Chris Mack

Late Night Snacks: Tryptophan galore

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Given the holiday and the fact that there were just 14 games on Thursday, Late Night Snacks is getting a one night overhaul.

Today’s game recaps:

Leftover Turkey: Xavier

If you can figure out Xavier, please, do share. The Musketeers scored 117 points in their first outing and whipped up on Butler in during Marathon Madness. After Butler went out and knocked off Marquette before running over No. 9 North Carolina, we had to seriously reconsider whether or not Xavier is better than anyone had considered.

And then Chris Mack’s team went out and lost to Pacific, 70-67, in the first round of the DirecTV Classic. Because that makes complete sense.

Midnight Piece of Pumpkin Pie: Mike Dixon

Missouri needs him, and their win over Stanford in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis proves it. The Tigers won 78-70 thanks to 18 points and nine assists from Phil Pressey, but one can only wonder how many assists Pressey would have finished with if the open looks he got for Earnest Ross and Negus Webster-Chan had gone down. Those two combined to go 4-26 from the floor and 1-10 from three. Ross was 3-19 from the field.

Your Second Midnight Piece of Pumpkin Pie: Matthew Dellavedova

He finished with 32 points as St. Mary’s beat Drexel 76-64 in the first round of the DirecTV Classic, and he did it in a variety of ways: drives, threes, post-ups (seriously). The Dragons were missing some pieces, but that is still a Bruiser Flint-coached team, which means they are tough and defensive-minded.

And Dellavedova still got 32.

The Empty Carton of Ice Cream that forced your Pumpkin Pie to be eaten alone: Drexel

Drexel’s season looks to be headed on the same frustrating path that last year’s was. The Dragons were without Chris Fouch at the start of the season, as they lost four of their first six games, which meant that after winning 25 of their last 26 games, they were still deemed to be worthy of the NIT.

Drexel lost Fouch for the season this week to a fractured ankle. They have been without Damion Lee because of a concussion. And they are now 1-3 on the season after losing to St. Mary’s. The silver lining? Xavier lost, too, so at least they get another chance to be a quality opponent.

Booze. Lots of Booze: Kelly Olynyk

The scary part about Gonzaga’s rout of West Virginia is that they weren’t even at full strength. Kelly Olynyk, the 6-foot-11 long-haired Canadian, missed the first three games due to a suspension, but came back against Clemson and jumped straight into the starting lineup. And it worked, as Olynyk had 13 points in a 57-49 Gonzaga win over Clemson.

The Tigers did a good job of mucking things up with the Zags, taking a lead into the half, but in the end Mark Few’s team was just too talented.

Brussel Sprouts: Rice

Rice shot 11-48 from the floor, which is a cool 22.9%, in a 54-36 loss to Georgia Tech. As a team, they managed just two field goals from inside the arc, as they were 9-30 from downtown. And outside of Austin Ramljak, who was 6-12 from three, the Owls shot 5-36 from the floor. You may not know too much about basketball, but that’s really, really bad.

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

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.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.