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.

Arizona lands Pitt transfer forward Ryan Luther

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Arizona landed a key addition for its frontcourt on Wednesday as Pitt transfer forward Ryan Luther pledged to the Wildcats.

The 6-foot-9 Luther is expected to receive a hardship waiver that would give him immediate eligibility, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com, as Arizona gets some much-needed help up front.

Playing in 10 games last season before a stress reaction in his right foot ended the season, Luther averaged 12.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game for the Panthers. In his final game of the season, Luther went for 13 points and 12 rebounds in a Pitt loss to West Virginia. Luther shot 45 percent from the field and is a noted perimeter threat as he was 38 percent from behind the three-point line.

Luther hasn’t logged heavy minutes as a contributor through a full season. Mostly a role player at Pitt until last season, Luther was the team’s most productive player when he was on the floor. But that production also didn’t come during ACC play and through the course of a full season.

Thankfully at a program like Arizona, Luther should have a bit more help around him. He could be a nice addition to the Wildcats, particularly if he rebounds and spaces the floor in the frontcourt as he did at Pitt. Arizona needed someone like Luther to provide more stability after losing players like Deandre Ayton and Dusan Ristic.

In the last few weeks, Arizona has rebounded nicely to land three commitments for next season — including freshmen Devonaire Doutrive and Omar Thielemans. The group isn’t as heralded as some past Arizona recruiting efforts. Given where the Wildcats were in recruiting a few weeks ago, however, this isn’t a bad turnaround.

TCU extends Jamie Dixon’s contract by two more years

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TCU has given head coach Jamie Dixon a two-year contract extension through the 2023-24 season, according to a release from the school.

Dixon took the Horned Frogs to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years this season as he’s done a great job of turning around his alma mater. The release also notes that TCU had the highest average attendance in program history this season. Fans are also taking notice of a revitalized team.

With back-to-back 20-win seasons and postseason appearances, Dixon and TCU have a lot of positive momentum going on right now. The two-year extension for Dixon should help a bit in recruiting when it comes to overall stability, as well, as he’s been able to attract some quality talent so far.

Report: Kevin Ollie claims UConn violated rights with firing

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Fired former UConn head coach Kevin Ollie is claiming that the school violated his constitutional rights during his departure.

Ollie sent a letter to UConn school president Susan Herbst which was obtained by ESPN’s Myron Medcalf in a report released on Wednesday. Ollie’s lawyers are claiming the school proceeded with his firing before giving Ollie a proper chance to contest his termination — which was guaranteed in his contract and also the collective bargaining agreement with the University of Connecticut’s branch of the American Association of University Professors. Ollie was fired, with cause, in late March as the school mentioned an NCAA inquiry as the reason why. According to Medcalf’s report, the NCAA has not sent a notice of allegations to the school.

Ollie’s union membership includes thousands of faculty members around the country as the collective bargaining agreement demands a hearing process before any employee can be terminated for allegations of serious misconduct. Ollie claims he didn’t receive a letter he was supposed to get to begin the termination process.

“From our review of the facts and circumstances relating to Coach Ollie’s employment status, it is apparent that the University of Connecticut has already violated [Coach Ollie’s] rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by subverting Coach Ollie’s opportunity to respond to charges and evidence in a meaningful way in advance of the decision to terminate his employment,” said the letter dated April 3.

“The public record, action taken, and authorized communications by representatives of the University of Connecticut, demonstrate that the decision to terminate Coach Ollie has already been made and therefore the University of Connecticut has effectively negated Coach Ollie’s property right protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

This letter to UConn likely begins a long legal battle to try to get an eight-figure payout back as Ollie is going to do everything he can to clear his name.

South Carolina’s Brian Bowen, still ineligible, to declare for draft

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Former Louisville forward and current South Carolina Gamecock Brian Bowen will declare for the NBA draft without signing with an agent as a safety measure in case the NCAA does not clear him to play in the 2018-19 season.

Bowen is the former top 25 prospect that was forced to leave the Louisville program after the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college hoops turned up evidence that his family had accepted the first payment of what was supposed to be a $100,000 fee to get him to be a Cardinal.

That investigation was ultimately what got Rick Pitino fired.

“I just felt that it was the right decision,” Bowen told ESPN. “My goal is still to play college basketball, but I felt as though it makes sense to cover my bases.”

Bowen is in a tough spot right now.

On the one hand, he has already missed an entire season of college basketball and there is no guarantee that he will be cleared to play next season, if at all.

On the other hand, the fact that he has not played in a year and that he has not played against any collegiate level competition is one of the reasons that NBA front offices are going to be hesitant to draft him, and that’s not a good thing for a player that was considered a second round pick before he spent a year on the sidelines.

North Carolina’s Cam Johnson undergoes hip surgery

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For the second time in the last six months, North Carolina wing Cam Johnson has undergone the knife.

On Wednesday, North Carolina announced that Johnson underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his hip on Monday, and that he is expected to make a full recovery and return to school in time for the start of the 2018-19 season.

The 6-foot-9 Johnson was UNC’s third-leading scorer a season ago, averaging 12.4 points while shooting 34.1 percent from three. He only played 26 games, however, after missing time due to a surgery to fix a torn meniscus.