Allen Crabbe

Player of the Week: Allen Crabbe, Cal

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Player of the Week: Allen Crabbe, Cal

Let’s put aside, for a second, the shove that had the twittersphere in an uproar last night. Because when you focus solely on that interaction, you ignore the fact that Crabbe scored 14 second half points — including 12 in the final minutes — to lead the Bears back from a 15 point deficit to USC at home. A loss in that game would have been disastrous for Cal’s NCAA tournament hopes, especially when you consider that last Sunday’s win at Arizona and Thursday’s demolishing of UCLA had put them into a great position to make the Big Dance.

Crabbe had 23 points, 10 boards and six steals last night. He went for 16 points, five boards and five assists in the win over UCLA. He had 31 points, seven boards and five assists against Arizona. He’s one of the nation’s best-kept secrets, although if he keeps playing this way, he won’t be a secret for much longer.

The All-They-Were-Good-Too Team:

G: Russ Smith, Louisville: Smith averaged 19.5 points, 6.0 boards and 4.0 assists in two games this week, shooting 45% from the floor and 40% from three. Rick Pitino told reporters after a win over South Florida that “I thought Russ Smith played the smartest game he’s played in a long time.” Smith playing Smart is the difference between Louisville being a top three seed and Louisville being a national title contender.

G: Ben McLemore, Kansas: The Jayhawks desperately needed a big performance on Monday this week, and McLemore had one of his best games of the season, finishing with 30 points on 9-13 shooting as Kansas stormed past Kansas State in Phog Allen. He followed that up with 13 points in a blowout win over Texas on College Gameday. Not a bad way to snap a three-game losing streak.

F: Scott Wood, NC State: Coming off of a game-winning three to beat Clemson on the road, Wood scored 22 points and hit six threes as the Wolfpack narrowly avoided a disastrous loss to Virginia Tech in Raleigh.

F: Kenyatta Smith, Harvard: After playing a grand total of seven minutes in two games last week, Smith put together a pair of dominant performances as Harvard took a one-game lead on Princeton in the Ivy League race. Smith had 20 points, nine boards and 10 blocks against Penn, and then went for 14 points, seven boards and six blocks in the win over Princeton on Saturday. He also shot 13-14 from the floor and 8-9 from the free throw line.

C: Alex Len, Maryland: Len finished with 19 points on 6-8 shooting, nine boards and three blocks in Maryland’s one game this week, which just so happened to be a win over No. 2 Duke. But more importantly, Len helped the Terps shut down Mason Plumlee, which was the biggest reason they were able to pull the upset while committed 26 turnovers.

Bench: Ramon Galloway (La Salle), Dorian Green (Colorado State), Nick Minnerath (Detroit), Kelly Olynyk (Gonzaga), Marshawn Powell (Arkansas), Nate Wolters (South Dakota State)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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.

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)
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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
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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.