How busted is your bracket? Better or worse than your freshman year slumpbuster? Sadly, The Machine did not win the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge (note: turns out that is not an acceptable retirement strategy).
Anyway, if your bracket is totally toast, it’s likely due to the efforts of the following players, all of whom were highly recruited one-and-done “student” athletes. Let’s see how these freshmen phenoms fared in the NCAA Tournament.
Jabari Parker – Duke
Perhaps the most highly sought after freshman, Jabari was supposed to lead perennial powerhouse Duke back to the promise land…or, at least to the second round. The third seeded Blue Devils had a matchup with the fourteenth seeded Mercer Bears. Quick: what state is Mercer located in? No peeking…answer: Georgia. Duke essentially had a home game, as the game was played in Raleigh, NC.
Anyway, Jabari was a complete dud. He ended the game with 14 pts., 7 rebounds, and 0 assists, all lower than his 19/9/1 regular season average. He was also 0-3 from 3 point range, and just looked lost on the court.
If he had played up to half of his potential, Duke would have cruised. Instead, the Atlantic Sun Conference Champions took over the second half, and ended up winning by 7.
Tyler Ennis – Syracuse
Is there a team player more frustrating to watch than Syracuse Tyler Ennis? At times, Ennis looked like a league veteran…cool, calm under pressure, and came up big in the clutch.
Who could forget this one:
But what a dismal end to the season: Syracuse finished 2-4 down the stretch, got bounced in the ACC Tournament early, and limped into the NCAA Tourney. Then, just as Cuse Nation was in the gutter, they absolutely roll Western Michigan in the first Round, winning by 24. So spirits were lifted, and spirits were lifted even higher when 11th-seeded Dayton bounced Ohio St. Now, SU fans saw a clear path back to the final four, and nothing was going to stop this once 25-0 juggernaut.
However, what was supposed to be a cruise control victory for Syracuse turned into a nightmare, and Ennis certainly didn’t help. While he had a team high 19 pts., he chucked up 21 shots, and was 33% from the field. Also, he was 0-5 from three. And, perhaps most damning, he had a shot at the buzzer for the win…a shot that, one month ago, no one would question him taking.
In fairness to Ennis, Boeheim (as The Machine noted) deserves much of the blame for his teams’ collapse. Clearly, getting ejected losing the game for them against Duke really fired up his squad.
Andrew Wiggins – Kansas
Last but not least, Kansas stud Andrew Wiggins. The Number 2 seeded Jayhawks suffered an embarrassing loss to 10th-seed Stanford on Sunday, and Wiggins was much to blame, shooting a dismal 1-6. Wiggins, who averaged over 17 points per game during the regular season, finished Sunday with 4 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, and 4 turnovers.
The sad thing is, as awful as these three played…all will be forgotten come the NBA Draft, as all three will be Top 10 picks. The Machine’s down with one and done athletes…provided they shine on the biggest stage (see Rose, Derrick; see also Anthony, Carmelo). But when your freshman phenom bombs, they shouldn’t then be rewarded by a lucrative NBA contract. We hope these three come back for another year, but the chances of that are slim. Wiggins is gone for sure, probably Ennis too [update: dammit]. The only one that may waiver is Parker.
You would think that, after collectively choking in the tourney, that all three would want to come back and give it one more try. You’d think they’d have that competitive edge and devotion to their alma mater, to want to win. However, that’s the problem with the one-and-dones. There is no allegiance or loyalty to the school…the school (and their fan base) are nothing more than an obligatory stop. To them, you are their slumpbuster.
Enjoy your teabag.