NBA Power Rankings: West dominance

986655.png

NBA Power Rankings: West dominance

By Tony Andracki & Mark Strotman

Each Monday throughout the regular season, Mark Strotman and Tony Andracki will rank all 30 NBA teams. Below are Week 11 Power Rankings. Think we're way off? Agree with our picks? Hit us up on Twitter at@BullsTalkCSNwith comments or criticisms.
Past rankings:PreseasonWeek 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7 Week 8 Week 10 Week 11

Tony
MarkComments1
Tony:Durant is just flat out ridiculous.
Mark: The NBA Gods owe us another Thunder-Heat Finals.
2
Tony: Amazing that they didn't miss a beat with CP3 out.
Mark: The NBA Gods also owe us Thunder-Clippers in the Western Finals.
3
Tony: Tony Parker is having the best season of his career at age 30.
Mark: Danny Green needs to step up, but Duncan remains fantastic at 36.
4
Tony: Man, they really have the Bulls' number this year.
Mark: Heat won't move Chris Bosh, but interested to see how Birdman fits in middle.
5
Tony: LeBron has taken complete ownership of this team.
Mark: BIG overtime win over the Thunder on Sunday. Watch out for the Nugs.
6
Tony: Steph Curry's return is a huge boon. Can't afford to lose him.
Mark: Those defensive matchups like the one in Chicago on Saturday are fun.7
Tony: Felton supposedly coming back soon. Will be a boost.
Mark:Tyson Chandler's numbers being overshadowed by Melo's career year.8
Tony: Proving they're a legitimate contender with solid last couple of weeks.
Mark: Good to see Steph Curry back; Marc Jackson should be coach of the year.
9
Tony: D-Will is money at the charity stripe.
Mark: Could be the hottest team in the league right now.
10
Tony: George looks like a beast some nights, a non-factor others.
Mark: Nate can be one big headache at times, and win you games the next night.
11
Tony: Gritting out wins in Rose's absence.
Mark: Boylan seems to understand the roster better, or the team is rejuvenated post-Skiles.
12
Tony: Are they really more than just a .500 team?
Mark: Playing well, but I have concerns about how Granger could mess with George's game.
13
Tony: If Sullinger maintains production, will be key role player.
Mark: Could be one of the busiest teams at this year's trade deadline (Jefferson, Millsap).
14
Tony: Sanders has turned into a bonafide stud. Just has to improve offensive game.
Mark: Continue to fade fast, and losing Lou Williams (torn ACL) won't help matters.
15
Tony: Very good at home, but bad (9-11) on the road.
Mark: Three-game losing streak right after they looked to be turning the corner.
16
Tony: Batum playing heavy minutes in breakout year, but can't seem to stay healthy.
Mark: The pieces are there when healthy; a healthy Rubio may carry them to playoffs.
17
Tony: Lost 7 straight, but somehow still in 8-seed in West.
Mark: Terrible January after being the biggest surprise of the 2012 calendar.
18
Tony: What happened to the positive momentum they gained last season?
Mark: Worst bench in the league means starters won't make it all year.
19
Tony: Love still has 2 months until he's back on the court. Sigh.
Mark: Dirk hasn't been the guy the Mavs have needed, but they're not out of the hunt yet.
20
Tony: Really didn't see this poor season coming, you guys.
Mark: The Lakers in the Lottery. Sounds weird, but likely to happen.
21
Tony: Can Cousins stay out of trouble?
Mark:Have fun in Seattle, DeMarcus.
22
Tony: Just getting sad now. But only 3 games out of playoffs.
Mark: Time to get Andre Drummond more minutes, Detroit.
23
Tony: Would've been completely different season if Gordon starts healthy.
Mark:Bynum looks ready to return after the All-Star break; if that's the case, don't count them out.
24
Tony: Monroe is a stud, but players around him just too inconsistent.
Mark: Finally out of the cellar in the West, and have won 7 of 10.
25
Tony: 4-17 record in the US, but 11-9 in Canada.
Mark: Do they have to move Lowry or Calderon?
26
Tony: What's their plan for the future? 'Cause it's time to start thinking about that.
Mark:Unleash Moe Harkless!
27
Tony: Taken over the crown as the worst team in the west.
Mark:Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is only 19, but he's been a disappointment as the No. 2 pick.
28
Tony: Giving them the nod over WAS because of wins alone.
Mark: Varejao done for the year, but probably a good thing to rest his knee.
29
Tony: Wall is a big boost, but he can't do it all himself.
Mark: In the last 10 games, have doubled their win totals.
30
Tony: Kemba's rekindled early-season success, but not leading to any more wins.
Mark: Firing Alvin Gentry wasn't the answer, but it had to happen. Rock-bottom in PHX.

Recruiting news and notes: Jeff Thomas in no rush

jeff-thomas-rivals-recruiting-preps-slide.jpg

Recruiting news and notes: Jeff Thomas in no rush

East St. Louis senior four-star ranked wide receiver Jeff Thomas (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) put on a show in the Flyers' 34-3 win over Providence Catholic in New Lenox.

Thomas, who hauled in 5 catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns while also playing defensive back, is still uncommitted and doesn't seem to be in any hurry to make a college choice.

"Everything is the same," Thomas said. "It's all about my team and the season for right now."

Earlier this summer, Thomas listed his top schools as Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Michigan State and Missouri. Missouri just added a recent verbal commitment from East St Louis QB Rey Estes and the Tigers many feel could have an advantage in landing Thomas. Missouri has four former East St. Louis Flyers on its current roster.

Deerfield senior three-star ranked defensive end Joshua Maize (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) recently released his list of favorites schools which includes Toledo, UConn, Indiana, Central Michigan, Miami of Ohio and Ball State. Maize however has also been drawing heavy recruiting looks from several other BCS level schools including Purdue, Syracuse, Rutgers, Illinois and Penn State and those schools plan to re-evaluate Maize early this fall. Maize plans to make official visits before making a final college choice and recently said, "my recruiting process is still very open at this time."

[RELATED - Edgy Tim's Top 25 power rankings: Week 2]

One position that is having rough recruiting ride in the Class of 2017? Quarterback. So far just three in-state Class of 2017 signal callers have given BCS level schools a verbal commitments including Jacob's Chris Katernick (Bowling Green), Marian Catholic's Cameron Thomas (Illinois) and Estes (Missouri). So far, the only FCS level in-state known verbal pledge comes from Hinsdale Central's Josh Bean (Columbia). 

This Thursday (Sept. 1st) is a big day in football recruiting circles for the Class of 2018. Thursday is the first day that prospects are allowed per the NCAA to receive recruiting materials (mail) along with unlimited electronic transmissions (text/instant/direct messages) from college coaches. 

"I've stayed in touch with a handful of college coaches and they all said that I would be hearing from them on Thursday," Lake Zurich junior inside linebacker Jack Sanborn said. "It's exciting to hear from those coaches along with hopefully some new schools as well."

Need proof that the recruiting process calendar is getting pushed up earlier and earlier? From my recently-released State of Illinois Class of 2017 Top 60 recruit rankings, 49 out of the 60 recruits have already given schools a verbal commitment. Out of the 11 uncommitted players, I would say nearly half of those players are being held up from giving a verbal commitment because of various academic questions/issues.

Injuries figure into Bears most recent roster cuts

Injuries figure into Bears most recent roster cuts

Health issues ran through the Bears’ most recent roster cuts that brought the player total to its required 75 by Tuesday.

Center Hroniss Grasu (knee) and quarterback Connor Shaw (leg) were played on injured reserve. Linebacker Roy Robertson-Harris, ill for much of training camp and forced to leave practice early Monday with sickness, was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list; and linebacker Lamin Barrow was waived/injured.

[SHOP: Get your Bears gear here]

Notre Dame linebacker Jarrett Grace also was waived.

The Bears must cut down to 53 players by Sunday night.

Notre Dame will approach Texas game thinking four arrested players will play

Notre Dame will approach Texas game thinking four arrested players will play

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame will prepare for its season opener Sunday with the thought it’ll have linebacker Te’von Coney, running back Dexter Williams, cornerback Ashton White and receiver Kevin Stepherson available against Texas. 

Those four players were all formally charged with possession of marijuana in Fulton County on Monday, and Coney and Stepherson appeared in court and entered not guilty pleas on Tuesday. Safety Max Redfield, who was dismissed from the program two days after his arrest, was formally charged with possession of a handgun without a license and possession of marijuana, and pleaded not guilty to both charges. 

Senior cornerback Devin Butler, who was charged with resisting arrest and battery to a police officer last week, remains indefinitely suspended, coach Brian Kelly said. 

Coney, Williams, White and Stepherson have all been practicing with the team and Coney, Williams, and Stepherson are all listed on Notre Dame’s two-deep depth chart released Tuesday. Kelly said he has never suspended a player for a first-time marijuana offense, but noted that all four players still have to go through Notre Dame’s Office of Community Standards and could be subject to discipline from that process.

[RELATED - After 'year off,' Mike Denbrock ready to develop Notre Dame's next crop of WRs]

"We're going to work as if they're going to play," Kelly said.

Kelly said the Office of Community Standards received reports on Tuesday and expects the process to begin soon, though doesn’t know if and when those players will be cleared. 

As for Redfield, Kelly said he was dismissed from the team because he was in possession of the handgun when those five players were pulled over on U.S. about 35 miles south of South Bend Aug. 19. 

“It was the handgun that was the gamechanger,” Kelly said.