C.J. Wilcox; Maurice Jones

Washington continues the adjustment process with an 88-78 win over Western Washington

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The first college basketball exhibition that wasn’t of the intra-squad variety took place on Wednesday night, as the Washington Huskies took on Division II national champion Western Washington.

Lorenzo Romar’s team had the benefit of a preseason trip to Europe and Senegal to adjust to life without NBA draft picks Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten Jr., so the opener was essentially an extension of the adjustment process.

C.J. Wilcox led the way with 21 points and fellow guards Abdul Gaddy and Andrew Andrews scored 14 apiece as the Huskies used some late defense to pull away for the 88-78 victory.

Scott Suggs, who missed all of last season with a broken bone in his right foot, and Desmond Simmons were the starters alongside Gaddy, Wilcox and Aziz N’Diaye. Suggs finished with 13 points and four rebounds in 32 minutes of action.

One of the biggest questions for the Huskies entering the 2012-13 season is just how aggressive Wilcox will be now that much of the focus offensively will be on him.

In his first two seasons in Seattle he was able to be a member of the supporting cast, but Washington will need him to stand out if they’re to be a factor in the Pac-12 race. And while last night was only an exhibition it’s a good start for Wilcox.

“C.J. Wilcox had an outstanding game. If you take his points away he still rebounded, stole the ball, deflected the ball, he defended, he took charges—a really complete game,” said Romar.

“When your best players are there they need to step up like that. That’s what you expect from guys that have been in the program and know what they’re doing.”

Offensively the Huskies will have a different look as Romar has transitioned the team from a motion offense to the high post system that John Wooden used at UCLA.

And their redshirt freshman Andrews took full advantage in the first half, as he scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half as Gaddy sat with three fouls.

“Andrew played a very good basketball game. I’ve been saying all along that this is just an exhibition game so who knows what’s going to happen,” noted Romar.

“Much was made that we didn’t get any recruits. Well, find me a freshman guard that goes out and does that. He played with a lot of confidence and a lot of boldness out there.”

Washington has work to do on both ends of the floor, especially defensively where the consistency was lacking last night.

Offensively the strength of this team is once again in the backcourt, and Gaddy and Wilcox will need to adjust to roles in which they’ll be asked to do more scoring than in years past.

Whether or not they’re able to will play a major role in how successful Washington is this season.

Quotes credit: University of Washington

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)
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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)
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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.