NBADraft.net https://www.nbadraft.net Tue, 07 Apr 2020 03:21:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.4 Mid Major Conferences Wrap Up http://massimobali.com/?man=mid-major-conferences-wrap-up/ http://massimobali.com/?man=mid-major-conferences-wrap-up/#respond Tue, 07 Apr 2020 03:21:42 +0000 http://massimobali.com/?man=?p=1226145 Player of the Year: , SF/PF, #3 Dayton Flyers From the beginning of the season until the unfortunate premature ending, Obi Toppin cemented his status as the best player among mid-major prospects, as well as players in the entire country. Even the best team in the country, the Kansas Jayhawks, could not find a way…

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Player of the Year:

Obi Toppin, SF/PF, #3 Dayton Flyers

From the beginning of the season until the unfortunate premature ending, Obi Toppin cemented his status as the best player among mid-major prospects, as well as players in the entire country. Even the best team in the country, the Kansas Jayhawks, could not find a way to stop the emerging sophomore. Toppin became so unstoppable this year because of his ability to stretch the floor, drive to the hoop, and also dominate in the post with his 6’9, 220-pound frame.

Dayton’s superstar carried the Flyers all year long and finished with a 20 point, 7.5 rebound, and 2.2 assist average per game. He also became one of the most consistent superstars all year long and wowed every audience placed in front of him. His conference play averages essentially mirrored his total averages for the season to show just how consistent he was. It is a shame he couldn’t lead the Flyers on a March Madness run, but it was truly a pleasure to watch him for as long as we could.

Team of the Year:

#3 Dayton Flyers, 29-2, 18-0 Atlantic-10 Conference

In a season defined by unthinkable upsets and unpredictable champions, the third-ranked Dayton Flyers followed suit and surprised the entire country. Obi Toppin led the Flyers to their best season in program history, which has tragically been cut short by a devastating pandemic. Nonetheless, the 2019-20 Dayton Flyers will go down as the best team in program history and one of the best mid-major teams in recent memory.

The mid-major team of the year almost always goes to the Gonzaga Bulldogs, but the Flyers ensured that this season was going to be different. Obi Toppin and Jalen Crutcher led the way for one of the most prolific offenses in college basketball. Trey Landers and Ibi Watson played crucial roles as secondary scorers to the stars. And Anthony Grant implemented an unstoppable spread offense to get the most out of his players. All of this contributed to the unstoppable force that Dayton became down the stretch, landing them the honor as Mid-Major Team of the Year.

Coach of the Year:

Brian Dutcher, #6 San Diego State Aztecs

While Anthony Grant of Dayton is more than deserving of this honor, the job that Brian Dutcher did at San Diego State was one of the more impressive coaching jobs in all of college basketball. The Dayton Flyers probably had the best player in college basketball in Obi Toppin and even with a great coach, players still need to go out there and make the shots. Dayton’s players were talented scorers with a good amount of experience playing together.

Brian Dutcher took 3 starters who were in their first season at San Diego State as well as two more role players in their first season with the Aztecs and created a nearly unbeatable end product. You’d think that with this inexperience playing together that the team would start off slow, right? Think again. The Aztecs started off 26-0 and skyrocketed to the #4 team in the country. Dutcher’s players bought in to his philosophy as they turned into one of the most ferocious defenses in the entire country. I’ve always believed that the best basketball coaches are the ones that can establish a great defense and that is why I gave Dutcher the edge over Grant for this season’s Mid-Major Coach of the Year.

Freshman of the Year:

Precious Achiuwa, SF/PF, Memphis Tigers

With the departure of James Wiseman after only two games, Precious Achiuwa stepped up as the best player for the Memphis Tigers and the best freshman among mid-major prospects. The majority of the top mid-major teams were composed of standout upperclassmen while the top four prospects who went to mid-major schools all went to Memphis. Of the four, Achiuwa easily stood out the most as he averaged nearly 20 points per game.

Wiseman’s departure did create some problems for Achiuwa, too. The extra dependence on the star freshman led to less efficient scoring statistics and a lack of publicity as the Tigers highly anticipated season fell through the cracks. But loads of credit must be given to Achiuwa who stayed consistent all year long and kept Memphis’ NCAA Tournament hopes alive until there was no tournament to qualify for. All in all, an impressive season for Achiuwa all but guarantees him a first-round selection and the honor of Mid-Major Freshman of the Year.

Top 5 Mid-Major Prospects

1. Obi Toppin, SF/PF, #3 Dayton Flyers

While covering mid-major NBA prospects this season I have found myself writing about Obi Toppin more than anyone else, and rightfully so. He has every trait you would want in a stretch four at the next level and he is only going to improve. He is strong enough to play in the post, athletic enough to blow by wing defenders, and has a high release jumper that is improving every game. With what I have seen this year, I would pull the trigger on Toppin before any other player when the NBA Draft rolls around.

2. Precious Achiuwa, SF/PF, Memphis Tigers

The other prospect projected in the first round of the NBA Draft is Precious Achiuwa. Achiuwa has a similar physique to Toppin but is nowhere near the jump shooter that Toppin is. However, Achiuwa has been one of the best rebounders in college basketball this season. The true freshman averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds on the season for the Tigers and became their lone reliable threat offensively down the stretch. If he can develop a better jumper, Achiuwa could become one of the more dynamic power forwards in the NBA during his career.

3. Malachi Flynn, PG, #6 San Diego State Aztecs

San Diego State went as Malachi Flynn went throughout the course of the 2019-20 season. The Aztecs’ 30-2 record tells you everything you need to know about this prospect when you consider the previous statement. With an average of 17.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 5.1 assists, Flynn emerged as one of the best, most well-rounded point guards in the nation. He is not too undersized for an NBA point guard at 6’1 and has limitless range from beyond the arc. Flynn is currently projected in the second round, but do not be surprised if a team takes a chance on him a bit earlier.

4. Malik Fitts, SF/PF, Saint Mary’s Gaels

Malik Fitts was one of the more physically gifted players in the entire country this year. I would argue that he is the most athletic big man in this year’s draft class. Fitts stands at 6’8 but consistently drove right past his defenders with speed and strength. Not only is he great at getting to the tin, but he is also a knockdown three-point shooter at 40% on the season. In the likely final game of his career, he combined with Jordan Ford for the first 34 points of the game against Gonzaga, including a 4-4 start from distance. Fitts may just have the highest upside for any player projected in the second round of the NBA Draft.

5. Killian Tillie, PF, #2 Gonzaga Bulldogs

If Killian Tillie could have stayed healthy throughout his career, he would be a lot higher on mock drafts than he is right now. However, due to the long list of injuries he endured, he sits at the bottom of the second round on our 2020 mock draft. Tillie has the size to play in the post at the next level, but he will also need to bulk up if he’s going to play with some of the strongest men in the sport. What will set him apart from these beasts in the paint is his three-point shooting that has steadily sat above 40% for his career. The biggest question mark for Tillie remains as his ability to stay healthy, and if he can, he could put together a great NBA career.

1st Team All Mid-Major

G- Malachi Flynn, San Diego State Aztecs

G- Jordan Ford, Saint Mary’s Gaels

G- Sam Merrill, Utah State Aggies

F- Obi Toppin, Dayton Flyers

F- [Player:Yoeli Childs], BYU Cougars

2nd Team All Mid-Major

G- Jalen Crutcher, Dayton Flyers

G- Grant Riller, Charleston Cougars

F- Malik Fitts, Saint Mary’s Gaels

F- Filip Petrusev, Gonzaga Bulldogs

F- Precious Achiuwa, Memphis Tigers

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NCAA Power 16 Rankings http://massimobali.com/?man=ncaa-power-16-rankings-187/ http://massimobali.com/?man=ncaa-power-16-rankings-187/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2020 15:47:49 +0000 http://massimobali.com/?man=?p=1225994 Due to COVID-19, NCAA basketball came to a screeching halt and with the season officially over, we can only imagine an NCAA Tournament that might have been. It’s a tragedy that there’s no March Madness this season as it is both the players and fans favorite time of the year, but obviously a necessary precaution.…

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Due to COVID-19, NCAA basketball came to a screeching halt and with the season officially over, we can only imagine an NCAA Tournament that might have been. It’s a tragedy that there’s no March Madness this season as it is both the players and fans favorite time of the year, but obviously a necessary precaution. After some time to let everything sink in, here is the final Power 16 of the season. These rankings will focus on team’s full body of work for the year. Also, the Players of the Week will be turned into the Players of the Year.

1. Kansas (28-3)

The Jayhawks definitely had momentum going into the postseason, but throughout the season they were unquestionably one of, if not the best team in the country. Kansas’ only losses came to Duke, Villanova and Baylor (three elite teams) and also had a win over Dayton and avenged the loss to Baylor. The Big 12, while top-heavy, did have some depth to it but the Jayhawks never faltered. A long way removed from the brawl earlier in the year, this would have been my pick to cut down the nets.

2. Gonzaga (31-2)

Gonzaga was one of the few teams that actually won their conference tournament before things got shut down. Conference champions, a 31-2 record and ranked wins, once again the Zags put together a masterful season. While often criticized for the “weak” schedule, the Bulldogs did add wins over Oregon, a then-ranked Washington and Arizona throughout the year. I do wish that Gonzaga changed conferences, but with the level of success year-in and year-out, why fix what isn’t broke.

3. Dayton (29-2)

The surprise team in the country was the A-10’s own Dayton. This team’s only losses came to Kansas and Colorado, both in overtime. Think about that, no team could beat Dayton within 40 minutes this season. The one knock on the resume is that there isn’t a ranked win, but the level at which the Flyers dominated the conference makes up for it. Dayton had a weird mix of believers and doubters that predicted anything from a national title to a second-round exit. While I believe it would’ve been somewhere in between that, there’s no taking away the magical season from the Flyers.

4. Baylor (26-4)

As crazy as this season was with No. 1 ranked teams losing left and right, Baylor was able to hold onto that top spot for quite some time and that deserves recognition. The Bears did fall off a bit as the season was coming to a close, but that doesn’t diminish what the team accomplished beforehand. Wins over Villanova, Arizona, Butler and Kansas all helped push the Bears to the forefront of the national title conversation.

5. San Diego State (30-2)

I’m as disappointed as anybody that SDSU couldn’t even win their own conference title after the miraculous 26-0 start to the season, but you still have to give it up to the Aztecs for being (by far) the last remaining undefeated team in the nation. Two late season losses hurt, but the resume still holds wins over BYU, Creighton, Iowa, and both teams that had beaten them. Teams like San Diego State and Dayton is what makes no NCAA Tournament hurt the most, we might never see these programs be this good again.

6. Kentucky (25-6)

The Wildcats came a long way from losing to Evansville in the opening month of the season. Kentucky finished as the regular season SEC champions and by a good three-game margin. Big Blue Nation saw their team take wins over then-No. 1 ranked Michigan State, Louisville and Auburn as well as become one of the most consistent teams in the second half of the season. This team had some star power that just seemed ready to blast off in the postseason.

7. Duke (25-6)

Duke gets the nod over FSU due to a head-to-head win and slightly better resume overall. The Blue Devils, despite their inconsistencies, tallied wins over Kansas, Michigan State, Florida State and two wins over rival UNC (I know they’re bad, but still, it’s Duke-UNC). There was never a question about the level of talent on the Blue Devils’ roster, just how the on-court product would play out, and for the most part it was pretty good. Duke could’ve won it all or gotten bounced early this year, but we’ll never know.

8. Florida State (26-5)

In a year where the ACC was weak, compared to years past, Florida State was the team who took advantage. The Seminoles took home the regular season crown thanks to some wins over Louisville (twice) and Virginia. FSU went a perfect 16-0 at home this year and was a legit contender for the national championship.

9. Oregon (24-7)

Most people won’t have Oregon this high, but I absolutely respect what this team accomplished this year. The Ducks without a doubt had the hardest non-conference schedule and also had to play in a relatively deep conference. They beat a full-strength Memphis, Seton Hall, then-No. 5 Michigan and Arizona (twice). Of the seven losses, a 1-point loss to Gonzaga in OT and a 4-point loss to a full-strength UNC. By the way, 17-0 at home, all losses came on the road.

10. Villanova (24-7)

Villanova had a deceptively impressive season. With wins over Kansas, Creighton, Butler and Seton Hall, a top ten ranking is well deserved. They tied for the Big East title and were able to emerge pretty well off in the loaded top half of the conference. The odds of Nova winning it all were limited, but there was a real shot at this team making a deep run.

11. Creighton (24-7)

The Blue Jays were behind Villanova most of the season, but an incredible late-season run helped even the race in the Big East. Creighton had wins against Villanova, Seton Hall (twice) and Butler in the last month and a half of the season alone. In terms of a full body of work, Nova gets the edge on the whole season consistency, but since the start of February, this was arguably the best team in the nation.

12. Maryland (24-7)

The Big Ten was an absolute madhouse this year, and for a majority of the season Maryland was the top dog in the conference. Wins over Ohio State, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan State and Michigan make for a good resume, but there are also a couple questionable losses. A sub-.500 record on the road hurts, but then again only one team, MSU, had above a .500 road record in the conference.

13. Virginia (23-7)

Despite having a rough start to the year and a limited offense, once again Virginia’s defensive prowess was able to propel the team to a respectable season. The Cavaliers beat a full-strength UNC, Florida State, Duke and Louisville. It would be a miracle if UVA broke 60 points in any game this season, but they did what they had to do to win games and that’s all that really matters.

14. Michigan State (22-9)

The Spartans fell off quickly in the middle of the season, but bounced back in a big way to close the year. MSU had wins over Seton Hall, Illinois (twice), Michigan, Iowa, Maryland, Penn State and Ohio State. The 9 in the loss column is what holds Michigan State back from being ranked higher because their quality of wins is up with the best of them. An up and down year for sure, but Tom Izzo always figures things out.

15. Louisville (24-7)

The Cardinals were once considered the best team in the country, and while they have fallen off, they still finish as one of the elite teams. Louisville beat a then-top-ranked Michigan, Duke and Virginia but honestly have some bad losses in there as well. I was personally never as big on the Cards as most of the country, but still have to recognize their full body of work.

16. Auburn (25-6)

Auburn was one of the weirdest teams in the country this season. The Tigers had one of the best records, but couldn’t seem to get the quality wins needed to boost themselves up the rankings. The only ranked win was against Kentucky, who they lost to later in the year. Regardless of the strength of schedule, a 25-6 record in a Power 5 conference deserves some recognition.

Next Five: Seton Hall, Ohio State, BYU, Butler, Wisconsin

Players of the Year

1. Luka Garza – Iowa

Any follower of these articles knows Luka Garza has been on the Player of the Week section seemingly every week. He’s my pick for Player of the Year with a per game average of 23.9 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.2 assists. He shot 54.2% from the field and 35.8% from behind the arc. In my mind, this is an easy choice.

2. Obi Toppin – Dayton

Obi Toppin is the clear second choice for Player of the Year, and some will consider him the top choice. He led Dayton on an incredible run and the best season in program history. He averaged 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steals per game. Toppin shot 63.3 percent from the floor and 39.0% from three-point range.

3. Markus Howard – Marquette

Markus Howard is another familiar face on this list, his scoring has always been incredible as he has now amassed over 2,000 career points, and he led the country in scoring this season. A final total of 27.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game is nothing short of incredible. He shot 41.2% from three-point range, and he shot A LOT of threes this season. An amazing career capped off by an amazing season.

4. Tre Jones – Duke

Either Jones or Vernon Carey could’ve made this list for the Blue Devils, but I give the edge to Jones. He is arguably the best on-ball defender in the country and was the floor general on one of the best teams. Jones averaged 16.2 points, 6.4 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. Outside of that, Jones is the type of player that makes the defensive plays that doesn’t show up in the box score. Defense is constantly undervalued, but not here.

5. Payton Pritchard – Oregon

Payton Pritchard definitely deserves a look for Player of the Year. He averaged 20.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.5 assists per game. Pritchard is also one of the smartest players in the country, constantly making the right play and keeping his team in the game during clutch scenarios. He shot 41.5% from deep and always seemed to hit the big shot when needed the most.

Honorable Mentions: Vernon Carey, Myles Powell, Udoka Azubuike

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The Grind Session World Championship http://massimobali.com/?man=the-grind-session-world-championship-3/ http://massimobali.com/?man=the-grind-session-world-championship-3/#respond Tue, 24 Mar 2020 21:32:15 +0000 http://massimobali.com/?man=?p=1225811 The coronavirus (COVID-19) has put sports on hold, but the Grind Session finished out their season and might be the only league at any level that was able to crown a champion. Here’s a rundown of some of the top players in the tournament over the week. The Grind Session Awards Co-MVP – Prolific Prep…

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The coronavirus (COVID-19) has put sports on hold, but the Grind Session finished out their season and might be the only league at any level that was able to crown a champion. Here’s a rundown of some of the top players in the tournament over the week.

The Grind Session Awards

Co-MVP

Jalen Green – Prolific Prep 2020

Daishen Nix – Trinity International 2020 (UCLA)

Offensive Player of the Year

LuCye Patterson – Minnesota Prep 2020

Most Improved Player

Jordan Nesbitt – St. Louis Christian 2021

Under the Radar Player of the Year

Kiran Oliver – PHHoenix Prep 2021

Defensive Player of the Year

Jabari Walker – Arizona Compass 2020

Coach of the Year

Peter Wehye – Our Saviour Lutheran

Champions

Jalen Green 6’5 175 SG – Prolific Prep 2020

Green was imperative to Prolific’s Championship run. With a blend of athletic finishes and 3PT shooting, he averaged 29.7 points per game at 48.3% FG% over their three full games. While his ball handling and passing still has room to improve, he’s noticeably gotten better in those areas over the season, making plays he probably wouldn’t have made last summer. His shooting has also improved, although I think he should look to take it in more as he made many impressive drives with his hang time and body control that other players in the class can’t match, he tends to settle for pull-ups at times. However, his 35.5% at 10.3 3PT attempts per game isn’t bad and it can’t be denied that when his shots are falling, there’s not much you can do when defending him, including a pair of clutch 3PTers in overtime against Central Pointe Christian. With Burnett off the ball, Green ran the point the majority of the time and averaged 4.7 assists to 3.7 turnovers per game. He got his hands on a lot defensively and his potential on both sides of the ball adds to his intrigue.

Nimari Burnett 6’3 185 PG – Prolific Prep 2020 (Texas Tech)

As always, Burnett had a great showing, scoring at all three levels. He played off the ball more than usual and displayed his scoring in the half-court without forcing his impact. In the three full games Prolific played, Burnett shot 54.2% 3PT% on eight attempts per game and averaged 26.3 points per game at 61.9% FG%. He scored off the dribble on both jump shots and to get to the rim, he used his floater when appropriate as well. He averaged 2.7 assists to 3 turnovers per game, but he’s shown in the multiple times I’ve seen him in the past, he can serve as a distributor as he’s an ideal combo guard. Burnett’s performed well in big games over his high school career and he closed it out in the same fashion, scoring 37 points (12-20 FG, 6-10 3PT, and 7-8 FT) as Prolific defeated Our Saviour Lutheran 95-80 to earn MVP of the Championship game.

Runner Ups

Posh Alexander 5’11 180 PG – Our Saviour Lutheran 2020 (St. John’s)

Alexander was fantastic all week. Some areas he can improve is staying out of foul trouble; picking up fouls early and having to sit more than preferred, sometimes reaching in too much and picking up offensive fouls at other times, recording four fouls in game one and five fouls in game two. Another area is turnovers, losing the ball while forcing himself into the paint or off the mark with the pass; with seven turnovers in game one, five in game two, and four in game three. An area he drastically improved in is 3PT shooting, which was a glaring weakness in previous times I had seen him, as he dribbled into his shot with confidence and shot 13-28 3PT over the four games, which is much better than the 14-65 3PT (21.5% 3PT%) over the Nike EYBL last summer. Alexander excelled penetrating to the rim and was quick to recover nearly every loose ball. Although he was high in turnovers, he passed the ball well with 5.5 assists to his 4.3 turnovers per game, including ten assists in the game against Arizona Compass alone. Alexander scored 21 points in the 60-47 win against Veritas Prep, 28 points in the 87-65 win against Orangeville Prep, 23 points in the 79-67 victory over Arizona Compass, and 34 points in the 95-80 Championship loss to Prolific Prep. Alexander displayed leadership and great competitiveness all week, looking like the most underrated player in the 2020 class.

Jaquan Sanders 6’3 170 SG – Our Saviour Lutheran 2022

Sanders was up and done as far as consistency goes but he’s a talented sophomore. He’s not explosive but he’s a lights out shooter with ridiculous range, pulling up between half-court and the 3PT line with 29 seconds left on the shot clock to find the bottom of the net on one play. He has the green light to let it fly, although he was 10-35 3PT over the four games, he has to be guarded close within the half-court. The last two games hurt his percentage, where he shot 2-9 3PT in game three and 2-11 3PT in game four. Overall, he was a weapon for Our Saviour and displayed good passing as well, with 3.8 assists to two turnovers per game. Sanders scored eight points against Veritas Prep, 24 points against Orangeville Prep, ten points against Arizona Compass, and ten points against Prolific Prep. Sanders is definitely one to monitor over the next two years.

Semifinalists

Jabari Walker 6’7 205 PF – Arizona Compass 2020

Walker started with a seven-point and eight rebound game in the 65-42 win against St. Louis Christian, but stepped it up in Compass’ next two games. He’s a good athlete, with numerous above the rim finishes and a versatile skillset on both ends, flashing perimeter game with ability to handle in spurts and although 3PT shooting wasn’t great (5-16 3PT), he showed fluid form. Walker was best finishing inside and attacking the rim. He scored 21 points (8-13 FG), six rebounds, two blocks, and three turnovers in the 81-70 second round win over Minnesota Prep, and 14 points (4-12 FG and 3-7 3PT) and 15 rebounds (seven offensive) in the 79-67 loss to Our Saviour Lutheran.

Seryee Lewis 6’8 200 PF – Arizona Compass 2020

Lewis benefitted from outhustling the defense, using cuts and rim runs for the majority of his baskets. He’s not a bad athlete, finishing with a few jams and used eurosteps to add some creativity on his layups. His scoring range is limited, and shooting isn’t a strong point in his game, going 5-16 FT and didn’t attempt a single 3PTer in his three games. Lewis finished with 12 points and eight rebounds against St. Louis Christian, 18 points (8-11 FG) against Minnesota Prep, and had a rough final game against Our Saviour Lutheran with three points and three turnovers.

Ty Ty Washington 6’2 180 PG – Arizona Compass 2021

Washington was very good off the dribble and under pressure; quick but patient, displaying good passing and court vision in both transition and the half-court. He’s not much of an above the rim finisher but his timing on his drives and ability to react to the defense allowed him to score in the paint. He showed ability to shoot from outside, going 7-16 3PT over three games, but he didn’t hunt for scoring opportunities. Washington finished with 16 points, eight assists, and four turnovers against St. Louis Christian; 17 points (10-12 FT), six assists, and two turnovers against Minnesota Prep; and 15 points, seven rebounds four assists, four steals, and three turnovers against Our Saviour New American.

Sadraque Nganga 6’10 210 SF/PF – Arizona Compass 2022

Only a sophomore, Nganga was one of the top prospects in the tournament. Although he didn’t have a high assist count, he passes the ball very well and can handle the ball, although he can improve when facing ball pressure. He shot the ball at a good rate (6-11 3PT) and as most high school sophomores, that should be an area he continues to improve upon as his career progresses. He’s a good athlete and very mobile but he’s not incredibly explosive off the ground and can improve lateral quickness, as he had trouble staying in from of Jordan Nesbitt at times. Overall, Nganga played well and was a big piece in Arizona Compass’ Final Four run. He ended with ten points (4-9 FG) and nine rebounds (three offensive) against St. Louis Christian; 11 points (2-3 FG, 6-8 FT) and nine rebounds against Minnesota Prep; and 23 points (8-12 FG, 4-6 FT) and nine rebounds (four offensive) against Our Saviour Lutheran.

Jadrian Tracey 6’5 190 SF – West Oaks Academy 2020

Tracey showed out in the tournament West Oaks forfeited in the Final Four. He opened with 19 points (8-21 FG), 11 rebounds, three assists, four steals, and six turnovers in the first-round win against Bella Vista Prep 67-62, but only shot 1-8 3PT. The next round, he finished with 21 points (8-14 FG) with a much more efficient 4-5 3PT, along with three rebounds, five assists, and four steals. He has a strong build and high-level athleticism that made him a handful on his drives. He competed on the defensive end as well. Tracey had a strong showing and played with the best of them, looking severely underrated nationally.

Quarterfinalists

Isaiah Todd 6’10 210 PF – Word of God Christian Academy 2020 (Michigan)

Word of God played in two games and Todd scored 21 points in each of those games. His tools and talent give him intrigue as a high-level prospect. While he’s productive on the court, he can still improve in areas to maximize those tools and talent. His jump shot looks good, even his misses weren’t far off the mark, but he shot 3-11 3PT over the two games and he was too content for jump shots. While he has perimeter skills, he should look to post up more and try to get to the rim in general as he had the size advantage when he was on the floor. He had a few big dunks, including a reverse jam on the baseline that the defense couldn’t contest. Playing on the perimeter at the next levels, he can also improve as an initiator as he generally pulled up for a jump shot or took a straight line drive, passing out if it got cut off but didn’t show much wiggle or advanced reads with the ball. Defensively, he can lock in more but he’s versatile on that end as well. Todd scored 21 points (9-14 FG), six rebounds, and six turnovers in the 83-59 win against Core4. He followed up with 21 points (6-16 FG and 8-10 FT), eight rebounds, two blocks, and three turnovers in the loss to West Oaks Academy.

Ramses Melendez 6’5 190 SF – Central Pointe Christian 2021

Melendez provided shooting and scoring for Central Pointe. He’s a smart player and positions himself well on both ends. He was money as a 3PT shooter, shooting 6-10 3PT over the two games. Physically, he has some filling out to do, especially in the upper body but he competed until the very end in both of Central Pointe’s overtime games. Melendez finished with 14 points (4-8 FG) and six rebounds in the 84-81 overtime win against Trinity International, and 23 points (9-12 FG), five rebounds, two steals, two blocks, and three turnovers before fouling out of the double-overtime loss to Prolific Prep.

Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe 6’6 195 SF – Orangeville Prep 2020 (Oklahoma State)

Moncrieffe’s very athletic and talented but he’s still in the process of putting it together. He’s loose with the ball and doesn’t seem to know where he needs to be off the ball. There are definitely times he makes a nice play in the midst of sloppiness; making drives and dunks that shows why he’s a high-level prospect, then back to back travels at other times in the game. He didn’t show much jump shooting and missed all three 3PT attempts over Orangeville’s two games. Moncrieffe scored 12 points in the 66-56 win over Dream City Christian and ten points in the 87-65 loss to Our Saviour Lutheran.

LuCye Patterson 6’2 195 PG – Minnesota Prep 2020

Patterson’s a skilled combo guard with good strength who embraces contact and drew numerous fouls, shooting 6-10 FT in game one and 9-12 FT in game two. He’s a good ball handler and gets to his spots with his dribble. He’s very good in drive and kick situations and a solid passer overall. Although he wasn’t consistent, he has a nice jump shot but doesn’t have great size/length lacks explosive athleticism when finishing in the paint. He put up points but was very high-volume as a shooter; posting 12 points (3-13 FG and 0-4 3PT), four rebounds, five assists, and three turnovers in the 84-69 win over PHHoenix Prep and followed up with 24 points (6-23 FG and 3-11 3PT), seven rebounds (three offensive), seven assists, and three turnovers in the loss to Arizona Compass.

First Round Exits

Gethro Muscadin 6’10 215 C – Aspire Academy 2020 (Kansas)

With Muscadin injured earlier in the season, this was my first look at him. He’s strong and gets off the floor well when rebounding or blocking shots. He does have work on contesting shots, rather than swiping to get a block as he picked up some early fouls that sat him out much of the first half, allowing Core4 to get back into the game. He also showed a nice elevated jumper from midrange and knocked down a three with proper form. The Kansas commit showed nice mobility and threw down a jam in traffic for an and-one. I would have liked to see more of Muscadin but he only played in one game finishing with in the 62-56 loss to Core4.

Daishen Nix 6’4 195 PG – Trinity International 2020 (UCLA)

As usual, Nix was great with the ball; dribble-driving while changing pace/directions with his dribble then again with the last two steps of his layups with excellent body control. His shot wasn’t working for him, so he aggressively took it in to finish with multiple and-ones at different angles while using either hand, initiating contact and consistently being physical with the ball. Although he’s not real explosive, he’s quick to rebound his own misses and never quit on second chance points. As a ball-handler, he split the defense and made cross-court passes with either hand to find open shooters. Defensively, he stuck to the ball and had a few clean swipes as well as jumping passes. His timing on lead passes are second to none, hitting teammates in stride and finding them open under the basket even at times they don’t realize they’re open. Although Nix wasn’t shy to get to the foul line, he missed out on quite a few opportunities at the stripe late in the second half and overtime to eventually lose to Central Pointe Christian. Nix ended with 34 points, 16 rebounds (six offensive), nine assists, four steals, and four turnovers in Trinity’s only game.

Jordan Nesbitt 6’6 205 SF – St. Louis Christian Academy 2021

Nesbitt played hard and scored 28 points (8-22 FG) but came up short against Arizona Compass. He hit some tough threes in the face of the defense but shot 4-12 from 3PT for the game. He didn’t get a lot of clean looks, facing multiple defenders at times and he possesses the strength to handle contact. He passed well overall, finding the open man when the help defense came but finished with four assists to six turnovers.

Arthur Kaluma 6’7 190 SF/PF – Dream City Christian 2021

Kaluma makes some impressive plays at his size; shaking his man with the ball to pull-up into a jump shot on a few occasions, getting shifty, and using his go-to spin move. He finished with 12 points and nine rebounds (four offensive) in the loss to Orangeville Prep. He showed he can score inside and out, and can defend multiple positions as well. He can handle the ball and start the offense but finished with one assist to five turnovers in the loss.

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ACC Conference Wrap Up http://massimobali.com/?man=acc-conference-wrap-up/ http://massimobali.com/?man=acc-conference-wrap-up/#respond Fri, 20 Mar 2020 13:18:14 +0000 http://massimobali.com/?man=?p=1225808 Player of the Year: (Duke) After a freshman season in which he was overshadowed by his teammates, Tre Jones decided to forgo entering his name into the 2019 NBA Draft, instead opting to return to Durham for his sophomore season. What a decision that was for the point guard from Minnesota. Jones drastically improved on…

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Player of the Year:

Tre Jones (Duke)

After a freshman season in which he was overshadowed by his teammates, Tre Jones decided to forgo entering his name into the 2019 NBA Draft, instead opting to return to Durham for his sophomore season. What a decision that was for the point guard from Minnesota. Jones drastically improved on his biggest weakness, his jump shot, as his three-point field goal percentage jumped from 26.2% as a freshman, to 36.1% in his second stint. He also showed that he truly is an elite playmaker and floor general, as he finished tied for sixth in the ACC in scoring (16.2 ppg), was second in total assists and assists per game, and was third in assist to turnover ratio. He also averaged nearly two steals per game, and played about 35 minutes per contest as well. His well-rounded stats, along with his impact as the clear leader of this year’s Duke squad rightfully earned him the official ACC Player of the Year title as well. The decision to return to school was absolutely the right decision for Tre Jones, as he showed faith in himself in his gamble of returning to school for a second season, and backed it up on the court.

Team of The Year:

Florida State Seminoles

It is safe to say the 2019-2020 season was the best ever for the Seminole basketball program. Not only did they win the regular season conference title for the first time in program history, they ended the year with 26 regular season wins, with 16 of those coming in ACC play, both school records. They finished with four wins over ranked opponents, the most in the conference as well. This season was even more astonishing for the Seminoles when you consider the fact that they began the year unranked in the preseason polls. FSU was a fun team to watch, as they lacked a true “star player”, instead opting to share the ball, and more often than not were able to turn their defense into easy offense. Look for Florida State to continue the momentum into next season, as their defensive-minded style of play should continue to excel in this day and age of college basketball.

Coach of the Year:

Leonard Hamilton, Florida State

The Seminoles most likely would not have experienced the success they did this season had it not been for the guidance and leadership of their veteran head coach, Leonard Hamilton. He stayed true to his brand of play and coaching style, and was rewarded with the best season of his career, and in Florida State’s history as well. A huge reason as to why the ‘Noles were so successful was Hamilton’s ability to develop his three best players: Devin Vassell, Trent Forrest, and MJ Walker. All three experienced the best years of their college careers this past season, and all have the potential to be players at the next level. The Seminoles looked like the best coached team in the conference, and were clearly the best on the defensive side of the ball, as they forced the most total turnovers, and had the highest turnover per game average of any ACC team. This team truly bought in to what Leonard Hamilton was preaching to them, and as a result experienced a dream season.

Freshman of the Year:

Vernon Carey (Duke)

The freshman big man was truly a force to be reckoned with for the Blue Devils this season. He finished fourth in the conference in scoring (17.8 ppg), third in rebounding (8.8 rpg), first in field goal percentage, and fifth in blocks per game with nearly two. He had 15 double-doubles in 31 games, which was good for second most of any freshman in the country. Carey was one of the top-ranked recruits of his class, and was a hot commodity for coaches around the country, and for good reason. There were times where the 6’10, 270-pound behemoth looked virtually unstoppable. Vernon Carey was able to show off his elite skill set while playing under Coach K, and appears to be one of the most promising young big men in the basketball world.

Top 5 NBA Prospects in the ACC

5. Tre Jones (Duke)

Jones was the best all-around player in the ACC this season, which earned him the ACC Player of the Year Title. He does everything well, but no part of his game would truly be considered “elite”. After returning to school for his sophomore season, Tre was able to show improvement in his biggest area of weakness, his three-point shot, as his percentage rose nearly 10% from 26.2% to 36.1%. A team looking for a true playmaking floor general will gladly welcome Jones to their squad, as he has shown he can be trusted with the ball in his hands, and is a leader and true floor general.

4. Devin Vassell (Florida State)

After making a huge jump in his playing time and contribution from his freshman to sophomore seasons, Vassell showed he has the three-and-D skillset that NBA scouts love. He was the best player on his team this season, and truly did show he has the potential to be an impact player at the next level for many years to come. He averaged 12.7 points per game, shot 41.5% from behind the arc, and averaged 1.4 steals and a block per game on the defensive side of the ball. Vassell’s seemingly perfect fit in the modern-day NBA gets him on this list.

3. Jordan Nwora (Louisville)

Standing at 6’7, 225-pounds, Jordan Nwora has an NBA-ready body, and an NBA-ready skillset on the offensive end of the floor. He is a highly-skilled three level scorer, and has the tools to be a good-to-great player at the next level. He finished third in the ACC in scoring at 18 points per game, was eighth in rebounds at 7.7, was eighth in field goal percentage, and was third in threes made per game at 2.5. The only knock on Nwora was his inability to show up in some of Louisville’s biggest games this past season. Expect Jordan Nwora to make an immediate impact in the NBA, whenever he decides to enter his name into the draft.

2. Vernon Carey (Duke)

If we are going off of potential at the next level, Vernon Carey may have the highest ceiling of any player in the conference in my opinion. Like I said earlier, there were times he looked absolutely unstoppable for the Blue Devils this season. At 6’10, 270 pounds, he is a savage in the paint and on the boards, and a walking double-double. On top of that, he has a competent three-point shot, which is valued so highly for big men in this day and age of the NBA. If he can develop that stroke into something defenders have to respect, there is no reason that Carey can’t be a consistent All-Star for many years to come.

1. Cole Anthony (North Carolina)

UNC finishing last in the ACC standings only goes to show how much of an impact Anthony had on his team. After going down with a knee injury early in the season and missing a couple of months, the Tar Heels looked lost and at times incompetent without his leadership and superb playmaking abilities. When he was on the court, though, Anthony showed he is an elite ballhandler and passer, as well as a top-notch athlete who can dunk on virtually anybody at any time. The elite athleticism also allows for him to be a pest on the defensive side of the ball. Although he did take questionable shots throughout the season and could have definitely been more efficient with his scoring, the potential is clearly there for Cole Anthony to be an absolute stud and one of the future best point guards in the NBA.

First Team All-ACC

PG: Tre Jones (Duke)
SG: Elijah Hughes (Syracuse)
SF: Jordan Nwora (Louisville)
PF: John Mooney (Notre Dame)
C: Vernon Carey (Duke)

Second Team All-ACC

PG: Cole Anthony (North Carolina)
SG: Devin Vassell (Florida State)
SF: Landers Nolley II (Virginia Tech)
PF: Garrison Brooks (North Carolina)
C: Mamadi Diakite (Virginia)

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NCAA Power 16 Rankings http://massimobali.com/?man=ncaa-power-16-rankings-186/ http://massimobali.com/?man=ncaa-power-16-rankings-186/#respond Mon, 09 Mar 2020 16:01:05 +0000 http://massimobali.com/?man=?p=1225545 The regular season is coming to a close in the next couple of days, leaving us with a final look of each team going into conference tournaments. As this is the time of the year where things matter most, there are some big changes in the rankings based on recent play. Everything is up to…

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The regular season is coming to a close in the next couple of days, leaving us with a final look of each team going into conference tournaments. As this is the time of the year where things matter most, there are some big changes in the rankings based on recent play. Everything is up to date as of Saturday night. Here are your final Power 16 and Players of the Week of this wild NCAA Basketball regular season.

1. Kansas (28-3)

Kansas added two more wins over TCU and Texas Tech this week. As of today, the Jayhawks have to be considered the best team in the country and the favorite to cut down the nets. That being said, this season has shown that nothing is a sure bet.

2. Gonzaga (29-2)

Gonzaga did not play this week as they received a bye straight to the WCC semifinal so there’s nothing to pull from. The Zags are still one of the premier teams in the country.

3. Dayton (29-2)

Dayton secured its school record 29th win over George Washington to close out the regular season. Obi Toppin has proven himself as a leader and has the capabilities to lead this team deep into the postseason. The Flyers are a big favorite to win the A10 championship and rightfully so, they are as legit as they come.

4. Florida State (26-5)

The Seminoles closed the regular season with a pair of wins over Notre Dame and Boston College. Florida State has been near the top of the ACC rankings for a majority of the season, but haven’t really been considered the best team in the conference. There is a real case for FSU to be the ACC champs and maybe even the national champs.

5. Oregon (24-7)

Oregon beat Cal pretty handedly and then took care of business against Stanford. Oregon has now won four in a row behind the stellar play of point guard Payton Pritchard (pictured). The Ducks have a recent history of playing its best basketball at the end of the regular season/conference tournament and we might be seeing this again this year. This is the favorite, in my eyes, to win the Pac 12 and should likely be the last remaining team in the conference in April.

6. Virginia (23-7)

There is a good chance I’m overreacting, but Virginia has arguable been the best team in the nation over the past two months, having beaten both Louisville and Duke in the past two weeks alone. The Cavaliers always seem to peak at the perfect time, and this year seems no different. The defense is elite, the offense seems to be good enough. Here comes a late room.

7. Duke (25-6)

Duke both avenged an earlier season loss to NC State and took down rival UNC at home this week. The Blue Devils have been a little shaky late in the season but have maybe turned a corner. There’s no question of the talent on the team, it’s just about putting it all together on the court. I still like Duke as one of the favorites to win it all.

8. Kentucky (25-6)

Kentucky lost to Tennessee this week, but responded with a come-from-behind win at Florida. I still peg the Wildcats as the favorite to win the SEC tournament as I believe they are both the most talented and complete team in the conference.

9. Baylor (26-4)

The once unquestioned No. 1 team in the land has fallen off a cliff lately. The Bears have lost 3 of their last 5 games and sometimes in bad fashion. It’s possible this team has been waiting for the postseason for awhile and fell asleep at the wheel, but I want a strong Big 12 tournament showing to regain my trust in this Baylor team.

10. San Diego State (30-2)

After being thought of as a near-lock to go undefeated, San Diego State now has two losses on the resume after losing to Utah State in the Mountain West championship. I do still think the Aztecs are one of the best teams out there, it’s just a matter of how they’ll hold up against the better competition that will be coming their way.

11. Michigan State (21-9)

The Spartans played just one game this week, but used that game to add a road win over a ranked Penn State team. Michigan State has come back from a bad place for program standards and are once again back in the conversation for title contenders.

12. Villanova (24-7)

Nova beat Seton Hall and Georgetown both on the road this week. These are two good wins to close out the regular season and build some confidence. The Wildcats are one of those teams that you can’t sleep on in March and will try to emerge as the best in the Big East in the upcoming conference tournament.

13. Louisville (24-7)

A 4-point win against Virginia Tech and a 3-point loss against Virginia leave the Cardinals feeling a bit uncertain at the end of the regular season. I don’t know if Louisville is a true contender right now, but a strong showing in the ACC tournament may be able to change my mind.

14. Creighton (24-7)

The Blue Jays beat Georgetown and Seton Hall this week, locking in a share of the Big East regular season crown. Now the true test starts, where every team will play like there is no tomorrow. Creighton is right there with Villanova as the best in the conference and both teams will fight for the title of best in conference.

15. BYU (24-7)

BYU, like Gonzaga, did not play this week and thus leave us with no takeaways for the week. However, the Cougars will be looking to pull a Utah State-esque upset over a big favorite in the conference tournament in the coming weeks.

16. Maryland (23-7)

The Terps lost to Rutgers by 11 points in their only game of the week. Maryland does get a chance to rebound with a win over Michigan tomorrow night which could help ease the pain of the late-season loss.
Next Five: Auburn, Seton Hall, Ohio State, Wisconsin, West Virginia

Players of the Week

1. Udoka Azubuike – Kansas

Despite being questionable with an ankle injury, Udoka Azubuike snapped for 31 points on 13-for-14 shooting and 14 rebounds in a win over TCU. He also added 5 blocks. Then, against Texas Tech, Azubuike tallied 15 points and 11 rebounds. He’s been one of the better players in the country in the last couple weeks and this was another great addition to the run.

2. Markus Howard – Marquette

Markus Howard had a typical Markus Howard week. 31 points and 7 rebounds against DePaul and 30 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists against St. John’s. There’s no question that Howard is one of the best scorers the game has seen in quite some time, and this was a great way to end his final regular season.

3. Marcus Zegarowski – Creighton

Marcus Zegarowski scored 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting (4-for-6 from deep) and added 8 assists and 4 rebounds in a dominating win over Georgetown. He then led his team across the board with 23 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists against Seton Hall. He once again shot 8-for-10 from the field, this time including 5-for-5 from behind the arc.

4. Samir Doughty – Auburn

Samir Doughty used 5 three-pointers to pile up 25 points against Texas A&M and quickly turned around for a 32-point outing against Tennessee. Doughty has been one of the better players on this team all season long.

5. Obi Toppin – Dayton

Obi Toppin supplied his team two performances of 20 points and 27 points this week. His 27-5-5 line against Dayton was a perfect way to summarize his season with the Flyers, doing a little bit of everything to help his team succeed.

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International Stock Watch http://massimobali.com/?man=international-stock-watch/ http://massimobali.com/?man=international-stock-watch/#respond Sun, 08 Mar 2020 13:24:50 +0000 http://massimobali.com/?man=?p=1225431 Who’s Hot (01′, 6-7, PG/SG, USA, Illawara) LaMelo Ball (pictured)  is considered an international prospect since he decided to go pro almost 3 years ago in Lithuania, before deciding to play in Australia this season. The talented guard hasn’t played since the 30th of November because of a foot injury (which was called a bone…

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Who’s Hot

LaMelo Ball (01′, 6-7, PG/SG, USA, Illawara)

LaMelo Ball (pictured)  is considered an international prospect since he decided to go pro almost 3 years ago in Lithuania, before deciding to play in Australia this season. The talented guard hasn’t played since the 30th of November because of a foot injury (which was called a bone bruise). Actually, he won’t play again this season, since he decided to shut it down and prepare for the NBA Draft. The truth is that Ball got injured just about when the hype around him was peaking. He had 2 triple-doubles in a row before he got hurt, showing scouts exactly what they wanted to see. Ball started slowly, but eventually found his rhythm and was able to demonstrate the things that make him special, such as his great size for a guard, his scoring and passing instincts and his unique creativity. At the same time, the elephant in the room is his inconsistency – one might even call it even erratic – shooting selection that leads to efficiency issues, his approach on defense and his thin frame. And that’s without even mentioning his injury and his family history. With that said, Ball is as talented as any player in this year’s NBA Draft and destined to be a high lottery pick.
There are some who think that he might even be the most talented. His feel for the game is undeniable. Where will this lead him? That’s the big question.

Deni Avdija (01′, 6-9, SG/SF, Israel, Maccabi)

Two years ago Deni Avdija drew Luka Doncic comparisons. His size, feel for the game and ability to create his own shot were the main reasons. Two years later, those comparisons have subsided, but that’s not a bad thing. Players like Luka Doncic don’t come around that often. But that doesn’t mean that Avdija has disappointed. On the contrary, he has created his own hype with his approach. Playing for a EuroLeague powerhouse, the Israeli prospect has managed to find a place in the rotation, gaining good playing time in the Israeli 1st League, while he had the chance to show some things even in EuroLeague. Avdija is probably the best player of his generation in Europe and definitely the most versatile. He can play 2-4 and has even spent some time as the main ball handler in his team. He has elite size for a wing, he can create his own shot, play the Pick and Roll as the ball handler and take advantage of his great court vision thanks to his elite basketball I.Q. More importantly, he is no pushover on defense. He has bulked up and can even guard some power forwards and contest shot around the rim. At the same time though he also has his red flags. He is an average athlete, despite his good shooting mechanics and good percentages he is an inconsistent from the 3-point line, he is shooting an abysmal 56% from the free throw line and is foul prone. Still, with all that said, he is definitely a
lottery pick.

Theo Maledon (01′, 6-5, PG, France, ASVEL)

The French prospect has made a lot of scouts look at him thanks to his athletic profile. Having elite size for a point guard, an unusual maturity for a player his age and two-way potential thanks to his combination of sneaky athleticism and basketball I.Q, it just makes sense. The fact that he was a starter in ASVEL – a team with title inspirations in France – since last season only made things better. The truth is that Maledon has an up and down season, with a minor injury being one of the reasons. Playing for the first time in EuroLeague, under a demanding coach in a team full of guards, he occasionally had to take a step back. Even under that circumstances he has been able to show flashes of his game though and that's the reason he is still considered a lottery pick.

Killian Hayes (01′, 6-5, PG/SG, France, Ulm)

Killian Hayes looks the complete opposite of Maledon. He is a new generational guard, who is always in attack mode searching for his shot, without forgetting to feed his teammates, but at the same time his shooting beyond the arc is a work in progress. His decision to go to a foreign country (Germany) at the age of 18 took a lot by surprise, but a few months later it looks like a good call. Playing in a League with a high pace and a lot of American players, the lefty guard has plenty of playing time, he can learn from his mistakes and continue polishing his game, making a case for being a Top-15 pick. If he manages to improve his 3-point shooting, then the sky will be the limit for him.

Leandro Bolmaro (00′, 6-7, PG/SG, Argentina, Barcelona)

The Argentinian prospect was suppose to be a member of Barcelona B, making it difficult for the scouts to evaluate him, just like players like it happened in the past with former Barcelona players such as Mario Hezonja and Rodions Kurucs. A series of injuries in the first team though forced Barcelona to promote Bolmaro in October and for a bried time the Argentintian prospect managed to blow everyone with his game playing mostly as a point guard in one of the best teams in Europe. Bolmaro has the classic Argentinian fearless mentality. He can play every perimeter position, create his own shot and also play a facilitor role, while also can be really creative. And he was able to show all these things for some games both in EuroLeague and Spanish ACB, the two best Leagues outside the NBA. His shooting is his biggest problem for now and the fact that the last couple of weeks has fallen out of the rotation because senior players are coming back don’t work on his favor. But anyone who watched him at the beginning of the season knows that the talent is there.

Abdoulaye N'Doye (’98, 6-7, PG/SG, France, Cholet)

It took almost 2 years for Abdoulaye N'Doye to bring it all together since he blew a lot of scouts away with his combination of size, defensive mentality and two-way potential as a 6-7 point guard. It turns out, all he had to do was to slide over to the shooting guard position, where he has flourished this season. The auto-eligible guard is a good (not great) athlete, with amazing length (7-2 wingspan!), who can make life miserable for opposing guards. At the same time, he has improved on the other end of the floor as a secondary playmaker, while he has also improved as a shooter in Spot Up situations (although the sample is small). N’Doye looked like he had lost his way the last two years, but has emerged this season as a potential mid second rounder.

Neutral

R.J Hampton (01′, 6-6, PG/SG, USA, NZ Breakers)

Just like LaMelo Ball, R.J Hampton elected to go pro and play in NBL. The difference is that Hampton played on a veteran team, where he didn’t have the freedom that Ball enjoyed. Still, playing against grown men definitely hepled him expand his game in a way that probably wouldn’t be able to do if he had gone to college. Hampton is an electric talent. He is a great athlete, with great size for his position and a body that can fill out. He can run an offense at a solid level, he takes advantage of his athleticism to go all the way to the basket and can shoot off the dribble from mid-range. It’s his two-way potential though that makes him intriguing. With all that said, he has a long ways to go as a shooter in Spot Up and Catch and Shot situations, which is essential in this era for a guard.

Aleksej Pokusevski (01′, 7-0, SF/PF, Serbia, Olympiakos)

The Serbian prospect is probably the most intriguing international prospect of this year’s NBA Draft, assuming that he will actually declare. Born in late December of 2001, Pokusevski is actually 18 years old, which makes him one of the youngest players (if not the youngest player) that could hear his name. The Serbian prospect plays in Olympiakos B Development Team in 2nd Division, where he had some good monets playing mostly as a small forward. Pokusevski looks like a basketball anomaly. Standing at 7 feet with a wing's skillset, high basketball I.Q, above average shooting, great court vision and ability to protect the rim, he has made a lot of scouts… drooling. At the same time, his narrow frame, lack of physicality and dubious perimeter defense can be considered as red flags by some people. If that wasn't enough, Pokusevski missed 3 months of action because of a knee injury which was called a bone bruise. Long story short, Pokusevski’s draft stock is as volatile as any players in this year’s draft, since he could be from a mid to late first rounder, to early second rounder.

Arturs Zagars (00′; 6-3, PG, Latvia, Joventut)

Considered by many as the best point guard of his class, Arturs Zagars has found it difficult to make a strong case this season. Playing for a team full of guards, the Latvian prospect has struggled to find consistent playing time and there is a fear he might not be able to improve. With that said, he is still a player everybody has their eyes on. Zagars is a Pick and Roll maestro. A fearless point guard, who can score off the dribble, pass the ball and at the same time can go all the way to the basket despite his size. He has a lot of fans around the NBA and he could make a case to be an early second rounder.

Paul Eboua (00′, 6-8, PF, Cameroon, Pesaro)

Playing for the first time at a high level in the Italian First division, there are still two things that stand out in Eboua’s case: 1. He is intriguing because of his combination of size and athleticism. 2. He is still raw. Last season Eboua played in Italian Second division with mixed results. One year later he is looking much more comfortable in the First division. He has made progress as a shooter (baby steps, but still something is better than nothing), he is still a very good rebounder (and a relentless one on offensive boards) and has shown flashes as a defender. His feel for the game and skill set though are still a work in progress, which limit his potential. He is mostly a draft and stash, or draft and… G-League prospect for now.

Arturs Kurucs (00′, 6-3, PG/SG, Latvia, VEF Riga)

One of the most interesting prospects of this class, Artuts Kurucs has many weaknesses, but one major strength that forces a lot of scouts watching him: He can score with the best of them. The younger brother of Rodions Kurucs is a scoring machine, with his ability to score off the dribble in pull up situations at such a young age making him intriguing. He is more of a combo guard for now and he will never have the athleticism and length to guard wings – which make it necessary for him to become a point guard – and although he is productive he is playing at an extremely low level of competition in Latvian-Estonian League. But he is definitely a player to keep an eye on.

Giorgos Kalaitzakis (99′, 6-6, PG/SG, Greece, Nevezis)

Giorgos Kalaitzakis is one of the best prospects of his generation in Europe, but he had to turn 21 years old and go on loan from Greek powerhouse, Panathinaikos, to Nevezis to finally get a chance. It turned out that he took the right decision, since in Nevezis he is having a solid season. The level of competition isn’t that high and Kalaitzakis is having some efficiency problems, taking some shots that he shouldn’t take. But at least he is having plenty of playing time and exposure to learn from his mistakes. Kalaitzakis is an all around wing. A gifted scorer, who can score of the dribble and make difficult shots and create opportunities for his teammates, while also can play defense at good level. He is more of a half-court playmaker for now, he needs to improve his 3-point shooting and become more consistent, but the talent is there.

Dalibor Ilic (00′, 6-9, SF/PF, Serbia, Igokea)

Potential. That’s the first thing that someone thinks when he is watching Dalibor Ilic for the first time. The Serbian prospect is a combo forward with an NBA body, with good athleticism and length. After an inconsistent showing in FIBA’s U19 World Championship for a disappointing Serbian team, Ilic returned to his club team where he is having a bigger role. Playing mostly as a power forward, Ilic has his good and bad moments. He definitely is someone to keep an eye on since he fits perfectly in the non positional switch on everything era. But there is a red flag with him for now: His shooting. If he doesn’t improve in that area, it will be difficult for his stock to rise.

Who’s Cold

Amar Sylla (01′, 6-9, PF, Senegal, Oostende)

The forward from Senegal decided to leave Real Madrid and sign with Oostende in the fast growing Belgium League in an interesting decision. Sylla knew that he could never have a chance to play in a loaded Real Madrid, so he chose playing time over level of competition, hoping that he would have a season that would put him in the first round competion. Somehow, he managed to confuse the scouts even more. Sylla has just too many ups and downs in his game. Playing mostly as a power forward and his
team asking him to stretch the floor, there are times that he looks like a first rounder and other times that he just looks lost. Sylla is long, athletic, very good on the open court and has a high defensive upside. But he is too thin to play as a power forward and lacks the basic fundamentals to play as a small forward. He is the definition of a tweener, which can either be good or bad, depending on how much you like him, but for now this is a bad thing.

Malcolm Cazalon (01′, 6-6, SG, France, Leuven/Mega Bemax)

Cazalon’s decision to leave his team in France (Bourg) and sign with Leuven from Belgium backfired. It was probably the worst case scenario for him, who was hoping to make a strong case for himself in Belgium, but never really managed to find a role. He left his team in December and signed with Mega Bemax, a team built to promote NBA prospects – having done this in the past for players like Nikola Jokic, Ivica Zubac, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Goga Bitadze and Adam Mokoka – but he hasn't played since then. Cazalon is a player with two-way potential. An athletic lefty wing who is already great in transition and can score in many ways and at the same time play solid defense. But his shooting needs a lot of work and the same applies for his motor. He will really need to step up his game in the last 3 months of the season if he wants to declare in this year’s NBA Draft.

Nikita Mikhailovskii (00′; 6-7, SF, Russia, Avtodor)

The Russian prospect drew some real interest last season, having some pretty good games in VTB League, looking like a prospect worth keeping in mind. One year later, Mikhailovskii looks like has hit a wall. Mikhailivskii’s motor comes and goes and that’s probably his biggest problem. Playing for an inconsistent team, the Russian prospect hasn’t really shown anything different from the beginning of the season. He still remains a great shooter, who can also put the ball on the floor and (when he is motivated) can have an all around game and look like an NBA prospect. But he has to prove that he can be consistent and thus far this hasn’t happened.

Henri Drell (00′, 6-9, SF/PF, Estonia, Pesaro)

Another great prospect who chose to switch teams this past summer to find playing time with disheartening results. Henri Drell left his team in Germany (Brose Bamberg) to play in Italian’s 1st League with Pesaro, but he hasn’t really manage to make a case for himself. Playing for the first time at a high level, the Estonian wing has struggled mightily in every aspect of the game, even in scoring, which is suppose to be his calling card. Drell is a gifted scorer, with great size, who has shown flashes of a future NBA player. After the season he is having though it's difficult to see him declaring for this season's NBA Draft.

Louis Olinde (98′, 6-10, SF/PF, Germany, Bamberg)

Louis Olinde is in his draft-eligible year, having the best season of his young career. The truth is though that he still looks like he has long ways to go, despite his improvement in almost every area of his game. The German prospect once again leaves a lot to be desired, having a shaky motor and not fully taking advantage of his great physical tools. Olinde has been on the NBA radar for ages. His versatility on defense, ability to make the simple play and potential as a Spot Up shooter (mostly Standstill) are what makes him a perfect fit for the modern era. He could still get drafted in the second round because of his upside, but for this to happen he has to convince scouts that he has the dawg in him.

Borisa Simanic (98′, 6-11, PF, Serbia, Crvena Zvezda)

An NBA prospect for years, Borisa Simanic is having his last draft eligible year, taking a step back this season. With Crvena Zvezda playing in EuroLeague, Simanic found himself behind many veterans, doing most of his work in Aba League in low competitive games.Simanic was always intriguing. Standing at 6-11, being a fluid athlete and a very good shooter, he had “Stretch-4” written all over him. He could make plays off the dribble, he could switch to guard perimeter players. He can still do a lot of those things. But his limited playing time this season and his inconsistent performances and energy has hurt his stock.

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NCAA Power 16 Rankings http://massimobali.com/?man=ncaa-power-16-rankings-185/ http://massimobali.com/?man=ncaa-power-16-rankings-185/#respond Wed, 04 Mar 2020 01:10:18 +0000 http://massimobali.com/?man=?p=1225383 This was definitely the hardest rankings of the year to put together. Throughout the week, 9 of the 16 teams from last week lost at least one game, including each team ranked between 7th and 12th. Most conferences have just one week remaining in the regular season while some others are starting conference championships this…

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This was definitely the hardest rankings of the year to put together. Throughout the week, 9 of the 16 teams from last week lost at least one game, including each team ranked between 7th and 12th. Most conferences have just one week remaining in the regular season while some others are starting conference championships this week. With one final week remaining, here are this week’s Power 16 and Players of the Week.

1. Kansas (26-3)

Kansas built it’s lead on the rest of the country with two wins over Oklahoma State and Kansas State. The Jayhawks have really established themselves as a legit No. 1 seed moving into the postseason are probably playing the best basketball as a team all season. There is still the possibility of a trilogy between Kansas and Baylor which would be another fight for the crown in the Big 12.

2. Gonzaga (29-2)

The Zags closed out the regular season strong, adding wins over San Diego and Saint Mary’s to rebound from the BYU loss from last week. Mark Few will get over a week to get his team ready to close out the WCC tournament having secured a bye until the semifinal. Also, the tournament will likely give Gonzaga a chance to redeem themselves against BYU.

3. Dayton (27-2)

Dayton took down George Mason on the road before beating Davidson by 15 points at home this week. Despite what some people may think, this Flyers team has a real chance at cutting down the nets this season. We know about Obi Toppin, but there are other players on this team that can hurt you if you zone in on Toppin too much. Dayton will likely deservedly receive a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

4. Kentucky (24-5)

The Wildcats further proved what I’ve believed for some time now. Kentucky is the best team in the SEC. Wins over Texas A&M and Auburn have locked up the conference’s regular season crown and John Calipari’s team is now hitting its stride at the perfect time. This team is built to make a deep run in the postseason.

5. Baylor (25-3)

Baylor cruised past Kansas State this week, but also lost to TCU on the road. This was the Bears’ second loss in as many weeks and will be on upset alert for the final two games of the year as well. Texas Tech and West Virginia are no walk in the parks and are the next opponents on the schedule. This is a huge bounce back spot for Baylor.

6. San Diego State (28-1)

The Aztecs survived two pretty close games this week with a 6-point win over Colorado State and a 7-point win over Nevada. This wasn’t the type of response I was hoping for after the loss to UNLV, but at least it’s two wins. Having no ranked wins on the schedule and a pretty weak conference I don’t think SDSU deserves a spot on the No. 1 line, but a No. 2 seed is no short feat for this team.

7. Florida State (24-5)

This is where the rankings became very tough between a handful of teams. FSU outclassed Louisville, but then lost to Clemson. However, Clemson is a team that has a couple of high-profile upsets and was also at home, which lets me give the Seminoles the benefit of the doubt. The ACC tournament should be a lot of fun and will also provide Florida State a chance to further increase its ranking.

8. Seton Hall (21-7)

Seton Hall only played once this week, but picked up a win on the road against Marquette. The Big East has been similar to the Big Ten this season, a lot of good teams without one being able to separate from the pack. I think Seton Hall and Villanova are neck and neck, but Seton Hall has played the better basketball over the last month. The Big East tournament should be a hell of a ride.

9. Oregon (22-7)

The Ducks also graced the hardwood just once, but used the time to beat up on in-state rival Oregon State. Oregon seems to have lost the steam from earlier in the year but still remains as one of elite teams in the country in my eyes. I’m looking for Oregon to make a statement in the closing weeks before the big dance.

10. Louisville (24-6)

Louisville got beaten pretty bad by Florida State before bouncing back with a win over Virginia Tech. It seems like an eternity ago that this same team was once viewed as the consensus No. 1 team in the country. I don’t think the Cardinals are one of the favorites to win it all, but they’re definitely capable of getting hot and making a run at it.

11. Maryland (23-6)

Maryland skated past Minnesota on the road before being beaten by Michigan State at home. My faith in Maryland ahs been dwindling a little bit in the last couple of weeks, but the Terps are still the top team in arguably the toughest conference and that deserves some credit.

12. Virginia (21-7)

I’ve slowly been moving Virginia up the ranks the past couple of weeks and this week the team made the big statement to vault them into the Power 16. The win over Duke was a much-needed resume booster and now the Cavaliers are right in the conversation amongst the top teams in the ACC. As always, the team isn’t flashy, but they are finding ways to win games and that’s what really matters.

13. Duke (23-6)

Duke has now hit a wall. The Blu Devils have lost three of the last four games, including dropping both games this week against Wake Forest and Virginia. As is usually the case, Duke has one of the most talented rosters in the country, but seem to be struggling lately when it comes to figuring out how to use that talent.

14. Michigan State (20-9)

The Spartans have risen from the (seemingly) dead and have jumped back into our rankings. This week MSU added two big wins over Iowa and Maryland. Just like that, Michigan State is back in contention for the Big Ten title. The end of the year brings two more ranked opponents in Penn State and Ohio State, making the final stretch a difficult one for Tom Izzo.

15. Villanova (22-7)

Believe it or not, Villanova is third in the Big East, a conference we’re used to see them dominating. A loss to Providence, at home, isn’t a great look at this point in the season but I’m still not too concerned. A clash with Seton Hall next week is a great chance to make people forget about this loss and would also be a big confidence booster moving into the postseason.

16. BYU (24-7)

BYU made the big headlines a week ago with a win over Gonzaga, but only got to play one game this week in which they beat Pepperdine. I have to be honest, I don’t know if this team is truly a top 16 team right now, but hopefully we see a rematch against the Zags that will shine a brighter light on the makeup of the makeup of the Cougars.
Next Five: Creighton, Auburn, Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State

Players of the Week

1. Luka Garza – Iowa

It’s only right that Luka Garza is up here once again. He is the overwhelming favorite (in my eyes) to win National Player of the Year and this week just built his case even stronger. He scored 20 points to go along with 9 rebounds and 3 assists against Michigan State before going for 25 points, 17 rebounds and 4 blocks in a win over Penn State.

2. Cassius Winston – Michigan State

Like I mentioned above, Michigan State is back and it’s largely in part to Cassius Winston. In the team’s big week, he had a 20-point, 9 assist and 5-rebound performance against Iowa, and tallied 20 points, 6 assists and 3 boards against Maryland.

3. Immanuel Quickley – Kentucky

Long story short, Immanuel Quickley went off this week. Against Texas A&M, he snapped for 30 points on 11-for-19 shooting, including 8-for-12 from behind the arc. Quickley then followed up with 18 points and 12 rebounds against Auburn in a title-clinching game.

4. Filip Petrusev – Gonzaga

Against San Diego, Filip Petrusev tallied 21 points and 9 rebounds and then finished with 27 points on 8-for-12 shooting against Saint Mary’s. On a pretty balanced team, Petrusev has emerged as arguably the most lethal threat and will need to stay hot for the team’s success moving forward.

5. Obi Toppin – Dayton

We all know Obi Toppin is good, but he just continues to prove it week after week. This time around he scored 19 point and grabbed 7 boards against George Mason and then scored 23 points on an impressive 10-for-11 shooting against Davidson. He also corralled 12 rebounds and had 4 assists in the game.

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Basketball Without Borders: Top Prospects http://massimobali.com/?man=basketball-without-borders-top-prospects-3/ http://massimobali.com/?man=basketball-without-borders-top-prospects-3/#respond Sun, 01 Mar 2020 15:42:38 +0000 http://massimobali.com/?man=?p=1225258 Basketball Without Borders provides a showcase for high-level international prospects. With a mix of players living in their home country and others playing in the US, it’s an opportunity to see how they stack up against each other. Here’s a few players who played well. * was the camp’s top prospect but he was left…

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Basketball Without Borders provides a showcase for high-level international prospects. With a mix of players living in their home country and others playing in the US, it’s an opportunity to see how they stack up against each other. Here’s a few players who played well.

*Moussa Cisse was the camp’s top prospect but he was left off the evaluation since he only played the first day of camp.

Top Prospects

1. Bennedict Mathurin 6’6 180 PG/SG – Canada 2002 (Arizona)

Mathurin had a terrific three days. He’s an explosive athlete and attacked the rim against any defense, including an and-one dunk in the half-court to seal the championship. He shot well off the dribble, using pull-ups or letting it fly in the face of the defense. He got to the rim off the dribble and didn’t need triple threat, he has good strength and kept his dribble alive after the defense trying to bump him off his path. Mathurin definitely helped himself at Borders and took it at many highly touted prospects to lead his team to win the championship.

2. Jean Montero 6’2 172 PG – Dominican Republic 2003

Montero was one of the youngest prospects in the camp and showed out as a scorer. He handles the ball very well and wasn’t fazed with a defender pressuring him; changing directions, penetrating to the rim, and stopping on a dime to pull up for a jump shot or step back. His shot mechanics and results were the best of the camp, showing midrange and 3PT shooting. He’s quick but not real explosive, finishing below the rim. He runs the pick and roll well and had good timing on his execution. Defensively, he had active hands on the ball but picked up fouls reaching in.

3. Sadraque Nganga 6’10 198 SF/PF – Angola 2003

Nganga has great mobility and coordination. He utilized his size to back down smaller defenders, flashing some ability to score in the post and step out and shoot a little, although both areas are in need of development. He made some nice passes and would start the offense after grabbing rebounds, showing a solid understanding as a pick and roll ball handler. Defensively, he’s long and athletic with versatile ability to switch but has to improve positioning on that end of the floor.

4. Ariel Hukporti 7’0 250 C – Germany 2002

Camp MVP, Ariel Hukporti (pictured) had a great showing, especially on the final day of camp. He’s strong and a bit more physically developed than some of the other participants. He’s an athletic finisher, displaying it in both the half-court as well as running the floor to finish in transition. He shot well in drills and made a fair amount of threes in the games as well. He was a difficult matchup with his size, athleticism, and skills; drawing numerous fouls and has a solid free throw stroke to capitalize. He has a nice hook; both a jump hook in the post and a running hook on the move. He also has good touch around the basket in general. He does need work with his right hand as he was very left hand dominant. Defensively, although it won’t be his strength, he did show some ability to defend the perimeter in space but he’s not real quick laterally. However, he defended well in the post. Hukporti showed out and outplayed some 5-stars, showing why he was MVP.

5. Adama Sanogo 6’9 245 PF/C – Mali 2002

Sanogo has made great improvement since I’ve seen him last year. He’s able to step out and shoot from 3PT range, and his misses didn’t look bad either. He’s strong but has soft hands and swift footwork for his size, he even pulled out a eurostep in transition on one play. Athletically, he gets up well to finish, rebound, and protect the paint. He has good hands and was always ready for the ball, successfully executing the pick and roll with teammate Jean Montero. Sanogo consistently played hard and helped his stock over the weekend.

Others

Josh Primo 6’6 190 SG – Canada 2002

Primo’s a confident scorer. He hit a lot of threes but his shot selection can use some work. He settled for a few contested step back 3PTers that weren’t within the flow of the offense. He had some strong drives and finished above the rim occasionally. Overall, Primo had a solid showing.

Yannick Kraag 6’7 178 SF – Netherlands 2002

Kraag has good length and defensive potential, he picked the ball handler on occasions but also picked up some bad reach in fouls. Throughout the camp, he spent time guarding both the perimeter and big men. Offensively, he shows a nice stroke from the foul line but wasn’t consistently knocking down jumpers in the games. Although he’s not real strong, he didn’t shy away from contact but he lost the ball following some bumps at times. He can also improve his post finishing. His length and athleticism allowed him to finish in the paint, as he had a handful of dunks he got up quickly for, not needing to gather on his way to the rim. While Kraag has some things to improve upon, he was still effective on the floor.

Olivier Maxence Prosper 6’8 200 SF – Canada 2002 (Clemson)

Prosper had an impressive weekend with his high-level athleticism and motor. He has a good balance of playing hard but not forcing his impact and letting it come to him. He was also active on the defensive end, jumping passes to end with a fast break jam. In the half-court, he drove to the rim and showed reliability as a jump shooter.

Azuolas Tubelis 6’9 227 SF – Lithuania 2002

Tubelis showed high-level run and jump ability, throwing down big dunks off his one-foot leap. He was much more effective in transition than the half-court. He showed some ability to adjust to the defense on the drive and flashed a floater but most attacks were in a straight line. Although he didn’t have a lot of variety to his scoring or show much perimeter offense, Tubelis opened some eyes throwing it down over the defense on multiple occasions.

Charles Bediako 6’10 210 C – Canada 2002

Bediako’s size, strength, and physical style of play made him one of the most impactful players in the paint. He was a beast on the boards and dunked everything in the paint. He scored in the low post and has some potential to face up, driving out of the high post and solid form as a free throw shooter. He still has some work to do with his ball skills as he doesn’t always look comfortable; dribbling high and struggles passing on the move, as he has to come to a complete stop before giving it up.

Juhann Begarin 6’4 192 PG/SG – France 2002

Begarin’s best showing was on the final day of camp. He was best in transition, where the majority of his points came from. Although he over-dribbled at times, he was effective in isolation, taking his man off the dribble, and was strong taking it to the rim. He has a good change of pace with the ball but he forced passes and had a few unforced turnovers by simply losing the ball while gathering for a finisher. His shot was hit and miss over the weekend as there’s still room for improvement as a perimeter shooter.

Juan Fernandez 6’10 213 PF – Argentina 2002

Fernandez may not have the same long-term potential as some of the others but he’s skilled at his size. Smooth with the ball, hitting up and under layups, and covered a lot of ground on the strides of his effective eurostep. His passing was a plus as well, distributing out of drives and no looks on the move. His athleticism isn’t among the elite but his creativity and ability to use either hand was impressive.

Moussa Diabate 6’9 209 PF – France 2002

Diabate had a good weekend. While well-coordinated and fluid facing up, his jump shot is still a work in progress as he tends to push it, and results were all over the place, airballing an open look on at least an occasion. He can play all over the floor and was solid defensively. Where he stood out the most was as an offensive rebounder, converting second chance opportunities on a consistent basis. He also looked more explosive than when I had seen him in the past, driving with aggression and finishing above the rim on some drives.

Alex Tchikou 6’11 205 SF/PF – France 2002

Tchikou provides 5-star talent and tools but he has a way to go utilizing it into consistent production. He’s been up and down the previous three times I’ve seen him this year. He flashes ability to shoot, put the ball down and drive, and good athleticism but doesn’t always play to his strengths. He seems to think he’s a guard and hangs out on the perimeter too often, I’m not sure that’s going to change as his career progresses.

Jerry Ngopot 6’8 224 PF – Central Africa Rep 2002

Ngopot is an athlete with raw skills at the moment, as he needs work in some areas. His footwork is raw and he was out of control at times. His shot was all over the place but he did make the defense pay occasionally. He has a shaky handle; looking like he’s about to lose the ball when dribbling and mishandled some passes as well. With that said, he played hard and threw down numerous dunks throughout the camp.

Kai Sotto 7’2 210 C – Philippines 2002

Sotto was the tallest participant at 7’2. There’s been a lot of buzz around him lately and it’s easy to see why. He’s skilled offensively, with a strong face up game and shooting ability. He’s also very accurate around the rim and the lefty doesn’t hesitate to go to his right. He’s very mobile and gets good lift around the basket, trying to dunk and block everything, but he lacks speed and he’s not great stepping out to defend the perimeter, struggling to keep Charles Bediako in front of him on a string of consecutive plays at one point. Sotto is alert, passes well for a big man, and has a good basketball IQ to go along with his size and skillset.

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NCAA Power 16 Rankings http://massimobali.com/?man=ncaa-power-16-rankings-184/ http://massimobali.com/?man=ncaa-power-16-rankings-184/#respond Tue, 25 Feb 2020 23:14:11 +0000 http://massimobali.com/?man=?p=1225249 This season we have seen a lot of chaos in the rankings, but for the most part the top of the list has remained relatively the same. This week that all changed. Four of the top five teams from our rankings suffered a loss, while 12 of the 21 teams from the rankings a week…

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This season we have seen a lot of chaos in the rankings, but for the most part the top of the list has remained relatively the same. This week that all changed. Four of the top five teams from our rankings suffered a loss, while 12 of the 21 teams from the rankings a week ago couldn’t escape the week unscathed. I don’t even know a proper way to summarize, let’s just get to the Power 16 and Players of the Week.

1. Kansas (24-3)

The Jayhawks become the top dog in our list after its big win over previously ranked No. 1 Baylor. Kansas has the best resume in the country now. Two of the losses are by a combined three points and come to two teams in the Power 16 (Duke/Villanova) and have now avenged the other loss on the schedule. This likely will not be the last time Kansas meets Baylor, whether it comes in the Big 12 Tournament or during March Madness.

2. Baylor (24-2)

Baylor only drops one spot here. The Bears still have a win over Kansas on the road and remain one of the best teams in the country. I don’t think anyone is really too worried after a loss to Kansas and rightfully so. The Bears are still in line for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, assuming they don’t collapse in the last couple of weeks.

3. Gonzaga (27-2)

Gonzaga lost its first game in what seems like an eternity. BYU hosted the Zags and were too much to handle for Mark Few’s team. It’s been some time since we had seen the Bulldogs look as bad as they did and for now, we’ll chalk it up as an off-night. Gonzaga’s defense has been a bit suspect at times this season, so hopefully they can tighten it up come crunch time.

4. Dayton (25-2)

Dayton moves up thanks to wins over VCU and Duquesne, but really, it’s more because of the losses ahead of them. The Flyers seem to be thought of as a fluke team, but they have already proven they can compete with the elites (i.e Kansas) and show no signs of weakness in the A10. I like Dayton to run the table and secure a No. 1 seed in the postseason.

5. Kentucky (22-5)

The Wildcats built on their lead in the SEC with wins over LSU and Florida this week. Kentucky has been showing a tendency to be in a lot of close games, which is both concerning and promising. On one hand, they can’t pull away from opponents, but they also have shown time and time again they can execute down the stretch and find ways to win games.

6. San Diego State (26-1)

I was so sure that SDSU had secured the perfect season, but then UNLV came to town. Of the remaining games on the schedule, UNLV was probably the last team I would’ve picked to beat the Aztec but here we are. I don’t think this loss is too much to look into but it did probably cost San Diego State a No. 1 seed moving forward.

7. Louisville (23-5)

Louisville responded to its back-to-back losses with two blowouts over Syracuse and UNC. The Cardinals have almost made you forget last week even happened because of how good they looked on the court this week. A big clash with Florida State is awaiting the Cards, the winner of which will take the top spot in the ACC standings.

8. Duke (23-4)

The Blue Devils opened the week with an embarrassing performance against NC State. A 22-point loss is a pretty bad look this late in the season, but the team did respond with a 24-point win over Virginia Tech. Duke does get a chance to avenge this loss with a matchup against NC State in a couple weeks.

9. Florida State (23-4)

The third straight ACC team in the rankings goes to the Seminoles. The top of the conference is tight as can be, and a looming matchup against Louisville can help give FSU a much-needed boost. Florida State slots right behind Duke, since Duke has the head-to-head win over the Seminoles.

10. Maryland (22-5)

Maryland suffered its first loss in a while, this time at the hands of Ohio State on the road. Regardless, the Terps are still the top team in the Big Ten, having built a multi-game lead in the loaded conference. A road loss in the Big Ten is nothing to be concerned about since literally every other team seems unable to win a road game in conference play.

11. Villanova (21-6)

Villanova picked up a pair of wins two of the Big East’s weaker opponents in DePaul and Xavier. Despite not having the best conference record, I still do believe that Nova is the best team in the conference. Seton Hall and Creighton are close, but Jay Wright has earned the benefit of the doubt in these situations.

12. Creighton (22-6)

The Blue Jays had a big week. They took down Marquette on the road and then absolutely clobbered Butler at home. The last two and a half weeks have been incredible for Creighton, picking up three ranked wins. Watch out for this team making a late push in the Big East.

13. Seton Hall (20-7)

Rounding out the second same-conference trio in the rankings, comes Seton Hall. The Pirates beat Butler and St. John’s this week and are now gearing up for a brutal end of the season schedule. They have to travel to Marquette and Creighton as well as host Villanova for the team’s final three games. If Seton Hall can finish the regular season unbeaten, they would have to be the top team in the Big East.

14. Auburn (23-4)

Auburn looked pretty bad when they lost to Georgia early in the week, but did rebound a little with a win over Tennessee. The Tigers are the one team in the nation with an elite record that doesn’t get the elite-level love. For now, I don’t think they deserve it but can add a win over Kentucky this week which may change my mind.

15. Oregon (21-7)

The Ducks travelled to Arizona State, the hottest team in the Pac 12, and suffered a 5-point loss. They then went into Arizona’s place and won an OT thriller by a single point. The top spot in the conference is now a five-team race which makes these next couple of games important for the Ducks. I’m going to view the upcoming games as playoff games and see if Oregon is good enough to be a legit contender.

16. Penn State (20-7)

There’s no other way to put it other than that this was an embarrassing week for the Nittany Lions. They crack a spot in the top ten and then immediately lose two games, one to Illinois at home and then on the toad to Indiana. Despite late game runs in each contest, Penn State looked outclassed in both games. PSU needs to pick it back up in the coming weeks.

Next Five: Virginia, Iowa, BYU, Colorado, Arizona State

Players of the Week

1. Udoka Azubuike – Kansas

Udoka Azubuike opened the week with a modest 13-point, 7-rebound performance but then absolutely snapped in the win against Baylor. He finished with 23 points, 19 rebounds and 3 blocks and was unquestionably the best player on the floor. Azubuike was 5-for-7 from the field against Iowa State and 11-for-13 against the Bears.

2. Payton Pritchard – Oregon

Payton Pritchard helped spark a late-game run, but ultimately the team fell short against Arizona State. He finished with 18 points against the Sun Devils, but made a bigger impact in the OT win over Arizona. Pritchard tallied 38 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists in the contest, setting a career-high in scoring.

3. Immanuel Quickley – Kentucky

Immanuel Quickley makes his first appearance on this list after leading the Wildcats in scoring in both games this week. He scored 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting and added 5 assists, 4 boards and 3 steals against LSU. Quickley then scored a career-high 26 points in a win over Florida.

4. Jordan Nwora – Louisville

It’s been awhile since Jordan Nwora made this list, but he’s back. It wasn’t a crazy week by any means, but two solid outings nonetheless. He scored 17 points and grabbed 7 rebounds against Syracuse and recorded 18 points and 11 rebounds against UNC.

5. Daniel Oturu – Minnesota

Daniel Oturu Started the week with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks in a loss to Indiana, but responded with a 22-point, 12-rebound, 3-block outing against Northwestern. Oturu is one of the best big men in the Big Ten, and maybe even the country. He’s definitely been playing like it.

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NCAA Power 16 Rankings http://massimobali.com/?man=ncaa-power-16-rankings-183/ http://massimobali.com/?man=ncaa-power-16-rankings-183/#respond Tue, 18 Feb 2020 04:57:01 +0000 http://massimobali.com/?man=?p=1225028 If there was ever a day to summarize this wild season it would’ve been this Saturday. On Saturday, 7 ranked teams lost to unranked opponents. What’s crazier is that it isn’t even the most on a single day this season. On our list we have a new No. 1, three new additions to the top…

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If there was ever a day to summarize this wild season it would’ve been this Saturday. On Saturday, 7 ranked teams lost to unranked opponents. What’s crazier is that it isn’t even the most on a single day this season. On our list we have a new No. 1, three new additions to the top 10 and two new teams joining the rankings. Louisville and Seton Hall losing two games a piece caps off the crazy week which leads us to this week’s Power 16 and Players of the Week.

1. Baylor (23-1)

After a couple of weeks, I’m finally ready to give the Bears the No. 1 spot on this list. The win over West Virginia, in which Baylor had the lead from start to finish, was impressive enough to give them the edge over Gonzaga. However, the top spot is in danger as a clash with Kansas this upcoming week brings yet another opportunity to build their resume.

2. Gonzaga (26-1)

Gonzaga only played one game this week and traveled to Pepperdine for an easy win. The Zags, along with Baylor, continue to distance themselves from the rest of the country with their continued success. With a No. 1 seed in the tournament all but locked up, the Bulldogs just need to take care of business from here on out in the regular season.

3. Kansas (22-3)

This week Kansas went on the road to take down WVU and also hosted Oklahoma in a 17-point win. It’ll be interesting to see how the upcoming game against Baylor impacts rankings and perception as the two top dogs in the Big 12 fight for a No. 1 seed. The Jayhawks already dropped their home game against the Bears and will need to steal a win on the road to make up for it.

4. San Diego State (26-0)

San Diego State is now just three games away from perfection after taking down New Mexico and Boise State this week. Assuming that the Aztecs run the table and finish the year undefeated, the only question will be whether or not SDSU gets the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament. If they drop a game, it becomes a question of if they are a No. 1 seed at all.

5. Duke (22-3)

The Blue Devils, despite not having the star power as in years’ past, might have one of the better Duke teams in recent memory. With a win over Florida State and an annihilation of Notre Dame, Duke is now the top team in the ACC. Coach K has depth and multiple shooters, something he’s lacked in the past, and now it’s up to him to figure out a National Championship game plan to implement.

6. Dayton (23-2)

Outside of Obi Toppin throwing down a windmill dunk on his brother who plays for Rhode Island, this was just another run-of-the-mill week for the Flyers. Dayton has won 14 straight games and has shown no signs of slowing down. Dayton has a very real chance of running the table as ESPN’s BPI gives the team at least a 62% chance to win each of it’s remaining games.

7. Maryland (21-4)

The Terps barely edged out a 2-point win over Nebraska this week, but made a bigger splash with their win over Michigan State on the road. Maryland has had a lead on the rest of the Big Ten for quite some time and has now become one of two teams remaining in true contention for the crown.

8. Kentucky (20-5)

Kentucky has been flying under the radar (for Kentucky standards) but has been one of the most solid and consistent teams throughout the year. The rest of the month is pretty tough for the Wildcats, having to face LSU, Florida and Auburn before March comes around. Big Blue Nation holds the lead in the SEC and could very well win the conference once again.

9. Penn State (20-5)

If someone were to tell me that Penn State would be a top ten team this year, I would’ve told them that they’re crazy, but here we are. The Nittany Lions have won 8 straight games and have one of the most impressive road-win resumes in the nation. PSU is just one game back of the Maryland at the top of the conference, but faces a tough schedule for the rest of the regular season.

10. Oregon (19-6)

The Ducks took down both Colorado and Utah this week, picking up a much-needed ranked win against an in-conference opponent. Oregon seems to have dropped off a bit from where they were earlier in the season, but remain a legit title contender in my eyes. The team isn’t flashy, but their scrappy and experienced. Regardless of what standings might say, this is the best team in the Pac 12.

11. Auburn (22-3)

Auburn continued their tendency of being in close games, as they took Alabama to OT in a win, but then lost to Missouri on the road. Despite the loss, the Tigers are still owners of one of the best records in the country, but not necessarily one of the best resumes. You get the feeling that this team still has something to prove in the post season.

12. Louisville (21-5)

Louisville had a week to forget. Two losses to Georgia Tech and Clemson is a tough look for a team that was thought to be the best in the ACC. You could try to justify the losses because they were both on the road, but in neither game did the Cardinals look like they were the better team on the court. Bad week for sure, but not the end of the world.

13. Florida State (21-4)

The Seminoles had to travel to Cameron Indoor to play Duke, but ultimately suffered a 5-point loss. They did avenge the loss with a close win over Syracuse later in the week to bring their overall record to 21-4. Florida State is a very good team. The only question at this point is if they are a great team.

14. Villanova (19-6)

Nova was able to beat Marquette and Temple this week and jump back into the Power 16 because of it. Villanova, when clicking, is right up there with the best of them, however a glaring lack of consistency seems to be too much of a hindrance to allow the team to achieve greatness. Although, there are a couple of tough games left on the schedule to possibly prove me wrong.

15. Creighton (20-6)

Creighton kept their push going with a win at Seton Hall followed by a smacking of DePaul. Next week is another tough one, facing both Marquette and Butler. The Blue Jays are just one game out of the lead spot in the Big East and are using this late-season run to boost their rankings going into the post season.

16. Colorado (20-6)

The final spot in these rankings could have gone to a variety of teams but I ultimately gave it to Colorado. They did lose to Oregon this week, but it was on the road and they responded by beating Oregon State by 22 points. The Buffaloes are atop the Pac 12 standings which is a great accomplishment, but they aren’t a better team than the Ducks.

Next Five: Seton Hall, Marquette, Virginia, West Virginia, Houston

Players of the Week

1. Luka Garza – Iowa
Luka Garza is once again in the spotlight after another spectacular week. Against Indiana, Garza put up 38 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks. He then scored 24 points and grabbed 8 rebounds against Minnesota. Garza shot a combined 25-for-43 for the week.

2. Alpha Diallo – Providence

Alpha Diallo opened the week with a monster 19-point, 17-rebound performance. He then followed up with career-high 35 points in a win over Seton Hall. He also tallied 10 boards. Providence’s season hasn’t been much to write home about, but Diallo is a consistent bright spot on the team.

3. Austin Wiley – Auburn

In an overtime win against Alabama, Austin Wiley totaled 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting, 17 rebounds and 5 blocks. His next time on the floor he scored 22 points on 9-for-12 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds in a loss to Mizzou.

4. Jalen Smith – Maryland

During a 2-point win against Nebraska, Jalen Smith shot 7-for-10 from the floor on his way to 16 points and 13 rebounds. In the “upset” over Michigan State, Smith finished with 17 points and 10 boards. Smith has been the best player on the best team in the Big Ten this year.

5. Obi Toppin – Dayton
By now, most basketball fans know who Obi Toppin is. The Dayton star scored 22 points on 7-for-9 shooting and corralled 10 rebounds against Rhode Island before scoring 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting and adding 7 rebounds against UMass.

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