- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger1 hr ago
ESPN announced the schedule for next season's Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Tuesday. Here's a look at each of the games ranked from most to least compelling.
1. Michigan State at Duke (Nov. 29): One of the first challenges for presumed preseason No. 1 Duke will be a Michigan State team with a loaded freshman class but not much in the way of veteran leadership. The Spartans will have to hope that freshman Miles Bridges makes a quick transition to the college level if they're going to keep it close against a Blue Devils team that returns All-American candidate Grayson Allen, adds a star-studded freshman class and gets Amile Jefferson back from injury.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger6 hrs ago
A rematch between powerhouses Kansas and Kentucky highlights the newly announced slate for next year's Big 12-SEC Challenge. All 10 games will take place Jan. 28. Here's a look at the matchups ranked from most to least intriguing:
1. Kansas at Kentucky: These blue bloods will both appear the preseason top five in most polls, but they'll also field vastly different rosters than they did at Allen Fieldhouse last January when Kansas edged Kentucky 90-84 in overtime. The Wildcats will lean on another loaded freshman class headlined by guards Malik Monk and De'Aaron Fox, while the Jayhawks will turn to heralded freshman wing Josh Jackson and veteran guards Frank Mason and Devonte Graham.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger9 hrs ago
In his first two seasons at San Diego State, Malik Pope has displayed sporadic flashes of immense skill and talent.
The 6-foot-10 junior-to-be is returning to the Aztecs in hopes of showing NBA scouts he can make a more consistent impact.
Pope announced Monday night that he has withdrawn from the NBA draft after entering last month without hiring an agent. He was not invited to the NBA's draft combine, but he reportedly did work out for the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz.
Credit Pope for making a wise decision because it once no doubt wasn't in his plans to be in college for more than two years. He is the most highly touted prospect San Diego State has landed under Steve Fisher, however, a series of leg injuries late in his high school career prevented him from making a smooth transition to the college level.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger1 day ago
The most improved player in college basketball this past season believes he's ready for the NBA.
Providence forward Ben Bentilannounced Sunday evening in an Instagram post that he will forego his final two years of college eligibility and remain in the NBA draft.
Bentil's decision is logical considering the feedback he received after a strong performance at the draft combine in Chicago earlier this month. He could be selected in the late first round and he'd still be a strong candidate to negotiate a guaranteed contract even if he falls to the top of the second round.
Turning pro serves as the culmination of Bentil's year-long rise from role player, to Kris Dunn's co-star, to NBA prospect. The 6-foot-8 native of Ghana helped lead Providence to the second round of the the NCAA tournament in March, averaging 21.1 points and 7.7 rebounds as a sophomore after contributing just 6.4 points and 4.9 rebounds the previous year.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger3 days ago
Once he was not invited to participate in the draft combine or to work out for many NBA teams, Iowa guard Peter Jok made a rational decision.
The 6-foot-6 senior-to-be realized he was unlikely to be selected in next month's NBA draft and opted to return to the Hawkeyes instead.
"I'm excited to be returning for my senior season and leading our team," Jok said in a statement released by the school. "This has been an invaluable learning experience for my career, and I appreciate all the support I have received from Coach McCaffery and the entire staff."
The return of Jok is monumental for an Iowa team that won 22 games this past season and advanced to the NCAA tournament's round of 32. Jok was one of the Big Ten's most improved players as a junior, averaging 16.1 points per game and shooting over 40 percent from behind the arc.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger5 days ago
Duke won the latest battle in its recruiting war with Kentucky on Thursday when the top unsigned prospect in the Class of 2016 chose the Blue Devils over the Wildcats.
Marques Bolden, a 6-foot-11 center ranked No. 11 in the 2016 Rivals rankings, made his announcement on Thursday afternoon at DeSoto High School, unzipping a black jacket to reveal a Duke T-shirt underneath.
The addition of Bolden bolsters a Duke team that likely would have been next year's preseason No. 1 team even if he had gone elsewhere. The Blue Devils return four of their top seven players from last year's Sweet 16 team, get senior forward Amile Jefferson back from injury and add a recruiting class widely considered to be the best in the nation.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger6 days ago
Undecided prospects have only one week left before they must announce whether they're coming back to school or staying in the NBA draft. Here's a look at the eight schools with the most at stake during the next seven days:
1. Oregon (G Tyler Dorsey, F Dillon Brooks): Oregon could have five of its top seven players back from a 31-win Elite Eight team if Dorsey and Brooks opt to return to school, a decision that might be wise for both of them after neither was invited to the draft combine. Brooks, a versatile 6-foot-7 forward, averaged 16.7 points per game last season, but he could use another year to revamp his body and improve the consistency of his perimeter shot. Dorsey, a 6-foot-4 combo guard, averaged 13.4 points and shot over 40 percent from behind the arc, but he lacks prototypical size or length for an NBA shooting guard. If he returns to school, he could stand to improve his playmaking ability.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger7 days ago
Twelve days after forward Kennedy Meeks elected to withdraw from the NBA draft, North Carolina received more good news.
Forward Justin Jackson has pulled his name from draft consideration and opted to return to school.
"After discussing it with my parents and coaches and praying over this decision, the best choice for my basketball future is to return to school and play for the Tar Heels next season," Jackson said Monday in a release from the school.
“My dream certainly is to play in the NBA and going through the draft process this year was another step toward reaching that goal, but I’ve loved my first two years at Carolina and am excited about the upcoming season. It’s going to be a fun year. I will be another year closer to earning my degree and can continue to develop as a person and a player."
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger8 days ago
With its top two big men both entering the NBA draft last month, NC State is in need of immediate frontcourt help next season.
Boy did the Wolfpack find some.
Omer Yurtseven, a coveted 6-foot-11 center from Turkey, told Scout.com on Monday that he has committed to NC State. Yurtseven chose the Wolfpack over Utah and Syracuse among others.
The addition of Yurtseven puts NC State in far better position to thrive next season even if forwards Abdul Malik-Abu and Beejay Anya were to remain in the NBA draft. Neither has hired an agent, leaving open the possibility either could opt to return by the May 25 deadline.
Most scouts consider Yurtseven to be a five-star recruit and a future NBA prospect because of his strong frame, good size and impressive skill set. He can score with his back to the basket in the post, via offensive boards or off pick-and-pop jump shots out to the 3-point arc.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger8 days ago
Before he's finished coaching Kentucky, John Calipari has a lofty goal he wants to reach.
"Our next challenge is to chase UCLA’s 11 titles," he wrote on his website Monday.
UCLA is the only college basketball program with more national championships than Kentucky. Calipari led the Wildcats to their eighth title in 2012 behind Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but they still need three more championships just to tie the Bruins and four to overtake them.
"This could take more than a decade, but so what? Let’s chase it," Calipari wrote. "Can we do it? Sure, but it’s going to be really tough. The tournament isn’t a best-of-seven series and the best team doesn’t always win the title. The trick is to always be one of those teams at the end of the season that’s right there. That’s the first step."