Baylor v Kentucky

Late Afternoon Snacks: Heslip returns, Cashmere is clutch

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It’s Saturday, and we have a full slate. You’re bound to get hungry somewhere between the Pregame Shootaround and the Late Night Snack (who can eat an actual meal at a time like this?), so we’re going to re-rack the day with some Late Afternoon Snacks right here, right now.

Important Results

Baylor 64, No. 8 Kentucky 55 – Sans Brady Heslip, Baylor dropped a home game to Charleston. With him, the Bears waltzed into Rupp Arena and pounded the uber-talented Wildcats in a stunning showing. Heslip only had ten points, but the threat of his hot hand had to help, as all five starters appeared to be more in synch and managed a balanced scoring effort. Nerlens Noel had an impressive 18 boards in the losing effort, and the Wildcats confirmed the early season trope laid on them: ridiculously talented, not very disciplined, but absolutely a dangerous team when they get it together.

No. 17 Cincinnati 58, Alabama 56 – It took a last second jumper from Cashmere Wright to keep the Bearcats undefeated. They struggled in a slow-paced game with a tough Alabama team that seemed primed for a big road win. Les Duex Trevors played iron-man minutes for the Tide, with Lacey scoring 16 and Releford chipping in 12, but Cincy pulled through with 13 apiece from JaQuon Parker and Sean Kilpatrick, and a crucial 10 points from Titus Rubles. At least something went right for the Big East this week.

No. 5 Louisville 69, Illinois State 66 – It was almost an awful, no good, very bad day for the Commonwealth as a whole (though schadenfreude would have kept both fanbases warm) as Louisville came within a bare smidgen of losing to Illinois State of the MVC at KFC Yum! (Is it a good idea to let KFC name your arena when you have a bird as a mascot? Discuss). ISU’s Jackie Carmichael ran riot inside as Gorgui Dieng continued to nurse a bad hand, but the backcourt duo of Peyton Siva (20 points) and Russ Smith (24) gave the Cards just enough to salvage the win.

Games of the Evening

No. 23 San Diego State vs. UCLA, 10:00 pm ET – SDSU is a soaring mid-major, UCLA is a blue blood trapped in a downward spiral. Both have good players, so let’s show up and see how the script plays out.

Detroit at Pitt, 7:00 pm ET – Highly-recruited Ray McCallum, Jr. went to Detroit to play for his father. Highly-recruited Trey Zeigler went to Central Michigan to play for his. Three years later, McCallum has been to the NCAA tournament and is averaging over 20 points per game, still at Detroit. After Ernie Zeigler was fired, Trey found himself at Pitt, where he’s a backup averaging just 6.3 ppg. They may not spend much time on the floor together, but their opposing fates converge in a game between two postseason contenders tonight.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

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)
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.