Over the next couple of days, each of our writers here at College Basketball Talk will weigh on certain topics and prospects. Yesterday’s question? Who will be the biggest bust in this year’s lottery. Today’s question? Who will be the steal of the second round:
Eric Angevine: I’m going with Jae Crowder out of Marquette. The positives about Crowder fill up a notebook: he’s tough, physical, built like a battleship, stays fired up and energetic, and can shoot from outside. The only knock anyone can seem to come up with is that he’s a ‘tweener’ in that he’s 6’7”. But he has long arms that will help him defend wherever his future coach puts him on the floor, so let’s not get hung up on labels. This guy’s a hardcore baller.
Raphielle Johnson: Scott Machado. Really thought for much of the season that Machado, one of the nation’s best floor generals, should go in the first round. He slips into the second he’s at the very least going to be a good backup point guard to begin his career. With the right system and the opportunities to make plays in pick-and-roll situations Machado will be of great value to a team.
Daniel Martin: Jae Crowder proved in college that he could compete and win in a high-major, high-competition conference. Questions linger because of his size, but there is nothing more valuable in the second round as a guy who will play hard every night and work to fill in the gaps on a playoff team.
Mike Miller: Jared Cunningham. Was tempted to choose Doron Lamb — someone’s gonna be delighted to acquire his shooting skills — but I’ll go with Cunningham for the upside. Few players in the entire draft are more physically gifted than the 6-5 guard. He’ll play defense, provide scoring off the bench and once his jumper becomes more consistent, be an All-Star caliber player for years.
Rob Dauster: Darius Miller. The odds of finding an all-star in the second round of the NBA Draft are more-or-less non-existent. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t players capable of playing a role. If there is anything we’ve learned from guys like Bruce Bowen, James Posey and now Danny Green, it’s that a 6-7 wing that can lock up defensively and knock down open threes, that there is a place for them in the NBA. That’s Miller.
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.
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.
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.
Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.
The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.
The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.
“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.
Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools
Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.
An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.