NCAA

College hoops preview: George Mason

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College hoops preview: George Mason

There is no point in pretending otherwise: from program defections to the loss of several key graduating players, the CAA men's basketball league is not entering the upcoming season with the sexiest of mid-major reputations. Programs hoping to enhance their NCAA Tournament at-large hopes by picking up those much-needed RPI victories in conference could be left holding the NIT bag.

Clearly, Paul Hewitt did the math. In turn, George Mason's coach stacked the Patriots upcoming non-conference schedule with one resume-boosting opportunity after another.

While the Sherrod Wright-Erik Copes led Patriots are expected to remain in the regular season title mix, no CAA team outside of favorite Drexel figures to land serious national preseason attention. Perennial power Old Dominion appears headed for a transition campaign. Delaware has the look of a dark horse candidate, but the program's lack of roundball tradition makes the Blue Hens a wait and see scenario. VCU now calls the Atlantic 10 home.

Obviously, the Patriots must navigate the always-tricky conference waters in winning style, but a strong effort before CAA play tips off could make the conference tournament title not become an all-or-nothing scenario.

The Patriots have two ACC teams on their schedule, starting with the regular season and home opener against Virginia on Nov. 9. An NCAA Tournament team last season, the Tony Bennett coached Cavaliers remain formidable, but may be without starting guard Jontel Evans for the in-state meeting.

On Dec. 2, George Mason faces Maryland at the Verizon Center in the Patriots first matchup against the Terps since 2004.

Mark Turgeon's aggressive recruiting effort has the College Park program headed in the right direction, but uncertainty exists when looking at the transitioning roster. Also potentially helping Mason's cause is the game will be played on what is essentially a neutral court - Maryland fans haven't exactly packed the Verizon Center in recent years.

Other notable foes among the 12 non-conference games -- all scheduled before New Year's -- include Big East program and 2012 NCAA Tournament participant South Florida, Atlantic 10 schools Rhode Island and Richmond, Missouri Valley stalwart Northern Iowa and perennial Patriot League power Bucknell.

The true wild card in the scheduling lot comes with a beachfront view. George Mason will participate in the Paradise Jam on the island of St. Thomas November 16-19.

The three-game stint starts against Mercer. Beating the Atlantic Sun program won't offer much help from the number-crunching perspective, but with a little luck, the Patriots could leave the island with exactly that. New Mexico, another NCAA Tournament team last season, stands as potential semifinal opponent while Connecticut and Wake Forest loom on the other side of the bracket.

In a comparable scenario last season, the Patriots fell to upstart Florida International during the NIT tipoff. Rather than facing Virginia Tech, George Mason met Monmouth followed by Brown and Albany in the consolation round. That's an RPI tradeoff no bracketoligist can embrace.

Home games against Boston University and UMBC round out this season's out-of-conference matchups.

George Mason opens CAA play Jan. 3 against Northeastern then end the regular season March 2 at Delaware. Drexel comes to the Patriot Center on Jan. 31 -- the Patriots only home date in a five-game span -- before George Mason returns the favor with a trip to the City of Brotherly Love on Valentine's Day.

Putting a number on the amount of non-conference wins needed to separate themselves from the at-large pack would just be a guessing game. We can say that simply putting the Mercer, Boston and UMBC contests on the good side of the ledger is not enough.

We can also say that Hewitt's scheduling has given his squad more than a puncher's chance at being in that at-large mix. If the Patriots can deliver a few knockout blows early on and then clean up in the CAA, there's a good chance George Mason will indeed pick up some bracketology attention.

Unique skillset benefits George Mason's Marquise Moore in NBA aspirations

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USA TODAY Sports

Unique skillset benefits George Mason's Marquise Moore in NBA aspirations

Marquise Moore is not your prototypical college basketball star. But as the 2016-17 season prooved, he is one of the most intriguing and interesting players. 

Standing at just 6-2, the George Mason guard averaged a double-double, and the second category wasn't assists.

The lightly recruited Queens, N.Y. native averaged 16.9 points and 10.9 rebounds, while being the eighth best rebounder in the country. Of the top 50 rebounders last season, Moore was the only one under 6-5 and was the best rebounder among guards. 

Entering college as a two-star recruit with just three offers, Moore's collegiate career ended as a all-conference performer at a traditional mid-major power.

This past season the Patriots finished 20-14, the best mark in Moore's four years with the team. It was also Moore's coming out party, Moore flourished on court and garnered attention from several national outlets due to his unique and unlikely skillset.

Outlets like the Washington Post and Bleacher Report were baffled on how a 6-2 guard could be so good at rebounding. His opponents were baffled too.

"Marquise could not be guarded and kept out of the paint one-on-one in the Atlantic 10," George Mason coach Dave Paulsen told CSN Mid-Atlantic. "I gotta believe he'd have the ability to get into the lane, to attack at the highest of levels."

Now, the Atlantic 10 is nothing compared to the level of play in the NBA, but his skills can transfer across all levels. In the association, teams cannot collapse on a small guard driving down the lane, otherwise sharp shooters will be left open. If his college game can translate, he could be the perfect bench point guard to at least get starters rest and generate scoring opportunities. Already his workouts with the Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers prepared him for the higher level of play. 

"You want it more when you are playing against those type of guys," Moore told CSN in Early July. "I've never been highly ranked, highly recruited or anything. Definitely felt overlooked so I'm glad I proved I'm just as good or better than them." 

Getting some pre-draft workouts with both the Rockets and 76ers, there was optimism that Moore could get pulled for a summer league roster.

Unfortunately for the George Mason grad, an ankle tweak in early May served as a major setback for a player that has a lot to prove with opportunities few and far between.

"I think he'd have four or five more workouts if he hadn't had the ankle sprain," Paulsen said. "Had he had a few more workouts, that would have gotten him more exposure to get in for a summer league thing. He's a few weeks behind because of the ankle sprain and its going to take him a little longer to get where he wants to go."

With the summer league now gone without Moore on any roster, he is now in a limbo like many other talented stars who did not benefit from the high-major spotlight. Of course for all basketball prospects, the ultimate dream is to play in the NBA, but the best path to get there is not always clear.

The two primary options for Moore is to play overseas or continue to get workouts with the NBA and G-League teams domestically. 

Currently, Moore is still battling for his NBA path. He is set up to participate in the G-League Player Invitational Aug. 13 in Chicago, an event he can earn eligibility for the G-League draft in October. 

"I feel like I have interest from NBA teams," Moore said. "Going to the G-league will be a more foreseeable option, but I'm not sure if I want to enter the G-league blindly without hearing from any NBA teams becuase its really hard to move up that way."

As a guard with incredible physicality, the unknown is actually what could bring Moore to an NBA team.

Will there be a team willing to bite?

The G-League Player Invitational will be the next measuring stick on how NBA coaches and scouts feel about Moore a month removed from summer league. Admitting his weaknesses in the workouts, Moore thrives during live-ball action, which is a huge part of the invitational. 

Look out for teams that need rebounding and thrive off of physical play. Teams that come to mind instantly are the Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers; two teams that had pre-draft interest, the Chicago Bulls and Rockets; and the team who followed him thoughout his senior season, the Brooklyn Nets.

Its too bad that Washington's G-League team will not be formed until next season, otherwise there would be a perfect backup guard that could work right into Washington's system. 

"Mason fans know what I can do but I feel like most people still don't know. Just trying to show people what I can do one person at a time, you know, get a shot."

University of Virginia cornerback wins $100k in Virginia lottery

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Virginia Lottery

University of Virginia cornerback wins $100k in Virginia lottery

Virginia cornerback Chuck Davis hit all five numbers recently on Cash Five game from the Virginia Lottery to take home $100,000.

He went on a coffee run one morning for his mom and decided to play the numbers his gradmother gave him and now he's $100k richer and looks like the happiest person on the planet.

God first last and always 🙌🏽

A post shared by Charles Davis (@forevergone6) on

Davis is a redshirt freshman after sitting out a year after a transfer from Nebraska. As for his plans for the money?

Here's hoping he gets to enjoy all the money and doesn't get a call from the NCAA.