Jim Whitesell

Saint Louis promotes assistant Jim Whitesell to associate head coach

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Jim Whitesell, an Iowa native who has served under Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus for one season, has been promoted to associate head coach, the school confirmed Thursday.

“He’s extraordinarily committed,” Majerus told STLToday.com. “He’d make me go to bed after a game and when I woke up, he’d have a tape made and 20 bullet points to look at and address. It got to a point, I wouldn’t look at them ahead of time because I wanted to do my own work and compare.

“He’s dedicated, a good coach, the players respect him, he’s a balance to me,” Majerus continued. “We’re a good team together. He’s an exceptionally hard worker. He loves it. He considers it honor and privilege (to coach) like I do. He loves the challenge, loves the chase.”

Whitesell worked primarily with post players this past season with the Billikens, but now becomes Majerus’ clear second-in-command and someone who can make an impact in recruiting.

“He’s the top assistant coach, that’s definitive,” Majerus said. “He’s the offensive coordinator, the defensive coordinator, the special team guy, the sideline outs. Not to detract from (Jim) Crews or Tanner (Bronson), Jim has got total responsibility for every aspect of the program. Others have aspects for specific parts.”

The Billikens finished 26-8 last season, including 12-4 in the A-10 and advanced to the Round of 32 of the NCAA tournament.

Prior to his time at Saint Louis, Whitesell coached at Loyola Chicago, Lewis (Ill.) College, and Elmhurst (Ill.) College.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Texas lands commitment from top 100 center

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James Banks announced on Thursday that he has committed to Texas, joining Jacob Young in Shaka Smart’s first recruiting class as the head coach of the Longhorns.

Banks is an interesting prospect. A 6-foot-10 center from Georgia, Banks is a still-developing prospect that was recruited more on his potential than his immediate ability.

“James Banks emerged as a good low post prospect this spring and summer,” NBC Recruiting Analyst Scott Phillips said. “With a good set of hands, some offensive potential and a frame that can add weight, Banks is a nice upside grab for Texas.”

He’s probably a few years away from having a major impact in the Big 12, but he may not have that much time to develop. Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh and Conner Lamert all graduate after this season, meaning that Banks is going to have to contribute immediately when he sets foot on the Austin campus for the 2016-17 season.

Texas has three commitments in the Class of 2015. Smart convinced Kerwin Roach and Eric Davis to remain committed to the program when he took over for Rick Barnes while he landed a commitment from Tevin Mack, who pledged to Smart when he was at VCU.

Memphis guard could miss season with shoulder injury

Kedren Johnson
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Memphis just cannot catch a break.


It’s to the point where I almost feel bad for Josh Pastner.

Today, CBSSports.com reported that Kedren Johnson, a 6-foot-4 point guard that was on track towards being an all-SEC point guard at Vanderbilt, could end up missing the season due to a shoulder injury. If he can handle the pain he can avoid surgery and play with the injury, but at the very least, Johnson is going to be less than his best.

Johnson averaged 6.7 points and 2.7 assists last season for the Tigers. He sat out 2013-14 after leaving Vanderbilt and entered last season incredibly out of shape. There was hope that he would be able to make a bigger impact this season and help fill the void at the point guard spot.

This news comes on the heels of Memphis finding out that Jaylen Fisher is heading to UNLV. Who’s Jaylen Fisher? Well, he’s a point guard and top 40 recruit from Memphis that was Pastner’s No. 1 recruiting target that opted to leave the city for his college hoops instead of play for the Tigers.

That’s a bad sign, but not quite as bad as Memphis losing star center Austin Nichols — another local kid — to a transfer over the summer. Nichols transferred to Virginia.