My favorite part about covering college basketball are the stories that come out of nowhere.
Like, for example, a borderline top 20 recruit from Norman, Oklahoma, going to his hometown school, putting up Maravichian numbers and taking a team that second-to-last in the Big 12 a season ago and turning them into a legitimate national title contender and possible conference champ.
Trae Young is what makes college basketball so enjoyable for me.
And I swear to you, I am getting sick of writing about Trae Young.
It’s not because I don’t love the story and it’s not because he’s a bad kid. By all accounts, he seems to be a genuinely good dude. He’s also a hard-worker that is making the absolute most out of his comparatively-limited physical skills.
I just don’t know what else can possibly be said about him that hasn’t already been said, that I haven’t written ten times over.
He’s incredible. He’s putting up numbers that compare favorably to the numbers that Russell Westbrook is currently averaging for that other team in Oklahoma. His counting stats are ridiculous, as are his advanced stats; no one has ever used as many possessions as Young uses, and his efficiency on those possessions would be very good for a player that has the ball in his hands half the time.
This past week, Young went for 27 points, nine assists and four steals in a win over No. 8 Texas Tech and followed that up by tying a career-high with 43 points and setting career-highs with 11 boards and ten threes to go along with seven assists in an overtime win over No. 16 TCU. He shot 44 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three in those two games.
And it’s only January 15th.
So I better get used to this.
THE ALL-‘THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM
- LUKE MAYE, North Carolina: Maye snapped out of a funk in a big way this week, going for 32 points and 18 boards in North Carolina’s home win over Boston Colleege before posting 18 pints and 11 boards to go along with three assists and three steals in a win at Notre Dame.
- DENG ADEL, Louisville: Adel led the Cardinals to a pair of crucial wins this week, knocking off Florida State in Tallahassee and beating Virginia Tech in the Yum! Center. Adel averaged 21.5 points, 8.5 boards and 4.0 assists in the two wins, including a 27-point, 11-rebound performance against the Hokies.
- LINDELL WIGGINTON, Iowa State: Wigginton has been one of the best freshman in the country that no one is talking about. This week, he scored 27 points in Allen Fieldhouse in a five-point loss before putting up a career-high 30 as the Cyclones landed their first league win of the season over Baylor.
- CHANDLER HUTCHISON, Boise State: Hutchison’s phenomenal senior season continued this week as he put 21 points, 10 boards and four assists on Fresno State in a road win before dropping 44 on San Diego State at home. The Broncos look like Nevada’s biggest challenger in the Mountain West race.
- JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN, Hofstra: Wright-Foreman is now the nation’s second-leading scorer after the week he had. If we pretend that last Sunday night was actually this week, then Wright-Foreman averaged 31.3 points, 4.3 assists and 3.7 boards in three games. In six league games, he’s averaging 30.5 points and 4.5 assists.
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.
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.
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 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.
Nebraska received some important news on Friday night as senior guard James Palmer Jr. will be back for next season.
The 6-foot-6 Palmer had tested the NBA draft waters, but he decided to return to the Cornhuskers. After putting up 17.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game last season, Palmer is expected to be an All-Big Ten candidate once again this season. Palmer shot 44 percent from the floor and 30 percent from three-point range last season.
After transferring in from Miami, Palmer became the Huskers’ go-to scorer last season in helping Nebraska to a 22-win season and NIT appearance.
With Palmer back, Nebraska will have some legitimate expectations for the upcoming season, especially if the team’s second-leading scorer, Isaac Copeland Jr., also returns from the NBA draft process.