Shabazz Muhammad

Late night snacks: Shabazz and Chaminade make the headlines

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The first day of Maui and we had to classic moments from a tournament that always delivers a few. Shabazz Muhammad makes his UCLA debut in Brooklyn, and all the stats you can shake a stat sheet at. Here’s your daily recap.

Games of the Night

Chaminade 86, Texas 63 – This one takes it. Division II Chaminade takes down mighty Texas in a game that they controlled from the beginning. A 32-point night from De’Andre Haskins propelled the Silverswords. Great night for the hosts of the Maui Invitational.

New Mexico 66, UConn 60 – It’s a statement game for New Mexico, who has been buried under San Diego State and UNLV in terms of headlines in the Mountain West Conference this preseason. They hit all 21 of their free throws and Kendall Williams had 15 points, five rebounds and five assists in the win to give the Lobos the Paradise Jam title.

Butler 72, Marquette 71 – It was more about the shot than the game. Junior Cadougan missed the second of two free throws, Butler’s Khyle Marshall rebounded and got it to Rotnei Clarke, who weaved his way down the court and launched a running 30-footer as the buzzer sounded that dropped and gave Butler the win. Great way to start the Maui Invitational.

Georgetown 78, UCLA 70 – Retuuuurn of Shabazz (get it?). Yea, well, anyway, Shabazz Muhammad made his collegiate debut to the tune of 15 points in the Bruins first loss of the season. He was sporadic, he was indecisive, he was a freshman in his first game of the season. He’ll be fine. It’s just good to have him on the court.

St. Louis 70, Texas A&M 49 – With all the buzzer-beaters, upsets and debuting superstars, this game was lost. The Billikens, playing in their first game since hearing the news that coach Rick Majerus would retire after taking a leave of absence from coaching for the season, ran the Aggies off the court. Dwayne Evans had 21 points for St. Louis, who shot 51-percent from the field (25-for-49).

Starred

Rotnei Clarke, Butler – It’s all about the shot. Despite a 7-for-21 shooting night, Clarke shook it off and hit a running 30-footer at the buzzer to give the Bulldogs the win over the Golden Eagles. The line itself was vintage Clarke, who never saw a shot he didn’t like. One great shot can make up for a night of bad ones.

De’Andre Haskins, Chaminade – A special shoutout to the Division II boys in this one. A former Division I player at Valparaiso, Haskins went for 32 points in the Silverswords stunner over Texas. The guy played like he deserved to be back in the high ranks and showed absolutely no fear on the court.

Kendrick Perry, Youngstown State – The Horizon League Player of the Year candidate furthered his case, pouring in 34 points on 13-of-25 shooting and eight boards in 83-80 loss to North Dakota State. The loss doesn’t make the production any less impressive, considering Perry does so much for the Penguins. He’s incredibly legit.

Bilal Dixon, Towson – The opponent is what kept Dixon from getting the “stuffing the stat sheet” honor, but nonetheless, 10 points, 11 rebounds, six blocks in 79-40 victory over Cincinnati Christian isn’t a bad day at work.

Tony Mitchell, North Texas – Looks like the Mean Green are starting to come out of their earlier funk — including a loss to Division II Alabama-Huntsville. Franklin dropping 21 points, nine rebounds, four blocks, three steals and two assists in 80-66 win over IUPUI. Franklin’s starting to post the consistent numbers everyone thought he would from the beginning this season.

Struggled

USC – Blame it on Hawaii? From beginning to end, the Trojans just didn’t show up in a 94-64 loss to Illinois in the nightcap of the Maui Invitational. The Trojans shot 42-percent overall (22-for-50), but hit just three threes and never seemed to find a rhythm at all. The reward for losing? A date with the recently-upset Texas Longhorns on Tuesday.

Elston Turner, Texas A&M – He led the Aggies with 16 points but went 5-for-12 to get it and committed four turnovers. He’s the leader and clear-cut best player on a team that got housed by St. Louis 70-49. They’ll need better overall games from him.

Arsalan Kazemi, Oregon – The transfer from Rice learned he was eligible this season  a matter of weeks ago, I’ll admit, but he hasn’t had the best start to the season in a situation he asked for. The senior went 1-for-5 for two points in 24 minutes in a 67-45 victory over Jacksonville State. To his credit, he did have eight rebounds and five steals. But he’s a scorer and the Ducks will need points from him down the road.

Stuffing the stat sheet

Travis McKie, Wake Forest – The Demon Deacons beat Mercer 74-71 tonight behind McKie’s 23 points, 15 rebounds, three steals in 37 minutes. He was also 11-for-14 from the free throw line. The junior is averaging 13.3 points and eight rebounds so far this season. He’ll need more games like that for the Deacs to make a return to any postseason tournament.

Fanbases that can take a breath

New Mexico – There’s been a number of question marks in the post for the Lobos. None of that seems to matter now. After a comeback win in Marathon Madness a week ago, the Lobos earned the Paradise Jam title with the victory over UConn. Big man Alex Kirk had 10 points and four rebounds while the guards hit the boards too, with Hugh Greenwood ripping down seven rebounds to go along with 12 points. They were a perfect 21-for-21 from the free throw line and four starters finished in double figures. New Mexico looks good early.

Fanbases that can take a seat

Texas – I’ve said it enough tonight. The Longhorns lost to Chaminade 86-73 and it didn’t even seem as close as the score. Texas has a lot of work to do to get better and as long as Myck Kabongo is out, it’s not going to make the work any easier.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

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.