Who’s Getting Upset?: No. 5 Kansas at Oklahoma (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
I may have written it15 timesthis week, and all of you have probably figured it out by now, but Kansas is having some serious issues on the offensive end of the floor. They don’t have a point guard — Elijah Johnson and Naadir Tharpe are shooting a combined 26.5% from the floor with 52 assists and 48 turnovers in Big 12 play — and their most talented player is content to be a spot-up shooter the majority of the time. Throw in a crippling loss of confidence during Wednesday’s game with TCU, and what you get is Kansas posting one of the worst losses that we’ve seen in a long time.
So here we are two days later and we’re supposed to assume that the Jayhawks have gotten all of the kinks worked out?
We’re supposed to believe that, all of a sudden, Johnson and Tharpe are playing well and McLemore is taking the ball to the rim and the Jayhawks, as a whole, are not missing open threes any more?
The bottom-line is that the Sooners are a good basketball team. They have a versatile front line that can pull Jeff Withey away from the rim, they have a lock down defender in Buddy Hield and they have a star (Steven Pledger) surrounded by a combination of savvy veterans and talented freshmen. This is a good team that needs a big win that will be looking to capitalize on the struggles of the best team in the Big 12.
Who else is on Upset Alert?:
St. Mary’s at San Diego (11:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU): San Diego shot their way up my list of favorite teams to watch on Saturday night as the Toreros put up one heckuva fight against No. 6 Gonzaga at home. What’s so great about them? Well, for starters, their back court is awesome. Their leading scorer is a kid named simply Johnny Dee while their point guard stands all of 5-foot-7 but still manages to make shots like this.
No. 3 Michigan at Wisconsin (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN): Wisconsin is tough to beat at home for a couple of reasons: the Kohl Center gets loud, the Badgers play better in the friendly confines of Madison, WI, and they just so happen to use Sterling basketballs, the only team to do so. It may not sound like much, but for a team that relies on shooting the three as much as Michigan does, that could end up being a huge difference. Well, that and the fact that Wisconsin is a good team that gets better at home.
No. 14 Butler at George Washington (2:00 p.m. ET): If George Washington is going to make some noise in the Atlantic 10 this season like they’re threatening too, this are the wins that they are going to need to get, especially considering just how brutal their season-ending stretch is.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.