Tubby Smith

6-4 Chicago shooting guard Alvin Ellis commits to Minnesota

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Minnesota landed its first verbal commitment in the 2013 class on Sunday as 6-4 shooting guard Alvin Ellis verbally pledged to attend the Big Ten school.

Ellis, who plays at De La Salle Institute in Chicago, chose the Gophers over Kansas State, Northwestern and Butler according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Minnesota has three seniors (Rodney Williams, Julian Welch and Andre Ingram) and a graduate student (power forward Trevor Mbakwe) on this year’s team, so there is some work to do for Tubby Smith and his staff in regards to the 2013 season.

Just like Iowa verbal commit Peter Jok, Ellis made his decision on the heels of an official visit to Minnesota this weekend.

“Alvin really loved his visit, and he especially got along great with the guys on the team, guys like Austin Hollins (and Andre Hollins),” De La Salle coach Tom White said. “Those players remind him of the players we have here. The Gophers got themselves a really good all-around player. I can’t wait to see him play in the Big Ten next year.”

Ellis was also a member of the Meanstreets AAU program this summer, playing alongside Illinois commit Kendrick Nunn.

In the 16 games Ellis played leading up to the EYBL Finals at the Nike Peach Jam he shot 50% from beyond the arc and averaged 7.1 points and 2.2 rebounds per game.

In his junior season at De La Salle, Ellis averaged 16 points per game and will likely be even more of a focal point as the Meteors lost three key contributors from last year’s team.

6-8 forward Alex Foster, who was also on a visit to Minnesota this weekend, transferred to Seton Academy while Gavin Schilling is now at Findlay Prep.

And according to De La Salle head coach Tom White, Smith making a trip to the school last week to let Ellis know that he respected him showing loyalty to De La Salle.

“He’s been here a number of times recruiting Alvin over the years,” White said. “Tubby made a big thing last week. The (Chicago Public School teachers) were all on strike. A lot of recruiters weren’t coming around until the kids were back in session. But he specifically came in and saw Alvin Ellis just to let him know how much he respects loyalty.”

While Foster remains uncommitted following the visit, landing the versatile Ellis is a nice starting point in 2013 for the Golden Gophers.

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

Knee injury temporarily sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
Associated Press
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.

Duke figuring out approach for this season

Duke University head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski speaks with the media about the Blue Devils' 2013-14 basketball season, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Durham, N.C. (Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
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Duke is coming off of a national championship but the roster will look almost completely different for the 2015-16 season. That means last season’s approach to things on the offensive and defensive end will have to change and head coach Mike Krzyzewski mentioned to reporters on Friday how the Blue Devils are still figuring some things out.

“We’re putting in a different offensive system, to personalize it for these guys,” Krzyzewski said to reporters. “And a different defensive system so that we can max out on the talents that they have.

“We’re really proud of our team. I think we’re going to be a really good team.”

Without Jahlil Okafor in the middle, Duke’s offense could shift to a mostly perimeter-oriented team, as the wing and guard depth is superior for this year’s group.  Coach K and his staff making adjustments to schemes to fit personnel is a nice move from the Hall of Famer, as he’s done a better job in recent years of making adjustments like this after his stint with USA Basketball.

As the program moves on from Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Quinn Cook, it’ll be intriguing to see who emerges as a potential go-to offensive player early in the season and how Duke’s offense potentially evolves as the season wears on.