Marshall Henderson

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.

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)
Jon Lopez/Nike
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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)
(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.