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Washington’s Isaiah Stewart enters 2020 NBA draft

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Isaiah Stewart is entering the 2020 NBA draft.

After only one season at Washington, the forward will turn pro, he told ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

Washington was a disappointment this season. The Huskies finished 15-17 after a 10-2 start and fell to Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament.

That didn’t stop Stewart from having a strong season. The 6-foot-9 forward was productive on both ends for the Huskies. Putting up 17.0 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game, Stewart was at times a force on both ends. Stewart also showed efficiency by shooting 57 percent from the field and 77 percent from the free-throw line.

Stewart was impressive during his final game of the season. Against Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament, Stewart ended the season on a high note with 29 points and 12 rebounds.

A potential first-round pick, Isaiah Stewart is still young for this NBA draft class as an 18-year-old freshman. With a 7-foot-4 wingspan, Stewart also plays bigger than his 6-foot-9 frame. Thanks to his high motor and capable skill level, Stewart is an intriguing prospect for teams seeking a frontcourt rotation player. There won’t be many better rebounders in the entire draft.

The latest CBT NBA mock draft from Rob Dauster currently has Stewart going No. 16 overall. At 250 pounds, as Dauster notes, Stewart will be able to handle NBA bigs right away. Although Stewart will need to show more of his jumper and defending one-on-one, he has actual tools to work with for the next level. Teammate Jaden McDaniels, who could also turn pro after his freshman season, was more of the enigma for Washington this season.

Washington’s 2-3 zone didn’t give us a good idea of what Stewart could be defensively. But the 2.1 blocks per game are an encouraging sign that Stewart can at least make some impact plays on defense.

USC’s Onyeka Okongwu enters 2020 NBA draft

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Following a standout freshman season, USC big man Onyeka Okongwu is entering the 2020 NBA draft.

The 6-foot-9 Okongwu made his declaration official on Wednesday.

A pleasant surprise with his overall production and consistency this season, Okongwu lived up to his early five-star billing out of high school. Early in his preps career, Okongwu was a known national prospect. As the big man for the Lonzo Ball-led Chino Hills High School team that took the nation by storm, Okongwu drew national recruiting attention as an underclassman.

Some believed Okongwu plateaued and didn’t improve much during his high school career. That led to Okongwu being ranked as only the No. 25 overall prospect in the Class of 2019 national high school rankings.

The rankings and perception didn’t matter once Okongwu reached USC.

Putting up 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game, Okongwu was a force on both ends of the floor this season. Okongwu registered back-to-back double-doubles to open the 2019-20 season. From there, the freshman established himself as one of the best big men in all of college hoops.

Shooting 61 percent from the floor and 72 percent from three-point range, Okongwu was efficient on offense. Okongwu will have to work on expanding his range for the next level. But at only 19 years old, there is plenty of time for that to happen.

Okongwu currently projects at No. 11 in the latest CBT NBA mock draft. Some teams could be intrigued enough to take Onyeka Okongwu in the top ten of the NBA draft based on his upside. It’s a notable climb for a player many had outside of the top 20 in his own high school class entering this season.

AAC, Big East, Pac-12, SEC among leagues to ban fans from conference tournaments

Conferences cancel tournaments
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Conference tournaments across college basketball will feel empty this week.

Coronavirus continues to grow as a public safety concern. As a result, conferences across college basketball are taking unprecedented steps. Fans will be banned from the AAC, Big East, Pac-12 and SEC conference tournaments beginning on Thursday.

These four power conferences follow the Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC, as well as numerous others across college basketball, amid growing public health concerns. Once the NCAA announced the 2020 NCAA tournament would be without fans on Wednesday, conferences aggressively followed suit.

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It comes as no surprise that additional leagues are starting to go the empty arena route. Some conference tournaments will allow some family and close team personnel. Others will maintain as much of a closed-door atmosphere as possible.

Coronavirus changing conference tournaments might only be the first step in how postseason plans could be altered. As coronavirus updates come through with every hour, it’s difficult to grasp how college basketball’s postseason will look the next several weeks.

Haldeman shot lifts Northern Iowa over No. 24 Colorado 79-76

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BOULDER, Colo. — Spencer Haldeman stole a pass and raced down the floor for a tiebreaking layup with 49 seconds remaining and Northern Iowa hung on to beat No. 24 Colorado 79-76 Tuesday night.

Northern Iowa defeated a ranked team for the first time since topping No. 25 Wichita State 53-50 on Feb. 13, 2016. The Panthers had lost their previous seven encounters against ranked opponents.

AJ Green and Trae Berhow had 20 points apiece to lead Northern Iowa (9-1), which has won three straight since losing to West Virginia 60-55.

Berhow and Green each hit five 3-pointers. Green’s last 3 with 1:10 left to play evened the score at 76-all after Colorado (7-2) had taken a 76-73 lead on a layup by McKinley Wright IV.

Haldeman then stepped in front of Wright’s pass and broke away for the go-ahead basket. After Green added a free throw, Colorado’s Shane Gatling and Lucas Siewert both missed tying 3-point tries in the final seconds.

Siewert scored a career-high 21 points to lead Colorado (7-2), which lost a second straight after opening the season with seven consecutive wins. Wright finished with 16 points.

Leading by a point at the break, the Panthers went on an 11-0 run to start the second half. The Buffaloes got back in the game with a 9-0 burst.

Evan Battey converted a three-point play to put the Buffaloes up 62-60 with 6:41 remaining, but Green and Berhow connected on 3-pointers.

The Panthers led by five points after a layup by Justin Dahl with 3:10 remaining but Wright hit a 3-pointer and Battey muscled in a layup, was fouled and made the free throw as part of 8-0 run that put the Buffaloes in front 76-73 with 1:39 left.

The Buffaloes went without a field goal in the last 5:44 of the first half and Wright hit a jumper that gave Colorado a 30-23 lead. Earlier in the period, Siewert hit 15 consecutive points for the Buffaloes to help Colorado take an early lead.

BIG PICTURE

Northern Iowa: The Panthers, prolific 3-point shooters, made better than half of their shots from beyond the arc (14 of 26) and that was enough to fend off a Colorado team that had leaned on its defense to get off to a solid start.

Colorado: The Buffaloes hallmark early this season has been defense but they let down on the perimeter, leaving themselves vulnerable to Northern Iowa’s prolific 3-point shooters.

UP NEXT

Northern Iowa: Continues road trip at Grand Canyon on Thursday night.

Colorado: Takes on rival Colorado State in Fort Collins on Friday night.

Stewart leads No. 20 Washington past Mount St. Mary’s 56-46

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SEATTLE — Isaiah Stewart scored 16 points and blocked five shots, Nahziah Carter scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half, and No. 20 Washington overcame an awful first half offensively to pull away for a 56-46 win over Mount St. Mary’s on Tuesday night.

Days after opening the season with an upset of then-No. 16 Baylor, the Huskies looked sluggish and at times lost at the offensive end of the floor, but they found enough scoring in the second half to shake the pesky Mountaineers.

Stewart was again a force on the interior as the freshman made 7 of 10 shots, mostly from close range, and was imposing defensively. Carter ignited a sleepy arena with a fast-break dunk midway through the second half and followed with a 3-pointer from the wing to give Washington a 43-36 lead.

The Mountaineers (1-2) wouldn’t go away, hitting five 3-pointers in the second half as they found gaps in Washington’s zone defense. Vado Morse finished with 10 points. Naim Miller and Damian Chong Qui both added nine points.

Washington had lengthy scoring droughts and struggled to run its offense without Stewart in the post. The offensive woes were an amplified version of what Washington experienced in the opener against Baylor. It took a late 21-5 run to pull off the upset, which at least for one game hid the question of how the Huskies will go about replacing 80% of its scoring from last season.

Defense won’t be the issue with Washington. It will be finding the right scoring options.

For this night, it was Stewart and Carter providing enough punch. Hameir Wright added nine points and seven rebounds.

Tied at 21-all at halftime, Washington jumped to a seven-point lead in the opening moments of the second half, but it was gone in a matter of minutes. Nana Opoku’s rebound and basket caped an eight-point run and gave Mount St. Mary’s a 34-33 lead with less than 12 minutes remaining.

It was the last lead for the Mountaineers, who were outscored 23-12 the rest of the way.

BIG PICTURE

Mount St. Mary’s: The Mountaineers can be proud of their effort in two games this season on the road against power programs. The Mountaineers led Georgetown by 19 points in the second half last week before watching the lead disappear late in an 81-68 loss. Mount St. Mary’s easily could have built a substantial first-half lead against Washington if not for its shooting woes. The Mountaineers shot 21.2% in the first half and were 2 of 12 on 3-pointers.

Washington: The Huskies will need to get more out of Jaden McDaniels. The prized freshman was 2 of 9 shooting. He did have nine rebounds and four assists, but also committed five turnovers.

UP NEXT

Mount St. Mary’s: The Mountaineers continue their early-season trip at Lamar on Friday.

Washington: The Huskies will face Tennessee in Toronto on Saturday.

Pritchard lifts No. 15 Oregon over Fresno State 71-57

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EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon’s roster is almost completely made over from last season’s Sweet 16 team.

As the No. 15 Ducks’ most experienced player, Payton Pritchard stepped up Tuesday night. He had 24 points with seven rebounds and seven assists in a 71-57 victory over Fresno State in the season opener for both teams. It was his 110th consecutive start.

“He’s one of the best point guards in the country, obviously,” said Anthony Mathis, a senior transfer for the Ducks who played with Pritchard in high school. “We have no worries with Payton.”

Chris Duarte, a junior college transfer and one of nine additions to the roster, added 16 points in his first game with Oregon, and Francis Okoro added 12 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double as the Ducks outrebounded the Bulldogs 45-31. Okoro is one of three returning players from last year’s team.

“I thought Francis set a good tone for us (on rebounds),” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “He did a very good job.”

Nate Grimes led the Bulldogs with 13 points.

Oregon took control with a 21-6 run to end the first half at a 38-27 advantage. Duarte had eight points as the Ducks broke away.

After Fresno State scored the opening basket of the second half, Oregon scored the next 10 points, six by Pritchard and the other four on assists by the senior to finish fast breaks.

“Our defense at the start of the second half was really good,” Altman said. “I was really encouraged by the start of the second half.”

Fresno State briefly closed within 64-55 with four minutes left before the Ducks put it away with free throws, finishing with 20 in 27 attempts.

“This was a good start for us, we had to compete,” Altman said. “I knew we’d have our hands full.”

BIG PICTURE

Oregon: In winning its 22nd consecutive home opener, Oregon made Altman the school’s career leader in coaching wins. Altman, in his 10th season with the Ducks, had been tied with Ernie Kent at 235 wins.

Fresno State: The Bulldogs have lost 22 straight games to AP Top 25 teams extending back to the 2002 season. They are 0-9 against the Ducks in games played in Eugene.

THE STREAK GOES ON

Oregon made only one 3-pointer in the game, by Duarte midway through the first half, but it extended Oregon’s streak of 3s made to 750 games.

UP NEXT

Oregon will host Boise State on Saturday in what will be a second tuneup game before the Ducks meet No. 14 Memphis in an anticipated top-20 matchup next Tuesday in Portland.

Fresno State plays its home opener Sunday against Winthrop, a game at which Paul George’s No. 24 jersey will be retired in a halftime ceremony.