Kendall Williams

1 seeds still up for grabs in new NCAA tourney projections

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We should be in for an exciting week.  It’s not often that so many potential at-large spots and seeding questions remain this close to Selection Sunday.  Which means several teams – many from the SEC in particular – will be paying close attention to conference tournament results.  A surprise winner or two could jolt the at-large pool.

For now, Duke reclaims the overall top seed.  Ryan Kelly has returned and is playing at a high level.  That brings the Blue Devils’ full profile back into play, and it’s pretty good.  But the race isn’t over.  Gonzaga, Kansas, Indiana, Louisville, Georgetown, New Mexico, and a second Big Ten team are all contenders for a No. 1 seed.  Conference tournaments could play a decisive role.

The bubble remains what it is.  So despite some losses this week, not a lot has changed.  Thankfully, a week remains to help sort things out.  Given the turmoil, several teams could still make a late push.  We have a long way to go and a short time to get there.  Buckle up.

Quick note: As we’ve entered conference tournament play, teams in ALL-CAPS no longer appear in the bracket.  We’ll begin using the CAPS as a indication of a team’s automatic bid.  The first of which will be handed out on Saturday.

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

  • Virginia vs. Tennessee | East Region
  • Iowa State vs. La Salle | South Region
  • Norfolk State vs. Charleston-Southern | South Region
  • Southern vs. Northeastern | Midwest Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EASTWashington, DC MIDWESTIndianapolis              
Philadelphia Dayton
1) Duke 1) INDIANA
16) Mercer 16) Southern / Northeastern
8) Illinois 8) Missouri
9) Memphis 9) Cincinnati
San Jose Salt Lake
5) Arizona 5) Saint Louis
12) Belmont 12) Middle Tennesse State
4) Marquette 4) UNLV
13) Bucknell 13) Louisiana Tech
Kansas City Austin
6) Pittsburgh 6) VCU
11) Tennessee / Virginia 11) Boise State
3) Kansas State 3) Miami-FL
14) S.F. Austin 14) Montana
Auburn Hills Lexington
7) Butler 7) Oregon
10) California 10) Wichita State
2) Michigan State 2) Louisville
15) Niagara 15) South Dakota State
SOUTH – Dallas WEST – Los Angeles
Kansas City Salt Lake
1) Kansas 1) Gonzaga
16) Norfolk St / Charleston-So 16) Long Beach State
8) Colorado State 8) San Diego State
9) Creighton 9) Colorado
San Jose Dayton
5) Wisconsin 5) Oklahoma State
12) Saint Mary’s 12) Villanova
4) Syracuse 4) Ohio State
13) Davidson 13) Akron
Lexington Auburn Hills
6) Notre Dame 6) UCLA
11) Iowa State / La Salle 11) Temple
3) Florida 3) Michigan
14) Stony Brook 14) Valparaiso
Austin Philadelphia
7) North Carolina 7) NC State
10) Minnesota 10) Oklahoma
2) New Mexico 2) Georgetown
15) Robert Morris 15) Princeton

NOTES on the BRACKET: Duke is the No. 1 overall seed followed by Gonzaga, Indiana, and Kansas. Next in line: Louisville, New Mexico, Georgetown, Michigan State.

Last Five teams in (at large): Saint Mary’s, La Salle, Iowa State, Tennessee, Virginia

First Five teams out (at large): Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Iowa, Massachusetts

Next Five teams out (at large): Arkansas, Maryland, Baylor, Xavier, Providence

Breakdown by Conference …

Big East (8): Louisville, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Villanova

Big Ten (7): Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois

Mountain West (5): San Diego State, UNLV, New Mexico, Colorado State, Boise State

Pac 12 (5): Arizona, Colorado, UCLA, Oregon, California

Big 12 (5): Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Iowa State

Atlantic 10 (5): Butler, VCU, Temple, La Salle, Saint Louis

ACC (5): Duke, NC State, North Carolina, Miami-FL, Virginia

SEC (3): Missouri, Florida, Tennessee

Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State

West Coast (2): Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s

Conference USA (1): Memphis

Conference Automatic Qualifiers … BELMONT (Ohio Valley), BUCKNELL (Patriot), MIDDLE TENNESSE ST (Sunbelt), SOUTH DAKOTA STATE(Summit), VALPARAISO (Horizon), DAVIDSON (Southern), LOUISIANA TECH (WAC), NIAGARA (MAAC), STEPHEN F. AUSTIN (Southland), AKRON (MAC), MERCER (A-Sun), PRINCETON (IVY), LONG BEACH (Big West), NORTHEASTERN (Colonial), STONY BROOK (American East), MONTANA (Big Sky), NORFOLK STATE (MEAC), CHARLESTON-SOUTHERN (Big South), ROBERT MORRIS (NEC), SOUTHERN (SWAC)

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
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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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.