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.

N.C. State adds grad transfer Sam Hunt

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N.C. State added its fourth transfer this offseason. Like ex-Baylor guard Al Freeman, the latest one is eligible to play next season.

Sam Hunt, a double-digit scorer the past two seasons at North Carolina A&T, officially enrolled at North Carolina State on Monday morning.

“Sam is a great young man and will bring much needed depth to our backcourt,” N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts said in a statement. “I want guys who are excited about being a part of our program and Sam really wants to be here.

“Sam is a combo guard that can space the floor with his ability to shoot the basketball. He is a good fit for the system and will bring a wealth of experience to our roster.”

Hunt, the 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 12.7 points per game last season, a dip from the 15.4 points per game he posted for the Aggies as a redshirt sophomore.

Hunt joins a roster that lost its three leading scorers from a season ago, one that ended 15-17 (4-14 ACC). Dennis Smith Jr. is a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Maverick Rowan also pursued a professional career and Terry Henderson was denied an additional year from the NCAA.

The Wolf Pack bring back forwards Abdul-Malik Abu and Omer Yurtseven as well as Torin Dorn.

Keatts, who took over the program after leading UNC Wilmington to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, has already built for the future. UNC Wilmington transfer C.J. Bryce, 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Seahawks, has followed him to Raleigh. Utah transfer Devon Daniels committed to the Wolf Pack the same day as Bryce. Both will have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules. Bryce will have two years of eligibility while Daniels will have three.

LaVar Ball stars in an uncomfortably entertaining segment on WWE’s Raw

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LaVar Ball’s statements and antics over this past year always seemed better suited a professional wrestling ring.

It was only natural that the patriarch of the Ball family — and the head of the Big Baller Brand — made an appearance on WWE’s Monday Night Raw at the Staples Center for an awkwardly entertaining segment with WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz.

With sons, Lonzo — in his first appearance in the Staples Center as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers — and LaMelo looking on, LaVar was the center of attention. When The Miz mentioned something about a partnership between the two, the scripted interview went south. It resulted in LaVar saying nonsensical things like, “There’s only two dudes better than me, and I’m both of ’em!” before later taking off his shirt. When Dean Ambrose, a WWE superstar feuding with The Miz came out on to the ramp, LaVar didn’t quite grasp the concept that that was his cue to stop talking.

This segment was somehow entertaining and cringeworthy at the same time.

Now that Lonzo is beginning his NBA career, maybe it’s time LaVar try something different. A manager in the WWE may just be his true calling. He’s certainly had plenty of practice.

Maryland lands commitment from five-star 2018 forward

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Maryland added to its 2018 recruiting class with its second commit, the newest addition being a five-star in-state product.

Jalen Smith, a 6-foot-9 forward from Baltimore powerhouse Mount St. Joseph, committed to the Terrapins, making the announcement on Twitter.

“I believe that I can academically and athletically achieve my goals at home through my commitment to the University of Maryland … Go Terps,” he tweeted as part of a long passage.

Smith is listed as the No. 13 overall recruit in the Class of 2013 by Rivals. He joins four-star swingman Aaron Wiggins in Mark Turgeon’s current recruiting class.

Playing for Team Takeover on the Nike EYBL circuit, Smith is averaging 10.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game.

Recent grad’s joyride reportedly did $100,000 of damages to Mizzou Arena

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A recent graduate and temporary employee of the University of Missouri took an early morning joy ride that reportedly could rack up around $100,000 to Mizzou Arena.

According to Dave Mater of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nathaniel J. Contant, 23, who graduated from the school in December 2016, drove his Volkswagen Passat through a gate and eventually on to the floor of the 15,000-seat on-campus arena.

At 7:15 a.m. Sunday, MU police were dispatched to Mizzou Arena for a report of property damage. Officers determined that around 4 a.m., the suspect drove his vehicle through a closed gate on the south side of the arena. He ran through a garage door and drove into a dock area where he damaged several golf carts that were stored in the area. He also drove his car onto the basketball court. The man couldn’t leave through the area he used to enter the building, so he drove through the arena’s press gate.

Contant, unsurprisingly, is no longer an employee of the university. He’s being charged with second-degree burglary and first-degree property damage, both of which are felonies. He was released on a $4,500 bond.

The motive for this early-morning joyride remains unclear.

Despite the hype surrounding the upcoming Mizzou season — one that includes the debut of new head coach Cuonzo Martin and the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft Michael Porter, Jr. — Twitter users couldn’t help but poke fun at the dismal recent history the Tigers have had.

(h/t Kansas City Star)

Vance Jackson transfers to New Mexico

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With more than a handful of departures this offseason, New Mexico is set to have a new-look roster for the 2017-18 season. On Monday, Paul Weir, now at the helm of the program, landed a player who should make an impact in the three remaining seasons of eligibility he has left.

Vance Jackson, who spent this past season at UConn, decided to make the move from Storrs to Albuquerque, picking the Lobos over Rutgers, San Diego State, TCU, and Washington.

The 6-foot-8 rising sophomore will have to sit out next year due to NCAA transfer rules before resuming his collegiate career in the fall of 2018.

“The coaches — they trust in me,” Jackson told Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal last month during his official campus visit. “We’re on the same page. They see a vision.”

Weir, who led New Mexico State this past season to a NCAA Tournament appearance in his one and only season as head coach, succeeded Craig Neal in April.

This offseason has been headlined by transfers, though, those mostly were about players leaving the program. Jackson is the second transfer to land at UNM with Akron’s Antino Jackson electing to use his final season of eligibility with the Lobos. Antino Jackson is a graduate transfer, allowing him to play immediately next season.

Vance Jackson, who was rated as the No. 80 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals, averaged 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game while shooting just under 40 percent from three for the Huskies as a freshman.