Is Oregon ready to contend in the Pac-12?

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The Pac-12 power structure has been a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma (myrinigma?) for the past three seasons. Last year, the league sent Cal to the First Four, where the Bears promptly lost to the USF Bulls, and new member Colorado to an 11 seed and a single upset win over UNLV. Next year is anyone’s guess.

So why not Oregon? The school struggled, flopped and flailed after firing Ernie Kent a couple of years back, and somehow still ended up with an excellent coach in Dana Altman. The resourceful former Creighton and Kansas State honcho put his first small-ball team together with spit and duct tape and proceeded to a 21-18 record and a CBI title. The next season, he upped the ante with a 24-10 record and a trip to the NIT. If the pattern holds, the NCAA tournament is next, right?

Of course, it doesn’t work that way. Altman lost top recruit Jabari Brown to Missouri after just two games as a Duck, and top scorer Devoe Joseph has graduated, along with four other seniors. On the plus side of the ledger, E.J. Singler (younger brother of former Dukie Kyle) will be stepping into a senior leadership role, and Altman has brought in top prep point guard Dominic Artis to compete for a starting spot right out of the gate. Power forward Ben Carter will team with slasher Damyean Dotson and junior college shooter Devon Branch to fill out a quartet of new players in Eugene. Rivals.com has moved the Ducks up to 30th in the recruiting rankings for next season.

Oregon bloggers Addicted to Quack make a fair point that Altman must recruit and retain top in-state talent if he expects his team to continue to climb the mountain. Kentucky’s 2012 title run was partly fueled by Oregonians Kyle Wiltjer and Terrence Jones, and runner-up Kansas claimed Landen Lucas from the state’s recruiting class of 2012.

Altman is pushing the Ducks in the right direction, and his early results — back-to-back 20-win seasons — are encouraging. Next season may be a struggle, or it might bring a return relevance for the Ducks. Altman seems like the right coach to bring about a change in culture in Eugene, so it will be interesting to find out if he gets enough latitude to make things happen.

Report: North Carolina won’t attend White House

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After capturing a national championship earlier this year, the North Carolina men’s basketball team will not be visiting the White House, a North Carolina spokesman said to Andrew Carter of the The Charlotte Observer.

Although the Tar Heels were invited to go to the White House from the staff of President Donald Trump, the team couldn’t figure out a date that worked.

“We couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties,” North Carolina team spokesman Steve Kirschner said to Carter. “We tried about eight or nine dates and between they couldn’t work out that date, we couldn’t work out that date, so – we would have liked to have gone, but not going.”

According to Carter’s report, Kirschner also said that North Carolina players, “were fine with going.”

With Trump’s recent comments towards NFL players and the national anthem and his Saturday morning tweet at Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the President with regards to athletes over the past 24 hours.

Although the timing of this may seem like North Carolina is making some sort of political statement, the school is downplaying any sort of politics by focusing on the bad timing.

Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer

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Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer from the program to move closer to home, according to a release from the school.

The 6-foot-7 Ridder hails from Springfield, Missouri as he was regarded as a top-150 prospect by Rivals in the Class of 2017.

“After much consideration and talking with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to move home,” Ridder said in the release.

“Jared has indicated to the coaching staff that he has a desire to be closer to home,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. “While we are disappointed, we all want Jared to be happy moving forward. We wish him nothing but the best.”

A potent scorer and noted perimeter shooter at the high school level, Ridder helped MoKan win the Nike Peach Jam during the summer of 2016 playing alongside talented players like Missouri’s Michael and Jontay Porter and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. With a desire to move closer to home, could Ridder potentially land at a spot where one of his talented former teammates is playing?

Ridder averaged 24.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his senior season of high school ball at Kickapoo as he was a first-team, All-State selection in Missouri.

Four-star 2018 forward Ian Steere decommits from Creighton

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Creighton took a big hit to its recruiting efforts late this week as Class of 2018 forward Ian Steere is decommitting from the Bluejays, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Steere’s decommitment was first reported by Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.

The 6-foot-8 Steere is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals as he is coming off of a very solid spring and summer playing with Team Charlotte in the Under Armour Association. A plus athlete who isn’t afraid to bang on the interior, Steere showing an improving skill level throughout the spring and summer as he could see his recruiting soar after opening things up.

According to a report from Jon Nyatawa of the World-Herald, one of the reasons that Steere is opening up his recruitment is his desire to be closer to his native North Carolina. With so many top programs looking for quality help on the interior, it’ll be interesting to see which programs jump in and try to recruit Steere the second time around.

John Wall emotional in Kentucky Hall of Fame induction speech

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John Wall was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as he delivered an emotional speech while talking to his mother.

The first inductee into the Hall of Fame to play for current Wildcat head coach John Calipari, Wall only spent the 2009-10 season in Lexington but he became the first national player of the year to play at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Thanking his mother, Calipari, his family, friends and Big Blue Nation, the Washington Wizards guard gave a very moving speech, including an emotional part directed to his mother at around 4:35.

Ohio State snags third 2018 commitment in a week with four-star guard Luther Muhammad

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Ohio State continued a strong week on the recruiting trail on Friday night by landing a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Luther Muhammad.

Regarded as a four-star prospect, the 6-foot-4 Muhammad is a tough and rugged perimeter defender who can attack the basket. Also showing some ability to play on the ball as a secondary handler, Muhammad is a very solid addition to Ohio State’s recruiting class since they need to overhaul their roster under new head coach Chris Holtmann.

Muhammad is the third player to commit to the Buckeyes in the Class of 2018 this week as he joins four-star forward Jaedon LeDee and three-star guard Duane Washington in the current Ohio State recruiting class. Since Washington is a three-point threat and Muhammad is more of an off-the-bounce specialist, the two guards are a good start for Ohio State in this class as they will likely try to find a true floor leader to play with them on the perimeter.