Purdue Boilermakers

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Seven returning collegians among Team USA U19 invites

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USA Basketball is welcoming seven sophomores among its 34 total invitees to training camp next month ahead of the FIBA U19 World Cup in Greece.

Incoming freshmen and Class of 2020 will vie for 12 roster spots with Kansas State coach Bruce Weber helming the team and being assisted by Washington’s Mike Hopkins and North Carolina Central’s LaVelle Moton.

The returning college players garnering invites are Kessler Edwards (Pepperdine), Tyrse Haliburton (Iowa State), Kira Lewis (Alabama), Isaac Likekele (Oklahoma State), Trevion Williams (Purdue) and Bryce Willis (Stanford), along with Jayden Scrubb from the junior college ranks.

“The committee is excited at the level of talent that will be at training camp for the USA U19 World Cup team, and we expect to have a difficult decision trying to narrow down the group to 12 team members,” Matt Painter, Purdue coach and cahr of the junior national team committee, said in a statement.

R.J. Hampton, Samuell Williamson, Scottie Barnes and Jalen Suggs are some of the headliners from the group of players without college experience.

Sophomores

Kessler Edwards (Pepperdine/Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.)

Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State/Oshkosh, Wis.)

Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama/Meridianville, Ala.)

Isaac Likekele (Oklahoma State/Mansfield, Texas)

Jayden Scrubb (John A. Logan College/Louisville, Ky.)

Trevion Williams (Purdue/Chicago, Ill.)

Bryce Wills (Stanford/White Plains, N.Y.).

Incoming freshmen

Eric Dixon (Abington H.S./William Grove, Pa.)

Dajuan Gordon (Curie H.S./Chicago, Ill.)

R.J. Hampton (Little Elm H.S./Little Elm, Texas)

Justin Moore(DeMatha Catholic H.S./Accokeek, Md.)

Casey Morsell (St. John’s College H.S./Washington, D.C.)

Zeke Nnaji (Hopkins H.S./Hopkins, Minn.)

Isaac Okoro (McEachern H.S./Powder Springs, Ga.)

Onyeka Okongwu (Chino Hills H.S./Chino, Calif.)

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (IMG Academy, FL/Overland Park, Kan.)

Isaiah Stewart (La Lumiere School, IN/Rochester, N.Y.)

Anton Watson (Gonzaga Prep/Spokane, Wash.)

Mark Watts Jr. (SPIRE Institute/Pontiac, Mich.)

Romeo Weems (New Haven H.S./Chesterfield, Mich.)

Samuell Williamson (Rockwall H.S./Rockwall, Texas).

Class of 2020

Scottie Barnes (University School/West Palm Beach, Fla.)

Nimari Burnett (Prolific Prep, Calif./Chicago, Ill.)

Joshua Christopher (Mayfair H.S./Lakewood, Calif.)

Sharife Cooper (McEachern H.S./Powder Springs, Ga.)

Cade Cunningham (Montverde Academy, Fla./Arlington, Texas)

Hunter Dickinson (DeMatha Catholic H.S., Md./Alexandria, Va.)

Jalen Green(Prolific Prep/Fresno, Calif.)

Walker Kessler (Woodward Academy/Newnan, Ga.)

Caleb Love (Christian Brothers College H.S./St. Louis, Mo.)

Evan Mobley (Rancho Christian School/Temecula, Calif.)

Ethan Morton (Butler H.S./Butler, Pa.)

Jalen Suggs (Minnehaha Academy/Minneapolis, Minn.)

Ziaire Williams (Notre Dame H.S./Sherman Oaks, Calif.).

Top-50 guard Ethan Morton commits to Purdue

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Matt Painter’s offseason just got a whole lot better.

Ethan Morton, a top-50 player in the Class of 2020, committed to Painter and Purdue on Thursday, giving the Boilermakers their highest-rated recruit since Caleb Swanigan pledged in the 2015 class.

“I would like to announce that I am 100 percent committed to Purdue University,” Morton wrote on social media. “Thanks to coach Painter, the entire Purdue staff and Purdue fanbase for accepting me into your family!”

The 6-foot-4 guard from Pennsylvania had offers from Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oregon and Virginia, among plenty of others, but committed to the Boilers after getting a recent home visit from Painter and his staff along with his own trips to West Lafayette.

“My relationship with (Painter) grew to be probably one of the best I’ve had,” Morton told the Lafayette Journal & Courier. “There’s a trust and belief between both of us in what I can do as a player and person and what he can do as a coach and person to help me.

“Since being there a couple of times, I’ve always said that was the best fit for me from a player’s standpoint. Playing with guys that play the right way, make others better and just care about winning, and putting the team before themselves, because you want to win championships.”

Morton averaged 27.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.1 assists per game as a junior last season, and he joins three-star guard Jaden Ivey of Indiana as the first two members of Painter’s 2020 class.

Purdue’s Carsen Edwards declaring for 2019 NBA Draft

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Purdue’s Carsen Edwards is declaring for the 2019 NBA Draft, he announced on Sunday.

Following a memorable 2019 NCAA tournament in which he dropped two separate 42-point outings to help lead the Boilermakers to the Elite Eight, Edwards is planning on signing an agent and staying in the draft.

A 6-foot-1 junior known for his electric perimeter scoring ability, Edwards put up 24.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game this season. While Edwards was one of the main national storylines during the NCAA tournament, his play was up-and-down during the season for Purdue as he shot 39 percent from the field and 35 percent from three-point range.

Edwards should be one of the draft’s most intriguing prospects thanks to his perimeter abilities and inconsistent play. In the right system, Edwards could thrive as a microwave scorer. But Edwards also has some questions about his ability to play lead guard, as well as what kind of contributions he’ll bring on the defensive end.

Final Four is set after memorable Elite Eight

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The 2019 Final Four is set for next weekend in Minneapolis as the second weekend of the NCAA tournament was a memorable one.

After four memorable Elite Eight games, No. 1 seed Virginia will face No. 5 seed Auburn in one national semifinal with No. 2 seed Michigan State battling No. 3 seed Texas Tech in the other Final Four game on Saturday.

Falling in last season’s NCAA tournament to No. 16 seed UMBC, the Cavaliers figured things out to make the Final Four with a memorable overtime win in the South Region over No. 3 seed Purdue. Despite 42 points from Boilermaker junior guard Carsen Edwards, Virginia outlasted his 10 three-pointers with a flurry of their own from Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome. And with the team needing a buzzer-beating bucket just to force overtime, big man Mamadi Diakite came through.

Virginia’s win will go down as one of the better Elite Eight games of the decade as Edwards became a March hero while the Cavaliers finally overcame some NCAA tournament demons.

Also winning an overtime game in the Midwest Region was No. 5 seed Auburn as they outlasted SEC rival Kentucky. Playing without Sweet 16 star Chuma Okeke, who suffered a torn ACL on Friday, the Tigers rallied in the second half to beat the Wildcats behind Bryce Brown and Jared Harper to make their first Final Four in school history. The Wildcats’ great season ends behind a strong game from P.J. Washington as he overcame a foot injury last week to end a memorable sophomore season with 28 points and 13 rebounds.

Texas Tech advanced to its first Final Four in school history as well with a win over No. 1 seed Gonzaga on Saturday. In a close Elite Eight matchup in the West Region, the Red Raiders held off the Bulldogs with shot-making from Jarrett Culver and Matt Mooney while Gonzaga was held to 7-for-26 three-point shooting. Rui Hachimura (22 points) and Brandon Clarke (18 points) both had strong games while Josh Perkins (16 points) committed a late out-of-bounds foul that sealed the game for the Red Raiders.

The final Elite Eight thriller saw No. 2 seed Michigan State outlast No. 1 seed Duke in the East Region. Cassius Winston (20 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks) and Xavier Tillman (19 points, nine rebounds) both had big games for the Spartans as they limited turnovers to shock the No. 1 overall seed. The loss likely ends the college career of freshmen Zion Williamson (24 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks, three steals) and R.J. Barrett (21 points, six assists) as the Blue Devils fall short of the Final Four when many considered them a title favorite.

Between the four great games, two overtime thrillers, a buzzer-beater to force overtime and some big star performances, this makes a strong case for the best Elite Eight ever. We had a jaw-dropping Edwards performance in a losing effort, two blueblood programs (Duke and Kentucky) getting upset in close games and the final college game of the sport’s biggest star of the decade (Zion).

And that doesn’t even include Auburn and Texas Tech making the first Final Four in school history, Izzo’s finest coaching job and Winston’s heroics and Goins’ big shot. Virginia overcoming a shaky reputation and the Tigers overcoming the loss of Okeke to injury.

The first weekend might have been mostly chalk. The second weekend of the 2019 NCAA tournament was a great one as it culminated in memorable Elite Eight games and stars coming through in the clutch. It’s led to some unexpected Final Four matchups, but at least college hoops fans have plenty to talk about this week after some ridiculous games.

Saturday’s Elite 8 Recap: Half of Final Four set as Texas Tech makes its first trip while Virginia tops Purdue in a classic

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PLAYER OF THE DAY: Carsen Edwards, Purdue

There will be a team crowned in Minneapolis in just over a week, but the player this tournament belongs to won’t be there. Carsen Edwards was an absolute terror through four of some of the most impressive performances the NCAA tournament has even seen, including Saturday’s 80-75 loss to Virginia in the Elite 8.  The junior guard scored 42 points, matching a career high, on 14 of 25 shooting (8 of 13 in the second half) as the only Boilermaker to score more than seven points. It was a phenomenal performance only matched by the tremendous tournament Edwards put together.

Edwards’ 139 points were the most in four tourney games since 2000, passing Steph Curry’s record. His 28 made 3s are the most in tournament history and he’s the only player to ever have two games with nine or more made 3s in the Dance. He averaged 34.8 points. It was a historic and legendary performance. Purdue won’t be cutting down nets in a week, but the 2019 tournament is Edwards’.

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

TEAM OF THE DAY: Virginia Cavaliers

Virginia had to withstand an all-time great performance from Edwards and get a a buzzer-beater (see below), but they’re going to the Final Four for the first time under Tony Bennett and the first time overall since 1984.

The Cavs have had amazing regular-season success under Bennett, and have had disappointment after disappointment in the tournament, so finally reaching the sport’s pinnacle gets them this spot. Getting to the Final Four a year removed from becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16, that’s just a great story.

One worth a cheers and a toast.

ONIONS OF THE DAY: Mamadi Diakite, Virginia

You send an Elite 8 game into overtime, where eventually your team earns its way to the Final Four, you get this headline. So congrats to Mamadi Diakite on that. The onions here, though, probably belong to Kihei Clark, who corralled the rebound in the backcourt and instead of hoisting a prayer to win it from halfcourt, trusted in his own sense of time and his teammates’ ability to fire the ball up to Diakite as time wound down. That’s no small feat.

WTF OF THE DAY: Gonzaga’s offense

This isn’t a WTF so much as it is the Alonzo Mourning GIF:

The Zags have the country’s best offense, but Texas Tech has its best defense. I don’t know which was the unstoppable force and which was the immovable object, but Texas Tech was the victor.

Chris Beard has built something special in Lubbock, and the key to it all is that defense, which has put the Red Raiders in the Final Four after losing four of its top five scorers from last year’s Elite 8 team and being picked by the Big 12’s coaches to finish seventh in the league.

Gonzaga shot 42.4 percent from the field and 26.9 percent from 3. The Bulldogs made just 12 of 33 shots overall and 3 of 15 from deep in the second half. That’s the best offense in the nation turned not pedestrian but actually bad. That’ll make you shake your head in disbelief until you remember it was Texas Tech’s defense doing, and that’ll have you nodding in respect.

FINAL THOUGHT

Take all your “Boring Tournament” takes and throw them into the ocean. What a beautiful, glorious, thrilling, awesome and wonderful night of basketball.

Sure, this tournament has been bereft of true Cinderellas, but that means you get heavyweight fights in the Elite 8, like we saw Saturday. These were two great games played by four great teams and programs.

You had Virginia, as consistently excellent as a program comes looking to get to Bennett’s first Final Four while exorcising UMBC. Then there’s Gonzaga, a premier program trying to win its first national title. Purdue has Edwards. Texas Tech has Beard and Jarrett Culver.

What a lineup. What a night. What great basketball.

Sunday will have a lot to live up to, but with Auburn/Kentucky and Michigan State/Duke, there’s a decent chance it does. Hell, it might even surpass it. Maybe it’s fine Cinderella didn’t get invited to the dance. Everyone’s having a good time without her. Glass slippers are impractical, anyway.

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

NCAA Tournament 2019: Instant Analysis South Region

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The South Region is led by some top seeds who were bounced early in the NCAA tournament last season as Virginia and Tennessee look to redeem themselves after strong seasons.

The South Region is led by No. 1 seed Virginia. Following last season’s stunning loss to No. 16 seed UMBC in the first round, the Cavaliers will get a chance to redeem themselves against No. 16 seed Gardner-Webb, the champions of the Big South.

The No. 8/9 matchup is a matchup between SEC and Big 12 as Ole Miss and Oklahoma battle. The Rebels were one of the most pleasant surprises of any team in the field this season while Oklahoma has won some games down the stretch to earn another bid.

Wisconsin draws the No. 5 seed as the Ethan Happ-led Badgers get a major test in No. 12 seed and Pac-12 Tournament champion Oregon. Although the Ducks struggled during the regular season — particularly after the loss of star freshman Bol Bol — they’re a dangerous team with two recent wins over Washington.

ANALYSIS: East | South | West | Midwest

The No. 4 seed is Kansas State as they are still hoping to get senior forward Dean Wade (foot) healthy enough to play in the NCAA tournament after he missed all of last season’s Elite Eight run for the Wildcats. They’ll face No. 13 seed UC Irvine, the champions of the Big West.

Defending champion Villanova drew no favors from the committee with the No. 6 seed. There hasn’t been a No. 6 seed in the Final Four since 1992 as the Wildcats will have an uphill battle to make the Final Four for the third time in four years. They draw No. 11 seed Saint Mary’s as the Gaels gained a lot of momentum in winning the WCC title over No. 1 seed Gonzaga.

Earning a surprising share of the Big Ten regular-season title this season, Purdue draws the No. 3 seed as they get a tough first-round opponent in No. 14 seed Old Dominion.

The committee also didn’t help No. 7 seed Cincinnati as the Bearcats had an impressive showing in an AAC title-game win over Houston on Sunday. The Bearcats will face No. 10 seed Iowa in a clash of styles and tempo.

After falling short in the SEC tournament title game, No. 2 seed Tennessee gets a matchup with No. 15 seed Colgate — a program making its first NCAA tournament appearance in 23 years. Although the Raiders feature the Patriot League Player of the Year in forward Rapolas Ivanauskas, they’ll face one of the best frontcourts in the tournament with the Vols’ veteran combo of Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield.