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So is the Crosstown Shooutout actually moving to a neutral court?

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On Tuesday morning, Bill Koch of the Cincinnati Enquirer broke the news that the Crosstown Shootout — one of the few nationally relevant rivalries left after the latest round of realignment — will, in fact, be played next season.

The Crosstown Shootout, for those that don’t know, pits Xavier and Cincinnati, two schools with campuses just a couple of miles apart. It also was the setting for last season’s ugliest moment, as an always-intense game reached the tipping point, as a brawl broke out that resulted in a bloodied Kenny Frease and a number of suspensions for players on both teams.

According to Koch’s report, the game will be played on a neutral site — at US Bank Arena — “on Dec. 18, 19 or 20 and will be televised on one of the ESPN channels.” It would be the first time in 25 years that the game hasn’t taken place on the campus of one of the two participating schools.

The catch in Koch’s article, however, is at the end of the second paragraph: “an official announcement expected in June.”

That sentence matters because on Tuesday afternoon, a good six hours after Koch’s story spread across the college basketball intrawebs, a statement was released by the presidents of both universities saying:

The University of Cincinnati and Xavier University were both surprised to see today’s announcement concerning the future of the Crosstown Shootout. While both schools are committed to the future of the Crosstown rivalry, specific discussions are ongoing and no details have been finalized. We look forward to sharing our plans with the community at an appropriate time in the coming weeks.

Does that mean that the agreement has been made but pen hasn’t yet been put to paper, or is this truly a decision that is still up for discussion?

Whatever the case may be, I am of the belief that moving the event away from campus sites would be a mistake. As Mike DeCourcy, a Cincinnati resident that knows the rivalry as well as anyone, points out, the beauty of the game is how rare is was to see a fan of the visiting team in attendance. It was a point of pride for each fanbase to prevent the opposing color from entering the building.

So what happens when you put these two fanbases together?

Given the amount of attention that this fight received, I don’t expect there to be an issue among the fans. At the end of the day, the brawl was an embarrassment for the entire city, regardless of whether or not you wear red or blue. I would expect fans to be on their best behavior, but, as anyone that is passionate about a sports team knows, once the game starts, emotions can take over — especially when both sides have spent a few pregame hours at their favorite watering hole.

My question is what, exactly, the two sides would be hoping to accomplish by moving to a neutral site. The issue isn’t the crowd; the issue is the players on the court and the way the game is played. DeCourcy says it best: ”

The administrations of each school apparently believed they needed to change something if they wanted to continue playing the game. If the rivalry truly was contaminated, and one could argue it wasn’t in the least, then it needed a cure. What the game didn’t need was botched cosmetic surgery.”

Changing the venue does nothing to fix the trash-talk, the hard fouls or the inability of the referees to control the action. I’d even argue that the new environs won’t even be quite as sterile, not when every single whistle — regardless of who the call benefits — is greeted with a chorus of boos.

If this is what the game needs to continue being played, than I guess a move to a neutral court isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But that doesn’t mean it was the right decision.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.