Trey Burke

Pregame Shootaround 1.13.13: Trey Burke, Aaron Craft highlight major Big Ten showdown

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Game of the Day: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 15 Ohio State (1:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

With Duke’s loss yesterday to NC State, Michigan will become the nation’s No. 1 team if it can get out of Columbus with a tough road victory. But, despite being ranked No. 2 in the country, Michigan is the underdog Sunday.

Two key matchups will likely decide the outcome of this one. At the point guard spot, Michigan’s Trey Burke is emerging as an early Player of the Year candidate, while Ohio State’s Aaron Craft has been the Buckeyes’ best defender and offensive facilitator with 4.9 assists per game.

At the wing spot, Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas is one of the nation’s best scorers and he’ll be matching up with standout freshman Glenn Robinson III. Both have the ability to carry the offensive load for their respective teams, but it will be interesting to see how the young Robinson III responds to playing against an upperclassman who can go shot-for-shot with him.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: No. 23 Wichita State vs. Evansville (4:35 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Cleanthony Early is coming off one of the most impressive performances of any player in the country this season, having dropped 39 points on 13-of-19 shooting to help Wichita State over Southern Illinois earlier this week. He and the Shockers return to the floor Sunday to meet an Evansville team that is 3-1 in Missouri Valley play so far and has hung with a number of tough teams, including Notre Dame, Butler, and Colorado State.

Wichita State will need to contain Evansville’s Colt Ryan, who has reached the 20-point mark in four of his last five games and is averaging 15.9 points per game on the year.

Five Things to Watch For

1) Miami turned some heads earlier this week when it went on the road to Chapel Hill and beat North Carolina without the services of big man Reggie Johnson. They face another tough ACC test against Dez Wells, Alex Len, and Maryland on Sunday.

2) Iowa is 0-3 in Big Ten play, but that is more a product of being in the nation’s toughest conference than any major lack. The Hawkeyes ran both Indiana and Michigan State to the wire, and played a solid first half against Michigan before the Wolverines opened it up. They’re in line for a win over Northwestern on Sunday.

3) Oregon handed No. 4 Arizona its first loss of the season and now needs to contain one of the nation’s best young point guards, Arizona State’s Jahii Carson. It’s a nice nightcap that tips at 9:00 p.m. ET.

4) Billy Baron and Canisius were the talk of the mid-major world in the non-conference season after they upset Temple, but the Golden Griffins have cooled off a bit in conference play. They have a tough matchup with Iona on Sunday.

5) Chaz Williams continues to be one of the most enjoyable mid-major point guards to watch after tallying 14 points, seven assists, and six rebounds Thursday against Saint Louis. Massachusetts meets Fordham on Sunday.

The Top 25

No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 15 Ohio State (1:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 22 Michigan State vs. Nebraska (6:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

No. 23 Wichita State vs. Evansville (4:35 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Other Notable Games

Penn State vs. Purdue (12:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Providence vs. Seton Hall (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Iowa vs. Northwestern (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Maryland vs. Miami (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Arizona State vs. Oregon (9:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks)

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

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.