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Sampson Carter’s buzzer-beater lifts UMass over Harvard

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AMHERST, Mass.–UMass point guard Chaz Williams drove to the lane, and with the Harvard defense collapsing. Williams went airborne and rocketed a pass to Sampson Carter in the corner. Without hesitation, Carter connected on his only bucket of the game, lifted UMass to a 67-64 win over Harvard at the Mullins Center on Tuesday morning.

“I was already looking at the second defenders,” said Williams, recounting how the play unfolded. “I saw Sampson’s man creeping real in.”

Williams helped set up the late-game rally along with teammate Jesse Morgan. Harvard led 64-61, but Morgan, who had a game-high 19 points, drained a long 3-pointer with 39 seconds left to tie the game. On the next possession, Williams forced a turnover off a trap at halfcourt. UMass coach Derek Kellogg didn’t call a timeout, trusted his floor general to make a play.

The junior point guard didn’t disappoint, patiently waiting for the final play to unfold. Williams’ game-winning assist gave him a double-double of 12 points and 10 assists.

UMass led by as much as 10 in the first half, but the Crimson cut the lead to one heading into halftime.

Harvard won the Ivy League last season, marking its first appearance in the NCAA tournament. Though when Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry left school earlier in the semester due to an academic cheating scandal, many believed that the Crimson were vulnerable atop the Ivy League standings.

However, Harvard showed its still a not a team to overlook on the schedule, as the Crimson controlled much of the second half and even with a heartbreaking loss to start the season, there are big positives to take away from this game if you’re Tommy Amaker.

“They looked like they were in midseason form,” said Kellogg.

Tuesday morning introduced college basketball to freshman point guard Siyani Chambers. The Harvard point guard is thrown into the mix after Curry left the school and in his first Division I game, Chambers played all 40 minutes against an experienced point guard and held his own, scoring 14 points and dishing out seven assists with only one turnover.

“That was a magnificent performance by Siyani,” said Tommy Amaker. “To play the way he played with the spirit and the toughness, I think he’s going to be an outstanding player.”

Questions did arise for the Crimson following Tuesday’s loss. Harvard gave up 12 offensive rebounds with a lack of size and without the team’s two top rebounders from the previous season. Also, Harvard had problems handling the UMass pressure down the stretch, which opened the door for a Minutemen comeback. Harvard had 19 turnovers Tuesday morning.

For UMass, a team bound for Puerto Rico on Tuesday evening, this is a solid  win to start off the season. UMass is heading into a competitive Atlantic 10 Conference this season with the additions of Butler and VCU. Harvard, despite its losses, is likely the favorite in the Ivy, and a win over a tournament team is a good beginning for a Minutemen squad that should be in contention for one of 68 tournament bids this March.

Hard to believe the 10 a.m. game would be the most exciting of the day, but Harvard has shown that they can still make noise without two seniors while UMass takes a hard-fought victory to Puerto Rico with them.

 

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Five-star 2017 forward Porter Jr. releases top five schools

Father Tolton Catholic's Michael Porter, Jr. (1) celebrates after sinking a basket and drawing a foul during the first half of the Missouri Class 3 boys high school championship basketball game against the Barstow Saturday, March 12, 2016, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
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As one of the top players in the Class of 2017, 6-foot-8 small forward Michael Porter Jr. has been on the receiving end of attention from many high-major programs. Monday night Porter, a native of Columbia, Missouri who’s ranked second in the class by Rivals.com, revealed his top five schools at this point in time.

The five schools that made the cut (in alphabetical order): Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Virginia and Washington.

"Top 5 Top 5 Top 5" 🙏🏽 #Blessed

A photo posted by Michael Porter Jr. (@m1chael_porter) on

Of the five schools on Porter’s list Missouri and Washington may be the most interesting given the family connections. Not only is Missouri the hometown school, but Porter’s older sisters Bri and Cierra are members of the women’s basketball team.

And one of the assistants on that coaching staff was Porter’s father, who earlier this spring joined Lorenzo Romar’s staff at Washington. The elder Porter isn’t the only Washington connection either, with Michael’s younger brother Jontay being a commit in the Class of 2018.

Texas A&M lands Spanish forward Eric Vila

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With the loss of all-conference forward Jalen Jones, Texas A&M was in a position where they could afford to add another front court body alongside the likes of Tyler Davis and Tonny Trocha-Morelos. Thursday afternoon head coach Billy Kennedy and his staff managed to do just that, as 6-foot-9 forward Eric Martinez Vila made his pledge to the SEC program.

News of Vila’s commitment was first reported by TexAgs.com, and the FC Barcelona Lassa (that’s the club’s basketball program) product took visits to Texas A&M, Missouri and Wake Forest earlier this spring. Vila’s viewed as more of a combo forward, with the ability to step away from the basket and hit perimeter shots, giving the Aggies some added versatility in the front court.

Vila has plenty of experience playing for both FC Barcelona’s B team (however he did appear with the A-team during the 2014-15 season), and he represented Spain in the 2014 FIBA U16 EuroBasket and 2015 FIBA U18 EuroBasket events. Vila is the fifth member of Texas A&M’s 2016 class, joining guards J.J. Caldwell and J.C. Hampton, wing DeShawn Corprew and forward Robert Williams.

Nevada forward Cameron Oliver to return for sophomore season

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 11: Angelo Chol #3 of the San Diego State Aztecs drives to the hoop against Cameron Oliver #0 of the Nevada Wolf Pack during a semifinal game of the Mountain West Conference basketball tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center on March 11, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
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With the deadline for early entrants to withdraw from the NBA Draft set for Wednesday, some college basketball teams will receive important news as it pertains to the 2016-17 campaign. One of those teams was Nevada, which surprised many last season by winning 24 games in Eric Musselman’s first season at the helm. And with one of the key contributors from that team deciding to withdraw from the NBA Draft, the Wolf Pack will be well positioned to be even better in 2016-17.

Forward Cameron Oliver, who was one of the Mountain West’s best freshmen this past season, will return to Reno for his sophomore season with Musselman making the news official Monday afternoon.

The 6-foot-8 Oliver averaged 13.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game for Nevada, shooting 50.8 percent from the field in his debut season. Oliver was named third team All-Mountain West while also earning conference All-Defensive team honors.

Oliver and wing D.J. Fenner (13.7 ppg) are the team’s top two returning scorers, with guard Marqueze Coleman (15.1 ppg) out of eligibility, and they’ll lead the way for a team that can contend in the Mountain West next season.

In addition to Oliver and Fenner, Nevada adds two talented transfers in Leland King and Marcus Marshall, with the latter averaging 19.5 points per game at Missouri State in 2014-15.

Georgia’s Juwan Parker granted medical redshirt

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Juwan Parker #3 of the Georgia Bulldogs shoots under Joey King #24 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the first half at Madison Square Garden on November 28, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
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ATHENS, Ga. (AP) Georgia guard Juwan Parker has been awarded a medical redshirt, leaving him with two years of eligibility, after missing the 2015-16 season with a partially torn Achilles tendon.

Parker, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, played in Georgia’s exhibition game against Armstrong State but missed the regular season. He originally suffered the injury in the 2014-15 season, when he averaged 4.9 points and 3.7 rebounds while starting 14 games.

Parker will be a junior in the 2016-17 season.

Georgia also announced that forward Osahen Iduwe will transfer after averaging 0.5 points in 18 games.

Iduwe, from Nigeria, attended Central Park Christian School in Birmingham, Alabama, in 2012-13 and St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin, in 2013-14.

Xavier star to return to school for junior year

Xavier's Trevon Bluiett celebrates after scoring in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Butler, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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Xavier forward Trevon Bluiett will return to school for his junior season.

Bluiett did not receive an invitation to the NBA Draft combine, but he did get a few workouts with NBA teams after declaring for the draft in March. He did not sign with an agent, meaning he can withdraw his name from consideration without losing any eligibility.

This is big for the Musketeers. Bluiett, a 6-foot-7 combo-forward that gives Xavier some lineup versatility, averaged 15.1 points and 6.1 boards while shooting 39.8 percent from three last season. With Bluiett back in the fold, the Musketeers return their top four perimeter scorers and may have the best 1-2 punch in the league with Bluiett and point guard Edmond Sumner.