Missouri, Illinois extend Braggin’ Rights series through 2017

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One of the great rivalry games that fell by the wayside in conference realignment was Missouri’s two annual battles with Kansas.

While we don’t know when those two will meet again, the Tigers will continue to play another of their rivals as it was announced that Missouri and Illinois have extended their annual series through 2017.

Illinois leads the all-time series 20-11 but Missouri has won the last three meetings after losing nine straight to the Fighting Illini.

The Bud Light Braggin’ Rights game will continue to be played at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, with this season’s meeting being played on December 22.

“There is nothing like this game in all of college basketball,” Missouri head coach Frank Haith said in a statement released by the school.

“The fan bases are split down the middle and the enthusiasm is second to none. You add in a national television audience and the excitement of the holiday season and you get the best rivalry game of the non-league season.”

Haith won his first Braggin’ Rights game last season as the Tigers held off Illinois by the final score of 78-74.

And while Missouri did lose some key pieces they welcome back point guard Phil Pressey and are a deeper squad than last season’s Big 12 tournament champion squad.

Transfers Keion Bell (Pepperdine), Alex Oriakhi (UConn) and Jabari Brown (Oregon; eligible in December) are just three of the newcomers who will assist Pressey, Michael Dixon Jr. and the healthy Laurence Bowers in the Tigers’ first season in the SEC.

As for Illinois this will be the first year of the John Groce era, with seniors D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul leading the way.

“I’ve heard about the importance of the Illinois-Missouri game since the day I took the job here at the University of Illinois,” Fighting Illini Head Coach John Groce said in a statement. “This is one of college basketball’s best non-conference rivalry games.

“When you factor in the longevity of the series, holding it at a neutral site in St. Louis with the crowd split 50-50, and playing it right before the holidays; you are talking about a big-time environment for our players, alumni and fans.

“I’m excited about experiencing this rivalry for the first time, and that we are extending the contract so the Braggin’ Rights game will continue for many years.”

Illinois will have to account for the departure of Meyers Leonard, who was drafted by Portland in the first round of the NBA Draft.

But regardless of what the two teams have coming back it’s good to see that the game will continue to be played annually.

Photo credit: Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.

Report: Nike, Adidas and Under Armour all pass on sponsoring Lonzo Ball

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Lonzo Ball will enter his rookie season in the NBA without a sponsorship deal from Nike, Adidas or Under Armour, only his family’s Big Baller Brand apparel.

That, according to a report from ESPN, is due to his father LaVar’s insistence that Lonzo not sign with one of the three major apparel companies unless they opted to sign a licensing deal for Big Baller Brand merchandise instead of outfitting Lonzo with their own gear.

“We’ve said from the beginning, we aren’t looking for an endorsement deal,” LaVar told ESPN. “We’re looking for co-branding, a true partner. But they’re not ready for that because they’re not used to that model. But hey, the taxi industry wasn’t ready for Uber, either.”

LaVar had been representing his son in the negotiations, and is now expected to reach out to other shoe brands, including Chinese apparel companies like Li-Nang.

Big Baller Brand is a startup apparel company launched by LaVar Ball. They sell t-shirts, sweatshirts and hats, with most of their products costing at least $50.

Lonzo declared for the NBA Draft after an all-american season that saw him and the UCLA Bruins flame out of the NCAA tournament in the Sweet 16. UCLA lost to Kentucky in that game, and Lonzo had a quiet night while his point guard counterpart, De’Aaron Fox, went off for 39 points.

Lonzo is a likely top three pick in the NBA Draft and, potentially, could still end up going No. 1. He has two younger brothers as well. LiAngelo will be a freshman with the Bruins next season while LaMelo just finished his sophomore season in high school. Both will attend UCLA.