Pac 12 Basketball Tournament - UCLA v Oregon

Late Night Snacks: And then there were four…

Leave a comment

Just four auto-bids remain to be decided after a busy night in college hoops. Then we find out which bubbles popped and which held firm. Here’s the upshot on what happened on the Night Before Christmas Selection Sunday.

Game of the Night

No. 4 Louisville 78, No. 19 Syracuse 61: Amazing because it was the last dance for the Big East as we know it, and because both teams looked unbeatable for roughly 15-20 minutes at a time. It was Syracuse’s bad luck that they used up all of their genius in the first half, leaving the Cards to come back in a mighty rush in the second. Louisville forced 19 turnovers against a good team with a good point guard. That should be terrifying to the tourney field at large come Selection Sunday.

Hey!!! That’s tomorrow!!!!

Meaningful Results

No. 22 Wisconsin 68, No. 3 Indiana 56: Any discussion of who ‘deserves’ a number one seed this season will likely end in blows. Indiana has a stellar resume, but keeps losing tough games here at the end of the season, when all eyes are upon them. Bo Ryan’s Badgers, on the other hand, are serving notice that they will, once again, be one of the toughest outs in the Big Dance.

No. 15 New Mexico 63, UNLV 56: The Lobos have plenty of weapons this season, and we think that makes them worthy of a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

No. 7 Kansas 70, No. 11 Kansas State 54: The Jayhawks shared the regular-season title with the Wildcats, so this clear victory may have settled state bragging rights in their favor. Kansas got a strong game from Jeff Withey, and saw backups Perry Ellis and Naadir Tharpe step up with 12 points apiece.

No. 16 St. Louis 67, Butler 56: The Billikens still have to get past Havoc to win the A-1o auto-bid, but they looked like a Final Four contender as they cruised past the Bulldogs in the Barclays Center.

Starred

Durand Scott, Miami: 32 points, three rebounds and four assists as the Hurricanes strolled past ACC preseason favorites NC State. He’ll be ready for a rematch with North Carolina tomorrow.

Aaron Craft, Ohio State: Craft was the motor for the Buckeyes, pouring in 20 points to go with a more standard nine assists and four steals to set up a rematch with his most effective nemesis, Wisconsin.

Dwayne Evans, St. Louis: 24 points, 11 boards, three steals vs. Butler.

Montrezl Harrell, Louisville: Harrell pulled Louisville’s fat out of the fire with his 20 point, 7 rebound explosion. Not bad for a freshman.

Struggled

Brandon Triche, Syracuse: Triche had seven turnovers against the Louisville pressure.

The Great West: Two teams with identical 3-5 league records met to contest the Great West title, which confers no automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Chicago State Cougars won the dubious honor, while shooting just 41 percent from the floor and an even worse 14.3 percent from deep. Imagine Houston Baptist’s mortification.

D.J. Cooper, Ohio: Cooper is one of the best players in the country. He really is. He just didn’t look like it when the MAC auto-bid was on the line. Cooper shot 0-6 from deep as part of an 0-8 night from the floor. His three made foul shots were his only scoring output for the day. Cooper managed to dish out six assists, but those were tempered by the five turnovers he gave to the Akron Zips.

Eric Angevine is editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

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.