As we draw to the close of the high school season and near the NCAA tournament, All-Star games featuring the nations finest high school seniors. We tend to think of the McDonald's All-American game being the cream of the crop, followed closely by the Hoop Summit and Jordan Brand Classic. The oldest high school All-Star game, with its 40th anniversary taking place this year, is the Kentucky Derby Festival Classic.
Their are a few NCAA most valuable player awards and the John R. Wooden award, named after the legendary UCLA coach, usually seen as the biggest. The Mid-Season Top 25 list was announced with these names:
Anthony Bennett, UNLV
Laurence Bowers, Missouri
Trey Burke, Michigan
Isaiah Canaan, Murray State
Michael Carter Williams, Syracuse
Jack Cooley, Notre Dame
Seth Curry, Duke
Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
As we are entering the midway point of the college basketball season, some of the major awards are starting to take shape. Every year at this time, the Bob Cousy award for the NCAA's top point guard trims its list to 20. These finalists were announced and instead of just telling the 20 names, lets rank them on the likelihood of coming home with this award. This of course will be ranked on their play up to this point and predicted play for the rest of the college season.
1. Trey Burke, Michigan
2. Michael Carter Williams, Syracuse
UNLV barely escaped with a 76-75 win over Cal on Sunday, with Anthony Bennett going off for 25 points and 13 rebounds. Unfortunately, the Runnin' Rebels may have lost a major piece as Mike Moser went down with what was later determined to be a dislocated elbow. While it appears that Moser could come back in as little as 3 weeks, the likely scenario is more than a month, possibly even as late as February.
Big things were expected from Otto Porter this season and since he returned from a head injury sustained in Georgetown's first game, it seems that he is living up to expectations. After getting a career high 22 points and 7 assists last night against Longwood, Porter is showing a definite improvement in his overall game. His jumpshot appears to be much more fluid and he is taking care of the ball at a high rate considering his use in the offense.
Longwood is usually known for its rather hilarious name as opposed to its basketball players, though a freshman from Switzerland might change that pretty soon. Michael Kessens is currently averaging 13 ppg and leading the incoming freshman class in rebounding with 11.4 rpg. Granted, Kessens is turning 22 in February, though he has only been playing basketball since he was 16. Using a late growth spurt to hit 6-9, he was playing junior basketball in France before deciding to come state side to give the NCAA a try.
The world of college basketball received some tragic news as Rick Majerus passed away at the age of 64. Originally from Wisconsin, Rick began his career at Marquette as a player, eventually becoming a long time assistant and three year head coach. After a year stint with the Milwaukee Bucks as an assistant, Rick eventually took the head coaching job at Ball State with his success leading to his most memorable coaching job, leader of the Utah Utes.
After a Tuesday that saw the Big Ten go 4-2, the ACC came back to do the same on Wednesday to finish the annual challenge between power conferences at a 6-6 deadlock. The Big Ten, who had won the previous three challenges, retained the Commissioner's Cup as the previous years winner. Nonetheless, this signified a major step forward for the ACC as they took some key match-up's.
Most hardcore college basketball fans know the story of tiny Division II school Chaminade having one of the most historic upsets in NCAA history. The year was 1982 and the 900 person school was facing off against Virginia. Two things Virginia had were a #1 ranking and a 7-4 center named Ralph Sampson, who was en route to his third straight national player of the year award. They left with a 77-72 defeat in Hawaii, one that the national media had a hard time believing and goes down as one of the ultimate David versus Goliath stories.
Cody Zeller has not had a lot of off nights since arriving in Bloomington, but he definitely was not himself last night in Brooklyn at the Progressive Legends Classic. Taking a physical pounding, Zeller finished with 6 points and 4 rebounds, well below the expectations one carries for a pre-season NCAA player of the year candidate. Despite Zeller's off night, Indiana managed to get past Georgia with a 66-53 win as they pulled away late.