Pregame Shootaround 1.29.13: Marshall Henderson, Coming To America

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Game of the Day: Kentucky at No. 16 Ole Miss (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

By now, you’ve seen the GIF. If you haven’t, than you’ve probably seen the picture of him double-fisting Coors Light or somehow convincing one coed that it’s romantic to have his tongue in her face. At the very least, you’ve had to have seen someone on your facebook or twitter feed mention one of these three things and the name “Marshall Henderson” in the same sentence?

But have you actually seen him play, beyond the occasional highlight that they manage to sneak into Sportscenter between segments praising Ray Lewis for being this generation’s Gandhi?

Because not a lot of people have, which, as Gary Parrish pointed out in his column today, is why tonight becomes so important for Henderson. Let’s forget the fact that it’s a chance to the Rebels to solidify a wholly-inflated resume and ranking by knocking off one of the three other good teams in the SEC. After all the attention that he has garnered and all the buzz that his off-the-court (well, and on-the-court) shenanigans have created, now is the chance for the nation-at-large to actually watch Henderson play.

He’s as entertaining as anyone we’ve seen since Jimmer Fredette turned his first name into a verb. He shoots from anywhere on the court, he’s liable to go off for 25 in any given half, and he’s not afraid to let anyone — his teammates, the other team, the other team’s fans, the announcers, the television audience — know about it afterwards.

They’ll be tuning in tonight. Let’s see if he can live up to the hype.

Who’s Getting Upset?: No. 19 NC State at Virginia (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

There is quite a bit riding on this game. NC State has now beaten both Duke and North Carolina at home, but with road losses to the likes of Maryland and Wake Forest, the nation trusts the Wolfpack about as much as they trust A-Rod when he says he stopped using HGH. The Cavs, on the other hand, would actually have a pretty good-looking tournament profile if they hadn’t lost to Old Dominion — who is 2-17 on the season. According to Andy Glockner, that loss probably cost UVA more than 30 spots in the RPI. That’s a lot of ground to make up in a conference that won’t provide them many chances. Throw in the fact that a loss to Delaware in the Preseason NIT cost the Cavs a shot at Pitt and Michigan or Kansas State — instead giving them a disappointing North Texas team and — and you get a feel for just how dire the straits are for the Cavs.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Indiana State at No. 15 Wichita State (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

The Sycamores actually have a chance to play their way into the NCAA tournament discussion thanks to a couple of solid non-conference wins — beating Ole Miss and Miami in the Diamond Head Classic is certainly paying dividends — but they still need more on their resume. Winning at Wichita State certainly wouldn’t hurt matters, especially considering the three losses that ISU has in league play have all come on the road.

Five Things to Watch For

1) Every night we’re going to have a Big Ten battle. On Tuesday, it’s Wisconsin heading to Columbus to take on No. 11 Ohio State. (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

2) No. 23 Minnesota looks to snap their four-game losing skid as they host Nebraska. (9:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Net)

3) After getting drubbed on the road by NC State, North Carolina looks to bounce back against Boston College, who has been feisty at home this season. (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

4) Intriguing matchup out in the Mountain West as Nevada will be heading to the Thomas & Mack Center to take on UNLV. (10:00 p.m. ET)

5) Tommy Brenton is one of the nation’s most potent stat-sheet stuffers. He had 15 points, 14 boards and 11 assists – Stony Brook’s first triple-double — on Saturday. The Seawolves will take on Albany at 7:00 p.m. ET.

The Top 25

  • Wisconsin at No. 11 Ohio State (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • No. 19 NC State at Virginia (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • Indiana State at No. 15 Wichita State (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Kentucky at No. 16 Ole Miss (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Nebraska at No. 23 Minnesota (9:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Net)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Reports: Duke’s Frank Jackson to declare for draft

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Frank Jackson will declare for the draft but will not be signing with an agent, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Previous reports had indicated that Jackson “planned” to return to school, and that still may end up proving true. But the combination of Trevon Duval potentially enrolling at Duke combined with the fact that there is zero downside to going through the draft process, it makes sense for Jackson to declare.

Jackson averaged 10.9 points and shot 39.5 percent from three. He’s projected as a mid-first round pick in 2018 by Draft Express, but at 6-foot-3, he’s too small to play the two in the NBA and has yet to prove he can be a point guard.

Jackson is the fourth Duke player to declare, following Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles III and Luke Kennard. All three signed with an agent. Grayson Allen and Marques Bolden are both returning to school.

VIDEO: Top 2018 recruits Zion Williamson and Romeo Langford go head-to-head at adidas

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This weekend is the first live evaluation period of the spring recruiting calendar as college coaches from all over the country are scouting (and babysitting) the top recruits in the Class of 2018 and 2019.

Friday night the adidas Gauntlet in Dallas opened with a marquee matchup of two star players as five-star forward Zion Williamson and five-star guard Romeo Langford went head-to-head in what should be one of the best games of the spring.

Most scouting services have Williamson and Langford as the No. 2 and No. 3 overall prospects in the Class of 2018 as the duo didn’t disappoint in front of the huge crowd in Fort Worth.

Williamson helped his team to a win with 26 points and seven rebounds while Langford had 28 points, four rebounds and four assists. You’ll be hearing plenty about both of these guys over the next few months as both are still wide open in the recruting process.

(H/t: Ball is Life)

Report: Coppin State hires Juan Dixon as new head coach

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Coppin State has hired former Maryland star guard Juan Dixon to be its next head coach, according to a report from Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun.

The 38-year-old Dixon is best known for leading Maryland to the 2002 national championship as he was the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four that year. Now Dixon will have a chance to lead a Division I program for the first time.

Dixon spent seven years in the NBA and also played professionally in Europe before joining the Maryland coaching staff in 2013 as a special assistant to head coach Mark Turgeon. Not retained by Maryland after the 2015-16 season, Dixon took the head coaching job for the women’s team at the University of the District of Columbia last season as the Division II program finished only  3-25.

Coppin State finished last season with an 8-24 record after losing its first 12 games of the season. While Dixon will generate some positive local buzz given his background, he’s going to have an uphill battle trying to rebuild that program.

Nebraska scores important Class of 2017 commitment from four-star guard Thomas Allen

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Nebraska landed an important commitment from the Class of 2017 on Friday as four-star guard Thomas Allen is heading to Lincoln next season.

The 6-foot-1 guard is considered the No. 99 overall prospect by Rivals in the national Class of 2017 rankings as Allen was previously committed to N.C. State before head coach Mark Gottfried was fired.

A scorer with a good amount of skill, Allen has a chance to come in and make an immediate impact at Nebraska as he can play a bit on or off the ball. Allen should help offset the loss of senior Tai Webster in the Husker backcourt.

Allen joins wing Nana Akenten in Nebraska’s Class of 2017 recruiting efforts.

North Carolina lands four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks

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North Carolina pulled in a late Class of 2017 commitment to begin the weekend as the Tar Heels secured a pledge from four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks.

The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Brooks was previously committed to Mississippi State, but he was granted his release this spring to explore other opportunities.

The Tar Heels pounced as they’re getting a low-post threat who could develop into a potential double-double threat. A solid rebounder who isn’t afraid to play with physicality, Brooks has a chance to earn some immediate rotation minutes with seniors like Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks exhausting their eligibility.

Brooks is regarded as the No. 120 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, according to Rivals, as he is a four-star prospect. The native of Auburn, Alabama joins a North Carolina recruiting class that includes point guard Jalek Felton, shooting guard Andrew Platek and big men Brandon Huffman and Sterling Manley.