Pac 12 Basketball Tournament - Oregon State v Washington State

Former Washington State guard Reggie Moore apologizes to teammates in statement

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Despite going 7-11 in conference play last season, Washington State had reason for optimism entering the 2012-13 campaign thanks in part to the return of forward Brock Motum and point guard Reggie Moore.

But Moore won’t be a part of the team this season, as missteps off the court led to head coach Ken Bone’s decision to dismiss Moore from the program last month.

Moore led the Cougars with an average of 5.2 assists per game while also scoring ten points per game, a number that ranked second on a team (Motum led the way at 18.0 ppg) that lacked a consistent second scorer once Faisal Aden went down with a knee injury.

While DaVonte Lacy (8.5 ppg) returns for his sophomore campaign and will help matters on the perimeter the Cougars don’t have much at the point with Moore being dismissed from the squad.

Moore, who hadn’t made a public comment of any kind since his dismissal, took to the newspaper to express his sorrow over the situation and sent a statement to Vince Grippi of the Spokesman-Review.

“I want to sincerely apologize to Washington State University, all the fans that support Wazzu, and all the great people that I’ve met during my time in Pullman. It was a rewarding experience that I’ll always be grateful for.

“I made a costly mistake and I understand that I have to face the consequences for my actions. I’m disappointed in myself for not making the right decisions that ultimately not only affects me, but my teammates and everyone I was close to at WSU.

“It’s unfortunate that it had to come to this for me, but I have learned from this experience, and I believe it has already made me a better person. I’m still excited about the future, and the new challenges and opportunities that await me as a student athlete.

“Thank you for all the support, well wishes, and offers of encouragement that I’ve received. The love that I’ve received from fans, my former teammates and also friends at WSU has been overwhelming and extremely humbling. It’s now up to me to accept responsibility, learn from this life lesson, and move forward in a positive way.

“Best regards,

“Reggie Moore”

Obviously there are going to be questions as to what Moore may have done to push Bone to dismiss him from the program, but all that truly matters is Moore’s post-dismissal communication with his former teammates.

If there hasn’t been a face-to-face meeting of some sort between Moore and his former teammates hopefully that will happen in the very near future.

Outside of Motum Lacey is likely Washington State’s most talented offensive player (unfortunately Que Johnson is a partial qualifier so he can only practice), so maybe the Cougars hand the keys over to Lacey despite his playing off the ball for much of last season.

Washington State also has 6-4 redshirt freshman Dominic Ballard, who averaged 21.6 points, 10.5 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game as a high school senior in 2010-11.

The Cougars don’t seem to have a “conventional” answer at the point, and that could undo the progress made during their preseason trip to Australia.

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

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.