Kentucky commit thinks Julius Randle will pick UK, unsure about Andrew Wiggins

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Derek Willis, a 6-foot-9 Kentucky commit, took part in a Q-&-A with Courier-Journal‘s Steve Jones to share his thoughts on Kentucky, including the top-ranked class John Calipari has, a class that still can improve.

Kentucky is still in contention for the No. 1 overall player Andrew Wiggins (Huntington Prep/Thornhill, Ont., CAN), No. 2 overall player according to Rivals.com, Julius Randle (Prestonwood Christian/Plano, Tex.), and consensus top-10 recruit Aaron Gordon (Archbishop Mitty High/San Jose, Calif.).

Willis, the first commit to the Class of 2013, when asked about whether or not he thought Kentucky could land Randle, the Kentucky native seemed fairly confident Randle will join him in Lexington.

“As far as Julius Randle goes, and this is all based on what I’ve found, what I’ve read, I think he will come,” Willis told Jones.

“But I think Randle is probably a lock; that’s my opinion,” Willis said later.

Earlier this week, Randle reportedly cut Oklahoma and N.C. State from his list, leaving only Florida, Kansas, Texas, and Kentucky. Randle is set to decide on Mar. 20.

Wiggins has been quiet about his recruiting, but many believe it centers around UK and his parents’ alma mater, Florida State, though, Kansas and North Carolina are also in the mix. Wiggins shying away from discussing his recruiting has left many, including Willis, uncertain of where he’d end up.

“Wiggins is a toss-up for me, I can’t figure it out,” said the future Wildcat. “I’ve tried to figure him out. I’ve read everything and looked him up. I don’t know. I know UK is one of his top two choices, I would say.”

As for the 6-foot-7 Gordon, who is considering Kentucky along with Oregon, Washington, and Arizona, Willis believes he may remain out west when all said and done.

If Kentucky misses out on both Wiggins and Randle, they still have a loaded class which includes the Harrison twins — Andrew and Aaron, James Young, Marcus Lee, and Dakari Johnson to go along with Willis.

Photo courtesy Facebook/Prestonwood Christian Academy

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Virginia, Seton Hall, Rhode Island, Vandy in NIT Tip-Off

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NEW YORK (AP) — Virginia and Vanderbilt will meet in one semifinal of the NIT Preseason Tip-Off on Thanksgiving Day at Barclays Center.

Rhode Island and Seton Hall face off in the other semifinal with the winners meeting on Friday, Nov. 24.

This is the third straight year the Tip-Off has been held at Barclays Center. Eventual NCAA champion Villanova won the event in 2015. All games will be televised on ESPNU.

Non-bracketed teams in the NIT Season Tip-Off who will play games at campus sites are: Austin Peay, Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, Oakland City and UNC Asheville.

Miles Bridges explain why he returned to Michigan State

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Miles Bridges changed the landscape of the 2017-18 college basketball season on April 13.

The Michigan State forward spurned the NBA for another year in East Lansing. The decision not only meant that Bridges was a frontrunner for national player of the year, but solidified the Spartans as a national title contender.

But Bridges’ choice to return was still puzzling to many. The 6-foot-7 forward was projected as a lottery pick. Bridges explained his decision to Mike Decourcy of Sporting News in a story published on Thursday.

“He says, ‘You know what, Coach? I want to get better. I don’t want to be in the D-League. I’ve got buddies that are, and I just want to make sure when I go, I’m ready,’ ” Izzo recalled to Sporting News. “I looked at him and I said, ‘Done deal.’ For me, that was a done deal. It was a reasonable, sensible argument.”

Agents, friends, reporters, scouts, acquaintances, fans, strangers and family members — oh and, as we said, coaches — all had one opinion about how Bridges should spend the next year of his life. Miles had another, opposing, viewpoint.

Bridges told Decourcy that support came from his teammates, many of whom were returning to the team as well. Assuming the backcourt of Cassius Winston and Josh Langford make a leap forward, as well as incoming freshman Jaren Jackson providing an immediate impact, the Spartans’ title hopes could become a reality.

Bridges averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks as a freshman at Michigan State. He’s rated as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.

Four conferences sign on to basketball officiating alliance

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Four more Division I conferences will join a men’s basketball officiating alliance formed last year by the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East, the Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association.

The Big South, the Ivy League, the Northeast and the Patriot League are joining ahead of the 2017-18 season, according to announcements from the leagues Thursday. The alliance launched last summer for conferences to work together on officiating matters and enhance training, development, recruitment, retention and feedback for officials.

John Cahill, the Big East’s supervisor of officials, and Bryan Kersey, the ACC’s coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, will continue to lead the alliance operations.

ACC commissioner John Swofford says the new additions to the alliance “provide an even greater opportunity to build chemistry and quality” across the officiating ranks.

North Carolina to unveil national championship banner in October

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The latest addition to the rafters of the Dean Dome will be unveiled this fall.

North Carolina will raise the banner for its 2017 national championship on Oct. 13, according to a report from Inside Carolina.

The event will coincide with the Tar Heels’ “Late Night With Roy” event that marks the public start to the season for the program and also serves, like many other top programs, as a recruiting tool.

North Carolina won its sixth NCAA national championship in April by defeating Gonzaga, 71-65, in Phoenix to avenge its last-second loss in the title game to Villanova the year prior. It was the Tar Heels’ first championship since 2009.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball highlights

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It was the most anticipated matchup of the summer.

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball.

People were turned away at the door – and LeBron James reportedly came and went – as the gym reached capacity for SC Supreme’s 104-92 victory over the Big Ballers. That’s Williamson over Ball (LaMelo and LaVar).

The game was mostly spectacle, and you can see it’s top moments right here.