More than three weeks after announcing his transfer from Kansas, two potential suitors have reportedly expressed interest in the rising senior point guard Naadir Tharpe.
Providence and UMass are both pursuing Tharpe, according to a report from Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports on Tuesday afternoon. Tharpe, the Worcester, Massachusetts native, announced his transfer on May 1, citing he desire to be closer to his daughter.
After both endured extended NCAA tournament droughts, the Friars and Minutemen each earned a bid in 2014. However, Providence and UMass were eliminated in the Round of 64, ending the careers their respective senior lead guards, Bryce Cotton and Chaz Williams. Last week, Providence lost its other starting guard, Josh Fortune, to transfer.
Since the cause of Tharpe’s transfer is family related, he could apply for a waiver to be eligible immediately. If that were the case, and he were to enroll at UMass, he would fight for minutes in a back court which includes West Virginia transfer Jabarie Hinds, and returning guards Derrick Gordon and Trey Davis. If Tharpe had to wait until 2015 to play his last year of college ball, all three of those guards would still be on the roster while Rivals 150 floor general Luwane Pipkins joins the program.
Providence has to replace its starting back court from this past season, however, Kris Dunn, the top point guard in the Class of 2012 who missed all but four games due to a nagging shoulder injury, can make an impact for the Friars if healthy. Three-star commit Kyron Cartwright will provide Providence with point guard depth its needed the past few seasons.
Borzello also mentioned the possibility of Tharpe forgoing his remaining year of eligibility, and pursuing a pro career overseas.
The 5-foot-11 Tharpe averaged 8.5 points, 5.0 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game for the Jayhawks in 2013-2014.
Naadir Tharpe will transfer out of Kansas, the school announced on Thursday afternoon.
Tharpe was the biggest question mark on the Kansas roster this past season, and his role as the starting point guard heading into next year was the biggest reason that Texas has been mentioned as a possible favorite in the Big 12 in 2014-2015. Tharpe is talented, and he put together a handful of really impressive performances a season ago. But he’s not a leader, he never was able to take control of the team this past season and he battled severe bouts of inconsistency throughout his career.
When you’re the primary ball-handler for a top five team, you can’t make the kind of unforced mistakes that Tharpe made throughout his career in Lawrence.
There was also the issue of an inappropriate picture that included Tharpe that made the rounds on social media last month. Tharpe, however, said in a statement released by the school that his decision to transfer centers around his daughter, who is sick.
“Due to extenuating circumstances within my personal life, I will no longer be attending the University of Kansas,” Tharpe said. “My daughter has current medical issues that require weekly visits to her physician, as well as with a specialist. At this juncture, I feel it is best to be closer to home where I can assist and support in any way necessary.”
“Naadir and I have talked numerous times since he’s been here about his role and about his situation back home with his daughter,” head coach Bill Self said. “He’s told me many times how much he misses his little girl and she’s had some health issues that has certainly made it difficult for him to be away from her for this extended period of time. She’s doing very well now, but Naadir approached me after the season was over about him wanting to be closer to her. This is his decision to try and accomplish that.”
If Tharpe does transfer closer to him Massachusetts home, expect him to apply for a waiver that will allow him to be eligible immediately wherever he ends up.
Tharpe averaged 8.5 points and 5.0 assists with the Jayhawks as a junior.
As it stands, Self has two adequate point guards on his roster in rising sophomores Frank Mason and Connor Frankamp, but the team is one of the two finalists for Devonte Graham, a top 50 recruit that spent this past season at Brewster Academy, a prep school in New England.
On Saturday night, No. 5 Kansas went into Stillwater and lost to Oklahoma State 72-65, and while it saved the Cowboys’ season, it more or less meant nothing to Kansas.
Nothing at all.
The Jayhawks clinched the outright Big 12 title on Saturday evening with Kansas State knocked off No. 15 Iowa State. If they end up losing out on a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday, it’s not going to be because they lost to Oklahoma State on the road when the Pokes were back at full strength. They may drop a bit in the polls, but since the polls are nothing more than a popularity contest, I think Bill Self and company will survive.
The loss isn’t an issue. Why the loss happened, however, is.
First things first: the turnovers. Kansas committed 22 of them. Naadir Tharpe had six, many of which were completely head-scratching and, for the most part, unforced. Andrew Wiggins had six as well. It wasn’t like Oklahoma State was pressing for 40 minutes, either. This wasn’t a case of the Jayhawks going up against a team like VCU or Arkansas, teams that build their defense around generating turnovers.
These were brain locks. Wiggins shuffling his feet before putting the ball on the floor. Tharpe leaving his feet to make a pass with no one to pass to. The most egregious? With Kansas down four and less than a minute left in the game, Tharpe gave the ball to Joel Embiid 40 feet from the rim. Embiid tried to throw it back to Tharpe, who wasn’t looking. The ball bounced off of the back of his head and straight back to Embiid. Given time, the Jayhawks will laugh just as hard about that play as I did when it happened.
Elite teams don’t turn the ball over 22 times. National title contenders don’t make those kinds of mistakes that often. It’s the reason why ‘Naadir Tharpe’ is the answer to ‘Why can’t Kansas win a title?’ every time the question is asked. This isn’t the first time this has happened; he almost cost Kansas a win at Texas Tech as well.
As concerning as those turnover numbers were, that’s not the biggest question mark for Kansas coming out of Saturday’s game.
Embiid’s back is.
He hurt it when he landed awkwardly late in the second half. He left the game and returned, but was not moving well at all. One of Smart’s biggest buckets was a driving layup that he scored over Embiid on a block that Embiid normally would have gotten.
After the game, ESPN showed Embiid walking back to the locker room very gingerly. He was clearly in quite a bit of discomfort, although all Self would offer after the game was that Embiid “tweaked his back“. Embiid missed some time earlier this season dealing with back issues.
He’s such an important piece to what Kansas does, obviously. If he’s not at 100%, Kansas is not the same team.
In today’s Roundtable, we will each make a pick as to who is the most important player in the National Title race.
Rob Dauster: This pick is easy: Keith Appling.
I’ve been saying it all season long. If Michigan State can get healthy, they’re going to enter the NCAA tournament as one of, if not the favorite to win the national title. Gary Harris is over the ankle issues tht plagued him earlier in the season. Adreian Payne’s foot has gotten better. Travis Trice and Matt Costello have gotten past what ails them. Even Branden Dawson is on the verge of returning from his broken hand.
The one guy that Tom Izzo is waiting on is Appling. He injured his wrist in a hard fall back in December against North Carolina, and it hasn’t been right since then. That was two and a half months ago. He even sat out three games at one point. So the question is: will Appling ever get healthy? Will he ever be the guy that looked like an All-American back in November? Because when he plays that way, it makes the Spartans that much better. He was their closer, their facilitator, finally living up to the billing he’s had since he came out of high school.
If he can get back there, the Spartans will have a great shot to cut down the nets in North Texas. If he can’t, well, they’re still going to be a contender, but as we have seen all season long, they won’t be the same team.
Raphielle Johnson: No. 5 Kansas has steadily emerged as one of the favorites to win the national title, with the growth of freshmen Joel Embiid, Wayne Selden and Andrew Wiggins being one reason why. But if the Jayhawks are to win a national title there’s another, more experienced player who holds the keys. That would be point guard Naadir Tharpe, who’s currently averaging 9.0 points and 5.1 assists per game. Back in November more than a few folks (myself included) questioned whether or not the Jayhawks would be better off with freshman Frank Mason at the point, especially when considering how he played down in the Bahamas. But as the season’s progressed it’s clear that Tharpe is the player best suited to run the show.
When Tharpe plays well he’s both distributing the basketball and scoring in an efficient manner, which makes the Jayhawks an even tougher team to defend. And in many of Kansas’ six losses Tharpe hasn’t played at the level he’s displayed for most of the season. In those games he’s averaged 6.0 points and 4.8 assists per game, shooting 37.2% from the field with his performance at Kansas State (13 points, ten assists) being the best of the bunch. Kansas has the talent needed to make a deep run, but they can’t win six straight if Tharpe isn’t at his best.
Scott Phillips: For me, it has to be Duke’s Jabari Parker. Doug McDermott is the Player of the Year, but does anybody actually believe Creighton has a chance to win a title? Duke does have a chance at a title and a lot of that will have to do with the play of Parker.
The focus for many will obviously be on Jabari’s offensive capabilities — and whether he can consistently score at a high level over a potential six-game stretch — but what about on the defensive end of things? Parker has to be able to score and rebound during the tournament while also having to face some of the best interior players in college basketball as a defender.
Is Parker up to the challenge? That remains to be seen, but as a lifelong Chicagoan, I watched Parker and Simeon win four consecutive Class 4A state championships in Illinois and you just didn’t bet against that dude when it came time for tournament play.
Obviously, the stakes, the level of play and the overall talent is much higher at the collegiate level, but Parker is a proven winner and will be a huge factor if Duke can make a Final Four run.
Terrence Payne: The former No. 1 team in the nation stumbled with back-to-back losses to Boston College and Duke last week. In those defeats, Tyler Ennis shot a combined 8-for-27 from the field. And while he still protected the ball — 12 assists to four turnovers — Duke was able to limit his effectiveness on the offensive end in the Blue Devils’ 66-60 win on Saturday.
What’s interesting about those pair of losses is that Syracuse had opportunities to win, and remain unbeaten. BC took Cuse to overtime, before pulling off the three-point upset win. The odds weren’t in the Orange’s favor with 10 seconds to go against Duke, but it was still only a one-possession game before Jim Boeheim became an Internet meme with his first career ejection.
Syracuse has gotten itself into a lot of close calls this season, and Ennis has been a key reason why the Orange have been able to prevail in many of those outcomes. Obviously the buzzer-beater against Pitt stands out, but it’s more so his decision-making and his poise down the stretch with the game in the balance. Entering that game against Pitt two weeks ago, Ennis had yet to commit a turnover in the last five minutes of a game.
Though, Ennis struggled from the field in the late stages against BC, typically a time where he flourishes. It was likely just a bump in the road in an otherwise impressive freshman campaign. A season which could end in Arlington for the Orange, if Ennis continues to thrive under pressure.
Matt Giles: Scottie Wilbekin is the reason why Florida’s offense is ranked fifteenth nationally. The junior guard, who is also arguably the team’s best on-ball defender, is no scoring slouch – 38 percent from beyond the arc – and his ability to create for the other Gators makes the team a favorite to reach the first weekend of April. Casey Prather can convert off the bounce, but the rest of the squad requires help to boost their scoring average.
The majority of Florida’s offense, when not in transition, is spent either spotting up or using pick and rolls, and Wilbekin is skilled at simultaneously understanding defensive spacing and how to best position his teammates to score. Nearly a quarter of UF’s offensive possessions are jumpers, and of those, 79 percent come from three, so Wilbekin’s passing acumen – per Hoop-Math.com, only 35 other teams are more dependent on an assist for a three point attempt than Billy Donovan’s squad – is crucial if Florida is to remain offensively efficient and avoid lulls, like during the second half against Vanderbilt.
Michael Frazier II, Patric Young, and Dorian Finney-Smith – three Gators whose percentage of shots taken is more than 20 percent – all are talented on offense, but without their point guard to position them in a perfect scoring opportunity, Florida likely wouldn’t be mentioned in any 2014 national title conversation.
Andrew Wiggins, Perry Ellis stand out in No. 6 Kansas’ win over Iowa State
Andrew Wiggins’ performance on Saturday night against TCU was seen as a step forward and rightfully so, despite the fact that the Horned Frogs have yet to win a game in Big 12 play. In scoring his then-career high 27 points Wiggins played with the assertiveness that many have been clamoring for, refusing to simply settle for what was being given to him by the defense and attacking in his quest to score points and put his teammates in position to be successful as well.
However as noted, that was TCU. The next test was to see what Wiggins would be able to do for an encore, and with No. 16 Iowa State visiting Lawrence the Cyclones represented a far more formidable opponent. And Wiggins rose to the occasion, establishing a new career-high by scoring 29 points on 10-for-16 shooting and grabbing seven rebounds to lead the 6th-ranked Jayhawks to the 92-81 victory.
The field goal percentage may be the biggest thing to take out of these last two games when it comes to Wiggins’ progression, as he’s shot 62.1% from the field in Kansas’ last two games after shooting just 39.3% in the three games prior. Not only has Wiggins been more aggressive but he’s also performed well when it comes to where he’s getting his shot attempts, and with that being the case things have opened up for some of his teammates as well.
On Wednesday night one of those teammates was Perry Ellis, who scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds with 15 of those points coming in the first half. With the amount of attention teams will devote to Wiggins and Joel Embiid there will be opportunities for others to step up provided they’re ready to take advantage. Ellis was aggressive in the first half, and his play was a key reason as to why the Jayhawks led at the intermission in spite of the Cyclones shooting 53.3% from the field.
By the end of the night all five starters scored in double figures, with Embiid also accounting for 11 rebounds and Naadir Tharpe dishing out 12 assists with just one turnover (which was a traveling violation). The Jayhawks have now won seven straight games, and their willingness to share the ball (20 assists on 32 made field goals against Iowa State) has resulted in improved offensive execution.
Up two games in the loss column over Oklahoma (who they’ve already beaten) and Texas, Kansas can further strengthen their grip on the Big 12 with a win at Texas on Saturday. Given the way Wiggins and his teammates have been playing not only are the Jayhawks shaping up to be the class of the conference, but they’re also developing into one of the favorites to win the national title.
In a game that has been billed for months — literally — as a battle between Andrew Wiggins and Marcus Smart, the two favorites for National Player of the Year back in November were fairly forgettable.
Smart was 3-for-14 from the floor, but as he tends to do, he put together an impressive all-around performance, finishing with 10 boards, eight assists and four steals while sparking an Oklahoma State comeback from a 47-30 halftime deficit.
Well, he finished 1-for-5 from the floor. He had three points, two boards and an assist. He took one shot after the 9:26 mark … of the first half! The most physically gifted wing in the country, one of the nation’s top prospects and a future top three pick in the NBA Draft, was a complete non-factor for the No. 15 Jayhawks.
Think about that for a second. Wiggins was thought to be the savior for the Jayhawks because he gave them a go-to guy, an offensive weapon that would be able to get them 20 points on a nightly basis and give them an option at the end of a clock. He was going to be the guy that Bill Self would build an offense around, the load-bearing shoulders that would carry a young and unproven Kansas team to yet another Big 12 title.
The Jayhawks are now 4-0 in the Big 12, having beaten their four biggest challengers in Big 12 play already — at Oklahoma, Kansas State, at Iowa State and Oklahoma State. Kansas State is the only team that currently sits within one game of the Jayhawks in the Big 12 standings. This is arguably the most talented team in the country, and they are peaking at the right time.
And they are doing it despite the fact that their Sports Illustrated cover boy has yet to be anything more than a piece to the puzzle.
That’s scary for two reasons.
First of all, the rest of the Jayhawks have found their groove. Embiid, who finished with 13 points, 11 boards and eight blocks, has turned into arguably the most dominant post presence in college basketball. Wayne Selden caught fire last week, sparking Kansas against Oklahoma and Kansas State. Naadir Tharpe is (finally) fully embracing the point guard role Kansas has been waiting for him to fill for two years. He had 21 points and six assists on 7-for-8 shooting on Saturday, which included three huge jump shots in the second half, the last of which gave Kansas a 79-73 lead with 35 seconds left.
But what happens if Wiggins is the next guy to come full circle? What happens if it finally comes together for him? Kansas already has full control of the toughest conference in the country. They already look like a national title contender. And they can still get so much better.