KC Star Photos
YouTube Postgame Presser
KU students camping out for tonight's game. Best new camping group name: Cameroon Crazies. #kubball
Joel Embiid throws down a sweet dunk in warmups, reacts by doing a little dougie for the crowd a la John Wall. #KUbball
Iowa State players all watched the pregame video. Showed McLemore's bank shot from last year.
Joel Embiid is pivoting into his right shoulder and hitting baseline jumpers now. He is learning faster than the ScarJo OS in ‘Her.’
Embiid was going to block that shot with the right hand, so Niang went for the reverse layup, so Embiid blocked it with his left hand.
Ppl now r seeing the guy that got all that hype @22wiggins - he is a STAR - has been sensational recently. #THEREALDEAL
Naadir Tharpe has had just one turnover in his last three games. Total.
By the way, think I'm doing my "Scouting Title Contenders" series on Kansas tomorrow. Jayhawks are getting scarier as the season goes on.
If Naadir Tharpe and Andrew Wiggins play this way, NO one is standing in the way of Kansas winning it all.
I wouldn't say John Higgins is doing a good job. I would say he's not yet ruining things.
Curtis Shaw, former Big 12 ref, assigns refs in Big 12—Higgins on every big game..
Kansas is 13-0 when leading at halftime this season
1/29/14, 9:53 PM
116 decibels during the timeout #kubball
Way to go Jayhawks! 7-0! Watched the whole thing w/ my KU bros @PourhouseDwnTwn in NYC! whosay.com/l/mBW7HFj
1/29/14, 10:03 PM
Death. Taxes. Kansas wins the Big 12 under Bill Self.
Move 'em. #RockChalk
Ballgame. Even though there's still time on the clock. Conference. Even though there's still games on the schedule.
With 12 points and 12 assists, Naadir Tharpe earned his first career double-double!! #sharpetharpe #kubball
In Big 12 play Kansas is making 60% of its 2s and 42% of its 3s.
In ACC play, Jabari Parker has 117 points on 105 shots. In Big 12 play, Andrew Wiggins has 124 points on 79 shots.
KANSAS BASKETBALL=FAMILY. #Itsjustdifferent. http://instagram.com/p/jzCJvrAHWF/
@CoachTownsend you the man coach , I see you lol
Highlight of the night: Coach Self coming into the locker room singing "Bottoms up"
You a big TreySongz fans? Bill Self: "Bottoms up." Later added: "I Googled it."
Caught off guard. (This guy Trey Songz think he can dunk on me lol) No chance!! #JayhawkNation growin strong! pic.twitter.com/0Wjm4LG6cq
Great win tonight for the Jayhawks! Fans showed so much love! Musta took 100 pics!!! And on top of it all my youngin is doin well.
Andrew Wiggins is averaging 19.2 points and 7.5 rebounds in last six games.
Not bad for a “disappointing” freshman, huh?
@GoodmanESPN Remember that time you said you’d take Aaron Craft over Andrew Wiggins? (It was like five days ago.)
"I've been in this building enough as a player, as a coach, a scout, and it happens pretty much every game, they come out and hit shots early and you have to withstand it, you have to withstand the runs," Hoiberg said. "I give our guys credit for clawing back in the game."
The Cyclones pulled even for the first time when Kane buried a 3-pointer out of halftime, but the Jayhawks responded with 11 straight points to regain control. Wiggins did most of the work, hitting a long jumper and a scooping layup while also getting to the free throw line.
By that point, a packed crowd that included Kansas City Royals Billy Butler and Jeremy Guthrie and Grammy nominated musician Trey Songz was on its feet.
…Wiggins added a run-out dunk after another turnover to give the Jayhawks an 81-72 lead, and the defending Big 12 champions coasted the rest of the way to its 18th win in 19 meetings with Iowa State.
"We gave ourselves a chance," Hoiberg said, "and at the end of the day, we gave ourselves an opportunity in as tough an environment as we're going to play in."
A game of runs got away from Iowa State on a run of its own — mistakes — which No. 6 Kansas (16-4, 7-0 Big 12) used to pull away from No. 16 Iowa State (15-4, 3-4), winning 92-81.
“Just a couple untimely [turnovers] for us,” said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg. “That’s been a strength of ours all year. Our assist-to-turnover ratio is as good as anybody in the nation. A couple of critical ones there at the end of the game.”
With 3:27 left in the second half, Iowa State turned the ball over twice in a row on the inbound pass, with the latter leading to Dustin Hogue's flagrant foul on Andrew Wiggins, who finished with a career-high 29 points.
“That flagrant call was a pretty big call,” said Georges Niang. “I’m not saying it was a bad call or anything, but that’s where they took off.”
The foul proved to be the spark the tinderbox Phog Allen Fieldhouse needed to combust.
On the next possession, Wiggins tipped in fellow teammate and potential NBA Lottery Pick Joel Embiid’s miss. It wasn’t 15 seconds later when the Cyclones turned it over for the fourth consecutive possession, and Wiggins found himself streaking on a breakaway layup, extending an 8-0 run over 78 seconds and spiking Phog Allen Fieldhouse into a 116-decibel frenzy.
“It was a big play,” Hoiberg said. “It goes from three to seven — and in the last three minutes — and I think we miss an open look the next time down, and then they got it up to double digits. It was a big play.”
…“I told them that after the game to make sure no one walks out of the building with their head down,” Hoiberg said. “We’re not about morale wins; obviously it should bother them, but at the same time they fought for 40 minutes, they battled and again we had a chance in a building that not many people walk out of with a win.”
Iowa State Daily
On a night when KU’s starters scored all but six of the Jayhawks’ points in a 92-81 shootout, Hoiberg credited backup guard Frank Mason for a critical 3-pointer late in the game. The trey was one of a season-best 10 the Jayhawks canned on a season-most 22 attempts.
To an extent, Kansas played Iowa State’s game – extended out to the perimeter, at a fast pace. The Cyclones even drove it more in the second half to hang tough after rallying with long-range target practice just before halftime.
Still, the Jayhawks won. Again. For the seventh time in as many Big 12 starts.
Bill Self continues to insist his team has done nothing to set the aforementioned table.
“We haven’t done anything yet. All we did was win at home,’’ said the KU coach.
Nonetheless, his young squad is improving to the extent that opponents can impose their own tempo, and will, and still get beat because Kansas is getting that good.
…Quietly, Perry Ellis added 20 points and keyed KU’s strong start. Wayne Selden added 11. Both Naadir Tharpe and Joel Embiid recorded double-doubles. Embiid is like no other player in the land and will likely get a triple-double sometime the way he blocks shots. Tharpe won’t threaten a triple-double, but his 39 assists against 12 turnovers in conference play suggests he won’t throw the ball away 10 times, either.
“We’re getting hard to guard because we’re able to score in all five spots,’’ Self said. “It’s easier to guard a team when you have to defend three spots, or four spots, and you have one guy as a rover and one guy as a help guy, things like that.
“That’s why Iowa State is hard to guard, because you’ve got to defend all five spots and they can stretch it. We’re obviously not a perimeter shooting team like Iowa State, but we did shoot it well. When the ball moves, it doesn’t stick and we’re getting rotation, we are fairly hard to guard.’’
Maybe this latest performance from Wiggins is what Self envisioned — at least for a night. What else could Wiggins do on Wednesday night against Iowa State? Here he was in the final minutes, driving into the lane and drawing an intentional foul. Then finishing a tip-in follow in traffic. Then throwing down a two-handed slam in transition after a Kansas steal.
It was Wiggins taking over, going into alpha-dog mode with the game in the balance, closing out the 16th-ranked Cyclones with a six-point burst in No. 6 Kansas' 92-81 victory on Wednesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
…Moments later, after Wiggins hit two free throws, he added another bucket on an athletic follow layup. Just like that, a three-point lead had turned into a 79-72 advantage with three minutes left. One possession later, Wiggins finished the run with a two-handed slam in transition. By Wiggins standards, it was a pretty standard jam.
“Better safe than sorry,” Wiggins said.
Of course, the Jayhawks, 16-4, become even scarier when you glance at the numbers beyond Wiggins. Sophomore forward Perry Ellis added 20 points on eight-of-12 shooting, while junior guard Naadir Tharpe managed the game with 12 points and 12 assists. And managed might be the right word.
“I always go to him for advice,” Wiggins said after the game. “That’s what we need in a point guard.”
“His ability to get the ball to guys where they can score,” Self said, “it’s getting better all the time."
…“He’s just going out there and just playing basketball,” Tharpe said. “At the beginning, I talked to him about this a lot. He was going out there trying to think, trying to make everybody else happy. And that’s not what he needs to do. He needs to just play for himself and play for the team.”
Wiggins showed his personality in trading comments with various Cyclones through the game.
“It wasn’t trash talk. I know a lot of them. It was just friendly chit-chat,” Wiggins said with a smile.
He was hit hard up high by Dustin Hogue with 3:27 left and KU leading, 75-72. Wiggins swished two intentional foul shots, then followed a missed shot by Joel Embiid (14 points, 11 rebounds) with a stickback layup, giving the Jayhawks (16-4, 7-0) a comfy 79-72 lead at 3:09.
“I did,” Wiggins said, asked if he thought the Hogue hit deserved to be called an intentional foul.
“Just the way I felt after (getting hit). I felt something was wrong,” he added, again with a big smile.
KU coach Bill Self jogged toward the players after that intentional foul call, hoping to restore order.
“Somebody gets knocked down and a teammate goes to stand up for him and there can be pushing and shoving. We’re not the most mature group in the world. A couple times in that situation we have played a role in double technicals. I didn’t want that to happen,” Self said.
…Perry Ellis scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds, while Tharpe had 12 points to go with his 12 assists. Wayne Selden had 11 points.
Frank Mason had three points. The freshman guard cashed a huge three with 7:21 left, upping a 68-63 lead to eight points.
“I was excited for Frank,” Self said. “Frank’s boy (Trey Songz, recording artist) was in the house. I thought he was a little nervous when he saw him. Trey came to see Frank tonight. He was sitting in the front row. Frank may have been a little nervous, but that was a big shot and he made a couple of bad plays prior to that and needed that for his confidence.”
Mason said he’s known Songz for seven years.
“We had a talk and he decided he was going to come out and support me,” Mason said. “We went to the same high school. This was his first time seeing me in college. I wouldn’t say I was nervous, but it felt a little different,” Mason added.
Does he have a favorite Songz song?
“All of ‘em,” Mason said.
…Conner Frankamp and Tarik Black did not play in the game.
“Conner hurt his knee two days ago. He couldn’t practice yesterday or today. X-rays were negative. It’s a bruised knee,” Self said. “I’m not overly optimistic he’ll be back tomorrow. He’s day to day. Tarik (ankle sprain) might have played. It would have been a tough game, a guy on one leg chasing (Georges) Niang.”
This, that: Billy Butler and Jeremie Guthrie of the Kansas City Royals attended. ... A fan in the student section had maybe the sign of the year that read: “I Kissed Frankamp in 8th grade.” Frankamp was shown laughing on the video board as the picture was shown.
Welcome to the new life of Bill Self.
For the better part of the last decade, the Kansas coach has dominated Big 12 teams with a smothering defense. The Jayhawks would win when they played well, and they’d win when they didn’t, simply because Self’s teams were going to hunker down and not let the opponent score on either occasion.
On Wednesday night, the sixth-ranked Jayhawks never really stopped No. 16 Iowa State. They simply outscored the Cyclones.
That — along with strong offensive play from ISU — was the reason Self wasn’t comfortable most of the night despite never trailing in KU’s 92-81 victory at Allen Fieldhouse.
"After the 10-minute mark (of the first half), we haven't played a team that played better than that this year," Self said. "They're so hard to guard, and they create matchup problems."
Here’s the good news for KU: The Jayhawks once again featured an offense that displays the potential to be as good as any in the nation.
The Jayhawks received their second straight breakout effort from Andrew Wiggins, who put in a career-high with 29 points on 10-for-16 shooting after putting in a then-career-high 27 in KU’s previous game Saturday at TCU.
"I hope this one only lasts for three days," Self said. "He shot the ball well tonight. He did a lot of good things."
…"They shot 48 percent in our building, but the bottom line is, I don't know that we defended them that poorly," Self said. "They are good. They are really good, and you have to score points in order to beat them."
KU did, holding on late with help from a 19-9 game-ending run while scoring on each of their last nine possessions.
Perry Ellis contributed 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting, while Joel Embiid (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Naadir Tharpe (12 points, 12 career-high-tying assists) added double-doubles.
"I knew I had to get dudes involved and get them going," Tharpe said. "That is the most important thing. I was just trying to draw defenders and find the open man, and they were knocking down shots."
Wiggins hit 10 of 16 field goals — including 4 of 6 from behind the arc — and 5 of 6 free throws to go along with seven rebounds in 34 minutes.
“The thing about it is, he still only took 16 shots,” Self said after the game. “It’s not like he’s hunting shots. He’s going to have a game where he gets 21 or 22 looks, and (if) he shoots the ball like that — he could have a really big night.”
“I’ve said all along that his numbers were going to go up as he gets more comfortable,” Self added. “And it just appears to me to be more comfortable. He’s certainly being more aggressive.”
As for Wiggins, he acknowledged being more comfortable, saying things are slowing down on the court. But, as he tends to do, the freshman quickly deflected the attention.
“Naadir (Tharpe) had 12 assists today,” Wiggins said. “He was looking to get the whole team involved and that’s what it’s about.”
No question. But back to Self’s analysis, which — distilled a bit — says there’s still more out there for Wiggins. Not a good thing to hear for the folks sitting on the opposing bench.
“He's so aggressive right now, and you can tell he’s oozing with confidence,” ISU coach Fred Hoiberg said. “That's scary.”
…With 3:27 to play at KU clinging to a 75-72 lead, Wiggins was intentionally fouled by Dustin Hogue as he attacked the basket and sunk both free throws. On the ensuing possession, Wiggins swooped in and put back a Joel Embiid miss to push the margin to 77-72 with 3:06 to play.
Then, as Tharpe came up with a steal and flipped the ball up court, the 16,300 fans rose as the 6-foot-8 forward glided under the pass, soared toward the rim and banged home a dunk that helped bury the Cyclones for good.
“I was just trying to make the safe basket,” Wiggins said through a grin, “Two points is two points at the end of the day.
No matter how hot your primary scorer might sizzle — and make no mistake, Andrew Wiggins played a terrific game Wednesday night versus Iowa State in Allen Fieldhouse — you don’t consistently win tough games without a tough point guard steering it to the finish line.
Junior Naadir Tharpe, Kansas University’s first-year starter, has blossomed into just that — a tough point guard who loves running a show that rightly has younger, louder names screaming from the marquee.
Yet, Tharpe’s was the first name to come out of the mouth of Wiggins when asked about setting a career-scoring high for the second game in a row.
…Tharpe fell four rebounds short of a triple-double, producing a dozen points and assists and a half-dozen rebounds. He had the ball in his hands a great deal in 36 minutes and had just one turnover.
All night, he knew right where to go with the ball and very often that was to KU’s two leading scorers. He was credited with an assist on five Perry Ellis (20 points) buckets and four Wiggins (29) field goals, the last coming when Tharpe stole the ball at Iowa State’s end of the floor and pitched ahead to Wiggins for a dunk.
A point guard, more than anybody, has to make his free throws at the end of games because he’s the one who will be fouled more than anybody else. Tharpe went 4 for 4 from the line, all in the final 1:07.
…“He has always been a good leader,” Wiggins said. “His leadership role is going through the roof. Whenever I have a question on the court, or second-guess something, I always go to him for advice. He is getting us all involved, and that is what we need from our point guard.”
Tharpe consistently is giving the team what it needs.
Iowa State did shoot better — 48 percent from the floor and 10-of-26 from three-point range. Much better, in fact. But so did Kansas, which shot 52 percent from the floor and fought off several Cyclone charges in the final 30 minutes to win, 92-81, and improve to 16-4 overall and 7-0 in Big 12 play.
“I think we did everything better tonight than we did at home,” said ISU's Georges Niang, who led the Cyclones with 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting. “Tonight we were back to our old selves.”
…“We got down early, but we battled back,” Niang said. “They made some tough shots to beat us, so kudos to them. They played a hell of a game, especially (Andrew) Wiggins.”
LJW Keegan Ratings: Andrew Wiggins tops ratings again
“He has played well against Iowa State,” one veteran NBA scout said of Wiggins. “[Joel] Embiidstill goes ahead of him in the Draft….He is a center, which is harder to find.”
Said a second NBA scout: “[Wiggins] and his teammate have the best upside – 1-2.”
Asked who he would take No. 1, the second scout said, “I still say Wiggins, but most people like the big fella.”
6. Joel Embiid (Kansas): On Wednesday night, I looked up from my laptop early in Kansas’s 92-81 home win over Iowa State just in time to see Embiid take the ball on the left block, engage with the post defender, pivot toward the baseline into his right shoulder and sink a tidy little 6-foot turnaround jumper. It’s possible Embiid has made that exact shot before, but I haven’t seen it. It may have been the first time he attempted it. Here’s the point: This happens all the time. You put your head down for a minute, and then you look up, and Embiid is putting into practice something that even most good college big men can't do with decades of camps at their back. Oh, and he blocks 12.2 percent of opponents' shots, too. So there's that.
10. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas: Here’s the thing about Wiggins: He has been pretty good for most of the season. He hasn't been LeBron James 2.0. He hasn't been perfectly consistent from game to game. But a baseline, his all-around, all-court performance has been immensely solid. Now -- with 56 points in his past two games, 29 of which came Wednesday against Iowa State -- we're starting to see some of the brilliance that had NBA scouts so excited. If he keeps it up, and Kansas keeps looking like the Non-Arizona, Non-Syracuse Team Most Likely To Win The National Title, we'll be discussing him more in the future.
Besides, Julius Randle had his worst game of the season at LSU (3-of-11, six points, five rebounds) Tuesday, and Marcus Smart hasn't played all that well of late. Also, he's being punished for excessive flops. It's Wooden Watch, not Wooden Flops, am I right? OK, we’ll stop now.
ESPN Wooden Watch
For centuries, it was he who laughs last, laughs longest. Well, the joke's on you, sucker. Now the Earth belongs to he who laughs first, then gets retweeted 57 times, LOL and SMH.
Wiggins drops nine at Oklahoma. Boom! Over-rated.
Wiggins drops 22 on Kansas State. Boom! No. 1 pick again.
Wiggins drops three against Oklahoma State. Boom! Expletive the bandwagon-jumpers!
Wiggins drops 29 on Iowa State Wednesday night. Boom! Double-expletive the bandwagon haters!
Fox Sports Keeler
Former KU director of basketball, Doc Sadler, is in his first year as full-time assistant on Hoiberg’s staff.
KU coach Bill Self was asked this week on his Hawk Talk radio show if there was a concern Sadler would know everything there is to know about KU’s program and possible game plan.
“The answer is a positive, no. That’s not a concern at all,” Self said. “I see things a little differently. If somebody sacrifices their time and energy and efforts to allow us to be better by working with us, then I should support them in any endeavor that could better them.
“So it makes absolutely no difference to me. If Doc stole all our trade secrets, that means we need to be more clever trying to figure out how to beat them. It doesn’t have anything to do with anybody stealing inside information. ... Kyle Keller (former KU video coordinator) left here for Texas A&M. We’ve had other coaches leave. I don’t see any negatives with that. If we were so nervous about that all the time, then the people who worked with us would never have the same opportunity to be promoted like I have. Coach Sutton (Eddie, former Oklahoma State head coach and Self’s boss) could have said, ‘I don’t want you to take the job. We play you.’ That’d be a selfish thing to say. I don’t think like that.”
Of Sadler, Self added: “Doc is enjoying himself in large part because Fred is really a good guy.”
…Hoiberg was asked in advance of the game what he does with his team when KU plays its historic pre-game video, the one in which the fans go crazy when Mario Chalmers hits the three to tie the 2008 NCAA title game against Memphis.
“I wait until it’s over,” Hoiberg said. “I tried that one year. Nobody could hear a word I was saying so we waited until that thing was over.”
Kansas blew out TCU in its only game this week, which raises an important question: How the hell did Kansas lose at TCU last season? I still can’t wrap my mind around it. TCU is 2-23 all time in the Big 12, and one of those wins came against a fifth-ranked team that won its ninth straight Big 12 title and earned a 1-seed in the NCAA tournament later that year? Huh? I know the upset was a big deal when it happened, but it was such a freak occurrence that I think we should still be talking about it. TCU should hang a “We Beat Kansas” banner in its rafters. Hell, Missouri should hang a “TCU Beat Kansas” banner in its rafters.
Anyway, after essentially getting a week off, Kansas has another tough stretch of games coming up, starting Wednesday night at home against Iowa State. Although, if Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid keep playing as well as they have (Wiggins’s game against Oklahoma State notwithstanding), I’m not sure it matters who is on the Jayhawks’ schedule. Jabari Parker is throwing his hat back into the ring with three straight double-doubles, but I still think if the NBA draft were held today, Embiid and Wiggins would essentially be locks to go no. 1 and no. 2. Which brings me to this stat: Every NCAA team that has had the top two picks in that year’s draft on its roster has won the national championship. Sure, the only time that ever happened was in 2012 with Kentucky, but if I learned anything in my 12th-grade Advanced Placement stats class, it’s that a sample size of one is plenty big enough to extrapolate from.
Grantland Titus’s Top 12 Power Rankings
My early Final 4 predictions: Arizona, Kansas, Michigan State & Wichita State
After being waived by the New Orleans Pelicans, Tyshawn Taylor was claimed off waivers by the Maine Red Claws, per D-League Digest.
I recently got a copy of Wooden: A Coach’s Life by @SethDavisHoops, and am enjoying reading about John Wooden as a young man.
As a Kansas alum, I was surprised to find this anecdote about Wooden and some friends leaving Indiana in 1928 to look for summer work:
"Eventually, they made it to Lawrence, Kansas, where John asked the University of Kansas’ forty-one-year-old coach Phog Allen, for help finding work. Allen got Wooden’s crew a job pouring concrete for the new football stadium. The coach had ulterior motives. Allen knew full well about Wooden’s basketball exploits, and he tried to convince him to move to Lawrence and eventually play for Kansas. Wooden declined and headed back to Martinsville."
Fascinating for several reasons. First, the setup for the story is that Wooden left town because he was angry that his girlfriend (and eventually wife) Nellie was dating another boy. We have to assume that his desire to go home and win her back played a part in him turning down Phog Allen. How close did John Wooden come to being a Jayhawk? We’ll never know.
Second, the Jayhawk football team still plays in Memorial Stadium. So John Wooden - in my mind the greatest college basketball coach to ever live - helped build the stadium Kansas fans still sit in today.
Third, how amazing is it that in 1928, the way to a prized recruit’s heart was to get him a back-breaking job pouring concrete? Can you imagine?
Vote for Ben McLemore
VOTE for Kansas fans at the NCAA 6th Fan Contest
VOTE for Coach Self & his Assists Foundation (currently 22nd out of 48 coaches!)
“Pay Heed. The game you love began here. Respect those who came before you. Make their legacy your own. Because destiny favors the dedicated. And rings don’t replace work. In this game you don’t get what you want. You get what you earn. We are Kansas. Together we rise. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!
Big 12 / College News
The fun part has been watching these freshmen figure out how to correct their flaws. If they've had one common thread it's that their lows don't stay there. These guys are finding ways to get better.
Don't take my word for it. See for yourself.
Saturday presents a rare opportunity to catch arguably the nation's six best freshmen college basketball players in action on the same day.
Randle will start things off as Kentucky travels to face Missouri at 1 p.m. ET. Kansas featuring forward Andrew Wiggins and center Joel Embiid are up next at 4 p.m. when they play at Texas. Both Duke's Parker and Syracuse guard Tyler Ennis will face off before a capacity crowd of more than 34,000 at the Carrier Dome at 6:30 p.m. Arizona's Aaron Gordon rounds out the day as the Wildcats take to the road against California at 10:30 p.m.
ESPN Resetting the Year of the Freshman
On Wayne Selden Jr., freshman guard, Kansas
There’s no question that he needs to come back for his sophomore year. Right now, when you think of Kansas, you think of Wiggins and Embiid. Selden hasn’t done anything to stand out. What’s his niche offensively? He hasn’t shown that he’s a great shooter.
I’d heard that he’s a power guard that likes to use his body to attack the lane and get to the rim, and maybe he does, but he hasn’t shown that yet, either. It’s not all his fault. He’s in a tough spot having to play with so many other NBA-caliber players. The book on him is still open, in my opinion. I think he’ll be a completely different player by this time next year. Is he a pro? Yes, but not yet."
This Week's Grades
…F: Marcus Smart’s flopping: Oklahoma State’s point guard has long been admired for his passion and work ethic. But his continuous habit of blatantly falling during games isn’t very funny anymore. I actually believe the problem has become so noticeable that it’s damaging Smart’s reputation.
Jason King: Who should stay, who should go
And then there is Kansas. In November and December, the Jayhawks’ offense had whole stretches where it just looked downright bad, which was surprising, given that it had freshman Andrew Wiggins, one of the great young basketball talents in recent years, on the wing.
Look at KU now: Center Joel Embiid, who started playing basketball two years ago, has morphed into the sport’s best big man on both ends of the floor. Wiggins has posted two back-to-back career-high scoring nights -- 27 points, and then 29 -- in the Jayhawks’ past two games. On Wednesday, in Kansas’ 92-81 win over Iowa State, KU averaged 1.23 points per possession. That number is just a tick higher than its average output against Big 12 opponents to date. It’s an offense so good it almost doesn’t matter how often it turns the ball over, which is still probably too much. But who cares? A month ago, Kansas was supposed to yield the Big 12 title for the first time in nine years. Now it’s the easy favorite to win a 10th.
Wednesday basically summarized everything you need to know about the 2013-14 season: There are a handful of great teams, at least a dozen realistic Final Four contenders, as much young talent as the sport has seen in at least a decade, and the usual dizzying unpredictability that makes college basketball so much fun year in and year out.
So, yeah, if you’re a “casual fan” -- if you’re the type of person who spent most of your week catching up on all the latest Lynch “distraction” buzz -- then you should know you’ve missed a lot. But you should also know the best six freshmen in the country are all playing on Saturday. You should know that the Big Ten is tilting on its gloriously weird axis. You should know that not one but three teams will enter February undefeated. And you should know that Doug McDermott is chasing a historic 3,000 career points mark, and that you can set your browser to bookmark Creighton’s remaining schedule here.
That’s the good news, casual fan: You might have missed a lot, but there’s so much more to come. As one NFL player might -- or might not -- say, college basketball is in beast mode. And you made it just in time.
If the Big Ten really is the best conference in college basketball, then it's time for the SEC football argument.
You know it. It's the one where the depth of a conference matters almost as much as its elite teams, the one where losing proves how good a conference is.
Now, this might be tough, because the SEC had seven straight national titles to fall back on prior to this season, and that kind of thing makes it easier to claim that, say, Mississippi State beating Florida in 2010 is a plus.
The Big Ten has one national title in basketball, Michigan State in 2000, in the last 24 years. So this may be a harder point to make. (Also, if anyone has seen Ohio State shoot, this may involve quite a sales job.)
But the bottom of the conference is better. The bottom is legitimately better.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
At long last, the NCAA has reached a conclusion in the case of Florida freshman Chris Walker. The organization announced Wednesday that Walker has been suspended for 12 games and he's cleared to return in UF's home game Tuesday vs. Missouri.
Why? Well, Walker apparently received $270 from two different agents while he was playing AAU basketball during his high-school years. He also got free food, free airfare and hotel lodging from three different people. For this, he must perform 80 hours of community service. The NCAA also indicated that associates of Walker were provided free airfare for eight different trips for his AAU team.
My only question: What big-time high-school recruit doesn't receive all of the benefits listed above?
Anyway, we all know how incompetent the NCAA is, so that's not a big shocker. The good news for Florida is that there's finally a resolution to this mess.
“I appreciate all the support from UF, Coach Donovan and my teammates, and I'm looking forward to helping the team any way I can,” Walker said in a statement.
Walker is a McDonald's All-American who led Holmes Co. High School to a state title in Florida last year. He was admitted to school in early December and has been practicing with the team since then.
ESPN.com's NBA Draft guru Chad Ford has had Walker as the No. 22 pick in his latest mock for the upcoming draft. However, nobody should expect him to come in and have a huge impact, especially on the offensive end.
Walker is raw offensively and he only has 215 pounds on a 6-10 frame. He has added 10 pounds since joining the team.
What Walker can do immediately is provide a shot-blocking presence and rebound. If he can become a reserve big that can play 15-20 minutes, block a few shots, grab some rebounds and provide a few garbage buckets, then Billy Donovan will be thrilled.
Without Walker, Florida is a serious Final Four contender, one that has only lost at Wisconsin and at UConn. In both of those defeats, the Gators were playing without key players. All of those guys are healthy now and here comes Walker into the mix.
Big XII composite schedule (includes results, highlights, stats)
ESPN College GameDay Schedule
2013-14 TV Schedule
Wow it's a blessing to be named McDonald's all-American
Truly blessed to participate in the #McDAAG , I'm still hungry tho #FreeBigMacs #letsgetthismoney
1/29/14, 6:42 PM
You ready to turn up bro ? @K_Ctmd22
@humblekid11 turn up in yo city one time bro
1/29/14, 7:06 PM
@K_Ctmd22 got to then go to Lawrence & turn up out there
@humblekid11 you already know Killa
McDonald’s official press release
- January 29 - Team Selection Show on ESPNU, 5pm CT
- March 17 - Player of the Year Announcement
- March 29 - Game Week Begins / Player Arrivals
- March 30 - RMHC Visit
- March 31 - POWERADE Jam Fest, 8pm CT
- April 1 - Media Day and Players Awards Banquet
- April 2 - 2014 McDonald's All American Games:
- - Girls Game on ESPNU, 6pm CT
- - Boys Game on ESPN, 8:30pm CT
Cliff Alexander, 6-9 PF, Chicago Curie Kansas (Rivals rank: 4)
James Blackmon, 6-3 SG, Marion (Ind.) High Indiana (23)
Justin Jackson, 6-7 SF, Houston HCYA North Carolina (10)
Tyus Jones, 6-1 PG, Apple Valley (Minn.) High Duke (5)
Kevon Looney, 6-9 PF, Milwaukee Hamilton UCLA (13)
Theo Pinson, 6-6 SF, High Point (N.C.) Wesleyan North Carolina (19)
D'Angelo Russell, 6-4 SG, Montverde (Fla.) Academy Ohio State (21)
Karl Towns, 6-11 C, Metuchen (N.J.) St. Joseph Kentucky (11)
Romelo Trimble, 6-2 SG, Alexandria (Va.) Bishop O'Connell Maryland (36)
Myles Turner, 6-10 C, Euless (Texas) Trinity Undecided (6)
Isaiah Whitehead, 6-4 SG, Brooklyn Lincoln Seton Hall (14)
Justise Winslow, 6-6 SF, Houston St. John's Duke (9)
Grayson Allen, 6-4 SG, Jacksonville Providence Duke (34)
Joel Berry, 6-0 PG, Orlando Lake Highland North Carolina (25)
Devin Booker, 6-5 SG, Moss Point (Miss.) High Kentucky (30)
Stanley Johnson, 6-7 SF, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei Arizona (3)
Trey Lyles, 6-9 PF, Indianapolis Arsenal Tech Kentucky (8)
Emmanuel Mudiay, 6-4 PG, Dallas Prime Prep SMU (2) J
ahlil Okafor, 6-11 C, Chicago Whitney Young Duke (1)
Kelly Oubre, 6-7 SF, Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep Kansas (12)
Reid Travis, 6-8 PF, Minneapolis De La Salle Stanford (40)
Tyler Ulis, 5-9 PG, Chicago Heights (Ill.) Marian Catholic Kentucky (33)
Rashad Vaughn, 6-5 SG, Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep Undecided (7)
Thomas Welsh, 6-11 C, Los Angeles Loyola UCLA (52)
Three potential matchups that immediately jump out.
The first one is a potential in-game battle between current No. 1 Okafor and one of the people pushing him for that top spot, Alexander. They will both be playing in front of a hometown crowd at the United Center and they both play differing styles of low-post basketball. It will be Okafor's skill and size against Alexander's power and raw athleticism.
The next matchup that we really hope to see is one between the nation's top two point guards. Current No. 2 Mudiay and No. 5 Jones matched up some during the Elite 24 with Mudiay getting the upper hand (though Jones team got the win). Hopefully, we will get a more extended look this time around. Mudiay has the size and athleticism, while Jones has long been thought by some to have an edge in the skill department.
Next, we are curious to see the West's Oubre go against former summer teammates Jackson and Winslow. We saw what they could do together as a terrific trio on the Houston Hoops. Now we are interested to see what happens when Oubre gets a chance to go against a pair of former teammates that he could pass in the rankings after the other two got more early attention.
…There are only two undecided players who will be competing in the McDonald's All-American game. No. 6 Turner and No. 7 Vaughn are both still available. Turner is considering the likes of Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Texas and others while Vaughn is still considering UNLV, Iowa State, North Carolina, Kansas and Kentucky.
By current ranking, the highest ranked eligible players to not make the game were No. 15 Dwayne Morgan, No. 18 Daniel Hamilton, No. 22 Jaquan Lyle and No. 24 Keita Bates-Diop.
Rivals McDonald’s Notes
3. The best athletes in the country go head to head
Stanley Johnson and Kelly Oubre (West) vs. Theo Pinson and Justise Winslow (East)
These four elite athletes make plays on both ends of the floor with their physical gifts and also bring versatility and skill to the game. We are looking at multidimensional players who bring all different kinds of dynamic athleticism to the game. Johnson (Arizona) looks like a mini-LeBron James with his power drives and high motor. At 6-foot-7, Oubre (Kansas) has a 7-1 wingspan and the explosiveness to finish on the break or catch a lob at the rim. On defense, he can rack up steals and is also a great position shot blocker. Pinson (UNC) has long been known as a great athlete with versatility and will finish plays with highlight dunks. Winslow (Duke) is strong, smart and defensive-minded and is one of the few who can influence this game without needing shots.
4. Kentucky vs. Kansas at PF
Trey Lyles (West) vs. Cliff Alexander (East)
This is what the future of the Kansas vs. Kentucky power forward matchup will look like. Alexander (Kansas) has been destroying the competition and in his senior season with his physically imposing frame and athletic ability. His effort running the floor, rebounding and blocking shots has been constant -- nobody can finish a play quite like Big Cliff. His matchup with Lyles (Kentucky), however, will be a challenge because Lyles is extremely skilled and will use a series of shot fakes inside and face-up jumpers on the perimeter to keep Alexander off balance. Lyles must box out Alexander on every possession to negate his power and explosion.
Even though Kelly Oubre Jr always knew how good he was, it never bothered the dynamic 6-7 wing that no one else did until recently. As he says, his sole concern has always been “getting better each and every day, regardless of the outside noise.” You see, Oubre is a refreshingly old-fashioned teenager; he’s a top-ranked player who refuses to entertain the extreme attitude and toxic entitlement that largely defines the culture of high school basketball today. “My whole life, I’ve only had one focus,” says Oubre. “And that’s working toward becoming the best player I can be. I don’t buy into the hype because I never want to plateau. I know I’ve got a long way to go, and a lot of work to put in before I reach my goals.”
Oubre, who was born in New Orleans but relocated to Houston because of Hurricane Katrina, blew up this past summer. Boasting breathtaking bounce, a smooth lefty J and the versatility to defend three positions, Oubre received All-Star honors at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in June, then rocked the Nike EYBL circuit throughout July as the centerpiece of a stacked Houston Hoops squad.
Currently the leader of national powerhouse Findlay Prep in Nevada, Oubre has the makings of a future professional, both on and off the court. The first test comes next season, when he’ll be tasked with filling an enormous, Wiggins-sized void in Kansas. If Oubre’s focus and talent are any indication, though, he should be up for it. “My goal is to get to Kansas, supersede every other freshman in the country and make the NBA,” says Oubre. “I’ll have big shoes to fill, but I’m a fighter, and I have a lot of confidence in my abilities. If I play unselfish basketball and continue to work on my game, I’ll be ready for the challenge.”
Cox Sports’ Adam Finkelstein caught all the action at last week’s Hoop Hall Classic in Springfield, MA, recapping impressive performances by some of the top players in the 2014 class. Some names that college hoop fans will come to know very well next year flashed their potential showing why they were so sought after in recruiting, including No. 1 Overall Jahlil Okafor (Duke), No. 3 Cliff Alexander (Kansas), No. 5 Emmanuel Mudiay (SMU), No. 6 Karl Towns (Kentucky), No. 9 Stanley Johnson (Arizona), No. 10 Kelly Oubre (Kansas). LSU commit Ben Simmons, No. 4 in the Class of 2015 also stood out and showed why many consider him a future NBA player.
The five Texans on the boys’ roster far surpassed the output of any other state. Illinois and Minnesota each produced three All Americans. Only California (5) produced more girls’ All Americans than four from Texas.
Join our live chat w/ Myles Turner (@Original_Turner) Thur @ 7 EST & ask him your burning questions (@USATODAYhss): socialhub.usatodayhss.com/component/k2/i…
There wasn’t any fanfare Wednesday night when Euless Trinity center Myles Turner was chosen to the McDonald’s All American East team.
He hopped in the car with family members and drove to a downtown Fort Worth hotel where his mother works. Turner, who tweeted about the McDonald’s possibility beforehand, watched in the hotel’s restaurant as he was selected to the team along with 23 others.
…“That’s really just how I wanted it to be; family is what’s most important to me,” Turner said. “I was looking forward to it, but I think my mom was more so, and I wanted to make certain we could all share it.”
…Turner is still undecided about where he’ll play college basketball next season, with numerous offers on the table.
He confirmed that it was still his plan to make that decision later in April but left open the possibility of doing so at or around the McDonald’s game.
“I don’t look at it as pressure at all,“ Turner said. “As far as what I end up doing, where I go, I’m an open book and I’m going to let the chips fall where they may. I really like the idea of playing four years and getting my degree is what I would do. But if the opportunity presented itself and I develop like I think I can, I could see being one and done also.”
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