AP: ALABAMA’S BRANDON MILLER SEC PLAYER, NEWCOMER OF YEAR
Alabama freshman Brandon Miller, whose tremendous season on the court has been clouded by controversy off it, is The Associated Press player of the year and newcomer of the year in the Southeastern Conference.
Texas A&M’s Buzz Williams was named coach of the year on Tuesday in voting by 14 reporters who cover the SEC.
Texas A&M guard Wade Taylor IV and Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe, last year’s national player of the year, were unanimous first-team picks. The other first-team selections are Missouri guard/forward Kobe Brown and Mississippi State forward Tolu Smith.
Miller was a first-team pick on all but one ballot, received 12 player of the year votes and 11 as top newcomer for the regular-season SEC champions and No. 4-ranked Crimson Tide. The 6-foot-9 forward is only the fourth freshman in the last 50 years to lead the SEC in scoring, averaging 19.6 points along with 8.0 rebounds. He is also tops in 3-pointers made, making 92 and hitting at a 40.4% rate.
Miller’s name surfaced in court testimony in the capital murder case of now-former teammate Darius Miles and another man in the shooting death of 23-year-old Jamea Harris near campus.
A police officer testified that Miles texted Miller asking him to bring Miles’ gun in the early morning hours of Jan. 15. Fellow freshman starter Jaden Bradley was also at the scene. Neither has missed a start or been accused of any crime. The university has described Miller as a cooperating witness, not a suspect.
A day after that testimony, Miller scored 41 points and hit the game-winning shot in overtime to beat South Carolina amid jeers from Gamecocks fans. Afterward, Alabama coach Nate Oats called Miller “one of the most mentally tough kids I’ve ever coached.”
The Aggies’ Taylor also received two votes as player of the year. LSU forward KJ Williams, Arkansas guards Ricky Council IV and Anthony Black each received a vote for newcomer of the year.
Williams received eight votes, Missouri’s Dennis Gates five and Alabama’s Oats one in the coach of the year balloting.
The second team included Council, Tennessee guard Zakai Zeigler, Williams, Florida forward Colin Castleton and Vanderbilt forward Liam Robbins.
Guard — Kobe Brown, Missouri, Sr., 6-8, 250, Huntsville, Alabama.
u-Guard — Wade Taylor IV, Texas A&M, So., 6-0, 185, Dallas.
Forward — Brandon Miller, Alabama, Fr., 6-9, 200, Antioch, Tennessee.
Forward — Tolu Smith, Mississippi St., Sr., 6-11, 245, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
u-Forward — Oscar Tshwiebe, Sr., 6-9, 260, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Guard — Ricky Council IV, Arkansas, Jr., 6-6, 205, Durham, North Carolina.
Guard — Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee, So., 5-9, 171, Long Island, New York.
Forward — Colin Castleton, Florida, Sr., 6-11, 250, Deland, Florida.
Forward — Liam Robbins, Vanderbilt, Sr., 7-0, 250, Davenport, Iowa.
Forward — KJ Williams, LSU, Sr,, 6-10, 250, Cleveland, Mississippi.
Coach of the year — Buzz Williams, Texas A&M.
Player of the year — Brandon Miller, Alabama.
Newcomer of the year — Brandon Miller, Alabama.
___ AP All-SEC Voting Panel: Rick Bozich, WDRB-TV, Louisville, Kentucky; Kevin Brockway, Gainesville Sun; Travis Brown, Bryan-College Station Eagle; David Cloninger, Post & Courier; Adam Cole, Opelika-Auburn News; Clayton Collier, WATN-TV, Memphis, Tennessee; Robbie Faulk, Starkville Daily News; Aria Gerson, The Tennessean; Bob Holt, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Stefan Krajisnik, Clarion-Ledger; Dave Matter, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Sheldon Mickles, Baton Rouge Advocate; Mike Rodak, al.com; Marc Weiszer, Athens Banner-Herald.
AP TOP 25 TEAMS GET LAST SHOT TO BOOST NCAA TOURNAMENT SEEDS
Selection Sunday looms as AP Top 25 teams in major conferences get their final chances to impact where and why they play in the NCAA Tournament.
In the nation’s top leagues, there could be significant swings based on early exits or title runs. Here’s a look at what’s ahead leading up to the biggest day on the sport’s calendar on Sunday:
The American Athletic Conference Tournament begins Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas, and it gives top-ranked Houston the chance to make a final case potentially for the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAAs.
The Cougars (29-2) are the only team in the country to rank in the top 10 of KenPom’s adjusted efficiency metrics in both offense and defense.
Houston opens against the East Carolina-South Florida winner on Friday, and the tournament is one of five to end on Sunday shortly before the NCAA field is revealed.
The Atlantic Coast Conference opens its five-day tournament Tuesday in Greensboro, North Carolina. It’s an event lacking a true favorite or team poised to claim a top-tier postseason seed.
Virginia and No. 14 Miami shared the regular-season title, though the Hurricanes are the top seed for the first time since winning the tournament in 2013. But 21st-ranked Duke is the league’s hottest team with six straight wins.
All three open play in Thursday’s quarterfinals, with the Cavaliers on course for a 4-seed, Miami for a 5 and Duke for a 7, according to BracketMatrix.com’s average of 100 mock fields on Monday evening.
Third-ranked Kansas won a national title, overhauled its roster and still finds itself in the chase for the No. 1 overall NCAA seed entering the Big 12 Tournament.
That tournament opens Wednesday in Kansas City, Missouri, with the Jayhawks and other top seeds starting play on Day 2.
Kansas (25-6) has a national-best 15 wins in Quadrant 1 games that top the postseason resume, which had them as the top overall seed in ESPN’s Bracketology projection on Monday evening.
Winning a title this week won’t come easy in a league regarded as the nation’s deepest all year. The field includes No. 7 Texas, No. 10 Baylor, No. 12 Kansas State and No. 22 TCU.
The Big East opens play Wednesday in New York’s Madison Square Garden with four ranked teams: No. 6 Marquette, No. 11 Connecticut, No. 15 Xavier and No. 24 Creighton.
The top-seeded Golden Eagles, who open play Thursday, have the highest projected NCAA Tournament seed at No. 3 on both ESPN and BracketMatrix, while BracketMatrix has the Huskies and Musketeers as potential 4-seeds.
The Bluejays, who re-entered the poll for a third time this season on Monday, are projected as a No. 6 seed in the NCAAs.
The tournament wraps up Saturday night.
The Big Ten opens it tournament Wednesday in Chicago with No. 5 Purdue and No. 19 Indiana as the only ranked teams, though the Boilermakers are in the mix for a No. 1 regional seed in the NCAAs.
The Boilermakers are the top seed for Chicago and BracketMatrix listed them as the fourth of the top seeds.
The Boilermakers and Hoosiers both begin play in Friday’s quarterfinals with the title game coming Sunday.
The Pac-12 has two ranked teams in contention for lofty NCAA seeds as the league tournament opens Wednesday in Las Vegas.
Second-ranked UCLA is surging down the stretch and has its highest ranking of the season, putting it in position to contend for a No. 1 regional seed as the top No. 2 seed in BracketMatrix’s projections. Eighth-ranked Arizona is also looking likely for a 2-seed.
The Bruins and Wildcats split their regular-season meetings, with UCLA winning Saturday’s regular-season finale while holding the top seed for Las Vegas. Both teams open play Thursday.
Fourth-ranked Alabama is the top seed for the Southeastern Conference Tournament beginning Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee. And the Crimson Tide could be in contention for the top overall NCAA seed with a title run.
Alabama (26-5) owns the top seed in the SEC and opens play in Friday’s quarterfinals, finishing a game ahead of No. 18 Texas A&M in the regular-season race.
The tournament also features No. 17 Tennessee, No. 23 Kentucky and No. 25 Missouri, with the title game set for Sunday.
WITH MARQUETTE ON TOP, BIG EAST BRINGS DIFFERENT LOOK TO MSG
NEW YORK (AP) — This Big East Tournament has a distinctly different look.
No. 6 Marquette is the top seed heading into the four-day frenzy at Madison Square Garden for the first time since the Golden Eagles joined the conference in 2005.
Two of the newest Big East members, No. 15 Xavier and No. 24 Creighton, occupy the next two seeds, making this the first men’s basketball tournament since the league reorganized in 2013 to have none of its long-standing schools in the top three.
Villanova (16-15, 10-10) Big East, which has dominated the current iteration of the league by winning five of eight conference tournaments, is the sixth seed.
It’s been an unusual season in the Big East, which makes the 43rd edition of the conference tournament especially difficult to predict.
“This is a brutal league, man,” Connecticut coach Dan Hurley said.
The tournament opens with three first-round games Wednesday and then the top five seeds get going Thursday in the quarterfinals. The championship will be decided Saturday night.
Hurley’s fourth-seeded and 11th-ranked Huskies play the 4-5 game Thursday against Providence.
“You’re playing for different stakes, but there’s no team in the country playing better than them right now,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said.
Under second-year coach Shaka Smart, Marquette won the Big East regular-season title outright for the first time. The Golden Eagles (25-6, 17-3) were picked ninth in the preseason poll, but ended up having their best regular season since Dwyane Wade led them to a Conference USA championship in 2003.
Marquette plays the winner of the 8-9 game between St. John’s and Butler in the opener of Thursday’s quadruple-header.
The Golden Eagles swept the AP’s top Big East honors, with point guard Tyler Kolek taking player of the year and Smart coach of the year.
A year after being one-and-done in the Big East Tournament, leading scorer Kam Jones and the Golden Eagles have their sights set on leaving a legacy. Marquette has never reached the Big East championship game, while Xavier lost in its only appearance (2015) and Creighton is 0-4.
“You know how the teams from the past, they come up and they talk to us about what they did, and stuff like that,” Jones said after clinching the regular-season crown last Saturday. “It was just cool to think about how the next 10, 15 years, I can come back to Marquette and be like: ‘We won the Big East outright. What you going to do?’”
If bracket projections are to be believed, the Big East doesn’t have any teams on the NCAA Tournament selection bubble.
Marquette, Xavier, Creighton, Connecticut and Providence all seem to be comfortably in the field — though the Friars (21-10) have lost three of four to create a bit of uncertainty.
For the rest, the automatic NCAA bid that goes to the tournament champion looks like the only path.
“Well, I think we’ve got a couple of teams in our league in Seton Hall and Villanova that could beat anybody, and then you got another team in St. John’s that just came out here and nearly beat us today,” Smart said after Saturday’s regular-season finale. “They’ve also beaten UConn and Providence.”
Villanova’s first season after Hall of Fame coach Jay Wright’s abrupt retirement has been bumpy.
Kyle Neptune’s team seemed to be playing its way onto the fringes of NCAA Tournament consideration late in the season, but a 12-point loss at home to UConn on Saturday left the Wildcats’ streak of nine straight appearances in peril.
Villanova plays last-place Georgetown on Wednesday night, with third-seeded Creighton awaiting the winner.
“We’ve got to go out and prepare for one team. And then prepare for another team and then hopefully prepare for another team,” Neptune said.
Patrick Ewing’s six-year tenure as Georgetown coach peaked during the pandemic-marred season of 2020-21, when the Hoyas made a surprising run to the Big East Tournament title in a mostly empty Madison Square Garden.
Now it could come to an end in the building where he starred for 15 seasons with the New York Knicks.
Georgetown is 13-49 over the last two seasons, with only two Big East victories. The Hoyas closed the regular season with a 40-point loss at Creighton. Ewing, a basketball Hall of Famer and former Georgetown great, is 75-108 as Hoyas coach.
Xavier forward Zach Freemantle, the team’s leading rebounder, will miss the postseason after having surgery on his left foot. The Musketeers have played their last nine games without the 6-foot-9 senior and gone 6-3. He is third on the team in scoring at 15.2 points per game.
Second-seeded Xavier plays Thursday against the winner of Seton Hall-DePaul.
KANSAS OUT TO DEFEND BIG 12 TOURNAMENT TITLE IN KANSAS CITY
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The bulls-eye on the back of third-ranked Kansas these days is about as big as it’s been in coach Bill Self’s tenure.
The Jayhawks already have defended their Big 12 regular-season championship, winning the toughest league in the country by almost any measure in outright fashion. And beginning next week, Jalen Wilson and Co. will begin defense of the national title they won with a thrilling comeback victory over North Carolina last April.
In between, they’ll try to defend the conference tournament title they won by beating Texas Tech a year ago.
“It’s all good winning the Big 12 and doing these big things, but like coach said, ‘Now the expectations are higher,’” explained Wilson, who was voted conference player of the year Tuesday. “We have a huge target on our back. Not only for winning the conference, but everyone wants to beat Kansas. Everyone wants to beat the reigning national champions. We have to understand we’re going to get everybody’s best game.”
The top-seeded Jayhawks open their Big 12 Tournament on Thursday against the winner of No. 8 seed West Virginia and ninth-seeded Texas Tech, who meet in the first game of a first-round doubleheader Wednesday night.
The other first-round matchup is a Bedlam showdown between seventh-seeded Oklahoma State and No. 10 seed Oklahoma. The winner of that game gets second-seeded Texas on Thursday.
Two quarterfinal games already are set: No. 10 Baylor, the fourth seed, plays fifth-seeded Iowa State in Thursday’s opener, and No. 12 Kansas State, the third seed, plays sixth-seeded and No. 22 TCU in the nightcap.
“You look at it, and you can see a 1 by a name, you can see a 10 by a name, and us coaches know that there isn’t that big a margin,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “And the players understand it in the Big 12 because they’ve seen it first-hand and up close how good everybody is, and how competitive it is, and how physical and tough it is.”
Especially this year.
The Big 12 had six teams in the Top 25 most of the season, and it will likely land at least seven in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. It could be as many as eight or nine depending on what happens in Kansas City this week.
“Anybody can beat anybody. I mean, whoever at the time is toward the bottom of the standings can beat the teams at the top,” Cyclones coach TJ Otzelberger said. “There’s no other league in America that has as good a coaches, as good a players, as good a programs. And so you’ve got to be at your best every single game. There’s no night off.”
One of the reasons the Big 12 has been so tough this season is that it’s stacked with experience. Three seniors, a junior and a graduate were chosen first-team all-conference Tuesday, while a senior and two juniors joined freshmen Keyonte George of Baylor and Gradey Dick of Kansas on the second team.
West Virginia may have clinched an NCAA spot with its win over Kansas State last weekend, though beating the Red Raiders would allow Bob Huggins’ crew to breath easier. Oklahoma State could have an at-large case with a run to the title game, while Texas Tech and Oklahoma likely need to win a championship to make the field of 68.
The Cowboys are back at the Big 12 Tournament after a one-year postseason ban. Their NCAA hopes have taken a hit in recent weeks with a five-game losing streak that finally ended with a win over the Red Raiders last weekend.
Texas Tech will join Texas in having an interim coach on the sideline this week. The school said Monday that second-year assistant Corey Williams would lead the Red Raiders after coach Mark Adams was suspended for making “an inappropriate, unacceptable and racially insensitive comment” to a player last week.
Rodney Terry has been holding down the interim job with the Longhorns since December. He took over when coach Chris Beard was suspended and subsequently fired amid allegations of domestic violence.
George struggled in his return from an ankle injury in the Bears’ loss to Iowa State last week, though a few more days of recovery should help. TCU big man Eddie Lampkin Jr. has missed time with a back injury and Oklahoma State star Avery Anderson III only recently resumed basketball activities after wrist surgery.
MARQUETTE’S KOLEK, SMART COLLECT AP’S TOP HONORS IN BIG EAST
Marquette’s Tyler Kolek is the Associated Press Big East player of the year and Shaka Smart is the unanimous pick for coach of the year after the two led the Golden Eagles’ surprising run to their first regular-season championship in 10 years.
Xavier’s Souley Boum was voted newcomer of the year in balloting by 11 writers and broadcasters who cover the conference.
Kolek and Smart led No. 6 Marquette to a school-record 17 conference wins and its highest national ranking since 1978.
Kolek, a unanimous All-Big East first-team pick along with Providence’s Bryce Hopkins, is among the conference leaders in five categories and is playing some of his best ball of late.
Kolek will enter the Big East Tournament at New York’s Madison Square Garden off three straight double-doubles, averaging 20.3 points and 11.3 assists in those games. His 7.9 assists per game for the season leads the Big East and is second nationally.
Smart combined high-scoring offense with aggressive defense to make the Golden Eagles the first team since the Big East formed in 1979-80 to win at least a share of the title after being picked ninth or lower. Marquette beat every league team at least once for the first time since it joined the league in 2005-06.
Hopkins, in his first season at Providence after transferring from Kentucky, has 10 double-doubles and leads the Friars with 16.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
Joining Kolek and Hopkins on the first team are Boum and big men Adama Sanogo of Connecticut and Ryan Kalkbrenner of Creighton.
Boum played at San Francisco and UTEP before landing at Xavier this season, and he emerged as the Musketeers’ top player. He’s second in the Big East in scoring with 16.8 points per game and third in 3-point shooting at 42.2%. His 4.5 assists are second on the team and tied for sixth in the league.
u-Guard — Tyler Kolek, Marquette, Jr., 6-3, 190, Cumberland, Rhode Island.
Guard — Souley Boum, Xavier, Gr., 6-3, 175, Oakland, California.
u-Forward — Bryce Hopkins, Providence, So., 6-7, 220, Oak Park, Illinois.
Forward — Adama Sanogo, Connecticut, Jr., 6-9, 245, Bamako, Mali.
Center — Ryan Kalkbrenner, Creighton, Jr., 7-1, 260, Florissant, Missouri.
Guard — Kam Jones, Marquette, So., 6-4, 195, Memphis, Tennessee.
Guard — Colby Jones, Xavier, Jr., 6-6, 205, Birmingham, Alabama.
Guard — Jordan Hawkins, Connecticut, So., 6-5, 195, Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Forward — Eric Dixon, Villanova, Jr., 6-8 255, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.
Center — Joel Soriano, St. John’s, Sr., 6-11, 260, Yonkers, New York.
u-Coach of the year — Shaka Smart, Marquette.
Player of the year — Tyler Kolek, Marquette.
Newcomer of the year — Souley Boum, Xavier.
APPLEBY IS WAKE FOREST’S 2ND STRAIGHT ACC AP PLAYER OF YEAR
Wake Forest guard Tyree Appleby is The Associated Press men’s basketball player of the year in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the second straight season a Demon Deacons player took the honor after Alondes Williams earned it a year ago.
Pitt coach Jeff Capel was named coach of the year and Duke freshman Kyle Filipowski was named newcomer of the year in voting released Tuesday.
Appleby, a 6-foot grad transfer guard from Florida, led the ACC with in scoring at 18.8 points a game and assists at 6.2 per contest. He was second in ACC steals.
Appleby received seven votes for player of the year from the 15 journalists who cover the ACC. Appleby finished ahead of Miami’s Isaiah Wong (four), North Carolina’s Armando Bacot (two), and Filipowski and Clemson’s Hunter Tyson, who each received a vote.
Appleby came to Wake Forest this past offseason and helped the team go 18-13 and win 10 games in ACC play.
Capel’s future at Pitt was clearly in doubt when the season began after four straight losing seasons. But the Panthers turned things around this season, going 21-10 and 14-6 against league opponents. Pitt will be the fifth seed in this week’s ACC Tournament.
Capel received 11 votes from panel while Miami coach Jim Larranaga picked up the other three. One voter abstained.
Filipowski, the Blue Devils’ 7-foot freshman, averaged 15 points and 9.2 rebounds this season. He received nine votes from the panel with Appleby getting four and North Carolina State’s Jarkell Joiner the other two.
The rest of the AP’s first team included Wake Forest’s Appleby, North Carolina’s Bacot and Duke’s Filipowski.
Isaiah Wong, Miami, 6-4, 185, Jr., Piscataway, New Jersey.
Tyree Appleby, Wake Forest, 6-0, 175, Gr., Jacksonville, Arkansas.
Terquavion Smith, North Carolina State, 6-4, 165, So., Greenville, North Carolina.
Armando Bacot, North Carolina, 6-10, 240, Sr.., Richmond, Virginia.
Kyle Filipowski, Duke, 7-0, 230, Fr., Westtown, New York.
Norchad Omier, Miami, 6-7, 248, So., Bluefields, Nicaragua.
Jarkel Joiner, North Carolina State, 6-1, 180, Gr., Oxford, Mississippi.
Hunter Tyson, Clemson, 6-8, 217, Gr., Monroe, North Carolina.
Jamaruius Burton, Pitt, 6-4, 200, Gr., Charlotte, North Carolina.
Kihei Clark, Virginia, 5-10, 167, Gr., Woodland Hills, California.
KANSAS STAR JALEN WILSON NAMED AP BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Big 12 scoring and rebounding leader Jalen Wilson of Kansas is the unanimous pick as The Associated Press Big 12 player of the year.
Kansas State senior forward Keyontae Johnson joined Wilson as the only unanimous first-team picks in the selections revealed Tuesday. Johnson, a transfer from Florida who has turned into a top player after a frightening collapse more than two years ago, was also selected as newcomer of the year in voting by a panel of 17 journalists who cover the league.
First-year Kansas State coach Jerome Tang was voted as coach of the year. After 19 seasons as an assistant for coach Scott Drew at Baylor, including the national championship two years ago, Tang directed the Wildcats to a 23-8 record in the regular season and third place in the Big 12 standings after being picked to finish last in a preseason poll of league coaches.
Wilson, a 6-foot-8 junior forward, goes into this week’s Big 12 tournament leading the league with 19.7 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. The 6-6 Johnson averages 17.8 points and 7.0 rebounds.
Texas graduate guard Marcus Carr, Baylor senior guard Adam Flagler and K-State junior guard Markquis Nowell round out the first-team picks. The 5-8 Nowell is the Big 12′s top free-throw shooter (88.5%), and also leads the league with 7.7 assists and 2.5 steals a game.
The second-team picks are senior Damion Baugh and junior Mike Miles Jr. from TCU, along with Kansas freshman guard Gradey Dick, Baylor freshman guard Keyonte George and Kansas senior guard Kevin McCullar Jr., a transfer from Texas Tech.
Johnson got 13 of the 17 votes for newcomer of the year, while Baylor’s George got the other four.
Tang was the overwhelming choice for top coach with 15 votes. The remaining two votes went to Texas interim coach Rodney Terry, who led the Longhorns to a second-place finish in the Big 12 following the December dismissal and eventual firing of Chris Beard.
u-Keyontae Johnson, Kansas State, 6-6, 230, Sr., Norfolk, Virginia.
u-Jalen Wilson, Kansas, 6-8, 225, Jr., Denton, Texas.
Marcus Carr, Texas, 6-2, 175, Gr., Toronto.
Adam Flagler, Baylor, 6-3, 185, Sr., Duluth, Georgia.
Markquis Nowell, Kansas State, 5-8, 160, Sr./Jr., New York.
Damion Baugh, TCU, 6-4, 195, Sr., Nashville, Tenneseee.
Gradey Dick, Kansas 6-8, 205, Fr., Wichita, Kansas.
Keyonte George, Baylor, 6-4, 185, Fr., Lewisville, Texas.
Kevin McCullar Jr., Kansas, 6-6, 210, Sr., San Antonio.
Mike Miles Jr., TCU, 6-2, 195, Jr., Dallas.
Coach of the year — Jerome Tang, Kansas State
Player of the year — Jalen Wilson, Kansas.
Newcomer of the year — Keyontae Johnson, Kansas State.