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Indiana gets the top spot in the preseason AP poll

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The preseason Associated Press poll was released today, and it should come as no surprise that Tom Crean’s Indiana Hoosiers lead the way.

Indiana received 43 of the 65 first-place votes, with No. 2 Louisville (20) and No. 3 Kentucky (2) accounting for the others.

The Big Ten claimed three spots in the Top 5, with Ohio State and Michigan landing fourth and fifth.

The last time a conference held three of the top five spots in the preseason AP poll was in 2008-09, when Connecticut (2nd), Louisville (3rd) and Pittsburgh (5th) of the Big East did.

This is the first time that Indiana has received the top spot in the preseason AP poll since the beginning of the 1979-80 season, a group led by Mike Woodson (now head coach of the New York Knicks) and freshman guard Isiah Thomas.

That group finished the season with a 21-8 record (13-5 Big Ten), but they lost to a Joe Barry Carroll-led Purdue team in the 1980 Mideast Regional semis.

The full preseason AP poll:

Rank School Votes Prev Rank
1 Indiana 0-0 1592 (43) NR
2 Louisville 0-0 1568 (20) NR
3 Kentucky 0-0 1453 (2) NR
4 Ohio State 0-0 1292 NR
5 Michigan 0-0 1290 NR
6 North Carolina State 0-0 1270 NR
7 Kansas 0-0 1210 NR
8 Duke 0-0 1094 NR
9 Syracuse 0-0 1062 NR
10 Florida 0-0 936 NR
11 North Carolina 0-0 904 NR
12 Arizona 0-0 902 NR
13 UCLA 0-0 840 NR
14 Michigan State 0-0 789 NR
15 Missouri 0-0 664 NR
16 Creighton 0-0 622 NR
17 Memphis 0-0 539 NR
18 UNLV 0-0 488 NR
19 Baylor 0-0 486 NR
20 San Diego State 0-0 463 NR
21 Gonzaga 0-0 384 NR
22 Notre Dame 0-0 297 NR
23 Wisconsin 0-0 285 NR
24 Cincinnati 0-0 120 NR
25 Florida State 0-0 101 NR

Receiving votes: Murray State 59, Virginia Commonwealth 58, Texas 46, Saint Louis 46, Minnesota 40, Butler 33, Pittsburgh 32, Saint Joseph’s 25, Marquette 23, Tennessee 15, Oklahoma State 14, Kansas State 12, Georgetown 9, New Mexico 9, Ohio 9, Miami (FL) 8, Saint Mary’s 6, West Virginia 6, Davidson 5, Drexel 5, Northern Iowa 5, Valparaiso 3, Stanford 2, Lehigh 2, Colorado State 1, Oral Roberts 1

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.

ESPN.com was the first to report White’s commitment.

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.