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|Posted by Brian Dickmann on May 12, 2017 at 12:20 AM||comments (0)|
Former Green Bay star Rahmon Fletcher has been named the MVP of the British Basketball League for the second straight year.
The 5’11” point guard starred collegiately for the Phoenix from 2007-2011 before beginning his professional career overseas in the Netherlands. He has played the past three seasons in Great Britain with the Newcastle Eagles, the most successful franchise in the BBL.
“It’s an honor to win this MVP award again,” Fletcher said, via the team’s website. “To get recognized and voted for by other clubs and coaches is a nice feeling and I am privileged to win it back-to-back seasons.”
Fletcher has had incredible success during his three years at Newcastle. During his first season with the Eagles, the team won all four trophies available to BBL teams – the BBL Championship (regular season title), the BBL Playoffs, as well as the two in-season tournaments: the BBL Cup and the BBL Trophy.
Last season, he was named the league’s MVP after leading his team to a 28-5 record and a 2nd place finish in the Championship behind the Leicester Riders. He averaged 14.3 points, 5.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game in the competition last season.
He had another fantastic season again this season leading to his second consecutive MVP award. He averaged 20.5 points and 6.7 assists per game this season and was also named the BBL Player of the Year for the first time after finishing third the past two seasons.
“I am the type of person that wants to earn the respect of others,” Fletcher said. “So to have the coaches that are watching endless film of you, scouting for you and then ultimately voting for you, really does mean a lot.”
“Plus, I have to give a lot of credit to the Eagles as an organization, too.”
The Eagles won the BBL Cup earlier this year with a 91-83 victory over the Glasgow Rocks in the finals with Fletcher being named BBL Cup MVP for the third straight season.
Newcastle finished 23-10 during the regular season this year which was again good for 2nd place. The Eagles face regular season champion Leicester on Sunday in the BBL Playoff Final at the O2 Arena in London.
Fletcher ranks in the top ten in Green Bay history in career points (1,678), field goals made (633), field goals attempted (1,338), three point field goals made (150) and attempted (399), as well as assists (438). His 197 career steals rank 3rd in program history behind only Jordan Fouse and Terry Evans.
|Posted by Brian Dickmann on May 9, 2017 at 11:45 AM||comments (0)|
For the third time in the past five years a Horizon League member is moving on to greener pastures.
The Valparaiso Crusaders, who just completed their 10th season in the Horizon League after joining for the 2007/2008 season from the Summit League, will join the Missouri Valley Conference starting next season.
“The Missouri Valley Conference Presidents Council has unanimously voted to extend a membership invitation to Valparaiso University, effective July 1, 2017,” MVC officials said in a statement. “There will be no further comment, pending the negotiation of terms.”
After a bit of a slow start to their Horizon League membership, Valpo has dominated the conference since 2011 and has won the conference regular season title in five of the past six seasons with the only blemish being when Green Bay won the regular season title outright in 2014.
Even prior to that, the Crusaders finished under .500 only once in their decade in the conference and that came during a 5-13 season in 2008, just their second season in the conference.
Despite winning five regular season titles, the Crusaders appeared in the NCAA Tournament just twice, losing both times in the first round. They also finished as the national runner-up in the 2016 NIT after being snubbed by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, losing to George Washington in the championship game at Madison Square Garden.
Valparaiso has been a thorn in Green Bay’s side in recent years. The Phoenix were just 5-10 overall against the Crusaders since the 2011/2012 season and suffered several season ending losses to Valpo including a 2013 Horizon League Tournament semifinal game (Broekhoff at the buzzer) and 2015 Horizon League championship game. The Phoenix returned the favor in the semifinals in 2016 en route to winning the tournament, eliminating Valpo and sending them to the NIT.
The loss of the Crusaders means the Horizon League has lost its flagship basketball program for the second time in five years. Butler left the conference join the Atlantic 10 in 2012 and is now a member of the Big East. Loyola, a bottom feeder during their time in the conference, also left to join the Missouri Valley in 2013.
Several Horizon League programs are finally trending up after a downward spiral the past several years. The conference was considering expansion even before the news that Valparaiso was leaving with Nebraska-Omaha and Denver mentioned as possible candidates.
Other candidates to fill Valpo’s spot as well as expand the league could include Murray State, Missouri-Kansas City, and Robert Morris.
|Posted by Brian Dickmann on May 4, 2017 at 12:40 AM||comments (0)|
The quest to fill the Phoenix final roster spot for the 2017/2018 season continues with an intriguing prospect set to visit Green Bay this week.
Larry McKnight Jr, a 6'3" freshman guard at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, Florida, will visit UWGB on Thursday according to JucoRecruiting.com.
A 1st team All-Southern Conference selection this past season, McKnight averaged 13.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game during his first season at the JUCO level. He also shot 49.5% from the floor and 37.4% from beyond the arc.
He originally committed to NCAA Division I Wofford out of high school but did not play a minute in two seasons at the school including a redshirt season in 2014/2015.
The Miami native picked up scholarship offers from Florida International, Nicholls State, North Carolina Central, Winthrop, Portland State, Hofstra, and Florida Atlantic during the season and has also heard from Albany, UAB, and UNC Greensboro.
He has taken official visits to Canisius and NC Central so far this spring.
McKnight would be eligible to play immediately and would apparently have three seasons of eligibility remaining. He could help provide a scoring threat that Green Bay will desperately need next season after the graduation of six seniors plus Kerem Kanter's transfer to Xavier.
The Phoenix have one scholarship still available for the 2017 season.
|Posted by Brian Dickmann on May 3, 2017 at 9:50 PM||comments (0)|
Photo via Green Bay Phoenix
One of Linc Darner's prized recruits is taking his talents 150 miles south to Madison.
Trevor Anderson, a 3-star high school recruit and the 2016 Mr. Basketball in the state of Wisconsin, announced on Twitter Wednesday night that he will be leaving Green Bay to join the Wisconsin Badgers.
"Looking back on my first year at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay, I had the opportunity to meet many wonderful and impactful people," Anderson wrote. "Althought my freshman year ended prematurely due to injury, I would not consider it a failure. When the season closed, I did a lot of self reflection, evaluating all aspects of my life from school, sports and personal happiness. Growing up in Wisconsin; it was always my personal dream to play for the Badgers. With that in mind, I have decided to transfer to the University of Wisconsin - Madison for the 2017/2018 season."
Anderson appeared in 20 games this season for Green Bay before suffering a back injury that cut his season short. He likely would’ve been a candidate for the Horizon League’s All-Freshman Team having finished the season averaging 9.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. He also led the team in assists (2.7) and minutes (28.5) per game and was one of the team’s best shooters knocking down 37.6% from beyond the arc and 80.4% from the free throw line.
"This was an extremely difficult decision," Anderson said in his Twitter post. "I want to thank Coach Darner for all he has done for me in the two and a half years since he started recruiting me. I have nothing but love towards him and the coaching staff. To my teammates, I consider myself blessed to have played along side you this year. Never underestimate the gratitude I have towards all you, Coach Darner, Coach Herbst, and the Green Bay staff."
Anderson will have to sit out the 2017/2018 season due to NCAA transfer rules and will have three seasons of eligbility remaining. He will have to pay his own way as a walk-on though he could earn a scholarship at Wisconsin in the future.
His departure comes on the heels of another one of Green Bay's best players transferring last month when Kerem Kanter announced his intention to transfer to Xavier.
The Phoenix will return just four scholarship players - Khalil Small, Kameron Hankerson, David Jesperson, and Avery Brown - from this past season's team that finished 18-14. Green Bay will welcome in at least seven newcomers next season with two scholarships still to fill.
“It has been Trevor's dream to play at Wisconsin growing up," Darner said in a statement released by the school. "We enjoyed the opportunity to coach Trevor and getting to know his family and we wish him nothing but the best moving forward."
PJ Pipes, one of Green Bay's solid group of incoming prospects, could see significant minutes at point guard as a true freshman with Anderson's departure. Other ball handlers on the roster include Brown, Small, and Hankerson.
|Posted by Brian Dickmann on April 18, 2017 at 3:15 PM||comments (0)|
Photo: Bruce Ackerman / Ocala Star-Banner
After Thursday's news that Cody Schwartz was transferring to Green Bay from San Jose State it appeared that the Phoenix 2017 recruiting class was finished and that the 2017/2018 roster was set.
That is not the case anymore.
According to Scott Venci of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, JUCO commit Paul Turner will not be attending UWGB and playing for the Phoenix this fall due to not being able to meet the NCAA's Division I academic requirement.
Turner was a 3-star recruit in high school and had offers from several high major schools including Wisconsin, Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri, and DePaul among others.
However, he spent the past two seasons at the JUCO level at the College of Central Florida where he averaged 17.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game this past season. He committied to Green Bay this past November and was recently ranked as a top 100 JUCO prospect according to JucoRecruiting.com.
Turner was expected to play a large role for the Phoenix next season as the program has just five scholarship players returning from last year's team. He was likely going to challenge for a spot in the starting lineup and play significant minutes to provide a scoring punch.
Green Bay now has one scholarship available for the 2017 recruiting class that includes JUCO player Sukhjot Bains, high school players PJ Pipes, Will Chevalier, Trevian Bell, and Manny Patterson, as well as Division I transfers Sandy Cohen and Cody Schwartz.
The Phoenix could look for a graduate transfer, JUCO transfer, or possibly another high school prospect but will likely need to find a player that is eligible to play immediately as Cohen and Schwartz will both have to sit out next season, though Cohen could possibly be eligible to play in January.
|Posted by Brian Dickmann on April 14, 2017 at 1:35 PM||comments (0)|
Photo: Getty Images
The Green Bay Phoenix have landed another high quality Division I transfer.
Cody Schwartz, a 6’8” forward from nearby De Pere, announced on Twitter Thursday afternoon that he is transferring to Green Bay. He played the past two seasons at San Jose State and will have two seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer rules.
“Today I announce that I will be transferring from San Jose State and will continue my schooling and my basketball career at UW-Green Bay,” he wrote on Twitter. “I thank the coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to play at SJSU and for helping me progress as a player and a person. I thank all the fans for the support you have given me throughout my seasons here. Finally, thank you to all the teammates I’ve had these past two years. I appreciate all of you and have a lot of great memories from you guys.”
A 4-star recruit according to ESPN, he ranked as the 35th best power forward in the country and the 6th best player in Wisconsin’s impressive 2015 class. That class has two players currently in the NBA – Diamond Stone and Henry Ellenson – as well as two more playing large roles at Marquette (Matt Heldt) and Wisconsin (Brevin Pritzl).
After receiving interest from Marquette, Creighton, and Nebraska amongst a host of other schools in high school, he eventually chose to attend San Jose State over scholarship offers from Green Bay, Northern Iowa, and Toledo.
His career got off to a hot start in 2015/2016 when he appeared in all 31 games as a true freshman starting all but five games for the Spartans. That year he averaged 7.0 points and 2.7 rebounds in 24.1 minutes per game and also knocked down 52 three pointers, most among all freshman in the Mountain West Conference, connecting on 34.0% from beyond the arc.
This past season he played in all 30 of the team’s games and made 7 starts but saw his playing time basically cut in half and his production suffered. He averaged 3.8 points and 1.2 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per game as a sophomore. He improved his three point shooting to 38.2% this year for San Jose State, who finished 14-16 overall and 7-11 in the Mountain West Conference.
Schwartz will join former Bay Conference rival Sandy Cohen as the two Division I transfers that are part of the Phoenix massive eight player 2017 incoming class. Others in the class include JUCO transfers Paul Turner and Sukhjot Bains as well as incoming high schoolers Will Chevalier, PJ Pipes, Trevian Bell, and Manny Patterson.
Barring any other roster defections, the Phoenix roster seems to be set as all 13 scholarships have now been filled for the 2017/2018 season. Green Bay returns just five scholarship players from last year’s team that finished 18-14 overall and lost in the first round of the CBI last month.
|Posted by Brian Dickmann on April 12, 2017 at 5:30 PM||comments (0)|
Photo: Dante Geoffry / Powell Tribune
Green Bay head coach Linc Darner and the Green Bay Phoenix have added another JUCO prospect to their 2017 recruiting class.
Sukhjot Bains, a 6'6" guard from Delta, British Columbia in Canada, recently finished his sophomore season at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming.
Bains led the Trappers in both scoring and rebounding this past season averaging 13.4 points and 8.0 rebounds in 25.6 minutes per game. He scored in double figures in 19 of his 26 games and surpassed the 20 point mark five times.
Shooting the basketball, he converted 45.3% of his attempts from inside the arc and knocked down 35.0% of his three point attempts.
In high school, he ranked as the #54 prospect in Canada. He will have two years of eligibility remaining after playing two seasons at Northwest.
Bains is the sixth member of Green Bay's 2017 recruiting class joining Paul Turner, another JUCO transfer, as well as Marquette transfer Sandy Cohen and high school prospects Will Chevalier, Trevian Bell, PJ Pipes, and Manny Patterson.
Green Bay still has one scholarship remaining for the 2017 class. The NCAA signing period is open until May 17th.
|Posted by Brian Dickmann on April 11, 2017 at 2:30 PM||comments (0)|
Photo: Getty Images
Kerem Kanter will play his final season of college basketball at Xavier this upcoming year if he does not keep his name in the NBA Draft this summer.
The 6'9" forward from Istanbul, Turkey entered his name in the NBA Draft last month but will not hire an agent, leaving open the opportunity to play one more season of college basketball should he withdraw his name from the Draft by June 12.
It marks the end of a bizarre turn of events this off-season for Kanter, who averaged 11.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in 20 minutes per game this past season as a junior.
He originally announced his decision to graduate from UWGB and enter the Draft but initially left the door open for a possible return to Green Bay. Then he made it clear that his time in Titletown was up and that he would seek a transfer with several schools such as Michigan State and Kansas reportedly interested in his services.
Should he decide to withdraw from the NBA Draft as expected, he will join a Xavier team next season that finished 24-14 and made the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament this past March.
|Posted by Brian Dickmann on April 6, 2017 at 3:55 PM||comments (0)|
Photo: Regina H Boone / Detroit Free Press
It's looking more and more likely that a new team or two will be calling the Horizon League home in the very near future.
Whether or not any current members ditch the conference this summer remains to be seen.
One thing that’s for sure is that the NCAA conference realignment carousel is ready to start up again as Wichita State is set to leave the Missouri Valley Conference and join the American Athletic Conference – possibly as soon as Friday.
That means the MVC could poach a Horizon League team as it did back in 2013 when it added Loyola to replace Creighton who left for the Big East.
The most commonly mentioned names for MVC replacements are current Horizon League members Valparaiso and UIC along with Belmont, Missouri-Kansas City, and Nebraska-Omaha.
Other possible options, according to several media outlets including the Peoria Journal Star, include current Missouri Valley Football Conference members North Dakota, North Dakota State, South Dakota, and South Dakota State.
MVC athletic directors and presidents are scheduled to meet Sunday in St. Louis to discuss conference membership. It is unknown at this time if the league is looking at add one school to remain a 10-team league or add three to boost the conference to 12-team, two division league.
The Horizon League, meanwhile, was already exploring expansion possibilities prior to the Wichita State news.
Conference commissioner Jon LeCrone touched on it at his annual state of the league press conference last month in Detroit. According to the Detroit News, the league is “exploring adding a school or even multiple schools” and that “there have been preliminary discussions” but nothing is imminent.
“Certainly, there are conversations that are pretty active,” LeCrone said, via the News.
Then there’s a report from the Omaha World Herald that the conference is looking to expand and that Nebraska-Omaha and Denver are two potential targets.
According to the newspaper, “several sources say the Horizon League is looking to expand by two schools, and perhaps four. The reason: improving the league’s basketball profile but also providing more conference games and, thus, more home game revenue for members.”
Another possible target for the Horizon League could be Robert Morris, which is located just 60 miles east of Youngstown State outside of Pittsburgh and is building a brand new $50 million, 4,000 seat on-campus arena and is looking to bolster its athletic profile.
As for the rest of the current Horizon League members, the conference appears to be trending in a positive direction for the first time since 2013. That year, the first season without Butler after the Bulldogs left to join the Atlantic 10 conference and eventually the Big East, the Horizon League ranked as the 12th best conference out of 32.
The league has proven it can be a top tier mid-major league even without Butler. However, the conference has been in a free fall since that season finishing 14th in 2014, 16th in 2015, and an embarrassing 20th in 2016 which likely cost Valparaiso an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The good news is it seems that the league has bottomed out. The conference was still poor this season, finishing 17th in the RPI rankings according to CBS Sports, but every program besides Cleveland State seems to be either solid or showing signs of promise at this stage. The key is for the bottom feeders of the conference to get their act together.
Oakland and Northern Kentucky should be top 100 RPI teams next season. Valparaiso, Green Bay, and Wright State are solid programs that are not normally RPI drags even when going through a down season. UIC, Milwaukee, and Detroit Mercy are all well-funded programs that have recently cleaned house and made coaching changes and look to be trending in the right direction instead of the anchors that they have been the past few seasons.
Only Cleveland State and Youngstown State still look to be dumpster fires, though that may change with their head coaching changes this offseason.
Back in 2013, the first season without Butler when the league finished ahead of all of its mid-major peers except the Missouri Valley and West Coast Conference, the Horizon League only had two top 100 RPI teams: Valparaiso (59) and Detroit (64). More important was that fact that only two teams – Loyola (216) and Milwaukee (306) – had RPIs above 200.
Compare that to 2016 when only one team – Valparaiso (49) – had an RPI in the top 100 as the league rated as the worst it’s ever been. Four of the conference’s ten teams finished with RPIs above 270.
Of course RPI isn’t the end-all-be-all. But for now it still plays an important role on Selection Sunday and the conference being down has likely cost the league at least two years of being a multi-bid league and the millions of dollars that come along with it – Green Bay in 2014 and Valparaiso in 2016.
Being a top tier mid-major league occasionally means multiple bids to the NCAA Tournament, something the league hasn’t been able to accomplish since 2009 when Butler and Cleveland State both won at least one game in the Big Dance.
More NCAA Tournament bids means more money for the league’s men’s basketball programs. More money means larger budgets for travel and recruiting. Larger budgets for travel and recruiting mean better players. Better players mean better teams. Better teams mean better games, bigger crowds, and more exposure for the league.
Even as a one bid league a better conference means a better seed in the NCAA Tournament and a better chance to win NCAA Tournament games.
Without question the most important thing that conference members can do is win games in the NCAA Tournament. There is no greater exposure for a league than when mid-majors can pull upsets and make a Cinderella run in March. The Horizon League has not won a game in the tournament since Butler’s departure in 2012. Tournament wins also mean more NCAA units ($$$) for the league and its members.
But beyond that every conference member can contribute to boosting the conference profile by winning Division I non-conference games before the Horizon League schedule begins. In the years since Butler left, the teams at the top have lacked top 100 RPI opponents to build an at-large resume once conference play begins. That means every game – even victories – were a drag on the team’s RPI once January and February rolled around due to terrible conference teams at the bottom of the standings dragging everyone down.
As a whole this season the Horizon League went 67-60 in nonconference play against Division I foes including 1-3 against the Summit League, 1-3 against the WCC, 0-3 against the Sun Belt, 9-11 against the MAC, and 5-7 against the Ohio Valley – all mid-major leagues the conference should be at or above in stature. This is not the recipe to have in order to move back up the conference ladder.
The conference is showing signs of life again though as two teams, Valparaiso (71) and Northern Kentucky (87) finished in the RPI top 100 with Oakland (109), Wright State (115), and Green Bay (158) in the top 160. Still, half of the conference finished with an RPI at or above 250 which drags everyone else down.
If a team like Valparaiso or UIC (or both) leave the for the MVC then the conference will have to re-evaluate and try to poach a school or two from a league that is lower down on the food chain. It remains to be seen how attractive of a league the Horizon would be at that point.
But if the Horizon League is able to withstand another round of conference movement it is poised for a rebound next season. Adding a couple new teams doesn’t really make sense unless they are perennial top 100 RPI teams that can improve the league’s chances of getting more than one bid to the NCAA Tournament. Otherwise you’re just splitting the same amount of money more ways.
Fans of Horizon League programs are looking for ways to get a better seed and possibly more than one team in the NCAA Tournament
“That’s gonna take some internal improvement, and maybe some external,” LeCrone said.
At this point it may not be up to the league office.
Buckle up, it should be an interesting next few weeks.
Build your own Conference: Spreadsheet of Midwest mid-major conference members -featuring annual basketball budget (2015), attendance (2017), and RPI (2017).
|Posted by Brian Dickmann on March 28, 2017 at 7:30 PM||comments (0)|
Photo: Worsom Robinson / Chicago Sun-Times
The Green Bay Phoenix have landed a big man.
Manny Patterson, a 6'8" forward from Kenwood Academy in Chicago, announced on Twitter Tuesday night that he has committed to Green Bay.
"Before making this decision, I want to acknowledge my family and Kenwood coaching staff for helping, trusting, and taking the time with me to decide my future home," he wrote. "But as to say, I am proud and excited to announce my college decision to continue my education and basketball career to the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay."
Patterson had been one of Green Bay's top priorities for over a year and a half after the Phoenix offered a scholarship back in July of 2015. According to Prep Hoops Illinois he ranked as the #22 prospect in the state's senior class and the second best power forward prospect in the state.
He is listed as a 3-star recruit according to ESPN as well as 247 Sports and chose Green Bay over scholarship offers from solid mid-major programs such as East Tennessee State, Southern Illinois, Iona, Toledo, Towson, and Central Connecticut State.
“They have been with me through the whole process," Patterson told Prep Hoops Illinois. "They were in my corner when things wasn’t going well for me and I believe they believe in me just as much as I believe in myself.”
Patterson is known for his defense, rebounding, and finishing around the rim and will likely play a role almost immediately next season. He will provide interior defense as a rim protector and is also an above average rebounder – something the Phoenix will need to help offset the losses due to the graduations of Kenneth Lowe, Jamar Hurdle, and possibly Kerem Kanter.
Green Bay still has at least one scholarship available for the 2017 recruiting class to replace outgoing seniors Lowe, Hurdle, Turner Botz, Tevin Findlay, Warren Jones, and Charles Cooper. Kanter's defection would open another roster spot.
Patterson can sign his Letter of Intent starting April 12th when the NCAA's signing period opens.
He joins an impressive recruiting class consisting of 6'8" Will Chevalier, 6'5" Trevian Bell, 6'1" PJ Pipes, and 6'5" JUCO guard Paul Turner as well as Marquette transfer Sandy Cohen.