Butler Bulldogs ready themselves for postseason run with victory over Dayton (VIDEO)

Leave a comment
This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

In Butler’s first postseason game as a member of the Atlantic 10, in what could be their only season in the conference, Rotnei Clarke continued his hot shooting streak, scoring 21 points to lead the Bulldogs over the Dayton Flyers 73-67 in first round of the conference on Thursday afternoon.

Clarke is averaging 19.7ppg over the past three games, all wins, and has been the catalyst behind the Bulldogs resurgence following a two-game losing streak which included an ugly 32-point loss at VCU. After the deflating loss, the Bulldogs regrouped and were able to start mentally preparing for the stretch run.

Clarke played an integral role in getting the team to refocus.

“I think we just got together and we communicated as a team and sat down. We discussed our roles, from the top to the bottom. Just tried to figure out what we weren’t doing and what we had to do. Obviously something’s going right here. You know, we are communicating a lot, and our chemistry off the floor leads to it on, and we have done a good job of getting together off the floor and it’s carried over.”

Not only is this a new tournament venue, but it’s also a tournament format. During their time in Horizon League, Butler was never subjected to a four games in four days atmosphere. But center Andrew Smith, who finished with 18 points and 6 rebounds, doesn’t think the new environment bothered the veteran-laden team.

“It’s a little bit unique because we have four games in four days. But other than that, we have played in arenas like this and we have played these teams before. It’s our first year in the A 10, but it’s not really anything different for us. We are just trying to approach it one game at a time.”

Head coach Brad Stevens shared a similar stoicism and confidence, the type of mental balance his team will need to make another deep postseason run.

“Well, you treat it like any other tournament we’ve ever been in. You know, the difference between this and an NCAA Tournament is you doesn’t don’t have that extra day of preparation. But this is why you play in Maui. This is why you play the year before wherever we played, just keep going in those preseason tournaments.”

The Flyers led by four with just under 14 minutes left in the second half, but Butler responded with 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions and started to pull away.

Center Josh Benson led the Flyers in scoring with 18 points, and guard Kevin Dillard chipped in with 15 points.

The Bulldogs will face No. 4-seed La Salle at 2:30 p.m. on Friday in the quarterfinals.

You can contact Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir

Reports: Duke’s Frank Jackson to declare for draft

Leave a comment

Frank Jackson will declare for the draft but will not be signing with an agent, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Previous reports had indicated that Jackson “planned” to return to school, and that still may end up proving true. But the combination of Trevon Duval potentially enrolling at Duke combined with the fact that there is zero downside to going through the draft process, it makes sense for Jackson to declare.

Jackson averaged 10.9 points and shot 39.5 percent from three. He’s projected as a mid-first round pick in 2018 by Draft Express, but at 6-foot-3, he’s too small to play the two in the NBA and has yet to prove he can be a point guard.

Jackson is the fourth Duke player to declare, following Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles III and Luke Kennard. All three signed with an agent. Grayson Allen and Marques Bolden are both returning to school.

VIDEO: Top 2018 recruits Zion Williamson and Romeo Langford go head-to-head at adidas

Leave a comment

This weekend is the first live evaluation period of the spring recruiting calendar as college coaches from all over the country are scouting (and babysitting) the top recruits in the Class of 2018 and 2019.

Friday night the adidas Gauntlet in Dallas opened with a marquee matchup of two star players as five-star forward Zion Williamson and five-star guard Romeo Langford went head-to-head in what should be one of the best games of the spring.

Most scouting services have Williamson and Langford as the No. 2 and No. 3 overall prospects in the Class of 2018 as the duo didn’t disappoint in front of the huge crowd in Fort Worth.

Williamson helped his team to a win with 26 points and seven rebounds while Langford had 28 points, four rebounds and four assists. You’ll be hearing plenty about both of these guys over the next few months as both are still wide open in the recruting process.

(H/t: Ball is Life)

Report: Coppin State hires Juan Dixon as new head coach

Jamie Squire/ESPN/Getty Images
1 Comment

Coppin State has hired former Maryland star guard Juan Dixon to be its next head coach, according to a report from Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun.

The 38-year-old Dixon is best known for leading Maryland to the 2002 national championship as he was the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four that year. Now Dixon will have a chance to lead a Division I program for the first time.

Dixon spent seven years in the NBA and also played professionally in Europe before joining the Maryland coaching staff in 2013 as a special assistant to head coach Mark Turgeon. Not retained by Maryland after the 2015-16 season, Dixon took the head coaching job for the women’s team at the University of the District of Columbia last season as the Division II program finished only  3-25.

Coppin State finished last season with an 8-24 record after losing its first 12 games of the season. While Dixon will generate some positive local buzz given his background, he’s going to have an uphill battle trying to rebuild that program.

Nebraska scores important Class of 2017 commitment from four-star guard Thomas Allen

Leave a comment

Nebraska landed an important commitment from the Class of 2017 on Friday as four-star guard Thomas Allen is heading to Lincoln next season.

The 6-foot-1 guard is considered the No. 99 overall prospect by Rivals in the national Class of 2017 rankings as Allen was previously committed to N.C. State before head coach Mark Gottfried was fired.

A scorer with a good amount of skill, Allen has a chance to come in and make an immediate impact at Nebraska as he can play a bit on or off the ball. Allen should help offset the loss of senior Tai Webster in the Husker backcourt.

Allen joins wing Nana Akenten in Nebraska’s Class of 2017 recruiting efforts.

North Carolina lands four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks

Leave a comment

North Carolina pulled in a late Class of 2017 commitment to begin the weekend as the Tar Heels secured a pledge from four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks.

The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Brooks was previously committed to Mississippi State, but he was granted his release this spring to explore other opportunities.

The Tar Heels pounced as they’re getting a low-post threat who could develop into a potential double-double threat. A solid rebounder who isn’t afraid to play with physicality, Brooks has a chance to earn some immediate rotation minutes with seniors like Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks exhausting their eligibility.

Brooks is regarded as the No. 120 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, according to Rivals, as he is a four-star prospect. The native of Auburn, Alabama joins a North Carolina recruiting class that includes point guard Jalek Felton, shooting guard Andrew Platek and big men Brandon Huffman and Sterling Manley.