Kenny Hayes balled out this week in Turkey, and we took notice. Hayes dropped an incredible 47 points to go along with four assists and three rebounds in Buyukcekmece's narrow 106-103 loss to Bahcesehir in the Turkish Basketball Super League. The Miami (OH) product also hit nine three-pointers in the game and was 10-of-11 from the free throw line, the third time this season he's made 10+ shots from the charity stripe. Hayes has been having one of the best seasons of his career, averaging career highs in points and assists, and this breakout game in one of the most competitive leagues in Europe made him an easy choice for Baller of the Week.
Rookie forward Aaron Epps will be playing basketball in Europe for the first time after signing with Elan Chalon on March 25. Epps joins the French team after spending the majority of his first season with the Northern Arizona Suns in the NBA G League. In 48 games the LSU product averaged 10.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game for the Suns, the affiliate of the NBA's Phoenix Suns. He joins an Elan Chalon that is currently four games back of a playoff spot, sporting a 9-15 record with a little less than two months left in the regular season. Epps will join fellow Americans Vincent Sanford, Justin Robinson and Mykal Riley on the team.
With a flurry of international signings this month, we decided to return to a feature we typically do during the summer: the Weekly Roundup! See which Americans signed where this week around the world.
We're in Germany for Baller of the Week, where Dwayne Evans had a monster game for Ratiopharm Ulm in their victory over Crailsheim Merlins. Evans had 32 points, nine rebounds and four assists in the 99-87 victory, a key win for Ratiopharm as they look to hold on to their playoff spot in the fiercely competitive Basketball Bundesliga. The Saint Louis University product has had steady averages for Ratiopharm so far this season, and is in the top 10 in the BBL in scoring and rebounding. His team currently sits in seventh place in the BBL standings with a 12-11 record, but are only one game ahead of the eleventh-place team. Evans great performance in such an important game earn him Baller of the Week status this week.
Bakery Piacenza announced their signing of Keith Appling for the rest of the season. Appling joins the team from Argentina, where he'd been playing for Asociacion Deportiva Atenas in the country's top division during the month of January. Appling has also spent time in Mexico and the Dominican Republic during the 2018-2019 season. He will join a Piacenza team that is currently in second-to-last place in the SerieA2 East division with an 7-18 record. This is Appling's first year as a baller abroad, having most recently played in the NBA and the NBA G League during the 2015-2016 after graduating from Michigan State in 2014.
Jimmie Taylor is the newest player for Spojnia Stargard after signing with the Polish team March 15. Taylor joins the team from Greece, where he had been playing for Panionios BC in the country's top division. The second-year pro averaged 7.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game while shooting 58 percent from the field. While this is his second year of professional basketball it is his first in Europe, having spent the 2017-2018 season playing for the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the NBA G League. Spojna Stargard is fighting off relegation in their first year in Poland's top division, and currently sit in seventeenth place out of 18 teams with a record of 5-16. The Alabama grad should be joining the team before their next game, March 16 against Legia Warszawa.
Another big game in a European competition has us taking notice this week. Rashawn Thomas had a huge double-double for Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari (Italy) in the FIBA Europe Cup, dropping 40 points to go along with 16 rebounds in his team's 94-68 stomping of Zorg en Zekerheid Leiden (Netherlands) which put Sassari into the quarterfinals of the competition. The power forward hit 15 of his 22 shots from the floor, including shooting 4-of-6 from three-point range, while also grabbing four of his 16 rebounds on the offensive end. The second-year pro out of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi nearly quadrupled his season scoring average of 11.0 points per game, but has seen his best moments in Europe Cup play, where he is averaging 15.4 points per game. Thomas' success in such a big game for the team made him an easy choice for Baller of the Week.