Sean Woods

Morehead State suspends head coach Sean Woods one game for sideline conduct

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After reviewing head coach Sean Woods’ behavior in the second half of Morehead State’s 81-70 loss at No. 8 Kentucky on Wednesday night, the school has made the decision to suspend the first-year head coach for one game.

Woods, who was the head coach at Mississippi Valley State for four years before replacing Donnie Tyndall at Morehead State, will miss the Eagles’ home game against Norfolk State on Monday night.

Morehead State athletics director Brian Hutchinson made the following statement in regards to the decision to suspend Woods:

“Six months ago, we conducted a national search to identify the next coach, who, building on a foundation of rich men’s basketball history, would lead the Morehead State Eagles into the next era.  Sean Woods, who had excelled as a student-athlete and recently led a relatively unknown program to the national stage, was selected and enthusiastically accepted that challenge.  We were and remain excited about our choice.

“On Wednesday night, Morehead State took on the University of Kentucky in a hotly-contested and emotionally-charged contest at Rupp Arena.  A lot was on the line for our team and they executed an aggressive, exciting style of play, one that our fans have witnessed throughout the initial stages of this season.

“We recognize that the young men in our basketball program are students first and athletes second.  It is our expectation that our coaches are first teachers, who reflect the core values of the university which includes valuing the individual and treating people with respect.  Near the end of the game, Coach Woods’ interaction with one of our student-athletes fell short of that value and was unacceptable.

“We believe Coach Woods, while remorseful, is not above reproach.  Therefore, he will be suspended for Monday night’s game against Norfolk State.  This will allow Coach Woods to consider his action and behavior, and allow him time to contemplate the appropriate way to conduct himself with his players and on the sideline.

“As we move beyond this incident, our focus will be on the continued development of each student-athlete and of a team capable of contending for an Ohio Valley Conference championship.  This will be accomplished in an environment characterized by hard work, constructive criticism and mutual respect.”

Woods also issued a short statement on the matter, expressing his remorse with regards to the behavior directed towards point guard Devon Atkinson after Atkinson committed his fifth foul with 5:51 remaining.

“My behavior during Wednesday night’s game was inappropriate and unacceptable.  I am truly sorry.

“I value the opportunity I have been given as the head men’s basketball coach at Morehead State.  I am passionate about the young men on our team and the opportunities we have together.  I care for them deeply.

“I can assure our student-athletes, university community, alumni and fans that anything approaching this type of situation will not happen again.”

Given the reactions to Woods’ behavior, be it from the fans at Rupp Arena and television announcers who fell uncomfortably silent during the episode or the many columns written, the school had to address the situation.

While some coaches are fiery there is a line, and this is the second time this season Woods’ interaction with a player has garnered attention (his screaming at Drew Kelly during a 67-45 loss at Maryland on November 12). By making this move hopefully Morehead State and Woods won’t have to travel down this road again.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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)
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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
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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.