Mike Montgomery

Pregame Shootaround 12.2.12: Getting you ready for Sunday’s lineup of games

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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:

Note: The weekend editions of Pregame Shootaround will be published half an hour prior to tip-off of the day’s first game.

Game of the Day: Valparaiso vs. Saint Louis (4:30 p.m. ET)

This game won’t be about what happens on the court, but rather the circumstances surrounding the game itself. Former coach Rick Majerus passed away Saturday and the Billikens will have less than 24 hours before taking the floor against Valparaiso. Expect an emotional pregame and words from players and coaches postgame about their desire to play in Majerus’ memory after his passing.

The fact that the game takes place in St. Louis is likely another factor that could make for an especially emotional night Sunday.

Who’s getting upset?: California against Wisconsin (4:00 p.m. ET)

Considering that Cal has to visit the Kohl Center, this might not actually be an upset, were it to happen. But, with the Badgers at 4-3 and Cal at a perfect 6-0, this might be the only legitimate upset call we can make on a dry Sunday. Cal’s scoring is concentrated at the top with Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs (both averagin 20+ points per game), while Wisconsin has four players averaging in double figures.

Mid-Major Match-Up of the Day: Wichita State vs. Air Force (5:00 p.m. ET)

Wichita State showed that they are a legitimate threat when they beat Virginia Commonwealth earlier this season. They sit at 7-0, but face an Air Force team, led by Michael Lyons, that is 6-1. The frontcourt of Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall will provide a good chunk of the scoring for the Shockers, but keep an eye on what Lyons can do. The senior is averaging just over 20 points per game.

Five Things to Watch For:

1) It’s a slow day in college hoops, likely because many will have an eye on NFL football, but the few games above and below should be able to hold you over until Monday.

2) The Battle for South Carolina is the game today with the most significance, as Clemson takes on South Carolina. Clemson is coming off a loss to Purdue, while South Carolina dropped its last game to St. John’s.

3) Florida State was a borderline Top 25 team coming into the season, with help from guard Michael Snaer, but the Seminoles now sit at 4-2 after a loss to a tough Minnesota team. They’ll look to bounce back against Mercer.

4) Mike Montgomery has the Cal Bears off to a 6-0 start, but walking into the Kohl Center is no easy task. Bo Ryan and the Wisconsin Badgers will be waiting.

5) Boise State surprised many by beating No. 11 Creighton this week, and they’ll look to keep the momentum rolling against Seattle.

The Rest of the Top 25:

No Top 25 Games

Other Notable Games:

Clemson vs. South Carolina (12:00 p.m. ET)

George Mason vs. Maryland (2:30 p.m. ET)

California vs. Wisconsin (4:00 p.m. ET)

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Cody Riley cuts list to five schools

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Cody Riley has cut his list to five schools, according to Scout.com.

A four-star four man, Riley is now considering just UConn, Kansas, Oklahoma, UCLA and USC.

Ranked the No. 29 player in the Class of 2017 by Rivals, Riley is an undersized-but-powerful forward. His bread and butter is on the block, where his strength and low center of gravity make him a nightmare to deal with, but he’s also skilled enough to do damage as a face-up four.

Riley is from California and will be playing his senior season alongside Marvin Bagley III, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2018, at Sierra Canyon.

Auburn continues to stockpile talent, adds top 50 prospect in 2017

Bruce Pearl
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
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Auburn’s hire of Bruce Pearl was almost universally lauded as the first step towards the return of relevance for the Tiger basketball program.

And while the results have yet to shine through on the floor, Pearl is unequivocally stockpiling the kind of talent that will allow him to push for trips to the NCAA tournament and maybe one day contend for a league crown with Kentucky.

The latest step came on Sunday, when Pearl landed a commitment from Chuma Okeke, a top 50 wing prospect out of Georgia.

“He is a versatile wing who can handle and score,” said NBCSports.com recruiting analyst Scott Phillips. “Coming off of a big July, Okeke could move up the national rankings and Auburn pounced on him right away.”

Okeke joins big man Austin Wiley, a top ten player in the class, and Davion Mitchell, who is likely one of the five best point guards in the country, in what is currently the nation’s best recruiting class in 2017. That’s before you consider that Pearl already has Mustapha Heron, a top 25 prospect, joining the mix this season.

“This group has the makings of a monster recruiting class for Auburn,” Phillips said.

Okeke picked the Tigers over Florida State, Georgia and a number of other programs across the southeast.

VIDEO: Watch Virginia freshman Jay Huff dunk from the free throw line

Tony Bennett
AP Photo/Nell Redmond
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Jay Huff is a member of Tony Bennett’s best recruiting class to date, a 6-foot-11 top 50 recruit from North Carolina.

He also happens to be pretty athletic.

Don’t believe me?

Check out this video that McDonald’s All-American Kyle Guy tweeted out on Sunday night:

Yup, that’s Huff taking off from the foul line to dunk.

Not bad, young fella.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)