Kaleb Tarczewski, Jason Washburn, Cedric Martin

Utah falls to No. 9 Arizona, missing golden opportunity due to two-point shooting

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“You are what your record says you are.” – Bill Parcells

While the words of one of the football’s greatest coaches are true, they can sometimes mask the steps a struggling programs has taken towards at the very least being more competitive. That’s the case with Larry Krystkowiak’s Utah Utes, who lost 68-64 to No. 9 Arizona on Sunday afternoon.

On the season Utah is 11-14 overall and 3-10 in Pac-12 play so the numbers clearly aren’t pretty in that regard. But these Utes are far more competitive in their second season in the Pac-12, with Sunday’s close call being the most recent example of the strides taken.

The statistic in Sunday’s loss that tells the story for Utah: they shot 14-of-37 (37.8%) from inside the three-point arc. And when playing a team the quality of the Wildcats the Utes can ill afford to shoot that poorly if they’re to be successful.

Mark Lyons led the Wildcats with 18 points and Solomon Hill and Brandon Ashley added ten points apiece, but Arizona shot 6-of-22 from beyond the arc with their senior point guard going 1-of-9.

The Wildcats left Salt Lake City with a win, avoiding a road sweep (and a three-game losing streak), due to big plays made down the stretch by their senior leaders and Utah’s poor marksmanship inside of the arc.

Senior Jarred DuBois (16 points) and Jason Washburn (15 points, seven rebounds) led the way offensively for the Utes, who knocked off Arizona State 60-55 on Thursday night. Thanks to these two veterans (DuBois played his first three seasons at Loyola Marymount) and freshman forward Jordan Loveridge (12.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg), Krystkowiak’s Utes have taken steps in the right direction when it comes to competing in the Pac-12.

DuBois and Washburn will be gone at the end of this season but in Loveridge, Utah has a player (who has been one of the league’s best freshmen) they can build around.

There have been some tough nights this season, most recently losses to Stanford (87-55) and Oregon State (82-64) in recent weeks, but the nights on which Utah has looked overwhelmed from a talent standpoint have been infrequent.

“You are what your record says you are.” Slowly but surely Krystkowiak and his program work to make sure their record in future seasons will paint a better picture of Utah basketball.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Cody Riley cuts list to five schools

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Cody Riley has cut his list to five schools, according to Scout.com.

A four-star four man, Riley is now considering just UConn, Kansas, Oklahoma, UCLA and USC.

Ranked the No. 29 player in the Class of 2017 by Rivals, Riley is an undersized-but-powerful forward. His bread and butter is on the block, where his strength and low center of gravity make him a nightmare to deal with, but he’s also skilled enough to do damage as a face-up four.

Riley is from California and will be playing his senior season alongside Marvin Bagley III, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2018, at Sierra Canyon.

Auburn continues to stockpile talent, adds top 50 prospect in 2017

Bruce Pearl
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
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Auburn’s hire of Bruce Pearl was almost universally lauded as the first step towards the return of relevance for the Tiger basketball program.

And while the results have yet to shine through on the floor, Pearl is unequivocally stockpiling the kind of talent that will allow him to push for trips to the NCAA tournament and maybe one day contend for a league crown with Kentucky.

The latest step came on Sunday, when Pearl landed a commitment from Chuma Okeke, a top 50 wing prospect out of Georgia.

“He is a versatile wing who can handle and score,” said NBCSports.com recruiting analyst Scott Phillips. “Coming off of a big July, Okeke could move up the national rankings and Auburn pounced on him right away.”

Okeke joins big man Austin Wiley, a top ten player in the class, and Davion Mitchell, who is likely one of the five best point guards in the country, in what is currently the nation’s best recruiting class in 2017. That’s before you consider that Pearl already has Mustapha Heron, a top 25 prospect, joining the mix this season.

“This group has the makings of a monster recruiting class for Auburn,” Phillips said.

Okeke picked the Tigers over Florida State, Georgia and a number of other programs across the southeast.

VIDEO: Watch Virginia freshman Jay Huff dunk from the free throw line

Tony Bennett
AP Photo/Nell Redmond
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Jay Huff is a member of Tony Bennett’s best recruiting class to date, a 6-foot-11 top 50 recruit from North Carolina.

He also happens to be pretty athletic.

Don’t believe me?

Check out this video that McDonald’s All-American Kyle Guy tweeted out on Sunday night:

Yup, that’s Huff taking off from the foul line to dunk.

Not bad, young fella.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)