College Basketball Nation: Isaiah Sykes

Numbers To Know: Thursday Recap

December, 21, 2012
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Player of the Night – Isaiah Sykes, UCF Knights
Sykes recorded the third triple-double in UCF history -- and the first since Kingsley Edwards in 2005 -- in the Knights’ 83-66 win over Stetson. The junior finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

Sykes is averaging 14.9 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game and 5.1 assists per game. Over the past five seasons, only Belmont’s Alex Renfroe and Ohio State’s Evan Turner finished the year with those numbers.

Stat Sheet Stuffer – Mason Plumlee, Duke Blue Devils
Plumlee had 21 points and 15 rebounds, as Duke defeated Elon for its 100th consecutive nonconference home win. That’s his third 20-15 game already this season, the most for a Duke player since Shelden Williams in 2005-06.

Bench Player of the Night – Tyrone Garland, La Salle Explorers
There’s something about playing in Philadelphia that turns Garland into a scoring machine. He’s the third leading scorer in the history of the Philadelphia Public League, just eight points behind Wilt Chamberlain.

On Thursday, he played in his first home game at La Salle since transferring from Virginia Tech. Garland scored a career-high 26 points off the bench -- including 19 in the second half -- as La Salle beat Iona 88-74. That’s the most points off the bench for an Explorer since Gary Neal’s 32 in 2003.

Scorer of the Night = Daman Starring, UC-Irvine Anteaters
UC-Irvine beat USC for the first time since 1983, and just the second time ever. Starring scored a game-high 23 points, including five 3s. With wins at Fresno State and USC, UC-Irvine has won back-to-back nonconference road games for just the second time in the past seven seasons. The Trojans have now lost six of their past seven games.

Freshman of the Night – Stephen Hurt, Lipscomb Bisons
Lipscomb gave Memphis a good scare, but ultimately fell short 62-56. Hurt finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds, his third straight double-double. Over the past three games, Hurt is averaging 16.7 points per game and 14.0 rebounds per game.

Jason King's Wooden Watch

November, 15, 2012
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When college basketball opened play last week, Doug McDermott of Creighton and Indiana forward Cody Zeller were touted as the leading candidates for the Wooden Award. Two games into the 2012-13 season, nothing has changed.

Yet.

Zeller is averaging 20 points and 9.5 rebounds. Foul trouble limited McDermott to five points in Wednesday’s win over UAB, but it’ll take more than one poor showing to knock one of the game’s most competitive, highly skilled players from his perch.

Still, even though Zeller and McDermott are the leaders, plenty of other players turned heads during college basketball’s opening week. Based on their performances thus far, here are 10 standouts that Wooden Award voters may want to watch in the coming weeks and months.

Keith Appling, Michigan State -- Four days after scoring 17 points in a season-opening loss to Connecticut in Germany, Appling helped the Spartans bounce back with a 19-point effort in a 67-64 victory over Kansas. The guard hit two clutch shots in the waning moments -- a 3-pointer with 1:35 remaining and an acrobatic lay-up with 13 seconds left -- to clinch the win.

Isaiah Austin, Baylor -- The 7-foot-1 freshman center couldn’t have been more dazzling in his college debut last week. Austin had 22 points, four rebounds and two blocks in just 17 minutes in a victory over Lehigh. Showing his versatility, Austin mixed in a pair of 3-pointers with a few nasty dunks. Austin sprained his ankle midway through the second half and did not return.

Trey Burke, Michigan -- The Wolverines’ first three wins have come by an average of 35 points, and Burke is the main reason. The preseason All-American is averaging 18.8 points and eight assists. His turnovers (3.7 per game) are a bit high, but that should change as Michigan develops more cohesion.

Seth Curry, Duke -- The ninth-ranked Blue Devils got a massive boost from Curry in Tuesday’s 75-68 win over No. 3 Kentucky. Curry scored 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including a 3-of-5 mark from 3-point range. He’s averaging 19 points through two games and is connecting on 50 percent of his field goals and 3-point attempts.

Brandon Davies, Brigham Young -- A forward, Davies is averaging 22 points and eight rebounds for the 2-0 Cougars, but even more impressive is that he’s shooting 74 percent from the field while also chipping in three assists per game. He’ll face a good test when BYU takes on Florida State Friday.

James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina -- The future NBA lottery pick is flourishing in his increased role after playing behind John Henson and Tyler Zeller last season. McAdoo is averaging 22.5 points and 12.5 rebounds through two games. We’ll get a better look at him during next week’s Maui Invitational.

C.J. McCollum, Lehigh -- Anyone who watched Lehigh’s game against Baylor understands why McCollum was tabbed as a preseason All-American. The guard lit up the Bears for 36 points despite being heavily guarded by defensive standouts such as A.J. Walton and Deuce Bello. McCollum is averaging 24 points through three games and is shooting 50 percent from the field.

Phil Pressey, Missouri -- The player who some feel is the nation’s top point guard is off to a solid start for the 2-0 Tigers. Pressey is averaging team-highs in points (20.0) and assists (5.5). Missouri has yet to be tested, but that will change next week when they open against Stanford in the Battle 4 Atlantis. The tournament also features Duke, Memphis, Minnesota, Louisville and others.

Scootie Randall, Temple -- Randall missed all of last season with a knee injury, but he hardly showed any rust when he returned the court for the first time on Tuesday. The guard scored a career-high 31 points on 10-of-19 shooting to spark the Owls to an 80-66 victory over a Kent State squad that was high on momentum after upsetting Drexel.

Isaiah Sykes, Central Florida -- Forward Keith Clanton is generally regarded as the Knights’ top player but, through two games, 6-foot-5 Sykes has commanded most of the headlines. Sykes had 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in a mild upset of South Florida in the season opener. In two games, he’s averaging 24.5 points. 7.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists.

3-point shot: The NCAA's glacial pace

November, 13, 2012
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1. The NCAA enforcement process continues to evolve and adjust to the changing time. But the NCAA isn't the law. Yet one of the most consistent constructive criticisms of the process is the glacial speed at which decisions are made -- often pushing the start of a season or shortly thereafter. The latest example is the case of Shabazz Muhammad. The NCAA stated it finally got all the facts of the case which were agreed to by UCLA and the NCAA. The statement said the NCAA made requests for the information on July 31 but didn't get a response with the information until Sept. 25, and then again on Oct. 10 and Nov. 1. The NCAA interviewed the Muhammad family last week before rendering an amateurism violation and ineligibility ruling. But why not set a deadline? The NCAA may have come to the point where it set a time limit for all the information and interviews, and if it isn't received then the player could be ineligible until further notice. That sounds harsh. But there clearly needs to be a sense of urgency on all parties to get the information to the NCAA to speed up this process. Both sides tend to be at fault for the pace of progress. The information the NCAA requests can range from ridiculous to basic. At times there is a standoff, especially if it involves personal matters like bank statements. Still, the common refrain from the NCAA in these cases is that it didn't receive the necessary information to make a decision. Deadlines may need to be set in the future to speed this up or more delays will occur. Meanwhile, a timeline on a final resolution in Muhammad's case is still unknown.

2. Wisconsin senior forward Mike Bruesewitz has recovered well after playing 13 minutes and scoring 10 points in the season-opening win over SE Louisiana. It was his first game back after needing a month to recover from surgery to repair a laceration in his right leg. He tore his leg in a freak accident by running into the basket standard during a workout on Oct. 9. Bruesewitz was sore Monday but practiced later in the day and the plan is still for him to play at Florida Wednesday. Getting Bruesewitz on the court against the Gators gives the Badgers a chance. His presence in practice, let alone during the game, gives the Badgers an emotional lift. Bruesewitz made all three shots he attempted.

3. Obsessing about March is easy to do in a sport that has the best postseason tournament. But for the players, the coaches and the fans, the regular season matters. And that's why UConn and Central Florida have plenty to play for this season. Both schools have been banned by the NCAA -- the former for poor academic scores and the latter for NCAA violations. Yet, each school has plenty of pride. The Huskies and the Knights had two of the most impressive wins in the first weekend of the season. UConn beat Michigan State at Ramstein Air Base in Germany while UCF knocked off rival South Florida, which was in the NCAA tournament last season. Credit to UConn coach Kevin Ollie and UCF coach Donnie Jones for having their teams ready to go on Day One. The Huskies have a set of guards and a pestering, pressure, turnover-driven defense that will challenge every team in the Big East. UCF has two of the best players in CUSA in Keith Clanton and Isaiah Sykes. Expect both to be in the hunt for a top five finish in the Big East and CUSA, respectively.

Conference USA's most important players

July, 25, 2012
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Editor's note: ESPN.com’s Summer Shootaround series catches up on the offseason storylines for each conference. For more on C-USA, click here.

The most important player for each team in the conference ...

East Carolina: Miguel Paul
Paul ran the show in effective fashion for ECU last season, posting a 108.8 offensive rating while leading his team in usage and submitting the ninth-best assist rate in the nation (40.6). He'll be just as crucial in his final season.

Houston: Danuel House
House is the most talented recruit the Houston men's basketball program has landed in a long time. He could have chosen just about any destination for college ball, but he chose to stay in Houston and play for third-year coach James Dickey. House could be a star on a previously irrelevant team from day one.

Marshall: Dennis Tinnon
Marshall didn't miss the NCAA tournament by much last season, but miss the tourney it did. If that changes, it will be in part because Tinnon -- who posted a 120.2 offensive rating and ranked in the top 50 nationally in defensive and offensive rebounding rate -- takes on an even larger share of the offense.

Memphis: Joe Jackson
The lightning-quick Memphis native carries the weight of a city on his back every time he plays. Through his first two seasons, Jackson has often displayed why those childhood expectations started in the first place -- even if it feels like we haven't seen him put it all together just yet.

[+] EnlargeArsalan Kazemi
AP Photo/Erich SchlegelArsalan Kazemi, who plays for Iran's national team, averaged 12.1 points and 10.3 rebounds as a junior last season.
Rice: Arsalan Kazemi
One of the nation's unknown stars is Rice's best player and its most important, a rebounding force who needs to command double-teams to help the Owls improve last season's putrid offense.

SMU: Jalen Jones
Speaking of putrid offense, SMU was awful on that side of the floor in 2011-12. But freshman guard Jones showed plenty of potential along the way.

Southern Miss: Neil Watson
The 5-foot-11 guard was former coach Larry Eustachy's second-most-used offensive option last season, when he shot 37.5 percent from the 3-point line and posted a 30.7 percent assist rate. Both of those figures should improve in 2012.

Tulane: Ricky Tarrant
It has been a tough decade or so for Tulane hoops, but Tarrant, who averaged 14.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists (and efficiently so) as a freshman last season, will give the Green Wave at least one go-to option going forward.

Tulsa: Scottie Haralson
Losing leading scorer Jordan Clarkson to an unflattering (for Tulsa) transfer scenario was a major blow, which is chief among the reasons why Haralson must step up as a senior.

UAB: Preston Purifoy
The Blazers are in rebuilding mode after firing coach Mike Davis, so all personnel bets are off. That means Purifoy, by far the team's most efficient player last season, could get more opportunities to show his skills.

UCF: Marcus Jordan
Keith Clanton is the more obvious pick, but he and Isaiah Sykes form a nice rebounding tandem on the low block. Jordan will have the ball in his hands more often and will have to be far more consistent to live up to the flashes of excellence we've seen in his time at UCF.

UTEP: Julian Washburn
Junior John Bohannon is a known quantity, a solid post man and an active rebounder who converts his opportunities well. Washburn, a 6-7 sophomore, has tons of upside, but he will have to become much more efficient in his second season.

3-point shot: Judging the Seminoles

January, 18, 2012
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1. Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said late Saturday night after the Seminoles crushed North Carolina that he wanted to wait to see how his team responded this week before fully judging its potential. Well, the Seminoles beat Maryland by 14 at home Tuesday night. Not bad. Duke is next in Cameron on Saturday.

2. Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman is still idle as he waits and waits for the administration to see if he’ll be reinstated after South Carolina State president George Cooper alleged that Bozeman struck Bears player Larry Bastfield. The Bears are 1-2 with Bozeman off the bench (he can’t conduct practice, either). The Bears host North Carolina A&T on Saturday.

3. Marshall coach Tom Herrion said Central Florida’s Isaiah Sykes did hit him in the sternum and that is what forced him to fall back on the bench and then stumble to the floor before he regained composure during the Herd’s win over UCF on Saturday. The bizarre video shows Sykes appearing to come into contact with Herrion as Sykes is running down the sideline in front of the Herd bench. Sykes received a flagrant 1 foul. Conference USA spokesperson Courtney Morrison-Archer said the league reviewed the incident and the officials made the correct call and no additional penalties are forthcoming.

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