Category Archives: NCAA Basketball

Sitting Down With University of Buffalo’s, Javon McCrea

Sitting down with big man, Javon McCrea.

Mike Ortiz Jr.: When did you begin playing basketball?
Javon McCrea: I started playing basketball when I was 6 years old. Me and my uncle use to go out and play on the Fisher Price Hoops every day.

Ortiz Jr.: What was your best moment during high school?
McCrea: My best moment in High School had to be making it to the state championship finals. It was something me and my friends/teammates talked about doing our whole basketball careers.

Ortiz Jr.: How does it feel to be your High School’s most leading scorer of all time? Also when did you break that record?
McCrea: I broke the record my senior year. I believe mid way through. It felt good to accomplish something so big. My name will never be forgotten in Newark Basketball. It feels good to say that.

Ortiz Jr.: Take me through the game where you set the section V record for most blocks in a game?
McCrea: The previous two years we lost in the sectionals round. So I was determined to change that. I knew they would double team me a lot so my teammates would have to help me out. I wanted to focus on the defensive end of the floor rather than the offensive end. So I result I ended up with 18 blocks I believe.

Ortiz Jr.: Out of all your awards, honors, and accomplishments, which one stands out the most to you?
McCrea: The regional championship trophy my teammates and I received. We all just worked hard to get that.

Ortiz Jr.: Why did you choose the University of Buffalo to play basketball at?
McCrea: I enjoy my coach. And I knew they would push me. I also wanted to start a legacy. I was aware that Buffalo hasn’t done a few things other schools have.

Ortiz Jr.: What other schools were looking at you?
McCrea: Umass, Canisuis, Niagara and, Boston University.

Ortiz Jr.: Take me through your freshman year of College, how did it feel to not only be named Freshman Conference player of the year?
McCrea: It was a great honor to be named that. The conferences freshmen were really good last year. I just stayed determined.

Ortiz Jr.: Now you have yet to make it to an NCAA Tournament yet so I want to ask you when do you think that will be?
McCrea: Next Year we will be in the NCAA tournament.

Ortiz Jr.: Also many have said over the past couple of years and especially now that the lower conferences, like the Mid American Conference, should get more NCAA bids, do you agree?
McCrea: I definitely agree. The Mid American Conference is very under-rated. There are some really good schools in this conference.

Ortiz Jr.: So far, who’s been your toughest match-up as far a player that you’ve had to matchup with?
McCrea: I don’t really have a particular player I have struggled with. It’s been difficult this year to really name someone due to the double and triple teams they throw at me.

Ortiz Jr.: Do you plan on remaining at Buffalo for the rest of your college career? Or do you plan on transferring?
McCrea: I don’t Plan on transferring away from UB. We at least have to win a championship first.

Ortiz Jr.: What’s your main goal to get out of College?
McCrea: I definitely plan on getting my degree. Graduating is big in my family. I want to make my mother proud.

Ortiz Jr.: What are your plans after College, are they the NBA? If so what do you need to do to improve to be able to play in the NBA, or do you feel that you could right now?
McCrea: I see myself playing in the NBA. Anything under the NBA will be a disappointment for me. I need to improve ever aspect in my game before I think about it. There’s always room for improvement.

Ortiz Jr.: How did it feel to play on the Under 19 USA team? Do you think playing overseas helped you improve as a player?
McCrea: The USA basketball helped me out a lot. But it also help me realize that you can play against anyone. Just because the Media says the players are better than you doesn’t mean they actually are. If you believe the media then you are hurting yourself.

Ortiz Jr.: Now despite being a sophomore you’ve already made a great name for yourself at such a young age, but do you read the draft profiles and the rankings and the articles that are said about you? If so what’s the one that sticks out?
McCrea: I haven’t seen any of the draft articles yet but that stuff does attract my family members. They really enjoy to see things like that.

Ortiz Jr.: Also have any of those articles, negative or positive, motivated you?
McCrea: I’m not the person to get motivated off articles. My motivation is playing in the NBA. It motivates me everyday. Basketball has been great to me so far but im just getting started.

Ortiz Jr.: Last question, what’s the best advice that someone has told you?
McCrea: My mom told me never to quit. If you quit then you don’t have a chance. Nothing is impossible. And I have always remembered that.

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Does Fab Melo’s Decision To Go Pro Play A Role In Nerlens Noel’s Decision?

If Noel stays true to his word, then Fab Melo deciding to go to the NBA makes Noel's decision, Syracuse.

With less than a couple hours left until Kentucky and Kansas take the floor for the 2011-12 NCAA Championship game both, Kentucky fans and coaches will have another thing on their mind; Nerlens Noel. Where will he go?

Last week, Noel released a statement saying that he has cut his list down to three teams: Kentucky, Georgetown, and Syracuse.

Now the statement really hurt Syracuse fans as Noel, around December, said that if Center Fab Melo declared for the NBA draft, that he would sign with Syracuse. However, his statement of his three teams came to Orange fans as a shock as it was pretty much clear that Melo was headed to the NBA with all the off the court issues that he was dealing with. However, Melo didn’t technically declare yet, so for Orange fans to get question or get angry with Noel about cutting his list, were wrong.

Now late last night, Orange fans would get some bitter-sweet news as Center Fab Melo according to several sources, signed with an NBA agent, Arn Tellem.

“Fab Melo has signed with Arn Tellem, according to multiple sources, which means he obviously isn’t returning to Syracuse, as expected,” said Jonathan Givony of Draft Express.

This news now meant that Noel would choose Syracuse as his school to sign with (saying that what he said back in December was still true).

Well even if it wasn’t still true, Nerlens Noel still cared about Melo’s decision enough to post it on twitter, as he asked, “Did Fab Melo declare for the NBA Draft?”

Then a couple hours later, Noel’s best friend, Syracuse guard, Michael Carter-Williams, who has been said to be another reason why Noel would choose Syracuse, mentioned Noel in a tweet saying, “@NerlensNoel3 all I know is Cuse fans have shown you the most love by far!!!!!”

Now Noel has yet to decide where plans to go next fall or he has yet to update the status of his decision. However, if what he said back in December, about Fab Melo declaring was really true. Then expect Nerlens Noel to be suiting up in a Syracuse Orange jersey next season.

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Jacob Pullen Tweets About Bruce Weber’s Hiring: See What He Thinks

Jacob Pullen doesn't approve of the the Bruce Weber hiring.

Its official Bruce Weber is now the new head coach of the Kansas State Wildcats.

Weber, who coached at Illinois for nine seasons, brought the fighting Illini

to six NCAA tournaments, one NIT, and one Big Ten Championship. However, after going 17-15 this past season Weber, despite having an overall record of 210-101 since taking over for the Illini, was fired.

As for the details of the contract they have yet to have been released.

Kansas State has scheduled a press conference where they will comment about the hiring of Weber at 4 p.m. Eastern Time.

However, the commenting has already begun as former player, guard, Jacob Pullen who graduated in 2011 from Kansas State had a lot to say about the hiring of Weber.

“I support kstate for life no matter what but I’m not a Bruce Webber fan and I think Kstate can do a lot better,” said Pullen on his twitter account. “Bruce Webber didn’t think I was good enough to play at Illinois and I don’t think he is good enough to coach at Kansas State.”

Pullen would go onto conclude.

“This is just my thoughts like I said I will support my school regardless and losing a staff as good as we had is tough to replace,” said Pullen.

Then after the replies and responses started to come out, Pullen said this.

“Now people in my mentions smh I’m not being disrespectful I’m not in college and I can say what’s on my mind that’s just how I feel,” said Pullen. “Lmao now people say I’m jealous he passed on me lol no I’m happy I went to kstate and wouldn’t change that for the world. And please don’t speak on his national championship run that he made with bill self players and the best backcourt in the big ten three pros.”

The team that Pullen was referring to was the Illinois team from 2004-05 as for the three professional players that he was referring to, were actually really five professional players that played on that team.

As for the players that went to the NBA were, Guard, Luther Head (Currently with the Sacramento Kings), guard, Dee Brown (2008-09, Washington Wizards), guard, Deron Williams (Currently with the New Jersey Nets, Roger Powell (2006-07, Utah Jazz), and forward, James Augustine (2006-08, Orlando Magic).

Pullen averaged 20.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists a game in his final season at Kansas State. As last known he currently plays professionally overseas.

After a couple more responses came in, Pullen posted on his twitter account, “Smh now I’m the bad guy again lol,” said Pullen.

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How Far Would The NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats Go If They Were In The NCAA Tournament?

The Charlotte Bobcats the joke of the NBA 2011-12 season, but would they crush the hopes of the cinderellas' and win a National Championship?

There are always a lot of jokes that are made when you’re the last in anything, especially when you’re the last place team in the NBA like the Charlotte Bobcats are. At 4-31 and not only last in the South Central division but dead last in the NBA, the Charlotte Bobcats are “joke” of the NBA.

Ranked dead last in points per game as a team with 86.7 points a game; the Bobcats have only topped 100 points just twice this season. It doesn’t stop there as not only can the Bobcats not put points up on the scoreboard but, they can’t keep their opponents from putting points up on the scoreboard either, as they are ranked third in the NBA for most points allowed. Trailing the Sacramento Kings (102.3) and the Washington Wizards (101.3) the Bobcats have allowed their opponents on average 101.2 points per game.

Which with the calendar now turning to March and the NCAA Tournament becoming closer brings us to the question, how far would the Charlotte Bobcats go? Would they win the NCAA Championship? Would they be a number one seed? If not a number one seed what seed would they be?

Now as we all know these questions would never be answered as an NBA team would never be allowed to play in the NCAA Tournament, though it would be very cool as the bottom teams of the NBA really have nothing to play for. Though theoretically speaking, let’s just take the time to pretend.

Okay so let’s start with what seed the Bobcats would be and so basing it off of ESPN’s project bracket provided by Joe Lunardi the number one seeds that he projected to be as of now are the Kentucky Wildcats (30-1), Syracuse Orange (30-1), North Carolina (27-4), and the Kansas Jayhawks (26-5).

So let’s start off with what seed would the Bobcats be? And the answer to that is for sure a number one seed, however are they the best number one seed of the four or what? Where do they rank? And the answer to that is they would be the third best number one seed in the NCAA Tournament behind Kentucky and Syracuse.

Now despite having the National Champion and Big East Champion player from last year in guard Kemba Walker the talent level of the Charlotte Bobcats just doesn’t match up with the talent level of Kentucky and Syracuse and especially it doesn’t match up at the big men level either.

With both Kentucky and Syracuse combined according to they projected that seven players from the two teams (5 from Kentucky and 2 From Syracuse) will be taken in the first round or higher.

Of those players projected to be taken they are from Kentucky, Power Forward, Anthony Davis (Projected 1), Small Forward, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Projected 9), Shooting Guard, Doron Lamb (Projected 17), Small Forward, Terrence Jones (Projected 18), and lastly Point Guard, Marquis Teague.

As for Syracuse the players projected are Center, Fab Melo (Projected 19), and Small Forward, Kris Joseph (Projected 23).

Could the Syracuse Orange knock off an NBA team?

Now don’t get me wrong the Bobcats do have some talented players on their team in guard Gerald Henderson (14.6 points per game), Corey Maggette (14.4 points per game), and as mentioned before Kemba Walker (12.9 points per game). But they don’t have a talented big man as their best big guy is Boris Diaw who at 6’8, 235 lbs. isn’t really even a true a “big guy” as he’s been a mix of small forward for some teams in the past as well. Though due to the teams’ lack of talent at that position Diaw despite being a little undersized is the teams’ leading rebounder with 5.6 rebounds a game.

So matching Diaw up against someone like Kentucky’s Davis (6’10, 220 lbs.), Jones (6’9, 252 lbs.), or even Gilchrist (6’7, 232 lbs.) Diaw would struggle against. As for Syracuse Melo (7’0, 255 lbs.), Fair (6’8, 212 lbs.), or Southerland, (6’8, 215 lbs.) would be a struggle as well though Syracuse plays the 2-3 zone so Diaw wouldn’t really see one-on-one match-ups against the Orange.

Continuing with that despite putting the Bobcats ahead of North Carolina and Kansas the Bobcats would have trouble with both teams’ big guys as well. As for North Carolina, Tyler Zeller (7’0, 255 lbs.) and John Henson (6’11, 220 lbs.) would create a long day for the weak rebounding Charlotte Bobcats. And as for Kansas Thomas Robinson (6’10, 237 lbs.) and Jeff Withey (7’0, 235 lbs.) would do the same as they would really test the Charlotte big men.

Now while draft projections, draft results, height, and weight don’t determine games as there have been several draft “busts” in the past and several “big looking guys” in the past however, these two teams, Kentucky and Syracuse are very talented, at all of the positions, even the bench.

Now I’m not saying that Kentucky and Syracuse would blow them out as it wouldn’t be a blowout instead, it would be a very good game. However these two teams, Kentucky and Syracuse have shown this NCAA season that despite the young experience that the two teams have (not as much with Syracuse) can blend together well and win close games and win it in the “crunch time.”

So with that being said, the answer as to how far the Bobcats would go is definitely the elite eight, most likely, 90 percent, the final four, and depending on how they played, possibly the National Championship, and depending on how they played in that game, possibly they would be the National Champions.

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A New Concern For College Basketball

West Virginia College Basketball Coach Bobby Huggins, not that happy with a call.

In sports crazy things happen almost everyday however, wrong calls are beginning to happen just as much. Like any problem the leagues such as the NFL, NBA, NCAA, etc. have been taking care of it…well sort of.

On Saturday, Syracuse hosted the West Virginia Mountaineers in a game right down to the buzzer. However in those remaining seconds became a problem; not that the game was close, but that possibly a wrong call was made.

With 14 seconds remaining, guard Darryl Bryant missed a three pointer, however forward Deniz Kilicli would come up with the offensive rebound and with six seconds remaining Kilicli who then attempted the put back layup, would be blocked. Syracuse Orange center, Baye Moussa Keita would come up with the game saving block.

Though after watching the replay, Keita’s block appeared to be a goaltend. Then after watching it over a couple more times, it became clear that Keita’s block was a goaltend. However as a result to the NCAA not having a replay system in tack for College Basketball, the officials weren’t aware of it and as a result the Orange would go onto win 63-61.

As for West Virginia’s head coach Bobby Huggins on the block, “You saw it. What’d you think?” Huggins said to the media following the game. “I just saw it. I just went in and watched it. There’s not any doubt.”

Huggins would add if he thought that the block was a goaltend or not…

“No. I know it was,” he said. “I just saw the replay.”

As you all know the NFL is famous with their replay system as teams can challenge two calls and if both challenges are correct in the coaches favor, then they are rewarded another challenge. The replay system is also enforced after every touchdown and then used by the determination of the referee in the booth under two minutes.

As for the NBA, it’s up to the officials, as for the MLB, it’s there but in rarely used, as for the NHL, there’s none. So looking at all of these calls that are blatantly wrong after watching replay for instances, Louisiana Lafayette who defeated Western Kentucky 72-70 with six men on the court for the game winning possession, should there be replay in tacked?

The answer is yes. Now I understand that they don’t want to take time away from the game or ruin the nature of it, or whatever the excuse may be. But changing the outcome of the game by the mistake of an official should be their number one concern.

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Ask The Coach: Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim All-Access

Sitting down with Jim Boeheim.

Mike Ortiz: What are your thoughts for this upcoming season?

Jim Boeheim: Well I think the biggest thing is that we have so many veteran guys and good young guys so we have to try to fit these guys together. You know get them to understand what their roles are going to be and the fact that we have so many good players we’re going to have to figure out how to utilize everybody.

Ortiz: What’s your take on the move to the ACC?

Boeheim: Well you know we’re in the Big East, that’s all we’re thinking about. The ACC can’t wait until after the season and then we can talk about it.

Ortiz: What do you think of the incoming freshman?

Boeheim: I think we have three talented young kids and we have to think about how they’ll fit in.

Ortiz: How do you replace center Rick Jackson?

Boeheim: You know Ricky was so good defensively and rebounding wise that are big guys are going to have to step up…they’re really going to have to step up and take care of the middle area defensively and rebounding wise. Especially, when they get their opportunities to score, their going to have to convert. Ricky was a huge player, huge plus for us last year, had a tremendous year, and are big guys are going to have to step up this year.

Ortiz: What do you think you’re going to have to do to win a National Championship?

Boeheim: Well I think to win anything…you have to be a complete team, are defensive has got to be good, we have to continue to work on our defensive, get better defensively, offensively I think we have the ability to be a very very good offensive basketball team and you have to work on those things. We know we’re going to be a good team, whether we’re going to be a great team, you never know that until you get well into the season.

Ortiz: Now you have achieved a lot of milestones throughout your career, so when you think of 1,000 wins, do you think it’s possible?

Boeheim: You know I haven’t thought about numbers in a long time. I think about this year and having a successful season this year and I don’t think beyond that and I don’t think past, I just think about this season.

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EA Sports To Discontinue NCAA Basketball Series

EA Sports today confirmed the discontinuation of the NCAA Basketball franchise, citing poor sales as the main reason, and making next year the first in 12 years without a college-flavored basketball title.

No more of this

The news came in an statement to GameInformer today from EA Sports’ David Tinson. He said it was a tough decision to make, but something that had to be done.

“We do not have an NCAA Basketball game in development at this time, and we’re currently reviewing the future of our NCAA Basketball business,” Tinson said to Game Informer. “This was a difficult decision, but we remain a committed partner to the NCAA and its member institutions.”

2K sports pulled its college basketball game in 2008 leaving only EA remaining. But that’s all over now, as this year’s installment will be the very last.

Blast Magazine 16, 2010

Greg Shaheen, NCAA, Senior Vice President, Basketball and Business Strategies; NIT, President

Greg Shaheen oversees the strategic management and operations of the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, as well as the Association’s eleven-year, $6 Billion contracts with broadcast partners CBS and ESPN.  Shaheen oversees the NCAA Corporate Champion/Corporate Partner program, and is President of the NIT, L.L.C.

Shaheen manages the NCAA’s Corporate and Broadcast Alliances group, with responsibility for the bundled-rights agreement, including television, radio, Internet, publishing, marketing, licensing and fan festivals, as well as the organization’s other media initiatives. The group works with the NCAA’s broadcast partners, Corporate Champions and Partners to activate across the organization’s 88 Championships conducted annually at more than 750 sites nationwide.

Shaheen chairs the NCAA’s internal Incident Assessment Team, responsible for handling situations that may affect the organization’s  ongoing operations and championships. The group was initiated in 2003 and ultimately handled the NCAA’s assessment and response in operating its championship events in the face of the Iraq War.

Among his other accomplishments, Shaheen has overseen the revision of the operations policies of the championship as well as broadening the variety of activities surrounding the NCAA Final Four.  He has also been integral in the development of systems to monitor and provide continuous information to the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee which has been implemented across other NCAA Championships.

Shaheen served on-loan as the Executive Director of the NCAA/NFHS 2000 Projects, for which he was responsible for overseeing the design and development of the organizations’ headquarters in downtown Indianapolis, as well as overseeing the relocation of 300-plus employees.

In 2005, 2006 and 2007, Shaheen was named to Sports Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40.”

Shaheen joined the NCAA in 2000 after serving as the Director of Operations for the Indianapolis Local Organizing Committee. For 18 years, Shaheen served as the Chief Administrative Officer of Indianapolis-based Long Electric Company, Inc., a privately-held company with 600 employees.

Shaheen is a graduate with Distinction from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.   He also serves as the Program Director of Opportunities to Learn About Business (OLAB).  The program, based at Wabash College, is an intensive nine-day summer program for Indiana high school seniors sponsored by 50 local corporations and community groups. He has served as a Board Member for the Miami University Thomas Page Center for Entrepreneurship. He has also held positions on the boards of Indiana Sports Corporation, The Inocon Group, Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs of Indianapolis and the Carmel-Clay Education Foundation.

CSV Keynote speakers Jan 26, 2010

Looks like Lane Kiffin has already committed his first NCAA violation at USC

Man, does Lane Kiffin ever work fast. Only 10 days into his new job as USC head coach, Kiffin has already committed a recruiting violation.

Kiffin picked up a recruit from the airport in a limo, which I guess is a secondary violation. Just in case you were counting, Kiffin had six secondary violations while he was at Tennessee.

Also, what exactly is the penalty for a secondary violation? There doesn’t seem to be any penalty at all as far as I can tell, so expect to see a lot more of these from Kiffin.

FanIQ Anonymous Jan 25, 2010

Looking At The Players Of The Year

e’re nearly three months into this season and we don’t have a clear-cut favorite for player of the year. Last year, Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin dazzled us from the onset. Two years ago, it was hard to turn on the TV and not hear about North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough. And, the year before that, Texas’ Kevin Durant burst on the scene and immediately became one of the biggest stories.

This year is different. There is no one player that has separated himself from the pack. There is a lot of basketball left, and whoever shines brightest from here to March could be in line to get some hardware. Here are a few of the candidates, broken up into three different categories of players.

THE HEADLINERS: These are the guys that are putting up monster numbers for some of the nation’s best teams. They’re highlight reels waiting to happen. Many award winners come from this category, but not always. Think Blake Griffin last year.

Damion James – Texas
James’ production is a huge reason the Longhorns earned their first-ever No. 1 ranking. The 6-foot-7 senior forward opted to stay in college this year and it has paid off in a big way. James is averaging a double-double with 17.3 points and 11 rebounds a game. He also contributes over a block and a steal per game.

James has been good when it counted the most. In back-to-back victories against North Carolina and Michigan State in December, James averaged 24 points, 14 rebounds and 2.5 steals. More recently, he amassed 26 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks as the Longhorns narrowly avoided being upset by Texas A&M.

Evan Turner- Ohio State
Sure he missed six games due to a broken back, but when he has been healthy, he carried the Buckeyes on that very same back. Without Turner, Ohio State went 3-3. With him and his 18.6 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game, Ohio State is 11-2.

It all started in the first game of the year when Turner, a point guard, went off for 14 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists. This was only the second triple-double in Ohio State history. Thirteen days later, the junior did it again with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists against Lipscomb. He does it against top competition too. On Jan. 12 versus then-No. 6 Purdue, Turner put on a show with a 32-point, nine-rebound effort in a 70-66 win.

John Wall – Kentucky
What can I say about John Wall that hasn’t already been said? The freshman point guard has garnered more attention than any other player in the nation, and rightfully so. He is averaging 17.1 points per game and dishes out 6.9 assists per night – which is third in the nation. He has been erratic at times, averaging over four turnovers a game, but lets remember, he is still a freshman.

His stats are impressive, but how he does it is even more impressive. A regular sight on SportsCenter, Wall is one of the nation’s top playmakers. He also shows more poise than any freshman should. In his first collegiate game, Wall hit a jumper in the final seconds to defeat Miami (Ohio). Against Connecticut on Dec. 9, he scored 12 of Kentucky’s last 15 points to earn a three-point victory. His free throws also iced victories over North Carolina and Auburn. Wall is a major reason Kentucky is the nation’s last unbeaten.

Others considered: Luke Harangody (Notre Dame), Wesley Johnson (Syracuse).

THE CAPTAINS: These are the guys that may not have the mind-boggling stat sheets like the guys above, but their leadership for their respective teams makes them just as valuable. With first-class production on the court, these guys can do it all. Think Tyler Hansbrough in 2008.

Robbie Hummel – Purdue
Hummel is a model of consistency and is the glue to the Boilermakers. The 6-foot-8 junior has scored in double figures in every game this year except one. That game, he had nine points. For the season, Hummel averages 16.3 points, seven rebounds and over one steal and one block per game.

Hummel’s value was seen last year when he went out with a back injury and Purdue struggled. Purdue needs him to stay healthy if it wishes to contend for the Big Ten title. Hummel’s signature game came in a loss to Ohio State when he dueled with Evan Turner. Hummel hit eight first half 3-pointers on his was to 35 points and 10 rebounds. With Hummel you know what you’re getting, and that’s consistent production.

Scottie Reynolds – Villanova
Reynolds made the infamous coast-to-coast lay-up to get Villanova into the Final Four last year, and he has picked up right where he left off. The 6-foot-2 guard leads the team with 18.5 points a night, which is fourth in the Big East. He is Villanova’s floor general and has led the Wildcats to a 16-1 record.

In consecutive wins versus Louisville and Georgetown last week, Reynolds erupted for a combined 63 points and shot 17-for-25 from the field. The senior has scored over 20 points in eight of his last 11 games. Reynolds appears to be turning it on at just the right time, and his senior leadership will be vital for Villanova as the Wildcats attempt to make back-to-back Final Fours.

Jon Scheyer – Duke
You won’t find Jon Scheyer rattling the rim with dunks or dazzling the crowd with electrifying quickness, but you will find him getting the job done each and every night. The senior point guard is leading Duke in points and assists, with 19.1 and 5.8 respectively. Scheyer is the quintessential Duke point guard – and that’s a good thing.

Scheyer’s biggest game came on Dec. 15 against Gardner-Webb. Scheyer poured in 36 points, shot 7-for-9 from 3-point range, dished our nine assists and grabbed eight rebounds. Scheyer is also efficient, shooting over 43 percent from the field, 39 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the free-throw line on the season.

Others considered: Sherron Collins (Kansas), Trevor Booker (Clemson).

THE UNKNOWNS: Every once in a while a player can come into a program and revitalize it. These are guys that have taken teams that are not perennial powers and turned them into contenders. They may not get the national attention yet, but it’s just a matter of time. Admittedly, not many players from this category win the award, but their value cannot be understated. Think Jameer Nelson in 2004

Jimmer Fredette – BYU
The Cougars are sitting at 19-1 and Fredette is a big reason why. BYU is ranked No. 14 in the nation and Fredette is averaging 19.4 points and 5.0 assists per game, both tops on the team. The junior guard shoots 47 percent from the field, 43 percent from 3-point range and nearly 90 percent from the charity stripe.

In a three-game stretch where BYU beat Nevada, Nebraska and Arizona in December, Fredette averaged 35.3 points and 6.3 assists. The highlight was a 49-point outburst against Arizona where he shot 16-for-23 from the field and chipped in with seven rebounds and nine assists. Fredette has scored 20 points in 10 of the 18 games he’s played this year. If BYU continues to be a factor nationally, Fredette will be the main reason.

Gordon Hayward – Butler
Butler came into this season with high expectations, yet it struggled to get a signature win early. With Hayward playing some of his best basketball, the Bulldogs have won eight of their last nine, including wins over Ohio State and Xavier. Now, Butler appears to be fulfilling this year’s lofty expectations.

Hayward leads Butler with 15.8 points and 8.4 rebounds a game. In Butler’s two biggest wins against Ohio State and Xavier, Hayward was at his best. In those two games, he averaged 23 points and 11 rebounds. The 6-foot-8 sophomore can score from the outside and can also be a factor in the post, and that’s why he is so valuable to this team.

Hassan Whiteside – Marshall
Whiteside is anything but a household name, but that should all change. The 7-foot-0 freshman has exploded onto the scene and made Marshall a contender in a wide-open Conference USA. Marshall is 15-3 on the year and 4-0 in conference play. Two of Marshall’s losses were to North Carolina and West Virginia, the latter only being a eight-point decision.

Whiteside is leading the Thundering Herd in points, rebounds and blocks. In fact, Whiteside’s 5.4 blocks per game is tops in the nation. He also averages 12.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per contest. Whiteside has two triple-doubles and nine double-doubles on the year. If Marshall wishes to contend for a conference title, Whiteside is the player that will lead them.

Others considered: Ryan Wittman (Cornell), LaceDarius Dunn (Baylor). Anthony Oliva III Jan 21 2010