Marshall Henderson, Trivante Bloodman, Jalen Steele

Bubble Banter: Who hurt their tournament chances?

1 Comment

SATURDAY’S BUBBLE LOSERS

Ole Miss: The Rebels learned the hard way that the easiest way to play yourself off the bubble is to lose at South Carolina and, two weeks later, drop a game at Mississippi State. A pair of sub-200 losses in February isn’t going to impress the NCAA committee. They have one top 50 win and have lost six of their last ten. The Rebels may need to win the automatic bid.

Akron: There was no guarantee that winning out would have resulted in a tournament berth for the Zips, but their loss to Buffalo on Saturday night all-but ensured the fact that Akron will need to win the MAC’s automatic bid to go dancing.

Iowa State: The Cyclones couldn’t afford a loss at Oklahoma, not when they have struggled so much on the road this season and missed out on two marquee wins thanks to Elijah Johnson and Ben McLemore. Iowa State needs to win at Oklahoma State and cannot afford to lose to West Virginia. At that point, would three top 50 wins be enough to outweigh losses to Texas and Texas Tech?

Alabama: The Crimson Tide had a golden opportunity, up eight with 12 minutes left at Florida. But Anthony Grant’s club let that slip away, and they now find themselves in a tough spot with two games to play. They won’t have a top 50 win once Kentucky’s RPI is adjusted and they have four sub-100 losses.

Baylor: Baylor is all but done at this point, after losing a nail-biter at home to Kansas State on Saturday. With a home game against Kansas and the Big 12 tournament, there’s still a sliver of hope, but it’s fading fast.

Tennessee: After winning six straight games and beating Florida at home to thrust themselves into the middle of the bubble conversation, Tennessee went out and lost at Georgia, which puts them in a still-deeper NCAA tournament hole. The Vols have three top 50 wins and are 8-9 against the top 100, but they would be smart to avoid losing at Auburn and then beat Missouri at home.

Wichita State: The Shockers have eight top 100 wins and won at VCU and beat Southern Miss and Creighton at home. Combined with an RPI of 41, Gregg Marshall’s team should be OK. But with three sub-100 losses, Wichita State probably doesn’t want to risk losing in the first round of Arch Madness.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils entered this week with a chance to play their way into the tournament. They got swept at the LA schools, which will likely mean that even a win at Arizona next week won’t be enough.

Kentucky: Losing at Arkansas hurts, but all it does is erase Kentucky’s margin for error. Win three straight, and the Wildcats should be in.

Colorado: The Buffaloes lost at Cal on Saturday, but they have a strong enough computer profile — and wins over Arizona, Colorado State, Cal and Oregon — that they should be ok as long as they dont’ lose out.

Iowa: The Hawkeyes needed to beat Indiana to have any chance of earning an at-large bid. They’ll need to win the Big Ten tournament title.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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
Bart Young/USA Basketball
Leave a comment

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.