CJ McCollum

CJ McCollum is not an example of why staying in school is wrong

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Over the weekend, CJ McCollum broke the fifth-metatarsal in his right foot as Lehigh visited VCU, an injury serious enough that it essentially ended any chance of McCollum suiting up for a regular season college basketball game ever again.

On Monday, David Steele of the Sporting News filed a column that essentially said McCollum’s injury is yet another example of why players should leave for the seven figure contracts of the NBA when their stock is the highest. If you remember, after sparking the Mountainhawks to an upset of Duke in the opening round of the 2012 NCAA tournament, McCollum declared for the draft but eventually ended up pulling his name out and, obviously, returning to school for his senior year.

In principle, I agree with Steele. The career of a professional athlete is limited. Eventually, knees break down and backs give out as old age kicks in, with each offseason bringing in a new crop of physically blessed 20 year olds that want nothing more than to win your job.

I firmly believe that it makes sense to capitalize on those physical gifts as much as possible. That’s why I think that it’s silly when a guy that’s a lock for the first round returns to school. If you’re looking to set yourself up financially for life and provide for your family, why would you pass on the guaranteed, seven-figure contract that will allow you to avoid pretending to care about class and get rid of those pesky practice limits?

But here’s the problem with Steele’s argument: McCollum was not one of those guys. There was no guarantee that he would get picked in the first round last season. He’s a 6-foot-3 scoring guard whose strength is as a slasher. He’s Dwyane Wade minus three inches and no where near as explosive. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great player, but he would have been one of those guys sweating out the end of the first round, hoping that someone was willing to make an investment on him.

The same can be said for Mike Moser, another guy that has been injured this season after returning to school. Steele uses him in his argument as well. Moser was terrific last season, but he’s a combo-forward that’s not strong enough to play in the post in the NBA and that shot 33.1% from three last season. He may have gotten drafted, but it all-likelihood it would have been in the second round.

Those two both came back to school for three reasons:

1) A chance for another season playing with their teammates. We can make fun of college sports for simply being a proving ground for the next level, but that doesn’t change the fact that those 19 and 20 year olds become a family during their time together.

2) The opportunity to spend another season working on their game and proving themselves for the next level. McCollum had been shooting the ball much, much better this season and, prior to the injury, was projected as a lottery pick by DraftExpress.com. Moser, before the injury, was going to get a chance to prove himself on the perimeter as UNLV’s front line is populated by Anthony Bennett and Khem Birch.

3) The 2013 Draft is wide-open. Think about it like this: Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones III, two guys that could have been top five picks in 2011, went late in the 20’s in 2012. Those are the guys that McCollum and Moser would have been battling with to earn a spot in the first round.

Steele is right.

It’s dumb to return to school and risk injury when you have guaranteed millions staring you in the face.

But neither Moser nor McCollum were in that situation.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (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)
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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.