Cuonzo Martin has spent all of 18 months on the job at Tennessee, taking over a program that had lost their best players to the NBA after Bruce Pearl lost his job.
But it didn’t take long for him to turn things about in Knoxville. Tennessee finished tied for second in the conference last season, as Martin instilled a brand of hard-nosed, defensive-minded hoops, and are among the favorites to battle it out for first runner-up behind Kentucky again this season.
That initial success in the SEC should give Vol fans plenty of confidence heading into Martin’s second season on the job, because for the second time in just nine months, he’s landed a five-star recruit from the state of Tennessee.
This time it’s Robert Hubbs, a consensus top 20 recruit from Dyer County, TN. The 6-foot-4 Hubbs had a huge spring and summer, rocketing up recruiting rankings while collecting scholarship offers from the likes of Florida, Duke, Memphis and Missouri. Hubbs is a big-time scorer from the wing whose range has been lauded by scouts. He committed after a visit to Knoxville over the weekend.
Hubbs joins Jarnell Stokes as Tennessee natives that joined the Vol family. Stokes is a 6-foot-9 power forward from Memphis that enrolled at Tennessee half-a-year early last December. He’ll be a preseason all-SEC pick this season in what should have been his freshman year.
The fact that Martin was able to beat out some big name programs for Hubbs is important. There is some basketball talent in the state, especially in the city of Memphis (which is a couple of hours from where Hubbs attends high school), and the more that Martin can tap into that pipeline, the better it will be for the program.
It’s also worth noting that Hubbs plays for the M33M AAU team with Austin Nichols, a top 20 recruit that lives in Memphis.
Clemson will get a four-star recruit on campus a year earlier than it expected, though his on-court debut for the Tigers will remain on schedule.
A.J. Oliver, a guard from South Carolina, will enroll early at Clemson and redshirt this upcoming season, he announced via social media Wednesday.
“I woke up this morning and realized that the greatest opportunity for me is to enroll early into Clemson,” he wrote on Twitter. “I will redshirt a year & start my college career early.”
Oliver, whose mother is the head women’s basketball coach at Clemson, was a consensus top-100 player in the class of 2017 who committed to the Tigers last December. Texas Tech and the College of Charleston were involved before his commitment.
A three-star shooting guard, Scott Spencer of Virginia, was previously the only member coach Brad Brownell’s 2016 class. While Oliver’s decision to redshirt will keep him off the court for the 2016-17 season, he’ll have spent a full season in the Tiger program before making his debut in 2017
The cupboard isn’t bare in 2017 for the Tigers due to Oliver’s reclassification because Clemson received a commitment from power forward Malik Williams, a consensus top-150 player, earlier Wednesday.
Kentucky used Calipari-Chaney fight in media training
Kentucky held some media training sessions yesterday, and one of the topics that head coach John Calipari used to make a point was … his blow-up with John Chaney. The moment was captured on SnapChat by a trio of Kentucky newcomers.
You remember that incident. Chaney, then the head coach at Temple, and Cal, who was coaching Atlantic 10 rival UMass at the time, nearly came to blows over the way that Cal handled officials during the game. Before the video below picks up, the two shared this exchange:
“Could I say this to you, please?” Chaney said, before the video above picks up. “You’ve got a good ball club. But what you did with the officials out there is wrong, and I don’t want to be a party to that. You understand?”
Cal responded: “You weren’t out there, Coach. You don’t have any idea.”
Chaney fired back: “You got a game given to you by officials right here with G.W. on three bad calls, O.K.? Then you send your kids out there pushing and shoving. You had the best officiating you could ever get here. And for you to ride them, I don’t want to be a party to that.”
Tuesday was a busy and productive one for South Dakota State on the recruiting trail.
The Jackrabbits secured two 2017 commitments from the state of Wisconsin in Ryan Krueger and Alex Arians, a source tells NBCSports.com.
Krueger is a 6-foot-5 wing player from New London, Wisc. while Arians is a 6-foot-4 guard from Madison, Wisc., who also held an offer from Wright State, which is coached by former SDSU coach Scott Nagy. Both players spend their summers playing for the Wisconsin Swing grassroots program.
The pair make it a trio of commits for the Jackrabbits in 2017 with another Wisconsinite, Alou Dillon, pledging to first-year Jackrabbits coach T.J. Otzelberger, himself a Wisconsin native, earlier this summer.
South Dakota State went 26-8 last year and the bulk of the team that made the NCAA tournament last year, including sophomore Mike Daum, who led the team in scoring and rebounding as a freshman.
Incoming Gator freshman ineligible for upcoming season
Florida will need to wait a year before seeing 6-foot-11 recruit Gorjok Gak playing games for the Gators.
The NCAA ruled that the incoming freshman will be able to enroll at Florida this year and practice with the team, but will be ineligible for games this season, the school announced Tuesday.
Should he meet all his progress marks during his freshman year, he’ll have three seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2017-18.
Gak’s eligibility issue centered on his playing games during his postgraduate year at Victory Rock Prep, according to his coach there.
“Following his graduate year from Australia, he was supposed to play from December to December,” Loren Jackson told the Gainesville Sun, “but instead played from December until the following May.”
Gak originally signed with Oklahoma State, but de-committed following Travis Ford’s firing in Stillwater this past spring. Gak averaged 13.8 points and 9.3 rebounds last season at Victory Rock in Bradenton, Fla.
Florida went 21-15 last season under first-year coach Mike White.