Will Sheehey, Rotnei Clarke

Butler upsets No. 1 Indiana in overtime

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With Indiana’s defense taking away shooters Rotnei Clarke, Kellen Dunham and Chase Stigall, former walk-on Alex Barlow beat Jordy Hulls off the dribble and got a tough leaner to drop with 2.5 seconds left on the clock as Butler knocked off the nation’s No. 1 team 88-86 in overtime in the Crossroads Classic.

Clarke and Stigall hit back to back threes with about a minute remaining to give the Bulldogs an 86-84 lead, but Cody Zeller scored on a driving layup with 20 seconds left to set up the final possession.

Does it get anymore Butler than that?

Butler was lucky to keep the game as close as they did down the stretch. After a 12-0 run was capped by a Stigall three with just under five minutes left in regulation, the Bulldogs had a 66-59 lead. But over the next two minutes, Brad Stevens’ team would lose both Roosevelt Jones and Andrew Smith to fouls. Those were the two best players on the floor for Butler on Saturday afternoon. Jones finished with 16 points, 12 boards and seven assists, and Smith went for 12 points and nine boards while also outplaying the Preseason Player of the Year in the paint.

We knew Butler was going to be able to play with anyone in the country this season. That’s what happens when you have size and toughness up front and a slew of sharpshooters in the back court.

But what I didn’t expect to see were the facets of the game in which Indiana struggled.

The Hoosiers were absolutely brutalized by Butler on the offensive glass. The Bulldogs finished with 19 offensive rebounds (and a 48.7% offensive rebounding percentage), and I’d be willing to wager that Will Sheehey was the biggest scapegoat. Erick Fromm, who Sheehey was matched up with, finished with 10 points and five boards — all five offensive — while also knocking down a pair of big threes.

The other issue I had was with how much difficulty Indiana had getting the ball into Zeller late in the game. I’ll have to go back and rewatch the tape on this one to figure out exactly what they did wrong, but the bottom line is that when you have a player as good as Zeller, you need to get him touches. Some credit has to be given to the Butler defense for making it difficult for Zeller to get position and for providing defensive pressure on the perimeter, but in the final three minutes and overtime, when Smith wasn’t on the floor, Zeller was being guarded by someone that was 6-foot-6. He needs to get those touches.

But only so much criticism can be lobbed after a game like this.

We saw comebacks. We saw overtime. We saw big shot after big shot after big shot. I haven’t even had a chance to mention that Indiana was able to make their comeback because of a steal and a layup from Victor Oladipo and a game-tying three from Yogi Ferrell, or that Clarke hit a couple of ridiculous 26-footers in big moments.

Butler earned this win, and they did so in one of the most entertaining games of the season.

That season-opening loss to Xavier feels like a long time ago, doesn’t it?

Kansas players make weight room gains – and losses – this summer

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - JUNE 18: Udoka Azubuike #105 in red runs back for defense the NBPA Top 100 Camp on June 18, 2015 at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Kelly Kline/Getty Images)
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Summer is the time to refine not only players’ skill sets, but also their bodies. Kansas’ highly-touted freshman duo of Josh Jackson and Udoka Azubuike have fulfilled the latter thanks to the Jayhawks’ strength and conditioning program.

Azubuike has dropped 27 pounds from his 7-foot frame while the wiry Jackson has added 17 pounds, according to the Kansas City Star.

“These guys have goals,” Adrea Hurdy, Kansas’ long-time assistant director for sports information, told The Star. “They come here in part because we have the resources to help them attain their goals.

“They want the challenge and want to become better people, better basketball players and better athletes.”

Only 16 years old, Azubuike arrived in Lawrence having been consistently listed as weighing around 270 pounds throughout his prep career. Getting leaner while still maintaining – and increasing – strength is a significant development for such a young player, who was a consensus top-50 player in the 2016 class.

Jackson, the country’s top rated incoming freshman, now weighs in at slightly over 200 pounds at 6-foot-8. Six-foot-10 forward Carlton Bragg,a sophomore, also got in on the body-changing as he’s put on 26 pounds to head into the fall at 247 pounds.

Kansas is a likely top-five preseason team with returners like Frank Mason III, Devonte Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk, and having newcomers like Jackson and Azubuike along with sparsely-used but talented returnees like Bragg making gains in the weight room will only make them more formidable as they look to capture an astounding 13th-straight Big 12 title.

 

Texas bolsters 2017 frontcourt

Texas head coach Shaka Smart calls a play during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., Monday, Feb. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
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Shaka Smart has added another four-star forward to his 2017 recruiting class.

Texas picked up a commitment Tuesday from 6-foot-8 Jericho Sims of Minnesota, according to multiple reports.

Sims, who visited Texas this past weekend, is ranked in the top-50 by Scout and in the top-75 by ESPN and 247Sports. He joins Royce Hamm, a top-100 forward from Houston, as members Smart’s second recruiting class at Texas.

“Jericho Sims is a late-blooming big man who has a lot of room to grow in terms of upside,” NBCSports.com recruiting analyst Scott Phillips said. “A good athlete with a good frame to work with, Sims should help immediately on the glass and defensively but his offense will be a work in progress.

“Texas has a large recruiting class and targeted Sims later than many, so this is a nice commitment for the Longhorns.”

The commitment represents a significant get for the Longhorns, who beat out the likes of Kansas, Iowa State, Ohio State, Connecticut and Sims’ hometown Gophers, whom his father played basketball for in the 1970s and his brother football more recently.

Sims and Hamm both are players that could help Smart and his staff transition more back to the Havoc style of play Smart employed at VCU as both have the length, speed and athleticism to help the Longhorns dial up the pressure and push tempo.

Five-star 2017 point guard Trevon Duval down to 10 schools

CHARLOTTE, NC - JULY 9: Trevon Duval during the 2015  Under Armour All-America Basketball Camp on July 9, 2015 at Queens College in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
(Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
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Five-star point guard Trevon Duval is the most electrifying lead guard in the Class of 2017. The native of Delaware dominated the Under Armour circuit this spring and is currently regarded by many as a top-five player in the class by most recruiting services.

Now he’s down to 10 schools as his recruiting is starting to become more of a focus. The 6-foot-2 Duval is down to Arizona, Cal, Kansas, Maryland, Oregon, St. John’s, Seton Hall, UCLA, USC and Villanova.

Things are still early in the process for Duval and it will be interesting to see if he schedules any official visits soon.

Ohio State gaining recruiting momentum with two 2018 commitments

DAYTON, OH - MARCH 24: Head coach Thad Matta of the Ohio State Buckeyes claps on the sideline in the first half against the Iowa State Cyclones during the third round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at UD Arena on March 24, 2013 in Dayton, Ohio.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Ohio State has lost quite a few transfers and hasn’t had a lot go their way with regards to recent recruiting, but things could be changing after a good weekend.

The Class of 2018 is starting to look really good for the Buckeyes as they landed commitments from wings Darius Bazley and Justin Ahrens this weekend. The two in-state products are grassroots teammates together on King James and they give Ohio State three commitments in that class.

Bazley is considered a four-star prospect on Rivals while Ahrens checks in as a three-star. They join another Ohio native, guard Dane Goodwin, in the class as this could be the group that helps bring Ohio State back in regular Big Ten contention.

Butler lands commitment from four-star 2017 forward Kyle Young

Atlanta, GA - SUNDAY, MAY 29: Nike EYBL. Kyle Young #34 of King James Session 4. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
(Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Butler picked up an important commitment on Monday as four-star forward Kyle Young committed to the Bulldogs.

A Class of 2017 stretch forward who can hit jumpers and has an improving skill set, the 6-foot-7 Young comes from Massillon, Ohio and he’s regarded as the No. 109 overall prospect.

Young was impressive in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer with King James as he averaged 15.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game as he shot 48 percent from the field and 36 percent from 3-point range.

This is a nice grab for Butler as Young is the type of versatile perimeter shooter that they like to utilize and he should be able to help a bit on the glass as well.

Young joins a class that includes guards Cooper Neese and Jerald Butler.