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Pregame Shootaround 11.30.12: Three ranked teams playing on Friday

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Each day, CollegeBasketballTalk brings you the “Pregame Shootaround,” which will be posted at 2 p.m. ET and lay out a preview for the slate of games that night. We’ll take a look at some key match-ups and important games, as well as make some predictions and point out what you need to watch for. Take a look below at today’s edition:

Game of the Night: Tennessee at No. 20 Georgetown (6:30 PM)
This should be an entertaining contest in the nation’s capital, and the Volunteers still without the services of power forward Jeronne Maymon. That means Jarnell Stokes and Kenny Hall will be asked to lead the way in the paint for Tennessee, who will be a tough team to handle inside once Maymon returns. Georgetown will call on Otto Porter and Markel Starks offensively, and Whittington has been solid with an average of 13.6 points per game.

Who’s getting upset?: No. 6 Syracuse at Arkansas (8:30 PM)
With Georgetown at home and Kansas taking on Oregon State in Kansas City, the Orange are the Top 25 team most ripe for the picking. Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks dropped both of its games in Las Vegas last weekend and they’ve had some time to let the defeats fester. In front of what should be a spirited crowd at Bud Walton Arena do B.J. Young and company have enough to knock off a very good Syracuse team? They’ll need to force point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who has played well to start the season, into some hurried decisions in order to do so.

Mid-Major Match-Up of the Night: Montana at San Francisco (10 PM) 
Two very good wings will be on display in this one, as the versatile Kareem Jamar leads the Grizzlies into War Memorial to take on the Dons’ De’End Parker. Parker’s averaging 20.2 points per game for San Francisco, which has won three straight after dropping its season opener to Stanford. Another individual match-up to keep an eye on is Montana’s Mathias Ward, reigning Big Sky Player of the Week, and one of the country’s best rebounders in San Francisco’s Cole Dickerson (13.8 ppg).

Five Things to Watch For:

1) Oregon State takes on Kansas. The Jayhawks are coming off of a “closer than it should have been” victory over San Jose State, and while Bill Self’s team should win tonight the Beavers have the potential to be dangerous. If Oregon State’s front court (Joe Burton, Eric Moreland and Devon Collier) can hold their own with Jeff Withey they’ve got a shot.

2) Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia) and Victor Rudd Jr. (South Florida) on the same court. One of these two, if not both, will produce an above the rim highlight tonight.

3) More late-game heroics from Deonte Burton? The Nevada point guard knocked down his second game-winning shot of the season earlier this week in the Wolf Pack’s 84-83 win over UC Davis. With Ben Simons and the Drake Bulldogs in town, Nevada may have to call on Burton again.

4) Who guards Cleveland Melvin? Tough to find too much quality in that DePaul/Auburn match-up but don’t sleep on Melvin. It will be interesting to see who Auburn head coach Tony Barbee asks to guard the versatile junior, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Melvin posted 22 or more points for the fourth time this season.

5) Louisiana State looking to move to 7-1. The Bulldogs, led by one of the WAC’s best guards in Raheem Appleby, have won six straight and visit Georgia State. Michael White’s team has limited opponents to 58.4 points per game and 38.4% shooting from the field, and while they haven’t taken on college basketball’s answer to a “Murderers Row” (their lone defeat came at Texas A&M) Tech’s fast start shouldn’t be overlooked.

The Rest of the Top 25:

Oregon State vs. No. 10 Kansas (8 PM; in Kansas City)

Other Notable Games:

Georgia at South Florida (7 PM)

Tennessee Tech at Lipscomb (7:30 PM)

DePaul at Auburn (9 PM)

Drake at Nevada (10 PM)

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)
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.