Five more under the radar teams

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On Thursday evening, ESPN.com’s Fran Fraschilla put together a list of five teams — plus about ten honorable mentions — that he believes are under-the-radar programs.

It’s a good list. I agree with most of it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t add to it. Here are five more programs that are currently flying under the national radar:

UMass: The Atlantic 10 has the potential to be absolutely loaded next season, and that was before both VCU and Butler were added to the mix. And while St. Louis, St. Joe’s, Temple and Xavier will get plenty of preseason attention, there is a strong argument to make that the UMass Minutemen will be conference champions come March. They are led by point guard Chaz Williams, who might be the best point guard in the country that you’ve never seen play. He averaged 16.9 points, 6.2 assists and 4.4 boards last season.

If the Minutemen — who upset No. 1 seed Temple in the quarterfinals of the A-10 tournament last season — can get more consistent perimeter play from Raphiael Putney, Terrell Vinson and Jesse Morgan at the same time that Sampson Carter, Sean Carter and Cady Lalanne are providing a stronger interior presence, don’t be surprised to see Derek Kellogg’s team spend some time in the top 25 next season.

Arkansas: There are three big reasons that I think the Razorbacks will surprise some people next year: 1) BJ Young, who averaged 15.3 points as a freshman coming off the bench, returned to school. 2) Marshawn Powell should be healthy and back to 100% by the time the season starts. 3) Everyone important on that roster was young last season. Maybe, with a year experience under their belt, they’ll be able to win a game on the road?

Tennessee: I love the way that the Vols play, embodying the grittiness and toughness of their head coach, Cuonzo Martin. Trae Golden looks like he has a chance to be an all-conference caliber point guard, while the front line of Jeronne Maymon and Jarnell Stokes has as much muscle as any in the country. Two keys for the Vols: can Jordan McRae become a a consistent scoring threat on the wing? Will Skyler McBee be a guy that can be counted on for 8-10 points and 43% shooting from three?

Davidson: Creighton and Murray State are the mid-major programs that have gotten all the love since the end of the 2012-2013 season, but Davidson is a team that you will have to keep an eye on as well. They bring back all eight members of their rotation, and that includes the five starters that averaged in double figures. Remember, this Wildcat team beat Kansas in Kansas City last season.

Pittsburgh: There is no way that a Jamie Dixon coached team puts together another season as ugly as 2011-2012 was for the Panthers. Losing Ashton Gibbs and Nasir Robinson hurts, but with Tray Woodall coming back healthy, a solid core of young players returning and a talent like Steven Adams entering the program, Pitt should once again be relevant in their final season as a member of the Big East.

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

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.