Soloman Hill, Jarred DuBois

Late Night Snacks: Wildcats survive test, stay unbeaten

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Game of the Night

No. 3 Arizona 60, Utah 57: Solomon Hill led all scorers with 19 points and the Wildcats remained undefeated at 14-0. A surprisingly tough Utah squad dictated the tempo of the game and had a chance to send the game to overtime in the final second. Utes guard Jarred DuBois fired off a last-second shot that bounced around before dropping to the court.

Meaningful Outcomes

No. 10 Gonzaga 81, Santa Clara 74: Kelly Olynyk is rapidly becoming the sort of player who can put a team on his back. He scored 33 points and jump-started the offense for others by snagging nine defensive rebounds against the Broncs. Olynyk’s big day overshadowed another fine performance by Santa Clara’s Kevin Foster, who had 29 points in a losing effort in front of his home crowd.

No. 12 Missouri 66, Bucknell 64: Head Bison Mike Muscala was awesome. 25 points and 14 rebounds worth of awesome, in fact. Phil Pressey just managed to be a little bit awesomer, putting up a career-high 26 points to go with five assists. Pressey continues to control the rhythm of close games, giving the Tigers a steady hand at the tiller when it’s needed most. And, it appears, he can score a bit as well.

Murray St. 74, Southeast Missouri St. 66: Isaiah Canaan is a heck of a player, but imagine how tough it would be for him to win games without Ed Daniel on his side. Daniel scored 15 points and hauled down 17 rebounds against SEMO, a crucial complement to Canaan’s 28 points. Stacy Wilson chipped in 14 points to get the Racers to 2-0 in the young OVC season.

Starred

Stan Okoye, VMI: Okoye led the run-and-gun Keydets to their first Big South victory of the season. He was the nation’s top scorer with 39 points, and he added 8 rebounds and 3 steals in an 86-77 win over the Presbyterian Blue Hose.

D.J. Cooper, Ohio: Cooper’s scoring touch wasn’t required in this game, as Nick Kellogg broke out for 22 points. Cooper scored 12 points of his own, but found more joy in sharing the rock, dishing out 17 assists.

Notre Dame for three: Scott Martin scored 22 points for the Irish, leading the way with 6-7 three point shots. The rest of the team followed in train, going for 66.7% from deep.

Struggled

Ohio State: Illlinois is a tough team, but the Buckeyes were supposed to be a little more competitive than this. 33% shooting from the floor, 21% from deep, and 68% from the line. As bad as the offensive showing was, the porous defense the Buckeyes showed in this early Big Ten test will be much harder to overcome.

Drexel big men: Frantz Massenat, Damion Lee and Derrick Thomas did their part, scoring 46 of Drexel’s 66 points against Towson. But the surprising Tigers got another huge double-double from Jerelle Benimon and came away with the win. As effective as the Tiger frontcourt was on offense, the Drexel frontcourt was ineffective. Dartaye Ruffin and Daryl McCoy combined for just seven points in the loss.

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
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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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.