Roy Williams

Wish List: ‘Tis the season for Heels to open their gifts

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Over the course of the next two weeks, College Basketball Talk will be detailing what some of the country’s best, most intriguing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams need. It’s the spirit of the holidays. We’re in a giving mood.

What do other teams have on their Christmas Wish Lists? Click here to find out.

I don’t mean to sound like a Scrooge, but the Tar Heels need to be a bit more selfish this holiday season. They’re giving up far too much on both ends of the floor.

Gotta have it list-topper: Pure point

This sounds dumb. Wouldn’t every team in the country love to have a premiere point guard? Certainly. But the case can be made that Roy Williams’ offense simply does not function without an elite passer. Witness two seasons back, when Larry Drew II — while sporting a respectable 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio, led his Tar Heels to five losses, including a 20-point blowout at mediocre Georgia Tech. Kendall Marshall took over and led the team to the Elite Eight. The long tail of the data shows that the Tar Heels couldn’t make hay in last year’s tournament after Marshall got hurt, and Drew is averaging 8.4 assists per game in Westwood. The takeaway is: it’s not good enough to be a good point guard at Carolina. What works elsewhere does not work in Chapel Hill.

We’re seeing it again this year. Dexter Strickland, Marcus Paige and Reggie Bullock have each shown the ability to sling the rock, but the team still loses games it shouldn’t. That’s because the Roy Williams offense is at its best when the ball hits the hardwood least. In transition, the long pass ahead to the man with the right angle to the basket is the key. In the half-court, it’s crisp ball reversal on the perimeter and a sharp eye for the cuts and screens that free up interior players. This ain’t no dribble-drive; Carolina needs to find someone who can drive this buggy at top speed without over-steering. On offense and defense, where the Heels are giving up way too much.

Stocking stuffer:  More from McAdoo

Yeah, he’s already the team’s leading scorer. Yeah, he’s just a sophomore. Yeah, he doesn’t have someone like Harrison Barnes to take some of the scoring load. Tough nuts. You don’t come to Carolina to be “pretty good.”

McAdoo is shooting 47% from the floor, which sounds pretty good until you turn the pages back and see that Ty Zeller shot well over 50% in the final three seasons of his UNC career. When you’re considered to be one of the year’s most likely breakout stars and one of the best big men in the ACC, you have to make opponents pay every time down the court.

Planning on re-gifting: Charity

‘Tis the season for giving. But you know when you give someone a new gadget and then notice that they never use it? What was it, the wrong color? You can’t at least set it on the table when I come to visit?

The Heels are  337th in the nation in Kenpom’s ratio of free throws attempted per field goal attempted, so they’re really not getting to the line much. And when a stingy opponent finally does reluctantly hand them a nicely-wrapped present, they squander it. They’re shooting 65.3% from the charity stripe as a team. Worse yet, they’re giving until it hurts on the other end, putting dead-eye shooters on the line far too often. These other guys know: when someone hands you a gift, the only gracious thing is to say thank you and make the most of it.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

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.

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)
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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
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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.