In this week’s edition of Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Kevin Luo, asks our panel of experts three questions: Who was the Most Valuable Player (MVP) during the NCAA Tournament’s first weekend? Who is the best pro prospect for the NBA Draft and who should the Broncos look to take up the quarterback (QB) position?
1. Who was the MVP of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament?
Matthew: The opening weekend certainly gave credence to the March Madness name and one of the most unlikely sources of said madness came from Stephen F. Austin State University’s (SFA) Thomas Walkup. The No. 14 Lumberjacks were matched up against the formidable No. 3 West Virginia Mountaineers and it was up to SFA’s senior leader, Walkup, to take the reins. He did just that, sinking 19 -of -20 free throws and going for a total of 33 points to register the mega-upset win against one of the best defenses in the nation. Two days later, SFA was felled by a heartbreaking last-second tip-in at the hands of Notre Dame, but not before Walkup totaled 54 points on 13-of-28 shooting over the course of the weekend. The auburn-bearded wonder has immediately gone from an unknown to an underdog icon over the course of three days — that is the true beauty of March Madness.
Otto: It has to be University of Oregon shooting guard Buddy Hield. The leading candidate in the John Wooden Award race, presented annually to the outstanding collegiate basketball Player of the Year, continued his excellent play into the Elite Eight as he finished with 37 points. Oklahoma is a team that heavily relies on its starters, especially Hield. No other team depends on its star more, making him not only the best player in the tournament, but also the most valuable.
Miguel: For a player who allegedly looks like Republican candidate Ted Cruz and behaves like former Blue Devil Christian Laettner, sophomore guard Grayson Allen is one-of-a-kind. He propelled the team’s victory against UNC Wilmington with an astounding 15-for-17 free throw performance and 23 points. He’s in the crowd, the sidelines and even in the broadcasting booth with sportscaster Dick Vitale. Grayson then proceeded to outwit the Yale Bulldogs in the Round of 32. Allen blazed on the wood floor in the first half, as he scored 22 points with 8-for-11 shooting along with four three-pointers. Also, Allen provided sturdy defense… especially after tripping sophomore point guard Makai Mason. Allen had the gritty defense to withhold opponents to less than 70 points. Aside from his stellar performance, he does falter by conceding turnovers. Even though Duke eventually lost to Oregon on Thursday, March 24, Allen definitely made his presence in the spotlight.
Otto gets 3 points for Buddy’s amazing play. Miguel gets 2 points for the Grayson Allen-Ted Cruz joke and Matthew gets 1 point because SFA didn’t make it through the weekend.
2. Who is the third best prospect for the upcoming NBA Draft? (Assuming Simmons and Ingram are 1-2)
Matthew: Why not Oklahoma Sooners senior Hield? Sportingnews.com’s college player of the year is pumping out over 25 points per game and continues to lead the way for one of the nation’s best teams. Hield has made refinements to his game with each passing season, but his senior year leap was his most profound, improving his free throw percentage by 6 percent and his three-point percentage by a whopping 10 percent. Any team would be ecstatic to draft a complete guard with leader-like qualities and the desire to get better.
Otto: The general consensus on the third overall prospect right now seems to be Dragan Bender, a 7’1” stud athlete from Croatia. Not only does he have the best name in the draft, but he has the best physical attributes, as he weighs in at 220 pounds with a 7’2” wingspan. If you think that he’s a carbon copy of former Serbian basketball player Darko Mili?i?, I understand. But I think Bender is more athletic and a lot more fluid in his motion, as well as just overall stronger and a better athlete. Regardless, no one in the draft has his size mixed with such an incredible offensive and defensive upside. He may be former Latvian basketball player Kristaps Porzingis or he may be Mili?i?. We don’t really know because we see almost nothing of Bender, which is exactly the reason he’s so high on so many boards.
Miguel: Mr. Luo, you definitely are good with picking future draft busts if you believe Ben Simmons is a top NBA prospect. They usually perform well in the NCAA Tournament and achieve higher than 2.0 GPAs to qualify for the John Wooden Award. Senior guard Hield is the best NBA prospect — not the third. He is a leader on and off the court. Instead of being a typical one-and-done player, Hield has stayed loyal to the Sooners and developed his scoring consistency. He is more seasoned than rare-cooked beef served with red cherry wine on a romantic night in Paris. Hield averaged 25.1 points this season and ignited the tourney. He can drop over 30 point performances against caliber teams such as Virginia Commonwealth University and Oregon. Also, he spreads the love we all need to grind through the day on Twitter. He is fresh to death and more than prepared to handle the rigor of NBA competition. Maybe he will suppress Blake Griffin’s legacy as the all-time Oklahoma great.
Otto gets 3 points for talking about Bender. Matthew gets 2 points for talking about the successes of Buddy and Miguel gets 1 point for trying to question my basketball knowledge.
3. What should the Denver Broncos do with the QB position, and who will be their Week 1 starter?
Matthew: The near-downfall of the Broncos last season was the team’s QB play. For a defense as dominant as Denver’s, all the QB has to do is be a game manager and not turn the ball over. There is one man on the market that would guarantee success — Ryan Fitzpatrick. With the New York Jets doing their very best to low-ball their successful 2015 starting quarterback, it would not be shocking to see Fitzpatrick grow sick of Gang Green’s petty games and sign on with Denver. After winning Super Bowl 50, Broncos owner John Elway is fully aware of the small window he has left to grab another ring. Fitzpatrick would make Denver the Super Bowl favorite and that type of offer is something that no one could refuse.
Otto: Without a doubt, the Broncos are in one of the most difficult positions in NFL history. While some think that they will do fine without a decent QB due to their elite defense, those people are wrong. A team needs a strong QB for the entire regular season, but the playoffs are different. Losing quarterback Brock Osweiler was a big blow to the organization and it’s one that is going to be hard to come back from. While I wish they could get a big name like QB Colin Kaepernick, I don’t they will be able to. They signed Mark Sanchez and I predict him to be the Week 1 starter. He’ll be average, hopefully even above average, but remember, I think someone as explosive as Kaepernick with a great defense motivating him would do wonders in Denver.
Miguel: The Broncos will train Sanchez to adapt to head coach Gary Kubiak’s stretch run play system. The team does not have many options. Peyton Manning, Osweiler and Tim Tebow are out. Many NFL teams are pursuing their lifelong high school crush, Kaepernick. The question is not whether or not Sanchez will be sacked constantly, but rather whether or not Sanchez will work with the Broncos’s offense of wide receivers Demaryuis Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. The Broncos cannot win the game if Sanchez cannot throw it down the end zone. If Sanchez fails, then the Broncos should invest in developing a QB and tanking should be the last option. Broncos fans will need to be patient during this transition.
Matthew gets 3 points for suggesting Fitzpatrick. Otto gets 2 points for Kaepernick and Miguel gets 1 point for even bringing up the idea of the Broncos tanking.
Otto wins Around the Dorm 8-6-4.