Kevin Ollie

Late Night Snacks: ‘The Day That No Ranked Teams Played’ Edition

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Get ready kids. The top five teams in the nation – Indiana, Duke, Michigan, Syracuse, and Louisville – are all in action on Saturday. There will be 20 of the top 25 in action on Saturday, including a great match up of two unbeaten teams: No. 13 Illinois at No. 10 Gonzaga. Both teams are 9-0.

Game of the Night

Fairleigh Dickinson 82, Lafayette 80: Sidney Sanders, Jr. scored on a last-second tip-in to lift Knights over the Leopards and climbing back to .500 at 4-4. Fairleigh Dickinson also had a 14-point lead in the first half and nine with under four to go. A 12-3 Lafayette run late in the game set up the dramatic finish. Two weeks ago, Fairleigh Dickinson had a game-winning bucket in the last seconds, also featured on Late Night Snacks. Might be a more exciting team than you think.

Marist 62, Manhattan 58: The Red Foxes almost gave this one away. After Jay Bowie’s 3-pointer tied the game up with 1:41 left, Chavaugh Lewis and Isaiah Norton could only make one of two free throws each, leaving the door open for the Jasper. However, Manhattan coughed the ball up with a second remaining. Devin Price was fouled and sunk a pair of free throws.

Important Outcomes

UConn 57, Harvard 49: Shabazz Napier entered the game averaging 18.6 points per game, but didn’t score until 7:41 remaining in the game. Didn’t matter because DeAndre Daniels carried the load with a career-high 23 points. Napier did well in other facets of the game with seven rebounds and nine assists. UConn bounces back from a loss to N.C. State on Tuesday and has three more non-conference games before Big East play starts.

VCU 83, Old Dominion 70: Havoc has won three straight after losing a pair of games in the Bahamas. VCU now has a week off and gets to take on 6-2 Alabama next Saturday, looking for another nice win in out of conference play.

Iowa 80, Iowa State 71: Iowa used an 8-0 run to start the second half to take control against their in-state rival. Aaron White led the way for the Hawkeyes with 18 points and seven rebounds. After getting blown out by Virginia Tech, Iowa, who is undefeated at have one three straight.

Starred

DeAndre Daniels, UConn: Daniels converted on his first five shots, carrying the Huskies’ offense to a 15-2 start. He added some crucial buckets when Harvard made it a one-point game in the second half. More importantly, he did this in a game when Shabazz Napier’s shots were not falling.

South Carolina three ball: The Gamecocks shot an incredible, 10-for-16 (63 percent) from behind the arc, which was eight percent better than South Carolina’s total field goal percentage. Brenton Williams did most of the damage with four 3-pointers on five attempts, while Brian Richardson came off the bench going 4-for-4 from deep. South Carolina won 91-74

Casey Coons, Taylor University: According to Matt Norlander of CBSSports.com, Coons scored the tenth point for the fourth time in his career at Taylor University’s annual “Silent Night” game. Must be a great feeling. Don’t understand? Click this link.

Struggled

Harvard second half shooting: The Crimson dug themselves into a whole early, down 15-2. Once the offense got going, Harvard started finding open shooters. Harvard connected on five 3-pointers to get within three heading into halftime. The Crimson would not hit from deep the rest of the night.

Jacksonville first half defense: The Dolphins gave up 57 first half points to South Carolina, en route to a 91-74 loss. The Gamecocks shot 55 percent from the field for the game. Jacksonville had no answer for the South Carolina perimeter shooting.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

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)
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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.