Illini Basketball: Kofi Cockburn, Ayo Dosunmu NBA Draft Stock Report

It’s time to get bullish on Illinois Fighting Illini basketball. Are they big board, blue chip AAA+ investment grade? No, not yet, but they’re also definitely not the junk bond penny stock level dreck we had seen in the first two years of the Brad Underwood era/much of the John Groce regime.

Led by a very talented inside-outside combo, in guard Ayo Dosunmu and center Kofi Cockburn, the Illini will head into the weekend sitting in second place in a very tough league that, although it has no great teams, has a lot of good ones, and almost everybody is not bad.

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Big Ten Basketball Chaos, Parity Fun for Fans, Excruciating for Coaches Says Chris Collins

Absolutely anyone who cares about Big Ten basketball, no matter the size of their audience, publishes a Big Ten basketball power rankings. It’s the least original endeavor possible, and this year all of these power rankings are created equal.

From the Midwestern paper of record to somebody on Twitter with three followers and no avatar, they’re all equally valid. It’s not just in regards to Big Ten basketball, it’s national as well. The AP rankings are no more valid than any list tweeted out by (insert name of hoops blogger here).

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#8 Michigan State Above, #19 Michigan Middling in Congested Big Ten

michigan vs michigan state
The Big Ten may not have the greatest concentration of Final Four contenders in the nation, but it certainly has the highest number of likely NCAA Tournament and NIT teams. Overall, it’s likely the best league in the nation, top to bottom, as almost everybody is at least decent, and a lot of sides are really good.

In terms of league title contenders, you have to start in the state of Great Lakes Splendor, with the two teams who met in last season’s conference title game. Right now #8 Michigan State is above everybody else in the league, sitting pretty at 5-0 in conference play. #19 Michigan is in the congested middle, at 2-2, but with an 11-4 overall record
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What Kentucky SF Kahlil Whitney Could Be Part 2 (Exclusive Interview)

Part two of two long form on Kahlil Whitney (for part one, featuring interviews with coaches and teammates, go here)

Kentucky freshman small forward Kahlil Whitney has elite role models, both on and off the court. He models his game after another man who is 6’6″, Toronto Raptors SF Kawhi Leonard, a two time NBA Champion, NBA Finals MVP and three time NBA All-Star.

Leonard is in the conversation for greatest current basketball player on the planet right now, with most people ascribing that status to LeBron James, who Whitney describes as one of his “favorite people.”

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What Kentucky SF Kahlil Whitney Could Be Part 1 (Words of Teammates, Coaches)

Part one of two long form on Kahlil Whitney (part two exclusive interview coming Thursday)

John Calipari, head coach of the #17 Kentucky Wildcats said that the guy who cheered hardest for their signature win over arch-rival and then #3 Louisville was freshman forward Kahlil Whitney.

“I looked over because I wanted to see the bench, and he went nuts,” said Calipari. “He was so happy, and he only played two minutes. It shows what kind of kid he is. Now we’ve got to get him to break through with us still winning, but he’s getting closer.”

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Cristiano Ronaldo a Big Inspiration to Blossoming Kentucky C Nick Richards

Perhaps this is Nick Richards truly “taking the leap” now? In #17 Kentucky’s 71-59 win over Missouri today, the SEC opener for both teams, the Kingston, Jamaica (by way of Hillside, New Jersey) native and Patrick School alum was 7-10 shooting, with 17 points and 8 rebounds in the first half.

Although he fouled out with 3:51 to go, the junior center finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds in 29 minutes played. It was his sixth double double this season, giving him seven for his career. In his first 74 career games, he had one double double. Now he has six in 13 games this season.

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#17 Kentucky Wildcats Get SEC Play Started Right with Win Over Missouri

We’re five days into the new year, so it’s a time for fresh starts. Perfectly embodying this motif is the tip off of the Southeastern Conference season which saw the #17 Kentucky Wildcats defeat the Missouri Tigers 71-59.  As expected, Kentucky entered SEC play as the heavy favorite to win the league, but the other teams won’t be intimated by the blue blood program from the blue grass state.

“There are so many veteran teams,” said Kentucky Assistant Coach Tony Barbee, “veteran coaches in this league that when teams go on the road, they’re not intimidated by, say, our arena or our atmosphere or our tradition because they come here every year, as opposed to non-conference play.”

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#17 Kentucky Wildcats vs Mizzou Tigers Preview, Prediction

The South Eastern Conference opener for the #17 Kentucky Wildcats is going to be a sneaky tough match-up. As has been well-documented, UK’s achilles heel this season has been three point shooting, and now they’re going up against what is arguably the best defensive team in the SEC, the Missouri Tigers, colloquially known as Mizzou.

Of the 351 teams in Division I, the Cats entered the 71-65 loss to then #5 Ohio State averaging just 4.2 3-pt makes per game (347th), 15.3 3-pt attempts per game (341st), averaging 27.5% from 3-pt range (332nd). They did of course shoot 7-23 (30.4%) from 3 in that loss, and then 7-15 (46.7%) in the OT win over arch-rival and then #3 Louisville.

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Kahlil Whitney Has the Potential to Help Take #19 Kentucky Higher

Perhaps yesterday’s dramatic overtime win, 78-70, over arch-rival and #3 team in the nation Louisville is exactly what the #19 Kentucky Wildcats need to kickstart their season. It’s very rare for UK to have three losses (Evansville, Utah and Ohio State) by Christmas, but here we are.

They narrowly avoided a fourth, and that should give them a lot of confidence and momentum heading into the SEC opener on Saturday, at home against Mizzou. Now the question remains, what will it take to get Kahlil Whitney going? UK coach John Calipari has said that in order for UK to be all that they can be, Kahlil Whitney needs to be all that he can be. 

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Only Hope for Chicago Bulls Rebuild is via Draft Says Corie Blount

From 1991-1998, the Chicago Bulls were the greatest sports dynasty that this city has ever seen. They “three-peated” twice, winning six NBA titles in all and forward Corie Blount was a part of it. Since the dynasty ended in 1998, the franchise has been a shell of its former self.

In a league where just about anybody who is trying can make the playoffs, the Bulls have reached the postseason just once since 2015. When you make your free NBA picks against the spread these days, don’t put your money on Chicago! Already 15.5 games out of first place and eight games under .500, the Bulls went 22-60 last season and 27-55 the previous season. So how will this once proud but now laughably bad franchise even return to glory?

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Who are the Leading Big Ten Contenders? Chicago Legends Size it Up

Today saw Gonzaga become the sixth different team to be ranked #1 in the AP poll. The all time record, for an entire season is seven, and today is just Christmas Eve Eve/Festivus. In other words, that record will inevitably be shattered to pieces and this fact conveys just how much chaos there really is, nationally, in college basketball this season.

Not just nationally, but on a local level too! When you’re making free college basketball picks against the spread, in the Big Ten, anything can happen! Upsets are occurring all the time and now that everyone in the Big 10 has played two conference games, 12 of the 14 teams in the league are 1-1. Michigan State is 2-0 while Northwestern is 0-2. Until MSU’s 77-72 win at Northwestern on Wednesday night, the home team had won every single Big Ten league team. So up until midweek, we had perfect symmetry in the Midwestern league.

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DePaul Forward Paul Reed Has First Round NBA Draft Stock

DePaul is off to a 12-1 start, and junior forward Paul Reed is one of the leading reasons why. Averaging close to 16  points per game and shooting 56 percent from the field for the season, he’s truly upped his game this season. His three years in Chicago have been productive as a whole too as he entered the season among the program’s all time in field goal percentage and blocked shots.

The 6-9, 200 Orlando native has a significant amount of NBA Draft stock too. The Paul Reed mocksourcing looks as follows:  NBA Draft.net #28,   Tankathon #23   Yahoo! #25. He had an off-shooting night in DePaul’s dramatic 83-78 come from behind win over Northwestern, but changed the game in several other ways.

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