 2018-19 campaign.

Not counting Gettings, Arizona has four scholarship front court players on its current roster who will have eligibility remaining in 2019-20, in current junior Chase Jeter, sophomores Emmanuel Akot and Ira Lee and freshman Omar Thielemans.

Bill Self: Silvio De Sousa’s eligibility not in jeopardy ‘at this stage’

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One of the biggest question marks heading into the 2018-19 season for the Kansas Jayhawks is the eligibility status of Silvio De Sousa.

If you’ve forgotten, a player that is believed to be De Sousa was referenced in a second round of indictments handed by the FBI. In those documents, De Sousa’s guardian is alleged to have asked an Adidas rep for at least $20,000 to repay a rival apparel company for a payment that was made to secure De Sousa’s commitment to another school. Prior to a surprise commitment to Kansas, De Sousa was long considered a Maryland lean. His AAU program and high school team were both sponsored by Under Armour, whose flagship program is Maryland.

According to Kansas head coach Bill Self, at this point De Sousa is still eligible.

“Nobody at this stage has given us any information that he could be in jeopardy at this stage,” Self said.

This is not surprising.

The way that I would expect this to play out is similar to the way it played out for players that were referenced in the indictments that came down last fall. Kansas is going to string this thing along until we get to a point in time close to the start of the season, when they will announce that De Sousa is being held out of competition. It is better for Kansas to bite the bullet and play without De Sousa than it would be for them to risk knowingly suiting up a player that can be retroactively ruled ineligible.

That sucks for De Sousa.

The good news for Kansas, however, is that Udoka Azubuike is back, as is Mitch Lightfoot, while both Dedric and K.J. Lawson will be eligible as they add freshman David McCormack. There is more than enough frontcourt depth to withstand the loss of De Sousa.