Quarterfinal worthy of a title game headlines the Anaheim Classic

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The Anaheim Classic was one of many in-season tournaments to announce its pairings on Thursday, and the event has provided a quarterfinal match-up that’s worthy of a final.

That would be Drexel, who returns the majority of last year’s CAA regular season champion squad, taking on reigning WCC champion Saint Mary’s.

Here’s the slate of games and a quick breakdown of the bracket.

Anaheim Classic schedule (all times Eastern)

November 22
2 PM Pacific vs. Xavier (ESPNU)
4:30 PM Drexel vs. Saint Mary’s (ESPN2)
9 PM Rice vs. Georgia Tech (ESPNU)
11:30 PM Drake vs. California (ESPN2)

November 23
3:30 PM Semifinal #1 (ESPN2)
6 PM Consolation #1 (ESPNU)
9:30 PM Consolation #2 (ESPNU)
Midnight Semifinal #2 (ESPN2)

November 25
1:30 PM 5th place game (ESPNU)
4 PM 7th place game (ESPN3)
6:30 pm 3rd place game (ESPNU)
9 PM Championship game (ESPN2)

Best quarterfinal: Drexel vs. Saint Mary’s
Rob Jones is the biggest off-season loss for the Gaels, but Randy Bennett’s back court should rank among the best out west with Matthew Dellavedova, Jorden Page and Stephen Holt all returning to Moraga.

As for Drexel their lone personnel loss from last season’s team was forward Samme Givens, and in guards Chris Fouch, Damion Lee and Frantz Massenat they have one of the best perimeter rotations around.

How well the front court players, such as Saint Mary’s Brad Waldow and Drexel’s Darryl McCoy, play could ultimately determine the outcome but the guard play makes for must-see TV.

Best individual match-up (that we know we’ll see): Dellavedova vs. Massenat
Dellavedova had the higher scoring average last season but Massenat is more than capable of putting up points. The only shame about this match-up (and the game) is that it has to happen in a quarterfinal.

Dellavedova’s field goal percentage (44.6%) was slightly higher than Massenat’s (42.9%) and he did average more than six assists per game, but the Drexel floor general had the higher three-point percentage (45%) of the two.

Best individual match-up (that we hope to see): Allen Crabbe (California) vs. Damion Lee (Drexel)
Crabbe is one of the nation’s best perimeter shooters, but in Lee he would go up against a player with the talent needed to one day win CAA Player of the Year honors.

Half of Crabbe’s shots last season were three-pointers, and while his versatility may be a bit underrated (5.7 rpg, 2.1 apg) this is the year in which Crabbe will need to be even more assertive offensively.

Lee was essentially a “jack of all trades” guy as a freshman, averaging 12.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. And even with the presence of Fouch and Massenat, Lee is capable of doing even more for Bruiser Flint’s team this season.

Winner: Drexel
Really think the winner of the Drexel/Saint Mary’s tilt goes on to win the title, but they won’t lack for challengers either. Xavier, now led by Dezmine Wells, adds a highly touted recruiting class led by point guard Semaj Christion and Cal has the tandem of Crabbe and Justin Cobbs to contend with.

Georgia Tech will have Kentucky transfer Stacey Poole after he sat out last season, but keep an eye on Rice. Seniors Arsalan Kazemi and Tamir Jackson are experienced leaders, and in Kazemi they’ve got one of the better front court players who wasn’t on the major networks every week.

In the end the pick is Drexel due to the amount of experience they return both on the perimeter and inside, which should help them navigate the graduation of Givens.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.