When top contenders from the Horizon League and Ohio Valley Conference meet, there aren’t many TV cameras around, but this one was noteworthy.
Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan has been on the national radar since last season, when he led the Racers into the third round of the NCAA tournament. The preseason All-America choice was his usual magical self tonight, scoring 24 points in front of a home crowd, but it was the visiting Valparaiso Crusaders, coached by legendary mid-major tourney hero Bryce Drew, who went home with the 66-64 road win.
Valpo was led by reigning Horizon League player of the year Ryan Broekhoff, who put up 18 points and hauled down 8 boards in 35 minutes of floor time. The Crusaders were far more active on the boards, coming away with 26 defensive rebounds on the night. They also harassed the home team into 17 turnovers.
Ben Boggs was the crunch-time hero for Valpo. The senior guard nailed two free throws, followed by a three-pointer with a little over five minutes left in the game, putting the Crusaders ahead for good. With the outcome still in doubt, he sank two more free throws to run the score to 66-61 with five seconds remaining. Canaan’s three-point heave to end the game was good, but Boggs’ makes provided the winning margin.
Neither of these teams is likely to be in the running for an at-large bid, but there’s little doubt that Valpo showed some crucial grit in beating mid-major royalty on the road. It’s experience that could come in handy in the postseason.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.
James Banks announced on Thursday that he has committed to Texas, joining Jacob Young in Shaka Smart’s first recruiting class as the head coach of the Longhorns.
Banks is an interesting prospect. A 6-foot-10 center from Georgia, Banks is a still-developing prospect that was recruited more on his potential than his immediate ability.
“James Banks emerged as a good low post prospect this spring and summer,” NBC Recruiting Analyst Scott Phillips said. “With a good set of hands, some offensive potential and a frame that can add weight, Banks is a nice upside grab for Texas.”
He’s probably a few years away from having a major impact in the Big 12, but he may not have that much time to develop. Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh and Conner Lamert all graduate after this season, meaning that Banks is going to have to contribute immediately when he sets foot on the Austin campus for the 2016-17 season.
Texas has three commitments in the Class of 2015. Smart convinced Kerwin Roach and Eric Davis to remain committed to the program when he took over for Rick Barnes while he landed a commitment from Tevin Mack, who pledged to Smart when he was at VCU.
Memphis just cannot catch a break.
It’s to the point where I almost feel bad for Josh Pastner.
Today, CBSSports.com reported that Kedren Johnson, a 6-foot-4 point guard that was on track towards being an all-SEC point guard at Vanderbilt, could end up missing the season due to a shoulder injury. If he can handle the pain he can avoid surgery and play with the injury, but at the very least, Johnson is going to be less than his best.
Johnson averaged 6.7 points and 2.7 assists last season for the Tigers. He sat out 2013-14 after leaving Vanderbilt and entered last season incredibly out of shape. There was hope that he would be able to make a bigger impact this season and help fill the void at the point guard spot.
This news comes on the heels of Memphis finding out that Jaylen Fisher is heading to UNLV. Who’s Jaylen Fisher? Well, he’s a point guard and top 40 recruit from Memphis that was Pastner’s No. 1 recruiting target that opted to leave the city for his college hoops instead of play for the Tigers.
That’s a bad sign, but not quite as bad as Memphis losing star center Austin Nichols — another local kid — to a transfer over the summer. Nichols transferred to Virginia.