Pregame Shootaround 12.14.12: Charlotte, LSU look to remain undefeated

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Each day, CollegeBasketballTalk brings you the “Pregame Shootaround,” which will 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: Charlotte at Miami (FL) (7 PM) 

Alan Major’s 49ers are a surprising 9-0 on the season, and they’ll encounter what could be their stiffest test to date as they take on the Hurricanes in Coral Gables. Senior forward Chris Braswell (14.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg) leads the way offensively for Charlotte and he’s one of just two (DeMario Mayfield) double figure scorers for this balanced group, as five other players are currently averaging between 7.0 and 9.7 points per game. Charlotte also has one of the best perimeter defenders around in Pierria Henry, who will undoubtedly be asked to slow down Shane Larkin at the point.

Miami has five players averaging double figures and guards Shane Larkin, Trey McKinney-Jones and Durand Scott can cause headaches for the opposition. But a key figure for Miami tonight may be Kenny Kadji, who when at his best combines with Reggie Johnson to make the Hurricanes tough to deal with inside. But if he’s not fully engaged in the action then there’s trouble.

Game of the Day, Part Deux: LSU at Boise State (9 PM)

Johnny Jones’ Tigers also enter Friday’s action undefeated but LSU must not overlook Boise State. Derrick Marks scored a career-high 35 points (28 in the second half) to lead the Broncos to an emphatic upset win at then-No. 11 Creighton a couple weeks ago, and with players such as Anthony Drmic and Mikey Thompson at Leon Rice’s disposal as well this is a dangerous game for LSU. Junior Shavon Coleman (15.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg) has proven to be one of the SEC’s best newcomers to this point in the season, and he’ll need to continue that if LSU is to win what is their first road game of the season.

Four Things to Watch

1) UCF visits Old Dominion in what’s a homecoming game of sorts for forward Tristan Spurlock (12.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg). But the star to watch is Keith Clanton, who dropped 30 and 13 on Bethune-Cookman on Wednesday night. And given the Monarchs’ (1-8) struggles, both Spurlock and Clanton could be in for big nights in Norfolk.

2) Army looks to remain undefeated at home tonight as they host Maine, who is 1-5 on the road this season. Senior forward Ella Ellis doesn’t get the pub that Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum or Bucknell’s Mike Muscala receive, but he’s a player who ranks among the best in the Patriot League with averages of 19.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

3) Ole Miss looks to rebound from its first loss of the season as East Tennessee State visits the “Tad Pad.” Murphy Holloway is the SEC’s leading rebounder (10.1 rpg), and in Marshall Henderson the Rebels have a guard capable of lighting it up at a moment’s notice.

4) Cal Poly (Eastern New Mexico) and Portland (Portland Bible College) both take on non-Division I members, and the Friday schedule features just seven games. Both should win comfortably, but after Anderson College beat College of Charleston last night you never know.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.

Report: Nike, Adidas and Under Armour all pass on sponsoring Lonzo Ball

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Lonzo Ball will enter his rookie season in the NBA without a sponsorship deal from Nike, Adidas or Under Armour, only his family’s Big Baller Brand apparel.

That, according to a report from ESPN, is due to his father LaVar’s insistence that Lonzo not sign with one of the three major apparel companies unless they opted to sign a licensing deal for Big Baller Brand merchandise instead of outfitting Lonzo with their own gear.

“We’ve said from the beginning, we aren’t looking for an endorsement deal,” LaVar told ESPN. “We’re looking for co-branding, a true partner. But they’re not ready for that because they’re not used to that model. But hey, the taxi industry wasn’t ready for Uber, either.”

LaVar had been representing his son in the negotiations, and is now expected to reach out to other shoe brands, including Chinese apparel companies like Li-Nang.

Big Baller Brand is a startup apparel company launched by LaVar Ball. They sell t-shirts, sweatshirts and hats, with most of their products costing at least $50.

Lonzo declared for the NBA Draft after an all-american season that saw him and the UCLA Bruins flame out of the NCAA tournament in the Sweet 16. UCLA lost to Kentucky in that game, and Lonzo had a quiet night while his point guard counterpart, De’Aaron Fox, went off for 39 points.

Lonzo is a likely top three pick in the NBA Draft and, potentially, could still end up going No. 1. He has two younger brothers as well. LiAngelo will be a freshman with the Bruins next season while LaMelo just finished his sophomore season in high school. Both will attend UCLA.