Mike Montgomery

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

Leave a comment

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_

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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.