Detroit Pistons 2017 NBA Draft

Detroit Pistons 2017 NBA Draft Profile

It’s Day 11 of our 2017 Draftmas and boy do we have a treat for you! The Detriot Pistons hold the number twelve pick in this year’s draft, and here’s what they’ll do with it.

Summary

The Pistons finished 37-45 this past season after reaching the playoffs in 2015-16 as a No. 8 seed with a record of 44-38. It’s no secret Andre Drummond, Tobias Harris and Reggie Jackson are the team’s top three players. Andrew Drummond led the team in rebounds with 13.8 per game on average. Tobias Harris averaged the highest points per game, coming in at 16.1 in 31.3 minutes. Finally, Reggie Jackson averaged 5.2 assists per game and 14.5 points per game. As for next year, the Pistons could lose guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in a restricted free agency. However, if he stays, he’ll have the help of Tobias Harris, Marcus Morris, Ish Smith and Stanley Johnson to round out the squad.

Despite the team struggling this past year, they have some things going for them. They are a pick-and-roll team headed up by Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond. They share the ball relatively well, but there is always room for improvement. Their weakness this past season was their transition game. Two seasons ago, Detroit was 16th in the league in transition frequency and 22nd in points per possession in transition. Needless to say, they need some help on the offensive end.

number 12 pick: what they need

Detriot needs a point guard, there’s no question about it. However, Jeff Bower said the team will take the best player at No. 12, regardless of position and need. They don’t own a second-round pick, because it was sent to Utah in the Reggie Jackson three-team trade back in 2015. So the single pick will have to suffice for now.

Jackson and Drummond lead the team, however their production has dipped in the past season. Drummond averaged 13.6 points and 13.8 rebounds per game after being an All-Star last year, while guard Reggie Jackson put up 14.5 points and 5.2 assists per game. They’re still great players, maybe they just need the right point guard to get the “Detroit Machine” back up and running.

Honestly, they need a leader that can score. The Pistons don’t have anyone that can go off for 30+ points every few games. I hate to say it, but they need a Lebron James or Steph Curry. They need someone that they can look to for consistency, leadership and most importantly, production. Like their General Manager, Jeff Bower said, they need the best player left in the draft. Best is open to interpretation but either way, the Pistons need a solid player.

The No. 12 pick isn’t set in stone though. The Pistons are reportedly open to trading the No. 12 overall pick in this year’s draft, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein. Stein said that such a deal would most likely involve the Pistons getting a veteran in return who could help them win sooner instead of developing a young player.

Who will they pick?

There have been a lot of names thrown around in regards to who the Pistons will select. Some people have mentioned Luke Kennard (PG, Duke), Zach Collins (C, Gonzaga), Dennis Smith (PG, North Carolina State), Donovan Mitchell (G, Louisville) and Frank Ntilikina, (PG, France) It’s clear they need a point guard, as stated above however if Jeff Bower really means what he said, it could be anyone.

Detroit Pistons 2017 NBA Draft

Donovan Mitchell, Sophomore Point Guard, Louisville Cardinals (Photo by CBSsports.com)

Let’s assume for a second though, that Detroit is looking to supplement their team in the best way with a point guard. My opinion will not determine the Piston’s pick, however they NEED to pick Donovan Mitchell. He’s the best match for the team with his athleticism, versatility and knowledge of the game.

The 6’3 guard averaged 15.6 points per game, 4.9 rebounds per game and 2.7 assists per game last season. Not to mention, he shot 80.6% from the free throw line and was a key factor in each victory the Cardinals had this past season. Also, I don’t know if I’m the only one who notices this, but the NBA pace is a lot slower than college, at least in transition offense. Mitchell is quick and if he grabs the rebound, he’s pushing the ball up the floor, going coast to coast, which is exactly what Detroit needs.

At the combine, Mitchell had great numbers in the sprint and no-step vertical leap. He has a 6’10 wingspan and weighs 210 pounds, lean and mean as they say. Most importantly, he knows the game like the back of his hand. He makes good decisions in the open court can dish the ball out when he isn’t taking a quality shot. If players guard him too tight, he has a great first step to get by them. If defenders back off, it’s no problem for Mitchell to pull up from behind the arc with his quick release.

conclusion

If the Pistons are lucky enough to land Mitchell, they will have a guard to aid Andre Drummond and Reggie Smith. Let’s be honest, the Cavaliers own the Eastern conference right now but with the right pick (Donovan Mitchell) could be just what the Pistons need to shake up the East a little bit. No matter who they end up picking, fans can be excited about some potential young blood in the program.

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Mohamed Bamba

You’ll want to remember this name: Mohamed Bamba

This year’s recruiting class has been very interesting to watch. Players are finalizing their decisions, committing and signing with schools and looking ahead to their college careers.

One player has stood out though: Mohamed Bamba.

He is the No. 3 prospect in the nation, and he recently chose Texas over Kentucky, Duke and Michigan. The Longhorns’ 2017 class is ranked fifth in the nation according to ESPN’s most recent rankings.

Why he chose texas

If there was one word to describe the Harlem native, it would be unconventional. Bamba is a high-profile recruit who could turn the college scene upside down next year. The 7-footer could be a big contributor to Texas’ high strung press. If he can use his length on defense around the rim, he’ll be hard to stop.

Mohamed Bamba

Mohamed Bamba, No. 3 recruit in the nation (Photo by Getty Images)

The Longhorns were 4-14 in conference play last season and 11-22 overall. They don’t have the best track record in the postseason either. They didn’t make it to the tournament this past season, and they lost to Northern Iowa in the first round of the 2016 tournament. In 2015, they lost to Butler in the second round.

Needless to say, they have a lot of room for improvement.  Texas also has a very competitive conference with West Virginia, Baylor and Kansas. However, why would one of the top prospects choose a team that did so poorly over some of the top teams in the nation?

That’s just who he is. He does things people wouldn’t expect. He’ll be in the spotlight a lot more than he would be at Kentucky or Duke. He would stand out regardless of the school he chose, but he’ll really stand out at Texas. Some people are predicting him to be a top-five draft pick for 2018, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

What sets him apart

Mohamed Bamba is distinct for many reasons. The 7-footer has a wingspan of 7-foot-9 and a standing reach of 9-foot-6, which is incredible. As a senior he averaged 14 points, 12 rebounds and 8 blocks per game at Westtown High School. He also brought home two state titles for the school his junior and senior years, the first state titles the school has ever had, in any sport.

“It’s his arms, man … his arms,” said Ayton, who’s taking his No. 1 ranking to Arizona next year. “He will contest every shot. And trust me, he’s going to block you. When I say he dominates the defensive end, it’s crazy. Like, for me to not even go in the post and be out shooting jumpers? It’s like — that’s what coaches want. He takes you out of your game. He’s dominant.”

-DeAndre Ayton, University of Arizona commit

Bamba will be dominant because he takes players out of their comfort zone. He forces them to shoot shots they wouldn’t normally take. He’s also agile, lengthy, athletic as all get out and quick. No doubt he will be a strong force in the conference, and for the Longhorns in general.

other freshman talent

Mohamed Bamba will be joined by signees Matt Coleman, Jericho Sims, Royce Hamm and Jase Febres. Like mentioned before, they are the fifth-ranked class in the nation.

The Longhorns have been out of the spotlight for the past couple years, but this class could be the one to put them back into college basketball conversation.

Coleman especially will have a big impact at the point guard position. That’s been part of the problem for the Longhorns. They haven’t had leadership from the point guard. Coleman should be able to change that.

The freshmen will also have some upperclassmen talent to round out the team. Andrew Jones will be back for his sophomore season. Kerwin Roach Jr. and Eric Davis Jr. will also be returning as guards. Most importantly, the team has Mohamed Bamba. Trust me, you’ll be hearing his name a lot this year.

 

Featured image by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

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Trevon Bluiett

All hail Xavier: Trevon Bluiett is coming back

Christmas has come early for the Xavier men’s basketball team. Trevon Bluiett announced that he will be returning for his senior season. Here’s a few reasons why this isn’t your regular old sports update- this is BIG news.

Trevon Bluiett gets buckets

I think the headline says it all. Bluiett has been a dream for head coach Chris Mack because his scoring average has consistently gone up each year. As a freshman he averaged 11 points per game, which increased to 15.1 his sophomore year and 18.5 this past season. He has also averaged over four rebounds per game in all three seasons.

Let us not forget when he dropped 40 points against Cincinnati this year, despite losing the game. In fact, he shot better from behind the 3-point arc (81.8 percent) than he did from the free throw line (77.8 percent). Now that is respectable.

The Indianapolis native shot 43.8 percent from the field while averaging 35.1 minutes per game throughout the season. It’s no doubt he’ll be putting in a lot of time this summer to further increases his averages and draft stock for next year.

future big east title

Trevon will be in good company with returners J.P. Macura (who averaged 14.4 PPG last season), Sean O’ Mara, Kaiser Gates and Quentin Goodin.

Quentin Goodin averaged 3.4 assists per game and 5.1 points per game. As a freshman he averaged 24.1 minutes per game and gave the team good boosts throughout the season.

He scored 16 points against St. John’s the second time around and 15 points in a two-point victory over Creighton. Throughout the tournament he played a lot of minutes but didn’t put up big numbers. Hopefully with a year of experience under his belt, he’ll be able to contribute more next year.

Trevon Bluiett

Mandatory photo credit: Orlando Rising

Sean O’ Mara will bring great senior leadership to Xavier’s squad. He and Trevon will be able to fearlessly lead the team. Sean only played an average of 13.8 minutes per game last year, but with players leaving, there will be an opportunity to pick up more minutes.

Kaiser Gates, the 6-foot-8 forward from Georgia, will be entering his junior year for the Musketeers. He added 14 points against Florida State in the second round of the tournament and will be a strong presence in the forward position.

In addition to the wealth of returners, Xavier has the 12th-ranked incoming freshman class as well as Kerem Kanter (Green Bay graduate transfer).

As for freshman, the Musketeers are adding Paul Scruggs, Naji Marshall, Jared Ridder, Elias Harden and Kentrevious Jones to their roster. Scruggs had offers from Louisville, Michigan State, Kansas, Indiania, Washington plus a few more. At Xavier, he’ll have a direct impact at the point guard position.

Xavier came in seventh place in a very tough Big East conference this past year. They were topped by Villanova, Butler and Marquette to name a few.

However, not many teams have the same amount of returning power and young guns to compete with this seasoned Xavier team. Next year will be interesting to watch as the Musketeers look to run at a high-pace in conference play and the tournament.

NCAA tournament hopes

Tournament time might as well be known as Trevon time. He averaged 21.3 points per game in their four-game tournament run. If you don’t recall their March Madness run, here’s a quick recap: wins over Maryland, Florida State and Arizona but a loss to Gonzaga.

Trevon knows the atmosphere and he’s already showed that he can perform well under pressure. Surely, he will do the same thing next year.

As a whole, Xavier is bringing back six out of nine of their top scorers. Don’t forget, they still reached the Elite Eight without Edmond Sumner (torn ACL) and they have a great freshman class, as stated above. The sky is the limit for this team.

Xavier has always been a consistently good tournament team as well. Last year they made it to the second round and lost by three to Wisconsin. Trevon’s freshman year, the Musketeers made it to the Sweet Sixteen and lost by eight to a second-ranked Arizona team.

The statistics speak for themselves, Xavier is not a team you want to mess with, especially with Trevon Bluiett coming back.

 

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Purdue Basketball Roster 2017

Purdue Basketball Roster 2017: The Future is Bright

If there could be one word to describe Purdue’s 2017-18 basketball roster, it would be hopeful. However, hope doesn’t win basketball games, players do.

The Boilermakers finished off this past season with a Big Ten regular season conference title and went 27-8 on the season. Their road to the final four was cut short with a loss to Kansas in the Sweet 16, but it’s just motivation to work over the summer. They also have key players returning and a good class of freshmen coming in.

On the downside, the Boilermakers will most likely be losing their, 6-foot-9 big man, Caleb Swanigan. He averaged 18.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per game this past season and will likely be a first-round pick in the NBA.

“He’s a borderline first-round guy, and I’m not sure how he will have a better year than he did this past year,” one NBA GM told ESPN.com. “I don’t see how he improves his stock coming back,” another NBA executive said. (Source: ESPN)

Swanigan was more than just a big man. There were many games fans might call him “Mr. Clutch.” Despite his numbers dropping a little at the end, he had some stellar games during regular season play. In the matchup against Notre Dame, Swanigan scored 26 points for a five-point victory over the Fighting Irish. He also added big numbers against Minnesota, Illinois and on Michigan State’s home floor.

The squad will miss his talents for sure, but it isn’t set in stone that he’s going to the NBA yet. Swanigan hasn’t hired an agent yet, but people are skeptical that he’ll have a better season if he stays another year.

who’s coming back

Purdue can count on senior Isaac Haas, the center who averaged 12.6 points in 19.5 minutes per game. He also had a field goal percentage of 58.7 percent, the highest on the team.

In addition to Haas, Dakota Mathias will be returning for his senior season at the guard position. Mathias led the team with 3.8 assists per game as he took on a larger role for the team. His playing time increased significantly from his sophomore season.

Purdue Basketball Roster 2017

Photo Courtesy of hammerandnails.com

Senior Vince Edwards will also be returning, and contributing big minutes and points. He’s a threat at the forward position with his strong skill set and athleticism.

P.J. Thompson, another senior guard, will also be finishing up his career as a Boilermaker. Thompson at 5-foot-10 doesn’t seem like the crafty guard he is, but teams are learning to respect him more.

The senior class will be the backbone of the team, providing strong leadership and standards for all the new kids coming in. Carsen Edwards will also be entering his sophomore year, which comes with higher expectations and hopefully more minutes. Purdue will also look to him a little more.

like I said, the future is bright

Purdue has Nojel Eastern signed at the shooting guard position, straight out of Evanston, Illinois. He should have an early impact as a freshman. Eastern will also be joined by Matt Haarms, Aaron Wheeler, Eden Ewing and Sasha Stefanovic. While it isn’t quite the same caliber players that Kentucky has coming in, Purdue will be a strong contender for the Big Ten title again next year.

NAME POS STATUS GRADE
Nojel Eastern SG Signed 83
Matt Haarms C Signed 80
Aaron Wheeler SF Signed 78
Sasha Stefanovic SG Committed
Eden Ewing SF Signed

(Source: ESPN)

Featured Image by Bleacher Report

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Kentucky Basketball: The Manufacturer of NBA Players

Coach John Calipari has the top-ranked recruiting class of 2017. This isn’t a surprise, considering the nature of his program. Coach Cal had the second-ranked recruiting class in the nation last year that included Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo.

These three players have declared for the 2017 NBA Draft and are forgoing the rest of their college eligibility. They also led the team statistically in many areas and were the reason for a lot of the team’s success. This isn’t a new trend, and Kentucky will continue this process with the 2017 recruiting class.

Looking back

In six of the past seven years, the Wildcats have had at least two players go in the first round of the draft. Three out of those seven years, a Wildcat was the No. 1 overall pick. Those players were John Wall, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns.

The statistics speak for themselves. Kentucky knows how to manufacture NBA players. Whether this process is moral or not, isn’t what I want to discuss. I just want to look at why it happens and how it impacts college basketball as a whole.

Kentucky Basketball Manufactures Players for NBA Draft

Karl-Anthony Towns who previously played for Kentucky Wildcats (Photo by en.yibada.com)

More specifically, I’d like to discuss the amount of freshmen that are one-and-done. In 2015, Skal Labissiere and Jamal Murray played their freshman year and were both drafted in the first round.

The same applied for 2014, as Towns, Trey Lyles and Devin Booker were drafted after their freshman season. Towns was also the No. 1 pick as previously noted.

If you don’t see the trend yet, take a look at 2013. Nerlens Noel and Archie Goodwin were two additional freshmen that declared for the draft after their first year. Goodwin was the leading scorer for the Wildcats that year, as well as Freshman All-SEC.

This is all to make the point that Kentucky brings in top-notch recruits and sends them to the NBA.

SEC and NCaa tournament success

The Wildcats are a powerhouse, and this is why they draw in so many high-caliber recruits. It’s inevitable that everyone will talk about the morality of one and done. Kentucky is the team that takes advantage and has produced a winning program that attracts these players. Duke is another school that takes part in this type of recruiting, but not as much.

The Wildcats took first in the SEC with big production from their freshmen this year. Malik Monk lead the team, averaging 19.8 points per game. De’Aaron Fox lead the team in assists per game with 4.6. Finally, Bam Adebayo had the top field goal percentage of 59.9 percent and averaged over 30 minutes per game for the Wildcats. These three players led the charge for Kentucky.

Malik Monk, freshman at Kentucky who recently declared for 2017 NBA Draft (Photo by CBSsports.com)

However, a program that relies solely on freshmen is bound to have some problems. Leadership is evident but not prevalent.

These guys are 18-20 years old and haven’t played in big-time games yet, but their team still relies on them. This leads to uncharacteristic losses like the loss to Indiana in the second round in 2016. However, once these true freshmen get to play on the big stage, they usually don’t look back.

Kentucky is quite successful in the tournament. The Wildcats have played in four Final Fours since 2011. They won the 2012 title back when Anthony Davis was a freshman and Doron Lamb ruled the court.

2017 Recruiting Class

Looking ahead, the trend should continue. Kevin Knox just announced his commitment to Kentucky for the 2017 season and he is the No. 9 prospect in the country. Knox joins P.J. Washington (No. 11), Nick Richards (No. 16), Jarred Vanderbilt (No. 18), Quade Green (No. 23), and Hamidou Diallo.

However, Diallo will not be playing on the college stage next year. He enrolled in January of this year and declared for the draft without playing in a true college game.

What does all of this mean? Unless the one-and-done rule changes anytime soon or Coach Calipari is involved in a major scandal, Kentucky will continue to dominate. That is, dominating the NBA through the amount of players they send after one year of college ball.

 

(Featured Image by Sportingnews.com)

 

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The Luck of the Irish: Bonzie Colson is Coming Back

Notre Dame fans can rejoice in their unending luck. Bonzie Colson is coming back to South Bend for his senior year, and this is bigger news than you think.

Colson had an outstanding junior year. He shot 52.6 percent from the field and 43.3 percent from 3-point land. Colson also averaged almost seven field goals per game, so I think it’s safe to say he was a big factor for the Irish. He will be next year too.

Notre Dame could clinch the ACC

College basketball fans have expected Duke or North Carolina to take the ACC over the last few years. These top two teams have strong recruiting classes, great programs and legendary coaches. Notre Dame is starting to come into this conversation and Colson will have a big part in this for the 2017-18 season.

Bonzie Colson of Notre Dame (Photo Courtesy of si.com)

Colson has made significant jumps each year at Notre Dame. He averaged 5.6 points in 12.1 minutes per game in his freshman season. Next year he went up to 11.1 points in 25.3 minutes per game. This past season he really broke out, averaging 17.8 points in 32.1 minutes per game, as well as 10.1 rebounds.

He will be expected to play big minutes as a senior. His improvement over the summer will be paramount to the team’s success. He and Matt Farrell will be leading the Irish against some very good ACC teams.

However, Joel Berry II, Theo Pinson and Tony Bradley of UNC have all declared for the draft. Duke is also losing Jayson Tatum, Luke Kennard, Harry Giles and Frank Jackson to the draft. Both top-contending teams will be very young next year, and Notre Dame has the opportunity to grab and ACC title with their experience coming back.

You lose some, you gain some

It is important to note that Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachem have graduated. These two seniors accounted for a lot of minutes on Notre Dame’s squad this past year and combined for 27.6 points per game.

Matt Farrell will be returning as a senior and hopefully improves his stats from this year. He averaged 14.1 points and 2.5 turnovers in 34.4 minutes per game. Farrell will have to finish around the rim consistently and be more cognizant of turnovers if he is to truly impact his team next year. The Irish also have Temple Gibbs, Nikola Djogo, Austin Torres and John Mooney coming back.

Notre Dame has bonzie colson returning

Matt Farrell of Notre Dame (Photo Courtesy of sportingnews.com)

More importantly, they are bringing in D.J. Harvey Jr., who is ranked 50th in ESPN’s top 100 recruits. He’s a 6-foot-6, 205 pound small forward that will have a direct impact his freshman year. He is a hard-working player, and it helps that Notre Dame lost Vasturia and Beachem. This will give him greater opportunity to learn and earn minutes right away. Colson will be able to guide Harvey and hopefully pull together all of these players for a successful year.

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Miles Bridges Declines Draft

Why Miles Bridges Declining the Draft is a Good Thing

Last week, Miles Bridges said he would return to Michigan State for his sophomore year of college basketball. Spartan fans couldn’t be happier that their star freshman will be coming back.

He told fans at his press conference last week, “I have personal goals here. I want to win a national championship.” ESPN has had a few mock drafts which put him in the top 20 but the NBA will not see Bridges for another year. Here is why Bridges made the right decision to return to college:

1. Another Year with Coach Izzo

Coach Tom Izzo is unarguably a legendary coach, and his awards are mere evidence of his success. Izzo won a national championship in 2000, appeared in the Final Four seven times and has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year three times. In 2016 he was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame with a .712 winning percentage in his career.

Miles Bridges Declines Draft

Tom Izzo speaks with guard Miles Bridges (22) during the first half against the Wichita State Shockers. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

This is all to say that the guy knows his stuff. Bridges will continue to learn a lot about Izzo’s motto: “players play, but tough players win.”

Coach Izzo is also well known for scheduling a very tough non-conference schedule in preparation for March, which will only benefit Bridges and the rest of the Spartans.

Along with Coach Izzo, think about Draymond Green. He stayed at Michigan State for four years and is now having one heck of a career in the NBA.

Green has had a lot of success with the Golden State Warriors over the course of five seasons. He won a championship in 2015 and has the perk of a 15.3 million dollar salary for 2017.

Miles Bridges is a lot like Green with a 6’7” stature and strong explosive moves. Bridges looks more like a guard than Green did in his Michigan State days, however there are lots of similarities.

2. The College Experience Will Help Miles Bridges and his Draft Stock

Miles Bridges Declines Draft

Miles Bridges of Michigan State Spartans. Mandatory Credit to spartanavanue.com

This statement rides on a lot of “ifs” because it won’t be true unless Bridges really improves his sophomore season. The experience will help if he can produce better statistics, take his team further in the tournament and have more success. However, if all of these ifs become reality, his draft stock will increase.

Bridges had the potential to make millions but he turned it down for the opportunity to go to school and win a national title. That says a lot about him as a player and a person.

He also averaged 16.9 points per game, which is the highest for a freshman since Magic Johnson who averaged 17 points per game his freshman season.

A lot of people are worried about his draft stock declining if he stays another year. However, the risk of staying another year could put him in the top 5 for overall picks. Another year with Coach Izzo and more growth, could be the key to even greater success in the NBA.

3. NEXT YEar is looking even better

The Spartans will have a lot of returners for the 2017-2018 season. Cassius Winston and Nick Ward will be coming back, along with Joshua Langford and Tum Tum Nair Jr. for his senior season. Eight of the top ten players will be returning for next year. They will have something special if Coach Izzo can keep everyone healthy and working hard.

Just last week Jack Hoiberg, son of Fred Hoiberg (Chicago Bulls head coach), said he would be walking onto Michigan State’s basketball team for the 2017-2018 season. Hoiberg will be joined by Jaren Jackson and Xavier Tillman, two power forwards who have signed with the Spartans. Jackson stands at 6’11, ranked 16th in the nation and will play good minutes for the Spartans next year. Tillman is 6’9 and 250 pounds, a little bit thicker than Jackson but will also add size to the Spartan roster for next year.

Bridges made the right decision to stay, despite the NBA being a very enticing choice. Teammates and fans of Spartan Basketball will get to watch him at the college level for one more year and next year could be big for the Spartans because of his decision.

 

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2017 Dream Team: The Biggest Awards in College Basketball

Now that the 2016-17 college season has officially ended, it’s time to hand out the awards. ESPN had their annual College Basketball Hoophall Awards Night this past Friday, and here is who came out on top. All of these awards make up an unofficial dream team, if you will.

John R. Wooden Award

This award goes to college basketball’s most outstanding player, which happened to be Frank Mason III of Kansas. It isn’t by happenstance that he received this prestigious award.

College Basketball's Biggest Awards

Frank Mason III of Kansas wins the John R. Wooden Award (Photo Courtesy of AndoverLeader.com)

He wasn’t too elated about this achievement, which is understandable given the circumstances. He isn’t the player to be prideful about his individual success, but rather team success. Given that his team didn’t make it to the championship game, he said, “I know right now it probably sounds crazy, but it doesn’t mean much to me right now.”

In other words, his team comes before him, which is shown in his response to the award. Some people might be maddened by his “ungratefulness,” but in actuality, his perspective is purely that of a good leader and teammate.

The award is still well deserved considering his statistics for the season. Mason finished his senior year averaging 20.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. He is versatile and shoots well from the outside. His clip is 47.1 percent from the arc and 49 percent from the floor. He led the Jayhawks to many key victories in the Big 12.

Scouts are concerned about his 5-foot-11 height. However, he is one of the deadliest shooters in the college game. It will be interesting to see where he ends up in the draft.

Julius Erving Award

This next award goes to the top small forward in the game, which was Josh Hart of Villanova. Hart was also named Big East Player of the Year for his outstanding play.

Senior Josh Hart of Villanova (Photo Courtesy of SI.com)

The senior averaged 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 33.2 minutes per game for the Wildcats. He shot 51 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from 3-point land. He is no doubt an efficient scorer and shows defensive toughness.

His years as a Wildcat have groomed him to be a presence in the NBA. He has worked his way up each year. He was named to the Big East All-Freshman team in 2014. Hart was named Big East Sixth Man of the Year as a sophomore. He helped lead his team to a National Championship during his junior year, which prepared him for a stellar senior season.

Although Villanova didn’t make a deep tournament run, they had a very successful season. Hart will likely be somewhere between the 20th-30th draft pick range. Some have speculated that the Portland Trailblazers will pick him up.

Jerry West Award

Malik Monk is a scoring machine. It’s no wonder he earned the top shooting guard award on Friday. The Kentucky guard was nothing short of incredible this year.

College Basketball's Biggest Awards

Malik Monk throws down a dunk for Kentucky (Photo Courtesy of thebiglead.com)

Jerry West himself was one of the great guards in his day. He played for West Virginia and led his team to a National Championship. His nicknames include “Mr. Clutch” and “Mr. Outside” for his clutch shooting capabilities and overall strength on the perimeter. Monk definitely fits the bill.

His scoring capabilities allowed him to have four games with 30 or more points, including 47 against North Carolina. He averaged 19.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Coach Calipari had great things to say about the freshman.

“With Malik you’re talking about a superior athlete with skills and an ability to score that make him truly unique,” Calipari said. “What I love about Malik is that, as the season went on, he learned how to help our team win by doing more than just score. He became an efficient player who I believe will make an immediate impact at the next level.”

Monk earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors as well and declared for the draft just last week. He is predicted to be a top five overall draft pick this year.

Karl Malone Award

The Karl Malone award went to none other than Johnathan Motley of Baylor University as the nation’s top power forward.

College Basketball's Biggest Awards

Johnathan Motley of Baylor University (Photo Courtesy of USA Today Sports)

Motley’s statistics this season were quite impressive. He averaged 17.3 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. In their most recent Sweet 16 loss, he added 18 points and nine rebounds.

The junior has two things going for him. He is a great offensive rebounder with his length and athleticism. He also protects the basket very well, especially in Baylor’s 2-3 defense. Motley also has outstanding foot speed for his 6-foot-9, 230 pound frame.

Yesterday he declared for the NBA draft, but also will not be hiring an agent. He is expected to go in the top 40.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award

The fifth-year senior Przemek Karnowski was named the top center of the year. The Polish big man is a prowess in the post. He stands 7-foot-1 and 300 pounds, which is hard to guard. He also has great court vision and has an advantage on anyone in the college game because of his size.

College Basketball's Biggest Awards

Przemek Karnowski of Gonzaga (Photo Courtesy of newsday.com)

His statistics this year were respectable. He averaged 12.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. The Bulldogs went to him down the stretch in close games for his ability to make strong back-to-the-basket moves.

When asked about the award, Karnowski said, “It means a lot… all the hard work I put in throughout my whole life in basketball is paying off and I’m really happy about it.”

As far as the draft goes, many scouts aren’t truly worried about his basketball abilities. They are worried about his back. Karnowski missed a good chunk of his junior season due to bulging discs in his back, which could be a problem in the future.

All of these players are well-deserving of their awards after some impressive seasons. All are looking ahead to the draft and it will be fun to see where they end up.

 

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North Carolina and Joel Berry Victorious

North Carolina Wins and Berry Bounced Back

If you haven’t heard, the North Carolina Tar Heels and Joel Berry are National Champions 365 days after losing a heartbreaker to Villanova. Justin Jackson made the go-ahead three point play in the final minutes, and Joel Berry put on a performance. It was not a pretty game, as Gonzaga and UNC combined for 45 fouls and 46 field goals.

Yet, a champion had been crowned.

North Carolina gets the win

This is Roy Williams’ third national title and sixth in Tar Heel history, yet North Carolina didn’t play a great game. They shot 29.4 percent from the three point line, which was very evident in the first half.

North Carolina and Joel Berry Victorious

Joel Berry II celebrates victory over Gonzaga (Photo Courtesy of Sporting News)

The win was a team effort, and players stepped up when they needed to. Isaiah Hicks didn’t play his best against Oregon in the Semifinal, however he added 13 points, which is just above his season average. Speaking of seniors, Kennedy Meeks came up with 10 rebounds for the Tar Heels and was a large presence in the post when he wasn’t in foul trouble.

So what made the difference? UNC grabbed three more offensive rebounds and won the turnover battle 14-4. Joel Berry II and Justin Jackson combined for 38 points while Nigel Williams-Goss and Przemek Karnowski only combined for 24 points for Gonzaga. North Carolina also shot better inside than Gonzaga shot outside. Overall, the Zags had one of their worst offensive showings while the Tar Heels had one of their best defensive performances. Put all of this together and somehow, we have a UNC victory.

The best part for the Tar Heels is they have one more National Championship than Duke. How’s that for bragging rights?

berry got his redemption

It was on this day, just one year ago that Joel Berry II tied the game with Villanova only to lose on a buzzer beater from Kris Jenkins. Needless to say, he has been waiting for this very moment and he didn’t let it slip away. It was a sort of Cinderella moment for him.

North Carolina and Joel Berry Victorious

North Carolina Tar Heels guard Joel Berry II celebrates beating the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the national championship game Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Joel Berry III was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament and when asked about his success, he simply said his teammates had faith in him.

He didn’t just bounce back from last year, he had to bounce back from the previous game against Oregon. Berry II went 2-14 from the field, and 5-9 from the free throw line for a combined 11 points against the Ducks. In other words, he didn’t have the game he wanted but it was enough for his team to be successful.

Fast forward to Monday night, the atmosphere is electric and it’s the junior’s potential last game. Berry went out with a bang to say the least.

He scored 22 points, dished out six assists and threw away only one turnover. Not to mention, he scored or assisted on 34 of 71 points and the Tar Heels came away with a National Title.

As mentioned before, Joel Berry II bounced back, but more importantly North Carolina did.

 

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Tournament Madness for UNC: Luke Maye's Game-Winner

A Closer Look at Luke Maye: North Carolina’s Hero

One name: Luke Maye.

This isn’t the first name that comes to mind when talking about North Carolina basketball. However, it has been for the past 48 hours. Maye made the game-winning shot to send UNC to the Final Four, while simultaneously ending Kentucky’s season.

If you missed the last shot, you can watch it here. It’s well worth watching.

A quick recap: Kentucky comes down the court and Malik Monk hits a 3-pointer in Maye’s face to tie the game. Then Theo Pinson gets the ball up the court for UNC and pitches it to Maye for the last-second jumper. Rarely do you see two miraculous plays back-to-back like that, but it happened on Sunday.

There is normally discussion about Joel Berry II, Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks or Justin Jackson when talking about UNC. The avid watcher might recognize Kenny Williams or Theo Pinson as well, but not Luke Maye.

Maye madness

Luke Maye isn’t your standout player. The sophomore averaged four rebounds and 1.2 assists in 14.4 minutes per game this season. He averaged 5.6 minutes per game as a freshman.

He might be average at the Division I level. However, he joined Christian Laettner and Scottie Reynolds on Sunday as the only players since 1985 to hit a game-winning shot to get into the Final Four. The kid even got a standing ovation at his 8 a.m. class on Monday.

Tournament Madness for UNC: Luke Maye's Game-Winner

Luke Maye shoots the game-winner for the Tar Heels on Sunday (Photo Courtesy of The Comeback)

His best game prior to the tournament was against NC State on Feb 15 when he scored 13 points and made 6 of his 11 shots from the floor. In other words, he hasn’t been consistently “killing it” for the Tar Heels.

However, he has picked the right games to show up for. Maye had a season high of 16 points against Butler and a new season high of 17 against Kentucky.

He might seem like the most unexpected player to win it for the Tar Heels, but Coach Roy Williams had him in for a reason. He shoots 41 percent from 3-point land (the highest on the team). He has only attempted 39 on the season, but he has made those count. He also shoots the fourth highest field goal percentage on the team.

It’s no accident he was on the court. It also isn’t a miracle he made the shot. Nonetheless, he is still a hero.

the tar heels are right where they need to be

As a team, this moment is everything that North Carolina has been working for. Marcus Paige hit a 3-pointer to tie the championship game last year, only for Kris Jenkins to come down and hit a buzzer beater to win it all for Villanova.

The Tar Heels are simply good at what they do. The are ranked first in rebounds per game (they pull down 43.7 per game). They also average 85 points per game (ninth overall) and dish out 18.2 assists per game (ranked third in Division I).

Roy Williams is confident in his team because they have the experience and the talent. This is their 20th Final Four, and they have all the reason to fight.

Isaiah Hicks was asked about their loss to Villanova last season, and he said: “We [were] four seconds away from that. Just to see your dream taken away right in front of you, that’s all the motivation you need. Of course nobody likes to lose, but that one, when you’re right there, all of us, we just need that second chance.”

Hicks and the rest of his teammates want that second chance. At this point, it is in their hands. Only Oregon stands in their way. The guys are playing some quality basketball and unexpected players like Luke Maye are peaking at the right time.

Catch all the action on April 1, 2017 at 8:49 PM ET on CBS.

 

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Cam! Also keep up with Cam on Twitter @cam_peek and feel free to provide any feedback below.

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