Sacramento connections pay dividends for San Diego State as D’Erryl Williams II commits

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Taking in “Madness on the Mesa” was apparently enough to convince another Sacramento native to commit to San Diego State.

2013 guard D’Erryl Williams II, who is a high school and AAU teammate of SDSU commit Dakarai Allen, made his pledge to Steve Fisher’s program (subscription required) on Saturday after his official visit to the Mountain West school.

Williams averaged 14.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists at Sheldon High School last season, helping lead the team to the CIF Division I state final (where they lost to Mater Dei).

Like Allen, who is seen by many as one of the best defenders in the 2013 class, Williams II can be a nuisance on that end of the floor (3.0 steals per game).

“He had a perception of how things would be here,” said D’Erryl Williams Sr., his father. “The reality was better than the perception. It doesn’t get any better than that. He said, ‘Dad, I don’t need to visit anywhere else.’”

In addition to commitments from Allen and Williams II, the Aztec program has two players from Sacramento on their current roster in senior shooting guard Chase Tapley and junior point guard Xavier Thames.

Adding Allen and now Williams II to the program are good moves for San Diego State, which is looking to make its fourth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.

But the hope of Aztec fans is that they aren’t done in the Sacramento market, as 2013 shooting guard Darin Johnson has yet to make a decision with SDSU in the running.

While some naysayers have pointed to their pending move to the Big West as the beginning of a slide for the program, San Diego State’s work on the recruiting trail and it’s run of success on the court suggest anything but.

SDSU enters the 2012-13 season having won 20 or more games in seven consecutive seasons, and with the roster assembled an eighth could be on the way.

Tapley, Thames and reigning Mountain West Player of the Year Jamaal Franklin lead the way along with senior guard James Rahon in what is a very good back court.

The question for San Diego State in regards to making national waves: how much of an impact can their newcomers in the front court have?

Freshman Winston Shepard can play any position from the point to the four and is a very good defender.

Transfers James Johnson (Virginia; eligible in December), J.J. O’Brien (Utah) and Dwayne Polee II (St. John’s) will join Shepard and senior DeShawn Stephens in the front court.

It would be unfair to rate this group alongside the 2010-11 Aztecs (34-3 and a Sweet 16 appearance) before a game has been played, but San Diego State is more than capable of winning another Mountain West title.

And with their work on the recruiting trail it wouldn’t be wise to expect them to slip off into oblivion in the future.

“This is a Top 25 program,” Williams Sr. said to Mark Zeigler of the Union-Tribune. “D’s dream is to play in a Final Four. In order to do that, you have to play with a group of players and coach who has assembled something that allows you to do that. And that’s now in play for him.”

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

N.C. State adds grad transfer Sam Hunt

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N.C. State added its fourth transfer this offseason. Like ex-Baylor guard Al Freeman, the latest one is eligible to play next season.

Sam Hunt, a double-digit scorer the past two seasons at North Carolina A&T, officially enrolled at North Carolina State on Monday morning.

“Sam is a great young man and will bring much needed depth to our backcourt,” N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts said in a statement. “I want guys who are excited about being a part of our program and Sam really wants to be here.

“Sam is a combo guard that can space the floor with his ability to shoot the basketball. He is a good fit for the system and will bring a wealth of experience to our roster.”

Hunt, the 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 12.7 points per game last season, a dip from the 15.4 points per game he posted for the Aggies as a redshirt sophomore.

Hunt joins a roster that lost its three leading scorers from a season ago, one that ended 15-17 (4-14 ACC). Dennis Smith Jr. is a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Maverick Rowan also pursued a professional career and Terry Henderson was denied an additional year from the NCAA.

The Wolf Pack bring back forwards Abdul-Malik Abu and Omer Yurtseven as well as Torin Dorn.

Keatts, who took over the program after leading UNC Wilmington to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, has already built for the future. UNC Wilmington transfer C.J. Bryce, 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Seahawks, has followed him to Raleigh. Utah transfer Devon Daniels committed to the Wolf Pack the same day as Bryce. Both will have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules. Bryce will have two years of eligibility while Daniels will have three.

LaVar Ball stars in an uncomfortably entertaining segment on WWE’s Raw

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LaVar Ball’s statements and antics over this past year always seemed better suited a professional wrestling ring.

It was only natural that the patriarch of the Ball family — and the head of the Big Baller Brand — made an appearance on WWE’s Monday Night Raw at the Staples Center for an awkwardly entertaining segment with WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz.

With sons, Lonzo — in his first appearance in the Staples Center as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers — and LaMelo looking on, LaVar was the center of attention. When The Miz mentioned something about a partnership between the two, the scripted interview went south. It resulted in LaVar saying nonsensical things like, “There’s only two dudes better than me, and I’m both of ’em!” before later taking off his shirt. When Dean Ambrose, a WWE superstar feuding with The Miz came out on to the ramp, LaVar didn’t quite grasp the concept that that was his cue to stop talking.

This segment was somehow entertaining and cringeworthy at the same time.

Now that Lonzo is beginning his NBA career, maybe it’s time LaVar try something different. A manager in the WWE may just be his true calling. He’s certainly had plenty of practice.

Maryland lands commitment from five-star 2018 forward

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Maryland added to its 2018 recruiting class with its second commit, the newest addition being a five-star in-state product.

Jalen Smith, a 6-foot-9 forward from Baltimore powerhouse Mount St. Joseph, committed to the Terrapins, making the announcement on Twitter.

“I believe that I can academically and athletically achieve my goals at home through my commitment to the University of Maryland … Go Terps,” he tweeted as part of a long passage.

Smith is listed as the No. 13 overall recruit in the Class of 2013 by Rivals. He joins four-star swingman Aaron Wiggins in Mark Turgeon’s current recruiting class.

Playing for Team Takeover on the Nike EYBL circuit, Smith is averaging 10.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game.

Recent grad’s joyride reportedly did $100,000 of damages to Mizzou Arena

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A recent graduate and temporary employee of the University of Missouri took an early morning joy ride that reportedly could rack up around $100,000 to Mizzou Arena.

According to Dave Mater of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nathaniel J. Contant, 23, who graduated from the school in December 2016, drove his Volkswagen Passat through a gate and eventually on to the floor of the 15,000-seat on-campus arena.

At 7:15 a.m. Sunday, MU police were dispatched to Mizzou Arena for a report of property damage. Officers determined that around 4 a.m., the suspect drove his vehicle through a closed gate on the south side of the arena. He ran through a garage door and drove into a dock area where he damaged several golf carts that were stored in the area. He also drove his car onto the basketball court. The man couldn’t leave through the area he used to enter the building, so he drove through the arena’s press gate.

Contant, unsurprisingly, is no longer an employee of the university. He’s being charged with second-degree burglary and first-degree property damage, both of which are felonies. He was released on a $4,500 bond.

The motive for this early-morning joyride remains unclear.

Despite the hype surrounding the upcoming Mizzou season — one that includes the debut of new head coach Cuonzo Martin and the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft Michael Porter, Jr. — Twitter users couldn’t help but poke fun at the dismal recent history the Tigers have had.

(h/t Kansas City Star)

Vance Jackson transfers to New Mexico

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With more than a handful of departures this offseason, New Mexico is set to have a new-look roster for the 2017-18 season. On Monday, Paul Weir, now at the helm of the program, landed a player who should make an impact in the three remaining seasons of eligibility he has left.

Vance Jackson, who spent this past season at UConn, decided to make the move from Storrs to Albuquerque, picking the Lobos over Rutgers, San Diego State, TCU, and Washington.

The 6-foot-8 rising sophomore will have to sit out next year due to NCAA transfer rules before resuming his collegiate career in the fall of 2018.

“The coaches — they trust in me,” Jackson told Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal last month during his official campus visit. “We’re on the same page. They see a vision.”

Weir, who led New Mexico State this past season to a NCAA Tournament appearance in his one and only season as head coach, succeeded Craig Neal in April.

This offseason has been headlined by transfers, though, those mostly were about players leaving the program. Jackson is the second transfer to land at UNM with Akron’s Antino Jackson electing to use his final season of eligibility with the Lobos. Antino Jackson is a graduate transfer, allowing him to play immediately next season.

Vance Jackson, who was rated as the No. 80 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals, averaged 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game while shooting just under 40 percent from three for the Huskies as a freshman.