Roosevelt Jones, J.J. Moore

College Hoops Week in Review: Five Thoughts

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1. Roosevelt Jones, Butler’s playmaker?: The Bulldogs notched a win in their opener on Friday, beating Elon 74-59. Rotnei Clarke and Kellen Dunham were as good as advertised, finishing with a combined 39 points while knocking down eight of their 18 threes. The concern for this group heading into the season, however, was at the point guard spot. Clarke, who is technically Butler’s starting point guard, finished with just a single assist, as he simply turned into the guy that brought the ball up the floor for Butler before reverting to sprinting off of off-ball screens. The guy that fill in as Butler’s playmaker ended up being Roosevelt Jones, a bruising, 6-foot-4 small forward. He ended the game with six points, nine boards and six assists.

Could Jones end up playing a role similar to what Draymond Green did at Michigan State?

2. Delaware lost their opener: The Blue Hens were supposed to be Drexel’s biggest challenger in the CAA this season, but their season didn’t exactly get off to a memorable start as Delaware lost at La Salle on Saturday afternoon. Delaware’s vaunted back court or Devon Saddler and Jarvis Threatt finished with just 31 points on 31 shots from the floor, handing out three assists and turning the ball over four times. La Salle is somewhat underrated this season, but that’s still a loss — and a performance — that will be tough for UD to swallow.

3. Notable injuries this weekend:

  • Isaiah Austin, Baylor: After scoring 22 points in his debut for the Bears, Austin went down with a sprained ankle midway through the second half against Lehigh. He didn’t play Sunday against Jackson State, but with a trip to a tournament in Charleston kicking off of on Thursday, that was more of a precaution.
  • Otto Porter, Georgetown: Porter caught a nasty-looking, inadvertent elbow early on in Georgetown’s win over Duquesne on Sunday evening. Georgetown classified it as a head injury and said Porter was being held out for precautionary reasons. He only played six minutes on Sunday.
  • Terone Johnson, Purdue: Johnson suffered an ankle injury in practice this week and missed the Bucknell game. He came off the bench on Sunday when Purdue destroyed Hofstra.
  • Vincent Council, Providence: Council injured his hamstring on Saturday in a win over NJIT. It’s unclear how long he’ll be out. “The hamstring is a very tender area and an injury you have to be careful with,” PC coach Ed Cooley said. “We’re all feeling for Vince right now.”

4. Three losses to non-Division I teams: Howard dropped a 68-62 decision to Division II Lincoln (PA) University. Nebraska-Omaha, in their first season in Division I, lost to Saint Mary (not to be confused with St. Mary’s) 96-86. USM is an NAIA Division II team. But the ugliest loss of them all was given to Rice, who lost to NAIA St. Thomas by 13 points. St. Thomas has only had college athletics since 2006.

5. No more games on boats, please: The two that were supposed to be played on the east coast were cancelled due to condensation on the court making it unsafe to use. The one on the west coast had to be rescheduled because of rain on Friday night, and when it was played, the wind was so strong and the sun so bright that it created a situation where shooting from the perimeter was pointless. The game was, frankly, not enjoyable to watch.

Look, I’m all for supporting the troops and raising money and playing games between top 25 teams in exotic locales. I love the creativity. But there are ways to do all of that while playing inside — see: Michigan State and UConn. There are a lot of creative marketers out there. It’s time to come up with a new idea.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

UNLV’s Menzies fills out staff with 3 hires

New UNLV men's basketball coach Marvin Menzies smiles during a news conference after the UNLV board of regents  approved his contract, Friday, April 22, 2016  in Las Vegas. The boards voted 12-1 on Friday to approve a five-year, $3.75 million deal for Menzies.  (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP) LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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LAS VEGAS (AP) New UNLV men’s basketball coach Marvin Menzies has filled out his staff with three assistant coaches.

The school announced on Thursday the hiring of Andre LaFleur, Rob Jeter and Eric Brown.

Jeter was the head coach at Milwaukee for 11 seasons, winning 20 or more games five times. His record of 185-170 leaves him one short of the school record for most victories.

La Fleur spent the past five seasons as associate head coach at Providence under Ed Cooley after 10 years working for Jim Calhoun at Connecticut.

Brown has been an assistant coach at Long Beach State the last nine years.

Four-star 2017 shooting guard commits to Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams celebrates a play in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Blacksburg, Va. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP) LOCAL STATIONS OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; LOCAL PRINT OUT (SALEM TIMES REGISTER; FINCASTLE HERALD; CHRISTIANSBURG NEWS MESSENGER; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL; MANDATORY CREDIT
Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP
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Recruiting, and on-court results, have picked up at Virginia Tech since Buzz Williams took over as head coach. In his second year at the helm the Hokies won ten conference games, and in reaching the Postseason NIT made their first postseason appearance since 2011.

Thursday night Virginia Tech landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2017, as four-star shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker made his pledge.

The 6-foot-5 Alexander-Walker, who’s ranked 91st in his class by Rivals.com, also took official visits to Maryland and USC before making his pledge to the ACC program. Alexander-Walker attends Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but as a native of Canada plays his grassroots basketball for the Canada Elite program on the Under Armour Association circuit.

Good with either hand, Alexander-Walker can play either on or off the basketball. And that versatility should serve him well in a system that places a high value on “switch-ables,” or players who can fill multiple roles.

The Canada connection paid off for Virginia Tech in the recruitment of Alexander-Walker, with assistant coach Jamie McNeilly being a native of the country himself and having a connection to the Walker family. The Hokies will lose two perimeter players at the end of the 2016-17 season in Devin Wilson and Seth Allen, which will give Alexander-Walker the opportunity to earn minutes as a freshman.

Oakland lands former Oklahoma State guard Clark

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When point guard Stevie Clark began his career at Oklahoma State in 2013, the Top 100 prospect was expected by many to be an impact player for the Cowboys. Things didn’t go as planned however, as off-court issues ultimately led to Clark’s dismissal from the program before his sophomore season. Add in a lawsuit filed by Clark in which he alleged that he was forced by the school to take psychotropic drugs, and it’s safe to say that his time in Stillwater was anything but smooth.

Clark ultimately landed at Arkansas Baptist College, and on Thursday it was reported by the Detroit Free Press that he’s committed to Oakland University to play for head coach Greg Kampe. Clark joins a program with an immediate need at the point, with All-American Kahlil Felder having entered the NBA Draft and hired an agent as well.

The obvious question regarding Clark is whether or not he’s managed to take care of business off the court, and in an interview with Mark Snyder of the Free Press the Oklahoma native made note of the benefits of getting away from home for college.

Playing in Rochester, far from his home, will serve him well, he said.

“Anywhere away from home is the best thing,” Clark said. “It’s just hard balancing everything being close to home.”

Clark will be one of the options Kampe has to choose from at the point, with incoming freshmen Brailen Neely and Billy Thomas also among the new arrivals, and sophomore Jaevin Cumberland looking to earn more playing time than the 5.6 minutes per contest he averaged as a freshman.

Creighton point guard Watson Jr. to return for senior season

Creighton's Maurice Watson Jr. (10) reacts after scoring during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Xavier in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Creighton won 70-56. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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Creighton’s chances of moving up the Big East standings and returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014 improved a great deal Thursday, as starting point guard Maurice Watson Jr. announced that he will be returning for his senior season. Watson, who began his college career at Boston University, entered his name into the NBA Draft pool without hiring an agent but decided that another year in Omaha would be best for him.

Watson was one of the most impactful transfers in the country last season, as his play at the point was a major factor in the Bluejays winning 20 games and going 9-9 in conference play after being picked to finish eighth in the Big East preseason poll. Watson averaged 14.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game last season, earning second team All-Big East honors.

With Watson’s return the Bluejays will welcome back three of their top four scorers from last season, with center Geoffrey Groselle being the lone departure. Head coach Greg McDermott adds a talented shooting guard in Marcus Foster, who sat out last season after transferring in from Kansas State. With Watson and Foster working together, Creighton will have a formidable perimeter tandem leading the way in 2016-17 with the likes of forward Cole Huff and guard Isaiah Zierden also being key contributors.

In addition to what Watson can provide in games he’ll also serve as a good mentor for Kaleb Joseph, who will have to sit out next season after transferring in from Syracuse. Joseph, who will have two seasons of eligibility remaining, fell out of the rotation as a sophomore so the year in residency should benefit him as he works towards grabbing the reins in 2017-18.

h/t ESPN.com

UConn, four-star 2017 big man Brown part ways

Brown, Zach
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Back in mid-January UConn made waves on the recruiting trail by securing a verbal commitment from 7-foot-1 center Zach Brown, a player seen by many as one of the top prospects in the Class of 2017. That partnership came to an end Thursday, as the two parties decided to part ways. News of the mutual decision was first reported by Scout.com.

The Miami native is currently ranked 28th in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, and Thursday’s news opens up a spot in the front court that UConn head coach Kevin Ollie and his staff will now have to fill. Amida Brimah, who’s currently going through the NBA pre-Draft process, will be a senior next season should he return to Storrs as will Kentan Facey.

Among the interior options who will have eligibility remaining beyond next season for the Huskies are sophomore Steven Enoch and incoming freshmen Mamadou Diarra and Juwan Durham.

UConn was in the running for 2016 power forward Taurean Thompson, but multiple outlets have the Brewster Academy product considering Michigan State (which added UNLV grad transfer Ben Carter Wednesday), Seton Hall and Syracuse at this point in his recruitment.