Daily headlines: South Carolina WBB lands Commitment from 5-star Saniya Rivers

Not all the recruiting action has been happening on the gridiron – South Carolina women’s basketball got some very welcome news on Saturday, landing a commitment from Saniya Rivers, rated by ESPN as the #3 prospect in the Class of 2021. Rivers is an extremely athletic guard, who is explosive off the dribble and drew rave reviews for her ability to finish plays in traffic. The Wilmington, North Carolina product averaged 25 points and 11.7 rebounds per game in her junior season at Eugene Ashley High School. She joins fellow 5-star guard Aubryanna Hall as the second elite recruit in South Carolina’s 2021 class. Their 2019 class ranked #1 in the nation, but the Gamecocks fell out of the top 20 last season. South Carolina was ranked #1 this year when the season was cancelled due to COVID-19. UConn, Texas, NC State, and many other schools were known to be in pursuit of Rivers’ services.

4-Star CB Deuce Harmon commits to Texas A&M

Texas A&M scored a huge win on the recruiting front, as the Aggies landed 4-star cornerback Deuce Harmon, a top-20 player at his position for the Class of 2021. With 46 tackles, two interceptions, and a forced fumble, Harmon was a dynamic contributor for Denton Guyer, making a state championship game appearance. He’s the first defensive back out of nine Texas A&M commits in 2021. Texas also made a strong bid for the in-state talent, while Notre Dame briefly appeared to be a contender for his services, but ultimately, the Aggies won out, earning the commitment from one of their earliest offers, as Harmon is headed to College Station.

Andrew Nembhard exits NBA Draft, leaves Florida

Andrew Nembhard, a former Florida guard, withdrew his name from the NBA Draft, but he is not staying with the Gators, as he will be taking his talents elsewhere after two years in Gainesville. Nembhard averaged 8 points per game in his freshman season, and he upped that mark to 11.2 last season. He’s also an excellent facilitator on offense, averaging a touch under six assists per game. Nembhard didn’t always have a high shot volume with Florida, but he had some excellent performances, with 25 and 24 points in wins over Georgia and Texas A&M respectively. He recorded two double-doubles and shot 44% from the field. It was a surprising decision, as not many expected Nembhard to transfer, so no real list of favorites has emerged to land the rising junior.

UAH Hockey Saved By Donations

Jackson Wilson reported yesterday on the end of the Alabama-Huntsville Hockey program, but the Chargers have a temporary reprieve. Between crowd-sourcing, and two major donations, UAH raised over $750,000 dollars to save the hockey team. Their efforts worked, although time will tell whether enough UAH players will stay with the program, after many looked to transfer following the initial announcement.

NBA Draft Feature: Onyeka Okungu, C/PF, USC

USC was a very young team this season with a lot of potential, and they were just starting to play their best basketball as the season came to a close, sitting at third in the Pac-12 when the coronavirus pandemic swept the nation. Many of their young players emulated the trends of the USC season – promising talent, seemingly peaking at the right time. The Trojans saw this especially in star freshman Onyeka Okongu, who is a projected lottery pick in the upcoming draft. It’s hard to pick out a true weakness in the California product’s game, as, except for a couple of tough games, put up solid numbers for the Trojans all season, and he was looking very smooth in USC’s system by mid-March. Averaging a touch over 16 points and 8 rebounds per game, Okongu combined for at least twenty combined points and rebounds in 10 of his final 12 games. He eclipsed 20 points in four of those games, 10 points in 11 of them, while bringing down enough boards for five double-doubles. Okungu will not spend a lot of time on the draft board, as he will be an enticing prize for many NBA GMs. 

Top Games

Okungu put up some gaudy numbers in non-conference play, but those stats were built up against teams like Long Beach State, Harvard, and Pepperdine. Nothing against those teams, but you don’t become a projected lottery pick from beating up on mid-majors in early-season games. Rather, we’ll focus on two very impressive performances that Okungu put forth in Pac-12 play, starting with their conference opener,
In his first Pac-12 action, Okungu and the Trojans visited Washington State. While the Cougars were not the class of the Big 12, any road game with such a young team was going to be difficult. However, Okungu didn’t shy away from the lights, easily leading USC in scoring with 27 points, ripping down 12 rebounds, and swatting away three shots, en route to a 65-56 victory to start their conference slate. He was a wildly efficient 12-14 from the field.
Just 16 days later, in a home game against Stanford, who finished with 20 wins on the year, USC found themselves in a slog of an overtime battle with the Cardinal. Okungu rallied the Trojans to victory in that must-win contest at home, as he chipped in 22 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and four blocks on the defensive end. 

Projection

As mentioned before, it’s difficult to find a true weakness in Okungu’s game. His ceiling is as high as anyone in this draft class, and his athleticism, strength, and rebounding proficiency all play well into his powerful style on the court. Standing at 6’9, he as decent, if not great, size for an NBA center, but scouts laud his exceptional length as a way to make up for a few of his inches. It certainly seemed to work, as he was one of the best rim protectors and shot blockers in the country. Even if there are concerns about whether he sticks at center long-term, he can also play as a power forward. Scouts’ biggest concern is a need to polish his offensive game, as he is very used to simply overpowering opponents with physical dominance in the paint. However, his defense projects as NBA-ready, and Okungu could slot into an NBA lineup, or at least be a very effective contributor off the bench, right away.

Prediction: Round 1, Pick 1, Golden State Warriors

That’s right. Not Lamelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, or James Wiseman will be going first overall int his draft. It’s Onyeka Okongwu. This is dependent on the Warriors getting the first pick, as they’re one of the few lottery teams with chances at being a playoff team in 2020-2021. This is why Okongwu is such an appealing pick – he can learn from Draymond Green, slotting in as a backup power forward for the once-proud dynasty, or he can challenge for the starting position at center. With Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, the Warriors don’t need offensive stardom from Okungwu, but if he protects the rim, plays solid defense, and chips in with a handful of buckets each game, all things he seems perfectly capable of doing right away in the NBA, he would be a great addition to this Golden State squad.

COVID Changes: D1 Hockey Loses One Program, Gains Another

According to reports out of Long Island University and University of Alabama-Huntsville, there are two major Division 1 Hockey program changes coming next season. 

As of the premature end of the 2020 season, the NCAA had 60 registered teams competing in Division 1, consisting of six conferences and one independent team (Arizona State). That number looks to be remaining the same, but with a twist. The Long Island University announced that they are adding a Division one hockey program in the fall, starting with an immediate recruiting. The shocking news comes out of University of Alabama-Huntsville, as they have announced they will be cutting their program, along with men’s and women’s tennis, due to budget constraints from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Long Island University’s announcement will throw a wrinkle into many proceedings. It is unclear whether they will join a conference or remain independent, but it is presumed that they will remain independent with a shortened schedule for the year, as it will be very difficult for them to find a fitting conference out of the gate. The Hockey East and ECAC are already out of the picture as perennial powerhouses and not in need of new teams; also, the Hockey East requires a facility that seats 4,000 – minimum – for expansion teams. Games will also be hard to come by on a limited time basis – it will be hard to schedule games for 2021-22, let alone this coming season. It is difficult to see how they will have success when forming a team this late and dealing with fast-approaching deadlines. Their one golden opportunity might be to steal some games from teams that were to play the now-cut UAH program. 

University of Alabama-Huntsville (2-26-6 in 2019-20)  leaves the WCHA down a team, as they announced they will be cutting their program. The first D1 hockey team to cut its program in 12 years, UAH has been receiving support from alumni, including Cam Talbot, a goalie in the Calgary Flames organization who played and attended UAH from 2007-10. The administration made the announcement, claiming budget constraints inflicted by the pandemic to be the reason. However, the door has stayed open because $1 million could save the program, if raised in time, but it will likely do little to no good, as many players have already begun transferring. If they are unable to come up with the funds, it will leave Alabama State as the lone team in the Sunbelt.

Ultimately, it is sad to see a program go, especially at the D1 level, as it potentially could contain some future pro level talent, but change is necessary. It’s bittersweet to be losing a program but also exciting to get to watch the beginnings of a new one. I look forward to seeing what else the 2020-21 season will bring us, assuming we get one.

Daily Headlines: Texas A&M and Texas to resume basketball rivalry

It’s slim pickings for daily headlines today, as there’s been a lull in the recruiting action on the gridiron, and if there’s anything to talk about in the sports world, it’s the current efforts of the NBA and NHL resuming their season this summer. 

Daily Headlines

Aggies and Longhorns revive series on the hardwood

There’s been a lot of discussion about Texas and Texas A&M resuming their fierce rivalry on the gridiron, but while we have to wait for further news on that, the two schools did announce they would be meeting again on the basketball court, as their women’s basketball teams were announced as opponents in the Big 12/SEC challenge. It may not be the clash of titans hoped for by football fans, but their contests have provided some excellent competition in the past, although they have’t met on the court since 2014. The Longhorns have had more success in the series, winning four straight and owning a 62-23 record against the Aggies, but their in-state rivals have had more success on the national level recently. They won the national title in 2011, whereas Texas has not been to the Final Four since 2003, reaching only one Elite Eight in that time frame (2016). This match-up, regardless of the sport, is a classic rivalry, and we can only hope this game serves as the springboard for more contests between the two teams, both in women’s basketball and across other sports. 

Other Headlines

  • NCAA offers detailed plan for athletes’ return to campus by June 8
  • Power-5 Leagues continue to push for athlete compensation law, but they have not had a breakthrough.
  • Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby is optimistic for a full college football season and an on-time start
  • Minnesota to not use Minnesota Police for major sporting events after George Floyd tragedy
  • Luka Garza yet to make decision on NBA Draft, five days before his deadline to decide

We Simulated Clemson’s 2019 Season, but with LSU’s Schedule

Clemson got a lot of grief for their quality of competition last season, going 12-0 in the ACC en route to a College Football Playoff berth – Clemson dominated the ACC, but they wouldn’t have stood a chance in the SEC – or so the rabid fans down south would like you to believe. Yes, Clemson has dominated the ACC, but last year, only one other team put up a nine-win season, and that was Virginia, who lost by 45 points to Clemson in the ACC title game – not exactly elite by any stretch. However, there’s no question Dabo Swinney runs an excellent program, and you only have to go back two years to recall Trevor Lawrence and the Tigers dismantling Alabama by 28 points in the title game. Was last year’s championship loss another mere reflection of LSU’s dominance, or did it symbolize that Clemson simply wouldn’t be as good as they are in a different conference. To answer this question, we simulated Clemson’s 2019 season, except we stacked them up against LSU’s schedule, to see how the Tigers may have fared. Granted, this is only one simulation, but it’s curious to see if LSU, and the SEC as a whole, has some merit in their constant berating of Dabo’s team. Let’s see if Clemson can shut them up. 

Week 1 vs. Georgia Southern
Win 38-6 (LSU Result: Win 55-3)
Maybe LSU had a little more dominance, but this one wasn’t ever close. No questions are answered after this game. 

Week 2 @ Texas
Loss 20-17 (LSU Result: Win 45-38)
Ouch. A Week 2 loss already in the books for Clemson. They had much better defensive success against Sam Ehlinger, but a 32-yard touchdown pass with four seconds left dooms them. This game wasn’t a cakewalk for LSU either though, and a three-point non-conference loss hardly dooms Clemson’s playoff hopes (if they run the table in the SEC). 

Week 3 vs. Northwestern State
COULD NOT SIM
Our simulator does not allow us to clash with FCS opponents, but we know this one would have been a blowout win for Clemson either way. It was never going to tell us anything we didn’t already know. 

Week 4 @ Vanderbilt
Win 44-19 (LSU Result: Win 66-38)
In their first SEC clash, Clemson answers the bell with ease, dominating the hapless Commodores. Travis Etienne – he’s dominant in any conference – puts up over 250 yards of offense as Clemson opens up a 34-6 halftime lead. LSU’s margin of victory is slightly bigger, but nothing jaw-dropping here. 

Week 5 vs. Utah State
Win 62-13 (LSU Result: Win 42-3)
The only thing we learned from this one is that Jordan Love can’t do anything against LSU or Clemson – wouldn’t be too confident if I’m a Packers fan right now. Clemson wins by 10 more than LSU did, with Trevor Lawrence tossing six touchdowns, but both teams cruise.

Week 6 vs. Florida
Win 31-26 (LSU Result: Win 42-28)
What a game! People forget that Kyle Trask and the Gators were the only team all season to lead LSU in the second half. They never actually lead Clemson in this one, but they’re very close all game, and Clemson can’t breathe easy until Trask tosses an interception at the Clemson 38 with under a minute to play. Still a very solid SEC win for the Tigers, however. 

Week 7 @ Mississippi State
Win 42-21 (LSU Result: Win 36-13)
Nothing much to see here – Clemson cruises on the road against an inferior team that was barely bowl-eligible. It wasn’t even as close as the score indicated, as the Bulldogs scored in the final minutes to pull within 21. The next few weeks have some bigger tests in store.

Week 8 vs. Auburn
Win 58-10 (LSU Result: Win 23-20)
Wow, absolute dominance by Clemson. Auburn rarely struggles like this on defense, but Clemson was simply all over them from the start. A rare time that the Clemson offense did far more than LSU did, as Trevor Lawrence (389 yards, four touchdowns) and Travis Ettienne (213 all-purpose yards) were simply finding gaping holes in the defense. Is this a testament to who has the real Death Valley as well? Bo Nix looked horrific here, but he almost led the Tigers to a big upset at LSU..

Week 9 @ Alabama
Loss 47-7 (LSU Result: Win 46-41)

That’s a tough look right there. Clemson went into Tuscaloosa, but unlike Joe Burrow, they didn’t pull the upset. Not only that, but the Crimson Tide laughed Clemson out of town, as the Tigers failed to score until 1:37 left in the third quarter. Alabama had the offense to go toe-to-toe with anyone, and Clemson’s offense was simply not up to the task. Since the rest of the SEC results will hold, this means Alabama finishes the season 7-1 in SEC play, and thus Clemson will not play in the SEC title game. The Playoff  is a distant memory at this point, and they can only hope to play for a potential New Years’ 6 Bowl Game. (Apologies, there were some issues with the boxscore link on this game).

Week 10 @ Ole Miss
Win 28-18 (LSU Result: Win 58-37)
It’s been a pretty consistent trend (sans the Alabama debacle) – Clemson fared much better defensively against the Rebels than LSU, while their offense suffered considerably more struggles. Ole Miss led for much of the first half, but Clemson seizes control late in the second quarter and pulls away.
Week 11 vs Arkansas
Win 54-17 (LSU Result: Win 56-20)
Arkansas is exactly the same thing to Clemson that they were to LSU: SEC punching bags. The Razorbacks never had a chance. Clemson unleashes some of their frustration from their horrific loss and frustratingly close win against Ole Miss. 

Week 12 vs. Texas A&M
Win 33-3 (LSU Result: Win 50-7)
The Aggies are a good, not great, SEC team. It’s a useful measuring stick to see how Clemson sizes up against a team that is certainly in the upper half of the conference. They proved clear superiority in this one, much like they did in their actual game against Texas A&M this past season (albeit much earlier in the season). The Aggies are held to three points, as they were on the actual gridiron, and Clemson tacks on a few more field goals in this virtual contest, wrapping up their regular season. At 10-2, with ranked victories over Florida and Auburn, Clemson has a decent chance at swinging a New Years’ 6 game, but nothing more than that, as Alabama takes on Georgia in the SEC championship. 

The Verdict
Clearly, Clemson was not the power that LSU was, but we already knew that from their championship game clash. The Tigers went 10-2, with a 7-1 SEC mark, proving that they would be right there with the best of them in the conference. The biggest bragging right the SEC can hold over Clemson is much tougher road atmospheres. Clemson went 3-1 in SEC road games, struggling to do much against Ole Miss and getting absolutely blown out by Alabama. Throw in their Texas loss, and the Tigers went 3-2 in true road games, with a point differential of just +13. Maybe Clemson is in for a bit more trouble than people think when they visit Notre Dame, who hasn’t lost at home since 2017, in the upcoming season. The ACC doesn’t provide intimidating road environments – not exactly surprising for a basketball-dominated conference – and Clemson clearly struggled in hostile environments in this simulation. However, nobody, regardless of conference, touches Clemson at Death Valley (real or not).

It’s completely unfair to say Clemson is not a great team that benefits from a bad conference. Yes, their ACC schedule is easy, but Clemson would be extremely competitive and near the top of the SEC, even if they weren’t a near-lock for 12-0 every season. Their mauling in Tuscaloosa does raise some questions abut their physicality, and emphasizes the difference in a full-season grind in the SEC versus the ACC – however don’t mistake that for mediocrity. Clemson is a premier program and would still compete for a Playoff spot against a much tougher schedule.

MLB Draft Feature: Aaron Sabato, 1B, UNC

Aaron Sabato started his collegiate career by hitting .186 in his first fourteen games, and questions were raised about whether UNC had made the right decision to recruit and start the undrafted Connecticut high school prospect. However, Sabato quickly quelled those doubts and answered the bell in a big way for the Tar Heels, absolutely tearing the cover off the ball for the rest of his freshman campaign. The right-handed hitting first baseman seemingly never missed a barrel in the last three-quarters of the season, hitting .343 with 18 home runs, 25 doubles, and 63 RBI. Not known for his speed, Sabato also legged out a triple en route to hitting for the cycle in a rivalry victory over NC State. His on-base percentage checked in at a stellar .453. Although his sophomore season waas cut short, Sabato had hardly cooled down, hitting .292 with seven dingers in just 19 contests. Sabato has transitioned from a little-hyped, slumping first baseman to one of the best collegiate prospects in the upcoming draft. After Arizona State’s Spencer Torkelson, Sabato is considered by many the next best first baseman available on this year’s draft board. He’s ranked 41st on MLB.com’s Top 200 prospects. 

The question is not whether Sabato will get drafted – as he is a fringe first-round pick, and certainly an early second-rounder – but whether he intends to turn pro, with three seasons of eligibility remaining at UNC. The Tar Heels won the 2019 ACC championship and were one game away from the College World Series last season, losing a Game 3 Super Regional contest at home to Auburn. This year, North Carolina was 12-7 when the season was cancelled, and despite some early season ACC struggles, they promised to be one of the premier programs in the country once again. Sabato may want to return to Chapel Hill, but he also may take advantage of being one of the most sought-after players at his position and head for pro ball right away. 

Projection

Sabato is most certainly a power and offense-first player, but his defense is certainly respectable – he had a .981 fielding percentage his freshman year, improving that mark to .991 in his most recent campaign. Offseason shoulder surgery placed some questions on his range, but scouts applaud his reliable hands, a much-needed attribute to stick at first base long-term, rather than projecting solely as a designated hitter. Comparisons have been made between Sabato and the New York Mets’ Pete Alonso, although Sabato has featured more raw power than Alonso did in college. Considering Alonso hit 53 home runs last season, that’s not a bad comparison at all for the UNC sophomore. Look for a team to jump at Sabato’s power and offensive upside early in this year’s draft, grooming him as their next great power hitter. 

Prediction: Round 1, Pick 22, Washington Nationals

Some may say this is a touch early, considering Sabato’s 41st ranking, and a first-round draft pick will only be spent on the UNC prospect if teams are convinced he’s returning to college. If he is, though, the Nationals have one of the worst farm systems in baseball, and they don’t have a standout prospect at first base. They’ve got franchise player Ryan Zimmerman manning the position now, along with Eric Thames, but they are 35 and 33 years old, respectively, and so now is a great time to scoop up a player like Sabato. It would be a great situation for the Tar Heels’ first baseman, as the Nationals are the defending champions, and with Zimmerman holding down first base, there’s no need to rush Sabato’s development. Give him a few years in the minors, and Sabato could be ready to slug it out with the best of them in America’s capital.

DeGeorge: Big 12 Quarterback Rankings 2020

10: Miles Kendrick, Kansas, Junior

2018 Stats: 11-19 passing for 100 yards and 1 touchdown. 16 rushing attempts for 47 yards and 1 touchdown.

Kendrick played in a backup role in 2018 and did not play in 2019. He is a dual threat quarterback and was listed as a three star recruit by 247sports, and he is a decent decision maker and does not make a lot of mistakes. My concerns about Kendrick, however, are that he has not played much, he is undersized (5’10, 205 lbs), and he does not have talent around him. He also does not have the potential to carry his team. He is still in a battle with Thomas MacVittie, but he is projected to win that competition – my take on Kendrick is he is an average player on a below average team.

9: Jarrett Doege, West Virginia, Senior

2019 Stats: 79-120 passing for 818 yards, 7 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. 11 rushing attempts for -41 yards and 0 touchdowns.

Doege has experience as a transfer from Bowling Green, where he was a starter. Last year, he won the starting job and played pretty well in four games. He is a pro style quarterback at 6-2, 200 pounds and was rated as a three star quarterback by 247sports. Another quarterback with not a lot of talent around him, I think Doege will have a decent year and may surprise people, but in a pretty stacked Big 12 quarterback room, I have him ranked 9th. He is a good decision maker with experience, but in an offensive conference, not having weapons around you can be fatal.

8: Skylar Thompson, Kansas State, Senior

2019 Stats: 177-297 for 2,315 yards, 12 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. 114 rushing attempts for 405 yards and 11 touchdowns.

A 6’2 and 210 pounds, Thompson is a dual threat quarterback, who was ranked as a three star recruit by 247sports. A quarterback with a lot of experience playing the Big 12 gauntlet, he has plus decision making and leadership. He has been praised for his leadership, and he brings back a strong receiving core, but K-State replaces all five offensive lineman. The reason Thompson is rated low is because he struggles with his accuracy, and he will struggle with that entirely new offensive line. For another year, Thompson will lead Kansas State to mediocrity. I like his leadership ability, but I do not believe he has the talent or the throwing ability to really succeed in the Big 12.

7: Max Duggan, TCU, Sophomore

2019 Stats: 181-339 for 2,077 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. 130 rushing attempts for 555 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Duggan played well at times as a freshman for a struggling TCU team. He showed a fierce competitive drive and leadership that is not often seen in freshman. As a 6’2, 190-lb, dual threat quarterback, the TCU signal-caller was ranked as a four star recruit by 247sports. Duggan has the potential to have a breakout year, which we saw at times last year. However, I think that he’s one year away from that happening. TCU does not have a lot of offensive weapons, and Duggan still will suffer through some growing pains. He will eventually be a dominant quarterback in this league, but he still needs to improve. I believe he will build on his freshman season in 2020, but I do not believe he will have the breakout year that many project.

6: Alan Bowman, Texas Tech, Junior

Alan Bowman

2019 Stats: 101-157 for 1,020 yards, 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. 7 rushing attempts for 14 yards and 1 touchdown.

Bowman played in only three games in 2019, but he had impressive numbers in the air raid offense. The former three-star recruit (247sports) has had to battle through injuries in his last two seasons. He is a 6’3, 210-pound, pro style quarterback The biggest question surrounding Bowman is his health. If he remains injury-free, I believe he will have a breakout year. He has all the talent and potential in the world to excel in a weak defensive conference. He is the perfect quarterback for the Big 12 because of his arm strength and accuracy. He does not have insane talent around him, but he has enough to pair with his talent. The only reason he is not ranked higher is because the Big 12 has great quarterbacks, and injuries are a question. A lot of experts rank him lower, but I believe Bowman will be dominant this year if he is on the field.

5: Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State, Sophmore

Spencer Sanders

2019 Stats: 155-247 for 2,065 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. 139 rushing attempts for 628. yards and 2 touchdowns.

Sanders, a 6-2 195 ILBs dual threat quarterback who was a four star by 247sports, returns to Stillwater for his second year. His numbers were good his freshman yea,r and there is definitely talent to build off of. The main concern is the 11 interceptions, but I chalk many of those up to inexperience. He can run and throw at a high level, and he has talent around him coming back in Tylan Wallace and Chuba Hubbard. I have him at #5 because I think the guys in front of him are better, but I really think the top six on this list can finish in any order – that is how deep of a list this is. I look for Sanders to have a big year for the Cowboys.

4: Charlie Brewer, Baylor, Senior

Charlie Brewer

2019 Stats: 251-389 for 3,161, 21 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. 147 rushing attempts for 344 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Brewer is a 6-1, 188 ILBs pro style quarterback, who was a three star prospect by 247sports. He is a fierce competitor with talent and I believe he will have a really good year, but there are multiple questions surrounding his 2020 campaign. First, how will he blend with a new coach in Dave Aranda? Many people believe his success was due to new Carolina Panthers’ head coach Matt Rhule, and this is his chance to prove them wrong. Also, his offensive line really struggled last year, and he needs to be protected to succeed in 2020. He lost Denzel Mims to the draft, but he does have playmakers around him. I believe Brewer will have a great year based off of his competitive spirit and will to win. He is not the most talented guy on this list, and he may not have the most talented team around him, but I believe he has the most grit out of all the quarterbacks in the Big 12 and that is why I see him having a good year.

3: Brock Purdy, Iowa State, Junior

2019 Stats: 312 of 475 for 3,982 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. 93 rushing attempts for 249 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Purdy is 6-1, 202 ILBs, pro style quarterback, who was a three star by 247sports. Purdy could be number one on this list. He is an absolute stud. The reason I have him at #3 is that he does not have the talent around him that Ehlinger and Rattler have, which limits his ability to put up big-time numbers. He has great accuracy and good arm strength. He is not known as a running quarterback, but he can do so effectively if needed. Look for another big year out of him at the helm of this Iowa State offense. He is proven as a talent and he is a good leader. Do not be surprised if Purdy is a darkhorse Heisman candidate.

2: Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma, Freshman

A five star rated by 247sports, Rattler is 6-1, 198 ILBs, and he was the number one pro style quarterback in the 2019 class. He is an absolute stud who can throw and run at high levels. He is inexperienced, but I believe that inexperience is helpful to him because he sat behind Heisman finalist Jalen Hurts and learned how to be a great quarterback and leader. The other thing that makes me optimistic about Rattler is the system and coach Lincoln Riley. Since Riley took over, his three quarterbacks have at least been Heisman finalists and two have won. The reason I rank him at two is because he is relatively unproven, and as much as I want to put him at #1 and believe he could be the best quarterback in the Big 12, I can not really justify it before he takes a snap in the 2020 season. That being said, look for a great year out of Rattler and the Sooners.

1: Sam Ehlinger, Texas, Senior

Sam Ehlinger

2019 Stats: 296-454 for 3,663 yards, 32 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. 163 rushing attempts for 663 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Ehlinger is a 6-2, 230 ILBs, dual threat quarterback rated as a four star by 247sports. As much as I believe there really are six guys that could top this list, I put the most proven and most experienced quarterback at number one. Ehlinger has played in a lot of big games and made a lot of big plays in his career at Texas. The team underachieved last year, but his numbers were great, and I believe they will improve in 2020. I see no reason that he will not be a Heisman finalist. I would not definitively say he is the most talented quarterback on this list, but you can not coach experience. Ehlinger will have another big year in Austin, and hopefully he will prove me right and be the best quarterback in the Big 12.

Daily Headlines: Notre Dame and Kentucky Schedule 3-game series in Basketball

Notre Dame and Kentucky set up 3-game series

Two of college basketball’s most historic programs set up a three-game series for the next three seasons, as Kentucky, who has the most all-time wins as a program, and Notre Dame, ranked #9 in that same category, will meet on the hardwood in 2020, 2021, and 2022. Kentucky is, as they usually are, a powerhouse, while Notre Dame is a program back on the rise. The Irish suffer the loss of John Mooney this season, but they have a strong sophomore class and some promising upcoming recruits. Next year’s contest at Kentucky sets the Wildcats up as heavy favorites, but the following two years, at a neutral site and then at Notre Dame, promise to be entertaining clashes. Kentucky leads the overall series 43-19, but the two teams have four contests since 2009. Non-conference battles like this are good for college sports, so it’s great to see this rivalry renewed. After all, who else remembers the last time these two teams met? (Also, if ND could bring back these uniforms along with the rivalry, that would be cool)

Notre Dame will get three chances at avenging this painful memory

Oklahoma sweeps the Big 12 Athlete of the Year Awards

The Big 12 announced some postseason honors on Thursday, and Oklahoma swept the Athlete of the Year awards, with quarterback and Heisman finalist Jalen Hurts taking the male award, and gymnast Maggie Nichols taking it home on the female side. 

Hurts was one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country this past season, denied a Heisman by Joe Burrow’s all-world season. He put up over 5,000 yards of all-purpose offense and accounted for 53 touchdowns. He led the Sooners to a Big 12 title and the College Football Playoff, and he was drafted by the Eagles in the 2nd round this past April.
Nichols, meanwhile, earned her second Big 12 athlete of the year award, having claimed the hardware two years ago as well. She’s won back-to-back NCAA all-around titles in 2018 and 2019, adding to her trophy case of 11 NCAA trophies she accumulated over her time with Oklahoma. 

JT Daniels Transfers to Georgia

In a decision that made waves across the sporting world yesterday, former USC quarterback JT Daniels elected to transfer to Georgia. The starting job under center in Athens was presumed to belong to Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman, but now he’ll be competing with Daniels for playing time. Newman is the presumed favorite, but Kirby Smart’s quarterback room just got a lot better, and the competition got a lot tighter. 

Brown drops 11 varsity sports, adds two

Brown dropped eleven varsity sports, lowering their total to 29 D1 teams. However, the move is unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the administration; rather, they say the decision was made to make the Bears more competitive in the Ivy League. From ESPN: “Varsity sports dropping to club status are men’s and women’s fencing, men’s and women’s golf, women’s skiing, men’s and women’s squash, women’s equestrian and men’s indoor and outdoor track and cross country. Coed sailing and women’s sailing will be elevated from club to varsity status.” 

NBA Draft Feature: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton

The video in this article was made for collegetalking.com by Bryan Mallet. Please check out Bryan’s YouTube and Instagram pages for more great sports hype and highlight mixes!

In the 2019-2020 basketball season, Dayton power forward Obi Toppin dominated college basketball in a way that isn’t frequently done. Sure, Dayton didn’t play in a Power-6 conference, but that largely meant that Toppin drew double-teams, sometimes triple teams, yet he still put up huge numbers night in and night out. Those numbers (20 points, 7.5 rebounds per game) came even with Toppin averaging 31 minutes per game, often playing under 30 due to Dayton’s blowouts. He was still the Flyers’ leading scorer in 19 of their 31 games, while leading in rebounding 17 times. Toppin garnered high praise from his peers, with Michigan State’s Cassius Winston saying “He made the game look way too easy on a nightly basis” in an interview back in March. Even if the numbers don’t shock you, only watching Toppin play can truly show the ease with which he dominated the game, flushing down powerful dunks, recording massive blocks – 12 games with two or more – and simply fueling the Flyers through their wildly successful season. The mid-major power lost just twice, both times in overtime – once to Kansas and once to Colorado. 

This video was made for Collegetalking.com by Bryan Mallet. Follow him on Instagram @bmalmedia and his YouTube channel to see all of his work

Top Games

Picking just one or two top games from a player as consistent as Toppin is an exceptionally difficult task, but the two contests we’ve decided to highlight are his season opener against Indiana State, and a late-December clash versus North Florida. In the opener, as Dayton gotten their feet under them against the feisty Sycamores, Toppin simply became their answer to every Indiana State charge. Scoring 29 points on 10-16 shooting, collecting twelve rebounds, and finishing out the game with an 8-11 performance from the free throw line in an 86-81 victory to start the season.
Against North Florida, Toppin posted a season-high 31 points, while also notching 8 rebounds in a breezy post-Christmas win. Toppin also showed up in big games, averaging 21.9 points in games decided by less than 10 points. He put up 18 points against Kansas at the Maui Invitational, often while doing battle against Kansas’s Udoka Azubuike, a 7’0 force in the paint. 

Projection

Toppin has a lot of strengths that NBA scouts love, including his ability to avoid fouls as a big man, averaging just 2.2 per game in 2019-2020, and his offensive efficiency is excellent. At 6’9, 220 pounds, Toppin fits in well as an NBA power forward, although he could probably improve his rebounding a little bit. Averaging a touch under eight rebounds per game certainly does not drop any jaws, given Toppin’s size. He still figures to be one of the top power forwards available, and he’s a virtual shoe-in to go within the first ten picks of the draft.

Prediction: Round 1, Pick 7, Chicago Bulls

Toppin could go way earlier than this, but I think a few of the teams projected to draft earlier than the Bulls simply have other needs. The Hawks and Cavaliers will likely look for best available playmakers, like Anthony Edwards or LaMelo Ball, while the Knicks will likely look to target their point guard of the future. There are a few concerns about where Toppin’s ceiling is, and so teams looking for high upside may go elsewhere. If the Warriors pick #1 and are looking for an NBA-ready player for them to surge back into championship contention, I would not be surprised at all to see Steve Kerr bring Toppin to Cali. However, after the Warriors, I think the Bulls are next most logical spot for Toppin to slot in, and he’ll be headed to the Windy City, where he fills a big need for a versatile 3 or 4 type of player to star alongside point guard Zach LaVine.

Cimino: Ranking College Football’s Best 15 Quarterbacks

A lot goes into the ranking of quarterbacks in college football. These rankings are based off of talent, experience, winning, and some gut feelings. Here we go.

T-15. Charlie Brewer (Baylor)

T-15. Spencer Sanders (Oklahoma State)

14. Mac Jones (Alabama)

13. Bo Nix (Auburn)

12. Kyle Trask (Florida)

11. Kellen Mond (Texas A&M)

10. Sam Elingher (Texas)

9. Kedon Slovis (Southern California)

8. Brock Purdy (Iowa State)

7. KJ Costello (Mississippi State)

6. Sam Howell (North Carolina)

5. Tanner Morgan (Minnesota)

If I saw this name in a top 5 at the beginning of last season, I would’ve thought it was a joke. PJ Fleck gets a lot of credit for the Gophers recent success, but Morgan has been a key component. He put up big numbers in a conference that is built on defense. Morgan is just a junior, and he will be back in full force this season.

4. Ian Book (Notre Dame)

Ian Book catches a lot of heat, but really only because he plays for Notre Dame. The Irish are a very hated team, and that comes with major scrutiny for the quarterback. Book led the Irish to the playoff in his sophomore season and he threw for over 3000 yards, 34 TDs, and 6 picks last year. Book is a very good quarterback, and it is about time he gets some respect.

3. Jayden Daniels (Arizona State)

I might be a year early on Daniels in some people’s minds, but this kid is a stud. I don’t like to make long term predictions, but I’ll take Daniels as the next Russell Wilson at the next level. This kid has a big arm, he is quick, and he is CLUTCH. Daniels is only a sophomore, and at some point in the next couple years, he could have a Heisman in his trophy case.

2. Justin Fields (Ohio State)

I was a little hesitant before the beginning of last year when it came to Fields. I wanted to see more of his arm in action before buying in. After a year at Ohio State, Fields proved everyone wrong. He has tremendous arm talent and showed he knows how to win big games. The only reason he is behind Lawrence? Lawrence outplayed him when they faced off, but the gap is slim.

1. Trevor Lawrence (Clemson)

This seems like a no-brainer to me. Lawrence is a proven winner, has tremendous arm talent, and knows how to run his system. Lawrence continues to prove why he is one of the best QB prospects ever. He will be nothing short of spectacular this season.