The Big 12 is absolutely loaded at the point guard spot.
Trae Young, Devonte’ Graham, Jevon Carter, Manu Lecomte. Barry Brown has been one of the most improved players in the country. Matt Coleman was fantastic this weekend for Texas. TCU replaced one very good point guard (Jaylen Fisher) with another (Alex Robinson).
It’s hard to differentiate yourself from the field in that league, but Keenan Evans has been just as good, if not better, than anyone in the conference not named Trae Young.
He had his breakout game on Tuesday: 38 points and three assists while leading Texas Tech back from a late deficit and hitting the game-winning shot at the buzzer in overtime. He followed that up with a team-high 17 points in a blowout win at TCU.
Evans is the head of the snake for Chris Beard’s club. He’s the senior leader, a defensive menace and the guy that has the cajones to take and make big shots on a seemingly-nightly basis. But my favorite part about Evans’ emergence is that he is not a Beard recruit. He was brought into the program by Tubby Smith and he has embraced everything that Beard wants him to embrace.
It is not always easy for a coach to work with a player recruited by someone else, and it is not always easy for a player to play for a new coach after the guy that recruited him left.
So credit to both of those guys.
They’re currently tied for first place in the Big 12 standings with a home game against Kansas.
THE ALL-‘THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM
- NOAH DICKERSON, Washington: In Washington’s biggest weekend of the season, Dickerson played his best basketball. The 6-foot-8 junior had 25 points and seven boards in a win over No. 9 Arizona just 48 hours after going for 21 points and 16 boards in a win over No. 25 Arizona State.
- ANTHONY LAWRENCE, Miami: Miami picked up a pair of wins after losing Bruce Brown, and Lawrence was one of the stars. He posted a pair of double-doubles this week, including 25 points, 13 boards, three blocks and two assists against Virginia Tech.
- SHAMORIE PONDS, St. John’s: Ponds had 31 points, six steals, five assists and five boards in a loss to Xavier, then followed that up with 33 points, seven boards, four steals and three assists — including two huge buckets in the final 75 seconds — as the Johnnies snapped an 11-game losing streak and beat No. 4 Duke.
- JOCK LANDALE, Saint Mary’s: In two wins this week, Landale averaging 30 points, 15 boards, 3.5 assists and 2.0 blocks. The Gaels are still sitting a game in front of Gonzaga in the WCC title race.
- TREVON BLUIETT, Xavier: Bluiett led the Musketeers with 14 points in a win at St. John’s and followed that up with a thrilling 31-point performance in a home win over Georgetown that included this four-point play that forced overtime:
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.
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.