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NBA Draft 2014: Best Value Picks for Late First Round

NBA Draft 2014: Best Value Picks for Late First Round

NBA Draft 2014: Best Value Picks for Late First Round
 
David J. Phillip

While college basketball fans often put a significant amount of stock into postseason performances from players, NBA front offices are more interested in the entire body of work and the ceiling of certain prospects.

Who will be the better NBA player?

Submit Vote vote to see results
 

Who will be the better NBA player?

  • Shabazz Napier

    62.2%
     
  • Cleanthony Early

    34.4%
     
  • K.J. McDaniels

    3.3%
     

 

That’s why players like Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, who both struggled in the Big Dance and saw their teams eliminated earlier than expected, are still going to be taken before Shabazz Napier or any of the other national champion Connecticut stars.

Still, there will be a tremendous amount of value available to teams near the end of the first round in the 2014 draft.

With that in mind, let’s look at some of the best value picks that playoff teams can make after the Parkers, Wiggins, Joel Embiids and Julius Randles of the world are off the board come draft day.

 

Cleanthony Early, Wichita State

 

 

Those who didn’t regularly tune in to watch Cleanthony Early and the Wichita State Shockers dominate the Missouri Valley Conference during the regular season got a taste of just how talented Early can be when his team lost to Kentucky in the round of 32.

Early finished with 31 points, seven rebounds, one steal, one block and eviscerated every defender and future NBA player that the Wildcats threw his way.

Early’s overall skill set is enticing to NBA teams because he is physical enough at 6’8” to play down low and quick enough to use as a small forward. Throw in the fact that he can shoot from behind the three-point line, mid-range and on the low block, and Early’s ceiling on the offensive end will attract plenty of attention.

On the defensive side, Early has quick hands to match with his length and athleticism.

 
Charlie Riedel

 

However, when looking forward to project Early’s role in the Association, questions arise on that side of the ball.

Whether he can handle himself against the larger NBA power forwards or more athletic small forwards remains to be seen. He may need to improve his overall strength to bang bodies with the best bigs in the world at the next level, but that could cost him some of his lateral quickness that will be necessary to play small forward. 

Which spot Early is used in will ultimately be a function of where he is drafted.

 

Shabazz Napier, Connecticut

 
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

 

Clearly, Napier helped his draft stock by leading his Connecticut Huskies to the national title. 

He dominated the tournament on both ends of the floor and combined with Ryan Boatright to stifle some of the best backcourts in the country, including those of Florida and Kentucky. One person Napier impressed along the way was LeBron James, who thinks he should be the first point guard taken on draft day:

 

 

However, Napier’s draft stock consists of much more than just his incredible postseason performances.

He shot better than 40 percent from behind the three-point line this year, averaged nearly six rebounds a game from the point guard spot and tallied nearly two steals a night. Throw in the five assists and 18 points, and you have yourself an absolute superstar who can stuff the stat sheet on any given night.

He will do just that for whichever team takes a chance on him in the late first round.

 

K.J. McDaniels, Clemson

K.J. McDaniels may not be the household name that Napier is, but he certainly left an impression on SMU coach Larry Brown, who compared the Clemson star to some notable NBA names, via Aaron Brenner of The Post and Courier:

He reminds me of Paul George and Andre Iguodala, the kid (Kawhi) Leonard at San Antonio.

(He’s) a human stat sheet. Guys that find ways to help your team win. He’s going to be playing at the next level doing the same thing.

Brown spent many years on the sidelines as an NBA coach, so for him to offer that kind of praise should turn some heads.

 
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

 

McDaniels averaged 17.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and 1.1 steals a game this year for the Tigers. It was the 2.8 blocks a game, though, that really stood out, especially for someone who checks in at 6’6” tall.

He is an absolute force on the defensive side of the ball, which will appeal to teams like the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers who value that type of production and will likely be picking late in the first round. McDaniels is an impressive athlete who can jump out of the gym, which is how he is able to tally those blocks and rebounds nearly every night.

He isn’t the best outside shooter (30 percent from downtown this year), but he gets to the rim as well as almost anyone in college basketball. 

Look for a team to bolster both its offense and defense by selecting McDaniels.

Cleanthony Early's improved draft stock

Cleanthony Early's improved draft stock 

March, 25, 2014
Mar 25
9:56
AM ET

Following Wichita's States loss to Kentucky on Sunday, ESPN.com's Chad Ford tweeted: "Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker both really helped their NBA Draft stock here."

Ford ranked Early as the No. 22 best prospect on his Top 100 Big Board prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament and when it's updated the small forward will probably be higher.

ESPN's Jay Bilas is also impressed with how Early played in the two games.

 
Jay Bilas
Early among best performers of the first weekend
"Players usually don't get accolades after a loss, but Early was the best player in the first weekend of play. In two games, the versatile, stretch big averaged 27.0 points and 7.0 rebounds while hitting 21-of-32 field goal attempts, including 7-of-14 from three-point range. Early hit big shot after big shot, ran the floor and defended at a high level. For anyone that doubted whether Wichita State had any pros, the Shockers did. Early is an NBA player, and was magnificent in the tournament."
8 Prospects Who Raised Their NBA Draft Stock In The NCAA Tournament

 

 

Cleanthony Early

Cleanthony Early (Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports)

March is over–isn’t that hard to believe? Not many people would have guessed that the University of Connecticut would be the team ripping down the nets when all was said and done. I mean, I had them losing in the second round to St. Joe’s–but they kept coming back and proving why we should never doubt a program as prestigious as UConn in the tournament.

Over the course of the tournament, there was a certain group of players that made statements about their draft position, making it clear why they deserve to be high picks in the 2014 NBA Draft. No Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins, who bowed out early in the tournament with unimpressive performances. This is a group of players that took advantage of the bright lights and enormous stage of the NCAA tournament. These are the players that showed the grit and hustle and proved why the world deserves to know their names.

Players like Cleanthony Early, Shabazz Napier and Elfrid Payton were catapulted onto the national stage by tearing apart the tournament. Early and Payton are from mid-major conferences, which proves how much uncovered talent there is outside of the powerhouse schools. It doesn’t matter who you play, if you have the talent and determination to win, anything is possible. That was never more evident than Shabazz Napier leading his UConn squad to a national championship–something that only insane UConn fans could’ve imagined before the tournament began.

Here are eight players who raised their NBA Draft stock during the NCAA tournament.

*** *** ***

Cleanthony Early
Before the NCAA tournament, Cleanthony Early wasn’t known by many besides hardcore hoops fans and wasn’t on the radar of most mock drafts. The Wichita State Shockers only appeared in two games in the tournament after an undefeated regular season that garnered a lot of attention, but that was enough for Cleanthony Early to shoot up draft boards. After not helping his stock much in the regular season with a schedule full of mid-major opponents (16.4 points and 5.9 rebounds), the tournament set a fire in Early’s eyes.

Early went off for 23 points and seven boards on 9-of-15 shooting from the field and 3-of-8 from deep in an opening-round victory against Cal Poly. The Shockers would move on to face Kentucky and everyone knows the outcome of that game. Even though the Shockers were shocked by Kentucky, Cleanthony Early give the world a performance that would have NBA fans around the world screaming his name.

Against a very physical and brute Kentucky team, Early went off for 31 points and seven rebounds. Early shot 12-of-17 from the floor, which is a remarkable 71 percent. This includes hitting 4-of-6 shots from deep for 67 percent and 3-of-3 from the foul line. Cleanthony Early gave fans and NBA GMs a performance to remember and a reason to hear his name called early in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Draft Range: 20-30

James Young
If you watched James Young play at Kentucky this season, he embodies the stigma of a freshman to the highest degree. He’s always rocking a crazy new hairstyle and he has this sort of flamboyance about him that only Swaggy P could admire. Saw what you want about him, but James Young can ball. Like the rest of his freshmen squad, Young had a lot to prove in the NCAA tournament. His regular season was mildly successful, scoring 14.3 points and grabbing 4.3 rebounds per game. However, only shooting 41 percent from the floor, 35 percent from deep and 70 percent from the line was a concern. A lot of recognition for Kentucky’s run to the title game was given to the Harrison twins. While Aaron Harrison made the necessary clutch threes, James Young’s scoring was a huge reason why Kentucky was in a position to win those games.

James Young averaged 12.1 points and 5.0 boards in the tournament, shooting 43 percent from the floor and 43 percent from deep. His improved shooting from deep was something fans had been waiting for. The 6-6 guard shot 3-of-5 from deep in the third round against Wichita State and 3-of-4 in the Elite 8 vs. Michigan.

Perhaps the most striking part about James Young’s performance in the tournament was his increased play as the stakes were raised. In the Final Four against Wisconsin (a one-point victory for UK), Young scored 17 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished two assists, while also picking up two steals. Young hit 5-of-11 from the floor, 1-of-2 from deep and 6-of-7 from the charity stripe. In the National Championship Game, Young scored 20 points on 5-of-13 shooting (making two shots from deep) and hit eight of nine free throws.

The aptness to perform bigger as the stage gets bigger and the lights get brighter is something that can’t be taught. When the microscope was beamed on Young and his Wildcats, they performed. With his size and shooting ability, Young already has a lot of things NBA GMs are looking for. Hitting 43 percent of his attempts from deep in the tournament is another reason his stock increased. James Young had a lot to prove in the NCAA tournament after his team barely made it into the tournament field, and he proved quite a few things to a lot of people. That’s a reason his name will be called early on draft night.
Draft Range: 13-20

NBA Draft stock: Tournament Edition

NBA

NBA Draft Stock, NCAA Tournament-Edition: Harrison Twins Up, Jerami Grant Down

By 

 

 

aaron and andrew harrison

UP: Harrison Twins (Kentucky): Going against one of the top backcourts in the tournament Sunday, Aaron and Andrew Harrison played like the elite point guards they were in high school, combining for 39 points. The Harrison twins will both admit their regular seasons were disappointing, whether you want to use the eye test or any statistical metric. Sunday, they looked like future pros, going to work on Wichita State’s Fred Van Vleet and Ron Baker by attacking the basket or making 3-pointers (5-of-10). Can they do it again against Russ Smith, Chris Jones and Terry Rozier in the Sweet 16? A month ago, Andrew and Aaron Harrison looked like they had played their way out of the 1st round, and into a sophomore season in Lexington. That’s definitely no longer a given heading into the Sweet 16.

 

Wesley Saunders scoop shot against  Cincy

UP: Wesley Saunders, G, Harvard: He’s a pro. Whether he comes out this year or stays for his senior year, it doesn’t matter. He’s too talented not to get drafted. Great size, length, very skilled at getting to the foul line, and while he shot the ball better as a sophomore than a junior, one wonders how much better he’d look coming off the bench surrounded by NBA players. I thought he outplayed Sean Kilpatrick of Cincinnati and more than held his own against Michigan State (22 points).

UP: Dwight Powell, F, Stanford: He’s 6-foot-10, 240, and a terrific athlete for his size. Had an inconsistent first two games – 0-for-8, 3 points in 29 minutes against New Mexico; 15 points and seven rebounds against Kansas – but NBA teams will give him a look because fluid 6-foot-10 guys are hard to find. A role-playing power forward who will play defense and rebound? Sure, I can see him getting a look in the late 2nd round.

DOWN: Jerami Grant, F, Syracuse: Emerged this season as a real nice pro prospect, but then hurt his back. The question I can’t get past is what position does he play? Undersized 4. Not quick enough to be a 3. He was terrible in 34 foul-plagued minutes against Dayton.Does he return for his junior year? He should. But if he’s told the lottery is an option, is he turning down millions? Grantcould return – like CJ Fair did – and improve his all-around game and NBA stock. But Fair graduates, and if Tyler Ennis goes to the pros, Grant definitely becomes a marked man on a less formidable team.

 

Aaron Gordon reverse alley-oop slam against Gonzaga

UP: Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona: The mouth-watering stats – 15-of-21 shooting, 34 points, 14 rebounds, nine assists, five blocks, four steals – in two games are only a part of why he’s so good, and could begin to creep into the Top 5 of the June draft. He has the ability to play a point-forward position, sort of like Scottie Pippen used to. Gordon’s shooting isn’t quite there yet – he’s a dunking machine – but he’s also a tremendous defender. I assume Nick Johnson will defend SDSU’s Xavier Thames Thursday, but if Thames goes nuts (30 points vs. North Dakota State), it wouldn’t shock me if Gordon went out to shut him down.

UP: Langston Hall, G, Mercer: The senior was pivotal in the upset of Duke in the first round. Was recruited by Georgia, for those who wonder about the level of competition he faced in the Atlantic Sun. He’s probably got the size and enough game to get invited to the pre-NBA draft camp. OK offensive game (39/39/85 as a senior) but I’m not sure he gets drafted. Is he more likely to end up in the NBDL initially, or go overseas?

 

UP: Scottie Wilbekin, G, Florida: Seems to get better every time I see him. Is he “6-foot-2″ or 5-foot-11? Probably closer to the latter. He’s only 20 and has a frail build, but man, what a player. Maybe he ends up just being a “great college point guard” like Khalid El-Amin or Mateen Cleaves. Clutch offensively, a terror defensively, and he falls into that category of being a “gamer.” Very curious to see how he does in the NBA summer league.

DOWN: Zach LaVine, G, UCLA: Teeming with athletic ability, 6-foot-5 freshman struggled coming off the bench over the weekend: 1-of-8, six fouls, three points. He didn’t get the minutes with Jordan Adams (sophomore) and Norman Powell (junior) playing so well. LaVine glides, but here’s the problem – what if Kyle Anderson, Adams and Powell all return next year? It’s tough to imagine LaVine getting 30+ minutes a game regularly. Maybe Anderson leaps to the pros, freeing up some PT … but I don’t think it’d be a smart move for LaVine to leave early.

UP: Shabazz Napier, G, UConn: One of the best guards in the nation, Napier struggled initially against St. Joseph’s, but finished strong. And he was brilliant against Villanova, hurling daggers in the second half to help the Huskies pull the upset. The only issue to me with Napier is whether he goes in the 1st round or 2nd. I think he can sneak into the 1st round. I can see him having a solid 10-year NBA career.

UP: Cleanthony Early, F, Wichita State: No need to recap his tremendous performance against Kentucky – 31 points – but he’s a 1st round pick. [Jerami Grant should watch tape of Early and do whatever he did in the offseason.] The only question is where. Like a moron, I omitted Early from my pre-March Madness Mock Draft. How embarrassing. I can see him going in the late-lottery, depending who comes out. What a fantastic all-around player.

 

Cleanthony Early with a huge slam against Kentucky-b

UP: Nik Stauskas (Michigan) and Jordan McRae (Tennessee): Yes, this is partially here because you keep clicking on thegirlfriend of Stauskas, but also because he’s such a damn good player. What a shooter. Can he be a better offensive player than JJ Redick in the NBA? I think he can. There are obvious concerns at the defensive end. Very curious to see him against McRae Thursday. McRae will certainly be drafted – terrific athlete, potential to be a volume scorer, and great size/length for the pros – and might someday be a nice 7th or 8th guy off the bench providing an offensive spark.

DOWN: Russ Smith, G, Louisville: Let’s start with the good – Ken Pom loves him. He’s the current leader to be the Ken Pom player of the year (a stats-only award), and he won it last year. And he’s fast. And he had an unselfish regular season, his best as a college player. Now, the bad: Boy was he pressing (in a bad way) against Manhattan and Saint Louis. He’s 6-for-19 shooting, has 13 turnovers, 10 assists, and is only 1-of-6 shooting three-pointers. When Smith struggles, Louisville struggles. Smith faces the Harrison twins Friday, and though he was inefficient in their last meeting (7-of-20 shooting, 0-for-5 on three-pointers) he did do this to Julius Randle.

 

 

BC EAGLES 2014 AAU SEASON INFORMATION

Hello Everyone,

TRYOUT INFORMATION: Updated - Monday, March 17th 2014, 2:30pm

13u Coach Frank Memoli  - Please check u13-Memoli tab for team roster and practice schedule. 

14u Coach Ken Stam - Stay tuned for updates and Coach Stam will be in contact w/the players. 

14u Coach Dan Luedke - check team tab u14-Luedke for team roster and practice schedule. 

14u Coach Bill Garneau - Coach will contact you

15u Coach Matt Lawrence - Check team tab u15-Lawrence for team roster and practice schedule. 

15u Coach Bill Aussenheimer or another coach will call/text or email all players

16u/17u Coach Jack LaRegina - Check team tab u16-LaRegina for team roster and practice schedule. 

15u/16u/17u Elite tryouts are over and coach will call all team members. 

 

Attention LADY EAGLES

Announcing Lady Eagles Middle School Tryout for all girls in 5th through 8th grades on Thursday, MARCH 20TH FROM 5:30-7PM @ Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 205 Wawayanda Avenue, Middletown. Doors open at 5:15pm.

 

The way the registration process works is you can download and print the forms from this website. Go to Online Forms. Once they are completed you can mail them with a check for $25.00 (Non-refundable) to the following address. This is the mandatory registration fee!

B.C. Eagles A.A.U. - 9 Boyd Road, Monroe, NY 10950

If you do not pre-register, that means register before the day of the tryout, then you will have to pay $35.00 at the tryout. No Exceptions!

We will call all the participants as we get closer to a tryout date. As of right now we do not know when the tryouts will be. 

Please email us with any questions at bigmox03@hotmail.com

Tourneys top risers and fallers
  • Chad Ford
  • ESPN Insider | March 25, 2014

 

Julius Randle, Andrew HarrisonAP Photo/Charlie RiedelAndrew Harrison and Julius Randle have both improved their stock so far in the NCAA tournament.

 

March Madness is back, baby, and the most exciting event in sports is delivering.

NBA scouts and GMs tend to minimize the influence a great tournament can have on a player's stock. Yes, NBA talent evaluators never judge a player based off one or two games. But the tournament is some players' final chance to show off, and last impressions can be, well, lasting.

NBA scouts and GMs were all over the country last week watching the NCAA tournament. Some prospects shined. Others struggled mightily.

Here's the latest feedback from NBA GMs on a number of top prospects.

Also, be sure to check out our updated Top 100 and our updated Lottery Mock Draft.

 

 


Andrew WigginsKansas Jayhawks

 

 

Wiggins is the No. 1 ranked player on our Big Board, but he played nothing like it in a devastating loss to Stanford on Sunday. Wiggins scored just four points and took just six shots from the field -- amplifying criticism that he is too passive and lacks the aggressiveness to be a star in the NBA. Wiggins' disappearance was troubling. Stanford played great defense, but he should have tried to force the issue more.

Will it affect his draft stock? Before that game, Wiggins was averaging nearly 28 points per game in his past four and his defense against Stanford helped keep the Jayhawks in the contest. Virtually every scout and GM I spoke with had him, even after the game, ranked as the No. 1 or No. 2 prospect on their board. The passive play may dampen the enthusiasm a bit, but unless Joel Embiid comes in with an absolutely clean bill of health, Wiggins is the favorite to be the No. 1 pick.

 

 


Jabari ParkerDuke Blue Devils

 

 

Parker's disappointing finish to the season was even more shocking than Wiggins'. While Parker's game wasn't nearly as passive -- he went 4-for-14 from the field -- most NBA scouts see him as more NBA ready and were shocked at how much he struggled to score and defend against Mercer in Duke's opening-round loss. The defensive issues, especially, are troubling. Parker has been getting dinged by NBA scouts all season for this. But when Coach K had to sub him out on defense toward the end of the game, I think it exposed just what a liability he had become.

Again, these criticisms don't really damage Parker's draft stock too much. Every scout and GM I spoke with had him ranked in their top four. However only a couple had him No. 1. The game is played at both ends of the floor, and more GMs seem to be sensitive to the fact Parker will have some real struggles defensively at the next level.

 

 


The Kentucky kids Just when it seemed like the freshman revolution of college basketball was going to fall completely flat, the much-maligned Kentucky kids went out and beat the only undefeated team in the country -- Wichita State. And all of them played well. Julius Randle was a standout with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. That followed a 19-point, 15-rebound performance against Kansas State. Randle's stock had been sliding in recent weeks, but his strong play in the tournament so far has helped remind scouts of why they loved him early.

 

 

James Young overcame a shaky opening round against Kansas State to play a big role in the win over the Shockers. He had 13 points, 8 rebounds and was 3-for-5 from beyond the arc. When Young is hitting his 3-pointers, UK becomes very dangerous and he looks the part of a lottery pick.

The Harrison twins both played big roles, too.Aaron Harrison is averaging 18.5 points per game in the tournament and shooting better than 50 percent from beyond the 3-point line. His brother, Andrew Harrison, outplayed one of the top point guards in the country, Fred VanVleet, scoring 20 points with three assists for Kentucky. He also has 12 turnovers in the tournament, which means not everything is well, but when the Harrison twins play with the confidence they showed against the Shockers, they start to look more viable as first-round picks. I have both of them still in the early second round, but if Kentucky can win a few more games and they play well, they'll move back into the first. NBA scouts want to like them.

Willie Cauley-Stein is the other UK player who deserves mention here. He's scored only six points in the tournament so far, but he has five blocks and 10 rebounds. While he looks miles away offensively, he's so fluid and athletic and such a terrific rim protector that some teams will take a serious look at him late in the lottery to mid-first round.

 

 


Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-JeffersonArizona Wildcats

 

 

The two freshmen for Arizona also had some big moments this weekend. Gordon absolutely terrorized Weber State and Gonzaga, filling up the box score in each game. He had five blocks against Weber State and four steals versus Gonzaga and just as importantly, he's gone 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. No one believes he's a shooter, but a dominant performance in the tournament has scouts buzzing about all the intangibles he brings to the table.

Hollis-Jefferson has also been a favorite of scouts despite not putting up big numbers this season. However, he had two breakout games this weekend, scoring 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting from the field in 22 minutes versus Weber State and following it up with a career-high 18 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks versus Gonzaga. Here, for the first time this season, Hollis-Jefferson was doing more than just relying on potential. He was playing at a lottery-pick level.

While most scouts believe he will return to school for his sophomore year, if he does declare for the draft, expect him to go somewhere in the mid-to-late first round. He's a jump shot away from being a true difference-maker on both ends of the floor.

 

 


Tyler EnnisSyracuse Orange

 

 

Ennis has been lauded all season for his steadiness as a rookie point guard, but that sheen has begun to wear a little bit thin over the course of the past month as Syracuse has struggled. Ennis was the best thing Syracuse had going for it in an opening-round loss to Dayton, but his 7-for-21 shooting from the field and 0-for-5 shooting from beyond the arc wasn't what NBA teams were hoping for. Ennis' struggles to finish at the rim, combined with just so-so shooting numbers from the perimeter, worry scouts a bit. However, he's still projected as a late lottery pick on most draft boards.

 

 


Marcus SmartOklahoma State Cowboys

 

 

Smart began the season ranked as the No. 2 point guard prospect in the country (behind Australia'sDante Exum) and despite a very up-and-down season, he remains there after his sophomore season came to an end at the hands of Gonzaga. Smart has been playing much better since his suspension, and against Gonzaga he had one of his better games of the season, scoring 23 points, grabbing 13 boards, dishing out seven assists and collecting six steals. That's a pretty complete box score and Smart competed as fiercely as ever.

With that said, his six turnovers and 1-for-5 shooting from 3-point range continue to highlight the two areas that are major concerns -- his jump shot and his penchant for trying to do too much. Some NBA teams love him. Others aren't so sure. But he still looks like a safe bet to go somewhere between No. 6 and No. 10 on draft night.

 

 


Doug McDermottCreighton Bluejays

 

 

McDermott might be the best pure scorer in college basketball, and showed it with a 30-point, 12-rebound performance against Louisiana-Lafayette. However, against a long, athletic Baylor team, his stock fell back down to earth.

McDermott recorded his third-lowest output of the season (15 points) in a blowout loss to the Bears. McDermott struggled to get good looks all game and may have given us a glance at what he'd face from more athletic teams in the NBA. Nevertheless, he, too, looks like a lock to fall somewhere in the No. 10-to-No. 20 range.

 

 


Rodney HoodDuke Blue Devils

 

 

Hood has been a remarkably consistent performer all season, but he struggled mightily against Mercer, scoring a season-low six points on 2-for-10 shooting from the field. His season-high five assists made up for some of his offensive woes, but it wasn't a pretty outing for Hood. Teams aren't really looking for more than 3-point shooting from Hood, so he should be fine. But it was a tough way to end his career. Look for him to go in the No. 10-to-No. 20 range, as well.

 

 


Adreian PayneGary Harris andBranden DawsonMichigan State Spartans

 

 

Payne had one of the two or three best performances of the tourney on Thursday, scoring a career-high 41 points on 10-for-15 shooting (including 4-for-5 from 3-point range) versus Delaware. For NBA teams that were still struggling to get on his bandwagon, this was a seminal moment and drew praise from just about everyone. If he was two years younger, he'd be a top-8 pick in this draft. But at 23, teams sort of expect that you'll be dominating younger talent. His draft range looks to be No. 13 to No. 20 right now.

Harris was solid in the win over Delaware on Thursday and even better against Harvard on Saturday, scoring 18 points and dishing out five assists for the Spartans.

Dawson also had his best game of the season on Saturday, pouring in 26 points on 12-for-15 shooting with nine rebounds for the Spartans. He has an NBA body, flaunts athleticism and he can be a tenacious defender when he wants to be. Scouts have seen him as a borderline first-round pick for several years and a continued strong performance in the tourney could make him a lock.

 

 


T.J. WarrenNorth Carolina State Wolfpack

 

 

Warren continued to prove that he's one of the best scorers in college basketball with a combined 43 points in the opening two rounds against Xavier and Saint Louis. Unfortunately, everyone in the NBA already knows he can score. The issue for Warren is his lack of a credible 3-point jump shot (he's missed his last 13 from long range) and a less-than-stellar athletic profile. His stock has been rising the past few months, but there's a ceiling there somewhere in the mid-to-late first round.

 

 


Cleanthony Early and Ron BakerWichita State Shockers

 

 

No one did more to help their draft stock this weekend than Early. Often pegged as a tweener by NBA scouts, he had two terrific performances against Cal Poly (23 points and seven rebounds) and Kentucky (31 points and seven rebounds) this weekend. Early's 3-point shot has been failing with much more regularity lately (he was 7-for-14 from the perimeter in the tourney), making him a much more viable candidate as an NBA small forward.

He's already 22 years old, but I had a number of both scouts and GMs claim he had moved from the second round into the mid-first round with that performance against the athletes of Kentucky. His lack of great competition clearly had hindered his stock this season, but one game against UK seems to have resurrected it.

Baker also showed off his shooting chops against UK, going 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. His defense was borderline terrible, but many NBA scouts think he can be an effective point guard at the next level thanks to his ballhandling skills and shooting touch. Baker is a definite sleeper for the late first round if he declares.

 

 


Zach LaVineUCLA Bruins

 

 

LaVine continues to disappoint. There's no question he has the physical tools to be a pro, but his production has been way off lately. He scored a combined three points against both Tulsa and Stephen F. Austin and hasn't made a 3-pointer (his specialty) in the past four games. NBA teams are crossing their fingers that he stays in school at least one more year. He has a future as a pro, but he's so far away right now.

 

 


Elfrid PaytonLouisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns

 

 

Payton was patiently waiting for his moment on the big stage and put up a very solid game against Creighton. He had 24 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks for the Ragin' Cajuns. He lacks a solid outside jump shot and he can sometimes struggle around the rim, but his length, athleticism, speed and ability to get to the basket make him a unique point guard prospect. He's a likely first-round pick if he declares.

 

 


Cory JeffersonBaylor Bears

 

 

Jefferson has been a beast for Baylor this season. He was great attacking the rim against both Nebraska and Creighton and ended up with a combined 30 points in two big wins for the Bears. When he plays well, the Bears are a tough team to beat. His age works against him likely cracking the first round, but he's becoming more and more of a second-round lock.

 

 


DeAndre KaneIowa State Cyclones

 

 

Everyone keeps asking me why Kane isn't ranked higher on our Board (currently at No. 53 on the top 100). He's a big, physical, aggressive point guard who keeps coming up big in huge games. He had 24 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists against UNC (along with 7 turnovers) and a solid 14 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists against North Carolina Central.

The issue for Kane is age. He'll turn 25 in June. He's roughly six months younger than Derrick Rose, who has already been in the league for six seasons. That's why. Can you imagine what a healthy Rose would do in the NCAA tourney now? Scouts discount what you do if you're that old playing against 18- and 19-year-olds. Of course you are supposed to dominate. That doesn't mean Kane won't get looks by NBA teams. He can really play, but they take his big games with a grain of salt.

 

 


Aaron CraftOhio State Buckeyes

 

 

Craft isn't your traditional NBA point guard by almost any standard. But his toughness and defense have led many NBA scouts to contend that he'll find a way to make and stick on a team. He's a likely second-round pick to undrafted, but so many scouts admire the way he plays that someone will give him a chance.

 

 


Jarnell StokesTennessee Volunteers

 

 

Stokes may be an undersized center, but he's been a beast on the boards in the tournament, averaging 15 rebounds per game in his first three games. You can't ignore that. The fact he's still just 20 years old also really helps his stock. He probably doesn't crack the first round, but if he declares, he's going to get a lot of looks in the second.

NBA Draft 2014: Predicting Biggest Potential Steals of This Year's Class

 

NBA Draft 2014: Predicting Biggest Potential Steals of This Year's Class
 
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

As the end of the NCAA tournament approaches and the NBA draft comes into focus, much of the hype is surrounding sensational freshmen such as Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle and Joel Embiid.

While all of them promise to be early selections if they decide to declare and all of them have the potential to be great at the next level, this could be one of the deepest drafts in recent memory. Because of that, there is definitely value to be had late in the first round and even into the second.

Here is a look at three potential draftees who will exceed expectations and outperform that draft status once they become NBA players.

 

Adreian Payne (Michigan State)

 

 
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

 

As the Michigan State Spartans continue to pursue a national championship, senior forward Adreian Payne continues to impress. The 6'10" forward has been a key player for the Spartans since his sophomore season, but he has taken huge steps forward as a player this year. Payne set a career high with nearly 17 points per game while adding seven rebounds and one block per contest as well.

Payne is a big-time factor in the paint, but his true value relates to his ability to step out and hit jumpers. Payne is pure from inside the arc, and he has improved his three-point stroke significantly as well. Payne has made nearly 44 percent of his attempts from downtown, which should make him an intriguing and dangerous NBA player.

On top of that, Payne manages to raise his level of play in big situations. That was on full display in the NCAA tournament's round of 64 as he dropped 41 points on Delaware. According to ESPN's Chad Ford, that put him in position to potentially get into the lottery pick conversation. 

With that said, Payne's name hasn't come up much in that regard due to the amount of talent among the underclassmen. Payne is already 23 years old, and while that means he is mature, some teams may look at his age as a negative.

Payne is a polished and NBA-ready prospect, though, and teams will certainly regret passing on him.

 

Cleanthony Early (Wichita State)

Payne still has an opportunity to improve his draft stock should he play well throughout a lengthy Michigan State tournament run, but Wichita State's Cleanthony Early no longer has that luxury. The Shockers were ousted in the round of 32 by Kentucky, but Early didn't go down without a fight. 

He was spectacular in scoring 31 points on 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc, but it still wasn't enough to push the Shockers into the Sweet 16. Early's career ended on a bittersweet note with his team suffering a disappointing defeat, but he may have improved his draft stock in the process. As pointed out by SNY's Adam Zagoria, Early is currently viewed as a borderline first-round selection: 

All Early did in his two years at Wichita State was make big plays. He helped the Shockers surprisingly reach the Final Four in 2013, and his individual level of play got even better in 2014. Early averaged over 16 points and nearly six rebounds per game along with almost two trifectas per contest as well.

Early has great size at 6'8", and although he could benefit from filling out his frame a little bit more, the fact that he can shoot the ball so well should make him an immediate threat in the NBA. He may not possess the athletic ability that many of the prospective top picks do, but he is the type of player who simply finds ways to produce. There is no reason to believe that will change in the NBA.

 

Javon McCrea (Buffalo)

While Payne and Early figure to be steals in the latter part of the first round, University at Buffalo forward Javon McCrea is a guy who seemingly isn't even on most radars as a second-rounder. McCrea never led the Bulls to a MAC title or earned an NCAA tournament berth in his four collegiate seasons, but he was a dominant force to say the least.

McCrea won the MAC Player of the Year Award for the 2013-14 season as he put up 18.5 points, a shade under 10 rebounds and better than two assists and blocks per contest. Few players in the nation were more versatile and efficient in all aspects than McCrea. In fact, ESPN.com ranked him as seventh in Player Efficiency Rating ahead of highly-touted players such as Parker, Embiid and a host of others.

 Which player will be the biggest steal of the 2014 NBA draft?

Submit Vote vote to see results
 

Which player will be the biggest steal of the 2014 NBA draft?

  • Adreian Payne

    50.0%
     
  • Cleanthony Early

    42.4%
     
  • Javon McCrea

    7.5%
     

Opposing coaches marveled at McCrea's ability, including Western Michigan head coach Steve Hawkins, who raved about the powerful forward ahead of the Broncos' NCAA tournament meeting with Syracuse, according to Jeff DiVeronica of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.

"He's just a beast, an absolute beast, one of my favorite players, a big, strong physical kid and he just loves to play basketball. You could tell," Hawkins said. "I'm glad we don't have to play him again."

The biggest knocks on McCrea are his size and his shot. McCrea is a load at 250 pounds, but some scouts may believe that he is too small to play power forward in the NBA at 6'7". Also, moving him to small forward could prove problematic since his shooting stroke is still a work in progress.

With that said, McCrea compares favorably to Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap, who was knocked for his size when he entered the NBA. Millsap has thrived, though, and McCrea can as well provided he continues to improve as a shooter.

Early is right on time
MAR
25

Early is Right on Time

 

 
As the Fabulous Freshmen of the Class of 2017 continue to dominate NBA Draft talk, there might just be a Dark Horse steadily quickening his pace as we turn for the finish line of June 26th. 
 
On Sunday, A Wichita State team with something to prove lost to a sizzling Kentucky team that, thanks to a little dose of Calipari Magic, or perhaps of MJ’s Secret Stuff, seems to be coming together at just the right time. But the Shockers can take solace in one thing: the performance of Cleanthony Early came under some of the brightest lights in college basketball.

 

 
 
As ball after ball left a scorching hand, I’m not sure any of which touched rim, Early was simply money. With a swagger that resembled the Mamba himself, immense passion and effortless poise, this kid was more than just The Answer to Wichita State’s problems; he was The Solution.
 
And his solution was buckets:
 
He shot twelve for seventeen (strong shooter? Check) in a deadly close game (Clutch? Lil’ bit) while shooting 3 for 3 from the line and grabbing seven boards (fundamentals? Solid) against some of the most highly ranked recruits in the country: a win for Mid-Majors everywhere. That’s not to mention a couple additions to the highlight reel, at the hapless expense of Mr. Willie Cauley-Stein.
 
 
 
All this came in a season where he shot 48.6% from the field, 37.5% from behind the arc, and 84.4% from the line, averaging 16.4 points per game alongside 5.9 rebounds in what was a measly 27.4 minutes per game compared to other college stars. The game against Kentucky was only Early’s 14th game in which he played over 30 minutes this year, compared to Jabari Parker’s twenty-one.
 
If the 6’ 8’ Senior put up thirty-one against an iron-strong Kentucky team, playing big minutes in a competitive game, imagine the numbers he could have averaged if he hadn’t been subject to the various blowouts that were a part of Wichita State’s immaculate regular season?
 
If that were so, Parker wouldn’t be the first name to come to mind when someone heard the words “number one pick.”
 
The only thing Wichita did wrong was take the ball out of Early’s hands down the stretch, dousing what had been a blazing shooting performance and ultimately extinguishing the Shocker’s fiery streak, bringing their season to a taunting 35-1.
 
Jubilation became pain; hope, despair. This didn’t feel like a conclusion, it felt like a termination, and along with it Mid-Major fell back into the darkness.
 
But from it might emerge one of the best players of this year’s draft class: Cleanthony Early. 
The 5 Best Wichita State Shockers Since 2000

By

 

Fred VanVleet

Fred VanVleet (Scott Kane/USA TODAY Sports)

I’m shocked, to say the least. I never thought the Shockers would reach the apex of college basketball and go undefeated. They thrashed each opponent on their way to 34 wins. Then again, can you really be shocked? Coach Gregg Marshall drew out the blueprint. His team epitomizes the new hip-hop adage “started from the bottom” as their spry play has ESPN commentators gushing over their dream season.

Since his tenure began, Marshall took his team to two NIT tournaments–winning one in 2011–and back-to-back-to-back NCAA tournaments in 2012, 2013 and now 2014, with a Final Four appearance last year. Now Marshall and his team are craving bigger dreams. They’re craving an NCAA title. With the reputations of mid-major teams constantly sullied because of their lack of competition, Wichita State has emerged as the lone warrior among all.

Here are their five best players since 2000.

*** *** ***

5. Sean Ogirri
While the senior Paul Miller was receiving the accolades for his play down low in the paint, Ogirri was a dominant second option during their ’05-06 season. He was a sniper from deep and shot near 45 percent from deep while averaging 12 points a game that year. He ingratiated the nation with his performance against Seton Hall in the first round of the tournament when he dropped 23 light ones, sprinkling four threes in the faces of Pirates defenders. He also dropped another pair of threes to help oust No. 2 seed Tennessee to clinch a Sweet Sixteen berth for his team.

Despite leaving the team for his final season to play for Wyoming, his heroics in the ’05-06 tourney won’t be forgotten by Shocker nation.

4. Paul Miller
Before Gregg Marshall took over, Mark Turgeon was at the helm. While Marshall took the Shockers to new heights, Turgeon had a Cinderella run of his own back in ’05-06. Forward/center Paul Miller had a very turbulent start to his collegiate career where he broke his ankle three games in. After watching his freshman year collapse right in front of his very eyes, Miller insisted on bulking up to return stronger his following year. He would be named on to the MVC All-Freshman team by averaging seven points and four rebounds.

But it would be his senior year where he burst onto the national forefront. Serving as the engine to the Shockers in their rapid fire run to the Sweet Sixteen, he averaged 13 points and seven rebounds, shooting over 51 percent from the field. His play earned him MVC Player of the Year and an All American honorable mention.

3. Toure’ Murry
New Yorkers didn’t know who Toure’ was when he inked his contract with the Knicks. He was another product of Marshall’s who performed, especially on the defensive end. Prior to his arrival, the Shockers’ future seemed murky. Yet when he walked onto the court, everything changed. A defensive guru, who relished in playing the passing lanes and providing pesky defense, Murry earned his stripes in the Missouri Valley Conference. He was on the All-Missouri Valley Freshman Team and All-Missouri Valley Newcomer Team in 2009. In addition to that, he was a two-time All-Defensive Missouri Valley Conference selection.

By helping his team win the NIT championship in 2011 and being a spark plug during their run in the tourney in 2012, he proved how his hustle and heart could outshine talent on a national stage.

2. Cleanthony Early
Dick Vitale salivates over guys like this. Early is what Dickie V likes to call a PTP’er. After manhandling the toddlers on the JUCO level, Early decided to take his talents over to Marshall’s Wichita State Shockers. He would bring that same voracity over to the Shockers his first year by walloping his opponents with 14 points and five rebounds a game. His play garnered a variety of accolades in the form of being a First Team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection and MVC Newcomer of the Year. He helped steamroll the Shockers to the Final Four last year, where they would eventually lose to the Louisville Cardinals in a game in which he dropped 24 and 10.

This year, he thrived under the bright lights and lifted his averages of 14 and five to 16 and six while also earning another MVC First Team placement in route to his Shockers undefeated season.

1. Fred VanVleet
VanVleet is a baller. The man has heart. He gives little guys like me hope to ball so hard. The 5-11 sophomore has played a huge role in the Shockers resurgence. He plays with efficiency and care at the point guard position. Here’s exhibit A–his game against Loyola last month–where he posted 22 points, eight rebounds and six dimes. If those stats aren’t enough to cajole you as to why he’s considered one of the top players in the country, listen to this: he went 6-6 from the field and 10-10 from the line. That would be considered an A+ game in My Player for NBA 2K.

The All-Conference First Teamer and the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year has already etched himself among Shocker greats. Another run to the Final Four can have him in the best ever conversation for his program.

What do you think?

Early turns in another NCAA masterpiece

Commentary
 
Bob Lutz: Early turns in another NCAA masterpiece
 
By Bob Lutz
Published Sunday, March 23, 2014, at 7:22 p.m.
Updated Tuesday, March 25, 2014, at 6:49 a.m.

Wichita State’s undefeated season ends in 78-76 loss to Kentucky Wichita State fans experience unfamiliar feeling of defeat Wichita State assistant Chris Jans takes Bowling Green job VanVleet foul trouble puts Kentucky on attack Wichita State players talk of learning from only loss Randle powers Kentucky to second-half comeback Shocker report (March 23) Bob Lutz: Wichita State gets national eye for Kentucky matchup Bigger, athletic Kentucky presents challenge for No. 2 Wichita State NCAA Gameday Live: Follow KU, Wichita State tournament games Read a transcript of The Eagle's Bob Lutz morning chat with Kentucky.com's John Clay Order Wichita State commemorative poster pages
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ST. LOUIS – Cleanthony Early is a young man who, more than most his age, understands life’s ups and downs.
Almost four years ago, his older brother, Jamel Glover, drowned.
Sunday, Wichita State lost a basketball game.
There is no comparison.
Which is probably why Early, a senior who has played his last game as a Shocker, was so matter-of-fact after the game. While teammates Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet looked emotionally flushed, Early checked his phone for text messages while taking questions from reporters in a news conference.
It’s not that Early, who was the best player on the floor against Kentucky during the Shockers’ first and only loss of the 2013-14 season, wasn’t upset. He was.
But he has perspective.
“I wanted it to end a little different, but I have to understand certain facts,” said. “I’m sure I’ll continue working hard to be successful. I am sure my teammates will. And it is what it is.”
Early was superb, outstanding, scintillating. There isn’t an adjective too strong to describe the way he played. He scored 31 points, 16 of them in the game’s final 9:53 as the Shockers were fighting tooth and nail with a young but supremely talented Kentucky team that was a different animal in the second half.
He was even better than he was in last season’s national semifinal loss to Louisville, when he exploded like a meteor with 24 points.
Early’s best two games as a college player came in NCAA Tournament losses. That’s not such a bad thing to put on a resume.
“I think that’s a pretty good indication of the quality of player that he is,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. “He’s just athletically gifted and he’s been shooting the ball great. I didn’t even sub him in the second half. Maybe that’s my fault, but he was going so well.”
No, no, Early belonged nowhere near a bench in Sunday’s second half.
He made two big shots to put the Shockers up by three with 8:57 left. He made another basket to re-establish that three-point lead with 7:25 to go. He made a three-pointer to give Wichita State a 66-62 lead with 5:47 left and another three-pointer to make it a five-point lead with 4:32 to play. His basket at the 2:14 mark made it a 71-70 lead. And his two free throws with nine seconds left brought the Shockers within a point.
Kentucky got a lot of Early early and a lot of Early late. And in the middle, too.
“He rises to the occasion, doesn’t he?” Marshall said. “On the big stage he plays his best. I am just sorry that his career is now over here, but I will guarantee you his career is just starting at the next level. He is going to be a dynamite player because he is a great person, he works extremely hard and he wants to be a great player.”
I’ll be surprised if Early doesn’t start showing up on some of the NBA mock drafts that are out there. He’s 6-foot-8 with tremendous shooting range. He can rebound and fly to the basket. Most of all, he’s a much-improved defensive player.
And there’s his perspective. His maturity. He wasn’t devastated by Sunday’s loss because he recognizes there are more important things.
“It sucks,” he said. “But there’s always a chance of winning or losing, so I wouldn’t say I’m shocked. I wouldn’t have been shocked if we had won. It’s just that bittersweet zone, you know?”
Early, a junior-college transfer who played two seasons at Wichita State, played in a Final Four and was the best player on a team that made a 35-0 run before losing in the NCAA Tournament.
That’s what you call leaving a mark.
“I was fighting for a win today,” he said. “That’s what I was thinking about. I wanted to continue in this tournament, to survive and advance. But I’ll continue to be optimistic because that’s the type of person I am.”
Early had fun Sunday. The loss wasn’t fun, but the game was.
He got to run up and down the floor at the Scottrade Center with the thoroughbred athletes from Kentucky, guys who are sure-fire future NBA lottery picks. He was in his element.
“I’ve got that confidence that I’m the best guy on the court,” Early said. “And I’m pretty sure they’ve got that confidence, too. What’s left to do then is just to play basketball and show them proof. They won that game, but we went out fighting.”
One of the messages Early checked on the interview podium after Sunday’s game was from Kansas sophomore and Wichita native Perry Ellis, whose Jayhawks also lost Sunday, to Stanford.
“He said he’d be down to Wichita soon,” Early said. “And that we’ve got to go to work.”
Early moves on now, driven to be his best. But life’s events have made him mature enough to know that, at the end of the day, it’s just basketball. And win or lose, it’s fun.

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2014/03/23/3363912/bob-lutz-early-turns-in-another.html#storylink=cpy

NCAA men's tournament: Wichita State's historic season ends too early

Pine Bush grad Cleanthony Early scored 31 points for Wichita State in a loss vs. Kentucky on Sunday.

AP

ST. LOUIS — Wichita State's season came to a conclusion long before even Kentucky coach John Calipari thought it deserved, at the hands of his Wildcats in a thrilling NCAA tournament game.

Yet in the immediate aftermath of the loss on Sunday, two things became clear: The Shockers had put together a season to remember and they're poised to do it again.

After making the Final Four a year ago, they became the first team to start 35-0. They won their first Missouri Valley tournament title since 1987. They went toe-to-toe with the mighty Wildcats, a team stocked with NBA talent, until the final buzzer finally sounded.

 

 

Wichita State Basketball: Cleanthony Early’s Draft Stock Soars Despite Loss
Cleanthony Early NBA

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The big names coming into the NCAA tournament were very well known. Names like Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Doug McDermott were the headliners. All of these names are expected to be great players at the next level, but after today there is one name people will start talking about a lot: Cleanthony Early.

The Wichita State senior played marvelous in defeat. The Shockers saw their season end, but Anthony might have just secured his spot in the NBA. In defeat he had 31 points on 12-for-17 shooting. He also shot 4-for-6 from three and had the dunk of the tournament so far.

In an age where every high draft pick is 19 or 20, it is refreshing to see a player who has stuck it out in college get some recognition. And believe me that recognition is coming for Early. If you were watching this game you could just see something about him. He had a look in his eye and a desire to have the ball in his hands.

Early is not the prospect that Joel Embiid is; he doesn’t have the raw athleticism that Wiggins possesses, and he doesn’t have the brute strength that Randle and Parker have. But he is pretty darn close to having all those things with those players.

Early will be drafted come late June — make no mistake about it. Where is he going to get drafted? Well, after this performance expect his name to climb a lot on draft big boards. Anthony is a star and his draft stock is finally going to reflect that.

Wichita State's Cleanthony Early threw down one of the tournament's best dunks over Kentucky's Willi

 

Sam Cooper
The Dagger
 
NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-3rd Round-Wichita State vs Kentucky
.

View photo

Mar 23, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Wichita State Shockers forward Cleanthony Early (11) reacts against the Kentucky Wildcats during the first half in the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship at Scottrade Center. (Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports)

 

 

Though Kentucky would end up pulling out a close 78-76 win to end Wichita State's undefeated dream season, Shockers forward Cleanthony Early wowed fans with what was arguably the best dunk of the tournament so far. 

With the Shockers up six late in the first half, point guard Fred VanVleet picked the pocket of Kentucky standout freshman Aaron Harrison. As VanVleet took the ball back in the other direction on a fast break, he had forward Ron Baker streaking down the left side, but Van Vleet had his sights set on the 6-foot-8, 220-pound Early.

VanVleet hit Early in stride with a perfect bounce pass and Early skied for a forceful slam over Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein, plus the foul.

Watch the whole thing here:

Early then completed the old-fashioned three-point play to give the Shockers a nine-point lead.

Fortunately for Kentucky, James Young hit a tough three on the other end on the next possession to keep his team within striking distance. It should be a close one the rest of the way

Kentucky comes of age against Shockers
  • Kentucky comes of age against Shockers

  •  
  • By Mitch Sherman | March 23, 2014 8:49:22 PM PDT

 



ST. LOUIS -- It couldn’t really happen. 

The billing for Kentucky and Wichita State on Sunday called for a battle of talent versus experience, potential versus accomplishment, the perennial front-runner that underachieved versus the underdog on a magical ride. 

They were on a collision course here, primed to meet in a moment that tested wills on both sides: a classic confrontation with all the storylines in place. 

It wouldn’t happen, right? 

It happened. 

Kentucky outlasted No. 1 seed Wichita State 78-76 in a heavyweight rumble fit for a later round of the NCAA tournament. UK ended the Shockers’ season, perfect at 35-0 until Sunday, by playing like it hadn’t played all year. 

With a team of future pros, the Wildcats -- attacked all season, according to coach John Calipari, bludgeoned even -- finally clicked. 

And still, the Shockers came up just one shot short as Fred VanVleet’s 3-pointer from the top of the key clanked the rim and bounced away at the Scottrade Center, leaving a crowd of 19,676 to ponder what it had seen. 

“You all understand,” Calipari said, “this was an Elite Eight game. The winner of this should have gone to the Final Four.” 

It was a round-of-32 gem, one of those unforgettable, back-and-forth tournament games that may mark a coming-of-age moment for Calipari’s young group, which advances to the Sweet 16 in Indianapolis this week to face nemesis Louisville. 

“We don’t worry about that,” Kentucky forwardWillie Cauley-Stein said. “I’m just really trying to enjoy the moment right now.” 

What’s that, a Kentucky player refusing to look at the next game, just days away, against Louisville? 

ESPN IMG
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Kentucky's Aaron Harrison looked to pass against pressure from Wichita State's Fred VanVleet.
The UK fans ought to try that. Well, on Sunday night they could, because this victory over Wichita State was something to savor. 

“A lot of people were down on us all year,” senior guard Jarrod Polson said. “We’re just trying to make this run and prove everybody wrong.” 

The Wildcats’ run, which started as the preseason No. 1, continues. For Wichita State, it ends prematurely. The Shockers got a raw deal, matched against the size and athletic prowess of Kentucky at this stage. At every position, the Wildcats were bigger, starting with twin guards freshmen Andrew and Aaron Harrison

Wichita State, of course, did not back down. Its sophomore backcourt duo of VanVleet and Ron Baker matched the Harrisons, big moment for big moment. 

“You go through some humps in your life, kind of like this one,” Baker said. “It’s tough to see us go out like this. We all wanted more, and at the end of the day, you know, somebody’s got to go home. 

“I thought we had a great year, and it’s just unfortunate we won’t be back playing next week.” 

In the hallway outside the Wichita State locker room, officials from the Missouri Valley Conference -- the Shockers’ league and host to this event -- wore long faces. One breathed a deep sigh of apparent regret as the doors opened to unveil the Wichita State players, silent and still on the benches inside. 

Gregg Marshall had left. The time between coach and players after the game, he said, turned emotional. It was raw. But now, they stared ahead with blank looks. A few of the Shockers toyed with their cell phones. Others tried to answer questions. 

But really, they had no answers. 

“They made plays,” senior forward Chadrack Lufile said. “They capitalized.” 

Wichita State made plays, too. Plenty of them, primarily by Baker and senior Cleanthony Early, who arguably outplayed all of the Kentucky hotshots -- even freshman Julius Randle, a physical force who took over the action for a few minutes early in the second half. 

Early, an elite pro prospect himself, scored 31 points on an array of perimeter shots and slicing moves to the rim. His dunk in transition over the 7-foot Cauley-Stein late in the first half left all in attendance to wonder which of these teams, in fact, was stacked with talent. 

Baker was just as good at times. When Kentucky, which trailed by six at halftime, went ahead for the first time in the second half at 41-40, Baker rushed down the floor to score and draw a foul. After another Kentucky bucket to tie it at 43, Baker drilled a 3. 

Seemingly, the Shockers would not be denied. Until, at the end, the final shot sailed off target. 

“It’s hard,” Marshall said, “the finality of it. We won’t be able to coach these seniors anymore. But it’s been such a fun, enjoyable season, magical season. I mean, it’s literally been a magic carpet ride. And to have it end is going to be something that we have to get used to. 

“But I still think, in retrospect, we will look back and just be so proud.” 

ESPN IMG
Scott Rovak/USA TODAY Sports
The Wildcats celebrated reaching the Sweet 16 and a date against Louisville.
Kentucky, meanwhile, looks ahead. Louisville, which it beat back in December, awaits after a crazy week back home. If the Wildcats survive, perhaps they get Michigan, who lost to Louisville last year in the national title game. 

Calipari, nursing a sore hip of late, said he was “whistling and skipping” in the hallway outside the UK locker room, though not because he felt relieved. 

“If wins are relief,” he said, “it’s time for me to retire. This was great joy in seeing a group of young men come together and start figuring this out. It took longer than I’d hoped.” 

The coach said he failed to define roles adequately among the young Wildcats early in the season. Now, they’re starting to lose themselves within the team. They’re growing as a unit, not lurching forward and backward as individuals. It was evident on the court against Wichita State. 

“I just wish we had another month of the season,” Calipari said, “because we’re getting better every day.” 

He won’t get a month, but Calipari could get two weeks. It’s a scary thought for the remaining teams in the tournament, because Kentucky, as a No. 8 seed at not even close to its best, takes a backseat to no opponent. 

Still, just how close were the Wildcats to a sour finish on Sunday? 

Consider this: Andrew Harrison, who runs the point among the 6-foot-6 twins, hurt his right elbow in a collision with Kansas State’s Wesley Iwundu on Friday. Calipari said on Saturday that the Wildcats were ready to play without Harrison.

Trainer Chris Simmons spent the night before this game in Harrison’s hotel room, keeping ice on the injured elbow as Harrison slept. 

Harrison played well. He made 6-of-9 from the field and scored a team-high 20 points. 

Score one for the trainer. 

“Without him, obviously you know now, it would have been a different game,” Calipari said. “We couldn’t have won the game.” 

That Wichita State had one shot to win, with three seconds on the clock and the ball past half court, speaks to the Shockers’ resolve and their own level of play. 

“That’s how good they are,” Calipari said, “and how good we’re playing right now.” 

Good enough to make for a classic. 

 

MBB: Shockers End Season With 78-76 Loss to Kentucky
 
Courtesy: Wichita State
 
MBB: Shockers End Season With 78-76 Loss to Kentucky
Courtesy:Wichita State
Release:03/23/2014
 
 
 

ST. LOUIS - Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker combined to score 51 points but it was not enough for the Shockers to advance to the Sweet 16 as Kentucky upended Wichita State 78-76 in the third round of the NCAA tournament. Andrew and Aaron Harrison led the Wildcats with 20 points and 19 points, respectively. Julius Randle posted a double-double for Kentucky with 13 points and 10 rebounds. 

Wichita State ends the season 35-1, the best record in Shocker basketball history. Early's 31 points ties the third best scoring performance in a single game of an NCAA tournament in Wichita State history.  

Aaron and Andrew Harrison combined to score the first seven Kentucky points, but the Shockers had an answer for every Wildcat basket early on as Chadrack Lufile scored back-to-back buckets to give Wichita State a 7-6 lead before the first media timeout. Baker hit a trey from the corner to start the scoring for Wichita State and Lufile came off the bench and scored four quick points to give Wichita State the early lead. 

Early popped a three-pointer for a 10-8 Wichita State lead but Kentucky answered with back-to-back threes from Aaron Harrison and James Young to take a 14-10 lead. Baker quickly stopped the Kentucky 6-0 run with a driving layup and free throw to cut the Wildcat lead down to one at 14-13.

Andrew Harrison drained a three from long distance after two Kentucky offensive rebounds to get the Wildcat lead back to up to four at 19-15, but Wichita State went on a 7-0 run that gave the Shockers a 22-19 lead and forced Kentucky to use a timeout. Tekele Cotton scored five consecutive points and Fred VanVleet picked Andrew Harrison's pocket and dished it off to Darius Carter for a breakaway dunk that ignited the Shocker crowd inside the Scottrade Center. 

After a running jumper by Kentucky's Young, VanVleet hit a jumper, and Early and Baker finished two driving lay ups to give Wichita State a 30-23 lead with 5:14 to play in the first half.

Kentucky answered with four unanswered points, including a dunk from Willie Cauley-Stein that cut the Shocker lead to five, 32-27. 

The Shocker faithful rose to their feet once again towards the end of the first half. 

VanVleet came up with his second steal of the game and delivered a perfect bounce pass to a cutting Early as Early finished with a thunderous dunk and added a free throw after being fouled on the play. 

The old fashioned three-point play gave Wichita State a nine point lead in the first half before Young connected on his second trey of the game as the shot clock expired to get the Wildcats back within six at 37-31.

Early led all scorers at the half with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Young led Kentucky with eight points, including 2-of-3 from beyond-the-arc. Both teams shot 54.2 percent (13-of-24) from the field. The Shockers were 3-for-8 from long distance, while the Wildcats were 4-for-10.

Wichita State scored the first three points of the second half on an Early three-pointer, but Kentucky went on a 9-0 run in a span of 2:15 seconds to close the gap to 40-39. Julius Randle finished a one handed put back dunk, Aaron Harrison added a three-pointer from the left wing, and Randle grabbed his own miss and laid it back in with a foul that added a free throw. 

Alex Poythress gave Kentucky its first lead of the second half with a transition layup but Baker quickly regained the lead for Wichita State with and-one lay up that gave Wichita State a 43-41 edge with 16:15 remaining in regulation. 

Aaron Harrison hit his third three-pointer of the game that put Kentucky on top 48-46 and Cauley-Stein gave the Wildcats a four point lead with an alley oop dunk from Andrew Harrison. 

Carter hit one of two free throws and Early drained a 17-foot jumper to cut the Kentucky lead to 50-49, but Randle answered with a driving up and under layup and added a free throw to get the lead back to four at 53-49. 

Nick Wiggins brought the Shockers back to within one after a trey from the corner, while Lufile and Early gave the Shockers a three-point lead at the 8:54 mark of the second half. Lufile powered up for an easy lay in and Early made back-to-back transition lay ups for a 58-55 Wichita State advantage. 

Kentucky tied the game once again at 60-60 when Aaron Harrison banked in a three-pointer, but Baker took a handoff and nailed a step back three-point jumper for a 63-60 lead with 6:27 remaining. 

The Wildcats converted on the other end with another layup to get within 63-62 on an Andrew Harrison layup.

 Early, a senior from Middletown, N.Y. hit a three from straight away and then hit another three from the corner right in front of Shocker bench for a 69-64 Shocker advantage with 4:36 remaining in the second half. 

Kentucky used a 6-0 run to regain the lead at 70-69. Four of those points came from free throws by Aaron and Andrew Harrison.

Early hit a jumper for a 71-70 Wichita State lead. Young followed Early's jumper and gave Kentucky a 73-71 lead with a three from the right wing with 1:41 to play in the game. 

Two free throws by Andrew Harrison put Kentucky up 75-71 with 42 seconds to play before Baker banked in a three-pointer from the left wing that cut the Kentucky lead to 75-74 with 29 second remaining. 

The Shockers were forced to foul and sent the freshman Randle to the line. Randle sank both free throws for a 77-74 Kentucky advantage. Baker's three-point attempt to tie the game with 10 seconds left was short, but Early grabbed the rebound and was fouled. Early drained both free throws to get Wichita State within one again at 77-76.

Baker fouled Andrew Harrison with seven seconds left and a one point Kentucky lead. Harrison made made the first free throw but missed the second and the Shockers had possession, down 78-76 with 3.2 seconds left on the clock.

Head coach Gregg Marshall called timeout to draw up a last second play and a chance for Wichita State to force overtime or win the game with a three. 

VanVleet went for the win with an attempt from straight away three but the ball bounced off the rim and into Kentucky's possession. Wichita State ended its season with a 78-76 loss in the third round of the NCAA tournament. 

Wichita State Basketball: Cleanthony Early Can Lead Shockers To Victory

Wichita State Basketball: Cleanthony Early Can Lead Shockers To Victory

Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

When the lights are the brightest and the games are tightest, there is no player more valuable than a team’s best player. As the NCAA tournament heats up, Wichita State will need its most talented player to rise to occasion if the Shockers are to survive an extremely difficult Midwest Region.

The question needs to be asked: who is the Shockers’ best player? Fred Van Vleet is the team’s field general and playmaker. Ron Baker is the team’s sharpshooter and is a great utility guy. Tekele Cotton is the team’s most dominant defender. That said, senior Cleanthony Early is Wichita State’s best and most talented player.

The 6-foot-8 New York native has great size for a small forward and also possesses guard skills. He has made almost 60 3-pointers on the year and averages 36 percent from the arc. Astonishingly, Early has an incredible handle for a man his size and is able to use his length to get around defenders. He is truly a special college player, which is why he’ll be an NBA draft pick in a few months.

Early’s teammates make WSU a tough and competitive team, but he is why they can win the entire tourney. The senior averages less than 16 points per contest, but he can explode into a scoring frenzy at any time. He has a knack for getting to the line, and he is money from the charity stripe where he shoots 84 percent.

This is Early’s opportunity to will his team to victory like Carmelo Anthony did with Syracuse and as Kemba Walker did with Connecticut in 2011. Although this year’s draft is loaded with top-heavy talent, the middle-to-lower half of the first round will be his for the taking with a strong showing in the national tournament.

Cleanthony Early scores 23 points as Wichita State rolls over Cal Poly

Cleanthony Early scores 23 points as Wichita State rolls over Cal Poly

Wichita State forward Cleanthony Early shoots against Cal

Wichita State forward Cleanthony Early shoots against Cal Poly during the first half of a second-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament Friday, March 21, 2014, in St. Louis. (Credit: AP / Charlie Riedel)

ST. LOUIS - The NCAA Selection committee made the road to the title as difficult as possible for undefeated Wichita State by loading the Midwest region with quality opponents. But the top-seeded Shockers caught one break when Cal Poly, a bottom-feeder in the Big West Conference, miraculously played its way into the NCAA Tournament with a losing record.

The Shockers ran up a 19-point first-half lead and coasted to a 64-37 victory in their second-round opener while resting many of their key players in the second half Friday night at Scottrade Center. The rout gave Wichita State a 35-0 record, breaking a tie with the 1991 UNLV team for the best start in NCAA history.

"Going 35-0 means a lot to the program," said senior Nick Wiggins, older brother of Kansas star Andrew Wiggins. "It shows how far the program has come, and we're not done yet."



 

Cal Poly (14-20), which was led by Maliik Love's nine points, scored the opening basket and trailed only 6-5 just under five minutes into the game. But Cleanthony Early scored nine points in a 17-0 Wichita run, and it was all downhill from there for the Mustangs, who were held to 20.7 percent shooting.

"Once we started playing Wichita State basketball, playing angry," Wiggins added, "they couldn't stop us."

WSU advanced to the third round against the winner of Friday night's late game matching eighth-seeded Kentucky, the preseason No. 1 choice in the polls, against ninth-seeded Kansas State. That figured to be a knockdown, drag-out battle, so, the Shockers should come into Sunday's third-round game as the fresh team.

Leading scorer Early totaled 19 of his 23 points in the first half and made only a couple of cameo appearances in the second half while playing 19 minutes. Guard Tekele Cotton was scoreless but in just 19 minutes, and his backcourt partners Fred Van Vleet (four points, 28 minutes) and Ron Baker (seven points, 27 minutes) also were not extended.

The Shockers were also coming into the game off a 12-day layoff since winning the Missouri Valley Tournament in the same building.

"With the extra time off, we got our bodies back and a little rest," Cotton said. "Those two weeks were well-needed."

Cleanthony Early's shock factor
Sachin Shenolikar

Cleanthony Early's Shock Factor0

  • Hoophead
  • Posted by: Sachin Shenolikar
  • March 21, 2014, 3:23 PM

 


cleanthony early wichita state shockers

Get to know Cleanthony Early, the star forward who wants to lead Wichita State back to the Final Four


Last spring, Cleanthony Early and the Number 9-seeded Wichita State Shockers became the darlings of the Big Dance when they won four straight games to reach the Final Four. (They lost to eventual champion Louisville.) The Shockers' hot streak has carried into this season: They enter the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball tournament as the nation's only undefeated team at 34-0 and are the top seed in the Midwest bracket. Early, a 6′ 8″ forward, was leading the team with 16.0 points and 6.6 rebounds a game. SI Kids asked the former junior college player about the emotions of the NCAA tournament, what music pumps him up, and how he expects to close out his senior season.

How would you describe the feeling of stepping on the court during March Madness?

It's like everything you've ever dreamed about, but it's right there — right in front of you to go capture.

Fill in the blank: Wichita State basketball is:

Really, really, really good!

What was it like playing in the Final Four last year?

That was crazy. The whole experience was great, especially to go there with a group of guys like we went with. It was awesome.

How would you describe your style of play?

I'm very versatile. I try to do everything on the court that I possibly can, whether it's getting steals, deflections, rebounds, blocks, and obviously scoring. Doing whatever it takes to win.

If you could have any superpower on the court, what would it be?

I'd be super-duper smart. The smartest guy on the court, along with physical talent — that would be perfect.

What is the origin story behind your first name?

My dad's name is Cleveanthony and I guess my mom just took out the V and the E. People call me Cle here, but before, everyone used to call me Anthony or Ant.

What music do you listen to before a big game?

I listen to a lot of artists — Jay Z, Drake (left), Lil Wayne, J. Cole, and also gospel, pop, and rock and roll songs. I have 3,000 to 4,000 songs on my phone. It's been that way since 2009.

What's one thing people may not know about the city of Wichita?

The first Pizza Hut ever was started out here.

Fill in the blank: The best way to end my college career would be to:

Win the national championship and then go in the first round in the NBA draft!


Photo: RANDY TOBIAS FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED

Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (6 votes)
 
Tobey living boyhood dream

Monroe kid is a big cog in Virginia attack

Monroe resident Mike Tobey, right, helped lead Virginia past Duke in the ACC title game on Sunday, and into the NCAA tournament as a No. 1 seed in the East Region.ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Times Herald-Record

Mike Tobey grew up in a house that celebrated March Madness almost like a holiday.

Leading up to the NCAA men's basketball tournament, there was a buzz as the close-knit family gathered together in their Monroe home to watch all of the games.

As for the latest round of Tobey Family March Madness memories, well, it doesn't get much more exciting than this. Mike Tobey will be front and center again, but with a much more different vantage point, wearing a jersey for the University of Virginia — the top seed in the East Region of the NCAA tournament.

"Growing up, the NCAA was always the biggest thing," said Tobey, a 6-foot-11 sophomore forward/center. "Especially the first-round games because they were so many. They all were good and I'd be up late. I always thought about playing in the tournament myself as a kid. This is a dream come true. That's what it is, a dream come true."

And not only for Tobey. He and his family were loyal Duke fans, Tobey even went to the Blue Devils' basketball camp on campus every summer. However, the family's allegiance changed — rather quickly — when Tobey verbally committed to Virginia in January 2011.

Tobey's father, Ken, seemed giddy talking on the phone about Virginia's 72-63 win over Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game last Sunday in Greensboro, N.C. It marked the Cavaliers' first ACC title since 1976.

"This is it, this is what you dream about," Ken Tobey said. "We have been watching the tournament since our kids were little babies. Once Mike was going to Virginia, we put all of our Duke stuff aside. We drank the Virginia Kool-Aid, we were all in. To beat Duke, it doesn't get any better than that. My phone is blowing up about Mike. It's really amazing."

At 9:15 p.m. Friday, Ken Tobey and his wife, Kathleen, expect to be in Raleigh, N.C., when Virginia (28-6) plays No. 16 Coastal Carolina in a NCAA tournament second-round game. It marks the first time since 1983, when Ralph Sampson led the Cavaliers, that Virginia has been a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

"It's extremely exciting how we have played in the second half," said Mike Tobey, who has started 25 games, averaging 6.5 and 3.8 rebounds. "It's been phenomenal and we look forward to going on a deep run in the tournament. For us, the No. 1 seed is just a number. This is just another game. We're just going to go out and do what we do, play our defense and be competitive."

Virginia, which has won 16 of 17 games, has frustrated opponents with its frenetic and physical defense. The Cavaliers rank first in the nation in scoring defense (55.3 points per game) and have held 21 straight opponents under 50 percent from the field. Tobey, long and wiry, is a formidable part of the machine.

He came to Virginia specifically for this moment, playing in the NCAA tournament. The Cavaliers qualified for the NIT last year, losing to Iowa in the quarterfinals. That isn't March Madness. Coastal Carolina on Friday certainly is.

Tobey hopes its part of a special run — one he grew up dreaming about as a basketball-crazed kid.

"Everyone on this team wants to win a national championship and we think it's a reasonable goal," Tobey said. "Just based on our defense, we think we can do it. We have the best defense in the country, we are tenacious and get stops. If we continue to frustrate teams with our defense, we can do it."

 

mike tobey file

Hometown: Monroe

School: University of Virginia

Year: Sophomore

Position: Center/forward

Stats: In 34 games, including 25 starts, Tobey is averaging 6.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in 18.2 minutes.

As a freshman: Tobey averaged 6.8 points and 2.9 rebounds in 30 games, starting two.

You should know: Tobey helped the U.S. Under-19 men's team to the gold medal at the FIBA World Championships last summer in Prague, Czech Republic. ... Before Virginia, Tobey played for prep power Blair Academy, N.J., averaging 21 points and seven rebounds as a senior. Tobey began his high school career at Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J., playing two years there before transferring to Hotchkiss School (Conn.) Prep. He left Hotchkiss for Blair for one season (2011-12) to be closer to home and face better competition. ... Tobey verbally committed to Virginia in January 2011. Along with Virginia, Pittsburgh, Northwestern, Miami (Fla.), Xavier, Siena and Maryland also offered Tobey full scholarships before his junior year in high school. Stanford, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Boston College, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech were also interested in him/ ... Tobey's sister, Liz, is a star volleyball player at Monroe-Woodbury. A junior, Liz Tobey helped the Crusaders to their first Section 9 title since 2000 this fall, and was named a Varsity845 first-team all-star.
For Wichita State's Cleanthony Early, a long road from Bronx to perfection

For Wichita State's Cleanthony Early, a long road from Bronx to perfection

Through it all, the bus rides and the flights, the losses and the 34 consecutive wins, Early, always on edge, considered his mother 'my motor, my love, my everything.'

PUBLISHED: SATURDAY, MARCH 15, 2014, 4:47 PM
UPDATED: MONDAY, MARCH 17, 2014, 10:27 AM
 
     
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LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 28:  Cleanthony Early #11 of the Wichita State Shockers goes up for a shot against Jerrell Wright #25 of the La Salle Explorers in the first half during the West Regional of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 28, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

JEFF GROSS/GETTY IMAGES

In four collegiate seasons, Cleanthony Early has won 30 or more games each year, proving his mettle from the Missouri Valley Conference to the Atlanta Final Four.

 

WICHITA, Kan. — Once Bruno, a bomb-sniffing Belgian Malinois, and his handler, a Kansas state trooper, perform their security sweep of Koch Arena on March 1, elderly ladies wearing black-and-yellow leis file into the Roundhouse alongside students in face paint. It is 90 minutes to tipoff. Some rush; others relish the final moments of an undefeated regular season. Trailing them, Sandra Glover, daughter of the Bronx and mother of Cleanthony Early, a loud, lean Wichita State forward with an open face and gap-tooth smile, negotiates her way through the crowd. She is in no hurry, settling into her fourth-row seat on the aisle behind the Wichita State bench. She wears a yellow Shockers T-shirt and starts shuddering when the school band plays the alma mater.

“Jesus!” she says, staring up at the scoreboard. “Jesus! They’re coming out!”

Anxiety overwhelms her. She grows hysterical, yelling with a revivalist’s fervor. She reaches into her pocketbook and retrieves a pack of Kleenex. She clears tears from her eyes with tissues as her son and the rest of the Shockers run onto the court. She shakes her head.

“Oh, my God,” she says. “I can’t handle it. I gotta go.”

She stays standing for the contest’s first two minutes; fans clap rhythmically on Senior Day, her son’s unofficial sendoff. Early is fouled as he cuts to the basket; he takes a deep breath and knocks down a free throw, then misses his second. It is all too much for Glover, though. She sprints back up the cement steps, running away from the courtside action to the quieter concourse area and a familiar usher. She looks on from her removed position as her son converts two catch-and-pop three-pointers. She exhales slowly.

“I’ve tried to nail her butt down,” says Early’s aunt, Dorinda, as she looks back at Glover. “It doesn’t work.”

Glover’s son, meanwhile, appears unflappable. He plays with aplomb, distributing the ball with a touch pass and defending with elbows-out aggressiveness. Coach Gregg Marshall monitors Early, his leading scorer, knowing the slightest slip can derail the Shockers’ 30-game win streak. Marshall likes to refer to Early as “an interesting bird,” easily capable of having his feathers ruffled. He knows better than to look away. 

“It’s a constant thing we have to be cognizant of. When he’s focused all his energy, passion and emotion in the right direction, woo, it’s really, really good,” says Marshall. “Every once in a while, he can kind of teeter, like the train’s teetering a little, but you just can’t let it get off the track.”

Early’s whistle-stop in Wichita will soon be over. He’s moved on before, from 188th St. in the Bronx, where he watched his cousin, riddled with bullets, die outside a pharmacy, to a rural upstate town to a prep school to a junior college. He lost his brother, Jamel, felled by a heart attack as he drowned in Schoharie Creek outside Schenectady, then shot the moon, scoring a thousand points at Sullivan County Community College, and another thousand at Wichita State. In four collegiate seasons, he has won 30 or more games each year, proving his mettle from the Missouri Valley Conference to the Atlanta Final Four. Through it all, the bus rides and the flights, the losses and the 34 consecutive wins, Early, always on edge, considered his mother “my motor, my love, my everything.

Wichita State star Cleanthony Early sporting a tux and tail, ponytail that is.

COURTESY OF SANDRA GLOVER

Wichita State star Cleanthony Early sporting a tux and tail, ponytail that is.

“I was born on the bottom,” Early says. “I wasn’t bad, just mischievous, lacked guidance. I had to overcome those adversities, understand the world is a certain type of way. I’m not gonna cry about it or dwell. I have an opportunity to improve by rational decisions.”

Mother wondered whether Wichita was an irrational choice, at first. Marshall promised her that Early would be under his thumb, living with fellow transfers in a modest house across the parking lot from Koch Arena. Still, she worried about such a remote locale. Early insisted that he understood the need to eliminate distractions and employ tunnel vision. Marshall’s plan is evident on the court in the early minutes of the second half on Senior Day. Early, already in the book for 11 points, fails to defend a pick-and-roll properly. Marshall, a balled fist of a coach on the sideline, calls Early back to the bench for a lecture. Early comes over as teammates make way for him to find a seat.

“Now sit your a-- down!” Marshall says.

* * *

To get to Sullivan County (N.Y.) Community College, you drive north on Route 103 to Loch Sheldrake, a Catskills town best known for its heyday featuring Jerry Lewis as the headliner in a Borscht Belt hotel. Signs hint toward a destination for teenagers looking to get away. “Miami Beach Cottages” are advertised on the first billboard, but that’s really an illusion. Breezeway Farms and a hut for ice fishers follow. Continue past the Sullivan County Museum and the college is on the left. One dormitory dots the campus, and inside the fieldhouse, down in the basement, four words painted in green above the doorway to the basketball court greet all who enter: “Welcome to the Bunker.”

Kevin DeVantier, then coach of the Sullivan County Generals, lured Early to campus. DeVantier observed Early as a high school senior while at a previous junior college job, and liked his lively body on the boards, as well as his athleticism. He reviewed his transcript from Pine Bush (N.Y.) High and admits, “It was scary.” There was, after all, a reason that the 6-foot-8 Early was available. At Pine Bush High, he entered school around 5-foot-4; he was awkward, wore his long hair in a ponytail and drifted in and out of class, retreating to the gym during class time. There was an in-school suspension, countless detentions and meetings with principal Aaron Hopmayer. He matured, both physically and emotionally, but fell short of Division I requirements.

“He was so busy trying to be the macho man of Pine Bush,” his mother says. “The ponytail? He was trying to be Steven Seagal.”

He wasted three years of eligibility before playing a full season as a senior. That brief display bought him an opportunity. Bobby Rahn, an assistant dean at nearby Burke Catholic High, watched Early pick up a technical foul 15 seconds into a game. What some saw as petulant behavior, Rahn called passionate. He offered Early a spot on his traveling AAU team, and assisted in enrolling Early at Mount Zion Academy, a prep school in Durham, N.C. When Donald Q. Fozard Sr., the school’s pastor, was introduced to Early, he flashed back to Mount Zion’s first great player, a similarly sized swingman.

“Who is this, the next Tracy McGrady?” Fozard Sr. said.

The wall above the entrence to the Sullivan County (N.Y.) Community College gym, where Early honed his skills says it all.

KEVIN ARMSTRONG/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

The wall above the entrence to the Sullivan County (N.Y.) Community College gym, where Early honed his skills says it all.

Discipline that Early typically rebelled against was introduced at the door. He had to cut his cornrows, wear a shirt and tie and attend church services every Wednesday and Sunday. During one long session on a Sunday, Early phoned his mother from the church.

“Ma, we’re still in church!” he said. “It’s 1 p.m. We’ve been here since morning.”

“Then get off the phone!” she said.

Recruiters began to dial his number more often. He did not commit anywhere immediately and returned home after the school year. On the evening of June 27, 2010, Early’s mother received a phone call from the New York state police. Her older son, Jamel Glover, had drowned after a day of swimming with his pregnant wife in Schoharie Creek. Early and his mother drove up to the hospital to identify the body, and Early, crying uncontrollably, could not handle the funeral. He left his mother’s side to settle himself, but would not go far in the days following the burial. A month later, he decided to attend Sullivan, a junior college with a proud basketball tradition. DeVantier welcomed his raw potential. “Probably spent more time talking to him than anyone in my life,” says DeVantier. “He was very emotional. I don’t think he realized how far he could go.”

There was plenty to improve. Early’s hips were tight; he always stood upright. He did not jump while shooting. Every time he lifted himself for a layup or dunk, he did so with his left foot and right hand. He was “a relentless complainer,” prone to whining about fouls in every setting, whether pick-up games or practices, and couldn’t understand why his teammates did not play to his level. DeVantier attempted to toughen up Early, and he did. Early led the Mid Hudson Conference in points, rebounds and gripes about being bored. He had no car, and spent most of his time in the gymnasium. His father, also Cleanthony, purchased a set of hair clippers for him. Early’s mom watched him set up his barbershop in the hallway. She asked who his clientele was on campus.

“Anyone who will pay,” he said.

It was far afield where Early finally distinguished himself. Steve Gosar, then the coach at the College of Southern Idaho, invited the Generals to Twin Falls, Idaho, for a tournament in Early’s freshman year. Southern Idaho paid for their travel with a guarantee. Early played three games, and blew away the competition. Soon after, Gosar mentioned to Jerry Mullen, a connoisseur of all things junior college, that Early was legit despite playing for a nonscholarship junior college. Mullen then invited Early to his JuCo Top 100 camp, a window-shopping showcase for coaches to evaluate potential Division I players. Wichita State assistant coach Greg Heiar, a former junior college player in Iowa and junior college coach in Florida, caught wind of the names on the list a month ahead of its public release. Heiar started sending Early and other players messages on Facebook and via email. The head start helped in gaining Early’s attention.

Wichita State would also benefit from an extended stay. When Early made his official visit to campus, Hurricane Irene ravaged the East Coast. Early’s flights were delayed time and again. He wound up staying five days total, and eventually returned to Sullivan. He previously had visited San Diego State and Washington State, but committed to the Shockers. It was one less carrot that DeVantier had in motivating Early for his second season at Sullivan, and opponents did all they could to stop the Generals’ best player. There were box-and-one schemes, and triangle-and-twos. Opposing coaches sent in brash defenders to talk to Early and try to intimidate him. He could be his own worst enemy.

“He could be the best player on the court and then 10 minutes later the worst player,” says DeVantier. “We needed to constantly re-adjust his goals with ridiculous numbers.”

Cleanthony Early is a loud, lean Wichita State forward with an open face and gap-tooth smile.

DILIP VISHWANAT/GETTY IMAGES

Cleanthony Early is a loud, lean Wichita State forward with an open face and gap-tooth smile.

Talent-wise, Early is the best to ever come through Sullivan. His legacy is evident inside “the Bunker.” By the American flag hangs a glossy banner emblazoned with his 2011 national player of the year honor. His 2012 banner for the same award hangs from an adjacent wall. The schedule from the 2011 campaign is encased in glass, but DeVantier is no longer on campus. He took a job at Norfolk State last summer, and considered his experience with Early to be “a career changer.” He keeps game videos of Early’s efforts on his computer’s hard drive; Early’s random thoughts echo in his ears.

“I can still hear him arguing in the locker room,” says DeVantier. “I can still see the image of guys just walking away from him after a while.”

* * *

“Marshallville,” an assemblage of tents and sleeping bags outside the student entrance to Koch Arena, was bracing for winds off the prairie on Feb. 28. It was 36 degrees out nearing midnight; propane gas heaters provided warmth for one group. More than 80 students camped out for prime seating; two wrapped themselves in blankets emblazoned with last year’s Final Four logo. They wore yellow wristbands, checked in with an organizer and made pancake runs to the Delta Gamma Sorority house. In between sessions of “Never Have I Ever,” they discussed all things Shockers, ranging from the amount of cologne Marshall wears (too much, they say) to the emergence of sophomore guard Fred VanVleet to Early’s adjustments from last season for the current campaign.

“Last year, in March Madness, we needed a scorer to step up, and Clee stepped up, did he not?” says freshman James Hamilton. “This year, we have more talent, more scorers, do we not? You have to understand that what he’s doing is for the best of the team.”

“If he was on any other team in the Missouri Valley Conference, he’d be dropping at least 25 per game!” another student asserts.

“What about the four points he scored last game?” a third student says.

Early has endured ebbs and flows within Marshall’s system. The point guard is the show in an offense that runs plays called “Bounce” and “Big City,” “Punch” and “Bulldog.” VanVleet, averaging 12.1 points per game and 5.3 assists, emerged during the Final Four run, and drew national interest as this season went on. He claimed the Larry Bird Trophy as the conference’s top player even though Early was the preseason choice. Coaches were concerned how Early would take that, but Early shared in the accolades, earning All-American honors as a stretch-four forward. The balance between their contributions has evened out since they first arrived on campus two summers ago. VanVleet did not foresee Early’s star turn after watching his initial runs on court.

“I was kinda skeptical at first, having heard all the hype,” says Van Vleet. “But then we saw how dangerous he could be. He frees up the game for all of us. He’s allowed me to be the leader that I am. He’s not fighting me as he could or should, being the star. He lets me run the show. He knows how to take leadership now.”

Pictures of Cleanthony Early and family.

KEVIN ARMSTRONG/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Pictures of Cleanthony Early and family.

Early and VanVleet are most effective on pick-and-pop plays at the top of the key. Early’s ability to set screens, then gain separation from defenders frees both of them up often, as it did for a game-winner against Illinois State last season and on countless possessions this year. His most eye-opening plays, though, come on alley-oops off back screens and the fast break. No run-out better displayed his two-way potential than last year’s national semifinal when he finished a break with an emphatic one-handed dunk. Broadcaster Clark Kellogg exclaimed, “Cle-Anthony! Bouncing to ecstasy!”

Early’s celebrity translates off screen, as well. T-shirts with his No. 11 emblazoned on them are on sale next to blue examination books and yellow foam fingers in the school bookstore. Mike Ross, Early’s instructor in a sports management course, was scheduled to hold class the Monday after Senior Day. Snow fell the night before, and the National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook for Kansas due to bitter cold and wind chills ranging from minus 10 to minus 20. Ross’ son, Trent, had his school canceled that day and asked to join his dad since Wichita State stayed open. Ross was somewhat surprised by the request, but brought his son along. During the commute over, son asked father if he was teaching Early that morning.

“No, I just canceled the class,” Ross said.

“Oh,” he said.

Ross, sitting in his office, looked at his son, wearing headphones and typing on his laptop.

“I promised him that if they reach the Final Four we’ll go for that,” Ross said.

* * *

Kerry Rosenboom, a former college pitcher, keeps an office in the bowels of Koch Arena’s weight room. He’s been a strength and conditioning coach at Wichita State for 27 years. His office walls are decorated with major league baseball players, and he was on the job for the only national championship in school history, the 1989 baseball squad. On the gray double doors that lead into the weight room, he posts 11 declarations for all athletes to adhere to during lifting sessions. They include, “Lactic acid is my friend;” “I fear no man but I fear my workout;” “I may puke. I may cry, however, I will not quit. Ever;” and “I will bite off challenges. Spit Out Results. And beg for more.”

Rosenboom found a willing worker in Early when he arrived on campus standing upright and weighing 200 pounds. Some days that year, Early dipped below the 200 mark, and Rosenboom recognized a weakness. Early was fatigued when he stood in a defensive stance for extended amounts of time. Post players pushed him out of the lane. Early wanted the flexibility to defend perimeter players, and tightened his technique, ranging from leg whips to lunges. It was all about leverage. On his first day in Wichita, Early took a selfie and posted it on Instagram, but he’s bulked up over time, now tipping the scales at 219 pounds. He will add more weight to his narrow-waist, wide-shoulder frame as he prepares for the NBA draft, and notes, “I need to get some thighs and a butt on me.” Heiar likes to remind Early of his progress, texting him archive photos from Sullivan and Mount Zion, the bony frame staring back. He adds: #OneDayAtATime.

A young Cleanthony with an older cousin.

COURTESY OF SANDRA GLOVER

A young Cleanthony with an older cousin.

Early’s growth is measurable in multiple ways. When he was home last spring, following the Final Four, he stopped by Pine Bush High and spoke with principal Hopmayer. Once the undisciplined student cutting class, Early quoted Socrates in their conversation. Hopmayer then had Early address a group of at-risk students in the school. “When he brought up Socrates I almost fell out of my chair,” Hopmayer said. “I didn’t know who I was talking to.”

His mother notes changes, as well. Early first got a tattoo during an AAU trip to Las Vegas. It was his initials “A.E.” by his left wrist, and he tried to hide it but couldn’t when she picked him up at the airport. He asked to go to a pharmacy for Vaseline. She laughed at the memory, the big man with the low pain threshold, but then he added a cross and basketball on his sternum and abdomen after his brother died. His mother knew it was for pain; he wanted to absorb more. His latest inking was an eagle, wings and all, needled into his skin over his clavicle. The wing tips are visible beneath his game jersey.

“I like what it represents in multiple cultures, the messenger of God, precision, the ability to fly,” he says.

Rosenboom wanted the Shockers to come out soaring again this season. Over the summer, he incorporated a yoga routine to their workouts. Some players, especially the taller ones, were “trying to move the mighty oak.” Early took to it, as he typically does Rosenboom’s instruction, and added his own music as a soundtrack. As flexible as Early was on the mats, he can also dig in his heels about music choices in the room.

“He argues about everything,” Rosenboom says. “They debate whether the sun’s yellow or red. They can go for 45 minutes.”

Early’s voice is unmistakable to Rosenboom. The weight room lies around the bend from the locker room in the Roundhouse; voices carry in the hallway. When Early is approaching, he is often audible from a distance. Rosenboom turns to his assistant coach.

“It’s Clee coming down the tunnel,” he says. “Get ready.”

* * *

It’s 5:30 p.m. on March 3 and Early, dribbling a basketball after a high-functioning practice, is talking with teammates about a dream he had the night before. It involved his father and their intermittent relationship over the years. In the dream, Early learned that his father was ill. In real life, his father has been sick and living in Connecticut for some time. Still, the dream was darker: his father died and someone informed Early by phone. Early awoke with his pillow wet from tears and sweat. He wondered whether he would have any regrets if he actually lost his father in the coming days. He decided their relationship was more friends than father and son.

“I’m pretty sure he tried his hardest to make things work, but I wonder if I were to lose him,” says Early. “I’d probably cry a little, then move on. It’s nothing like my relationship with my mom. I love her unconditionally. It’s divine almost. I’d go to the end of the world for her. I don’t know if I could say the same for him.”

March is a month with mixed emotions for Early. His brother was born on March 20, and the NCAA Tournament commences on that date this year. His mother always visits her late son’s grave at a cemetery in Hackensack on his birthday. She bought a plot there because Jamel, father of two, planned to move to New Jersey before he died. “His death was the worst night of my life,” she says. “I don’t answer my phone at night anymore. Too many losses. I send Cleanthony a text message every night.”

Early has never visited the cemetery, but his brother, the person who put a basketball in his hands, is remembered in his mom’s living room at her Middletown, N.Y. apartment, 65 miles north of the city. She looks at the image every day when she wakes up at 4 a.m. to report to her job as a foster care worker in the Bronx. She hops a bus to White Plains and transfers there for her second bus ride. Her commute is two hours each way, but each night she returns to the wall with her sons’ faces on it. One image was used for Jamel’s funeral service; the other captured Early’s ecstatic reaction to reaching the Final Four. His mother eyed both on a recent evening. She read the words painted on the wall: “Remember to cherish each moment for this is what memories are made of.”  



Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/college/zone-wichita-state-early-long-road-bronx-perfection-article-1.1722902#ixzz2wFS3rdzs


Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/college/zone-wichita-state-early-long-road-bronx-perfection-article-1.1722902#ixzz2wFR16Vle

Pine Bush grad Early feeling no pressure
  • Wichita State forward Cleanthony Early (11)

  • Wichita State's Cleanthony Early is the leading scorer for the Shockers, averaging 15.8 a game.

Pine Bush grad Early feeling no pressure

Sure, there will be a hearty celebration, complete with some carrying on and hamming it up for the cameras.

Cleanthony Early can't wait to whoop it up with his Wichita State teammates after, as expected, the Shockers receive a top seed in the NCAA men's basketball tournament on Sunday. However, don't expect the party to last long.

After all, this isn't some 16th seed overwhelmed by the pomp and circumstance of the NCAA Selection Show, just happy to be in the mix during the first signs of March Madness.

This is undefeated Wichita State, playing angry as Early and the Shockers like to say, a team on a mission. Early, a Pine Bush graduate and former SUNY Sullivan star, of course, serves as one of the faces of a Wichita State team trying to make history with the country watching.

"It's going to feel good. You definitely congratulate yourself," said Early, a 6-foot-8 senior forward, who leads Wichita State in scoring with 15.8 points per game. "But you have to understand, there is still business to take care of. I think everyone on this team wants to be great. We want to do something special and, we understand, we have to go get it."

Making history

Wichita State, the second-ranked team in the country behind Billy Donovan's Florida Gators, is certainly flirting with greatness. The Shockers are just the second team in Division I history to open a season with 34 straight wins and the first to reach 34-0 since the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV) in 1990-91. That UNLV team crashed and burned in the Final Four, losing to Duke 79-77. Wichita State is trying to become the first team to go undefeated and win a national championship since Indiana went 32-0 in 1976.

However, here's the thing, Wichita State's run to glory has been met with a small pocket of cynicism, rearing its head with the Selection Show looming. Some in the college basketball world might tell you that coming out of the Missouri Valley Conference, the Shockers don't deserve a No. 1 seed. Wichita State won its first MVC tournament title since 1987 last week and the league hasn't seen a run like this since a scraggly Larry Bird led Indiana State to a 33-0 record, before losing to Magic Johnson and Michigan State in the 1979 national championship.

Early is, among other things, outgoing and personable. He's a thinker, often quoting the Bible, and isn't only always up for a good debate. Early will stir it.

"I'm an open-minded person," Early said. "It's unprecedented to go 34-0. At the same time, I'm not going to sit here and lie and tell you that our schedule was the toughest. But, still, we played with a big 'X' on our back with everyone giving us their best. You have to give credit where credit is due. We haven't lost a game."

Love for the game

And what about pressure? Early and his teammates have to be feeling it with all the hype, the fanfare, the Sports Illustrated cover last month and all the attention on ESPN's SportsCenter. In mid-January, with Wichita State 19-0, Early politely laughed at a Times Herald-Record reporter when asked about the pressure factor during the run.

He was seemingly smiling on the other end of the phone when the topic was brought up earlier this week.

"I remember laughing," Early said. "I remember that. I'm the type of person who is like, pressure? In a basketball game? That's nothing compared to what I've seen in life. I've seen pressure in life, but not in basketball. We just love the game and that comes out when we play. Win or lose, you are going to get a fight from us. I can say that."

Wichita State is a tough, ferocious and intimidating team, now preparing for its final battle. For Early and his teammates, the hope, the belief, is that the last run will end with six more wins and a national title. Imagine that: 40-0.

The Selection Show sets the stage for the so-called madness. Early will certainly take a No. 1 seed, but he wants so much more than that.

"I thank everyone for thinking of us and giving us a No. 1 seed with the politics and all of that," he said. "But I don't care if we are a No. 1 seed, a No. 2, a No. 3. Whatever, it's cool. We're just going to go out and play basketball, and I have a lot of faith in my team."

jrodriguez@th-record.com

Look for Louisville to go back-to-back

Look for Louisville to go back-to-back

Orange County basketball history was made Sunday night when Wichita State and Virginia were selected as No. 1 seeds in the Midwest and East.

The 845 is proudly represented on both teams.

Wichita State senior forward Cleanthony Early, a Pine Bush graduate, looks to lead the Shockers to the first perfect season since the field was expanded to 64 teams.

Virginia sophomore center Mike Tobey, a Monroe resident, has contributed in a starting role for the Cavaliers, the Atlantic Coast Conference's regular season and tournament champions.

If their teams win five straight games, Early and Tobey could meet in the national final on April 7 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

But the NCAA committee didn't make that easy.

Wichita State, the first team to enter the tournament undefeated (34-0) since UNLV in 1991, has Michigan (No. 2) and defending champion Louisville (No. 4), both Final Four teams last year, in its region. Virginia may have to get past Tom Izzo's Michigan State just to reach the Elite Eight.

Here's a breakdown of the tournament:

East

Top seed: Virginia (28-6)

Local connection: Virginia sophomore center Mike Tobey, a Monroe resident, has started the last 22 games.

Final-Four bound: This isn't Tom Izzo's best Michigan State team, But the Spartans will be tough out for anybody. Expect solid guard play from senior Keith Appling and Gary Harris and an established post presence from 6-11 senior Adrien Payne.

Watch out for: No. 10 St. Joseph's defense can stifle opponents. Senior guard Langston Galloway is a proven scorer. Freshman DeAndre Bembry, who plays like a point forward, is a matchup problem.

Player to watch: Providence senior guard Bryce Cotton has led the Friars in scoring in 27 of 34 games this season. He tops the nation in minutes played (39.9 per game, 1,360 of a possible 1405 minutes). Providence feeds off Cotton's energy and leadership. Listed at 6-1, Cotton appeared to be the same height as Fox sideline reporter Erin Andrews (5-10) during interview after Big East tourney win.

By the numbers: 5 — Delaware players who are averaging double figures in scoring this season. Three players — Devon Saddler (19.7), Davon Usher (19.4) and Jarvis Threatt (18.1) — score more than 18 points per game.

Upset special: No. 12 Harvard over No. 5 Cincinnati. Harvard returns three starters from a team that knocked off No. 3 New Mexico in the first round last year.

South

Top seed: Florida (34-2)

Local connection: Will Brown, former coach at SUNY Sullivan, has led Albany to its fifth NCAA tournament appearance. Albany needs to defeat Mount Saint Mary's in a first-round game to meet top-seeded Florida.

Final-Four bound: This year's Florida team has drawn comparison to the Gators' 2006 and 2007 national-champion squads. The Gators are balanced, long, athletic. Florida can play at any tempo and has pulled six games by four points or fewer.

Watch out for: Senior point guard Aaron Craft has led No. 6 Ohio State to nine tournament wins in the past three seasons, including berths in the Elite Eight and the Final Four the previous two years. The Buckeyes need forward LaQuinton Ross to continue his consistent scoring — 20 points per game last six games — to make a deep run.

Player to watch: Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins has the talent to take Kansas to the Final Four. When Wiggins takes the ball to the basket, he's almost unstoppable. But Wiggins has had a handful of no-shows this season. Which Wiggins takes center stage for the tournament?

By the numbers: 115 — Steals by VCU guard Briante Weber, the Atlantic-10 defensive player of the year. Weber ignites VCU's "havoc" pressure, which has forced 609 turnovers — the most in the nation.

Upset special: No. 14 Western Michigan over No. 3 Syracuse. Syracuse has lost five of its last seven games and has shot just 36 percent from the field during the stretch. Fifth-year seniors David Brown, a 6-4 guard, and Shayne Whittington, a 6-11 center, have experience to help Western Michigan solve Syracuse's zone defense.

Midwest

Top seed: Wichita State (34-0).

Local connection: Wichita State senior forward Cleanthony Early, a Pine Bush graduate and a two-time junior-college player of the year at SUNY Sullivan, leads the Shockers in scoring (15.8 points per game).

Final-Four bound: Louisville, the defending national champion, has the offensive talent of a No. 1 seed. The Cardinals have scored 90 or more points 13 times this season. Experienced seniors Russ Smith and Luke Hancock should get fourth-seeded Louisville past Wichita State in the Sweet 16 in a rematch from the semifinals last year.

Watch out for: Michigan and Nik Stauskas have overcome the loss of star forward center Mitch McGary to a season-ending back injury. If forward Glenn Robinson continues his improved play, No. 2 Michigan could be cutting down the nets in Arlington.

Player to watch: Duke freshman forward Jabari Parker brings a polished NBA game to his first NCAA tournament. If Parker doesn't force his offense and plays within the game's flow, he could be dominant in this region.

By the numbers: 117 — Blocks by Manhattan's 6-foot-7 forward Rhamel Brown, third in the country.

Upset special: No. 12 North Carolina State over No. 5 St. Louis. N.C. State forward T.J. Warren has offensive talent to lead the Wolfpack to a win over Xavier in the first round and knock off St. Louis in second round.

West

Top seed: Arizona (30-4).

Final-Four bound: Third-seeded Creighton has Doug McDermott, the best player in the country, and a hard-nosed supporting cast. Center Ethan Wragge has hit 104 3-pointers, 10 more than McDermott, and is the key to Creighton's title hopes.

Watch out for: Arizona State is a dangerous No. 10 seed. The Sun Devils outlasted Arizona, the top seed in the West, in two overtimes earlier this season. Guards Jahii Carson and Jermaine Marshall are one of the nation's top backcourts, combining for 34.2 points per game.

Player to watch: Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart, one of the country's most talented players, returned for his sophomore season after a disappointing second-round loss to Oregon last year. He needs to look to his teammates for more production if he wants a deeper run this time.

By the numbers: 293 — Free-throw attempts by Louisiana-Lafayette 6-foot-3 guard Elfrid Payton, second in nation.

Upset special: No. 11 Nebraska over No. 6 Oregon. Nebraska, one of the last team selected, has won at Michigan State and defeated Wisconsin and Ohio State this season. Baylor is a streaking team, which lost eight of 10 games in middle of the season.


Dance finalists

Final Four: Michigan State over Florida; Louisville over Creighton.

Championship: Louisville over Michigan State

Wichita State jockeying for undefeated season — and respect

Wichita State jockeying for undefeated season — and respect

Midnight has yet to strike for Cinderella. Last March’s magical Final Four run, in fact, may just be the start of Wichita State’s fairy-tale story.

The Shockers enter the regular season’s homestretch as one of two undefeated teams left in college basketball — Syracuse is the other — with a series of gritty comebacks and impressive performances lining their résumé.

“I think one really runs hand in hand with the other. The 25-0 start is a derivative of what we accomplished in that run last year,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said in a phone interview. “We’ve been playing one-and-done basketball for a while. Now that we got this streak going, you lose and the streak’s done. It’s kind of been that way for a while. Our guys have thrived in that type of environment.”

Fourth-ranked Wichita State is emblematic of the gutsy, blue-collar city in Kansas it represents. Marshall spent nine years at Winthrop, reaching the NCAA Tournament six times, and the members of his staff did their time in the junior college ranks.

The team’s star, Cleanthony Early, went from a Division III JUCO to landing on the Wooden Award Watch List. Small forward Ron Baker paid his way for a redshirt freshman year at Wichita State, after his only two scholarship offers in high school were from South Dakota State and Arkansas-Little Rock. Shooting guard Tekele Cotton was lightly recruited.

“We haven’t had the peachiest road to get here,” said the multi-faceted Early, a 6-foot-8 NBA prospect who grew up in The Bronx and hails from Middletown. “We’ve seen struggle, we’re not in the worst position in the world. People are going through far worse situations. We’re really blessed to be in that position, playing a game that we love. This is everything I lived for. This is what I asked for. This is what I dreamed of. That’s our attitude, and that shows.”

The Shockers hear the talk of an undefeated season everywhere — on social media, on campus, in talking to reporters. It’s impossible to ignore, particularly now that they have entered the final stretch of the season. Just six Missouri Valley Conference games stand between Wichita State matching the 2003-04 St. Joseph’s team, the last to finish off a regular season with a perfect record. The players talk about it among themselves, but it is far from a rallying cry.

“We hear about it and we think about it, but we don’t try to let it consume our minds,” Early said. “We’re happy to be here, and we’re hungry and humble at the same time. We’re having fun with it.”

Marshall said: “We talk about winning the next game. We’ve talked about that now 25 times so far this year.”

Marshall is quick to point out Wichita State wasn’t healthy last year, one reason it entered the NCAA Tournament last year as a 9-seed and lost six games in the conference. Baker missed most of the season, returning from a stress fracture in his right foot in March, while several others missed a handful of games.

Among the Shockers impressive wins are victories over SEC foes Tennessee and Alabama, a win over bubble team BYU, and a road victory over No. 13 St. Louis, the class of the rugged Atlantic 10. St. Louis head coach Jim Crews was impressed by Wichita State’s versatility, its ability to score in a variety of ways and defend on the perimeter as well as in the paint.

“I think their greatness is their balance. They don’t beat themselves,” said Crews, whose team has won 16 straight games since the Dec. 1 meeting with the Shockers. Early is the Shockers’ leading scorer, at 16.3 points per game, but four others average at least eight points per game.

There is debate regarding where Wichita State should be seeded in the tournament if it does run the table. ESPN analyst Jeff Goodman tweeted the Shockers shouldn’t be a No. 1 seed, and many question their level of competition, having played just one ranked opponent. Furthermore, the Missouri Valley Conference was weakened by this season’s defection of Creighton to the Big East.

CBS Sports Network analyst Steve Lappas said knowledgeable basketball minds believe the Shockers are as good as anyone in the nation. He pointed to their defensive prowess (holding teams to 39 percent shooting), rebounding acumen (a plus-8.4 margin) and the frequency with which they get to the free-throw line (26 times per game).

Crews said “they would do extremely well” in any conference in the country.

“They can win a national title,” Lappas said.

Early and his teammates enjoyed the hoopla from their memorable Final Four run a year ago, but once the summer came around, they began to focus on this season, wanting to create new memories.

“I don’t think we’re trying to forget about last year. We’re trying to leave last year where it’s at, and at the same time, do what we’re trying to do this year,” Early said. “Now … we still have so much of the season left to capture and take advantage of.

“It can be better. We have a chance to make it even more special, and that’s awesome to be able to talk about.”

Wichita State wins Missouri Valley title

Wichita State wins Missouri Valley title

Scott Kane / USA TODAY Sports

Wichita State's Fred VanVleet (left) scored 22 points to lead the Shockers.

 
What fuels Wichita State? Your hate, college basketball

 

What fuels Wichita State? Your hate, college basketball

Pat Forde
 
 
NCAA Basketball: Missouri Valley Conference Tournament-Final Wichita vs Indiana
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Mar 9, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Wichita State Shockers celebrate defeated the Indiana State Sycamores 83-69 to win the Missouri Valley Conference basketball tournament at Scotttrade Center.. (Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports)

 

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ST. LOUIS – The Missouri Valley Conference extended a wonderful Arch Madness parting gift to the undefeated Wichita State Shockers on Sunday afternoon.

Seconds after they finished beating Indiana State 83-69, the players were handed T-shirts commemorating their Missouri Valley tournament championship. The shirts had a bracket on the back that said the Sycamores actually won the thing. Nobody noticed until the Shockers were wearing them.

One league’s gaffe is another man’s gold.

For a program that relishes bathing in the icy water of disrespect, this was perfect. Total domination of the conference ends with a printing mistake that denies the Shockers their first Valley tourney title in 27 years. The players were proudly cloaked in insult as they cut down the nets in the Scottrade Center.

“Hey, hey!” a gleeful Gregg Marshall said upon seeing the shirts. “Someone get a picture of this.”

They got pictures. And they will keep the shirts, too. The conference eventually will send a shipment with the correct bracket on the back, but these may remain the Shockers’ favorite souvenir from this three-day tour de force.

“We won,” point guard Fred Van Vleet said. “[The Sycamores] don’t get to wear the shirts today.”

As motivated masochists, the Shockers will wear the hairshirts of external doubt from now through Selection Sunday and into NCAA tournament play – which almost assuredly will begin in this same arena on March 21. From now until then they will hear an increasing chorus of criticism aimed at the Wichita State schedule (ranked 131st by Ken Pomeroy) and conference (ranked 11th). The power-conference snobs will be out in force, railing against the No. 1 NCAA seed that is assuredly heading Wichita’s way (many of them already are, and a high percentage of those hail from Lawrence, Kan.). Others will wonder whether the ensuing 12-day layoff without a game will leave the Shockers flat and rusty (didn’t happen last year). And, yeah, there is at least one guy who thinks that being the first undefeated team to enter the NCAAs since UNLV in 1991 is a potentially problematic burden.

All of it will be music to their rabbit ears, which detect slights the way Tiger Woods hears camera clicks during his backswing.

Marshall was asked Sunday whether he had a message for the skeptics who will be prowling Bracketville. Marshall said he did not. But then he doubled back a couple minutes later.

"I want to get back to you," he said to the reporter who asked the question. "I might have an answer. I’m going to go with [Wichita State center] Chadrack Lufile’s tweet about two weeks ago: ‘Wolves do not fret over the opinions of sheep.’ "

Then Gregg Marshall flashed a wolfishly predatory stare from the podium.

Thus the Shockers embark on their NCAA tourney journey as the most highly-regarded and highly-scrutinized team from outside the power-five conferences since Memphis in 2008. Gonzaga was a No. 1 seed last year but didn’t grab the nation’s imagination the way Wichita State has – and for good reason, as it turned out. The Shockers eliminated the Zags in the round of 32, on their way to a surprise Final Four as a No. 9 seed.

There will be no hiding behind a low seed this time around. No sneaking up on anyone. Marshall’s team will be the national talking point from now until they lose.

If they lose.

It will take a really good team playing really well to beat the Shockers. What they lack in résumé sizzle they make up for in eyeball-test substance. They perfectly embody the play-hard-smart-together ethos of great teams, and they augment those qualities with plenty of talent. There may be a couple of teams with better players than Wichita State, but the list is short – and the teams on it don’t always maximize their talent the way the Shockers do.

“They’re the best team in the country,” said Indiana State senior Jake Odum.

The Shockers are blessed with four go-to guys. On a day when their most prolific 3-point shooter, guard Ron Baker, went 0-for-6 outside the arc, the rest of the team went 9-for-16. That continued a torrid shooting weekend, with Wichita State making 28 3-pointers in 63 attempts (44.4 percent).

The two shooting stars Sunday were Tekele Cotton and Van Vleet, each of whom was 4-for-6 from 3-point range. Cotton was the tournament's Most Outstanding Player and forward Cleanthony Early is the team’s best talent, but it is Van Vleet who is the most indispensible Shocker.

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Members of Wichita State take a team selfie after winning the MVC championship. (USA Today)

When the game got close, and with Early struggling through a poor second half, Van Vleet showed why he was named the Missouri Valley Player of the Year. Indiana State battled back from a 15-point deficit to close within four points, and suddenly Van Vleet became Van Gogh. He produced a masterpiece over the final 13 minutes.

 

He scored 16 of Wichita State’s next 33 points, nailing four 3-pointers and driving for a pair of baskets. Content to be a facilitator when the situation calls for it, the sophomore is perfectly capable of taking over when needed.

“I had opportunities all game that I was passing up because I didn’t want to be overly aggressive and force the issue,” Van Vleet said. “But coming down the stretch, I just was a little bit more aggressive and took advantage of some opportunities I had.”

The opportunities for the Shockers grow larger from this point forward. And the noise surrounding this team will grow louder.

They are chasing immortality, the first 40-0 season ever. But they are also being chased by a horde of doubters who will be waiting to fire told-ya-so arrows at them if they fall short.

For a team with a perfect record and a permanent chip on the shoulder, those doubters are as welcome as the erroneous Arch Madness T-shirts they wore while cutting down the nets Sunday

Early made most of two years at Wichita State

Early made most of two years at Wichita State
By Paul Suellentrop The Wichita Eagle
Updated: 2014-03-03T18:21:40Z
February 28

Cleanthony Early will leave Wichita State just like he entered — shooting, scoring, never hesitating. Junior-college transfers can waste half their career if they’re not confident.

Wichita State’s top juco transfer scorers

F Cleanthony Early (2012-14), Sullivan County (N.Y.) — 69 games 1,015 points, 14.7 per game
2014 Oscar Robertson Player of the Year Finalist and Wooden Award mid-season top 25 … All-MVC 2013 … 2013 NCAA All-Tournament Team … 2013 MVC Newcomer of the Year
F Richard Morsden (1972-74), Hutchinson — 51 games, 802 points, 15.7 per game


All-MVC 1973 … 1972 second-team NJCAA All-American … Averaged 27.2 points as a sophomore at Hutchinson
G Clevin Hannah (2008-10), Chipola (Fla.) — 66 games, 766 points, 11.6 per game
2010 All-MVC … 2009 MVC All-Newcomer Team … Made 85 of 94 free throws (90.4 percent) in 2009-10, third on WSU’s season list
G Tony Martin (1980-82), Casper (Wyo.) — 62 games, 753 points, 12.1 per game
Ranks eighth on WSU’s career list with 336 assists … 184 assists in 1980-81 rank second on single-season list
G Randy Smithson (1979-81), Cowley — 61 games, 732 points, 12 per game
Ranks 10th on WSU’s career list with 319 assists … 163 assists in 1980-81 rank sixth on the single-season list
G Joe Ragland (2010-12), Western Nebraska — 69 games, 688 points, 10 per game
G L.D. Swanson (1993-95), Jacksonville (Texas) — 54 games, 678 points, 12.6 per game
G Robert George (1990-92), Southeastern (Iowa) — 56 games, 637 points, 11.4 per game
F Aaron Hogg (2002-04), Jacksonville (Texas) — 62 games, 630 points, 10.2 per game
G Leonard Kelley (1961-64), Labette — 54 games, 630 points, 11.7 per game
G C.C. McFall (2000-02), Southeastern (Iowa) — 58 games, 596 points, 10.3 per game
G Preston Carrington (1969-71), Butler County — 52 games, 587 points, 11.3 per game
F Ben Smith (2010-12), Northern Oklahoma — 70 games, 571 points, 8.2 per game
G Terry Hankton (1996-98), Butler — 58 games, 526 points, 9.1 per game
F Ramon Clemente (2007-09), Paris (Texas) Junior College — 64 games, 479 points, 7.5 per game
G Lillard Harris (1965-67), Labette — 52 games, 415 points, 8.0 per game


Early, a 6-foot-8 senior forward, has always been sure the next shot is good. Maybe great.
“The summer he got here, we were playing pickup and he had the most confidence out of anybody on the court,” teammate Ron Baker said. “His body language — very confident. Always wanted to win pickup games. We knew he was a big-time recruit and all the talk … was true.”


The second-ranked Shockers (30-0, 17-0 Missouri Valley Conference) play Missouri State (19-10, 9-8) at 1 p.m. Saturday with history at stake at Koch Arena. With ESPN cameras leading the way, the national media and a growing bandwagon of fans will watch to see if the Shockers can grab this milestone and prove their worthiness as an NCAA Tournament contender.
Here’s some of what’s at stake:
•  WSU can add to its NCAA-record regular-season unbeaten streak and become the first school to finish the regular-season unbeaten since Saint Joseph’s in 2004.
•  It can add its name to a list of seven schools to win 31 or more games without a loss, most recently 1991 UNLV.
•  WSU can also become the first MVC team go unbeaten since Bradley went 16-0 in 1985-86 and set the school record for conference victories.
•  No modern-era MVC school has won 18 conference games; Oklahoma is the only other school to do so, going 18-0 in 1927-28.
This stage is made for a player such as Early, who is the first junior-college transfer to score 1,000-plus points for WSU and the second Shocker, along with Maurice Evans, to do it in two seasons. Some transfers need time to adjust. Early scored 21 points against Western Carolina in his third game and 25 against Iowa in his sixth. It took him 16 games to score 39 points, against Southern Illinois, tied with Dave Stallworth for 10th in school history.
By the end of the season, Early earned All-MVC honors, the first Shocker to do so in his debut since Bob Wilson in 1973, and a spot on the NCAA All-Tournament Team.


Always confident. Always talking. Always smiling. Always on Twitter. Early, from Middletown, N.Y. and Sullivan County (N.Y.) Community College, hasn’t spent much time on idle in his two seasons at WSU.
“It turned out like I thought it would — even better,” he said. “We went to the Final Four. I got to meet a great group of guys, guys I’m pretty sure I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. I’m going to get a degree.”
Early’s confidence started as a youngster in New York, when to keep playing pickup games his team had to win.
“If I lose a game, I wasn’t going home until I felt like I was going to win a game, or a couple of games, and feel good about myself,” he said. “I wanted to play all night. That’s the attitude I had coming from the city.”
Early’s confidence needed molding during his first days of practice.
“The first day we coached him, if he touched it, he shot it,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “He didn’t care if he was guarded, how open he was. He just kept shooting.”
Coaches told him many of those shots didn’t make sense. Then they began counting Early’s bad shots as turnovers, meaning he had to run full-court sprints at the end of practice.
“He probably didn’t like that, either, and I guess he wanted to stop hearing that from us,” Marshall said.
Early averaged 13.9 points as a junior and made 45.5 percent of his shots and 31.8 percent of his three-pointers. His shooting percentages grew as the season wore on, much like this season. Early is averaging 15.7 points, shooting 45.7 percent from the field and 35.4 percent from three-point range. In 17 MVC games, he is shooting 45.8 percent from the field and 39 percent (32 of 82) from behind the arc.
“He’s shooting the ball tremendously well the past 10 games,” Baker said. “We’re getting him better looks. I think, early on, he was trying to force a little too many difficult shots. Now we’re starting to get him open looks and he’s making uncontested shots.”
With that confidence and passion comes moments of emotion. Early is the Shocker most likely to chatter with officials after a call he disagrees with, much to Marshall’s displeasure. Those moments are growing less frequent.
“He’s always going to be the brash, energetic guy,” WSU guard Fred VanVleet said. “He’s more calm. He’s more developed as a friend and a voice in the locker room.”
While Early came to WSU with an advanced offensive game, his defense needed much work. That work continues. He is playing better defense in recent weeks as coaches continue to point out his deficiencies and prod him with the words of NBA scouts who doubt his defense.
“He’s taking more responsibility on himself,” VanVleet said. “We can win with him not guarding and not being engaged, because we’re good enough. To be special and to be great, we’re going to need him locked in on that end.”
On Saturday, Early will walk out of the home tunnel at Koch Arena before a game for the final time. In two years, he’s packed four seasons of production and memories, helping the Shockers to two of their greatest seasons.
“I don’t want to think about it too much,” he said. “I’ll miss playing here, but at the end of the day we’ve got a game to win.”

Wichita State finishes perfect regular season with 83-69 win over Indiana State

 The No. 2-ranked Shockers remained the nation's lone unbeaten team at 34-0 thanks Fred VanVleet's 22 points and another strong emsemble effort in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament final.

Published: Sunday, March 9, 2014, 5:45 PM
Updated: Sunday, March 9, 2014, 5:45 PM
ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 9: Cleanthony Early #11 of the Wichita State Shockers looks to get past Khristian Smith #32 of the Indiana State Sycamores during the MVC Basketball Tournament Championship game at the Scottrade Center on March 9, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Cleanthony Early (r.) and Wichita State make it 34-0 in the regular season against Indiana State.

 

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Fred VanVleet scored 22 points including several key baskets late to lead another strong ensemble effort and No. 2 Wichita State remained the nation’s lone unbeaten after defeating Indiana State 83-69 on Sunday in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament final.

Tekele Cotton added 20 points — with four 3-pointers — and Ron Baker had 14 points for the Shockers (34-0), who got tested in the second half before putting the title game out of reach with a 13-0 run capped by two 3-pointers from VanVleet that put them up by 18 points with 5:38 to go.

Wichita State matched the NCAA record for victories to start the season held by UNLV in 1990-91 with its third straight convincing tournament win after going 18-0 in the conference regular season. The Shockers won their first conference tournament since 1987.

Manny Arop and Justin Gant had 18 points apiece for second-seeded Indiana State (23-10), which has one of the closer calls against Wichita State with a seven-point loss at home in early February. Arop totaled 12 points the first two tourney games.

The Shockers had runs of 17-0 and 24-0 while beating Missouri State by 25 points in the semifinals.

 

 

 
 

 

Ron Baker (r.) drives by Indiana State's Jake Odum in the first half of Sunday's MVC tournament final.

Bill Boyce/AP

Ron Baker (r.) drives by Indiana State's Jake Odum in the first half of Sunday's MVC tournament final.

Wichita State’s last nine victories have all been by double digits. The Shockers have won 12 of 14 in the Indiana State series.

VanVleet scored 13 points in the final 6 minutes and was named to the all-tournament team along Cleanthony Early and Cotton, who was voted the tourney MVP.

The only way the Valley could get two teams in the NCAA tournament is if Wichita State lost. The Shockers earned the conference’s automatic bid after going to the Final Four as a No. 9 seed and Valley tourney runner-up last March.

Wichita State got some early breathing room with an 11-0 run for a 23-11 lead not long past the mid-point of the first half, and led by at least nine points the rest of the half while taking a 39-29 halftime lead. Darius Carter led the way off the bench with nine points and five rebounds in 9 minutes.

VanVleet hit a layup and Baker had a three-point play in the opening minute of the second half to open a 15-point gap, then Wichita State went cold missing eight straight shots while Indiana State scored nine straight points to shave the deficit to six. Indiana crawled back within five points twice, the last time on two free throws by Jake Odum with 10:20 that made make it 55-50.

Indiana State cut the gap to eight points with about 3 minutes left but VanVleet hit a 3-pointer and made two layups the rest of the way.

Early helps Wichita State stay perfect
February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
12:38
AM ET

It continues.

The streak. The unblemished campaign. The possibility of perfection.

The idea that 24-0, still-playing-angry Wichita State will finish the 2013-14 regular season without a loss becomes less incredulous by the day.

A snowstorm created travel problems for the fourth-ranked Shockers, who didn’t reach Terre Haute until Wednesday morning. But it didn’t seem to impact the team during its 65-58 win at Indiana State.

It wasn’t easy, though. Per ESPN Stats & Information data, Wichita State lost the rebounding battle for only the second time this season, and its nine forced turnovers was its second-lowest tally of the year.

Indiana State's Manny Arop hit a deep jumper at the buzzer before the break, when Wichita State had just a one-point lead despite maintaining a nine-point advantage earlier in the half.

In the second half, Ron Baker helped Wichita State quiet Arop, who had 13 points in the first half and just three points after halftime. With 10 minutes to play, the Shockers had a comfortable double-digit lead, but the Sycamores didn’t break.

[+] EnlargeCleanthony Early
AP Photo/AJ MastCleanthony Early showed again Wednesday that he's Wichita State's rock and its ace in the hole as the Shockers prep for another tournament run.
The game wasn’t sealed until Cleanthony Early (19 points, five rebounds) finished a three-point play with 1:03 to go. Early, a member of the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25, drove from the top of the arc, drawing a foul as he scored. The free throw gave Wichita State a five-point cushion.

Chadrack Lufile made four of six free throws in the final 43 seconds. Game: over. Spotless record: preserved.

Ken Pomeroy gives Wichita State a 78 percent chance of defeating Northern Iowa on the road on Saturday. He gives the Shockers more than a 90 percent shot at defeating their final six Missouri Valley opponents after that. Even if that happens, the Shockers will still endure criticism.

Until its postseason journey begins, Wichita State will be scrutinized. If the Shockers lose in conference play, the naysayers will call them frauds. If the Shockers enter the postseason without a loss, those same people will put an asterisk next to their noteworthy accomplishment.

Not that the Shockers worry about negative opinions regarding their accomplishments thus far -- they weren’t exactly favored to make the Final Four last season after finishing second to Creighton in the MVC -- but that’s not something that they’ll overcome until the NCAA tournament arrives.

But they have Early now. And if he’s on the floor, Wichita State can play with anyone.

He scored 15 points in the second half Wednesday night. In a contentious game that included a quiet outing by the typically sound Fred VanVleet (2-for-5 shooting, two turnovers, six points) and foul trouble for Baker (eight points), Early gave the Shockers a much-needed boost.

The Shockers can finish the regular season with a perfect record. And they can make a return trip to the Final Four because Early can guide them there. But not by himself.

Baker, VanVleet, Tekele Cotton (14 points), Early and a fleet of capable reserves are all valuable to this program. But Early can be a closer when the Shockers need one, whether they’re playing MVC competition in the coming weeks or high majors in the Big Dance.

Early had 24 points, 10 rebounds and a block against eventual national champion Louisville in the Final Four last season. He was an honorable mention on the Associated Press preseason All-American squad this year. He has the highest offensive rating in the MVC (114.9) among players who’ve participated in a minimum of 25 percent of their team’s possessions, per Ken Pomeroy data.

Early is capable of doing what he did on Wednesday against top-25 teams. He has already proven that.

That’s significant in this polarizing discussion about Wichita State, a team that’s clearly equipped with individual playmakers who aren’t simply products of Gregg Marshall's system. You don’t tussle with Louisville and dismiss Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, La Salle and Ohio State because you’re lucky or just abiding by a system.

You do it because you have the athletes to compete at that level.

Early and his teammates can play with anyone. He’s more than a great tale -- he arrived in Wichita after a stint at a low-level junior college. He’s the next-level competitor who will lift the Shockers in the tough matchups they’ll encounter the rest of the way.

If you don’t believe in Wichita State’s defense (ninth in adjusted defensive efficiency, per Ken Pomeroy data) ...

If you don’t believe the Shockers have faced adequate competition (won at Atlantic 10-leading Saint Louis) ...

If you don’t believe VanVleet will maintain his poise against elite guards (he entered Wednesday’s game ranked third nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio) ...

Then believe this: Early would be a star on any level, in any league, against any opponent. And the players around him anchor a squad that can clearly compete with the best.

Don’t believe it?

Let’s see how you feel when Early & Co. end up in your favorite team’s region on Selection Sunday. Maybe you’ll change your mind.
Wichita State basketball team on Sports Illustrated regional cover

Wichita State basketball team on Sports Illustrated regional cover

 

 

The Wichita Eagle

The Wichita State Shockers are cover models again.

The men’s basketball team, which heads into Wednesday’s game against Loyola with a 27-0 record, is on one of two regional Sports Illustrated covers this week, with the headline “Go Ahead, Try to Jinx Us.”

The photo of Cleanthony Early, Tekele Cotton, Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker and Chadrack Lufile was taken last week in Wichita. It accompanies a story by Thomas Lake. Duke’s Jabari Parker is on the cover of the other regional edition.

The Shockers were on one of three regional covers in April, 2013 after they reached the Final Four.

In 2006, WSU was on a regional cover when the Shockers advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.


Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2014/02/19/4834678/wichita-state-basketball-team.html#storylink=cpy

 

Wichita State with zero to lose

Wichita State with zero to lose

Shockers have no losses, and they aren't afraid of being undefeated

Originally Published: February 5, 2014
By Dana O'Neil | ESPN.com

WICHITA, Kan. -- At the start of the season, Wichita State's Gregg Marshall, his coaches and his players each made two lists of goals -- personal and academic for the players, personal and professional for the coaches.

Then Steve Dickie, the team chaplain and character coach, asked them to boil those goals into one word that would define their season.

Marshall's word: appreciate.

"I don't want to wait until I'm 70, sitting on the beach and looking for a buddy to drink a beer and try to remember it all,'' Marshall said. "I want to appreciate now.''

Should he succeed, should he and his players enjoy the moments as they are actually occurring, that might be an even greater accomplishment than what Wichita State is doing on the court.

The Shockers are currently No. 4 in the country, ninth in the RPI, 12th in the BPI and passing every eye test as well as I test.

But above all else, they are undefeated, standing alongside Syracuse as the lone teams left without a blemish.

Alongside and yet separate, that is. Separate because for Syracuse, this will all come along again. Maybe not undefeated into February, but national relevance, a shot at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, those things are as certain as snow falling in central New York.

For Wichita State, who knows? Who knows when three national reporters will make the ride from Lawrence to Wichita in three successive days as they did last month? Who knows when the Shockers will see their name along a No. 1 seed in Joe Lunardi's Bracketology again? Who knows when anyone will be talking about Wichita State again?

That's not a knock on a reliable and well-constructed program but the reality of the dollars and cents of college sports. Ten years ago, Saint Joseph's triumphantly marched into the Atlantic 10 tournament with a perfect 27-0 record, the first team to finish the regular season unscathed since UNLV in 1991. The Hawks have made it back to the NCAA tournament just once since.

Two years ago, Murray State rolled to a 23-0 mark before losing in early February. Last season, the Racers didn't make it to the postseason.

 

[+] EnlargeGregg Marshall and Fred VanVleet
Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY SportsGregg Marshall and Fred VanVleet are determined to enjoy this season and the chase of perfection.

 

"I don't know if I would put the word enjoyment on it,'' St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli said. "I was amazed by it. ... And I used to agonize over the fact that my players were so non-pulsed, that I was hoping and praying they were enjoying it, that they realized they were walking on a path that very few athletes, forget college basketball players, had walked. I really wrestled with, 'What does this mean for our guys?'"

That's the funny thing about a goose egg in the L column.

Every coach, every athlete sets out to win every game, and yet when it happens, when one victory steamrolls into another and the schedule grows shorter, the big fat zero starts to feel more like an albatross than an accomplishment.

It can be constraining and all-consuming at the same time, so massive that people actually wonder if it would be better for a team to lose, which flies in the face of the entire concept of competition ("So H&R Block does 11,000 perfect tax returns, they should throw in a bad one once in a while just to take off the pressure?'' Martelli said).

Marshall knows all of that. He knows the St. Joe's story and the Murray State one, knows even more the odds at what his team is doing -- coming off a Final Four, gunning for another, undefeated, all out of the Missouri Valley.

That's why he's preaching to his team to embrace the big, fat zero, celebrate it and all the goofy stuff -- the autograph seekers, picture takers and media questioners -- that comes along with it.

And so far they seem to be listening. Instead of playing deaf, dumb and blind to the goose egg, pretending that it doesn't matter or more, doesn't exist, they admit that yeah, it's pretty cool.

"You work for this, to win every game,'' sophomore guard Fred VanVleet said. "That's why you play. We take pride in it.''

The truth is, no one expects Wichita State to be doing what it is doing. As top-10 teams go, the Shockers are all wrong. They are more an amalgamation of well-matched misfits than an amassment of talent.

No one on this roster was born with a silver Nike on his foot. Each came through success' back door.

Leading scorer Cleanthony Early is a future NBA player by way of a Division III junior college, which would be called the long road if it were even a road that ever had been paved. Early opted for Sullivan Community College, just 30 miles from his Middletown, N.Y. home, after his older brother, Jamel, drowned.

Ron Baker, the shaggy-haired, second-leading scorer on the team, is a country boy who grew up in Scott City, Kan. (population 3,816). His parents drove him 24 miles each way to high school and he only came to Wichita State after his coach essentially begged the Shockers' coaching staff to look at him one time. He paid his own way as a redshirt his first year.

"From where I come from, it's pretty amazing where I sit right now,'' Baker said. "If you had told me I'd be sitting here back in the day, I would have said you were crazy.''

VanVleet, who ranks third in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio, grew up in Rosemont, Ill. His parents struggled to make ends meet but willingly made sacrifices so their boys could pursue their basketball dreams and stay out of trouble. Even after all that hard work, his choices boiled down to Kent State, Northern Illinois and Wichita State.

Tekele Cotton, he of the monster-dunk highlight reel, played the better part of his high school career with a serious groin injury. He needed rest but refused to miss time and the injury likely cost him several scholarship options. In the end he chose between Wichita State, Morehead State, Murray State and Tennessee State.

"They do play with a little chip on their shoulder because none of them were blue chip recruits out of high school,'' Marshall said. "People always told them what they couldn't do as opposed to what they could.''

That freedom of expectation, though, might just make the Shockers best suited to do the impossible.

Can't-miss players can't miss. These guys? They're expected to miss.

 

[+] EnlargeCleanthony Early
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesCleanthony Early wasn't on the fast track to Division I basketball. But much like some of his teammates, here he is -- and here they are still unbeaten.

 

They are a big deal, but a big deal in a small setting. Devoid of a pro team in the city, Wichita is devoted to the Shockers, and has been long before this season. Fans want to send Marshall bottles of wine at dinner and pose for pictures with the players at the mall.

But it's a nice kind of devotion. There would be disappointment, certainly, if they lost, but there isn't that day-to-day angst over winning them all and winning it all because, until recently, that's never been a reachable goal. Even with a big gym, big budget and a Final Four run on its résumé, Wichita State remains more the little engine that could than the sports car that must.

Of course it was the same for Martelli's squad. Little St. Joe's with its tiny gym and tiny point guard (Jameer Nelson) and unheralded 2-guard (Delonte West) was a warm, fuzzy story that snowballed into a monster. By the time the Hawks hit February, the feel-good part was being pecked to death with questions. Was St. Joe's, for example, deserving of a No. 1 seed or even the No. 1 ranking it inherited for a week? Their competition, after all, wasn't the same and when the Hawks did receive a top spot in the tourney, analyst Billy Packer memorably went on a vicious rant attacking the decision.

Wichita State is entering that vortex now. The Missouri Valley isn't the power mid-major that it used to be, currently with the 12th-best RPI of any conference in the country, behind the West Coast and Mountain West, narrowly beating the Mid-American. Losing Creighton robbed the Shockers of a worthy adversary for the long term, but especially hurts them this year.

"Calling into question their league, that's not fair,'' Martelli said. "Straight up, here's the game, win or lose. Twenty-however-many times it is now, they've won. This is a numeric game and zero is a big number in the loss column.''

The straight-talking Marshall isn't playing that game. The man who jokingly refers to himself as a 29-year-old overnight sensation, referencing his long climb up the coaching ladder, isn't about to let outsiders spoil his fun.

He already told USA Today how he feels about his team's future seeding -- "We'd be 34-0. I don't care who you are playing. If you are playing a damned NAIA schedule, you should be a No. 1 seed." -- a comment that further endeared him to his players, who get the chip on their shoulder from his.

"I grew up around a lot of trash talking and a lot of confident, arrogant guys who didn't have the right to be confident and arrogant,'' VanVleet said. "So seeing someone in his position, to have that confidence, it really empowers us to be our own men. Some of the older, more established coaches, they have to act like they've been there before. We don't have to do that because he lets us enjoy it.''

And the Shockers are bound and determined to enjoy it.

 

 

Dana O'Neil | email

College Basketball
SLAM ONLINE: Grind Hard - Cleanthony Early

 
 
 
                                             Monday, January 20th, 2014 at 11:04 am  
 
 

Grind Hard

Cleanthony Early plays with a toughness that defines the unbeaten Wichita State Shockers.

cleanthony_early

by Leigh Klein / @leighalanklein

It is the mantra of former Wichita State head coach Gene Smithson and continued on by current Shockers head coach Gregg Marshall. Mental toughness and extra effort defines this Shockers team. It also defines one of their players, Cleanthony Early.

Through an unconventional recruitment, the death of a brother and a hurricane, Early landed in the Midwest as one of the leaders of his team and a player with NBA potential.

His basketball journey started in Middletown, NY, after his mother Sandra Glover opted to raise Cle away from New York City. It was his big brother Jamel who first introduced basketball to Cleanthony, and while there was some rec ball in the city, it was baseball that was his first passion. It wasn’t until the move to Middletown that he started to be more interested in basketball.

The development continued at Pine Bush (NY) High School where Early starred and averaged 20 points per game for the Bushmen as a senior. It was during that season that he turned the corner regarding his ability.

“I felt that I would have opportunities through basketball, I had a good senior season and a real good game against Newburgh Free Academy that took the state champion, Rice High School to the buzzer,” Early told SLAM.

Opportunities to play college basketball were hindered by his grades—by his senior year he was still in his evolution “from knucklehead to being a regular kid.”

It was his senior year, when Bobby Rahn, Burke Catholic assistant, first saw Cleanthony when the Eagles played at Pine Bush.

“It was within the first 15 seconds of the game and this long athletic kid gets a technical. People had told us about him, they called him ‘uncoachable’ but I saw it differently, he was so passionate, every play meant the world to him,” Rahn said.

“Later that year I was scouting and I met him up in Newburgh. He was there because the local Division III school, Mt. St. Mary’s of Newburgh, was one of the only schools showing him interest. I found him to be very personable, with a firm handshake and eye contact and offered him a spot with our AAU team, the BC Eagles. We have the Newburgh starting five, Cleanthony and some other local guys and we are playing down that June in New York City at the Rumble in the Bronx and Cleanthony, who had now grew to 6-6, 6-7, outplays two high-major post prospects as we lost in double overtime. His confidence grew from there.

“The next month we are in Springfield at a live tournament with college coaches circled around the Mass Mutual Center and he opens the game with energy, a thunderous one hand dunk, next possession—a block and then next trip down he hits a three-pointer. All the coaches start flipping the pages in the book and the look they had was, ‘Who’s that kid?’ I knew then, his dream of playing Division I was possible.”

One math credit short of qualifying, Cleanthony worked out for Division II programs Mercy and Dominican. Ultimately, looking to pursue his dream of playing Division I, Rahn introduced the idea of going to prep school.

Early and a fellow AAU teammate journeyed to Mt. Zion Christian Academy in Durham, NC, where he averaged 24 points per game.

“It seemed like a good idea, I was just thinking about working hard and improving, the school inspired me in a different way,” Early said. “It balanced me and connected me spiritually. It gave me guidance and affected my approach in a positive way.”

This spiritual foundation was needed to map through what happened next for Early and his family.

That summer, life would never be the same as his brother Jamel drowned in Schoharie Creek. Jamel was not only a big brother he also was a father figure; a man 14 years old with a family of his own.

“The loss of my brother propelled me to want to do more for my family. It motivated me. I kept working hard,” Early said. “I felt there was a lot on my shoulders both with basketball and as a person. It was time to stay focused and take advantage of my ability. I was now the man of the house and people were going to look at my example.”

Cleanthony was still in need of junior college and with many options, he decided what would be best is to stay close to home, enrolling in Sullivan County Junior College, a DIII junior college. Very few Division III junior college players get an opportunity to play NCAA Division I, nonetheless he had faith that it would happen.

“I learned from people who made mistakes and took the positives out of everything. Each year I got closer to my dream with the support of great people in my corner,” he said.

Former Sullivan County head coach Kevin DeVantier knew he had something special in Early.

“He has contagious passion and energy for the game. What separates him from the rest is his desire to compete and win every situation. It didn’t matter if it was a two-on-two drill, a rebounding drill in practice, he would refuse to let his team lose,” DeVantier said. “When others would tighten up, Cle would come through with a clutch block or basket. The bigger the game, the better he would play.”

The two-time NJCAA Division III Player of the Year had several of high-major offers including the likes of Baylor, San Diego State, Alabama, Missouri and Washington State. Fate would have him on a visit at Wichita State when Hurricane Irene struck New York and stranded him in Kansas for three additional days. After five days, he left convinced that Wichita State was the program for him.

“Last season, I had an early inkling that we can be something special from playing pickup before the season even started. [That feeling] continued to knock me in the face whenever we survived adversity…next man up,” Early said.

Final Four good? “We felt prepared for Pitt, people didn’t believe in us but we took pride to ‘Shock the World.’All of the sudden we are in the Final Four, two more wins and we meet the President. It was bittersweet.”

The Shockers leader in scoring and rebounding, he prides himself in being able to defend bigger players. He models his game after Kawhi Leonard and prior to this year was named a pre-season Wooden Award top-50 selection.

Scouts worry about what position he would play on the next level. Can he create off the dribble? What about his left hand and his lower body strength? There is no question about his resolve.

“The NBA has crossed my mind but I’m patient,” Early said. “If I continue to get better, if I continue to grind, I have faith it will happen.”

Leigh Klein was formerly on staff at Texas and Rhode Island and is a popular guest on radio. He now ownsFive-Star Basketball Camps, the nation’s top basketball camp where the likes of Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Patrick Ewing all learned and got better. He contributes now to SLAMonline and their coverage of college basketball and the NBA Draft. Klein can be followed at @LeighAlanKlein 

 

 
 
Early Named MVC Player of the Week 1/27/14
MBB: Early Named MVC Player of the Week
Courtesy:Wichita State 
Release:01/27/2014
 
 

WICHITA, Kan. --  Cleanthony Early was named the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week, it was announced today.

The senior averaged 21.0 points and 8.5 rebounds in Wichita State's two wins last week, shooting 62.5 percent (15-24) from the field, 69.2 percent (9-13) from the arc and 75 percent (3-4) from the line.

At Illinois State he had 23 points and 10 rebounds, and at Drake he had 19 points and seven boards to go with two assists.

 

Early Named to Midseason Top-25 Wooden Award
 
Courtesy: Wichita State
 
MBB: Early Named to Midseason Top-25 Wooden Award
Courtesy:Wichita State 
Release:01/22/2014
 
Related Links
 

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Senior Forward Cleanthony Early has been named to the Midseason Top-25 for the John R. Wooden Award today, the Los Angeles Athletic Club announced today on ESPN’s SportsCenter and ESPN.com. ESPNU will follow up at 6pm EST/5pm CST with a half-hour show focusing on the candidates.

Chosen by the Wooden Award Advisory Board, the list is comprised of 25 student-athletes who are the front-runners for the sport’s most prestigious individual honor based on their play so far this season.

Early is not just the only Shocker, but is also the only member of the Missouri Valley Conference to make the Midseason Top-25.

Last season, Early helped the Shockers to the 2013 Final Four while becoming a 1st-team All-MVC selection and earning the MVC Newcomer of the Year award. Heading into this season, he was named the MVC Preseason Player of the year for the 2013-14 season and was named to the Associated Press' 2013-14 preseason All-America team as an honorable mention selection.

Early has started every game for the Shockers, helping lead them to a 19-0 record and currently a No. 5 ranking in the nation. He averages 15.3 points per game and grabs 6.6 rebounds per game.

About the John. R Wooden Award:

Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball.  It is bestowed upon the nation’s best player at an institution of higher education who has proven to his or her university that he or she is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA. 

Previous winners include such notables as Larry Bird (’79), Michael Jordan (’84), Tim Duncan (’97), Candace Parker (’07 and ’08), Kevin Durant (’09) and Maya Moore of Connecticut (’09 and ‘11). Michigan’s Trey Burke won the 2013 Wooden Award presented by Wendy’s.

The Wooden Award All American Team, consisting of the nation’s top 10 players, will be announced the week of the “Elite Eight” round of the NCAA Tournament.

 

Nothing about Wichita State's Cleanthony Early is conventional

'We could shock the nation'

Nothing about Wichita State's Cleanthony Early is conventional

Originally Published: January 22, 2014
By Andy Katz | ESPN The Magazine

Cleanthony EarlyStreeter Lecka/Getty ImagesEarly scores 1.394 ppp in transition, placing him in the 89th percentile among D1 players.

This story appears in ESPN The Magazine's Feb. 3 Music issue. Subscribe today!

 

 

WICHITA STATE'S Cleanthony Early has a unique name, but a standard game. He boards, defends and finishes around the basket. The Shockers stunned the sport by reaching the Final Four in 2013 and now, Early's return combined with a full season from Ron Baker, has produced a lengthy undefeated start and a belief that the one team from the state of Kansas with a better chance to reach the Final Four may actually be in Wichita, not Lawrence.

 

Andy Katz: Why did you decide to go to a junior college close to your New York home town after a year at Mt. Zion Christian Academy in North Carolina?
Cleanthony Early: I had interests from a number of Division I schools. But that summer my older brother [Jamel Glover] drowned in the Hudson extension. He was swimming, jumping off the docks. I've done it. He had done it. He was like a father figure to me. Maybe not the best, but he was like one. He protected me, had my back and gave me comfort. I didn't want to be too far from home after that and that's why I chose a junior college 45 minutes [Sullivan County CC] from home.

Katz: How did you hear about his death?
Early: I was actually at my friend's crib. It was a summer day. It was so sunny. And then as soon as I got that call, the weather changed. It got nasty out. There was a storm. We had to go identify the body up river where they had recovered it. It was awful. I can see it like it was yesterday.

Katz: How did that affect you?
Early: My mom was a single mom. Everything wasn't all peachy. But there was love. I play for him. I play for my mom, my grandma, people that have my back. I don't take anything for granted. I live for a purpose.

Katz: Why did you choose a black and white avatar photo for your Twitter account with you in deep thought, head down, arms outstretched at the top of Koch Arena?
Early: It's a paradox for me. The black and white photo with me in deep thought. The positioning of the photo shows me in deep faith.

Katz: Why do you start the day by tweeting "Thank God for Today?"
Early: I've done that every day since prep school. It's something so simple. It is a reminder to be appreciative and grateful for what we have. I just want to Thank God for today.

Katz: What's the origination of your unique name?
Early: My dad's name is Cleveanthony. I'm not really sure. But my mom decided to just take off the V and the E.

Katz: During your recruiting trip to Wichita, you got stuck there due to Hurricane Irene. How did that influence your choice over San Diego State?
Early: It was crazy. I was here an extra four or five days. I went past the glamour of the two days when they do the meet and greet. I was a part of the program. Everyone thought I was going to San Diego State. I had so much fun out there. But there was too much temptation. I wanted to be at a place that was under the radar. I wanted to go somewhere where we could shock the nation. I'm from a big city and I wanted to go where there weren't a lot of options.

Katz: What's it like to play for coach Gregg Marshall?
Early: He's intense. You've got to buy in and lock in. There is a method to the madness. You've got to believe in the system as much as you believe in yourself. If you don't buy in, you don't play. If you're not diving on the floor, you're not getting playing time. Practices are intense, a dogfight. Not too many people practice like that. We guard each other really well.

Katz: What's it like to play at the Round House?
Early: It's so compacted. You can barely hear each other. We have to scream to each other to talk. Not a lot of teams are used to it.

Katz: Why did you come back instead of head to the NBA draft after the Final Four?
Early: I had so much more to learn and improve and understand. I knew we could be so much better than we were. I knew I could increase my stock. I knew I could get in a position to think like a pro. I know I can compete with anyone playing the game of basketball.

Katz: How did the Final Four change Wichita State?
Early: People knew us before but now we can't go anywhere without people knowing us. Even when I go back home now, everyone knows me. They want to take pictures, sign autographs every time we go out.

Katz: Why is this Wichita State team better than the Final Four team?
Early: I feel like we can score better than that team. We rebound just as good and our defense is just as good. We've got enough talent and can go punch for punch with teams.

Katz: What are the chances Wichita State can go undefeated in the regular season?
Early: I think they are pretty high. I can't say it's guaranteed. But if we can continue to work then the only team that can beat Wichita State is Wichita State. We can't take plays off. We have enough leaders to do it. If everyone stays healthy, what's stopping us?

 

Katz: How much do you miss Creighton in the Missouri Valley?
Early: I miss Creighton a lot. I would love to play those guys. Doug [McDermott] is a great kid. They're all pretty cool. I would love to play them again.

Katz: How much does Wichita State want to play Kansas?
Early: Everyone wants to play Kansas. I'm sure Kansas would love to play us. But everyone knows there are politics involved.

Katz: How realistic is it that Wichita State can win the national title?
Early: We have some of the top players in the nation. We just need to stay hungry and stay humble and continue to fight. I don't see nothing stopping us. I feel comfortable with our five, six, seven, eight or nine. You don't have to have the better team in March Madness. We want to play angry. We feel we belong. We're Wichita State.

Katz Korner is on Tuesdays 1-4 p.m. EST on ESPNU, running through the national championship game in Arlington, Texas.

 

Follow The Mag on Twitter (@ESPNmag) and like us on Facebook.

2013 - 2014 NCAA Recruiting Calendar

NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Recruiting Calendar August 1, 2013 through July 31, 2014
(See NCAA Division I Bylaw 13.17.2 for Men’s Basketball Calendar Formula)



The recruiting calendar allows high school basketball players to sign National Letters of Intent twice during the year. Other dates to watch out for in 2013-14'.

2013-2014 NCAA Division One Men's Basketball Recruiting Calendar

Men's College Basketball Recruiting Calendar for 2013-14

Calendar runs 08-01-13 through 07-31-14. Reference the definitions if needed.

08-01-13 thru 09-08-13 Quiet Period

09-09-13 thru 03-31-14 Recruiting Period *with the following exceptions

*11-11-13 thru 11-14-13 *Dead Period

*12-24-13 thru 12-26-13 *Dead Period

04-01-14 thru 07-05-14 Quiet Period *with the following exceptions

*04-03-14 thru 04-10-14(noon) *Dead Period

*04-10-14(noon) thru 04-23-14 *Recruiting Period **except for (i) below

(i) 04-14-14 thru 04-17-14 (i) *Dead Period

04-24-14 thru 07-05-14 Quiet Period *with the following exceptions

*04-25-14 thru 04-27-14 *Evaluation Period (certified events only)

*05-22-14 thru 05-30-14 *Dead Period **except for (i) below

(i)TBD (NBA Pre Draft) (i)*Evaluation Period

07-06-14 thru 07-31-14 Dead Period *with the following exceptions

*07-09-14(5 p.m.) thru 07-13-14 (5 p.m.) *Evaluation Period

*07-16-14 (5 p.m.) thru 07-20-14 (5 p.m.) *Evaluation Period

*07-23-14 (5 p.m.) thru 07-27-14 (5 p.m.) *Evaluation Period

 

Men's College Basketball Recruiting Rules:

As a Sophomore in high school:

 

Recruiting Material

  • You may receive brochures for camps and questionnaires.
  • You can receive material June 15th after your sophomore year.

Telephone Calls

  • You can call the coach at your own expense.
  • College coach can call you unlimited starting June 15th after your sophomore year.
  • Emails and text messages are unlimited.

Off-Campus Contact

  • Not Permitted

Official Visits

  • Not Permitted

Unofficial Visits

  • Unlimited


As a Junior in High School:

Recruiting Material

  • You can begin to receive recruiting material and information from the coach.

Telephone Calls

  • Phone calls, texts and emails are unlimited between college coach and student-athlete.

Off-Campus Contact

  • At prospect's educational institution (other than during April Recruiting Period).
  • April Recruiting Period - contact at prospect's educational institution or at the prospect's residence.

Official Visits

  • Beginning January 1st.

Unofficial Visits

  • Unlimited


As a Senior in high school:

Recruiting Material

  • You can receive material and information from the coach

Telephone Calls

  • Phone calls, texts and emails are unlimited between college coach and student-athlete.

Off-Campus Contact

  • Allowed starting September 9th.

Official Visits

  • You get one per college and a maximum of 5 visits to D1, and unlimited visits to D2, D3 and NAIA schools.

Unofficial visits

  • Unlimited


Other important information:

  • College coaches have 130 evaluation days to recruit you during the academic year.
  • During a contact period college coaches can make only one visit per week to your high school.
  • College coaches can evaluate and/or contact you no more than 7 times during your senior year.
  • During your senior year a college coach cannot contact you more than 3 times.

 

NCAA Changes Eligibility Requirments

September 14, 2012

Dallas Jackson
Rivals.com Football Recruiting

Being a student-athlete on the FBS level may have taken a strong shift towards the student side of the equation as the NCAA recently made changes to its initial-eligibility requirements.

The rules are in effect for current freshmen in high school -- or the recruiting Class of 2016 -- and include a higher minimum core-course grade-point-average, a sliding scale for GPA versus standardized test score, and 10 required core classes to be completed before the senior year.

The changes were met with positive reviews from Rivals.com national recruiting analyst, Mike Farrell.

"It is great to have academic reform at the high school level," Farrell said. "I think this will increase the pool of success stories on the college level because there will be less kids flunking out since they will have had to take education more seriously for a longer period of time and not just doing crash courses as seniors to get the numbers in their favor."

The new minimum core-course GPA is 2.3 and student-athletes must complete a total of 16 core classes, as well as satisfy graduation requirements.

The core classes are: Four years of English, three years of math at an Algebra I level or higher, two years of natural or physical sciences (one of which must have a lab if it is offered by the high school), two years of social sciences, one additional course year in either English, math, or natural/physical sciences, and four cumulative years combining foreign language, philosophy, or religion.

High school football coaches and the support staffs at the local level will be shouldered with more responsibility as well, but that is a role that has already been embraced by many.

Robert Wiener, head coach at Tampa (Fla.) Plant, said that he and his staff have always tried to be ahead of the curve on academics.

"We have a very advanced academic program here," Wiener said. "We work with the kids to schedule correctly and hit the books hard. We've found that if we push the kids hard as freshmen, they will be more prepared down the line.

"Ultimately, we try to be proactive and not work in recovery mode."

Since Rivals.com began tracking recruiting classes back in 2002, Plant has sent 28 players on to FBS-level football programs and nearly twice that to FCS and Division III football. The school has also had numerous student-athletes in other sports go on to participate in collegiate athletics.

Weiner said that the school has tracked its academic numbers and he is pleased with just how little his team will need to improve its standing in the classroom.

"We only have 17-percent of our kids across all sports that would not have been full-qualifiers by the new rules," he said. "It is just important to have a plan in place and start working it as soon as possible and we tell all of our kids to work hard on that front end."

A change that Wiener felt was a major benefit to student-athletes was the new sliding scale that aligned the 16-course GPA with a minimum ACT or SAT score.

Weiner said that it levels the field for students who learn differently and does not try to force everyone into the same category.

"Everything in education points to the fact that not everyone learns the same and not everyone can be evaluated the same way," Wiener said. "Some kids can work hard in the classroom and make the grade but are poor at test taking. Some kids are the opposite, not active in the classroom but have the aptitude to test well."

The full scales can be found on the NCAA Eligibility Center by clicking here, but one example would be that a 2.5 core-course GPA would also require a student to make a 1000 on his SAT or an 85 on the sum ACT.

The biggest change to the initial eligibility will be the elimination of senior year remedial courses.

Of the 16 core classes required, 10 must be completed before the beginning of the senior year of high school. Of those completed courses, seven will be locked in as ineligible to be changed.

What that means is that every course of every year matters much more than it has in the past when athletes would be able to take multiple online classes or make-up tests to boost grade point averages in an attempt to get qualified last in the senior year.

The impact on recruits, according to Farrell, is going to be largely positive.


Lane Kiffin's USC team has the No.1 ranked recruiting class for 2013.
"You are going to get what you expect out of kids," Farrell said. "Asking them to do more is good for their future. It has been about four or five years since the last major shift in the NCAA eligibility requirements (when they took away supplemental courses) and it made kids focus on academics. This will do the same.

"Schools like Stanford, Duke, Northwestern, Vanderbilt and Boston College will likely not be affected at all in their recruiting, but schools with lower academic standards will have to make sure their recruits are doing what they need to do."

Attempts for comments on the changes from major college football programs were declined, but many shared similar thoughts of that of USC Sports Information Director, Tim Tessalone.

"As a practice, our coaches don't talk about recruiting or any practices/tactics USC uses in recruiting or how issues relate to the way USC recruits," Tessalone said.

USC is currently leading the nation in recruiting and was ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the No. 24 overall best college with an acceptance rate of just 23 percent.

Farrell said that the pool of players for FBS-level schools like USC is likely to remain unchanged.

"We won't really know the full impact for a few years after the requirements are in place, but ultimately, I don't think there will be a major drop in eligible players," Farrell said. "There isn't going to be a major rise in kids going to Junior College or forced into prep schools because they will know what is required of them and they will work harder to get there.

"That is what the kids do who want to compete at the highest level. They will rise to the occasion."

Junior college players show process works
 
By Myron Medcalf | ESPN.com

Baylor point guard Kenny Chery worried about his future.

He had solid grades and a proven work ethic. He was a strong competitor who had left his family in Montreal to pursue Division I basketball opportunities.

After he finished high school in Washington, D.C., and the time arrived for the Canadian prospect to apply for colleges, however, he encountered a challenge that his 3.2 GPA could not help him overcome.

The NCAA Clearinghouse refused to grant Chery eligibility to play at the next level. The Canadian classes on his transcript, some of which weren't deemed adequate, complicated his journey.

"Some classes back home, they don't use them here as core credits," Chery said. "For example, history. We don't learn the same history."

Kenny Chery
Cooper Neill/Getty ImagesKenny Chery had to a travel a longer road to get to Baylor. "But it worked out pretty well," he said.

So he had to take a detour to State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Mo.

It's unfair to stereotype an entire pool of talent, yet the "junior college" tag often elicits skepticism within the college basketball community. But that perception might be changing, especially for coaches seeking mature players who can fill key holes on their rosters.

"I just knew that I had to do what I had do to get here," said Wichita State's Darius Carter, who attended Vincennes University in Vincennes, Ind., before joining the Shockers. "I wasn't really worried about how I'd be labeled. I just wanted to stand out as one of those guys that's not a 'juco guy,' one of those types of people."

There are many examples of athletes who have succeeded after junior college. Players such as Steve Francis, Jimmy Butler, Avery Johnson, Ben Wallace and Dennis Rodman were all juco products before successful NBA runs.

This season, Wichita State's Cleanthony Early, Ole Miss' Marshall Henderson, Memphis' Geron Johnson, Louisville's Chris Jones and Chery have all played significant roles for their respective programs. But there are far more casualties than stars who have entered Division I basketball from the junior college circuit in recent years.

And even some of the players who have made it have had to battle a negative perception about athletes who come from those ranks. Concerns about prospects' academic aptitude, athletic ability and character have been obstacles for players in Chery's position.

"I didn't want people to think, he didn't qualify [out of high school] because he got bad grades," Chery said. "At first, I was really worried."

 

There are definitely some juco players who are not playing high-major basketball because of academic issues or other "red flags." There are others who were good kids who just needed junior college to prepare them for the transition to Division I basketball. In that regard, junior college is not always a last chance for bad seeds. It's also a haven for players who can boost a program on and off the court from the moment they arrive.

And coaches recognize that.

"With Kenny, we're like there's nothing he can't do," said Baylor coach Scott Drew, who relied on junior college transfer Pierre Jackson last season. "He's got the midrange, the 3, the floater. [He] can finish at the rim, can defend, good student, good leader, diligent. No red flags."

When Larry Brown coached Kansas in the 1980s, he stayed away from junior college players. He didn't think it was fair to sign them and potentially reduce playing time for the players who had spent two or three years in his program.

He's changed his stance since returning to college basketball at SMU, although new academic requirements make it tougher to add junior college players today than it was 30 years ago.

"I love junior college kids, personally, because they're hungry," Brown said. "There's great coaching on the junior college level."

Mustangs big man Yanick Moreira drew interest from Division I schools after participating in the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit. The Angola native, however, had plenty to learn off the court too. He had to adjust to the American academic system.

There was another potential hindrance when Moreira and his family decided that some time at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, would be best for his basketball and scholastic career.

He didn't know the language.

"I think it was because of my English because I had to learn how to speak English," Moreira said. "Actually, I had a couple of Division I offers [out of high school], but that wasn't good enough for me. Me and my family, we decided, if I went to junior college, it would be great and open up other opportunities for me."

For others, academic problems are their main barriers.

 

Yanick Moreira
Cooper Neill/Getty ImagesYanick Moreira didn't go to junior college before SMU because he had character or academic problems. He just needed time to better learn the language.

 

There is definitely a group of junior college prospects who warrant scrutiny because they struggled in the classroom in high school.

Iowa State's Dustin Hogue admits that he failed to meet the academic bar. But the Big 12's No. 2 rebounder doesn't regret the experience. He matured at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa. He studied the game and evolved into a better player and a more disciplined student.

He's not sure he would have possessed those tools had he played Division I basketball after high school.

"It helped me polish my game more," he said. "I just became more focused. My coaches were on top of me."

Mining the field is not easy, though. The uneven competition among junior colleges results in deceptive stat sheets for players who can't make the same impact at the next level. So the analysis of a potential juco prospect, both on and off the floor, is an exhaustive undertaking.

"There's no doubt," Fred Hoiberg said. "That's not just junior college kids. That's everybody. That's high school kids. That's obviously transfers. You have to do as much work on them as possible to see if there are some things, to see if they won't fit in your program. We've had great luck with our junior college players."

The Iowa State coach has found some of the gems among junior colleges. Last year, Tyrus McGee, a junior college transfer, earned the Big 12's sixth man honor. Hogue is averaging 12.2 points and 9.1 rebounds per game for him this season.

"I think you just have to do as many evaluations on a kid as you can, put the whole package together and see if they fit in your system," Hoiberg said.

That pursuit of certain junior college standouts can lead to products like Chery, a guard who has the Big 12's highest assist rate, per Ken Pomeroy.

"I thought it was a little setback," Chery said. "I didn't really like junior college at first. I was like, 'Oh, why am I here? I should be at a Division I school right now.' But it worked out pretty well."

Who is the next mid-major star?
August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
12:53
PM ET
PaytonMike Carter/USA TODAY SportsElfrid Payton could emerge as a star this season.
No one could have predicted Damian Lillard being chosen sixth overall in the NBA draft prior to the start of his final season at Weber State. When C.J. McCollum entered Lehigh as a freshman, he wasn’t considered an overseas prospect, never mind someone who would be selected in the NBA lottery. Gordon Hayward was a mid-major guy who came out of virtually nowhere to be selected ninth in the draft a few years ago, and Paul George was hardly a household name when he was taken 10th out of Fresno in 2010.

Who will be this year’s Lillard or McCollum? We’re not sure there is one, but here are 20 or so candidates (below in alphabetical order) that A) you should keep an eye on this college basketball season and B) have the potential to come out of nowhere to become an NBA prospect.

We obviously aren’t including the high-profile leagues (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC, Big East, American, Mountain West) and decided not to include anyone from the A-10 or WCC, either. But I will make one exception. I’m going to allow a pair from Utah State on the list, since the Aggies are a legit mid-major and enter their first season in the Mountain West.

Adjehi Baru, 6-foot-9, 230, PF, Soph., College of Charleston Cougars -- The native of the Ivory Coast is big, athletic and can rebound at a high level. Imagine a poor man’s Kenneth Faried. He averaged 9.8 points and 8.3 rebounds last season and his skill level should continue to improve.

Jerrelle Benimon, 6-8, 245, PF, Sr., Towson Tigers -- The Georgetown transfer is the best player in the CAA. He’s 6-foot-8, big and strong and more skilled than most realized. He can obviously score in the paint and rebound (11.2 RPG), but he also shot 41 percent from beyond the arc and averaged 2.5 assists per game. The questions from NBA folks will involve his size and ability to shoot it consistently.

Sim Bhullar, 7-5, 355, C, Soph., New Mexico State Aggies -- He’s mammoth. There just aren’t guys around like the big Canadian, and not only does that make him fun to watch, but it’ll give him a chance to make an NBA roster. He averaged 10.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks as a freshman and was the WAC Freshman of the Year.

Taylor Braun, 6-7, 205, SG, Sr., North Dakota State Bison -- He is long, athletic and can score in a variety of ways. He shot 44 percent from beyond the arc, but he’s also able to create off the dribble. Scouts are aware of him from when he played well against Nate Wolters last season in the Summit League tourney.

Alec Brown, 7-1, 235, C, Sr., Green Bay Phoenix -- He’s been on the NBA’s radar for a couple years, but hasn’t yet taken the next step, especially in terms of physicality and toughness. He’d be more of a pick-and-pop guy at the next level unless he puts on weight and gets stronger to handle post players in the NBA.

John Brown, 6-7, 200, F, Soph., High Point Panthers -- He’s coming off a broken foot, but I saw the 6-7 athlete prior to last season. He’s ultra-athletic and wound up averaging 16.4 points and 6.1 rebounds in his first season of college ball.

Kyle Casey, 6-7, 230, SF, Sr., Harvard Crimson -- He didn’t play last season, but the Massachusetts native is a strong and athletic wing who is on the radar for several NBA teams. He shot it well two seasons ago, making 35 percent of his 3s while averaging 11.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

Allan Chaney, 6-9, 235, PF, Sr., High Point Panthers -- Obviously, the heart issue that kept him off the court for nearly three seasons will impact his chances at the next level. However, Chaney has the combination of size and skill to be under consideration by the NBA folks.

Torrey Craig, 6-6, 215, SF, Sr., USC Upstate Spartans -- He’s long, athletic and can create his own shot. He's a terrific rebounder for his position and also able to shoot well enough. He averaged 17.2 points and 6.9 rebounds for the Spartans last season.

Cleanthony Early, 6-8, 215, F, Sr., Wichita State Shockers -- He’ll need to improve his handle and his left hand, but he’s long, athletic, can really score and isn’t afraid of the moment (just watch the tape of the Shockers' Final Four loss to Louisville).

Corey Hawkins, 6-3, 195, SG, Jr., UC Davis Aggies -- The son of former NBA scorer Hersey Hawkins can also fill it up. The younger Hawkins isn’t as athletic as Hersey, but he can shoot it from deep, is strong enough to get into the lane and finish and ended his first season at UC Davis averaging 20.3 points while shooting 40 percent from deep.

Damion Lee, 6-6, 195, SG, Jr., Drexel Dragons -- There are those who question his toughness, but Lee has what the NBA wants -- length and the ability to shoot the ball. He put up 17.1 points and 5.1 rebounds last season, but he needs to improve his handle.

Walt Lemon Jr., 6-3, 180, PG, Sr., Bradley Braves -- A Chicago native who is a terrific athlete and plays extremely hard, Lemon needs to work on his decision-making and also his perimeter shot, but he’s got the physical tools to be on NBA draft boards.

Preston Medlin, 6-4, 185, PG, Sr., Utah State Aggies -- He is a point guard with good size who can really, really shoot the ball. He was averaging 16.3 PPG prior to suffering a season-ending broken wrist 16 games into the season.

Jake Odum, 6-6, 170, PG, Sr., Indiana State Sycamores -- He’s got some Matthew Dellavedova in him. Odum is extremely tough, can really run a team and can make shots from the perimeter. The questions will involve his athleticism and ability to guard at the next level. Averaged 13.6 points, 4.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game for the Sycamores.

Elfrid Payton, 6-3, 170, PG, Jr., Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns -- He made the U-19 team this past summer and more than held his own. He’s sort of a poor man’s Rajon Rondo, extremely athletic and fast, but he needs to develop a solid perimeter shot, work on his decision-making and also get stronger.

Kendrick Perry, 6-0, 175, PG, Sr., Youngstown State Penguins -- He’s extremely quick, and can score at all three levels -- from deep, midrange and also in the lane. He still needs to continue to get stronger, but he averaged 17.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists last season and has a bit of Norris Cole in his game.

Elijah Pittman, 6-8, 220, F, Sr., Marshall Thundering Herd -- Think of a poor man’s Paul George. He’s a big, skilled and athletic wing who can shoot it from deep. He’ll need to work on his decision-making and also become a better rebounder for someone his size.

Augustine Rubit, 6-7, 230, PF, Sr., South Alabama Jaguars -- He’s a skilled forward who can score in the post and also step out and make shots from the perimeter. He’s also a proven high-level rebounder. If he were two inches taller, he’d be a lock. He’ll still have a chance to make an NBA team.

Jarred Shaw, 6-10, 235, PF, Sr., Utah State Aggies -- Shaw is a skilled and fairly athletic big man who transferred in from Oklahoma State and made significant improvement over the course of last season. He has good size and can step out and make shots. Averaged 14.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game for Stew Morrill last season.

Tyler Stone, 6-8, 230, PF, Sr., Southeast Missouri State Redhawks -- He’s an athletic, face-up forward who plays with a motor and can really score. The question will be his size and his ability to make shots from the NBA 3-point line. He averaged 15.5 points and 7.8 rebounds last season for the Redhawks, but he shot just 24 percent from beyond the arc.
Pine Bush grad Early isn't content with perfect record
  • Wichita State's Cleanthony Early

Pine Bush grad Early isn't content with perfect record

The question kept popping up in Wichita State's postgame press conference Wednesday.

Cleanthony Early and the Shockers had just improved to 28-0 with a 14-point win at Loyola (Chicago). Earlier that night, Syracuse suffered its first loss in overtime to Boston College, leaving No. 3 Wichita State as the nation's lone undefeated team.

How did Early, a Pine Bush graduate and John Wooden Award semifinalist, feel about Syracuse falling?

"I think those questions that they ask us repeatedly after we have already made a statement is trying to get us to slip up and say something they can put it on the front page," said Early, one of three returning starters from Wichita State's Final Four team last year, Friday. "They are trying to get us to say something different than you said already and make a mistake. I don't think we are the guys to do that. We are going to tell you the truth. We don't care if they lose or win. We are focusing on ourselves."

Early and the Shockers may be college basketball's front-page story for the next six weeks. Wichita State's starting five, which includes Early, who is averaging a team-high 16.3 points per game, graced a regional cover of Sports Illustrated this week.

If Wichita State wins its last three Missouri Valley Conference games, it will be the first team since St. Joseph's (Pa.) in 2004 to enter its league tournament undefeated. If Wichita State wins its first Missouri Valley championship since 1987, the Shockers would be in the same company as the 1991 UNLV team, the last to start the NCAA tournament unbeaten. Bobby Knight led Indiana to Division I's last perfect season in 1976.

"Last year, they (Wichita State) was under the radar," said Steve Lappas, a college basketball analyst for CBS Sports Network. "This year, they have the experience factor. But, right now, they have expectations and with expectations comes more pressure.

"They have a good chance of going into the NCAA tournament undefeated and that's a big cross to bear. They are the only undefeated team left so the pressure is getting to get bigger."

Wichita State is packing arenas across the Missouri Valley Conference. Loyola drew 4,577 fans Wednesday, almost 2,000 more than its best crowd this season. The Shockers nearly filled Indiana State's 10,200-seat Hulman Center, bringing in 9,245 fans.

"Everyone wants to beat us," Early said. "They view it as kind of turning their season around and it makes their season. ... We are above that radar now."

Early and Wichita State host Drake (14-13) Saturday, travel to Bradley (11-17) Tuesday and close their regular-season schedule against Missouri State (17-10) next Saturday at home. Early has a warning for the Shockers' future opponents.

"I always understand that there's always room for improvement." Early said. "I'm pretty happy how we are playing because we are winning games. But, I know that we can play way better than we have been playing. We've been playing good but I don't think we have played our best basketball yet and that's what excites me the most."

sinterdonato@th-record.com Twitter: @salinterdonato


Early, Wichita State are on a roll

 

With each Wichita State win this season, there has been more attention, hype and fanfare, which means one thing — Cleanthony Early is in his element.

Early seemingly plays his best in the spotlight, feeding off the bright lights and big stage, and this has been some show. With Early reprising his role as Wichita State's poster boy, a part he first played in last season's NCAA tournament, the Shockers have opened the season with 19 straight wins.

At 19-0, fifth-ranked Wichita State has tied the 1962-63 Cincinnati team for second-best start by a Missouri Valley team. Indiana State, led by Larry Bird, didn't lose until the 1979 national championship game. Only two other teams in the country are undefeated this season — No. 1 Arizona and No. 2 Syracuse, which are both 18-0.

Wichita State goes for its 20th consecutive win at Illinois State in an MVC game on Wednesday.

"A lot of people in Wichita are going crazy," said Early, a Pine Bush graduate and former SUNY Sullivan star. "A lot of people in the country are going crazy. We try not to pay attention and just play basketball. But we knew how good we were coming in, we knew how much we wanted it. We just had to go out there and go get it. We go out there every night like we want it, you know?"

Last season, Early and the Shockers, of course, shocked the nation — reaching the Final Four for the first time since the 1965 season. The Shockers defeated No. 1 Gonzaga and second-seeded Ohio State on the way to Atlanta. In a 72-68 loss to Louisville, the top seed, Early battled to keep Wichita State in the game.

He finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds against the eventual national champion. Early, a 6-foot-8 forward, and Wichita State set a school record for wins (30) and became the first MVC team to reach the Final Four since Bird and Indiana State in 1979.

With plenty of talent returning, Wichita State was supposed to be good this year. But this good? After the Shockers defeated Indiana State 68-48 on Saturday, Sycamores coach Greg Lansing told reporters that this Wichita State team is better than the one that went to the Final Four, and could run the table and win a national championship.

Before the season, there was already hype surrounding Early, a senior. He was named the MVC's preseason player of the year in October by a panel of league sports information directors, media and coaches. Several NBA scouts have visited Wichita State to watch Early, and Shockers coach Gregg Marshall told the Times Herald-Record before the season that he thinks Early could be a first-round NBA draft pick in June.

Faced with big-time expectations, he's never flinched. He leads Wichita State in scoring with 15.3 points per game and continues to develop his explosive game.

"Not everybody knew about Cleanthony last season," said Norfolk State assistant coach Kevin DeVantier, who coached Early at SUNY Sullivan. "What's impressive is that everyone knows him this year, he's the guy to stop on the scouting report. The brighter the lights get, the better he gets. Nothing phases him."

Not even Wichita State's 19-game winning streak. If the Shockers keep winning, it will bring only more attention, hype, fanfare and, no doubt, more pressure.

Not a problem.

Cleanthony Early can handle that, too.

"We're playing basketball," Early said. "This is the regular season. Pressure? You know what I mean? It's not like we are in the tournament. It's conference play. We're pretty sure we can play with anyone."

Mike Tobey takes step forward in Virginia’s beating of N.C. State

Mike Tobey takes step forward in Virginia’s beating of N.C. State

 

Jan 11, 2014, 8:02 PM EST

tobeyAP

Less than two weeks ago Tony Bennett’s Virginia Cavaliers took their worst beating of the season, losing 87-52 at Tennessee with many wondering if Virginia had what it took to turn things around and be the ACC contender they were expected to be. Since that result: three wins, all by double digits, with their latest conquest being a 76-45 win at N.C. State.

One reason for the margin was Virginia’s defending of T.J. Warren, who they limited to just four points on 1-for-9 shooting. The Cavaliers were also solid offensively despite shooting 3-for-13 from deep, with three starters finishing in double figures and the other two scoring eight points apiece.

Joe Harris scored 16 points on the evening, and since leaving the Florida State win early in the first half due to injury the senior’s averaged 13.5 points per game and has been a more efficient player on that end of the floor. Against Tennessee Harris, a first team All-ACC selection last season, shot 2-for-9 from the field and turned the ball over three times with the Volunteers doing all they could to limit his quality touches.

Saturday’s win marks the second consecutive game in which Harris has shot 50% from the field, and while the shot attempts may not be all that high (4-for-8 in both games) he’s still an offensive threat that opponents have to be mindful of. But even with Harris’ two-game stretch, his play on Saturday may not be the most important development to take from Saturday’s blowout win. That would be the play of sophomore center Mike Tobey.

After averaging 6.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per game as a freshman and making the United States Under-19 team that won a gold medal at the U-19 World Championships this past summer, Tobey was pegged as a possible breakout player in the ACC by more than a few pundits. With Tobey up to 7.1 points and 4.7 rebounds per game it can be argued that he hasn’t reached that status just yet. But against N.C. State’s talented (but young, with the exception of Jordan Vandenberg) front court Tobey tallied 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting and seven rebounds.

Tobey’s afternoon comes on the heels of a two-game stretch in which he accounted for a total of six points and six rebounds, with the 6-foot-10 big man going scoreless at Florida State. Tobey’s now reached double figures in scoring in five games this season, so the ability to be an impact player offensively is there. The next step for Tobey, beginning with Monday’s game against a Duke team that is lacking in the post, is to do so on a consistent basis.

That would certainly help the Cavaliers in their quest to make a run at the ACC title, because Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell can always use some help carrying the load.

 

Early and the Shockers improve to 13-0 with 80-71 win over Davidson
 
 
Courtesy: Wichita State
 
MBB: Shocks Improve to 13-0 With Win Over Davidson, 81-70
Courtesy:Wichita State 
Release:12/29/2013
 
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WICHITA, Kan.  – Cleanthony Early recorded his second double-double of the season with 24 points and 10 rebounds as the Wichita State men’s basketball team defeated Davidson, 81-70, Sunday afternoon in Charles Koch Arena. The Shockers improved to 13-0 on the season, the second-best win streak in school history. 

Ron Baker scored 15 points and led the team with five assists, while Darius Carter added 13 points and six rebounds and Tekele Cotton scored 10 points in the victory.

Wichita State shot 42 percent (23-for-54) from the field and 36 percent (7-for-19) from three-point range, while Davidson shot 42 percent (24-for-56) from the field and 39 percent (11-for-28) from behind the arc. The Shockers forced 15 Wildcat turnovers and outrebounded Davidson 39-35 on the day.

The Shockers jumped out to an early 11-5 lead in the first six minutes of play, capped by a jumper from Darius Carter at the 14:04 mark. Davidson (4-9, 0-0) took a 16-15 lead with 10:11 left in the first half but Wichita State (13-0, 0-0) went on an 8-3 run to extend its lead, 23-18.

The Wildcats hit back-to-back threes in the final minutes of the first half to regain the lead, 32-31, but the Shockers hit some free throws and a last second jumper by Carter put Wichita State on top, 36-32, going into the locker room.

Early led the Shockers in the first 20 minutes of play with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting and three rebounds, while Carter added six points and Tekele Cotton contributed five points.

The Shockers shot 46 percent (12-for-26) from the field and 30 percent (3-for-10) from three-point range, while the Wildcats shot 42 percent (11-for-26) from the field and 28 percent (4-for-14) from behind the arc. Wichita State forced 11 turnovers but was outrebounded 18-to-15 in the first half of play.

Cotton hit a quick layup to extend the Shocker lead, 38-32 in the second half but Davidson responded on the other end with a three-pointer to cut the deficit, 38-35. Wichita State went on a 5-1 run on a three by Early and a jumper from Carter to take a 43-36 lead at the 17:35 mark, but the Wildcats would not go away, hitting three straight shots to pull within one, 45-44.

A three-pointer from Early at the 12:14 mark capped a 10-2 Shocker run, giving them the 55-46 advantage. Davidson would not go away, however, responding with two three-pointers and a dunk, cutting the lead, 58-54 with 9:10 left to play.

Baker hit a three at the top of the key and Early followed with a layup at the 8:18 mark, giving Wichita State a 63-54 advantage before a Wildcat three quieted the crowd and brought Davidson within six, 63-57 with 7:57 left on the clock.

Early ended a four minute field goal drought with a layup at the 4:25 mark and VanVleet hit a three shortly after to extend the lead, 71-64, heading into the media timeout. Davidson could not find its offensive flow in the final minutes, however, and the Shockers went on to win, 81-70.

The Shockers travel to Carbondale, Ill., Thursday, Jan. 2 to take on Southern Illinois in the first Missouri Valley Conference matchup. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. and will be shown on ESPN3.

 

MSG Varsity Hudson Valley Top 30 High School Players

The boys basketball season in the Hudson Valley is right around the corner and 2013-14 is shaping up to be one loaded with talent.

MSG Varsity boys basketball expert Kevin Devaney Jr. attempted to rank the Top 30 players in the region, which consists of Section 1, Section 9 and local CHSAA and private schools.

(Also coming soon: The Top 15 Rising Stars of the Hudson Valley)

HUDSON VALLEY TOP 30 RANKINGS

 21. MICHAEL COFFEY, BURKE CATHOLIC

Grade: Senior  Position: Guard  Height: 6-1

Scouting report: By the end of the season, we could be talking about Coffey as a Top 10 player in the region. He enters the season among the best pure shooters in the Hudson Valley, averaging 11.5 points per game off the bench, and will look to carry the momentum of a stellar effort in the Class A state final four into this season. Coffey had 15 of 19 points in the fourth quarter of the state quarters, 13 of his 21 points in the second half of the state semis and then 19 in the title game. 

7. JACK DWYER, BURKE CATHOLIC

Grade: Senior    Position: Point guard    Height: 5-10

Scouting report: As far as ball-handlers go, you might not find any better in the region than Dwyer. He’s deceptively quick and incredibly strong for a player his size, making it almost impossible to press the Eagles when he’s on the floor. Dwyer is a quality shooter who’ll likely need to score more on an undersized but deep Burke squad. 

4. AARON RAY, MIDDLETOWN

Grade: Junior     Position: Wing    Height: 6-2
Scouting report: The much-hyped veteran is worth the price of admission at any game this season. Ray is a complete player who averaged 17.7 points, 10.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. He commands the ball on every possession and will look to carry the Middies to a Section 9 title this season.

- See more at: http://www.msgvarsity.com/hudson-valley/hudson-valley-hoop-rankings-top-10-1.1544538#sthash.zkjSAZYf.dpuf

Mt Zion vs. Word of God NC

Jason Porter Scouts: Mt Zion V Word of God

rdu logo

Last night I was out at Mt Zion in Durham to see their varsity take on a very talented Word of God team. The JV game had been very fun to watch with great back and forth action, threes falling from everywhere, and fast breaks where plentiful. I just knew that the varsity game would hold more of the same for us.

Word Of God looked ready to deliver on that promise early by jumping out of the gate with 8 quick points but that was not to last. After that initial burst to start the game, Mt Zion started to take the air out of the ball and made WOG work for all they got. After 1 the score was 14-9 and the slow down was in full effect.

Mt Zion got a five quick points to start the 2nd quarter to get the game to within 2 and from that point up until the last 2 minutes or so of the game, there was really no separation of note between the 2 teams. Jaylen Fornes led all scorers with 8 at half for WOG while Travis Cook set the pace for Mt Zion with 7.

We got more of the same to start the 2nd half, slow, methodical basketball from Mt Zion. I will be honest in saying that it made for some boring ball to watch at times but what may be boring to the fans was actually really smart coaching from the Mt Zion staff. Mt Zion really can not run with WOG for a full game and the way they made the game slow down gave them the best chance to win. The problem with this approach though showed up late in the 4th quarter when WOG was able to ice the game away.

High School hoops, like most hops is all about runs and who gets hot when. WOG was able to get a 5 point lead with under 2 to go in the game and Mt Zion was not able to speed the pace up in order to really mount a comeback.  Add that to the fact that they were in the bonus and that WOG had Mr Automatic from the line (Alex Moore) in the game and getting the free throws and you get a final that looks more one-sided than what the game really was. WOG walks out with a 53-43 win in this one. Player notes are as follows:

MT ZION


Travis Cook, 6’4 jr wing – Usually when I see Travis play he is doing damage from deep. Tonight he showed me more than just an outside shot though as he was driving more than I have seen from him. The jumper is always there (hit 2 from deep) but the ability to take guys off the bounce will help elevate his game. I had him leading all scorers with 15 in this one to go with 2 boards and a block. If he can show me more than the ability to score (rebounding, assists, all around player) then he has a shot to really make a splash. He has the height, the shot, and the athletic ability to be a solid 2 guard at the next level.

Early leads Shockers past Alabama
 
Courtesy: Wichita State
 
MBB: Early Leads Shockers to 72-67 Win over Alabama
Courtesy:Wichita State 
Release:12/17/2013
 
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Cleanthony Early had a season-high 26 points and was a perfect 11-for-11 from the charity stripe as No. 11/9 Wichita State executed down the stretch to beat Alabama 72-67 and improve to 11-0 on the season. 

Both Fred VanVleet and Tekele Cotton chipped in 11 points, while Darius Carter scored nine points and pulled down seven rebounds off the bench for Wichita State in the win. The Shockers shot 44 percent (22-50) from the field and made 25-of-27 free throws during the contest.

 Wichita State jumped out to a 16-6 lead early in the first half that was highlighted by five straight points from VanVleet. VanVleet drained a three-pointer from the top of the key and followed it up with a layup off of an Alabama turnover. 

 Alabama took advantage of a four minute Wichita State shooting drought and cut the Shocker lead to 26-24 after a Retin Obasohan three-pointer and would tie the game at 26-26 on a Trevor Releford driving lay-up that capped a 12-4 Crimson Tide run. 

Evan Wessel's offensive rebound and put back gave the Shockers a slim 29-26 lead with 2:07 to go in the first half but two Alabama threes by Releford and Rodney Cooper gave the Crimson Tide their first lead of the game at 32-31. 

Tekele Cotton made two free throws in the final minute of the first half to give Wichita State a 33-32 lead at intermission. 

The Shockers shot 45 percent (10-22) from the field and made 12-of-13 free throws in the first half, while the Crimson Tide shot 47.6 percent (10-21) from the field and 40 percent (4-10) from behind the arc. 

Cleanthony Early scored the first five points of the second half and gave the Shockers a 38-32 advantage. Ron Baker found a cutting Early and Early threw down a base line jam to open up the second half, and followed the dunk with a corner three to increase the Shocker lead to six points. 

Alabama cut the lead to 40-38 after a Cooper lay-up, but an old-fashioned three-point play by Darius Carter put Wichita State back up by five, 45-40 at the 12:43 mark of the second half. The Crimson Tide would take its first lead of the second half at 52-51 after back-to-back threes from Releford, but Baker connected on hist first three-pointer of the game that tied the game at 56-56. 

Baker found Early again in transition for an easy dunk that put the Shockers up 62-59 with just under three minutes to play in the game. Early followed the dunk with a three-point play after a made jump shot and a free throw, but Cooper hit a three-pointer to cut the Wichita State lead to 65-64 with two minutes left in regulation.

VanVleet hit a running jumper and Carter had a crucial offensive put back as Wichita State made enough plays down the stretch to escape with a 72-67 win.

The Shockers are next in action on Sunday, Dec. 22 when they take on North Carolina Central at 7 p.m. inside Charles Koch Arena.

 

Keystone's Jesse Longmire D3hoops.com
November 23, 2013

Hoopsville Classic: Splitsville

More news about: Keystone | La Verne | Ohio Wesleyan
Freshman guard Jesse Longmire brings a unique skill set to Keystone
Photo by Larry Radloff, D3photography.com

By Rob Knox
D3hoops.com

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Keystone College interim men's basketball coach Brad Cooper had one simple goal for his team against La Verne College.

"We wanted to really attack the basket from the start of the game," Cooper said.

Mission accomplished.

The Giants unleashed a furious assault on the basket that yielded a 73-64 victory over the University of La Verne in the Hoopsville Classic Saturday afternoon at Stevenson University. It was La Verne's first loss of the year.

It was a much different strategy for Keystone than the one it used against Trinity in a loss on Friday. In that game, the Giants hoisted 45 three-pointers. Against La Verne, the Giants attempted 12 three-pointers. Instead of trying to shoot from distance, Keystone went hard to the rack. In ending a two-game losing streak, the Giants attempted more foul shots (42) than field goals (40) in earning the wire-to-wire victory.

"I thought we did a good of attacking instead of settling for threes when we came off screens today," Cooper said. "La Verne took away the three-point line and that opened up some opportunities for us."

Despite battling the flu, Keystone freshman guard Jesse Longmire was a whirling dervish of activity. The cough he experienced didn't stop him from driving to the basket and finishing with a career-high 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Duncan Lunsford added 21 points to lead Keystone. Both players attempted 12 foul shots. Dan Candemeres, who attempted 19 three-pointers Friday, made his only three-point try. He finished with 15 points.

"We still played the same pace today, but today we made an effort to keep attacking the rim," Longmire said. "We wanted to come out today to get a win against a good team and stop our losing streak."

Longmire, who is from Harlem, is making a difference for the Giants. He's used to winning and has been a nice addition to Keystone's fast-paced offense. A 6-4 point guard, Longmire can drive past taller defenders and see over smaller ones. He is averaging 14.2 points per game through five games and has reached double figures in scoring four times on the young season. Longmire credits his teammates for helping him to play with an edge and keep improving.

"It starts in practice because my teammates push me every single day and I am thankful for that strong competition," Longmire said. "At this level, dudes are faster and stronger. I like the up-tempo style because I like to get out and run. It was one of the things that attracted me to the school. Plus, we get a chance to turn the other team over."

Longmire was an equal opportunity scorer as he had eight in the first half and 12 in the second half.

Keystone was at its attacking best to start the game and the beginning of the second half. The Giants swooshed to a 10-2 lead four minutes into the game. Then Keystone roared out of the locker room scoring the first eight points as part of a 14-2 burst to open a 49-37 advantage with 16:13 remaining. Even though La Verne, got to within, 55-51 with less than nine minutes remaining, it could get no closer.

La Verne was led in scoring by Ronn See’s 14 points. Eric Becker added 10 points for the Leopards, who had at least 12 players see at least 10 minutes of action.

"Keystone had a great game plan coming in," La Verne coach Richard Reed said. "They switched from man to zone when we brought in our shooter off the bench and they did a nice job of confusing us early with their switching defenses."


Email Rob Knox at rob.knox@d3hoops.com and follow on twitter at @knoxrob1.

 

Robinson and James Freshman Duo Making Big Contributions For Monmouth

Freshman Duo Making Big Contributions For Monmouth

Josh James RiderBeing a college freshman can be tough, what with academic requirements, dealing with professors, acclimating yourself to dorm life and presumably being on your own for the first time.

Now, take all of those factors, add on being a big contributor for a Division I basketball team and that’s what you have in Monmouth freshmen Justin Robinson and Josh James.

The guard duo finished its first semester of college earlier this month and will play in its 13th college basketball game this afternoon when the surprising 6-6 Hawks face former Northeast Conference foe Wagner College at 3 p.m. at the Multipurpose Activity Center.

After getting through the end of classes and final exams while mixing in basketball, Monmouth head coach King Rice noted after an 87-78 win over Fordham on Dec. 21 that he thought it was a good time for Robinson and James to be getting a break for a few days.

 

For King Rice, a Long Christmas Break Was Too Long

Justin Robinson2WEST LONG BRANCH – When you’ve won five of your last seven games to get to .500 through 12 games for the first time in a decade like Monmouth has, the last thing you want to do is take an extended break.

The problem is, Christmas break came and Hawks head coach King Rice didn’t have much of a choice after his team defeated Fordham, 87-78, on Dec. 21. Most of his players left campus following that game in the early evening before the team reconvened in West Long Branch for practice on Thursday afternoon.

In defense of his players, Rice readily admits that the timing of the break was good given they have gone hard since late September, with only a short Columbus Day weekend break mixed in.

“I never want to take days off, but sometimes, you just need it,” freshman point guard Justin Robinson said after practice on Friday afternoon.

Prep Phenom Hoop Report

Mt Zion Varsity V Carlisle School

 

Whatever gym 7′ 2016 F Thon Maker walks into is sure to create some buzz. Thon’s Carlisle School, fresh off a huge victory over Huntington Prep, brought their winning ways to Mt Zion to play their Varsity team. Carlisle School has only dropped one game this season, that was to Oak Hill (who they play again next).

From the get go this game’s pace was slowed down. Carlisle decided to pack into a zone and Mt Zion decided to take time off the clock. At half time the the score was 21-15. The Mt Zion Varsity  wings did a good job getting into the lane and finishing. An attack led by 6’4 senior wing Britton Reed and his 8 first half points. 6’3 junior wing Travis Cook also had 6.

The second half was a different story, the game opened up a bit and Carlisle School gained the lead for good. Kick starting the charge was the interior play of 6’5 senior forward Kevin Cuesta and Maker. Cuesta had 9 second half points and Maker 11.  6’6 junior wing Kaleb Johnson had 5 rebounds and 6 steals in the second half, getting Carlisle School in transition for easy buckets.

Mt Zion Varsity utilized very quick and active hands in the lane. The first half would not allow Carlisle School to attack the basket. Once the second half came around and they began passing instead of attacking, things worked out better.

Carlisle School won the game 46-41 behind 16 points and 9 rebounds from Thon Maker. Kevin Cuesta and Malcolm Ndiaye had 9 points each and Kaleb Johnson had 5 points 8 rebounds and 8 steals. For Mt Zion Varsity Britton Reed finished with 14 points and Travis Cook finished with 12 points.

Thon Maker – The size to skill set is tantalizing. Shows perimeter skill, but was most effictive when he get in the post and used his length. Needs strength, but no denying big time skill.

Kaleb Johnson – Couldn’t get shot going, but found ways to affect the game regardless. Defends on and off the ball at a high level and a good rebounder for position.

Britton  Reed – Fearlessly attacked the basket and was able to finish consistently and draw contact. Defended with a motor and made his free throws.

Travis Cook – Came off the bench to provide a spark to the team. Attacked the basket hard and finished craftily at the rim. Quick and active hands in the lane.

Draft Express NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Cleanthony Early

Top NBA Prospects in the Non-BCS Conferences, Part Two: (#6-10)
October 31, 2013



From DraftExpress.comhttp://www.draftexpress.com#ixzz2rkvSVsdP
http://www.draftexpress.com

Derek Bodner

After being one of the top rated junior college players while at Division three Sullivan County Community College, forward Cleanthony Early made an immediate impact at Wichita State, culminating in an unexpected run to the final four that Early featured prominently in.

While Early was always likely to go the junior college route out of high school due to academic issues, family tragedy would ultimately influence his early college career, when his older brother died in an accident after Early's senior year of high school. Early would select Sullivan County, a DIII junior college, due to its proximity to his family. He dominated at that level, becoming the two time NJCAA DIII player of the year before transferring to Wichita State last year.

The lanky 6'8" forward worked his way into becoming a potent inside-outside threat for the Shockers, scoring 22.7 points per 40 minutes pace adjusted. He showed ability from both the inside, where his 1.2 points per possession on post-ups would rank as the highest level of efficiency for any player with at least 50 possessions used, and from the outside, shooting 32% from three point range on 3.8 attempts per game.

In the post, Early was incredibly efficient overall, thanks in large part due to the frequency with which he drew fouls from post-ups and how rarely he turned the ball over. That being said, his overall offensive repertoire isn't all that advanced down low, relying largely on a turnaround jump shot and a hook over his left shoulder. He has a quick spin move and gets off of his feet quickly, allowing him to get quality shots at the basket despite not having the most advanced footwork around. He's not all that developed in terms of lower body strength, and struggles to establish deep position or move defenders after receiving the entry pass, something that is sure to become even more pronounced at the next level.

Despite his efficiency on the block, he's a fairly low-usage post scorer at two possessions per game, which, while good that he plays within his limitations, also suggests this is something that is not likely to translate at a high volume once he goes up against stronger, more physical competition.

Early's overall a good athlete, and he uses this in transition, off of cuts to the basket, and offensive rebounds, which all represent a fairly sizable portion of his offense. Early pulls down a solid 3.7 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted, combining his explosive leaping ability with a relentless pursuit of the ball to generate extra possessions for his team.

Showing very little ability to create off the dribble and virtually nothing with his left hand, Early has a ways to go in terms of refining his perimeter skills. He's also an extremely poor passer, dishing out an assist on just 5% of his possessions last season, one of the worst rates among players classified as draft prospects.

His jump shot shows a little bit more progress, as he connected on 32% of his nearly 4 three point attempts per game. Perhaps more encouraging was him making nearly 80% of his free throws, although this by-and-large didn't translate into game action, as he connected on only 31% of his mid-range jump shots according to Synergy Sports Technology. His jump shot was incredibly streaky throughout the season, going through extended hot and cold periods that would seemingly come and go at a moment's notice. For example, Early had made only 2 of his previous 15 three point attempts heading into the NCAA tournament, then went 0-6 in the opening round victory over Pittsburgh. He responded by making 8 of his next 17 attempts from beyond the arc during Wichita State's run to the Final Four.

The overall form on his jump shot appears to be solid, albeit a bit long and deliberate, with a high release point and good follow through, suggesting that it could be something he becomes more consistent with if he is able to get enough repetition and put the necessary work in. Becoming more consistent with his jump shot is undoubtedly one of the keys for Early's development as a prospect, and something NBA scouts will be watching closely this season.

On the defensive end, Early is somewhat of a mixed bag. He's an active defender, with quick hands and ample length and athleticism to get the occasional block or deflection. He moves his feet fairly well on the perimeter and does a passable job defending the pick and roll, but would likely struggle initially if asked to defend the small forward position at the next level.

His lack of lower body strength comes into play quite a bit on this side of the court, as he struggles to hold position in the post and, perhaps most glaringly, on the defensive glass, where his 5.1 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted and 14.6% defensive rebounding rate were both very poor numbers. Besides physical attributes, Early doesn't appear to be all that instinctive of a defensive rebounder, and will not always show the best form or technique when boxing his man out. He'll frequently forget to locate his man when the shot goes up, and also tends to box out with his arms rather than getting good leverage, something even more important considering his slender build.

Cleanthony Early displays many of the problems typically associated with a 'tweener', lacking the lower body strength or technique to defend down low and without the foot speed or advanced perimeter skills to switch out to the perimeter. That being said, his athleticism and ability to score from both inside and out presents some intrigue, particularly if he could show more consistency on his perimeter shot going forward and become a little bit more comfortable creating off the dribble.

From DraftExpress.comhttp://www.draftexpress.com#ixzz2rkvs1UO4
http://www.draftexpress.com

Wichita St.'s Cleanthony Early carries added motivation into Sweet 16

Wichita St.'s Cleanthony Early carries added motivation into Sweet 16

 

 

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Wichita State's Cleanthony Early scored 21 points in the Shockers' Round of 64 win over Pitt.
Wichita State's Cleanthony Early scored 21 points in the Shockers' Round of 64 win over Pitt.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

It's hard to miss Wichita State's 6-foot-8 junior forward Cleanthony Early. In the Shockers' locker room, he's the one doing the raspy-throated Dick Vitale imitations, or arguing with senior forward Carl Hall about the superiority of LeBron over Kobe, or laughing louder than anyone else. On the court he stands out even more. If you watched the Shockers upset No. 1 seed Gonzaga 76-70 last Saturday, you had to notice No. 11 in black, the lean, springy forward with the gap-toothed smile who is quick around the basket and lethal from the arc. In just 24 minutes against the Zags, Early, the team's leading scorer as a reserve, had 16 points -- including four threes -- seven rebounds, two blocks and a steal. Afterward, Early and all his teammates danced in celebration on the court with their coach, Gregg Marshall. But it was the image of Early with his arms back, face turned upward and mouth agape, mid-scream, that made the rounds on the web.

"Cle is loud, but he plays with passion and heart, he plays with soul," says Shocker senior point guard Malcolm Armstead. "He makes shots, he can stretch the D, he plays way above the rim. He's a mismatch all over the floor."

There are a lot of matchup headaches in college basketball. But Early brings an extra element of entertainment to his role. "He is a high-wire act as an athlete," says Marshall. "When he's running and jumping, there's no more beautiful player in the NCAA."

When he arrived in Wichita last summer as a junior college transfer, Early was more raw than beautiful, especially on defense, the keystone of Wichita State's game. ("He'd be the first to tell you he was horrendous," says assistant Greg Heiar.) A quick succession of December injuries to starters Evan Wessel, Carl Hall and Ron Baker forced Early to evolve quickly. "He was thrown into the fire and he had to grow up and accept a larger role," says Heiar. "To his credit he took off."

On Jan. 9 Early offered a glimpse of his offensive potential by delivering 39 points -- including five threes -- six rebounds and two blocks in a 82-76 win over Southern Illinois. It was the most points by a Shocker in a game since Xavier McDaniel scored 44 against West Texas State in 1985.

"When some people step out, some people have to step up," says Early. "That happens all the time in life." It happened to him two and half years ago when his 32-year-old brother, Jamel Glover Biggins, drowned in an upstate New York river, leaving behind two children and one on the way. "He was way more than a brother to me," says Early. "He was a role model, a father figure. He was someone I could confide in; I knew he had my back. He was pretty much my everything."

The two were 14 years apart and at different poles when it came to personality: Jamel was quiet and self-contained, while Cleanthony was a social butterfly who loved to read, write and share anything he had, whether it was a game or an opinion. "Cleanthony loved to debate people, on any subject," says his mom, Sandra Glover. "I always thought he'd grow up to be a lawyer."

When Early was a 10-year-old devoted to baseball, Jamel handed him a basketball and taught him a few moves. Early played the game at rec centers in their Bronx neighborhood, but he didn't get serious about basketball until Glover, a Brooklyn office manager, moved the family upstate to Middletown, N.Y., so Early could attend high school outside the city. (Glover still works in Brooklyn, making the two-hour commute both ways five days a week.) After averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds as a senior at Pine Bush High, Early spent a prep year at Mt. Zion Academy in North Carolina, where he averaged 24 points and 11 rebounds. With his academics still in need of polish, he was considering a number of DI junior college options. Then, on June 27, 2010, his path was suddenly altered. That day Jamel and a bunch of friends were enjoying an outing at Schoharie Creek, near Charleston, NY, when he slipped on rocks trying to get out of the water, panicked and drowned.

Early was devastated. He had to leave the funeral, and he has never been to his brother's gravesite. "It was really hard; it hurt," says Early. "But at that point I had an epiphany: you're the man of the house. I felt like those children were my own and they would follow my example. I realized l could really influence a lot of people if I made the right decisions."

His first decision was to stick close to home for his first two years of college. Glover didn't know he had decided to attend nearby DIII Sullivan County Community College instead of attending a higher-level college far away, until she read about it in the paper. "I told him he didn't need to do that," says Glover, "but he said, 'Mommy, you don't want me to leave you now."

Early made the most of his time at Sullivan, averaging more than 20 points and 10 rebounds both years and becoming a two-time NJCAA DIII Player of the Year. The only DIII player invited to Jerry Mullen's JUCO Top 100 Camp in July of 2011, Early grabbed the attention of several DI schools, including San Diego State, Baylor, Washington State and Alabama. "It was crazy, schools you dream of like Georgetown were suddenly knocking on your front door and sending emails tying to get in touch with your mom," he says. Early chose Wichita State because of a connection with Heiar, a former coach at Chipola College, and because, as he told Sandra, "it felt like the perfect fit and the best opportunity to grow."

Heiar doesn't think Early, who earned MVC Newcomer of the Year and MVC First-Team All-Conference honors, is anywhere near his limit. "If you're supposed to be a 10 as a player when you leave a program, he's a three right now," says Heiar. "He still has that much potential."

Early has found a good time to tap it. Wednesday, March 20, would have been Jamel's 35th birthday. On the Facebook page friends set up after his death, Early wrote, "Happy Birthday, Big Brother. I'm going to give you a gift."

In the Shockers' Round of 64 game against favored Pitt the next day, Early wiped out the memory of a disappointing Missouri Valley Conference performance (15 points in three games) by scoring 21 points -- despite going 0-6 from the three -- grabbing seven rebounds, making a block and a steal, in 28 minutes off the bench, in the Shockers' 73-55 win. Against Gonzaga two days later, he rediscovered his outside touch, hitting four of seven from long range, including one that cut the Zags' lead from seven to four with 5:09 to go. In the delirious Shocker locker room afterward, he could barely contain his excitement. "I love this team, I love this moment," he said. "But we have to stay focused and realize we have a whole other opportunity in front of us. We all have another chance to step up."



Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/-college-basketball-mens-tournament/news/20130328/wichita-state-cleanthony-early/#ixzz2
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Justin Robinson soars for the Monmouth Hawks in loss to St. John's

November 23, 2013

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Friday night marked 23 years almost to the day since St. John's last included Monmouth on its schedule. November 23, 1990 to be exact.

Ravi Rozier
Phil Greene IV

Judging from the surprising performance Monmouth turned in at Carnesecca Arena Friday, St. John's may want to wait another 23 years before seeing the Hawks again.

On a night where St. John's looked ripe for an upset, the Johnnies needed a pair of 3-pointers from D'Angelo Harrison in the final 4:07 and another clutch three-ball from Phil Greene IV, the latter coming with just 1:04 to play, as St, John's held off upset-minded Monmouth, 64-54.

Greene finished with 22 points, Harrison added 15 and JaKarr Sampson chipped in with 14 for St. John's (3-1). Monmouth was led by Justin Robinson's 15 points. - See more at: http://stjohns.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1578856#sthash.9zgYLKrK.dpuf

Early Named AP Preseason All-America 2013-2014
MBB: Early Named AP Preseason All-America
Courtesy:Wichita State
Release:11/04/2013
 
 
 
 
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WICHITA, Kan. --  Wichita State's Cleanthony Early was named to the Associated Press' 2013-14 preseason All-America team as an honorable mention selection, it was announced today.

Early, a 6-foot-8 senior forward from Middletown, N.Y., is the first such honoree for the Shockers. The AP Preseason All-America Team was first announced for the 1986-87 season.

The honorees are below with school, height, year and votes from a 65-member national media panel (key 2012-13 statistics in parentheses):

Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, 6-4, sophomore, 65 votes (15.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4,2 apg, 3.0 spg)

Doug McDermott, Creighton, 6-8, senior, 63 (23.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 54.8 fg pct, 49.0 3-pt pct)

Russ Smith, Louisville, 6-0, senior, 52 (18.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.9 apg, 80.4 ft fg pct)

Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, 6-8, freshman, 42 (HS: 23.4 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 4.3 apg, 58.0 fg pct)

Mitch McGary, Michigan, 6-10, sophmore, 34 (7.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 59.8 fg pct)

Others receiving votes (alphabetical):

Isaiah Austin, Arizona State; Jahii Carson, Arizona State; Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky; Aaron Craft, Ohio State;Cleanthony Early, Wichita State; C.J. Fair, Syracuse; Aaron Gordon, Arizona; Gary Harris, Michigan State; Joe Harris, Virginia; Rodney Hood, Duke; Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa; James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina; Jabari Parker, Duke; Adreian Payne, Michigan State; Julius Randle, Kentucky; James Young, Kentucky

Early Named to Preseason Top-50 Wooden Award

 Early Named to Preseason Top-50 Wooden Award

Published: Nov 12, 2013, 2:58:00 PM EST
Updated: Nov 12, 2013, 3:25:00 PM EST  
 

 

Senior Forward Cleanthony Early has been named to the Preseason Top 50 for the John R. Wooden Award today on ESPN.com. Chosen by a preseason poll of national college basketball experts, the list is comprised of 50 student-athletes who are the early front-runners for the sport’s most prestigious honor.

The Middletown, N.Y. native helped the Shockers to the 2013 Final Four and represents Wichita State and the Missouri Valley Conference on the list.  Early was a 1st-team all-MVC selection last year and the MVC Newcomer of the Year.  He was tabbed the MVC Preseason Player of the Year for 2013-14.

Early has started two games for the Shockers and is averaging 16 points and six rebounds to start the 2013-14 season.

About the John R. Wooden Award:

Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball.  It is bestowed upon the nation’s best player at an institution of higher education who has proven to his or her university that he or she is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA. 

Highlighted By Nine Freshmen, Wooden Award Watch List Released

November 12th, 2013 4:52 pm

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????By JOSH NEWMAN
Special to ZAGSBLOG

The 50-player preseason watch list for the John R. Wooden Award was released on Tuesday afternoon. To the surprise of no one, with freshmen allowed on the list for the first time, the young guys are well-represented.

Kansas (Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden Jr. Joel Embiid), Kentucky (Andrew Harrison, Julius Randle, James Young) each got three first-year players on the initial list, while Arizona (Aaron Gordon) Duke (Jabari Parker) and Indiana (Noah Vonleh) each got one.

A upperclassmen-heavy list, the non-freshman contingent is headlined by Creighton senior forward Doug McDermott, who 23.2 points and 7.7 rebounds last season, the Bluejays’ final one as a member of of the Missouri Valley Conference. McDermott, who will play this season as a walk-on after Grant Gibbs was granted a sixth year of eligibility, was named Big East Preseason Player of the Year last month. 

The entire Wooden Award preseason watch list is below.

Name/School/Conference/Ht./Yr./Pos.
Jordan Adams/UCLA/Pac-12/6-5/So./G
Kyle Anderson/UCLA/Pac-12/6-9/So./G/F
Keith Appling/Michigan State/Big Ten/6-1/Sr./G
Isaiah Austin/Baylor/Big 12/7-1/So./C
Jahii Carson/Arizona State/Pac-12/5-10/So./G
Willie Cauley-Stein/Kentucky/SEC/7-0/So./F
Semaj Christon/Xavier/Big East/6-3/So./G
Aaron Craft/Ohio State/Big Ten/6-2/Sr./G
Sam Dekker/Wisconsin/Big Ten/6-7/So./F
Spencer Dinwiddie/Colorado/Pac-12/6-6/Jr./G
Cleanthony Early/Wichita State/Missouri Valley/6-8/Sr./F
Joel Embiid/Kansas/Big 12/7-0/Fr./C
C.J. Fair/Syracuse/ACC/6-8/Sr./F
Aaron Gordon/Arizona/Pac-12/6-9/Fr./F
Jerian Grant/Notre Dame/Big Sky/6-5/Sr./G
Montrezl Harrell/Louisville/The American/6-8/So./F
Gary Harris/Michigan State/Big Ten/6-4/So./G
Joe Harris/Virginia/ACC/6-6/Sr./G
Andrew Harrison/Kentucky/SEC/6-6/Fr./G
Tyler Haws/BYU/WCC/6-5/Jr./G
Andre Hollins/Minnesota/Big Ten/6-2/Jr./G
Rodney Hood/Duke/ACC/6-8/So./F
Joe Jackson/Memphis/The American/6-1/Sr./G
Cory Jefferson/Baylor/Big /12/6-9/Sr./F
Sean Kilpatrick/Cincinnati/The American/6-4/Sr./G
Alex Kirk/New Mexico/Mountain West/7-0/Jr./C
James Michael McAdoo/North Carolina/ACC/6-9/Jr./F
Doug McDermott*#/Creighton/Big East/6-8/Sr./F
Mitch McGary/Michigan/Big/Ten/6-10/So./F
Jordan McRae/Tennessee/SEC/6-6/Sr./G
Shabazz Napier/Connecticut/The American/6-1/Sr./G
Kevin Pangos/Gonzaga/WCC/6-2/Jr./G
Jabari Parker/Duke/ACC/6-8/Fr./F
Adreian Payne/Michigan State/Big Ten/6-10/Sr./C
Elfrid Payton/Louisiana/Sun Belt/6-3/Jr./G
Dwight Powell/Stanford/Pac-12/6-10/Sr./F
Julius Randle/Kentucky/SEC/6-9/Fr./F
Juvonte Reddic/VCU/Atlantic/10/6-9/Sr./F
Glenn Robinson III/Michigan/Big Ten/6-6/So./F
LaQuinton Ross/Ohio State/Big Ten/6-8/Jr./F
Wayne Selden, Jr./Kansas/Big 12/6-5/Fr./G
Marcus Smart/Oklahoma State/Big 12/6-4/So./G
Russ Smith/Louisville/The American/6-0/Sr./G
Jarnell Stokes/Tennessee/SEC/6-8/Jr./F
Rasheed Sulaimon/Duke/ACC/6-4/So./G
Noah Vonleh/Indiana/Big Ten/6-10/Fr./F
Dez Wells/Maryland/ACC/6-5/Jr./G/F
Andrew Wiggins/Kansas/Big 12/6-8/Fr./G
Kendall Williams/New Mexico/Mountain West/6-4/Sr./G
James Young/Kentucky/SEC/6-6/Fr./G

Players listed alphabetically
* indicates player chosen to the 2013 Wooden All American Team
# indicates player chosen to the 2012 Wooden All American Team

Photo: Associated Press

Top Performers

New England Academic Top 100 had a nice showing this past weekend at Wesleyan University. Many players showcased some of their best attributes on the court, but here are the players that edged the competition with their  performances.

Tyonne Malone | Williston Northampton (Ma.)| 6-5 | 2016
Malone dominated the competition using his versatile to score around the basket as well as from deep. His effort on defense was great as well as he deflected and block a number of shots.

Kenny Paramore | Storm King (N.Y.) | 6-3 | 2014
Despite the smaller height, Paramore made up for it with his wide frame. The quick-footed big used a number of spin moves and drop-steps to evade defenders and compile a collection of baskets in the paint.

Steven Milhaven | St. Mary’s (N.Y.) | 6-5 | 2014
Milhaven was great around the basket converting on tip ins and a few nice jump hooks. The southpaw created a number of matchup problems as he showed off a nice mid-range game to go along with his production around the basket.

Robbie Kennedy | Christian Brothers Academy (N.Y.) | 6-1 | 2014
Kennedy made number of high IQ plays as he did a great job of finding the open man in addition to picking spots on the floor to look for his own shot. He pushed the tempo when needed, which led to a nice rate of converted baskets in transition.

Jack Dwyer | Burke Catholic (N.Y.) | 5-10 | 2014
Dwyer seemed to have made all the right decisions on the court. He took what the defense gave him and seemed composed and under control at all times. Dwyer was instant offense from right inside the three-point arc and also did a solid job finding teammates open in the pick and roll.

Aidan Hirsch | Northampton (Ma.) | 5-10 | 2015
Hirsch was extremely hot from deep all day which caused defenders to come out and respect the range. Hirsch used the added attention that he received to pump-fake and blow past defenders to finish floaters in the lane.

Brandon Hurst | University HS (Ct.) | 6-0 | 2016
Compiling quite a few baskets from the perimeter, Hurst used his great elevation to rise up and shoot over the opposition.

Harrison Dunne-Polite | Trinity Pawling (N.Y.) | 6-5 | 2015
Dunne-Polite owned the paint for his squad making a number of defensive plays and finishing a list of layups on the offensive end.

Nisre Zouzoua | Boston Trinity (Ma.) | 6-2 | 2015  
One of the most improved players to feature in this event, Zouzoua emerged as a strong junior that was getting better as the day went on. At 6-foot-2 he shot with ease over anyone matched with his assignment. Great athleticism and hesitation allowed him to get to the rim whenever he wanted.

 

Hoop Group Top 100 – Event Recap
NERR

October 6th, 2013 

New England Recruiting Report


The Hoop Group came into New England this weekend for two of their prestigious Top 100 Showcases.  The New England Top 100 took place on Saturday at Wentworth College in Boston while the New England Academic Top 100 was held on Sunday at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.  Here’s a look at who stood out through the full weekend of action with the Hoop Group:

Arkel Ager, St. Joseph’s (CT) – The top prospect on hand on Sunday, Ager showed both the skill and physical tools necessary to emerge into a priority recruit at the division I level.  

Tarchee Brown, Rockville (CT) – The six-foot scoring guard is quick off the bounce with a handle to match, allowing him to make plays both in the open floor and half-court.  

Michael Coffey, Burke Catholic (NY) – A crafty southpaw scoring guard who just has a knack for putting points on the board, Coffey is unorthodox but very productive.  

Harrison Dunne-Polite, Trinity Pawling (NY) – A long and athletic junior forward with a high upside, Dunne-Polite was one of the better long-term prospects in the building on Sunday.  

Jack Dwyer, Burke Catholic (NY) – He’s the epitome of a pure point guard.  He’s tough and hard-nosed with a distinctive pass first style that makes all those around him better.  

Jarvis Garrett, Notre Dame Prep (MA) – He’s going to be a name on the rise this season as he’s not just the best available point guard in New England, but perhaps the entire northeast region.  

Sean Hoehn, Morristown (NJ) – A highly talented young player with a nice fundamental base to his game, Hoehn has a bright future ahead of him in the New Jersey high school ranks.  

Curtell & Curtis Hyman, New Britain (CT) – The senior frontcourt tandem is one of the better kept secrets in the CIAC, but don’t expect that to be the case for long as they’re poised to make big noise this season for the Hurricanes. 

Malik James, Notre Dame Prep (MA) – James looks more explosive than ever with increased speed in the open floor and an extra bit of burst to his first step, making him a consistent playmaking presence.  

Tyrique Jones, Bloomfied (CT) – The junior forward showed why he’s an intriguing prospect moving forward with his length, athleticism, and flashes of playmaking ability around the rim.  

Tyonne Malone, Putnam Tech (MA) – The southpaw sophomore put points on the board in every which way, both Saturday and Sunday alike, and was virtually impossible to stop at both events. 

Owen McLeod, Bishop Ahr (NJ) – Another New Jersey native who made the trip to Connecticut to prove himself among the academic elite, McLeod made a series of high level plays in the open court. 

Justin Stewart, Putnam Tech (MA) – A slightly undersized guard with a big game and well rounded skill set, Stewart was one of the more consistent guards at Sunday’s Academic Top 100.

B.C. Eagles Prove to be top dog in the areas best summer league

B.C. Eagles win there 2nd straight Rock Summer League Championship!

Second year in a row B.C. Face off against Coach Fodor however this year was a BC vs. BC Final!

BC Eagles-LaFrance - 78  vs  BC Eagles-Fodor - 5
  
BC Eagles-LaFrance (Junior Champions)       BC Eagles-Fodor (Junior Runners-up)

Hasahn French takes home the MVP and Jordan Bryan had a huge playoff and championship run as well. 

BC Eagles Fodor was led by sharpshootervBrian Piccone who also had to step up and run some point guard in the absence of Tim Rybacki who was out with an ankle injury. Nate Samuels and Brian "B-Mac" McDonough had great playoffs runs too for the well coached BC Eagles-Fodor team. 

Hasahn French, Ishmael Chisolm and Ruben Jimenez were three of the returning players from last years team. Also in picture are Marques Vaval and Anthony Salmon who were key pieces of last years team that won the chip. Those two along with Travis Cook(pictured) and Tuka Nugent(not pictured) served as Asst Coaches for this years summer league team. 

Manhattan Elite Camp: Evals & Offers

August 26th, 2013

RIVERDALE, NY - On Sunday, over forty-five of the top 2014 - 2018 players in the metropolitan area assembled at Manhattan College for their elite camp. 

M. Wingate
Desure Buie
NYCHoops.net was on hand, identifying some of the best of the best on hand in each class, four of whom received offers on the spot.


CLASS OF 2014

The superior and primary players in the senior class were the already committed to the Jaspers. Samson Usilo and 6'8" Sam Akilo, both from Nazareth HS, and 6'8" Calvin Crawford (St. Thomas More/BC Eagles) all showed why Jaspers Head Coach Steve Masiello pulled the trigger and made the effort to acquire such talent.


CLASS OF 2015

Desure Buie (Wings Academy) - Coming off a stellar summer and multiple offers, Buie's point guard skills earned him an offer from the Jaspers early on. The junior showed his floor generalship as well as his abilty to score. While still on the thin side, Buie has been working on bulking up and it's beginning to show.

M. Libert
Rickey McGill & Kai Mitchell received offers on Sunday

Rickey McGill & 6'5" Kai Mitchell (Spring Valley HS) - Both players from the Westchester school played well recently in the Ball by the Beach Tournament and continued with impressive performances at the Elite camp. Both players earned offers from the Jaspers on Sunday.


Juwan Gooden (Milton HS (MA)) - An uber fast guard, Gooden rose to the top of the food chain as the 6'2" junior got to the rim at will. While he had some hiccups finishing, Gooden is definitely player to watch.


Jonathan Nwankwo (Monsignor Scanlon) - As his skill set continues to progress, the 6'9" big has become a player to watch. Showing the eagarness and ability to run the floor and bang at both ends of the court, Nwankwo already holds an offer from Manhattan amongst others. The junior made his mark on the camp early but unfornunately had to leave early as well.


Cheyenne Nettleton (Brooklyn Collegiate) - The 5'10" point guard caught the eye of Jaspers coaches by surprise. Displaying good basketball IQ and a nice balance between passing and scoring, Nettleton's assist to turnover ratio put the junior in the forefront on Sunday.


Joel Wincowski (Lake George HS) - The 6'2" junior, who led his team to a Class C state championship with 33 points, lived up to the hype as he shot his way into the coaches favor by knocking it down from the perimeter consistently.

 
 

Jonathan Middleton (Holy Spirit HS (NJ)) - - The 6'3" junior was solid finisher at the rim. A relentless and powerful guard, Middleton who plays for Team Final during the summer is a player to watch as his game develops and diversifies.


Players of Note: Jashiya Smith (6'0"/John S. Burke HS/BC Eagles), Mike Jurzyzewki (6'4"/ Masters School/BC Eagles), Marlon Adams (6'3"/Middletown HS/BC Eagles)
 

- See more at: http://nychoops.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1540801#sthash.TuZztNOe.dpuf

NERR Elite 75 - Frosh Recap I

September 18th, 2013

Paul Lazdowski & Derek Marchione


HANOVER, Mass. – Throughout this week we will be taking a look back at the 6th annual Elite 75 Showcase – Frosh/Soph Edition and examining some of the major stars, stock-risers and breakout performers from the event.
Following a two-hour regimen of drill stations – which tested players ball handling, passing and shot making abilities, along with how to properly run a fast break – teams squared off in a series of highly competitive scrimmages.
 
We begin our review by highlighting the freshmen frontcourt players (big-men and wings alike) who distinguished themselves during the four-hour session.
Hassahn French – Perhaps no player in the freshmen session was as physically imposing as French. Built like a linebacker, the 6-foot-6, 200-pound forward was particularly effective banging down-low on the boards. Though he did step outside to attempt a few 14-16 footers with mixed results, most of French’s success came from inside the paint. 

Summer Jam Fest: Day 1 Notebook - City of Love Basketball
 

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

The Hoop Group’s biggest tournament of the July live periods got underway on Friday afternoon, with hundreds of teams in multiple age brackets taking the courts at various locations in and around the city. I was at Philly U and Penn Charter, taking in the early rounds of the 17U main bracket. Here’s a notebook of several players, from the D-I to D-III level, that impressed:

Calvin Crawford (2014/St. Thomas More/B.C. Eagles)
It’s always easy to notice the tallest kid on the floor. It’s even easier to notice when he opens the game by drilling a long three, crashing the boards on the defensive end of the floor and then slashing to the hoop for a tough two a possession later.

At 6-8 and 185 pounds, Crawford is a skilled combo forward with a nice jumper and decent bounce, though he definitely has to add some weight to his frame. That’s one reason he’s attending St. Thomas More this year for prep school before attending Manhattan College next fall.

“I heard a lot of good things about coach (Jere) Quinn, how he can help your game and help you get bigger and ready for the next level,” Crawford told CoBL; he’ll be focusing on “just getting stronger, getting my handle better and focusing on defense a lot” in his prep year.

Crawford was one of three New York-area players to commit to Manhattan on Wednesday, joining Samson Usilo and Samson Akilo, both from Nazareth HS. He picked the Jaspers over offers from Towson, Vermont, Binghamton and LIU-Brooklyn.

“Just Steve Masiello and their whole tradition there and they recruited me really hard,” Crawford said about why he chose Manhattan. “They got two other commitments from Riverside so I said ‘why not?"

LIVE IN AC: DAY 1 NOTEBOOK - City of Love Basketball

LIVE IN AC: DAY 1 NOTEBOOK

Posted on July 25, 2013 by jmverlin

The final week of the 2013 July live period is also the final week of the 2013 AAU season. Elevate Hoops’ Live in A.C., the last major area event, tipped off on Wednesday with a number of high-profile 17U teams matching up in showcase games before bracket play starts Thursday morning.

 

Eric Carter (2014/Jackson Memorial/Raritan Roundballers)

One player clearly enjoying his final week of AAU ball, Carter left his usual Team Final program to join the Raritan Roundballers this week mostly for a chance to play with Matt Farrell.

“We knew each other kinda from the Shore Conference, being some of the better players in the league,” Carter said. “And then we just kind of hooked up over the summer and we’re pretty good friends now, it’s cool to play with him.”

Back in June, Carter had a long list of offers that included Drexel, Delaware, Fairfield, Vermont, New Hampshire, Binghamton, Florida Atlantic, St. Peter’s, Buffalo and Rider; he’s now added scholarships from High Point, Towson, Monmouth and Northeastern (who he said will offer upon his visiting the campus).

After this week, he plans on cutting his list to “about eight” schools, with a few planned official vists.

“I’m planning definitely Fairfield and I want to visit Florida Atlantic so I’ll take an official down there,” he said. “I want to take a couple unofficials to some schools too and then after that I’ll start my officials whenever I possibly can and hopefully get my commitment done towards the end of September.”

Those unofficial visits will include “definitely Northeastern, Towson, Quinnipiac and probably a few others–Vermont, maybe.”

 

Satchel Pierce (2014/Kiski Area HS/Team Adidas)

The biggest body on the courts at Atlantic City High School on Wednesday night belonged to Pierce. A 7-foot, 250-pound center, Pierce certainly has the size to play at the highest levels of college basketball.

He told CoBL he has offers from “Kansas State, Texas Tech, James Madison, Drexel, Cleveland State, Miami (Ohio), Kent State, Florida International, Duquesne, and more,” with Texas Tech offering after the last week of the live period and Kansas State coming aboard in June. He cited interest from Michigan, Notre Dame, Indiana, Pitt and Penn State.

Pierce’s biggest asset, aside from the obvious, is his passing ability; he made several nice outlet passes and had a few nice high-low looks in the post. He’s working on his endurance and his body, saying “I didn’t really lose a lot of pounds, I lost a lot of fat and turned it into muscle.”

At Kiski, Pierce was teammates with incoming Drexel freshman Major Canady, a 6-3 combo guard who seems likely to take over at point from rising senior Frantz Massenat next year. The two helped lead Kiski to its best season ever, reaching the finals of the state’s independent school tournament.

“Me and (Major) have got a real good relationship, coming from when we played on Ohio Basketball Club last year together, we hit it off real well together,” Pierce said. “And (at) Kiski it just started getting better.”

 

Justin McFadden (2014/Lower Merion/Jersey Shore Warriors)

Not usually thought of as a scorer, McFadden has been a consistent double-digit scoring threat over the last few weeks for Jersey Shore. It’s a trait he’s certainly going to have to continue at Lower Merion, which needs players like McFadden and Jule Brown to step up with seniors B.J. Johnson (Syracuse), Yohanny Dalembert (James Madison) and Raheem Hall (prep school) moving on.

“We’re just going to go out there, we have to work hard to make up for what we lost but we have a group of guys who are willing to work that hard,” McFadden told CoBL.

A high-academic prospect, the 6-5, 200-pound wing is hearing from Columbia, Penn, Yale and Colgate. McFadden had earned his minutes for his defense, energy and rebounding, but lately he’s been putting the ball in the basket more often as well. His skill set is certainly coming along, helped by his attending a John Lucas skills camp out in Oklahoma last month.

“It just helped me build my skills up so I can be comfortable handling the ball,” he said. “It was more than ball-ghandling, it taught us about the whole entire game, how to handle tempo and deeper things like that. Helped me meet a lot of new people as well.”

While he’s playing well with the Warriors in the AAU world, his summer isn’t purely limited to sports.

“I’m actually doing a sports business program at Penn,” he said. “It’s just professors in the sports business field come in and speak to us, so we learn a lot about the industry.”

 

Jackson Donahue (2014/Northfield Mt. Hermon/RI Hawks)

This is a big week for every rising senior, especially those who might not be rising seniors. Donahue has one offer, from Vermont; if that number doesn’t increase by the time the live period ends, he might not stay a 2014 prospect for long.

“What’s circling around which a lot of people don’t know,” he told CoBL, “is that if I don’t make a decision, I think the decision might be I will reclassify. Because I’m going to be a 2014 going into Northfield but I can still change that and I might, if necessary, go to 2015.”

A 6-foot, 165-pound combo guard, Donahue can be described in one word–shooter. He dropped 21 points in a win on Wednesday night, hitting four from 3-point territory. He’s not purely one-dimensional, however; he’s got a good handle and has the ability to run his team’s offense, though he’s clearly at his best coming off screens with range out to the NBA 3-point line.

Donahue’s older brother, Sam, took a similar route at NMH, doing a postgraduate year before accepting a preferred walk-on spot at Boston College with a chance to earn a future scholarship. Right now, Jackson Donahue said Quinnipiac, Yale and Brown among others, were looking at him, but that option of taking an extra year is looking better and better.

“I didn’t think it was going to be necessary,” he said. “Coach (John) Carroll thought it would be good for me, but we just weren’t sure at this point; but now looking back on what my brother has accomplished in his two years and how he’s grown as a player, I’m really starting to think that can expand what I can do on the court.”

–A rising junior playing up with the 17Us, Kason Harrell (Hempfield Area/Team Adidas) is a solid-bodied guard with a nice skill set. The 6-3, 190-pound combo guard scored 11 points in Team Adidas’ loss to the B.C. Eagles, hitting a 3-pointer, a midrange jumper and a floater as part of his outing. So far, Harrell said he has no offers and only has gotten some interest from Liberty, but based on the way he played on Wednesday night he certainly should start getting looks this school year.

–Todd Hughes (2014/Sanford/WE R1) had another solid showing with ; With a few days remaining in his final live period, he’s got one offer from Wagner, and he said he’s hearing from Florida Atlantic, Northeastern, Northwestern and Fairfield.

Final note of the night goes to an intriguing forward from New York. Eric McCollum (2015/Newburgh Free Academy/B.C. Eagles) just moved up from the Newburg Zion Lions, and the 6-7, 195-pounder is certainly raw but was an active body around the boards. A two-sport athlete, he said he’s “used to the contact” and was perfectly comfortable banging around in the paint. If he continues to work on his skill set and develops a jump shot, he could be a late-blooming mid-major type player by next summer.

Former Quinnipiac basketball star Justin Rutty signs new contract

Justin Rutty

2010 Northeast Conference Player of the Year and NEC and Quinnipiac all-time rebound leader Justin Rutty will play basketball in France next season for Boulazac Basket Dordogne franchise. Boulazac is a member of the Pro National Basketball League A, the top professional league in France.

“We are all very excited about Justin Rutty signing a new contract with Boulazac in Paris,” said Quinnipiac men’s basketball Head Coach Tom Moore in a press release. “After earning MVP honors in Switzerland a year ago, this is the next logical step in his professional career.”

Last season Rutty dominated in Switzerland’s top basketball league, averaging a double-double per game. His 20.8 points per game and 11.4 rebounds per game led the league in both categories. Rutty was named the league’s Center of the Year and Import Player of the Year. He also earned a spot on the All-League First Team.

The Newburgh, N.Y. native’s new French team will be hoping for similar production from Rutty. They could use his help. Boulazec finished the 2012-2013 season with an 11-19 record, putting them in 15th place in the 16-team league.

Boulazac hasn’t produced any NBA players, but Pro National Basketball League A was the start of one NBA player’s pro career. Current NBA center/forward Boris Diaw played in the league from 2001-2003. Since then he has had a 12-year NBA career with the Atlanta Hawks, Phoenix Suns, Charlotte Bobcats, and San Antonio Spurs.

Though Rutty hasn’t played for an NBA team, Boulazac will be the 6-foot-7 center/forward’s third professional team since graduating from Quinnipiac in 2011. He started his professional basketball career in Uruguay in 2011.

Terms of Rutty’s contract with Boulazac have not been disclosed. His first game with the club is scheduled for October 5.

Valley Central's Crawford commits to Division I Manhattan

By 

After another year of developing and working on his game, Valley Central center Calvin Crawford planned on making his college decision while at prep school this coming winter.

The plan has changed, however, and Crawford has verbally committed to play at Division I Manhattan College on a full athletic scholarship, starting in the 2014-15 season.

This year, he will attend St. Thomas More School in Oakdale, Conn.

"I just decided to do it," said Crawford, a 6-foot-7 Varsity845 first-team all-star who averaged 23 points and nine rebounds for Valley Central last season. "I just thought that Manhattan was the best fit for me. It's also a big stress reliever for me."

When Crawford chose St. Moore in May, he had full scholarship offers from Vermont, Binghamton University and Long Island University. Loyola (Md.), Towson State and Manhattan later made offers to Crawford, who said he also visited Marist. Like Marist, Manhattan plays in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Crawford said he first stood out to Manhattan coach Steve Masiello playing at a tournament in Massachusetts in April with his AAU team, the BC Eagles. Manhattan went 14-18, including 9-9 in the MAAC, last season.

"I like coach Masiello," Crawford said. "He is young and he is aggressive. I definitely think this was the right decision for me."

BasketBull Summer Chip 17U Evals

 

July 18, 2013

BasketBull Summer Chip 17U Evals

 

BasketBull 17u Summer Championships concluded Sunday evening with USAD of Connecticut knocking off the Juice All-Stars and the Westchester Hawks to take home the title.

M. Libert
Isaac Vann

With many Division 1 and 2 coaches watching throughout the weekend, players stepped up and showed off high level skill sets in trying to prove they could play for the coaches watching. Here are player evaluations from some of the top talents on display in Ardsley this past weekend.

Isaac Vann, 6'4" SG, USAD (Bunnell, CT '14)- Vann seemed to rise to the challenge in each game he played. He showed a smooth perimeter shot with a quick release with good rise. Aggressively was able to put the ball on the floor and challenge defenders to help on him as one man could not stop him from getting inside. Got into a bit of foul trouble in the semis again Juice, but more than made up for it with 35 in the championship including 4 threes in probably the most impressive all around individual performance of the weekend.


Samuel Dingba, 6'6" PF, Westchester Hawks (Salisbury School, CT '14)- What Dingba lacks in height for playing his position defensively, he more than makes up for in wingspan and timing. He had the task of guarding CBC big man Paschal Chukwu for large stretches of their game, and he threw down a dunk over the big man, and blocked him twice as well, which says a lot since Chukwu is 7'1". He is a huge finisher inside, thought 6'6" you hope he could step out and connect more from the perimeter. Didn't show that much this weekend, but if that develops, he would truly be a fantastic complete player.


Isaiah Whitehead

Isaiah Whitehead, 6'4" SG, Juice All-Stars (Abraham Lincoln '14)- Listing him as a shooting guard, but for much of the weekend he was in control running the point. He ran it well too, making solid entry passes when needing too, but he just seemed more comfortable making plays with the ball in his hands. He would really show off his lead guard skills by beating defenders and pulling up for jumpers that proved his 5 star status. Was an incredibly tough on ball defender too, really shining in that end in the quarters against the RI Hawks 16 team, getting his hands into passing lanes and finishing beautifully in transition,


Wolfgang Novogratz, 6'2" PG, The City-Black (Poly Prep '16)- A ways to go before college still for Novogratz but he plays like a veteran on the court. He was a leader all weekend telling teammates where to be on the court and then finding them with beautiful passes at the exact spots he wanted them at. Playmaking guard who clearly proved to be one of the top point guards at the event this weekend. He hit the game winner Saturday afternoon against LOX by clearing out the lane and getting inside for the basket, showing his ability to score and finish in the clutch. Will be a huge prospect very soon, if he isn't already.

M. Wingate
Pascal Chukwu

Samson Usilo, 6'4" SF, Riverside Hawks (Nazareth '14)- Usilo really showed his athletic ability to rise above defenders and get up for dunks Friday night, but on Saturday and Sunday the most intriguing thing Usilo showed was an improved jump shot. He has always been athletically gifted, and a very good defender, but his perimeter shot was inconsistent and a bit slow, but he has good a more consistent motion going now, and less arc, which seems to have helped his shot as he was as good with his shot this weekend as he has been, which makes him an even better mid major D1 prospect.


Calvin Crawford, 6'8" PF, B.C. Eagles (St. Thomas More, CT '14)- He had a few D1 offers out of Valley Central (NY) but decided he didn't feel he was quite ready for that level yet so he is taking a post grad year to get stronger. While his 6'8" frame could use some meat on in, he is tough in the paint and a very good rebounder. Finished well when posting up using his quick feet to get around defenders, but he shined most when he went out and put the ball on the floor. Proved he could easily play the 3 on the next level with his handle and ability to stick it from the perimeter which makes him a very intriguing player to watch for many mid major schools.


Michael Watson, 6'2" SG, Brooklyn Ballers (Thomas Jefferson '14)- Was possibly the best perimeter shooter this weekend. Really shined in multiple facets by moving well without the ball and getting himself into good positions to catch and shoot, and he looked even better when he had the ball and was able to use his natural creativity to go right or left and pull up on a dime to connect. Might be a bit small to play the 2 on the next level, but is a confident ball handler who plays the 2 on the Ballers more for need. He will most likely play a lot of 1 at Jefferson this year and is someone who could easily break out with a big year.

M. Wingate
Jhedayah Gibbs

Rickey McGill, 6'1" PG, House of Sports Elite (Spring Valley '15)- An electric point guard who made a big statement in his team's first two games on Saturday by using a quick first step, and getting around screens to hit floaters in the lane, showing good IQ by not running into waiting big men to take the charge. He is a righty who has a strong left, and didn't have any issue going left when forced to. He also looked good in the Friday evening game against the Rhode Island Hawks, and playing up in the 17u division really is helping McGill develop and get well deserved exposure.


Diago Quinn, 6'9" PF, Team Scan-White (Eleanor Roosevelt '15)- Really proved to be a fleet of foot big man. Ran the floor well, show end good footwork all weekend, and was a solid finisher at the rim with an array of impressive moves. The team didn't fair all that well, but Quinn really went head to head with quality big men and really did a very good job. He was good as well passing out of the post and finding guards on the perimeter for open shots. Has not had much of a chance in the past to show off his skills, but certainly did this weekend.


Jhedayah Gibbs, 5'11" PG, NYC Jayhawks (Thurgood Marshall '14)- A really quick and elusive guard who can shoot and score from anywhere on the floor. He is a real offensive weapon who isn't afraid to pull up and shoot from anywhere. He was harassing with his ball pressure all weekend as well. Needs to add strength as his frame is not filled out to where it needs to be, but his skill set is high with a good playmaking mindset who can score in multiple ways.


Pascal Chukwu, 7'1" C, CBC (Fairfield Prep, CT '14)- A lot of good and not as good this weekend for Chukwu who had high major D1 coaches lined up watching him for each game. He really did a nice job blocking shots all weekend and being an intimidating presence all weekend. When he got the ball in the paint he displayed a short hook and worked it well with both hands. He didn't show much of a game outside the paint offensively though, and he struggled against the Westchester Hawks when he to go up against a slightly smaller, quicker player. The upside is clearly there, and he showed flashes this weekend, but he is still raw with work to do.


Tyreik McCauley, 6'6" SF, Blackstone Valley Chaos (Worcester Academy, MA '14)- McCauley flashed a very nice perimeter game, hitting on a bunch of long range shots against the Boston Warriors on Sunday, and when pressed on the outside, he had no trouble putting the ball on the floor and rising high at the basket. He is more of a wing player who because of good upper body strength played the 4 relatively well this weekend. He sometimes seemed to struggle moving without the ball, but when the ball is in his hands, there were few better finishers this weekend.


 
NY/Metro Area Recruiting Updates

July 20, 2013

 


There were a lot of interesting developments to come out of last weekend's Basketbull Summer Championships in Ardsley, NY. 

Under Armour
Trevonn Morton
Many players are starting to develop interest from colleges, while other players are on the move to different H.S.'s and AAU teams. Here are some news and notes picked up from the weekend.


  • Willem Brandwijk, a 6'9" big man from Holderness School (CT), who played with Metro Boston, received an offer from Iona this weekend. The talented big wasn't on hand on Sunday as he had to leave early, but he was one of the top big men on Saturday without a doubt with excellent footwork, hands, and finishing abilities.


  • Calvin Crawford, a nice looking 6'8" combo forward for the B.C. Eagles is heading to St. Thomas More (CT) for a postgrad year. He had narrowed his choices to Binghamton, Vermont, and LIU-Brooklyn after his senior season at Valley Central H.S., but he said he feels a year of prep will help him become more prepared for D1 basketball. He is opened now to all schools who are interested.


  • Trevonn Morton of the Juice All-Stars, a 6'1" guard who recently graduated from Abaraham Lincoln H.S. is going to do a postgrad year at Andover (MA) according to his father, Lincoln coach Dwayne "Tiny" Morton.

    M. Wingate
    Marko Kozul
  • Alex Wolf, a 6'8" big man who goes to Greenwich (CT), and who has played with New Heights since he was 13 has left that program and moved to the Juice All-Stars. He said playing time and exposure was a big part of the move. He will be in Milwaukee next weekend with Juice.


  • Marko Kozul, a 6'5" combo forward who recently graduated from Molloy, played with The City White this weekend and instead of taking a D2 offer he has decided to go do a postgrad year. The Kent School in Connecticut is the most likely destination according to The City founder and coach Arjay Perovic.


  • Schadrac Casimir, a dynamic 5'9" point guard out of Trinity Catholic (CT), is going to do a postgrad year at South Kent (CT). The USAD guard who helped pace his team to the title doesn't have any offers yet, but says he has interest right now from Sacred Heart, Binghamton, Jacksonville, and Quinnpiac.

    Ravi Rozier
    Shamiek Sheppard
  • Shamiek Sheppard, a 6'4" small forward from South Shore HS who had many of the coaches talking last weekend because of his explosive play with The City Black, will not be heading to Towson as originally planned. Instead according to Perovic he will be headed to prep school for a year. The school he attends is still up in the air but should be decided in the next couple weeks.


  • Jackson Donahue, who is a 6'3" guard for the Rhode Island Hawks, is going to be leaving Stonington H.S. (CT) and is headed to Northfield Mount Hermon (MA), where he will be taking over for his brother, Boston College bound Sam Donahue. He says he is getting a lot of interest right now from Ivy League schools such as Cornell and Brown.


  • The Westchester Hawks have a couple New Yorkers who will be doing postgrad years in Connecitcut. Dalique Mingo, a 6'1" guard who was debatably Long Island's best overall player this year playing for Farmingdale, will be at Putnam Science Academy, while John Dewey, a 6'0" point guard, who led Scanlan to the Class "B" Federation title this past season, will be heading to Holderness School.


  • Nick Pasquale, a rapidly improving 6'10' big who plays for Blackstone Valley Chaos, is leaving Shrewsbury H.S. in Massachusetts and is reclassifying to the 2015 class and heading to Worcester Academy.
Basketbull Summer Championships 2013

 

The BasketBull Summer Championships tips off this evening at the House of Sports in Ardsley, New York as well as Hooperstown in Mount Vernon and West Rock in Nanuet. 

Over 95 high school teams will be battling in Westchester county in front of Division I, II and III college coaches.  We have already heard from schools in many major conferences and expect a great turnout of scouts at the event. 

All teams will play a showcase or exhibtion-style game on Friday night and bracket play will commence in the AM for all age groups.

Some teams to keep an eye on this weekend in the 17u:

BC Eagles - Bobby Rahn has a really solid cast that always seems to quietly make runs in the bracket.  6'7 Calvin Crawford is a formidable recruit and add in Jack Dwyer at the point and 6'4 Travis Cook on the wing and you have a talented group. 

BasketBull Summer Championships MVP and All-Tournament team

July 17, 2013 New England Hoop News Staff

Twitter/Isaac Vann

The BasketBull Summer Championships wrapped up Sunday withUnited Sons and Daughters (USAD) capturing the 17u crown over the Westchester Hawks. The star of the championship game, Isaac Vann, who scored 33 points, was named the Most Valuable Player for the Summer Championships.

The 6-foot-4 Bunnell High School star scored 17 points in the quarterfinals and helped USAD advancce to the finals in a semifinal win over Juice All-Stars (N.Y.) led by top-25 recruit Isaiah Whitehead (Lincoln High/Brooklyn, N.Y.).

The Summer Championships MVP currently holds an offer fromSacred Heart among interest from more than a dozen Division I programs

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RELATEDIsaac Vann breakout performance at the BasketBull Summer Championships

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Vann is also a member of the All-Tournament team, joining the following:

Bobby Ahearn, F, Metro Boston

Kyle Bouchard, G, Maine Athletic Club

AJ Brodeur, F, Rhode Island Hawks

Willem Brandwjik, F, Metro Boston

Schadrac Casimir, G, USAD

Paschal Chukwu, C, Connecticut Basketball Club

Calvin Crawford, F, B.C. Eagles (N.Y.)

Jahman Delancey, G, USAD

Samuel Dignba, F, Westchester Hawks (N.Y.)

Levy Gillespie, G, Connecticut Basketball Club

Tanner Hyland, G, Maine Athletic Club

Patch Kehoe, G/F, CT Gold

Jafar Kinsey, G, Metro Boston

John McCarthy, G/F, Middlesex Magic

Tyreik McCauley, F, Blackstone Valley Chaos

Duby Maduegbunam, F, Boston Warriors

Brendan O'Shea, G, Lone Wolf

Jayvon Pitts-Young, G, MBNation

Tim Preston, G, Rhode Island Hawks

Ryan Roach, G, South Shore Wolfpack

Isaiah Robinson, F, Middlesex Magic

Ian Sistare, G, Rhode Island Hawks

Malcolm Smith, G, Rhode Island Hawks

Jalen Terry, G/F, Westchester Hawks (N.Y.)

Brandon Wheeler, F, USAD

Thomas Whipple, G, CT Northstars

Former Quinnipiac Basketball Standout Justin Rutty Signs with Boulazac

June 18, 2013

HAMDEN, Conn. – Fresh off one of the most distinguished seasons in the history of Switzerland's top professional basketball division, former Quinnipiac University standout Justin Rutty has agreed to join the Boulazac Basket Dordogne franchise in France for the 2013-14 season.

The Newburgh, N.Y. native excelled in Switzerland last year and was contacted by Boulazac at season's end. Boulazac is one of 16 teams in the Pro National Basketball League A, the first-tier men's professional league in France. Boulazac welcomes Rutty with open arms after missing out on the playoffs this past season. Terms of the contract were undisclosed.

"On behalf of the entire Quinnipiac Men's Basketball program, we are all very excited about Justin Rutty signing a new contract with Boulazac in Paris," said head coach Tom Moore. "After earning MVP honors in Switzerland a year ago, this is the next logical step in his professional career. Justin is happy and excited about this latest challenge and our staff, current players, and his former teammates are all very proud of him."

In the 2012-13 season with BBC Nyon, Rutty was the Swiss LNA's third-leading scorer as the 6-foot-7 power forward averaged 20.8 points per game. He also tallied 11.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals per outing and was named All-Swiss LNA Import Player of the Year at the end of the season. On November 3, 2012, Rutty broke his single-game personal career scoring record with 33 points in home win against BBC Boncourt. Later in the season on January 19, 2013, Rutty broke his personal career single-game record in rebounds with 21 boards against Benetton Fribourg Olympic - eight of which came on the offensive end. He added 23 points to complete a stellar all-around night.

     

Rutty, who still sits alone at the top as the Northeast Conference and Quinnipiac All-Time Leader in rebounds (1,032), led the Swiss League in rebounding, points and evaluation. Rutty started his pro career in Uruguay during the 2011-12 season where he played for Aguada. He compiled 13.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game in the LUB.  A Hard-working, active scorer and rebounder at the power forward position, he has continued to improve his ball-handling skills and fitness to run court like a small forward.

Last year's Boulazac roster featured five players hailing from the United States. Among those names are Tyler Smith from the University of Tennessee and Darryl Monroe of George Mason. The 2013-14 season will begin in October and run through the month of May.

Please refer to the Official Website of Quinnipiac Athletics, www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com, for the latest news and events pertaining to the men's basketball program. When finalized, the 2013-14 Men's Basketball Schedule will be available for download at www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com for all mobile devices, including iPhones and iPads, as well as all desktop computers.

Middletown wing is Cookin

July 2, 2013

Westchester guard shows his game

One of the more under the radar prospects locally is Middletown HS 6'4" rising senior guard Travis Cook

M. Libert
Travis Cook
He may not always get the attention he deserves playing alongside Aaron Ray for the Middies, but playing with the B.C. Eagles has seen Cook make a true name for himself in the eyes of more than a few college coaches.

It's been a very nice spring so far with Cook showing off a versatile all around game with the B.C. Eagles and in various team camps. He has shown excellent range from the perimeter, while also showing an excellent first step in getting to the basket. His versatility is something that Cook feels helps him stand out.

"I consider myself an all around player who can do lots of things on the court to help my teams. Anything I can do to get the win is what I'm willing to do," Cook said.

His progress on the court has helping him draw quite a bit of Division 1 interest. While he hasn't gotten that first offer yet, Cook says he is hearing a lot from Manhattan, Iona, LIU-Brooklyn, Wagner, Canisius, Brown, and Bucknell. While the offer hasn't come yet, that is something that Cook hopes to change soon.

July is a big month and I'm really hoping playing in some big events will help me get the offer, but if it doesn't happen that's ok. It will just motivate me to keep working and push myself even harder.

With that attitude and desire to be the best, expect Cook to be a big name to follow in the weeks and months to come.

 

Pine Bush, Sullivan grad Early hopes to impress NBA scouts

 

During Thursday night's NBA Draft, Cleanthony Early received several texts and tweets from friends and fans, telling him that he could have been selected in the first round if he left Wichita State early.

Certainly, that's the plan for next June. Early, who made a national name for himself at Wichita State last season, helping the Shockers to the Final Four, has a chance to build his reputation with NBA scouts even more this weekend.

Early, a Pine Bush graduate and former star at SUNY Sullivan, is competing in Kevin Durant's Nike Skills Academy in Washington, D.C., this weekend. The top players from this weekend's Durant camp are invited to the LeBron James Skills Academy July 6-8 in Las Vegas.

"It's definitely cool to be here," said Early, a 6-foot-9 forward who averaged 13.9 points and 5.4 rebounds as a junior last season. He is the first Wichita State player to be named to the NCAA all-tournament team. "It's a challenge, but it's a great opportunity. I definitely want to play in the NBA, that's a big part of my life. Now, I have to make it happen. This camp is just another great opportunity for me."

The three-day Kevin Durant camp is one of three position-specific, invitation-only skills academies sponsored by Nike Elite Youth Basketball. Nike EYB also conducts skills academies for point guards and big men, as well as the LeBron James Skills Academy, which includes players from all positions.

The players will work out at Durant's event for NBA scouts, once Friday and twice on Saturday and Sunday.

"It's a great experience," Early said after Friday's workout. "It feels real good to be considered one of the best at your level, but you have to understand how much better you have to get and how much work you have to put in."

Former Sullivan coach Kevin DeVantier said he thinks Early could have been a late first-round NBA draft pick if he skipped his senior year. Early, the two-time NJCAA Division III national player of the year at Sullivan, led Wichita State to the Final Four for the first time since 1965.

He scored 24 points with 10 rebounds in a Final Four loss to Louisville.

"I definitely think Cleanthony could have went in the draft last night," said DeVantier, who accepted an assistant coach position with Division I Norfolk State earlier this month. "But he has a big upside, which is a good thing, and he can grow even more as a player. I'm sure he will rise to the occasion this weekend. He always does. Cleanthony is confident."

 

Shack Scott to Iona

June 24th, 2013 4:47 pm

Shaq ScottIona has added another athletic piece to its roster with the addition of Shack Scott, a 6-foot-7, 205-pound wing from The Robinson School in N.J.

“I just committed to Iona,” the Paterson, N.J., native told SNY.tv, adding that he also considered Marshall and LIU.

“I just got my scores back from the ACT and I’m eligible,” he added.

Scott is the fourth player coached by Vincent Robinson now on the Iona roster, along with Kelvin Amayo, David Laury and Isaiah “Ockee” Williams.

“He’s going to be the most athletic kid on their team,” Robinson told SNY.tv. “There’s not a kid in their conference with his athleticism. He’s 6-7 with a 46-inch vertical.

“He can shoot it to 15 to 18 feet. He has a really good reverse pivot move and a nice little bank shot. His athleticism with their high-octane offense is going to be crazy. Any 3-pointer that they miss he’s going to put back for dunks.

“He offers them a totally different player than Dave Laury.

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Kingston’s Robinson verbally commits to Monmouth

 

Kingston point guard Justin Robinson will bring his electric game to Jersey.

Robinson, the Varsity845 Player of the Year, has verbally committed to play at Division I Monmouth (N.J.). He said on Monday that he will receive a full athletic scholarship.

Robinson, who led Kingston to its first Section 9 Class AA title in nine years this season, made his decision over the weekend.

“This has been a goal of mine, a milestone my entire life,” Robinson said. “It feels great, this is my dream. I don’t know if it will hit me until I get my diploma and go off to college. But it’s big and I’m excited.”

Robinson, who averaged 17.1 points, 6.4 assists, 3.9 steals and 3.8 rebounds, also received interest from Divison I Siena, Wagner, Quinnipiac and Binghamton. He made a visit to Monmouth, which competes in the Northeast Conference in mid-March. A few days later, Monmouth offered Robinson, who mulled the decision for a couple of weeks.
Monmouth is coached by former University of North Carolina point guard King Rice, who played for Dean Smith, graduating in 1992. The Hawks finished 10-21, 5-13 NEC.

“I just wanted to make sure everything was a fit on and off the court, and it is,” Robinson said. “I love the coaching staff, I love the campus. It’s beautiful. I know I’m going to have to get better every day. The players are going to be bigger, stronger and faster. I’m going to be a freshman all over again, but I’m going to come in ready to go.”

Robinson was a four-year starter for Kingston. He was named a Varsity845 first-team all-star last season.

UVa's Mike Tobey picked for U.S. U19 World Championship team

UVa's Mike Tobey picked for U.S. U19 World Championship team

The rising sophomore will join UVa coach Tony Bennett on the team's trip to the Czech Republic.

 

Associated Press | File February


Virginia’s Mike Tobey, who averaged 6.8 points as a freshman for the Cavaliers, joins coach Tony Bennett in the U19 World Championships.

 
 

Associated Press | File March


N.C. State’s C.J. Leslie (center) drives between Virginia’s Evan Nolte (right) and Mike Tobey (left) in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament.

 
Doug Doughty | 981-3129
 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Virginia men’s basketball coach Tony Bennett, already headed to the Czech Republic as an assistant coach for the U19 World Championship, was pleased to learn that he will have some Cavalier company.

Bennett will be joined by Mike Tobey, who averaged 6.8 points for Virginia as a freshman this past season.

Bennett said that Tobey, who measured 7 feet in shoes during tryouts in Colorado Springs, Colo., is the tallest player on the team.

The roster includes rising sophomores Rasheed Sulaimon of Duke and Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell; an incoming freshman, Arizona-bound Aaron Gordon, who was the MVP of the McDonald’s All-America team; as well as the No. 1-rated college prospect for 2014, Jahlil Okafor.

Not making the cut were a pair of Tobey’s fellow 2012-2013 ACC freshmen, Robert Carter of Georgia Tech and Wake Forest’s Devin Thomas.

Bennett and VCU coach Shaka Smart will assist head coach Billy Donovan .

“I tried to be very careful because I’ve been in this selection process before,” Bennett said. “I tried to be Switzerland ... neutral.

“Billy Donovan made a joke. He said, ‘This tournament ought to be played in Switzerland because that’s how you’ve been.’ Deep down inside, I wanted [Tobey] because I knew how good it would be for him, but there’s so many people on the selection committee.”

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was involved in the process, along with Matt Painter of Purdue and Lorenzo Romar of Washington.

“Everybody’s there,” said Bennett, referencing Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, coach of the 2012 Olympic team, “so there’s a lot of eyes watching [the trials] and a lot of experience in what this team will need overseas.

“I probably shared a couple of things but I really wanted to stay out of it. I think that’s wise when you’re coaching a team and there’s a potential player [from your team], unless it’s a clear-cut choice.”

The U.S. team will be headed abroad shortly, with the U19 championships taking place in Prague from June 24-July 6.

It will be the second trip to Europe in less than a year for Tobey, who took part in an exhibition series last summer that took the Cavaliers to The Netherlands, Belgium and France.

The rest of Virginia’s team already has assembled in Charlottesville for conditioning and limited drills allowed by the NCAA.

“What I like about this is, they’ll get back the start of July,” said Bennett, who has another player, rising senior Joe Harris, headed to Colorado Springs for World University Games tryouts June 24-30.

The World University Games will be held from July 7-16 in Kazan, Russia.

“It’s not like, ‘Gosh, we’re going right into school,’ ” Bennett said. “There’s a bigger break. That’s why as a coach, I’ve always tried to take these foreign tours in June if possible.”

Tobey played some of his best basketball during the last month of the 2012-2013 season, most notably when he scored the tying basket in regulation and the winning basket in overtime in a 61-58 victory over Maryland on March 10.

“It’s hard to say how much he’ll play,” said Bennett, noting that Tobey is up to 245 pounds. “He’s stronger and he’s worked very hard to improve his game.

“He was solid in the tryouts. No one just dominates in these things. You look for flashes and there were flashes when Mike showed his touch, his passing. Hopefully, he’ll show more good stuff in the practices and when he gets out there.”

Cleanthony Early ready to showcase talents at Durant camp

 

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, June 25, 2013, at 3:42 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, June 26, 2013, at 7:08 a.m.Photos

If Kevin Durant is up for a game of HORSE, or something more challenging, so is Cleanthony Early.

“I’ll play him one-on-one, definitely,” Early said. “I would definitely want to do that.”

Who wouldn’t? Early, Wichita State’s senior forward, leaves Friday for Durant’s Nike Skills Academy in Washington, D.C. His goal is to improve his skills and boost his reputation with NBA scouts.

The top players from this weekend’s Durant camp are invited to the LeBron James Skills Academy in July in Las Vegas. Early’s junior season at WSU, helped by a 24-point, 10-rebound game in the Final Four, thrust him into NBA view.

“I want him to show his skills and perform at a high level, so that he can improve his draft stock and visibility going into this year,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “This is about him being a more well-known and highly sought-after player a year from now.”

Rosters for the Durant camp will be announced Friday. Early said Tyler Harris of Providence will attend and Creighton’s Doug McDermott is considering participating for a second year. Media reports list Michigan’s Glenn Robinson III as another college invitee. The players will work out once Friday and twice on Saturday and Sunday.

“I’m there for my teammates and it’s a way to get Wichita State out there, just by having a representative,” Early said.

Early (6-foot-8) averaged 13.9 points and 5.4 rebounds last season, shooting 45.5 percent from the floor and 31.8 percent from three-point range. Much like McDermott after his sophomore season, Early wants to round out his offensive game by improving his dribbling and ability to drive and score. Defense is another area where increased concentration and practice can help.

“With defense, it’s staying low and getting stronger in my legs to where I’m comfortable in certain positions for a long period of time,” he said. “It’s all about endurance and being used to it and doing it like it’s second nature.”

Early chose the Nike camp over a chance to try out in Colorado Springs for the World University Games. He decided eight days of tryouts, plus a trip to Russia in July, didn’t mesh with his goals for the Shockers. The time commitment for the Nike camps is significantly less.

“I didn’t think it would be a good fit for me to go all the way out there and miss almost a month of trying to get together with the new guys and build that chemistry,” he said. “I know how important that is to spend that quality time with the guys.”

 
Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2013/06/25/2863042/cleanthony-early-ready-to-showcase.html#storylink=cpy
Early, Jean train for success
  • Marvin Jean, a Monroe-Woodbury graduate, played guard for Division I Utah State this past season after playing two years at SUNY Sullivan.

  • Cleanthony Early takes his workouts seriously as he looks to improve on his success with Wichita State. The Shockers, led by the Pine Bush grad, advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament. Early and Marvin Jean were working out at Rich Scarpulla’s gym, Ultimate Advantage Training Center.

 

FAIR OAKS— Cleanthony Early and his good friend Marvin Jean could laugh now.

The grueling workout was over.

Inside speed and strength coach Rick Scarpulla's sprawling gym, Ultimate Advantage Training Center, Early and Jean reminisced about life and basketball on Thursday morning. Only a few minutes earlier, the pair were straining and grunting, finishing up another killer Scarpulla workout.

Early, a Pine Bush graduate a former star at SUNY Sullivan, became one of the faces of the NCAA tournament this spring. He led Wichita State to the Final Four, slashing for baskets, hitting key jumpers, up until the Shockers' loss to eventual champion Louisville in the national semifinals.

And what will Early do for an encore this season? He has big plans — that's why he's training at Scarpulla's no frills gym for part of the summer.

"I need this as much as working on my game," said Early, who is the first Wichita State player to be named to the NCAA all-tournament team. "It challenges you mentally. It's tiring, it hurts. Sometimes you think you can't go anymore. It's all about pushing yourself when nobody is around, when nobody is looking. That makes it easier when all eyes on you."


Future looking bright

After Early's coming-out party at Wichita State this season — he earned All-Missouri Valley Conference and newcomer of the year honors — there was talk of him leaving a year early and entering the NBA draft. However, the 6-foot-8 forward elected to return for his senior year. Still, even before he runs the floor for Wichita State again, he will receive plenty of exposure.

Early has received an invitation to the Nike Skills Academy, hosted by NBA star Kevin Durant, on June 28-30 in Washington, D.C. He has also been invited by USA Basketball to try out for the World University Games on June 24-July 1 in Colorado Springs, Colo. The U.S. team will compete in the World University Games from July 7-16 in Russia.

Early said he will likely choose Durant's showcase over Team USA due to his summer class schedule at Wichita State. Durant invites college forwards while Deron Williams runs a similar camp for guards and Amare Stoudemire handles centers. The top players from those events are invited to the LeBron James Skills Academy in July in Las Vegas.

"I play even better in situations like that," said Early, named the NJCAA Division III player of the year two years in a row at Sullivan. "Even if I'm not shooting the ball, I'm going to find a way to do other things. I will get some assists or blocks. I'm going to do something aggressive. You are going to see that I want to be there."


Trying to get better

Early and Jean, a former Monroe-Woodbury standout who played guard at Division I Utah State this year, will work out with Scarpulla whenever they are around this summer. As painful as the sessions can be, they are also rewarding. Scarpulla pushes them, barking orders and encouragement, while Early and Jean thrive on pushing each other.

"I've told you before, Cleanthony motivates me, and I want to get to the top," said Jean, who was teammates with Early at Mount Zion Christian Academy, a prep school in Durham, N.C., and Sullivan. "I want to bring out the best in my game and this helps me. I just go hard and try not to give up, try to keep going, try to get better. You feel the fatigue, but you push through it."

Kingston’s Robinson verbally commits to Monmouth

By JUSTIN RODRIGUEZ

Robinson, the Varsity845 Player of the Year, has verbally committed to play at Division I Monmouth (N.J.). He said on Monday that he will receive a full athletic scholarship.

Robinson, who led Kingston to its first Section 9 Class AA title in nine years this season, made his decision over the weekend.

“This has been a goal of mine, a milestone my entire life,” Robinson said. “It feels great, this is my dream. I don’t know if it will hit me until I get my diploma and go off to college. But it’s big and I’m excited.”

Robinson, who averaged 17.1 points, 6.4 assists, 3.9 steals and 3.8 rebounds, also received interest from Divison I Siena, Wagner, Quinnipiac and Binghamton. He made a visit to Monmouth, which competes in the Northeast Conference in mid-March. A few days later, Monmouth offered Robinson, who mulled the decision for a couple of weeks.
Monmouth is coached by former University of North Carolina point guard King Rice, who played for Dean Smith, graduating in 1992. The Hawks finished 10-21, 5-13 NEC.

“I just wanted to make sure everything was a fit on and off the court, and it is,” Robinson said. “I love the coaching staff, I love the campus. It’s beautiful. I know I’m going to have to get better every day. The players are going to be bigger, stronger and faster. I’m going to be a freshman all over again, but I’m going to come in ready to go.”

Robinson was a four-year starter for Kingston. He was named a Varsity845 first-team all-star last season.

Read more about Robinson in Tuesday’s editions of Varsity845.com and recordonline.com

Calvin Crawford gearing up for NEPSAC Class AAA with St. Thomas More

May 29, 2013 Terrence Payne

 

Calvin Crawford is getting familiar with New England this summer after playing at the Hall of Fame New England Championships, Providence Jam Fest and Hall of Fame Spring Classic over the past few months with the B.C. Eagles (N.Y.).

The 6-foot-8 forward will make New England his permanent address this fall when he enrolls at St. Thomas More for a post graduate season following his senior season at Valley Central High School where he averaged 23 points and nine rebounds per game.

The reason behind going prep was to build on his slender frame and increase his recruitment. 

"This year will help me get bigger and stronger," Crawford told New England Hoop News. "When I heard about Coach (JereQuinn and how he is at St. Thomas More, I knew he would help me get ready for the next level."

Crawford enters St. Thomas More holding offers from schools like Quinnipiac, LIU-Brooklyn Canisius and Binghamton. He also has received interest from Fairfield, Niagara and James Madison. This past season Quinn sent players to six different Division I programs.

Crawford mentioned the competition he faced last year was pretty good, but understands that it is another level when he joins NEPSAC Class AAA next year. He'll have to get ready for a stacked Brewster Academy frontcourt headlined by Syracuse commit Chris McCullough, as well as New Hampton's Tory Miller and Northfield Mount Hermon's Josh Sharma.

"Well it starts now by working now through the whole summer," Crawford said. "When I get to St. Thomas More, I'm just going to play hard anytime I get the opportunity to play in front of coaches.

"Eat a lot. Work out a lot. Work hard at practice and just take advantage of all the opportunities I have in front of me."

St. Thomas More finished with a 28-4 regular season record this past season, losing to Brewster in the NEPSAC Class AAA final.

 
 

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2013 GymRat Challenge All Tournament Selections

 

17U Division

Jack Dwyer (5-10 point guard) BC Eagles/Burke Catholic H.S.: High IQ point guard who does a great job of running a team’s offense. Capable of penetrating the seams against opponents. Prototypical point guard with terrific court vision. Finds openings in a defense and delivers perfect passes to teammates in scoring position. Showed both a perimeter shot and a floater, but prefers to give up the ball. Keeps low with dribble, impossible to get ball away from him. Low Ivies, academic D-III’s showing interest.


Mike Coffey (6-0 guard) BC Eagles/Burke Catholic H.S.: A little undersized for an off-guard, but what he lacks in size he makes up for with grit and determination. A lefty with a nice stroke. One of the best shooters here. Made five straight three’s in a pool play game, all from 22 feet and out. Also has a mid-range game. Sneaky good athlete. Good enough ball handler to play some point. Looking at low Ivies, academic D-III’s.


Calvin Crawford (6-8 forward) BC Eagles/St. Thomas More H.S.: Long, smooth and developing wing forward with decent range and an above-average handle for his height. Superb athlete and an unselfish player. Strong defender. Hit some 3’s here. Plays over the rim. Needs to add bulk/strength and will probably prep, but already getting D-I offers.

16U Division

Kena Gilmour (6-4 forward) BC Eagles-LaFrance/New Paltz H.S.: Long, lanky athlete with good size and a smooth left-handed three-point stroke. Runs the floor well and attacks the rim effectively. Gets off the floor well for rebounds. Had a few nice blocks here. Shows lots of potential and improving skills.

16U Honorable Mention

Aaron Ray (6-2 forward) BC Eagles-LaFrance
Ruben Jimenez (5-10 guard) BC Eagles-LaFrance

14U Division

Ro Hamilton (5-9 guard) B.C. Eagles/Middletown H.S.: Great passer from the point-guard position. Sees floor extremely well, particularly in transition, and delivers the ball to open teammates. Constantly moving with or without the ball. Really understands the game. Solid defender, who has active hands in the passing lanes to get deflections/steals.

13U Division --- Honorable Mention

Evan Roberts (6-1 center) BC Eagles
Kenny Primus (6-0 forward) BC Eagles

 

 

 

WSU's Cleanthony Early invited to Kevin Durant Nike Camp and USA Basketball Team

Wichita State Wichita State’s Early drawing plenty of attention

Published Saturday, May 11, 2013, at 6:50 p.m.

Updated Sunday, May 12, 2013, at 8:11 a.m.

                

Cleanthony Early’s performances in the NCAA Tournament are earning him a chance to play high-profile summer basketball.

He is considering invitations from the Nike Skills Academy, hosted by NBA star Kevin Durant, and from USA Basketball to try out for the World University Games.

“Two great opportunities,” Early said. “I’ve got to weigh the options.”

Early is leaning toward the Durant option, because it requires less time away from summer classes. While the idea of traveling to Russia in July for the World University Games is appealing, the disruption to his academics is not. Tryouts for the 12-man team are June 24-July 1 in Colorado Springs. The games are played July 7-16 in Kazan.

“I would have to switch my major,” he said. “I would have to take all my classes online. With school, (the Nike camp) is less of an issue.”

The Nike Skills Academy for is June 28-30 in Washington, D.C. Durant works with college forwards while Deron Williams (guards) and Amare Stoudemire (big men) lend their names to similar camps. In July, the top players from those camps are invited to the LeBron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas. Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Illinois State’s Jackie Carmichael participated last summer.

Early’s professional potential moved in and out of focus during the season. His games against Iowa (25 points, nine rebounds) and Southern Illinois (39 points) made the NBA look realistic. Losses at Northern Iowa and Southern Illinois, in which fouls and poor shooting plagued him, showed he had work to do.

Then came the NCAA Tournament, and Early seized the moment to lock himself into the NBA picture. His double-double (24 points, 10 rebounds) in the national semifinal loss to Louisville made sure of that. Any scout who watched him soar for offensive rebounds to keep the Shockers in the game had to be intrigued by Early’s athletic ability and aggressiveness.

Predictably, Early heard from agents who wanted him to consider leaving school and applying for the NBA Draft. He decided another year of work at WSU offered the best return on his potential. Early needs to improve his ball-handling to add more driving to his game. Better shot selection could improve his 31.8-percent shooting from behind the arc. He needs to play better defense, avoiding silly fouls and mental lapses.

“Of course you think about it, but you’ve just got to ultimately make a decision on whatever you think is best for you,” he said.

Basketbull Hall of Fame Classic

It was a busy weekend of basketball in Massachusetts, and Saturday saw action in two main events a long way from each other.  First, we checked in on the Hall of Fame Spring Classic in Amherst, then headed to the Massachusetts AAU Final Four in Foxboro.

One team that won a pair of games early in Amherst was the BC Eagles, who have a couple of notable wing prospects.  Calvin Crawford (6’8″ Sr. SF, Montgomery (NY) Valley Central HS) appears to have the higher ceiling, and he looked better here than in limited viewing last month as he had transition finishes and stickbacks.  Teammate Travis Cook (6’4″ Jr. SF, Middletown (NY) High) is a baby physically with some length, which he used to poke the ball away a couple of times.  While slight, he’s athletic and is worth keeping an eye on.

B.C. at 2013 Providence JamFest w/Hoop Group and Under Armor

Providence Jam Fest: Saturday’s 25 Top Performers

While these players listed below where not the only ones who garnered attention, here is a list of the top 25 performers from the first day of action in Providence.

Jack Dwyer | 5-10 | Burke Catholic High School (N.Y.) | 2014
Jack Dwyer is very effective running the offense for the BC Eagles, so much so that it forced South Shore Wolfpack to face guard him, in an attempt to limit him from bringing he ball up. Although not big, he’s strong and quick with the ball and finds open teammates. Is a good decision maker.

Michael Coffey| 6-1 | Burke Catholic High School (N.Y.) | 2014
He benefited from some of his high school teammates passes. A left-handed guard showed his shooting touch from behind the arc. Also had the ability to score while driving to the hoop. Is 6-foot-1 but has some underrated athleticism

Providence Jam Fest: Day Two Standouts

While these players listed below where not the only ones who garnered attention, here is a list of the top 20 performers from the 2nd day of action in Providence.

Calvin Crawford| 6-8 | St. Thomas More (Conn.) | 2014
Crawford hit a big three that got the BC Eagles withing three points of Move Your Feet (N.J.) in the quarterfinals in 17u age division. He offered a scoring option alongside guard Michael Coffey who had 19 points in that game, including three 3-pointers. Crawford will prep at St. Thomas More next season.

Coffey, Crawford and Dwyer all made All-Tournament team as the 17u B.C. Eagles advanced to the Elite 8.

16u B.C. Eagles went 2-1 on the weekend.

14U B.C. Eagles advanced the furthest out of all the B.C. Teams advancing to the Championship before losing by 3 points in the final!

B.C. Eagles Soar

May 9, 2013

B.C. Eagle players get offers & commitments

 

 
J. Mumford
Cleanthony Early
Most recently, one of their alumni made a national splash on the college level as Cleanthony Early led Wichita State to the NCAA final four and was selected to the 2012-14 second team all American. Other B.C. Eagles have also made a splash on the recruiting scene.

NYCHoops.net caught with B.C. Eagles head coach Bobby Rahn who updated us on the progress of some of his key players.

  • Calvin Crawford, a 6'8" senior wing at Valley Central HS will prep at St. Thomas Moore next year. Rahn says that Crawford has offers from Vermont, Stony brook, LIU, Canisius, Binghamton and Quinnipiac with interest from Bucknell, Delaware, Loyola, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Iowa , Manhattan, Monmouth and Lehigh.

  • Justin Robinson, a senior point guard from Kingston HS has committed to Monmouth and was selected as Times Herald record player of the year. 

  • Stan Buczek, 6'6 senior from Burke Catholic HS who was selected 1st team all state has committed to DII LeMoyne.

  • Putnam Science post grad teammates Jemal Mosley of Spring Valley and Don Bosco Prep as well as 6'6" Jonte Rutty from Newburgh and NFA have committed to Division II schools with Mosley to going to New Haven and Rutty to Georgian Court. 

    Coach Rahn added, "We also have 10 kids going d3 and those are all from this 2013 class



 
 

 

Robinson chooses Monmouth!

MONMOUTH ADDS GUARD

May 9, 2013

Early named 2013-2014 Pre-Season All American

Cleanthony Early headlines the 2013-2014 All American Second Team

Second Team

Cleanthony Early, Wichita State: Trying to reframe Wichita State's Final Four run as predictable would be disingenuous. It wasn't. The Shockers lost five starters last summer. They were a No. 9 seed. They finished 5-5 in their final 10 regular-season games, including a couple of truly ugly losses. Predicting them to get past the various heavyweights in their region -- Gonzaga, Ohio State, New Mexico, Wisconsin -- required a quadruple order of onions.

 Having said that, Wichita State was not VCU 2011. The Shockers spent much of the season ranked in the top 25 in both the human polls and the efficiency rankings, and -- and this is the point here -- they always had the kind of physical, athletic talent that made them a high-major wolf in a mid-major sheep's clothing. Case in point: Early. He probably could have played at any number of high-major programs coming out of high school, but he had personal issues to deal with -- he was a "knucklehead" in his high school class, as he put it after the Shockers' Sweet 16 win over La Salle, and the death of his brother played a role in his choice to stay close to his mother at DIII Sullivan County Community College in New York. Now that Early -- one of the most dominant players on the floor in the tournament, an inside-out threat with NBA athleticism and skill -- has put all that behind him, it's fair to expect a big senior season in Wichita.

SNY's Preseason All-American Teams 2013-2014

 

SNY’s Preseason All-America Teams

May 4th, 2013 11:02 am

Now that we know Who’s In and Who’s Out of the NBA Draft, it’s time to look ahead to the 2013-14 college basketball season.

Here’s a look at the SNY Preseason All-America teams as compiled by Adam Zagoria and SNY Big East analyst Tarik Turner.

PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA FIRST TEAM

F Doug McDermott, Sr., Creighton

F Andrew Wiggins, Fr., Undecided

C Mitch McGary, So., Michigan

G Russ Smith, Sr., Louisville

G Marcus Smart, So., Oklahoma State

PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA SECOND TEAM

F Cleanthony Early, Sr., Wichita State

F Julius Randle, Fr., Kentucky

F Adreian Payne, Sr., Michigan State

G Gary Harris, So., Michigan State

G Aaron Craft, Sr., Ohio State

PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA THIRD TEAM

F C.J. Fair, Sr., Syracuse

F Chane Behannan, Jr., Louisville

C Willie Cauley-Stein, So., Kentucky

G Andrew Harrison, Fr., Kentucky

G Rodney Hood, So., Duke

Hall of Fame Championships at Wesleyan College - "LIVE" Period 2013

Hall of Fame New England Championships - 2013

April 23, 2013

Over 160 teams and 125 college coaches descended on the heart of Connecticut to take part in the 5th annual Hall of Fame New England Championships.  The event has grown into one of the top LIVE period events in the Northeast and this was evident by the fact that every major conference on the eastern seaboard was represented, including the ACC, Big East, A10 and more.

Top Performers in the Tournament - 17u

Calvin Crawford, 6'7, 2013, BC Eagles - Crawford was MVP of the tournament last year in the 16u, and could have been the same this weekend had his team taken the title.  Very crafty and efficient around the rim, Crawford has a knack for making the right play.  Finished with 33 points in the championship loss to CBC. 

Travis Cook, 6'4, 2014, BC Eagles - Cook exploded for some good games early on in the weekend and his play never let up.  Cook is a good athlete that can also step out and shoot the three-ball. 

Stan Buczek, 6'6, 2013, BC Eagles - A strong and burly forward, Buczek finishes pretty well around the rim and can face up.  Could see him finding a home in the NE-10.

This weekend Wesleyan University hosted their annual Basketbull event that saw top teams from all over the northeast region come to Middletown, Connecticut to compete for a championship.  By the end of Sunday, due to NCAA Live Period rules not permitting teams to play more than three games in a day, the 17u bracket saw two champions be crowned, CBC and the New Jersey Pirates.
    
In the first championship game, the New Jersey Pirates defeat a scrappy Newburg Zion Lions team 73-64. The New Jersey Pirates were led by Dwayne Murrill, who was very impressive all weekend long, while the Lions were led by big man Eric McCollum and lead guard Jerry Hall.
    
In the second championship game, which turned out to be the game of the day, CBC beat the BC Eagles 58-56 in a contest that came right down to the last shot. CBC was led by big man Paschal Chukwu, Danny Upchurch, and Ajou Deng. The BC Eagles, who made a very impressive run to the finals, were led by Calvin Crawford and Jack Dwyer who both played well even in defeat.
Here were the top individual performers from the weekend:   

Paschal Chuku – CBC – It was only fitting that Chuku blocked The BC Eagles final shot attempt of the championship game to seal the win for his team. He impressed all weekend with his natural shot blocking ability and rapidly improving offensive post game. Chuku has great defensive instincts that allow him to alter shots consistently, the ability to finish over either shoulder offensively, and has good hands for a man his size. He is a prospect on the rise that has more and more coaches intrigued each weekend he takes the court.  

Danny Upchurch – CBC – Was CBC’s most consistent perimeter scoring threat on the weekend. Upchurch is a scoring lead guard who uses his speed and athleticism to get into the paint at will. Upchurch also showed the ability to hit open jump shots and is a good on-ball defender.

Ajou Deng – CBC – The younger brother of current Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng, Ajou impressed with his ability to hit outside jumpers for a player his size. He ran the floor well, which created easy buckets for himself and his teammates, and made critical plays for CBC multiple times throughout the day Sunday.

Jack Dwyer – BC Eagles – The point guard was fantastic all weekend for the Eagles impressing in each game on their way to the finals. Dwyer changes speed and direction exceptionally well, has great court vision, and has a very tight handle. Whatever Dwyer lacks in physical stature he more than makes up for in heart and skill as he was easily one of the best floor generals in the field this weekend.

Cleanthony Early's best game came in losing cause for Wichita State

 

 

 Published: April 6, 2013 

 



ATLANTA - The simple explanation Cleanthony Early had for his late-season resurgence, which culminated with a 24-point showing for Wichita State in Saturday's 72-68 loss to Louisville, was not matched by his coach.

Early used one word repeatedly - confidence. When WSU coach Gregg Marshall was asked what makes Early so special now and so promising for the future, he was a bit less straightforward and a bit more descriptive, provoking the imagination.

 
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/04/06/2807062/cleanthony-earlys-best-game-came.html#storylink=cpy

 

"He's a dynamite athlete," Marshall said. "He's like a pogo-stick athlete. He can spring up multiple times. It's not the first jump always, sometimes it's the second or third jump. He just has that ability."

Early's dynamic finale wrapped up arguably the junior forward's best five-game stretch of the season, considering the hopponents the Shockers met during the NCAA Tournament.

His performance Saturday, when he made a basket on WSU's first possession, a three-pointer shortly afterward and often carried the offense from there, was possibly Early's best.

When the Shockers were mostly tiring late due to Louisville's constant full-court pressure, Early maintained his energy to produce big plays that allowed WSU to hang on to hope. He had a pair of tip-ins during the final minute and 45 seconds that cut Louisville's five-point leads to three.

Early scored in double figures in four of WSU's tournament games, topping 20 twice. That was on the heels of scoring 15 points total in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, during which he battled a stomach ailment.

"It was the confidence growing," Early said. "The confidence is always growing. I felt like I always had the potential to do that, and there's other guys that have the potential to do that. Coming off the Valley Tournament, I didn't play too good and I felt like I had to pride myself on making a statement."

Early shuffled between starting for WSU in his first year after transferring from a small junior college in New York and coming off the bench. His scoring abilities played in either role, providing instant offense as a reserve or enabling Early to find an early groove as a starter.

Other areas of his game are what limited Early's playing time. His defense, in particular, was his greatest area of growth according to Marshall.

But Early thrived in all facets since returning to the starting lineup for WSU's Sweet 16 game against La Salle. He helped limit Ohio State star DeShaun Thomas in the Elite Eight and he's grabbed at least seven rebounds in five straight games. He had 10 rebounds Saturday, one off his career high. The 6-foot-8 Early has also been more versatile offensively, frequently challenging opposing big men with drives to the lane.

"(Starting) helps any player," Early said. "I think I was just as good coming off the bench, but there's a certain spark and energy you get starting the game, and everyone loves that feeling."

Early found that spark and rhythm with the early five points and nearly found himself in a national championship game largely due to his efforts. WSU's last lead came on an Early three-point play that put the Shockers ahead 60-58 with 6:06 to go.

Early played Saturday like a player whose near future includes the NBA. Before that, though, he'll be the best returning player from a Final Four team and he'll have a year to become more complete. That inspires confidence.

"There's a couple of things we're going to work on specifically (that) I've already got in my head, but I'm not going to talk about them," Marshall said. "And I think he's going to be even better next year."

://www.nerver.com/2013/me-came.html#storylink=cpy
Wichita State’s Cleanthony Early throws down huge dunk over Louisville [GIF]

 April 6, 2013 at 7:09 pm 

wichita state big dunk over louisville

There was a 60-second block of time in the early Final Four game on Saturday that did not go quite as planned as Louisville might have liked. First, an airball, then, nothing but dunk city.

You are supposed to hear such phrases as ‘wide right’ at the Georgia Dome, but that is for football games, not with Russ Smith trying to shoot a three-pointer.

[Related: Louisville's Kevin Ware celebrates on the Cardinals bench]

Yikes. After that and a second Loo-ville turnover, this happened:

Most folks had not heard of Wichita State until the ninth-seeded Shockers’ Cinderella run through the NCAA Tournament.

Well, Cleanthony Early just introduced himself to the nation with this massive dunk.

 
Cleanthony Early dunk helps Wichita State take halftime lead over No. 1 seed Louisville

By  | The Dagger – Sat, Apr 6, 2013 7:30 PM EDT

 

Wichita State and Louisville combined to abuse the rims with plenty of missed shots in the first half of their Final Four matchup Saturday, but the Shockers managed to take a 26-25 lead into the locker room.

The highlight of the first half, aside from injured Louisville guard Kevin Ware cheering on his team, was Wichita State's Cleanthony Early throwing down a vicious dunk in transition with about 5 minutes remaining in the half.

[Slideshow: Best photos from Louisville-Wichita State classic]

Three Louisville starters failed to score in the first half. Likewise Wichita State point guard Malcolm Armstead was shutout in the first half.

CBS television cameras were allowed in the Wichita State locker room where coach Gregg Marshall told his team before it headed back to the court for the second half, "The noose will get tighter. ...You're 20 minutes away from playing for the national championship."

Wichita State’s Early makes NCAA All-Tournament team

 

  • Eagle staff
  • Published Tuesday, April 9, 2013, at 8:36 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, April 9, 2013, at 1:23 p.m Photos

NCAA All-Tournament

Luke Hancock, Louisville

Trey Burke, Michigan

Peyton Siva, Louisville

Cleanthony Early, Wichita State

Michael Albrecht, Michigan

Chane Behanan, Louisville

Mitch McGary, Michigan

Most Outstanding Player-Hancock

Wichita State junior Cleanthony Early was named to the NCAA’s All-Tournament team on Monday, the first Shocker to earn that honor.

Early, a forward from Middletown, N.Y., scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Saturday’s national semifinal loss to Louisville in the Georgia Dome. He averaged 16.2 points and 7.6 rebounds in five NCAA games, making 30 of 60 shots.

He also scored 21 points in a second-round win over Pittsburgh and 16 in a Sweet 16 win over Gonzaga.

Early is the first player from the Missouri Valley Conference named to the all-tournament team since Indiana State’s Larry Bird in 1979.

Louisville’s Luke Hancock was named tournament Most Outstanding Player.

The NCAA named seven players to the all-tournament team because of a tie in voting.

 
Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2013/04/09/2753555/wichita-states-early-makes-ncaa.html#storylink=cpy
Cleanthony Early gives Shockers staying power

NCAA West Regional: Cleanthony Early gives Shockers staying power

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Cleanthony Early

Cleanthony Early leads Wichita State in scoring with 13.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. (Harry How / Getty Images /March 28, 2013)

Wichita State's Cleanthony Early said he stood only 5 feet 7 when he began high school and did not play organized basketball until he was in the 11th grade.

But the 6-8 junior could be the key for Wichita State when the Shockers play Ohio State in the NCAAWest Regional final Saturday at Staples Center.

Early, a New York native who averages a team-best 13.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, arrived in Wichita after a year at Mt. Zion Academy in North Carolina and two seasons at Sullivan County Community College in New York.

On Friday, Early fondly recalled seeing the girls and recreational pool during a recruiting trip to San Diego State, but chose Wichita State instead after spending an inordinate amount of time on the Shockers' campus.

At the scheduled conclusion of Early's recruiting trip to Wichita, a storm in New York prevented flights from landing. NCAA allows recruits to be on campus for only 48 hours, so Coach Gregg Marshall said the school filed petitions for several waivers that extended Early's stay to 72 hours because of the travel situation.

"He got to know our players," Marshall said. "We ran out of things to show him. We ended up keeping him busy."

Early said it was just another sign that he belonged in Wichita.

"It was crazy... it seemed like the stars were just aligning," he said. "I was out there for like a week.... That was just another sign."

 
Cleanthony Early is `interesting bird'

Cleanthony Early is `interesting bird'

 
 

AP SPORTS WRITER

Cleanthony Early crumpled to the court clutching his left leg midway through the second half.

Wichita State was leading Ohio State by 20 points in the West Regional final, but the last thing the Shockers wanted to see was his 6-foot-8 presence missing down low.

Early writhed in pain, although it didn't appear the junior forward had collided with anybody. He soon hobbled off the court and into the locker room. Carl Hall, the team's other 6-8 forward, had already taken an elbow to the jaw in the Shockers' eventual 70-66 win that sent them to the Final Four.

Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall was worried about Hall because he thought he had sustained a concussion from the blow.

"I felt a little better about Cle because it was like the boy who cried wolf with injuries," Marshall said. "I had seen that many times this season. I thought we'd have to call the ambulance or get out a stretcher or whatnot, and the next thing I know he's back in practice.

"I heard he was getting X-rays, and next thing I know he's back in the game. He's an interesting bird. But it was great to get them both back in the game."

Early said he was stepping back when he hurt his ankle.

"I had my ankles taped so I thought I'd be fine, but clearly not," he said.

 
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/03/31/3315850/cleanthony-early-is-interesting.html#storylink=cpy

 

As hurricane churned up East Coast, Cleanthony Early got extended sales pitch from Wichita St

 

 
 
 

(Tim Donnelly/ Associated Press ) - Wichita State’s Cleanthony Early dunks the ball during practice for their NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game against Louisville, Friday, April 5, 2013, in Atlanta. Wichita State plays Louisville in a semifinal game on Saturday.

 

ATLANTA — As Hurricane Irene churned along the East Coast, flight after flight was getting canceled, and Cleanthony Early remembers thinking to himself, “I’m stuck in Kansas.”

The talented forward from upstate New York was on a recruiting visit to Wichita State, which he barely knew existed before the trip. The first two days had gone well, though, and he was starting to think that he might someday play for the Shockers.

Then he wound up stranded three more days, and came away convinced. The rangy forward with the versatile inside-outside game spurned overtures from Baylor, Alabama and Missouri to commit to coach Gregg Marshall, who’d been busily putting on the full-court press.

Three days, and one storm, ultimately changed the course of Early’s life.

The Shockers’ basketball program, too.

“Everyone knows in two days they can show you the best of the best, and in five days, you can see a lot more, and maybe some of the things they don’t want you to see,” said Early, the leading scorer on a team of upstarts that will face Louisville in the Final Four on Saturday night.

“But I felt like it was a place without any distractions,” Early said, “where I could stay focused. That trip convinced me, not because of what I saw, but what I didn’t see.” 

Early didn’t see players partying, or the type of big-city lifestyle that can chew up impressionable young players. He didn’t see a coach that put winning above all else, a school that bent the rules to win, or an environment that could get him into trouble.

No, in those five days, the soft-spoken Early saw a place where he could focus on school and basketball, the two things that have helped him cope with the roller coaster of life, from trouble in school to the death of his beloved brother, to a strained relationship with his father and to being constantly overlooked by more high-profile Division I schools.

“On that trip, I got a better feel for the team, the guys. I got a better feel for the coach. It was just a regular town,” Early said. “It wasn’t San Diego or New York or another big city, it was a place where there wasn’t anything but basketball.”

There are words for what happened, the turn of events that deposited Early at Wichita State. Destiny is one, chance is another. Luck gets thrown around a lot.

“I think it was fate,” Early said. “That’s what I think it was.”

Early was largely raised by his mother, Sandra Glover, and had a strained relationship with his father. So it was his older brother, Jamel Glover, who first introduced him to the game.

Big brother became his biggest fan, watching him grow into a basketball player’s body.

Then, on June 27, 2010, Jamel was swimming with friends in a creek near his New York home. He drowned, and Early was devastated. He could barely drag himself to the funeral, and to this day thinks about his brother constantly. He wonders what he’d make of this Final Four adventure, and even admitted in a voice barely above a whisper that he dreamed about him just this week.

“When it’s someone that close,” Early said, “you want them to be there, especially on days like this. You want that person by your side, to experience everything with you.”

His teammate, Malcolm Armstead, knows better than to talk to Early about his brother. It’s a painful spot for someone who seems to always play with a smile on his face.

“But we’re there for him, all of us. I’m there for support, whatever he might need,” Armstead said. “He’s like my little brother. We’ve grown that close.”

Early’s brother became his inspiration, following him wherever he’s stepped on the court.

He was the star forward for Pine Bush (N.Y.) High School, but grades forced him to spend a year at Mount Zion Christian Academy in North Carolina. He spent two more years at Sullivan County Community College in New York, putting up the kind of ridiculous numbers that made him a two-time Division III junior college player of the year but didn’t catch the attention of many coaches.

So when the Shockers called, Early was ready to listen, even if he had to Google the school to learn something about it, and scout out on a map where he was headed for a recruiting trip.

That’s when serendipity — or chance, or fate, or destiny — set in. Hurricane Irene swept up the Atlantic seaboard in the fall of 2011, one of the most devastating storms in U.S. history.

“It really shut down the Northeast, and for one day he couldn’t get back,” Marshall recalled. “Then the second day, we took him to the airport and he was supposed to try to get back, now all the flights were backed up and everyone was on a waiting list, standby.”

Wichita State dashed off a quick petition to the NCAA to ensure it was OK to extend Early’s recruiting trip, and by the end of it, the swingman was sold on the Shockers.

“It was a very, very long visit,” Marshall said, “but it worked out for us.”

It seems to have worked out for everybody

2013 Final Four: Wichita State Shockers

2013 Final Four: Wichita State Shockers

April 1, 2013 11:04 am ET

Describing Wichita State merely as a second-place team from the MVC and No. 9 seed in this NCAA tournament really is underselling the story. Because this is crazier than just that, when you consider the Shockers are also a team that lost their top five scorers from last year.

Think about that for a moment.

Kentucky lost its top six scorers and fell to the NIT.

More on Final Four

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Final Four previews: Louisville | Wichita State

Final Four previews: Syracuse | Michigan

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Schedule: Saturday's Final Four tip times

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Podcast: Ware's injury, Final Four

Complete NCAA Tournament Coverage

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Wichita State lost its top five scorers and jumped to the Final Four.

So, needless to say, Gregg Marshall -- a man who's made nine NCAA tournaments in 15 years as a head coach despite never working at a power-conference school or traditional power -- is pretty good at what he does. Yes, the South Carolina native acknowledged this weekend that his Shockers are playing with "house money." But he also made it clear that their plan is to play two more games, win two more games and become the lowest-seeded team in history to win the NCAA tournament. So let's not write the final chapter on the Shockers just yet.

Here's everything you need to know about Wichita State:

Coach: Gregg Marshall | NCAA tournament record: 5-8

Marshall's best finish: Final Four in 2013 (current)

Assistants: Chris Jans, Greg Heiar, K.T. Turner

Record: 30-8

Starting lineup:

G: Malcolm Armstead

G: Tekele Cotton

G: Ron Baker

F: Cleanthony Early

F: Carl Hall

Top reserve: G: Fred Van Vleet

Leading scorer: Cleanthony Early (13.7 points per game)

Leading rebounder: Carl Hall (6.9 rebounds per game)

National titles: None | Last Final Four: 1965

How Wichita State got here: The Shockers received an at-large bid to the Field of 68 -- specifically the No. 9 seed in the West region -- after losing to Creighton in the MVC tournament title game. They beat eighth-seeded Pittsburgh in the Round of 64, top-seeded Gonzaga in the Round of 32, 13th-seeded La Salle in the Sweet 16 and second-seeded Ohio State in the Elite Eight to become the first MVC member to make the Final Four since Larry Bird took Indiana State there in 1979.

Why Wichita State might win it all: The Shockers have already topped the team that was ranked No. 1 in the AP poll on Selection Sunday (Gonzaga) and the team that won the conference tournament for the nation's toughest league (Ohio State). And if you can do those two things, you can do anything, right? Beyond that, there's not a single school left (including Louisville) that hasn't lost to somebody worse than Wichita State. So is it a long shot? Yes. But don't let anybody tell you it's impossible.

Why Wichita State might not win it all: Because the Shockers are playing Louisville on Saturday. Duh! Seriously, there's a reason why the Cardinals opened as a 10-point favorite over Wichita State, and it has more to do with the Cardinals than it does Wichita State. In case you didn't know, Rick Pitino's team has won 14 straight games by an average of 17.3 points, including four NCAA tournament games by an average of 21.8 points. So why won't Wichita State win it all? The simple answer is because Louisville probably is going to win it all.

Player to watch: Gregg Marshall called Cleanthony Early an "interesting bird" Saturday after the 6-foot-8 forward collapsed on the court in pain ... only to return a few minutes later against Ohio State. "[He's like the] boy who cried wolf with injuries," Marshall said. "I had seen that many times this season. I thought we'd have to call the ambulance or get out a stretcher or whatnot, and the next thing I know he's back in practice." So, yeah, Early is an interesting bird. But he's also an awesome junior-college transfer. The New York native was a Junior college All-American during both his freshman and sophomore seasons at Sullivan County (N.Y.) Community College. He's averaging 13.7 points and 5.3 rebounds in his first season at the Division I level.

One guy soaring: Malcolm Armstead began his college career at Chipola Junior College in Florida, then transferred to Oregon for his junior season, then transferred to Wichita State for his senior season, this season. And it didn't get off to a great start. The 6-foot guard scored two-or-fewer points in three of his first four games with the Shockers. But Armstead got 17 in his fifth (a win over DePaul), and he's been a steady contributor for much of the season, especially lately. The Alabama native is averaging 17.5 points in Wichita State's past six games, including 15.5 in this tournament. He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the West Regional.

One guy slumping: I'm not sure if Ron Baker is actually "slumping," but he did miss all three field-goal attempts -- including a layup in the final minute -- against Ohio State. Truth be told, it's difficult to find a recent slumping candidate on Wichita State's roster because if a key piece were genuinely struggling the Shockers probably wouldn't be in the Final Four. All in all, the players are mostly performing well.

Notable stat: The Shockers are a tremendous rebounding team -- proof being how they grab 73.7 percent of their opponents' misses and 38.0 percent of their own misses. Both numbers rank among the top 20 nationally. That's what allows Wichita State to stay in games even when its players aren't shooting particularly well.

Final thought: This Wichita State run is blowing conventional wisdom to pieces because the Shockers are neither a supremely talented team from a power conference nor an experienced team from a nonpower conference. They don't really fit into any previously established category. They're all junior college guys or lightly regarded high school prospects, only one of whom (Carl Hall) played a significant role on last season's team. Bottom line, it's remarkable that they're on their way to Atlanta given the makeup of the roster.

So I realize Rick Pitino's quest for a second title is a big story.

And that Syracuse and Michigan are national brands.

But Wichita State deserves its share of the spotlight this week, too.

The Shockers have earned it. Against all odds, they've earned it.

Tags: Carl Hall, Cleanthony Early, Fred Van Vleet, Malcolm Armstead, Ron Baker, Tekele Cotton, Wichita State Shockers, NCAAB

As the last Cinderella, can Cleanthony Early and Wichita State reach the Final Four?

As the last Cinderella, can Cleanthony Early and Wichita State reach the Final Four?

 

Mar 30, 2013, 11:00 AM EDT

Wichita StateAP

Three mid-majors advanced to the Sweet 16, but now only one remains. Wichita State beat La Salle to earn a spot in the Elite Eight, set to play Ohio State on Saturday for a trip to the Final Four.

But can the Shockers shock the college basketball world and beat one of the Big Ten’s elite teams? It will come down to a few important factors, most importantly forward Cleanthony Early.

When Wichita State struggled during a stretch of the Missouri Valley schedule this season, it was a matter of the offensive stalling in the half court and going long stretches without scoring. That typically meant both Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall (now sans his signature dreads) were not involved or were kept from getting involved.

Look at Early in particular to see why Wichita State has been able to make this run. In two games when he was most important to the Shockers, against Pittsburgh and Gonzaga with their size inside, he was a focal point of the offense and he produced. Against Pittsburgh, Early had 21 points and seven rebounds then following that up with 16 points and seven rebounds against the Bulldogs.

Not only that, but Early did it in differing ways. Against Pittsburgh, he was 0-of-6 from three-point range but was able to get to the line and hit seven of his eight free throws. Against Gonzaga, it was nearly entirely reversed. He was 4-of-7 from three-point range against the Bulldogs and did not make a trip to the line.

Ideally, Early would strike a balance between the two versus Ohio State. The typically stifling Ohio State defense would be hurt by either getting into foul trouble or an effectively spaced Wichita State attack.

That also means that Wichita State point guard Malcolm Armstead will need to limit his turnovers and be a facilitator on the offensive end of the floor. If Armstead is strong with the ball, that opens up quality shots for the Shockers and gives them the best opportunity to shoot a high percentage. That high percentage, in turn, keeps Ohio State from getting out in transition with point guard Aaron Craft and the rest getting creative in the scattered court.

Keep those factors in check means Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas will have to work for his points. It’s difficult to completely neutralize Thomas, but working to contain him gives Wichita State the best chance to win.

Either way, even being careful with the basketball and hitting shots, Wichita State needs to be ready for a grind on Saturday. Don’t expect an 87-85 game like Friday night between Kansas and Michigan. We just won’t see it.

Tip off is at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Wichita State upsets Buckeyes to reach Final Four

Wichita State upsets Buckeyes to reach Final Four

Associated Press

Shockers Headed To Atlanta

Bruce Pearl breaks down Wichita State's win against Ohio State, which sends the Shockers to the Final Four.

Tags: Wichita State, Bruce Pearl, Final Four

VIDEO PLAYLIST 

Shockers Advance With Toughness

LOS ANGELES -- Cleanthony Early kept stealing glances down at the hat in his hands while he waited for his turn to climb the stepladder, scissors in hand. The Wichita State forward seemed stunned at the words embroidered on his brand new ballcap: "Final Four Atlanta."

"It's crazy. I still can't believe we're here," Early said. "You try to expect it, but you expect a lot of things that don't happen. This really happened."

Believe it.

Wichita State is going to Atlanta, and these Shockers are no longer a surprise after the way the tenacious ninth seed held off mighty Ohio State in the West Regional final.

Malcolm Armstead scored 14 points, Fred Van Vleet bounced in a big basket with 1 minute left, and Wichita State earned its first trip to the Final Four since 1965 with a 70-66 victory over the Buckeyes on Saturday.

Van Vleet scored 12 points as the Shockers (30-8) followed up last week's win over top-ranked Gonzaga with a nail-biting victory over the second-seeded Buckeyes (29-8), whose 11-game winning streak ended one short of their second straight Final Four. Wichita State's 20-point lead in the second half dwindled to three in the final minutes, but several Shockers stepped up with big plays to stop the surge, heeding coach Gregg Marshall's halftime command to "play angry."

All that anger turned into a joyous postgame party at midcourt, even though the Shockers realize they've got more work to do.

Wichita State is just the fifth team seeded ninth or higher to reach the Final Four since seeding began in 1979, but the second in three years following 11th-seeded VCU's improbable run in 2011. The Shockers' celebration was wild, if a bit disbelieving, in front of several thousand roaring fans.

"Last year, we were watching all this on television," said Early, who scored 12 points despite spraining his ankle in the second half. "Now I'm looking at a hat that says 'Final Four Atlanta' with my team on it. ... It feels good, and it feels even better that I could experience it with these guys who had to struggle so hard to get here."

Shockers Join Shocking List

Ninth-seeded Wichita State punched its ticket to the Final Four on Saturday night, upsetting No. 2-seeded Ohio State to continue its Cinderella run. Here's a list of the lowest seeds to reach the Final Four since seeding began in the NCAA tournament in 1979:

YearSeedSchoolResult

201111VCUL, Final Four

200611George MasonL, Final Four

198611LSUL, Final Four

20139Wichita St?

19799PennL, Final Four

-- ESPN Stats & Information

Wichita State roared to a 20-point lead with 11 minutes to play after Ohio State played an awful first half, but LaQuinton Ross scored 15 of his 19 points after halftime, leading a ferocious rally that got the Buckeyes within three points in the final minutes.

Tekele Cotton hit a clutch 3-pointer for Wichita State with 2:20 left and grabbed a key offensive rebound moments later, allowing Van Vleet to score on a shot that bounced all over the rim before dropping. Ron Baker and Cotton hit last-minute free throws to secure the second Final Four trip in Wichita State's history and a school-record 30th win.

"We're happy, but I'm still shocked," said Carl Hall, the glasses-wearing big man who scored eight points and led the Shockers' strong defensive effort. "We've got a team full of fighters. I brought them all together near the end and said, `No matter what happens, I love y'all.' We had to fight so hard. We've got each other's backs, and it's hard to beat a team that's got five guys who work together like us."

Deshaun Thomas scored 21 points after missing nine of his first 12 shots for Ohio State, which made just 24 percent of its first-half shots. Aaron Craft scored nine points on 2-for-12 shooting against Armstead and a host of defenders for the Buckeyes, who dug a hole too deep to escape with their second-half rally.

"The way we shot coming into the Sweet 16, Elite Eight, everything was falling," Thomas said. "Today, it just wasn't our night. Nothing was falling. We had great looks, some of them, but they just weren't falling."

Yet after two weeks of upsets in the wild West bracket, underdog Wichita State seemed an appropriate pick to cut down Staples Center's nets. The Shockers' well-balanced roster managed built that enormous lead with the same consummate team play that they've shown throughout the tournament.

The Shockers are also the kings of Kansas, reaching the national semifinals after the powerful Jayhawks and Kansas State both went down.

Two sections packed with cheering Shockers fans provided all the encouragement necessary for a team that didn't win the Missouri Valley Conference tournament and was thought to be a bubble team for an NCAA berth. Now, Wichita State is the MVC's first Final Four team since Larry Bird led Indiana State to the title game in 1979.

Another giant awaits the Shockers in Atlanta next weekend: They'll face the winner of Sunday's Midwest Regional final between Duke and Louisville.

"We're all new to this, but I think we're ready for this," Early said. "We're going to prepare ourselves, and this game was pretty good preparation. We started at the bottom, and we've been working our way up."

Seven seasons after underdog George Mason crashed the Final Four and underlined college basketball's growing parity, the Shockers are the latest smallish school to get on a big roll in the tournament. Butler made the national championship game in 2010 and 2011, and the Bulldogs were joined by that VCU team in the Final Four two years ago.

This year's tournament included stunning wins by Florida Gulf Coast, La Salle and Harvard, but nobody kept it going longer than Wichita State.

Although the Shockers have a beautiful home arena and robust support from fans and donors in Kansas' largest city, Marshall acknowledged that Wichita State's athletic budget is a fraction of what a BCS school can spend. He hasn't let it slow the Shockers, who made the NCAA tournament last year only to lose to 12th-seeded VCU in the first round.

After the Shockers easily beat La Salle two days ago to reach their first regional final since 1981, Marshall's pregame speech to the Shockers on Saturday finished with talk of cutting down the nets at Staples Center before getting on that plane back to Kansas, saying Wichita State didn't have to play "a perfect game" to beat mighty Ohio State.

"The Mecca awaits in Atlanta," he said.

Marshall was right, but he couldn't have anticipated just how imperfect Ohio State would be.

The postseason-tested Buckeyes appeared calm and confident during warmups in front of their healthy fan contingent, yet they proceeded to play the first half just like NCAA newbies.

They missed their first seven shots after the opening tip in a string capped by an airballed 3-pointer from Thomas, who missed his first five overall. The junior star was labeled "a bad-shot taker and a bad-shot maker" by Marshall on Friday, but he only lived up to the first part of that billing while going 4 for 13 in the first half.

Early hit two 3-pointers in the opening minutes, and the Shockers stretched their lead to 13 points shortly before halftime.

"You've got to give them credit," Craft said. "They really came out firing and we really didn't regain our footing until it was too late."

Hall went to the locker room after drawing a charge from Thomas early in the second half, holding the back of his head after Thomas' elbow clipped him on the jaw. Hall found his glasses and got back in the game 66 seconds later.

Wichita State gradually stretched its lead early in the second half, with Early's layup putting the Shockers up 53-33 with 12:09 to play.

Ross desperately tried to rally the Buckeyes, scoring eight consecutive points and leading a 23-6 run midway through the second half. Ohio State went into a full-court inbounds defense, and Shannon Scott's free throws with 2:49 left cut the lead to 62-59 -- but Ohio State couldn't get any closer.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

 
Shocked!!!
West: Wichita State 76, Gonzaga 70

For Surprise No. 1, It’s Two Games and Out

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Wichita State's Cleanthony Early after the Shockers upset Gonzaga, 76-70. More Photos »

Shock, they did.

The scoreboard read 76-70 in favor of those Shockers when the game ended, when Wichita State’s spirit squad spilled onto the floor and its odd, pencil-looking mascot danced around in jubilation. To those who lived Gonzaga basketball, who built the streak of 15 N.C.A.A. tournament appearances, it probably looked a bit familiar.

That was Gonzaga basketball, those Shockers, at least until Gonzaga basketball grew up. With age has come expectations, and with elevated expectations has come disappointment, especially with a fourth straight season that ended before the tournament’s second week.

Afterward, in the silent Gonzaga locker room, players slumped against their lockers, held their heads in their hands, tried to explain what they did not yet understand. Guard Kevin Pangos, who sparked a Gonzaga rally and finished with 19 points, sat at his locker, shirtless, his eyes vacant. It took him a second to respond to the first question. He did so with a “What?”

A reporter asked Pangos about all the criticism lobbed Gonzaga’s way, about the naysayers who said the Zags did not deserve a No. 1 seed, about the skepticism that grew when the Zags nearly fell to 16th-seeded Southern in their first contest. That only reinforced the notion they were vulnerable, even, in an odd twist for an original tournament darling, overrated.

“We definitely deserved it,” Pangos said, and by “it,” he meant the seed, not the doubts. “We lost two games all year. People can say whatever they want about strength of schedule, but we won those games.”

Thus continued the upheaval in the West Region, where the top seed (Gonzaga), third seed (New Mexico), fourth seed (Kansas State), fifth seed (Wisconsin) and seventh seed (Notre Dame) fell in the first week. Only Arizona, seeded sixth, which won earlier Saturday, and Ohio State, scheduled to play Sunday, had survived from the top eight.

Into the void stepped the Shockers, who had four scorers register in double figures, who made half of their 28 3-pointers, who built a lead and lost it, regained it and lost it again, only to reclaim it in the final minutes and hold on for a victory as significant as any in their recent history.

“This has been an incredible year for college basketball, with the parity, the great excitement, the wonderful plays,” Wichita State Coach Gregg Marshall. “We did beat the No. 1 team in the country, the No. 1 team in our region, and that’s just a wonderful feeling.”

It was also, simply, Wichita State’s best Gonzaga impersonation.

“I feel like they didn’t miss,” Pangos said.

Early in the second half, Gonzaga’s star post player, Kelly Olynyk, lost his right shoe as he made a driving layup. He did not try to reclaim the shoe as he trotted back down court. He played the next defensive possession without the shoe, in fact.

This scene, brief as it was, typified how Gonzaga played through its first two contests in this tournament. The Zags, uneven at times, shaky at others, inartistic throughout, took the dirt road here — and on Saturday night, it caught up with them. That guard Gary Bell Jr., the Zags’ best perimeter defender, missed most of the second half with a foot injury did not help.

The final minutes unfolded in chaotic fashion, the lead swinging back and forth. Behind, 64-63, Gonzaga turned it over on an inbounds pass. Wichita State’s Ron Baker made a 3-pointer from the right corner. Teammate Fred VanVleet followed that with another triple on the Shockers’ next possession, good for a 70-65 advantage that would hold up.

As the final seconds ticked away, the Zags covered their faces with towels, or stared off into space in shock. They had played their best basketball in the last of their four halves at the EnergySolutions Arena. That started, as usual, with Pangos, the springy guard, a menace on defense, a creator on offense, in many ways the engine in Gonzaga’s best-ever regular season.

In one early second-half sequence, Pangos made a free throw; slapped the ball off a Wichita State player, out of bounds; found Olynyk inside for a score; and took a charge while Olynyk stood nearby, one shoe on, one shoe off. A Pangos 3-pointer cut the Shockers’ lead to 41-40. Mike Hart followed with another 3 on the Zags’ next possession. Gonzaga took the lead with that shot, which set the stage for the Shockers’ comeback.

Wichita State buried Gonzaga with 3-pointers, a full 14 of them after the Shockers put in a 2-for-20 performance from long range against Pittsburgh. At his news conference, Few leaned backward, his tie loosened, his face glum.

“Down the stretch we just didn’t quite get out on those shooters,” he lamented.

The Zags shot 32.1 percent in the first half, but kept it close with 11 offensive rebounds that led to 13 second-chance points. Gonzaga had not accumulated many style points in its first three halves here, yet it had still positioned itself to survive and advance, again.

While the Zags cultivated high expectations, including the first No. 1 ranking in school history, Wichita State exceeded theirs. The Shockers lost their five top scorers from last season and still advanced to the final of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

Late Saturday, another 3-pointer from Pangos made it 58-51. Gonzaga’s fans again stood and let loose with the jubilation. Pangos made another triple, this time falling backward. That is when the Shockers, presumed buried, led their final comeback, behind Baker’s triples and Malcolm Armstead’s defense and Cleanthony Early’s 16 points off the bench.

“This group thinks they can beat anyone in the country,” Marshall said beforehand. “They’re not intimidated.”

Not Saturday. Not in this N.C.A.A. tournament. Not here, against the Zags.

Wichita State Shocks Gonzaga with Third-Round Upset

(Featured Columnist) on March 23, 2013

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Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The ninth-seeded Wichita State Shockers have upset the nation's top-ranked team by a 76-70 margin. The Gonzaga Bulldogs are the first No. 1 seed to fall in the 2013 tournament.

Kelly Olynyk had 26 points and nine boards in the losing cause, but couldn't outdo the hot-shooting Shockers. The Zags lost in spite of an astonishing 20 offensive rebounds against a team that ranked in the nation's top 30 on the glass in the regular season.

Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker each had four of the Shockers' 14 three-pointers in tying for the team high with 16 points. Early and Carl Hall also combined for five blocks against the taller Gonzaga front line.

The win sends Wichita State to the Sweet 16, where it's guaranteed to face a fellow Cinderella candidate. The Shockers get the winner of 12th-seeded Ole Miss against 13th-seeded La Salle, meaning that a ninth seed (or lower) is guaranteed an Elite Eight spot.

Mosley Gets Ride D2!!!

 

Jemal Mosley from Spring Valley(Don Bosco Prep) spent the last year at Putnam Scince Academy and all his hard work paid off yeserday, March 26th 2013, when he verbally committed to attend New Haven University in the fall. New Haven is in the powerful NE-10 conference and Jemals ability to score and handle the ball should put him right in the mix for playing time as freshmen. Mosley is a 6'1" combo guard who is extrememly versatile and gets after it on the defensive end of the floor as well. He decided to take thoffer from New Haven after picking up offers/interest from East Stroudsburg, Marist, Quinnipiac, Dominican, Wagner, Binghamton, LIU, St. Francis, Maine, New Hampshire, AIC, Assumption, St. Rose, Saint Anselm's, Caldwell, Felician and Sacred Heart. We are proud to call Jemal family and we are so happy that he achieved his goal of recieving a full education to be a student athelte and pursue his academics as well as his basketball career.

The CYP Tournament Gets Underway
Stacey Davis
S. Davis
Justin Robinson
 
 
 

NCAA TOURNAMENT ROUND TWO
 
Second-round knockout: Wichita State beats Pittsburgh 73-55
 
By Paul Suellentrop
The Wichita Eagle
Published Thursday, March 21, 2013, at 3:41 p.m.
Updated Monday, March 25, 2013, at 7:24 a.m.


TNTSALT LAKE CITY — Wichita State matched Pittsburgh’s power and overmatched it with quickness, an asset nobody outside the coaching staff saw coming.
The ninth-seeded Shockers handled Pittsburgh 73-55, routing the Big East’s fourth-place team with surprising ease in the second round of the NCAA Tournament’s West Regional at EnergySolutions Arena. That win, a mild upset by seeding, will get the Shockers some attention for a lockdown defensive performance.
One more will bring all the basketball-following nation around to WSU. It plays top-seeded Gonzaga on Saturday with the winner advancing to the regional semifinals, better known as the Sweet 16.
WSU coach Gregg Marshall told the Shockers they made him proud. He told them their toughness won the day. Then he challenged them to extend their stay in the tournament with a trip to Los Angeles.
“Are you satisfied?” he said. “Are we done? Are we going to celebrate now like this is the end? Or are you going to continue to push through, and let’s try to head to where ever the next round is.”
The Shockers (27-8) played like a team that won’t be satisfied easily. They bullied the eighth-seeded Panthers and led by 11 or more points the final 6:49. WSU’s effort — and his team’s lack of effort — mystified Pitt coach Jamie Dixon.
“They were far more aggressive than us,” he said. “I can’t explain it.”
An attempt: The Shockers smacked the disinterested Panthers early in the game and refused to let them regroup. By the time the Panthers discovered their urgency, WSU grabbed control and closed out with a parade of dunks and free throws. Pitt missed 16 of 17 three-pointers and shot 35.2 percent for the game.
Guard Malcolm Armstead led WSU with 22 points, 11 in the final seven minutes. Forward Cleanthony Early shook off a disappointing conference tournament to add 21. The Shockers made 11 of 21 shots in the second half, enough to survive shooting 2 of 20 from three-point range.
“Going into the game, Coach made the statement ‘Knock ’em in the face first,’ ” Early said. “That’s what we tried to do.”
WSU out-rebounded the Big East’s top rebounding team 37-32. It grabbed 11 offensive rebounds to produce 14 second-chance points and help outscore Pitt 33-16 at the foul line.
If the power game kept it even, speed allowed WSU to run away. It scored 21 points off 15 turnovers against a normally careful team.
“One of our strengths is low turnovers, and for people who haven’t seen us play, this wasn’t our team,” Dixon said. “We had five or six turnovers early that were not typical of how we play and put us in a hole.”
WSU coaches watched video of Pitt and came away impressed with its size. They also believed the Shockers could bother the Panthers with their quickness. Guard Tekele Cotton jumped passing lanes and harassed dribblers to record five steals. He rounded out that performance by blanketing guard Tray Woodall, who scored two points on 1-of-12 shooting before fouling out 10 points under his team-leading average.
Cotton provided the first of two killer bursts with steals on consecutive possessions midway through the second half. He stole a pass from Trey Zeigler, caught unaware while trying to start a play near the three-point line, and dunked for a 45-35 lead, provoking a leg kick in celebration from Marshall. Another steal led to free throws for Early and a 12-point edge with 10:13 remaining.
“Those are huge baskets,” Marshall said. “In a game like that, low points, if you can steal baskets.… You don’t want to give those freebies.”
Assistant coach Chris Jans had told Marshall that WSU’s quickness could disrupt the Panthers. Again and again, it did that by taking advantage of sloppy passes and weak handles. Pitt surrendered double-digit steals for the third time this season.
“Pressure,” Armstead said. “Tekele did real good setting the tempo. We just built off that and got some easy baskets.”
Armstead finished off the Panthers late. He banked in a shot for a 50-39 lead. After two missed foul shots by Pitt, he slithered into the lane for a lefty layup off the glass, drawing a foul. His three-point play put WSU up 53-49 with 5:43 remaining.
When the Panthers pressed, he sliced through it and found Early for a dunk and a 55-40 lead. The Panthers never got closer than 13 points.
Check Paul Suellentrop’s Shocker blog at blogs.kansas.com/shockwaves. Reach him at 316-269-6760 or psuellentrop@wichitaeagle.com.

Wichita State epitomizes what March Madness is all about
Posted: Sun March 24, 2013 11:08AM; Updated: Sun March 24, 2013 12:58PM
Kelli Anderson
Kelli Anderson>AT THE TOURNEY

Wichita State epitomizes what March Madness is all about

 
Whichita State
The Shockers lived up to their name in Salt Lake City, using defense and timely shot-making to topple No. 1 seed Gonzaga.
John W. McDonough/SI

SALT LAKE CITY -- It's hard to imagine a newly minted national champion exulting any more in a win than the Wichita Shockers did in the wake of their 76-70 upset over No. 1 seed Gonzaga in the round of 32 Saturday night. With the doors of the Shocker locker room still closed to the outside world, individual screams and shouts leaked out into the hallway of EnergySolutions Arena, eventually giving way to a unified rendition of the Shocker War Chant. When the doors finally opened to the media, the celebrations within reverted back to individual form: sophomore forward Jake White mugged for cameras, while reserve forward Chadrack Lufile bowed his head, wiping tears from his face. Sophomore guard Tekele Cotton sat slumped, a smile pasted on his face.

Paul Brustetter, a Salt Lake Citian who had fallen hard for the team while serving as its bus driver for the weekend, offered exuberant hugs and high-fives.

And junior forward Cleanthony Early, who had 16 points and seven rebounds despite foul trouble, bounced up and down at his locker doing his best Dickie V -- "The Zags are going down, Baby!" he shouted between cackles. "The Shockers are going to shock the nation, Baby!"

Shock it they had: after building a 13-point lead in the first half, then falling behind by seven with 5:31 to go in the second, the Shockers did everything right against the Zags with the game's pressure at its most intense: they made threes -- four in the last 5:09, and 14-of-28 overall, after hitting just two of ten against Pitt on Thursday -- they hit six of seven free throws, and they held the Zags to just 20 percent shooting to snatch the win and earn their first Sweet 16 berth since 2006. For the game the Zags shot just 35.6 percent from the field, a season low, and 34.8 percent from the three.

"When all those shots were falling, I was going, 'Wow... oh, wow...oh, WOW!" said senior guard Malcolm Armstead, who scored just five points, half his average. "I didn't have a good night offensively but my teammates stepped up."

The Shockers got contributions from up and down the roster, including a timely three by White, who was only recently given a "yellow" light by Marshall to take that shot. Freshman guard Ron Baker added 16 points, including four three-pointers, and senior forward Carl Hall, recently shorn of his signature dreads, added 10 points. "When we shoot the ball, as tough as we defend and as hard as we play, we're pretty good," said coach Gregg Marshall.

They are also deep. Wichita State's reserves outscored Gonzaga's 34-7 for the game and accounted for 44.7 percent of the Shockers' points. In that stat lies a story. Last fall the Wichita State athletic department's marketing arm decided to capitalize on the standout hairdos of three Shocker starters by making special black-and-gold t-shirts. The shirts featured the silhouettes of Hall (caption: "Dread the Locks"); Baker ("Can't Tame the Mane") and 6-foot-5 sophomore Evan Wessel ("Can't Stop the Mop"). But not long after the shirts debuted at the Shocker Locker gear shop, what Hall calls "the curse of the hair shirts" hit: Right before a Dec. 13 date at Tennessee, Wessel broke his right pinkie. On Dec. 15 Hall fell down in practice and broke his right thumb. A day later Baker was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot.

"It was as if three of our guys had gone out on an icy road and had a car accident, it all happened so close together," Marshall, who was already dealing with the challenge of replacing the top five scorers from last season, said on Wednesday. "The good news is it wasn't fatal. But all three of them were going to be on the sideline for a while."

As Hall (out seven games), Baker (out 21 games) and Wessel (out for the year with a medical redshirt), sat on the sidelines pondering their weirdly mutual bad luck, their teammates-- including Early, White, and VanVleeet, who had 13 points against Gonzaga -- filled in to extend a 9-0 record to 15-1.

"What was beautiful was how the other guys responded," says Marshall. "Your eighth player becomes a starter; your 11th becomes an eighth player. All these guys, whether it's true or not, believe that they are really, really good. As a staff we were behind closed doors going, 'What are we going to do?' But they're going, 'This is my opportunity, I'm the next man up. Let's go!' Our being here is a testament to these kids and their belief in, we're going to win regardless."

 

*********

 

Wichita State, the Missouri Valley Conference runner-up, is, in many ways, the perfect poster school for this tournament. The Shockers have a funky, one-of-a-kind mascot -- a highlighter yellow, pencil-skinny cartoon figure with a wry smile and a wheat hairdo -- a totally engaged band that sings the Shocker War Chant at least as well as its basketball team does, and a seasoned coach who is, at 50, "stoked" to be heading to his first Sweet 16. And instead of one-and-done stars, they have players who have taken all sorts of paths to come together as a team. Armstead was Oregon's starting point guard for a year before he decided to transfer after a coaching change. Marshall didn't have a scholarship immediately available, so Armstead took out loans to pay for his transfer year. Hall, who missed the 2007-08 junior college season with heart arrhythmia, is playing a sixth season after getting an NCAA waiver. Lufile and Nick Wiggins, the older brother of top 2013 national recruit Andrew, both hail from the Toronto area. Ehimen Orukpe, the team's 7-foot senior center, grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. Early passed on several DI offers out of Mt. Zion Academy in North Carolina and attended a DIII junior college near his home in Middletown, NY, so he could be close to his mom in the wake of his older brother's tragic drowning in 2010. He then passed up opportunities with San Diego State, Baylor, Washington State and Georgetown to play for Marshall because "I felt like I could really grow and be an impact player here," he says.

Early is just one of the Shockers who admits to having an abundance of self-confidence. "I think our team's biggest strength, and it might be our biggest weakness, is that we have a lot of confidence in ourselves," says sophomore guard Tekele Cotton. "We feel like we can play with anybody in the country."

This weekend, neither Pitt nor Gonzaga, the number one team in the country, offered any evidence that they can't.



Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/-college-basketball-mens-tournament/news/20130324/anderson-wichita-state/#ixzz2OYcfA7zc
Jonte Rutty commits to D2 Georgian Court on full ride!!!

 

Former Newburgh Free Academy and BC Eagle standout Jonte Rutty pledged his allegiance to D2 Georgian Court of Seaside, NJ.

Jonte has spent the past season at Putname Scince Academy in Ct with AAU teammate Jemal Mosley. Jonte Rutty was being recruited by numerous schools such as Asumption, Mercy, Dominican, Felician, Caldwell, Nyack, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart, Colgate, Marist, Siena Wagner and Central Conn.

Rutty loved the coaching staff and the opportunity the school gave him to come in and be a factor and program changer right from the start. While on his visit a few months back he expressed his interest in the school, campus, community and atheltic program. Jonte along with his immdediate family members thought GC was a great fit and awonderful opportunity for him to continue his eduacation and athletic career as he earns his college degree.

Burke Catholic Teammates get D2 Offer!!!

 

Burke Catholic teammates Stan Buczek(Senior) and Jack Dwyer(Junior) had just finished playing in the first round of the NYS tournament on Wednesday night. They helped the Eagles pull out a victory over a very good and well coached Poughkeepsie High School team. There performance on the floor not only helped them beat the pioneers in what was terrific game between two very talented teams but it also earned them some schlorship money for college. With many colleges on hand such as, Centnery, Felician, Dominican, Mercy, MSMC, NYU and DeSales. Buczek and Dwyer stepped up and cauht the eye of Mercy Colleg Coach Adam Parmenter who offerd both the boys schlorships that would cover the entire cost of their tuition.

Buczek is a 6'6" senior forward who is recieving interest from St. Rose, Adelphi, Assumption, Dominican, Felician, Mercy, DeSales, Franklin and Marshall, Rochester and Ursinus.

Dwyer just a junior but the talented guard has recieved interest from numerous schools such as ST. Francis-PA, Columbia, Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, William and Mary, Army, Navy, Brown, NYU, Hamilton, Mercy, Dominican and Franklin and Marshall as well as a few others.

Many more offers should start to pile up for these two young men as the continue their run with their teammates in their quest for their second NYS Championship in three years.

Jemal Mosley Gets A Pair of D2 Offers!!!

Jemal Mosley of Nanuet and formely of Don Bosco Prep has spent the past year with B.C. Eagles teammate Jonte Rutty at Putnam Science Academy in Putnam, Ct.

Last week Jonte Rutty gave a verbal commitment to D2 Georgian Court and will accept a full ride.

This week Jemal Mosley picked up two D2 offers, full rides, for the University of New Haven and East Stroudsburg University.

These are just the first of many that will follow as Mosely is being recruited by numerous D1 and D2 schools such as Maine, New Hampshire, Quinnipiac, Wagner, Binghamton, Assumption, UMass-Lowell, FDU, LIU, St. Francis-NY, Felician, Caldwell, Dominican and Georgian Court

Creighton vs. Wichita State

 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- The numbers just didn't add up for Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall.

His tough, gritty Shockers were 4 of 23 from beyond the arc. They shot a shade under 39 percent from the field. They were 9 of 19 from the free throw line, missing three critical ones in the final minutes of the game.

Somehow, the numbers still added up to a win.

Carl Hall had 17 points and 13 rebounds, Malcolm Armstead hit two key free throws in the closing seconds and Wichita State held on to beat Doug McDermott and No. 12 Creighton 67-64 on Saturday to forge a tie atop the Missouri Valley Conference.

"I can't really explain it," Marshall said. "I'll take it and move on."

Armstead finished with 15 points, Cleanthony Early added 13 and Demetric Williams had 10 for the Shockers (17-2, 6-1 MVC), who pushed their home-court winning streak to 17 games.

McDermott finished with 25 points for the Bluejays (17-2, 6-1), but he never got the ball with the game on the line. Instead, Ethan Wragge misfired on a potential tying 3 with 6 seconds left, and then had another chance when Hall missed two free throws at the other end.

This time, Wragge's shot from the top of the key clanked off the back of the rim.

"We got two good looks in the last 10 seconds to tie it. We got what we wanted, they just didn't go in," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said.

"It really came down to the offensive glass," he added.

That's where the Shockers piled up 22 rebounds, helping to atone for their own poor shooting by relentlessly pursuing every loose ball - channeling their inner Marshall, who spent the entire afternoon stomping, and marching and imploring, with boundless enthusiasm.

"We didn't let them separate. That's the thing," said Marshall, whose team would have fallen two games behind in the league race with a loss. "They're a very good team and they have a great chance to be right there at the end."

Naturally, the teams meet again in their regular-season finales.

Grant Gibbs finished with 14 points for the Bluejays, who trailed almost the entire way while having their 11-game winning streak snapped. Creighton hadn't lost since Nov. 28.

Hall gave the Shockers a 65-63 lead when he made the second of two free throws with 48.3 seconds left, but Gibbs - a 67 percent foul shooter - only made one of two with 25.3 seconds to go, allowing the Shockers to cling to a lead and forcing Creighton to foul.

Wichita State got the ball to Anthony on the inbounds, and after getting fouled, he calmly made both free throws for a 67-64 lead with 15.3 seconds left.

That set up Wragge's two misfires, the second as the final horn sounded.

"The basketball gods were good for us today," Hall said with a smile, "because usually they don't miss free throws like that."

It was little surprise that a game between last season's regular-season champion, Wichita State, and tournament champion Creighton would come down to the wire. They have played 29 games decided by 12 or fewer points since 1994-95.

The Shockers were thankful to have Hall back in the lineup.

The senior forward had energy to burn after missing seven games with a thumb injury, at one point scoring six straight points for the Shockers underneath. Later in the half, he missed two layups and got two offensive boards before finally scoring for a 25-19 lead.

Hall was also doing his duty on defense, one of several defenders that Marshall attached to McDermott throughout the game.

After scoring 39 points against Missouri State and 31 in a win over Northern Iowa, the son of Creighton coach Greg McDermott struggled just to find enough space to put up a shot. McDermott was just 3 of 8 from the field before Gibbs found him at the top of the key for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, pulling the Bluejays within 36-33 at halftime.

Wichita State extended its lead to 49-42 with 15:15 left before Creighton went on a run.

McDermott's basket and an open 3-pointer by Gibbs helped to trigger a 10-2 charge, and a jumper by Austin Chatman gave the Bluejays their first lead at 52-51 with 11:28 left.

Buoyed by a capacity crowd of 10,506, the Shockers refused to give in, and a flagrant foul on Gibbs sent Tekele Cotton to the foul line and helped Wichita State pull back ahead.

The Bluejays got within 64-63 when they took advantage of a 5-on-4 situation with Early, who had landed hard and hit his head, still rolling around under the other basket. McDermott scored with a baseline jumper with 2:17 left in the game.

It was the last basket he would make in the game, though, and the Shockers managed to coax the final seconds off the clock as the capacity crowd erupted.

"This is as good as it gets for a college basketball atmosphere," Doug McDermott said. "It's tough to come here to win. I've lost two times in three years here. It's always been one of my favorite places to play. It's as good as it gets in college basketball."

On the Ray-dar

1/16/13

Westchester guard talks recruiting

 

It was tough Saturday afternoon for Aaron Ray

M. Wingate
Aaron Ray

The 6'3" sophomore swingman was out of action after injuring his thumb cutting ankle tape, and his Middletown team fell at the hands of New Rochelle, but after the game we were able to talk to Ray about his recruitment and when he hopes to be back on the court.

The injury, which happened on Thursday and caused him to miss the New Rochelle game, is not expected to be serious, and according to Ray, he should be back on the court and in action soon.

"My trainer said I should be ok to practice Monday so long as nothing happens to make it worse and I should be back on Tuesday when we play Burke Catholic." Ray said.

Though he missed the game Saturday, his recruitment continues to impress, and according to Ray, a few schools stand out above the rest.

"Iowa State was supposed to come see me against Newburgh last month but I was out that game so they didn't come but they said they will be back. I also have offers from Kansas, Notre Dame, and Dayton." Ray admitted.

Once he is back on the court, Ray says he wants to bring more intensity and be more physical, which he hopes will lead to something special for Middletown.

"We have a goal and that's to win a championship" Ray said.

Even with the injury that kept him out Saturday, with a goal like that and a recruitment that seems to just be beginning to take off, things sure look good for the future for this young star.

Cleanthony Early Lights Up Salukis with 39 Points in Wichita State Victory

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Cleanthony Early Lights Up Salukis with 39 Points in Wichita State Victory

 

College, Hoops Player of the Day for Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A bundle of good teams are playing in the Missouri Valley Conference, a general hotbed of college hoops that is often overlooked, but the pollsters have already determined that two of them - Creighton and Wichita State - are worthy of Top 25 designations, while Evansville and Indiana State are providing depth for the league.

In Wednesday's 81-76 victory at Southern Illinois, the 15-1 Shockers of Wichita State applied a stamp to their #23 ranking, rallying from a 43-34 half time deficit for the win.

After the slow start, the Shockers lit it up in the second half, especially junior forward, Cleanthony Early, who set a career high mark with 39 points on 13-for-19 shooting, making five of eight from three point range and eight of 10 from the foul line.

Scoring the first 10 points of the of the second period, the Shockers quickly erased their host's lead, and battled the rest of the way against the determined Salukis.

Early, who leads the Shockers in scoring at 15.4 points per game, easily outdid his previous high mark of 25, made in a 75-63 win over Iowa earlier in the season. Red-shirted his first two years at Wichita State, Early has arrived in time to give the Shockers a versatile scoring threat.

Wichita State is tied with Creighton at 4-0, atop the MVC standings. The top two teams meet on Saturday, January 19 at Wichita State

.
Early returns great at Wichita State

By 

After a reel of McDaniel dunks and other big plays at Wichita State circa the mid-1980s, the screen fades to black, before the words "The Sequel" appear on it. What follows is some of Anthony's highlights at SUNY Sullivan the last two years.

There were plenty more flashy clips for Early on Wednesday night.

Early took Wichita State fans back to the X-Man days, scoring a career-high 39 points in the Shockers' 82-76 Missouri Valley Conference win over Southern Illinois.

Early's 39 points are the most by a Wichita State player since McDaniel, who played for five NBA teams, including the Knicks, put up 43 against Bradley Jan. 10, 1985. The 39 points are the fifth-most in the NCAA this season.

"It's kind of funny, it's ironic after seeing that video," said Early, who starred at Pine Bush and transferred to Wichita State from SUNY Sullivan this year. "It's cool. When I committed, a lot of people talked to me about the X-Man.

"It feels good, but I'm not content. I was just trying to win and I have to keep doing what I have to do."

Of course, Early, a 6-foot-8 forward, has a knack for big scoring games. He put up 48 points for Pine Bush in January of 2009 in a loss to Newburgh, which went on to win the Class AA state title. With Division I coaches monitoring him, Early filled up the scorebook at Sullivan.

On his biggest night, against Southern Illinois, Early shot 13-of-19 from the field. He was 5-of-9 from 3-point range and scored seven of Wichita State's first 10 points to start the game.

Early on, his teammates started telling him he could make a run at 40 points. His performance helped Wichita State (15-1), ranked No. 23 in the nation, come back from a nine-point halftime deficit.

Early has already become a star in Wichita, Kan., with his game, name and personality getting him attention. He has been named Missouri Valley Conference newcomer of the week four times, and, after the X-Man redux, he might land the award for a fifth time.

"I expected this from Cleanthony," said Sullivan coach Kevin DeVantier. "I knew he would shock a lot of people at this level. I knew how good he was and so did Wichita State. The key — he went in there hungry."

As Early adjusts to Division I ball, DeVantier expects him to only get better. Early agrees and has even bigger plans for himself and his Wichita State teammates. This so-called sequel could only be beginning.

"I'm enjoying this experience," Early said. "I love it. The goal for myself and the team kind of coexists. I want to get into the NCAA tournament, play at the highest level, and go as deep as we can into it.

"There is so much more work to do."

jrodriguez@th-record.com

 

It Wasn’t Easy, But Gregg Marshall Has Worked His Magic At Wichita State

January 24th, 2013

 

Danny Spewak (@dspewak) is an RTC contributor. He filed this report following Wednesday night’s Wichita State victory at Missouri State. 

On March 6, 2009, Gregg Marshall walked to the podium in the bowels of the Scottrade Center in St. Louis and delivered perhaps the most difficult postgame press conference of his career. Minutes earlier, Creighton’s Booker Woodfox banked in a jumper as time expired in the quarterfinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, even though replays showed a possible clock malfunction. Mass chaos all around. Reporters were interviewing the Missouri Valley commissioner in the hallway and demanding answers. The Shockers had heroically rallied from 22 points down, but this controversial shot sent them to the CBI.

Carl Hall Looks Like a Grown Man, Much Like The Rest Of His Team (Photo credit: AP Photo).

Carl Hall Looks Like a Grown Man, Much Like The Rest Of His Team. (Photo credit: AP Photo)

Marshall’s press conference got emotional right away. He told us how his young child was begging him to appeal to the commissioner’s office, pleading for something to be done to rectify the situation. There was nothing anybody could do. The Shockers lost the game, and in two seasons, Marshall’s record at Wichita State stood only at 28-37. He left Winthrop for this? Marshall had been the king of the Big South. He had qualified for seven NCAA Tournaments with the Eagles and thrashed Notre Dame in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Now, he was trying to re-establish himself and his style of play all over again in the tough-as-nails Missouri Valley. Mark Turgeon hadn’t exactly left him a perfect situation when Marshall had taken over in 2007, but this proud program with a rabid fan base was going to need to see some improvement. And soon.

More than four years later, Marshall walked into the postgame press conference after Wednesday night’s 62-52 win at Missouri State with a strut. “I want to first congratulate the young man to my far right.” He’s pointing to Demetric Williams, the senior point guard who became the winningest player in Wichita State men’s basketball history on this particular evening. Williams was not on the Wichita State team that got Woodfoxed. He joined the program the following fall, and since then, he has epitomized the rise of Gregg Marshall and Wichita State. These days, his Shockers are ranked #20 in the nation and headed toward a second straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Much like last season’s 27-6 team, they have a clear identity and swagger. It’s not an identity anybody in the Valley wants to mess with any time soon. “Boy, they’re a good team,” Missouri State coach Paul Lusk said. “They’re different, but they’re really good. They might be more physical this year.”

That is a frightening proposition. Last season’s squad looked like a collection of bodybuilders in their warm-up suits, but we’ll go ahead and call this new version “Shocker 2.0″ this season. These guys are match-up nightmares at every position. Defensively, nobody can touch Wichita State in the Valley. We’ll start with Tekele Cotton. The sophomore guard used his big, strong, 6’2’’ frame to punish Missouri State leading scorer Anthony Downing, holding him to 4-of-14 from the field. He grabbed a few critical offensive rebounds in the final minutes, too, and he teams with Williams and Malcolm Armstead to form a dangerous group of defensive guards. “They give people fits,” Marshall said. So does Ehimen Orukpe, the 7’0’’ Nigerian native who did not play very well against the Bears but normally makes a major difference in the paint. And there’s that guy named Carl Hall – you know, the top returning player from a year ago – who’s so good his coach has named a new play for him. “It’s like the Green Bay Packer power sweep,” Marshall said. “Send it to Carl.” These guys rebound. They intimidate you. They rank near the top of Division I basketball in almost every defensive and rebounding category. That’s why they beat Creighton on Saturday, and it’s why they’re now in first place in the Valley after the Bluejays lost at Drake. When Wichita native Gavin Thurman went bananas and helped his Missouri State team build an eight-point lead in the second half, the Shockers quit messing around and D’ed some people up. Then, they scored 16 points in a row. Game over. Don’t play around with Wichita State. These guys are practically grown men. Wichita State may have tripped up at Evansville a few weeks ago, but that was during Hall’s injury. He returned this weekend. It’s a new team now.

Marshall Has Built Wichita State Back Up In His Own Image

Marshall Has Built Wichita State Back Up In His Own Image

Oh, and the Shockers do score, too. It’s amazing that you can gush about Wichita State’s defense for paragraphs and paragraphs and not even mention Cleanthony Early, the impact junior college transfer who pitches in about 15 points per game and burned Southern Illinois for 39 earlier this month. Marshall says he’s not quite an elite defender yet, but the Shockers have enough of those guys. Early makes life difficult for his own defenders, since he’s a 6’8’’ forward who shoots the ball well from mid-range and draws bigs away from the basket to guard him. He looked a little rusty at the start of Wednesday’s contest, but he quickly learned how to play ball in the Valley. “There’s gonna be some physical play, some holds and some grabs and some body slamming in the Valley, you’ve just gotta know that. I tell Cleanthony, ‘you’re the new guy. This is the way we play,’” Marshall said. “You’ve got to adjust.” He did, and he wound up with a team-high 17 points and 11 rebounds.

 

 This collection of athletes and culture of toughness did not happen overnight. Even during the darker days of Marshall’s tenure, he was slowly building his foundation. In his first season, he had a freshman named J.T. Durley who started zero times and averaged seven points a game. Four years later, he was one of the better post players in the league. He also had a kid named Graham Hatch who hardly ever played. Four years later, he turned into a fierce and fearless glue guy. The list of players Marshall has developed could go on forever. Garrett Stutz was once a gangly freshman with “project” written all over him. Last year, he graduated as a first team all-MVC center.

This is what Marshall does. He develops. He teaches. He makes players tough. It took a few losing seasons in the Valley and a few NIT appearances, but he’s finally created what he had at Winthrop. “They can literally just walk down the floor and pound it inside,” Lusk said. This will continue past this season, by the way. Williams will graduate, but Marshall’s new crop of players will embody the same mentality. And you want to know the worst part? This guy’s constantly turning down offers to leave for power conference schools. At this pace, Wichita State might be body-slamming people to the floor and dominating rebound margins for decades.

Putnam Science puts talent on display
By MARC ALLARD
Posted Nov 27, 2012 @ 11:02 PM
 
 

Putnam, Conn - Putnam is a far cry from the Bronx, where Dayshon Smith lives, but Putnam Science Academy has something that he still hasn’t been able to find in the Big Apple.

“The gym is open 24 hours a day,” Smith said. “That’s every kid’s dream. Every kid wishes they could have their own gym open 24 hours a day.”

Without that gym, student-athletes such as Smith, who recently signed a National Letter of Intent to play Division I basketball for Dayton University next year, wouldn’t be in Putnam.

“(Putnam) is really different (from the Bronx), but it’s going to prepare me for college because Dayton is nothing like the Bronx, either,” Smith said. “I didn’t want to go to a major city because I think I lose focus. Being in Dayton and Putnam keeps me really focused.”

Every year, head coach Tom Espinosa, a former standout at nearby Putnam High School, said he fills his whiteboard with about 80 or more names of potential athletes who have shown interest in coming to the private school.

“Everyone wants to play Division I basketball. They may be offered a Division II scholarship, but they wait a year to get to that next level,” Espinosa said.

This year, he was allowed to bring six “scholarship” players into the program and a seventh came on his own volition, giving the Mustangs the most depth that they have ever had.

Mairega Clarke, Jonte Rutty, Paul Brooks, Jemal Mosley and Joel Angus are all post-graduates, and most of them have high hopes. St. Francis, a Division I school in New York, and a host of D-II schools are looking at Clarke, while Sacred Heart, Long Island University and New Hampshire are wooing Mosley. Angus could have an Ivy League destination, such as Dartmouth or Brown, while Rutty and Brooks likely will wind up at Division II schools.

Smith is the only true senior among Espinosa’s “scholarship” players. He came to Putnam Science Academy last August after his former school, Rice High School in the Bronx, was closed.

“It was a last-minute decision (to come to Putnam), but a good one,” Smith said. “I’ve made some really good friends here.”

Smith is one of three returning players. Espinosa’s program is much like that of John Calipari at Kentucky: One-and-done.

“This is a difficult place,” Espinosa said. “Prep school is a different lifestyle, and this place has that big international feel. (It’s) all boys, and a lot of the kids who come here are from the city and it’s a huge adjustment. I try to stay away from the younger kids, because it’s my experience that they struggle to be here three or four years. It’s a little better when you’re here just for a year or two and you’re older."

2012 Prep School Basketball Preview Capsules

The basketball players are in two rooms in a dorm on campus, which encourages their camaraderie. There’s an added bonus this year in that all of them, with the exception of Brooks, hail from in and around New York City.

“As a senior, I really didn’t have any looks, and one of my friends, (Jonte) Rutty, got a scholarship from here and I played AAU with him,” Mosley said. “I needed a home and he got me in touch with them and some of the Putnam guys came out and talked to me. I came out and saw it and liked it.”

Even though it’s a far cry from his Spring Valley, N.Y., home, a place about 20 minutes outside the city.

“It’s very different and it was hard to adjust to at first, but I got used to it. It’s school and basketball; that’s the life I have to live for now,” Mosley said.

It’s also basketball being played for one purpose — to move on, like Smith, to something bigger and better. Putnam Science Academy still is not accredited by the New England Schools and Colleges and can’t be a member of the New England Prep School Athletic Council (NEPSAC).

“We did the self-study last year and we passed. Everything’s good. We’re more than halfway done with the process,” Espinosa said. “To be realistic, we’re looking at two years, and people find that funny because I’ve been saying that and saying that, but it’s a lot of work to do and we’re doing it.”

 
Upstate SF lets his game do the talking
DeAnte' Mitchell
NYCHoops.net Staff Writer

Back in the spring, Stanley Buczek had a lot of schools tracking his play. Fast forward five months and the same Ivy League, low D-1 and D-2 schools are still snooping around.

Entering his senior season, it's critical for Buczek to continue to make an impression on college coaches, which is why he's started to focus on two things outside of recruiting. "Right now, I'm focused on basketball and keeping my grades up," Buczek said. "I take school first. If I get hurt, I have something to fall back on. I'll probably set visits up in February."

With that in mind, Buczek expects to let his game do the attracting.

The 6-6 Burke Catholic (NY) senior has improved his game and expects his game to be more attractive to coaches. "Last year, I focused on trying to put weight on and get stronger. This year, I'm focusing on more of the technical stuff," Buczek said. "I've gotten more athletic. I'm jumping higher, running faster, I'm shooting the ball better and handling the ball better."

The 6-6 swingman, who says he's most comfortable at three, improved his game for another reason as well. Last season, Burke Catholic wasn't able to defend its crown as state champions. Similar to last season, Buczek has one goal for this season and its the only thing that really matters to him. "I'd like to win a state championship and get to federations and win that," he said. "[It will take] a lot of hard work. We just have to keep pushing each other and having a will to get better." He also mentioned the feeling of losing as defending champs and said he plans to do everything to prevent that from happening a second time around.

He has a lot of confidence in his team and expects them to go far. "We're working hard," he said. "Today was our second practice and the team looks really good."
* 2012 NBA D-League Draft * 2012 NBA D-League Draft News F&M's Georgio Milligan's Sights
Every player eligible for Friday evening's NBA D-League Draft is hoping they have an unique enough skill set to set them apart from the competition. For Franklin & Marshall's Georgio Milligan, his swarming defensive prowess is sure to turn heads.

As the NBA D-League Draft inches closer and closer. it's obvious to see from the slew of young point guards available just how many floor generals are pining for a chance to strut their stuff.

Many of these guards have different individual specialties. Some pride themselves in being flashy passers. Another here or there may be especially skilled at using their strength to drive to the basket. Others may even may be athletic enough to use such ability to their advantage their opponents.

Any which way a floor general chooses to run the show, the ability to take charge of an offense is essential. With that skill set so necessary, there's a good chance most (if not all) available point guards indeed have such a foundation of abilities.

So what sets each one apart from the rest of the bunch? For Franklin & Marshall's Georgio Milligan, it's, without a question, his defensive prowess.

Now, make no mistake: Milligan can score the basketball too. During his senior campaign at F&M, the guard averaged an efficient 18.9 points on 49% shooting from the field, including 45% from deep. These numbers are impressive, but with so many scorers already gracing the NBA and D-League stages, Milligan's aggression on the other side of the ball is sure to still help him turn heads.

Milligan's defensive strategy is clear after watching him play: swarm the defender at all times. The young guard's overwhelming pressure is that of a glove as opposing offensive players are thrown off constantly. It's clear he puts in the work as he aims to take the ball away from his opponent.

What's more, while some players may use their athleticism to leap their way towards the hoop for an electrifying slam dunk, Milligan finds other ways to use his athletic strengths to wow the crowd.

At just 6'2" and 188 points, the F&M alum can still jump high enough to swat away an opponent's shot. For a point guard, Milligan has an uncanny ability to block shots away. During his collegiate years, his defensive specialities were certainly on display, as Milligan finished 2nd all time in steals, and perhaps an even more unique 3rd all time in blocks as well.

With the NBA D-League Draft set to go on this Friday night, each and every eligible player hopes to have done enough to prove their worth to NBADL come selection time. It's a certainty Milligan hopes his swarming and commanding defensive skills are enough to peak a D-League team's interest in the later rounds of the draft.

From there, who knows what kinds of NBA and/or international opportunities will come his way.
F&M's Milligan signs with team in Germany
By PAULA WOLF
Sports Writer

Former Franklin & Marshall College standout Georgio Milligan has signed a one-year deal to play basketball in Europe.

Milligan, a four-year starter at point guard who achieved All-America honors in Division III, will participate in the German Pro B League as a member of Ratiopharm Ulm.

A 2012 F&M graduate, he leaves this week to begin practicing with the team.

"I'm excited" about the opportunity, Milligan said.

Ratiopharm, which plays in the city of Ulm in southern Germany, also has a Pro A League club, and he said he hopes to perform well enough to get promoted.

"I'd like to play a couple of years in Europe," said Milligan, a resident of Spring Valley, N.Y., which is north of Manhattan. Before coming to F&M, he starred at Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J.

Former Franklin & Marshall player Chris Finch, who played internationally and is now the coach of the Great Britain Olympic basketball team, helped Milligan achieve his goal of playing in Europe.

In addition to his salary, Milligan is supplied with an apartment and a car. Milligan also gets one free round-trip airfare that he said he'll probably use to return home for the holidays.

Milligan said the Ratiopharm team includes mostly German players with a few Americans. Asked about the differences between German and U.S. college basketball, he said the paint area is more of a trapezoid shape. Also, if the ball is on the rim, "you can goaltend it," he said.

The 6-2 Milligan received numerous postseason accolades after leading F&M to its third straight Centennial Conference title in 2011-12 and a trip to the NCAA Elite Eight.

He was named DIII News National Player of the Year, Centennial Conference Player of the Year and Regional Player of the Year by both the National Association of Basketball Coaches and D3Hoops.com. He was also a first-team All-Region selection by NABC and D3Hoops.com.

Milligan was a unanimous first-team All-Centennial Conference selection and became the first player to earn first-team All-CC honors four times. He was the fifth player in CC history to earn back-to-back Player of the Year awards.

Over his four years at F&M, Milligan started 124 games — a school record — and led the team to 103 victories. He helped F&M reach the NCAA tournament four times, including a Final Four appearance in 2009.

Milligan finished his career at F&M first in scoring (1,932) and free throws made (535), second in steals (282) and assists (628), and third in blocked shots (140).

pwolf@lnpnews.com

SUNY Sullivan has talent to go places
Generals ranked No. 4 in nation to start season

Times Herald-Record
Published: 2:00 AM - 11/06/12

LOCH SHELDRAKE — The Cleanthony Early era is over at SUNY Sullivan, and now the Generals will transition to a more balanced team, according to coach Kevin DeVantier.

Early, the two-time Division III junior college national player of the year from Middletown, has moved on to Wichita State. Monroe's Marvin Jean has moved on to Utah State and Frankie Drayton is now at Division II Newman University.

"Offensively, we have changed,'' DeVantier said. "Five or six guys can really score it. There's no one of (Early's) caliber, that's for sure. We're going to be an even more balanced scoring attack rather than jumping on one guy's shoulders.''

The Generals have only two returnees — Marcus Henderson of Newburgh and Willie Williams — but DeVantier has added three sophomore transfers, a former Sullivan standout and brought in eight freshmen for a team he believes can contend for the Region XV title, but will surely take its lumps with a difficult schedule.

Sullivan has earned the No. 4 preseason ranking in NJCAA Division III. The Generals manhandled No. 2 SUNY Delhi in a recent scrimmage, but DeVantier cautioned not to read too much into it.

"I think we're going to be good down the road,'' DeVantier said. "I like what we have. They work really hard. They want to be good. I think we're talented enough to challenge for the region.''

These Generals may not be as explosive offensively as recent teams, but they play tougher and will be better defensively.

"It's a different feel team, for sure,'' DeVantier said.

The season opener is Tuesday night as SUNY Ulster visits Paul Gerry Fieldhouse.

Henderson, a former standout at Newburgh Free Academy, has the point guard job to his own, now that Drayton has moved on. DeVantier said Henderson improved a lot over the summer and he expects a lot from him this season. Williams has been a dominant rebounder and DeVantier expects him to be a go-to player for offense.

Transfer Antoine Gattling is a shooting guard who is strong, versatile and can score in a variety of ways. Former Sullivan player Bobby Jones is back for a second year and, at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, he will be a tough matchup for opponents at the three spot. Mohamed Dansoko from Brooklyn has been the surprise of preseason camp, providing a big, strong post presence and the ability to contribute right away as a 6-5 freshman.

Sophomore Naqwan Crowell from Poughkeepsie, a transfer from SUNY Dutchess, may be Sullivan's hidden weapon. Crowell, who did not play last season, averaged 20 points a game and was a regional all-star two seasons ago. He still brings speed and athleticism to the guard position. Irving Lewis from the Miami area is a 6-3 freshman who can play the one, two, three and four positions and score in multiple ways. Maurice Eastwood is a 6-6 freshman who will be a backup post player with the ability to step out and shoot the 3-pointer. Freshman Gerald McClease, from Trinity-Pawling prep, provides good size in the post at 6-4. Long Island's Darien Croft, a sophomore, is a very good shooter off the bench.

"We are not a championship team right now, whereas the past two years I thought we were,'' DeVantier said. "I think down the road, when we start to build on things, then we will have a shot.''

kmcmillan@th-record.com;

Twitter: @KenMcMIllanTHR

Schedule

November
Tues. 6 – SUNY Ulster, 7 p.m.; Thur. 8 – Hostos CC, 7:30 p.m. (DH); Sat.-Sun. 10-11 – at Monroe College tournament; Sat. 10 – TBD; Sun. 11 – Monroe CC, 1 p.m.; Thur. 15 – SUNY Westchester, 7 p.m.; Sat. 17 – at Manhattan CC, 2:30 p.m. (DH); Tues. 20 – at SUNY Dutchess, 7 p.m.; Tues. 27 – at Bronx CC, 7 p.m. (DH); Wed. 28 – SUNY Orange, 7 p.m.; Fri. 30 – at Columbus State tournament

December
Sat. 1 – at Columbus State tournament; Tues. 4 – at SUNY Rockland, 7:30 p.m. (DH); Thur. 6 – at Queensborough CC, 7 p.m.; Mon. 10 – Kingsborough CC, 7:30 p.m.; Tues. 11 – SUNY Delhi, 7 p.m. (DH); Fri. 14 – Suffolk CCC, 5 p.m.; Sat. 15 – Nassau CC, 2 p.m.

January
Sat. 19 – at Suffolk CCC, 2 p.m.; Tues. 22 – at SUNY Orange, 7 p.m. (DH); Thur. 24 – at SUNY Ulster, 7 p.m.; Tues. 29 – at SUNY Westchester, 7 p.m. (DH); Thur. 31 – Bronx CC, 7 p.m. (DH)

February
Sat. 2 – at Nassau CC, 3 p.m. (DH); Tues. 5 – SUNY Rockland, 7:30 p.m. (DH); Thur. 7 – at Hostos CC, 8 p.m.; Sat. 9 – Manhattan CC, 3 p.m. (DH); Thur. 14 – SUNY Dutchess, 7 p.m. (DH); Sat. 16 – at Kingsborough CC, 3 p.m. (DH); Sun. 17 – Queensborough CC, 3 p.m. (DH); Mon. 25 – ASA Institute, 7 p.m.

March
Fri.-Sun. 1-3 – Region XV tournament; Thur.-Sat. 14-16 – NJCAA Div. III tourney at Sullivan
Home games at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse in Loch Sheldrake; (DH) – indicates doubleheader with SUNY Sullivan women's team

SUNY SULLIVAN ROSTER
Sophomores (6): No. 24 Darien Croft, G; No. 10 Naqwan Crowell, G; No. 5 Antoine Gattling, G; No. 3 Marcus Henderson, G; No. 22 Bobby Jones, G; No. 23 Willie Williams, F

Freshmen (8): No. 4 Brandon Alford, G; No.32 Mohamed Dansoko, F; No. 00 Maurice Eastwood, F; No. 14 Douglas Escobar, G; No. 21 Irving Lewis, G; No. 33 Gerald McClease, F; No. 12 Lucas Savage, G; No. 11 Ken Woodard, F
NY Power 2-Guard begins to score with schools
Maurice Wingate
NYCHoops.net Publisher

6'3" Aaron Ray comes from a basketball family Both of his older brothers played division 1 basketball and one even made it to the NBA.

The younger Ray is now forging his own path as he carries Middleton High School towards a championship season.

During the summer, the sophomore plays with the Bronx, NY based Team SCAN. Coach Oswald Cross describes Ray as a "Power 2 guard; great rebounder for his position."

Ray is also armed with a good perimeter game as well as with nice pull-up shot and an aptitude for scoring. With all the aforementioned along with the ability to flat out get to the rack, Coach Cross believes that Ray could "Pretty much [be] one of the best scorers in the country."

Apparently, Cross is not alone in his assessment. "Iowa State, Nova, Illinois, St. John's, Kansas, Rutgers, Sienna, Marist and Binghamton" have all expressed interest.

Only a sophomore, Cross believed that once Ray increases his defensive intensity offers will begin materializing during the spring.
Early picks up role quickly with Wichita State

By Paul Suellentrop
The Wichita Eagle
Published Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, at 5:19

Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle | Buy this photo
Cleanthony Early is a newcomer to the Wichita State basketball team and hopes to make an impact this year. (Oct. 24, 2012)

Shocker Madness
When: 5 p.m. Thursday with men?s team autograph session
Events: Women's 20-minute scrimmage: 6:15; dunk contest and men's MVC ring ceremony follows; men?s 30-minute scrimmage at 7:15.
Admission: Free

Cleanthony Early and coach Gregg Marshall remember the moment basically the same way, until the end. Early, in his first Wichita State basketball practice of the summer, took a 17-foot turnaround jumper from the baseline, the type of shot he won't take if he wants to play for the Shockers.
It probably went in, though, Early said.
Marshall remembers it falling three feet short of the rim.
He turned and shot it like, I guess, the way he did last year at his junior college, he said. He wasn't open. It was a bad shot, even if he was open.
Early's memory reveals his role and his confidence. He can score. He can play multiple positions. He defends and rebounds. Making baskets, however, is his identity.
I'm a scorer, he said. I know with the offense that we have, scoring won't even be something I should focus on, because I know it's something that's going to come, whether it's me crashing the boards on offense and getting tip-ins or getting an open shot. I'm going to score.
Early, a 6-foot-8 junior forward, proved that at Sullivan County (N.Y.) Community College, where he averaged 24.2 points as a sophomore and made 58 percent of his shots and 23 of 62 three-pointers (37 percent). He is WSU's most prominent newcomer after earning NJCAA Division III Player of the Year honors twice at Sullivan.
As Marshall's anecdote demonstrates, Early needed to learn how to play smarter to take advantage of his physical gifts. WSU guard Malcolm Armstead, a senior who practiced with the Shockers last season while redshirting, notices Early picking up one of the key points of the offense.
He understand that if he sets a good screen on somebody else's man, then he's going to be open just as much because his man has to help, Armstead said. He is understanding what his role is and what coach wants him to do. He's a gifted player, because he's 6-8, 6-9 and he can score on the perimeter. He can run like a guard, but he's big.
Lost in practices this summer, Early made fast progress and Marshall counts him as a player ready to contribute at both forward positions.
He will be a factor from Day 1, Marshall said. We haven't had anybody like him since I've been here a forward that is incredibly athletic, and fairly skilled and 6-foot-8 and pretty strong.
While WSU needs his scoring, Early knows other jobs are important. He won't be the offensive focal point for 40 minutes as he was at Sullivan. Defenses will be more difficult to master in the Missouri Valley Conference. The best players contribute even when shots aren't going in.
Whatever I can do, whether it's getting rebounds, blocking shots, making passes, scoring the ball whatever I feel like is in my ability, I'm going to try to do it at my best, he said. I've got to worry about stopping my man, getting that loose ball, boxing out. That's what I need to focus on and become better at.
Early's progress is critical for chemistry, which is an issue after losing five seniors. WSU, which went 27-6 and played in the NCAA Tournament last season, is mixing in six newcomers. Armstead calls Early a good catch-and-shoot scorer, someone who doesn't need a dribble to set himself before shooting. He can run the pick-and-pop and is fast enough to score on the break. When he plays power forward, his outside shooting can stretch the defense.
Guys know where your spot is and where to find you, Early said. Demetric (Williams) and Malcolm, they're starting to learn my game. That's always been the type of player I've been, to rely on a good point guard to set me up and make even better. They're going to make sure I'm in the right spot.
Early's attitude helps his progress.
He listens very well, so he tries to pick our brain, Williams said. He is very coachable. He is very hungry and humble and wants to really be out there this season.

Top performers from the Jim Couch All-Star Game
October 23, 2012
Maurice Wingate
NYCHoops.net Publisher

NEW YORK, NY - Sunday was a good day for basketball junkies at Baruch College. The Jim Couch Super 16 games took place and featured some of the top freshman and sophomore high school players.

Bryant takes over; Purple Sophomore Team wins, 90-88

The sophomore game ended up being more of a Sophomore/freshmen game due to a shortage of sophs. It was nonetheless entertaining.

It would be an up-tempo game as two sport star Kejuan Johnson and Jamar Ergas hit the ground running for the White team. Thomas Bryant would also show his skills at finishing off the catch near the rim as well as in transition. Thomas was the motor for the Purple Team but 6'3" Aaron Ray (Middletown HS, NY) and Unique McLean were the gas, gaving them a slight 54-50 at the half.

The game stayed close throughout the third quarter and throughout most of the fourth as a mano y mano emerged between Thomas and Cheick Diallo, egged on by the M.C.

The two big men put on a show, scoring on and blocking each other but as everyone's attention was averted up high, the White team took a lead as 5'10" PG Cheyenne Nettleton from Holy Cross HS (NY) nailed some hard fought buckets.

With 3:19 left to play 6'4" forward Chancellor Ellis from St. Andrews Prep in Rhode Island would knot the game at 80 for the Purple Team with a 3-ball. The Purple team would fall behind again by a bucket and Ellis would encore his performance with another trifecta with 3 seconds left. It would be enough give the Purple team the win.

Bryant took MVP honor scoring a game high 23 points for the Purple Team. Ellis added 18 points and Ray, 14 points. The Sportsmanship award went to Johnson who led the White Team. Nettleton pitched in with 16 points while Ergos contributed 14 points.

More importantly, the two games confirmed that the upcoming 2015 and 2016 class has a bright future.
Sunday's Jim Couch Super 16 games were quite refreshing. The advanced level of play should be encouraging to fans of the game as well as to College Coaches. While both games were entertaining, there were quite a few players in both the freshman and sophomore all-star games that caught the eye of NYCHoops.net.

Aaron Ray - The 6'3" forward from Middletown HS (NY) plays more like a power guard. Similar to Gibbs, Ray comes from a lineage of basketball talent with an older brother, Kendrick Ray who's a freshman at Quinnipiac and an oldest brother Allen Ray who played at Nova and briefly in the NBA. Aggressive to the rim, Ray got to the line quite often. Interested to see how his midrange and perimeter game develops. Ray scored 14 points.
Is8 race to the playoffs - Fall 2012
iS8/Nike Recaps Saturday (10/13)
Deborah N. Harris
NYCHoops.net Staff Writer

SOUTH JAMAICA, N.Y. - On Saturday, although there were some late changes to the schedule, there was still some solid action on the hardwood of the gymnasium at Intermediate School 8 as part of the iS8/Nike Fall Tip-Off Classic.

B.C. Eagles Stave Off Team Underrated, 73-64

B.C. Eagles (N.Y.) and Team Underrated (N.Y.) engaged in a heated battle from jump-ball. However, thanks, in part, to the point guard skills of B.C. Eagles' Justin Robinson (Kingston High School (N.Y.) '13), the squad was strung together nicely. Robinson set up his teammates in sweet spots, regardless of whether it was from 3-point range or under the basket.

In the first quarter, B.C. Eagles was able to acquire a seven-point lead quite a few times in the period. The team, however, held a six-point advantage, 18-11, by the close of the warm-up phase. Playing from down, Team Underrated tightened up its defense in order to close the margin.

On a 2-of-2 performance by Payton Johnson (The Academy of the New Church (Pa.) '14), Team Underrated slashed the deficit to four points, 20-16. Still, floor general Robinson was able to hit off teammates for buckets, as well as in good positions to draw fouls. As a result, within the final minute of the second quarter, B.C. Eagles held an 11-point advantage, 35-24, after a 3-pointer by Calvin Crawford (Valley Central (N.Y.) '13) and free throws by Robinson.

The halftime closed with B.C. Eagles still ahead by 11, 39-28.

With a few exceptions, Team Underrated struggled to capitalize on the opportunities it earned on the defensive end, missing chippies and bunnies near the rim. B.C. Eagles, refusing to allow Team Underrated to earn second-chance points, played them close on defense, grabbing loose balls and converting at the rack or earning them at the stripe. B.C. Eagles held as much as a 13-point lead, 41-28, in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, determined to help his team dig out of a hole, Chaz Watler (Archbishop Molloy High School (N.Y.) '13) continued his defensive prowess, but also became more aggressive on the offensive end, attacking the rack and assisting his teammates. Teammate Kyle Williams (St. John the Baptist High School (N.Y.) '14) aided his squad on the inside, scoring all of his 10 points in the second half. As a result, Team Underrated dropped its deficit to five points, 55-50.

Still, the hard work and quick execution of Jemal Mosley (Putnam Science Academy (Conn.) '13), Crawford and Robinson pushed B.C. Eagles ahead again. On the completion of a conventional three-point play by Jonte Rutty (Putnam Science Academy (Conn.) '13), B.C. Eagles was up by as much as 15 points, 69-54, with about two minutes left in the contest.

B.C. Eagles' Mosley finished with a game-high 18 points, while teammate Crawford added 16 points in the win. Eagles' Robinson and Rutty posted 15 points apiece. Meanwhile, Team Underrated's Watler scored a team-high 16 points, while teammates Williams and Jaylen Hernandez (Paramus Catholic (N.J.) '14) each posted 10 points.
Upstate Scouting Service - Calvin Crawford
Section 9 Standout Calvin Crawford of Valley Central High School is Garnering Division One Attention.

Crawford, a Section 9, Class AA All-League selection last season, has been offered a scholarship by the University of Vermont out of the America East conference.

Crawford has not made his mind up about where he wants to play yet, but says Vermont has impressed him. They were pretty successful last year, losing to North Carolina in the tournament. It's a big university, Crawford said in a recent interview with Upstate Scouting.

At 6"7" Crawford has impressed scouts with his ability to shoot the ball for a big man. Crawford?s inside-outside game has been his best weapon at the High School level. In college however, he sees himself moving exclusively out to the wing. I see myself playing the two or three at the college level, maybe even a four

that can stretch the floor. When I was talking to Vermont, he (Vermont Coach John Becker) said he?d probably have me at the two or three.

Crawford admits making the transition to a permanent wing player will require work on his end. If I'm gonna play the perimeter in college I'll need to improve my ball handling. It's decent now but it can always get better. Also shooting off the dribble, and rebounding. I'm a decent rebounder now, but it?s going to be harder going against bigger guys in college.

Along with his shooting and scoring ability, Crawford sees his leadership as being one of his top attributes, but says that he is looking to even further increase that role in the upcoming season. I was the team leader last year, but I?d like to become even more of a leader next year, said Crawford. I play hard no matter where I?m playing or who I?m playing against. I want to help the guys on my team get better too, instead of it being just all about me.

Crawford credits his parents, as well as some former coaches for helping him get to where he is today, a future Division I basketball player. My mom and dad have definitely been my biggest influences, said Crawford. They drive me everywhere, take me out to tournaments, and every game. My dad is my biggest fan. As far as coaches, I give a lot of credit to my AAU coach Bob Rahn for taking me places and making me a better player, as well as coach William Thom and coach Lou Demelo, I probably had my best improvement with them playing for the East Coast Panthers.

Crawford also had the unique privilege while playing with the Panthers to be coached in practice by former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks Head Coach Mike D'Antoni, who's son Michael was a teammate of Crawford's. At first it was surreal I didn't believe it but once it got going it was really cool you had to think a lot and play hard, but to say you got coached by a guy like Mike D?Antoni is always gonna be cool, it was a fun practice.

With still one more year remaining with Valley Central, Crawford has his sites set on leaving his impact on Section 9 before moving on to college. ?I?d like to maybe even go for Section 9 Player of the Year. I like to aim high with my goals, so that?d be a cool thing to accomplish my senior year. I definitely want to get back into the Section 9 championship game, I know Valley Central hasn?t been there in a while. But, hopefully I can do that, and help my team do that.?

Crawford can be seen this summer playing for the BCANY?s Section 9 team in the Basketball Coaches Association of New York?s Summer Hoops Festival where he will play along side former featured Upstate Scouting prospects Zach and Tyler Lydon of Pine Plains.

Upstate thanks Calvin Crawford for answering our questions and wishes him the best of luck in his senior year and beyond.

Ross Bentley, Staff writer

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QUINNIPIAC BASKETBALL: Kendrick Ray has chance to make big impact with Bobcats
By Chris Hunn, Register Staff
chunn@nhregister.com / Twitter: @Chris_Hunn

HAMDEN - It's a little less than two months before the Quinnipiac men's basketball team tips off its season and some of the Bobcats are at the TD Bank Sports Center playing in a pick-up game.

Down the court comes freshman Kendrick Ray dribbling with his left hand. He gives a stutter step, crosses over to his right and whips by a defender into the lane. For the next 20 minutes or so, Ray shows why he is one of the most promising recruits the program has ever landed.

His game has an exceptional smoothness to it. Watching him, it's easy to see why he is expected to come in and make an immediate impact for Quinnipiac. He's quick, athletic and explosive with the ability to play at either guard spot. The 6-footer from Middletown, N.Y., should also help fill the void left by graduated leading scorer James Johnson.

He's probably as talented as any guard we've ever brought in, Bobcats coach Tom Moore said. I had the same feeling about Johnson. As I saw him on the circuit last July playing against other guys who many considered Big East or Atlantic-10, or Colonial players, I didn't see a real big drop off from them to him. If he stays hungry and continues to work, I think his ability is going to be a big recruit at this level.

In addition to his talent, Ray has a very strong support system starting with his parents. Two of his siblings have played Division I basketball and are there to guide him along the way. His brother Allan helped Villanova to the Elite Eight in 2006, played for the Boston Celtics and is now playing in Germany. His sister Brittany was a standout guard for Rutgers.

Ray got a first-hand look of what to expect sitting in on both his brother's and sister?s practices in the past. Watching them succeed has also given Ray a hunger to follow in their footsteps. And the one-on-one battles with both growing up at Baruch College in Manhattan have also prepared him.

I'd always be the one to talk trash, but I'd still lose, said Ray with a smile.

Moore said Ray arrived in Hamden with a humbleness and humility that is refreshing to see.

He doesn't feel like he's already arrived or has this thing figured out,Moore said. He's got a desire to learn and has a good work ethic.
Ray, whose decision came down to Quinnipiac and Wagner, seems to be a good fit for Moore's system that allows guards plenty of freedom. While there is certainly potential for him to emerge right away, there is no pressure. The Bobcats are loaded at guard and will once again be a contender in the Northeast Conference.

As a senior at Middletown High (N.Y.) last year he averaged 21 points, six assists and four steals per game, carrying his team to the final eight of the New York state championships.

He moved up and took over the starting point guard role as a freshman, explained his high school coach Jim Kelly. He's a great leader, the type to be the first in the gym and the last one out. He was a real gym rat. If you needed him to score, he'd score. If you needed him to get others involved, he could distribute.

Like many young guards, Ray still needs to get stronger so he can absorb hits on his drives to the basket. He needs to improve his shot selection and tighten his mechanics on his jumper along the perimeter. But as Moore points out, that will all come with time.

And Ray is willing to listen and work.

Right now, he is still adjusting to the independence and responsibility that comes with college life, while also very anxious for the season to start.

For Moore, the feeling is mutual.

He's a talented young man, Moore said. He's got a good basketball body and I don't see any backdown in him. I'm really looking forward to coaching him.

Royals Ready For Challenging 2012-2013 Season
October 16, 2012

Veteran University of Scranton men’s basketball coach Carl Danzig has never backed down from a challenge.

He inherited a storied program—one that has won two national titles (1976, 1983) and has advanced to the Final Four on two other occasions (1977, 1988)—and yet has managed to carve out a niche of his own.

In 11 seasons, he’s won more than 200 games and has led the Royals to six NCAA tournament appearances and six conference championships, including four in Scranton’s recent five-year affiliation with the Landmark Conference.

Of all the excitement that Danzig has created since taking over in 2001, however, the most memorable might have been last year, when the Royals capped off a 23-8 season with an incredible run in the NCAA tournament.

Scranton overcame an 18-point second-half deficit to defeat Messiah College in overtime, 70-67, in the first round; dismantled Becker College (Mass.) in the next round, 69-41; then upset fourth-ranked Middlebury College, 58-55, on Middlebury’s home floor to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1993.

A season-ending 78-58 loss to eventual runner-up Cabrini College in the NCAA sectional final did nothing to diminish the Royals’ magical season.

Scranton fans will once again have lofty expectations, fueled by the return of three starters from last year’s team that earned a 15th-place national ranking in D3hoops.com’s final poll. That nucleus will be called upon, especially in the early going, to offset the loss of some key personnel.

All three starters—senior Travis Farrell (Middletown, NJ/Christian Brothers Academy), sophomore Ross Danzig (Clarks Green, Pa./Abington Heights/Blair Academy-NJ), and junior Tommy Morgan (Greenlawn, NY/Chaminade)—are guards who are adept in all phases of the game.

Each scored in double figures, two of the three (Farrell and Danzig) tied for the team-lead in rebounding (while Morgan was next at 4.5 per game), and all three were top-notch defenders, especially Farrell, who led the Royals for the third straight year in steals and was named the 2012 Landmark Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

Senior Tim Lavelle (Clarks Green, Pa./Scranton Preparatory) is yet another veteran who has played considerable minutes over the past three years and gives Danzig another scoring threat in the back court.

“We’re excited about our guard play,” says Danzig. “We have four quality guards that have a ton of minutes under their belt and are going to be very tough to defend. In addition, we’re bringing along some upperclassmen that haven’t seen a lot of time the last couple of years, but should see more in a supporting role this season.

Those upperclassmen battling for playing time are juniors Michael Barr (North Wales, Pa./Lansdale Catholic) and Mike Marchman (Blauvelt, NY/St. Joseph Regional) and sophomores Michael Fee (Richboro, Pa./St. Joseph’s Preparatory) and Justin Klingman (Clarks Summit, Pa./Abington Heights) at guard, and juniors Jack McKenna (Netcong, NJ/Lenape Valley) and Kyle Ranck (Lewisburg, Pa./Lewisburg) at forward.

For Danzig, replacing two-time first-team all-conference selection Luke Hawk, a 6-4 swing man and one of the Landmark’s best interior players, along with 6-8 forward Matt Swaback, a three-year starter who was a defensive nightmare for most opponents because of his perimeter shooting ability, poses a tremendous challenge

Furthermore, Danzig must replace 6-8 forward Nick Jaskula, who played 30 games last year and was unquestionably the Royals’ most improved player, as well as forward Edmond O’Connell, who wasn’t afraid to mix it up down low over the past three years.

To shore up these losses, Danzig concentrated his recruiting efforts on size—both in quantity and quality.

“We brought in a big class—I don’t think I’ve ever brought in a class this big,” he says. “The emphasis was on height because we graduated all of our size.”

Of the eight newcomers, four are 6-4 or taller. Danzig is confident 6-8 junior Jason Pierce (Scranton, Pa./Conestoga), a transfer from nearby Lackawanna College, and freshmen Brendan Boken (South Pasadena, Calif./Loyola), Sam Palermo (Rochester, NY/McQuaid Jesuit), Billy Garneau (Warwick, NY/John S. Burke Catholic), and Marcus Thomas (Clarksburg, Md./Clarksburg) can blend in quickly.

“Jason (Pierce) is an older student who brings maturity and size and Sam (Palermo) and Brendan (Boken) are both very capable players. They’re (Palermo, Boken) inside-outside type of players, and their success is really dependent on how quickly they learn the system. Once they get comfortable, I think their level of play will pick up.”

Rounding out the newcomers are sharp-shooting guards Brian Farrell (Verona, NJ/Verona) and Justice Perez (Wantagh, NY/Wantagh) and point-guard Shaun Cooke (Point Pleasant, NJ/Point Pleasant Boro), each of whom is expected to make contributions.

With an inexperienced front line, Danzig will once again rely on his talented back court to share the scoring and rebounding duties.

“That’s how we play, and that will be our emphasis again,” he says. “We always seem to have three or four guys averaging in double figures, so I think Timmy (Lavelle), Ross (Danzig), Tommy (Morgan), and Travis (Farrell)—there’s four guys right there who can get double figures. I’m really hoping they continue to play well together, and then we’ll sprinkle in the new kids.”

If anything, Danzig is hoping the Royals can recapture the chemistry of last year’s team, which pulled out a number of wins with heart-stopping, late-game heroics.

“So much of it is the DNA of the kids and how they bond together,” says Danzig. “The catalysts behind last year’s team are back. If the older kids are fighting till the end, it brings along the younger kids and they understand that’s who we are. So over the years, we’ve been able to develop that type of mentality. Last year was great because everybody clicked. We never felt like we were ever out of a game, whether we were up or down.”

News & Notes: Royals are 53-17 (.757) against Landmark Conference opponents in five seasons as a league member…Ross Danzig, the 2012 Landmark Conference Rookie of the Year, scored 407 points last season, the most by a Scranton freshman since three-time all-American Irv Johnson tallied 427 in 1976, the year the Royals won their first NCAA Division III championship…Farrell is 73 steals shy of tying Randy Arnold as the Royals’ all-time leader (Arnold had 252 steals from 2004-2008)…Royals will host NCAA runner-up Cabrini College on Tuesday, November 27, at 7:00 p.m. in the Long Center…Wilkes University will be the site of the second annual Cross-County Challenge on January 2-3; Royals won the initial challenge by defeating former Freedom Conference riv