Russ Smith, Tyler Olander

Late Night Snacks: The last, first, Big Monday as we know it

Leave a comment

A light slate of games was highlighted by two Top 5 teams on national television. It’s also a night to remember because, to hardcore college hoop-heads, it’s the last, first Big Monday as we know it. For now, enjoy the rundown. It’s Late Night Snacks.

Game of the night

No. 1 Louisville 73, UConn 58 – In the Cardinals’ first game as no. 1 in the nation, they started slow but shot 60-percent in the second half and held the Huskies to 24 second half points. Russ Smith had 23 points and Gorgui Dieng had 16 rebounds. Omar Calhoun had 20 in the loss for UConn.

Games of note

No. 4 Kansas 61, Baylor 44 – This was seen as a game that Baylor could disprove some theories about their team to this point. Instead they shot 23.2-percent overall and 28.6-percent from three to lead to a loss in Lawrence.

Southern 88, Mississippi Valley State 54 – It’s not much of a story nationally, but this Southern team was 4-26 two seasons ago, then turned it around with a 17-14 season last year. In the SWAC, mind you. They’re now 12-6 in 2012-13 after the win over a floundering Delta Devils squad.

Georgia Southern 70, Davidson 57 – The Wildcats suffered their first loss in the  SoCon with this one. De’Mon Brooks was held to six points and the Panthers shot 53.1-percent from the field. This could come back to bite Bob McKillop late in the season.

Starred

Russ Smith, Louisville – He started the night with 15 of the Cardinals first 24 points against UConn. He finished with 23 points on 10-of-20 shooting.

Ben McLemore, Kansas – He just keeps adding to his legend. The redshirt freshman finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two assists and two steals in the win over Baylor.

Trey Sumler, Western Carolina – The Catamounts guard went for 32 points on 9-of-19 shooting and a 9-of-12 night from the free throw line in a loss to Elon.

Malcolm Miller, Southern – Southern’s turnaround from two seasons ago, when they were under an NCAA postseason tournament ban due to low APR scores, is amazing. Miller had himself a night for the Jaguars with a 28-point, 10-rebound performance in the win over Mississippi Valley State.

Raymond Penn, Texas Southern – It was full night of SWAC games and Penn had the best game of the night in the conference. Even though it was against possibly the worst team in college basketball, Grambling State, Penn finished with 10 points and 14 assists in the 90-59 win.

Struggled

Pierre Jackson, Baylor – He was the most productive player on the court for the Bears, but he still finished with 10 points on 2-of-8 shooting in the loss at Kansas. He committed four turnovers.

De’Mon Brooks, Davidson –  Brooks, who averages 14 points per game, finished with six points on 2-of-8 shooting in the loss to Georgia State.

Stuffing the stat sheet

Prince Okoroh, Howard – A big night, even in a loss. The sophomore finished with 15 points, six steals, five rebounds and two assists in 54-49 loss to Norfolk State.

Conference season is in full swing, folks. It only gets better from here.

David Harten is the editor and founder of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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.