Jim Valvano

Jimmy V Classic Preview: Four teams with different 2012-13 seasons meet in NYC

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Four teams travel to New York City Tuesday night, having taken different paths to get there and holding different outlooks for their respective 2012-13 seasons:

– No. 25 NC State was dubbed a Final Four contender in the preseason, but two early losses have the Wolfpack as a fringe Top-25 team one month into the season.

– No. 15 Georgetown has been one of the most quickly rising stocks in the country after a strong performance at the Legends Classic in Brooklyn, but the Hoyas hope an unimpressive 37-36 win over Tennessee last week is just a fluke.

– Connecticut, under the direction of new head coach Kevin Ollie, is playing with house money after being disqualified from postseason play this season, but is off to a strong start. An early win over Michigan State helped the cause.

– And Texas, without point guard Myck Kabongo as he continues to sort out NCAA eligibility issues, had a disappointing trip to Maui, but enters the Jimmy V Classic on a three-game winning streak.

Check out NBCSports.com’s preview of the Jimmy V Classic below:

Player to Watch: Otto Porter, Georgetown

Georgetown coach John Thompson III has had nothing but praise for Porter since he fully returned from injury in the Legends Classic in mid-November. Porter has been the type of versatile player that the Hoyas need to fill in the gaps in the stat sheet. He is averaging 11.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. He was just 4-of-11 from the field against Tennessee, but look for Texas to key in on him Tuesday night.

Match-up to Watch: Lorenzo Brown vs. Shabazz Napier, NC State vs. Connecticut

Napier weathered the storm of transfers and NCAA issues that plagued the Huskies in the offseason and has responded by having the best season of his career so far in 2012-13. Averaging 18.6 points per game, he’ll have met his match Tuesday night against NC State’s Brown.

Many would argue that Brown is a Top 10 point guard in the country, and for good reason. His scoring and field goal percentage is down from last season, but he continues to distribute the basketball with six assists per game.

Predictions: No. 15 Georgetown over Texas, No. 25 NC State over Connecticut

With Texas still missing Kabongo, it’s difficult to take the Longhorns over a team like Georgetown that is so steadily on the upswing. Yes, Georgetown had an ugly, ugly 37-36 win over Tennessee last week, but Porter, along with Greg Whittington and Markel Starks, should be able to get back to Legends Classic form Tuesday night.

NC State’s two losses this season have come to teams that are currently ranked nationally—Oklahoma State and Michigan. I really like what freshman T.J. Warren has been able to bring to the table (15.3 points per game), especially considering the fact that he was overshadowed in the offseason by talks about fellow freshman Rodney Purvis.

Connecticut is solid, but their lack of rebounding could come to bite them against NC State and inside presences like Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie. Napier and Boatright will have to continue to be the engine behind the Huskies’ attack if they want to get the win.

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

South Dakota State gets two commits

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Tuesday was a busy and productive one for South Dakota State on the recruiting trail.

The Jackrabbits secured two 2017 commitments from the state of Wisconsin in Ryan Krueger and Alex Arians, a source tells NBCSports.com.

Krueger is a 6-foot-5 wing player from New London, Wisc. while Arians is a 6-foot-4 guard from Madison, Wisc., who also held an offer from Wright State, which is coached by former SDSU coach Scott Nagy. Both players spend their summers playing for the Wisconsin Swing grassroots program.

The pair make it a trio of commits for the Jackrabbits in 2017 with another Wisconsinite, Alou Dillon, pledging to first-year Jackrabbits coach T.J. Otzelberger, himself a Wisconsin native, earlier this summer.

South Dakota State went 26-8 last year and the bulk of the team that made the NCAA tournament last year, including sophomore Mike Daum, who led the team in scoring and rebounding as a freshman.

Incoming Gator freshman ineligible for upcoming season

Mike White
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Florida will need to wait a year before seeing 6-foot-11 recruit Gorjok Gak playing games for the Gators.

The NCAA ruled that the incoming freshman will be able to enroll at Florida this year and practice with the team, but will be ineligible for games this season, the school announced Tuesday.

Should he meet all his progress marks during his freshman year, he’ll have three seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2017-18.

Gak’s eligibility issue centered on his playing games during his postgraduate year at Victory Rock Prep, according to his coach there.

“Following his graduate year from Australia, he was supposed to play from December to December,” Loren Jackson told the Gainesville Sun, “but instead played from December until the following May.”

Gak originally signed with Oklahoma State, but de-committed following Travis Ford’s firing in Stillwater this past spring. Gak averaged 13.8 points and 9.3 rebounds last season at Victory Rock in Bradenton, Fla.

Florida went 21-15 last season under first-year coach Mike White.

Video: Coach K talks Team USA with Dan Patrick

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Team USA has blown through its competition in its first two exhibition games ahead of next month’s Olympics in Rio De Janeiro with wins over Argentina and China by a combined a combined 96 points.

Tonight, they’ll have a rematch against China, which they defeated 106-57 on Sunday, but it will also serve as the unofficial debut of Kevin Durant in front of his new hometown fans with the game taking place at the home of the Golden State Warriors, Oracle Arena, in Oakland.

“Excited for Kevin tonight to make his debut in front of the Golden State fans,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said Tuesday on the Dan Patrick Show. “He got a great reception (Monday) at a function. He was, as he should be, warmly welcomed.”

The team has been together since July 18 in the run-up to its first Olympic contest on Aug. 6 against China. For Krzyzewski, a couple of players have made an impression already.

“You see these guys on TV,” the Duke coach said, “but I don’t get a chance to see them in person. (Clipper) DeAndre Jordan is such a good player. A great athlete, a great guy. To see him run, defend, holy mackerel. He’ s really good.

“I haven’t seen Paul George in two years when he had that horrific (leg) injury in Las Vegas at one of our camps, and he’s so darn good. On defense, tremendous.”

It’s on the defensive side of the floor that Coach K believes his team can really make its mark even with the incredible collection of offensive talent the roster has.

“We’re very athletic so defensively we could be a very good defensive team,” he said. “We’ve shown a willingness to want to do that in the first two games.”

As usual, Team USA is the prohibitive favorite to bring back gold for the third consecutive Olympics, which will be Coach K’s last at the helm after taking over after the 2004 bronze medal debacle.

“I’m excited about the team,” he said. “It’s a short time. to see our guys working so hard and they get along so well, I’m excited about the team we might be in Rio. We’ll use tonight to get a little bit better.

“I kind of have the blinders on. You only have a short time. It’s a little over a month, and we want to win the gold medal in Rio.”

Rose’s transfer to BYU becomes official

Ge'Lawn Guyn, L.J. Rose
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His commitment came more than a month ago, but L.J. Rose’s transfer to BYU became official Tuesday.

The former Houston guard was officially announced as an immediately-eligible graduate transfer by BYU on Tuesday. He’ll bring much needed help to a Cougars backcourt that lost Kyle Collinsworth and Chase Fischer to graduation and Jordan Chatman and Jack Toolson to transfers.

“L.J. will add great experience and talent to our guard line,” BYU coach Dave Rose said in a statement released by BYU. “We’re excited about the leadership he will bring on the court and in the locker room. He will make us a deeper and more versatile team.”

As a junior, L.J. Rose averaged 9.8 points and 5.3 assists, but a foot injury limited him to just two games last season and allowed him to receive a medical redshirt and the opportunity to be a graduate transfer for his final collegiate season. He’ll be a big part of BYU’s attempt to build on last year’s 26-11 season as a former top-100 recruit, who began his career at Baylor, on a team in need of an infusion of talent after absorbing the losses from last year’s roster.

His father, Lynden, Sr., was a teammate of BYU coach Dave Rose at Houston during the program’s Phi Slama Jama era.

UCLA loses key forward to professional ranks

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 02:  Dillon Brooks #24 of the Oregon Ducks steals the ball from Jonah Bolden #43 of the UCLA Bruins during a 76-68 Ducks win at Pauley Pavilion on March 2, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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UCLA announced on Tuesday afternoon that Jonah Bolden will be forgoing his college eligibility to turn professional.

“Jonah Bolden has informed the coaching staff that he has opted to play professionally this season,” the release said.

Bolden is a versatile, 6-foot-10 forward with some NBA potential. In his only season playing with the Bruins, he averaged 4.6 points and 4.8 boards while starting 11 games. His ability on the defensive end of the floor was something the UCLA staff was counting on this season.

A sophomore this past season, Bolden was ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA as a freshman, meaning that he was allowed to be on scholarship and in class but could not play during the 2014-15 season.

He had two seasons of eligibility remaining. Without Bolden, T.J Leaf will likely be counted on to play more minutes at the four.