Recapping Tuesday Night in College Basketball

Photo via @VisionsByJeff

A lot happened last night for a Tuesday night in December. We had the Jimmy V Classic, which always features great basketball and a greater cause. We had two Top 10 teams fall, and two more teams in the Top 15 suffer losses. Let’s quickly recap what you may have missed last night.

Villanova Pounded Gonzaga

Villanova punished Gonzaga on a night where Jalen Brunson struggled and Donte DiVincenzo was in foul trouble. Granted, Jonathan Williams only played 18 minutes for the Zags, but this game was all Wildcats. Mikael Bridges was sensational, going off for a career high 28 points. Bridges was 5-9 from three point land and came up with big buckets every time Villanova needed one. The win showed both how short Jay Wright’s bench is, but also Nova’s ability to stay in games without a true point guard for stretches.

Tyus Battle Leads Cuse in Rivalry Game

The second game of the Jimmy V Classic featured an old Big East rivalry, as UConn and Syracuse met once again. In front of a terrific MSG crowd, it was the New Jersey product, Tyus Battle, who led ‘Cuse to a win. Battle had 22 and fellow Hoop Group alum Matt Moyer had a career high 18. The unexpected outburst from Moyer was huge, as Frank Howard struggled again for Syracuse. On the other end, the Huskies continue to struggle to pick up a resume building win. Jalen Adams led the way with 22 of his own, but it was not enough.

Arizona Picked up a MUCH Needed Victory

Sean Miller’s seat has been on fire since the Battle 4 Atlantis. Not literally, his job is safe, but Arizona’s struggles have been put under a big microscope this year. The Cats quieted some of that talk last night with a win over #7 Texas A&M. Positively speaking, Arizona had four players score 13 points, and none of them were Allonzo Trier. DeAndre Ayton recorded another double-double, and a bonehead play that almost gave A&M a chance to tie it in the final seconds. With Rawle Alkins cleared for full contact, this could be the win that turns Arizona around.

Notre Dame Upset

In what was by far the upset of the night, the #9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish fell to Ball State in South Bend. Tayler Persons led Ball State with 24 points, none bigger than the 3 he hit with 1.7 seconds remaining. The Cardinals led by as much as 9 in the second half, surrendered that lead, and held on thanks to Persons’s heroics. The Irish will look to rebound this weekend against Delaware before an in-state battle with Indiana.

West Virginia is Streaking

It was defense vs defense as West Virginia picked up a big non-conference win against the #15 ranked Virginia Cavaliers. After giving up 88 points in a blowout loss on the first night of the season, Bob Huggins’s team has held teams to just 63 points per game and 37% shooting. None of these teams have as potent of an offense as Texas A&M , but it’s clear defense is still the key in West Virginia. In addition, Jevon Carter has been extraordinary. Last night was no different, as he recorded 23 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists.

Shaka Smart Returns to VCU Victorious

In what was an emotional game in front of a raucous crowd, Shaka Smart returned to Richmond and was victorious against his former team. The Longhorns look like they have a serious three headed attack with Andrew Jones, Dylan Osetkowski and Mo Bamba. This looked like Bamba’s most complete game, recording a double-double (13 points and 13 rebounds) and tallying 4 blocks. His defense has been a constant all season, averaging over 3 blocks a game, but his offense appears to be coming around now as well. Oh, and then he also did this…

Big Ten Takes Another Hit

The Big Ten’s struggle as a conference has been mentioned on multiple occasions so far. The early take on the conference has been that it has three definite tournament teams in Michigan State, Minnesota and Purdue, and question marks everywhere else. Well one of those teams suffered a bad loss last night, as Minnesota lost on the road to Nebraska. Jordan Murphy was held in check for the Gophers, finishing with 10 points on just 4-12 shooting. Meanwhile, Glynn Watson Jr. went off for the Cornhuskers, recording a game high 29 in the win. The Big Ten looks clearly to be Michigan State, and then everyone else.

Cole Swider – HG Insider Player Spotlight

cole swider

Villanova commit Cole Swider shined at the Oladipo Skills Academy with his elite shooting ability. Swider is coming off a breakout AAU season with BABC. Other schools he was considering were Duke, Xavier and Syracuse. Swider showed what makes him such an intriguing prospect and why he was such a priority for Jay Wright and his staff. Swider led his team at camp in scoring, where he has made his biggest mark on the grassroots scene. He made a statement at the Nike Peach Jam as he averaged 23.2 points per game. Swider is intriguing as he is talented enough to make an impact right away for the Wildcats. He has done a great job showing that he is more than just a shooter this season. Swider is able to get into the lane and create for himself and his teammates because of his improved ball handling.

Swider was flying under the radar prior to this AAU season, but stepped up on the Nike EYBL circuit for BABC and his stock skyrocketed. He has been great during the July live period and seems to only be taking his game to a higher level as this season has progressed. The next step for Swider will be to bring home a NEPSAC “AA” championship for St. Andrew’s. He has played with a lot of confidence and will head into next high school season with a lot of momentum. They will heavily rely on him, but he has shown that he is more than capable of leading a team. The Villanova Wildcats got a great one in Cole Swider and it could be an even bigger get than people realize with the way he has played this summer. Swider is an excellent prospect and is yet another one to watch this high school season.

Pooley’s Picks – 2016 PSA Prep School Showcase

Pooley’s Picks

2016 PSA Prep School Showcase

Qualifications:  This week we’ll have a little different approach to Pooley’s Picks.  Often, with working at the Hoop Group, I’ll get to travel and see different events.  This past weekend I was able to get down to The Hill School and watch the 2016 PSA Prep School Showcase.  The event was loaded with coaches, talent, and great moments. The following are a selection of the Top 10 things I took away from the showcase.

Picks are in no particular order. Please enjoy the fourth installment of Pooley’s Picks.

Chase Audige: The 6’4″ junior from Hill was very impressive in the win over Isaiah Christopher Academy.  Chase had some electrifying plays, but was also a consistent scorer willing passer.  The wing is quickly going from a high potential kid, to a star.  Look for Chase to continue to develop over the next year and look for Hill to have an extremely successful year under coach Seth Eilberg.

 

 

tyler-jones

Tyler Jones: The 5’11” senior from Peddie had 20 in an overtime win against Canada Top Flight Academy.  The guard can do it all, and has a much improved jump shot with excellent form and rotation.  Tyler earned his MVP late in the game scoring crucial buckets and running the show.  Thus far uncommitted: Tyler may be a guard that could be on a lot of scholarship schools radars as the HS season draws to a close.

Canada Top Flight Academy (Ottawa) at the 2016 PSA Prep School Showcase

Canada Top Flight Academy (Ottawa) at the 2016 PSA Prep School Showcase

International Flavor:  The 2016 PSA Prep Showcase featured a little basketball from our friends to the north.  Canada Top Flight Academy probably didn’t have their best showing but kept Peddie on the ropes into overtime.  2017 Lual Akot impressed, hitting a couple of deep threes and flushing a couple dunks in traffic.  Overall CTA came down and represented well.  Look forward to see what they have to offer as the season continues.

 

 

Walter Whyte: The 6’6″ BU bound guard was tough as he always is.  Carrying St. Luke’s at times, Walter rebounds, scores, handles to ball, and plays defense.  The senior also did what seniors have to do: lead.  Walter was under control and facilitated Coach Gladstone’s game plan all night. An impressive win for St. Luke’s against a talented and well coached Hun School.

 

 

Mohammad Bamba: The 6’11” uncommitted senior is the real deal.  The entire Westtown team is the real deal.  Going up against a very good St. James team Mo looked like the NBA prospect that he is.  He blocked shots, scored, rebounded, and most importantly looked comfortable after coming back from injury.  He really is fun to watch.  Worth the trip to the 2016 PSA Prep Showcase just for him.  Lucky for us there was much more.

 

hill-school

The Venue: The Hill School was the perfect venue for the 2016 PSA Prep School Showcase.  The gym has a throwback feel, with excellent baskets and a redone floor.  Looks a little like a gym out of the movie Hoosiers with one high rise set of bleachers separated from the court by a 3 foot high padded wall.  On top of that the event felt full, but not crowded, and was loud with a good atmosphere during the close games.

 

 

view-from-coaches-section

View from the packed coaches section at the 2016 PSA Prep School Showcase

College Coaches:  The 2016 PSA Prep Showcase was loaded with college coaches.  An entire area of the bleachers was dedicated to the college recruiters and it was close to full for every game.  D1, D2, D3, JUCO, and scouts were all on hand to take a look at some of the top talent.  John Calipari, NCAA defending champ Jay Wright, Buzz Williams, Fran Dunphy, and Phil Martelli, were among the few who evaluated and scouted.

 

 

Hamidou Diallo: The 6’6″ senior is as sought after as anyone.  Up to #11 in the class of 2017, “Hami” got to the rim all night long.  The explosive guard is one of those players who can score in a variety of ways and create energy on the defensive end of the floor.

 

 

Atmosphere: First, the college coaches, next the fans, then the players, this had it all.  There was just an atmosphere of elite basketball and the feel that you get from seeing kids in HS who will be on TV in a few years.  NERR’s National Prep Showcase always signals the start of high school basketball for me.  This event had a similar feel to me: teams early in their season competing at a high level.

 

 

noah-collier

Noah Collier, 6’7″ at Westtown, a top 2020 at the 2016 PSA Prep School Showcase

The Freshman: Not necessarily something you think of when talking about a Prep Showcase.  However, the freshman that I got to see in limited minutes were excellent.  Westtown’s Noah Collier is a great kid, with a ton of upside, who can play multiple positions.  His ceiling is exceptionally high, and he even knocked down a couple jumpers.  Seth Berger’s son, backup guard TJ Berger, played limited minutes but showed a lot of potential on and off the ball.  Backcourt mate Seyon Kpaan, looked good in some extended minutes.  Niels Lane played more minutes for a freshman on a Hun School team than I’ve seen.  Coach Stone has some confidence in that youngster, who moves well and has a good feel for the game.  Much better 2020 representation than you would think with so many talented upperclassmen.

 

Special Thanks to Hoop Major for the videos and helping me cover the event in this article.  Ian Finnen is a rising star, and is going to be very good at whatever he decides to do.

Special shout out to Terrence Williams and the rest of the PSA Cardinals family for running a great event and being so media friendly.  Look forward to this event in the years moving forward.

 

And of course as always, everybody’s favorite:

Jenkins, Arcidiacono Create National Championship To Remember

Villanova National Champs

After Saturday’s Final Four games left a lot to be desired, with Oklahoma failing to produce and Syracuse being clearly outmatched, there was a lot of pressure on Monday night’s National Championship to put on a show; it did. UNC Senior Marcus Paige put on a performance in the final three minutes that was worthy of talking about for years to come. After three minutes of brilliance however, Paige’s one shining moment slipped through his hands in a matter of four seconds. Instead, it was Kris Jenkins, and the Villanova Wildcats, who cemented themselves in NCAA history.

You have probably seen the clip 500 times already: 4.7 second left, Villanova in-bounding the ball under their basket. Senior Ryan Arcidiacono, who had done nothing but make plays all tournament, took the ball up the floor, and made one more play to seal his legacy. Arcidiacono crossed half court, drew two defenders, and dished back to his teammate Jenkins, who drilled a three with no time left to give the Wildcats their first championship since 1985.

Jenkins, who now will forever be mentioned in the same breath as guys like Christian Laettner and Lorenzo Charles, has always had the clutch factor. One big reason why is his overwhelming confidence. “I think every shot’s going in,” he told ESPN.com. This one was no different.

It was only fitting that the shot used to drive a dagger through the heart of Tarheel fans was a three. Villanova set a school record this tournament for three-point field goal percentage in a game when they shot 67% from behind the arc against Miami; Jenkins led all shooters, tallying 21 points and shooting 80% from the field. The ‘Cats also had the highest team shooting percentage in a NCAA tournament in the past 50 years.

Not to be overlooked though, was the play made by Villanova’s leader. Having already scored 16 points on a cool six of nine shooting, all eyes were on Arch to take the final shot of regulation. The script was set: senior leader, averaging 19 points per game in the tournament, ball in his hands to take the final shot and ride off into the sunset. Instead, he did what he has done all tournament, not force the issue, and make the right play at the right time. It was a play they practice everyday, executed to perfection.

Ryan Arcidiacono showing off at Hoop Group Elite Camp as a junior in high school

Ryan Arcidiacono showing off at Hoop Group Elite Camp as a junior in high school

Five years ago, Arcidiacono sat at the Providence Jam Fest, just a high school point guard committed to Villanova University. He was eager to add to the school’s winning tradition and join their list of great point guards. “It’s just a great fit for me, the guard play and the tradition of Randy Foye, Kyle Lowry, Mike Nardi….I’m just hoping to bring a winning attitude and help the team win as many games as possible.”

Villanova has won 117 games in the last four seasons, three regular season Big East Championships, one Big East Tournament Title, and one National Championship. Mission accomplished.

Fast Facts:
-12 of the 14 players on Villanova’s roster are Hoop Group alumni. They accounted for 73 of the 77 Wildcat points.
-Final Four MOP Ryan Arcidiacano was a Hoop Group Elite attendee and Hoop Group Jam Fest champion.
-Senior center Daniel Ochefu was an MOP of Hoop Group Elite Camp
Josh Hart was the MVP of the Underclassmen Game at Elite Camp in 2011
Phil Booth, who led Villanova with 20 points last night, was a Southern Jam Fest participant with Team Takeover
-Mr. Big Shot, Kris Jenkins, made his mark early at both Hoop Group Elite Camp and the Pittsburgh Jam Fest
-Asssitant coaches Ashley Howard, Kyle Neptune and Student-Athlete Development coach Mike Nardi are all Hoop Group alumni. Howard was a full-time employee, while Neptune and Nardi worked and attended camp respectively.
-Lastly, head coach Jay Wright instructed at both Pocono and Eastern Invitational, now Hoop Group Skills and Hoop Group Elite Camp. He is also a very active recruiter at Hoop Group events throughout the year.

Jay Wright instructing at Eastern Invitational Camp, now Hoop Group Elite. Coach Wright has also spoken at Pocono Invitational, now Hoop Group Skills.

Jay Wright instructing at Eastern Invitational Camp, now Hoop Group Elite. Coach Wright has also spoken at Pocono Invitational, now Hoop Group Skills.

Congratulations to the Villanova Wildcats. The 2016 NCAA National Champions!