Doug McDermott

John R. Wooden Award preseason Top 50 list is unveiled

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With the start of the college basketball season less than 24 hours away, there was one last bit of preseason awards business to be handled.

The Los Angeles Athletic Club, which has presented the John R. Wooden Award to the best player in basketball since 1977, released its preseason Top 50 list on Friday afternoon.

Of the fifty players on the list just one was a member of last year’s Wooden Award All-America Team, Creighton power forward Doug McDermott.

A rule that has ruffled feathers in the past is the exclusion of freshmen from the list. While on one side of the argument there’s the point that “we haven’t seen them play at the college level,” there are solid arguments to be made for some of best newcomers in the country.

That explains why Kentucky and UCLA, who can claim two of the nation’s best recruiting classes, don’t have a single player on the Top 50 list. Transfers and medical redshirts are also ineligible for the preseason list.

Nine Big Ten players, led by forwards Cody Zeller (Indiana) and Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State), are on the list and that number leads all conferences. The Big East (seven), ACC and SEC (six apiece) are next in line. In total sixteen conferences are represented in the Wooden Award Top 50.

Name Height Class Position University Conference
Keith Appling 6-1 Jr. G Michigan State Big Ten
Chane Behanan 6-6 So. F Louisville Big East
Kenny Boynton 6-2 Sr. G Florida SEC
Lorenzo Brown 6-5 Jr. G North Carolina State ACC
Trey Burke 6-0 So. G Michigan Big Ten
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 6-5 So. G Georgia SEC
Isaiah Canaan 6-1 Sr. G Murray State Ohio Valley
Jack Cooley 6-9 Sr. F Notre Dame Big East
D.J. Cooper 6-0 Sr. G Ohio University Mid-American
Vincent Council 6-2 Sr. G Providence Big East
Allen Crabbe 6-6 Jr. G California Pac-12
Aaron Craft 6-2 Jr. G Ohio State Big Ten
Seth Curry 6-2 Sr. G Duke ACC
Brandon Davies 6-9 Sr. F BYU West Coast
Matthew Dellavedova 6-4 Sr. G Saint Mary’s West Coast
Gorgui Dieng 6-11 Jr. C Lousville Big East
Jamaal Franklin 6-5 Jr. G San Diego State Mountain West
Tim Frazier 6-1 Sr. G Penn State Big Ten
Tim Hardaway, Jr. 6-6 Jr. G Michigan Big Ten
Elias Harris 6-8 Sr. F Gonzaga West Coast
Solomon Hill 6-7 Sr. F Arizona Pac-12
Pierre Jackson 5-10 Sr. G Baylor Big 12
Elijah Johnson 6-4 Sr. G Kansas Big 12
Sean Kilpatrick 6-4 Jr. G/F Cincinnati Big East
C.J. Leslie 6-9 Jr. F North Carolina State ACC
James Michael McAdoo 6-9 So. F North Carolina ACC
Ray McCallum 6-3 Jr. G Detroit Horizon League
C.J. McCollum 6-3 Sr. G Lehigh Patriot League
Doug McDermott* 6-8 Jr. F Creighton Missouri Valley
Rodney McGruder 6-4 Sr. G Kansas State Big 12
Tony Mitchell 6-8 So. F North Texas Sun Belt
Mike Moser 6-8 Jr. F UNLV Mountain West
Brock Motum 6-10 Sr. F Washington State Pac-12
Le’Bryan Nash 6-7 So. G/F Oklahoma State Big 12
Brandon Paul 6-4 Sr. G Illinois Big Ten
Mason Plumlee 6-10 Sr. F Duke ACC
Otto Porter 6-8 So. F Georgetown Big East
Phil Pressey 5-11 Jr. G Missouri SEC
André Roberson 6-7 Jr. F Colorado Pac-12
Peyton Siva 6-0 Sr. G Louisville Big East
Michael Snaer 6-5 Sr. G Florida State ACC
Jarnell Stokes 6-8 So. F Tennessee SEC
Adonis Thomas 6-7 So. G/F Memphis Conference USA
Deshaun Thomas 6-7 Jr. F Ohio State Big Ten
Christian Watford 6-9 Sr. F Indiana Big Ten
Jeff Withey 7-0 Sr. C Kansas Big 12
Nate Wolters 6-4 Sr. G South Dakota State Summit League
B.J. Young 6-3 So. G Arkansas SEC
Patric Young 6-9 Jr. C Florida SEC
Cody Zeller 7-0 So. F Indiana Big Ten

Players listed alphabetically     *indicates player chosen to the 2012 Wooden All American Team

Only one team can claim three players on the list and that’s Louisville, as Chane Behanan, Gorgui Dieng and Peyton Siva were honored. Seven schools placed two players on the list, and nine of the fifty players made last season’s preseason Top 50.

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.