Khalif Wyatt

Tourney Preview: Khalif Wyatt, Nova-UNC, McBuckets highlight the day

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GAME OF THE DAY: 1:40 PM: (9) Temple vs (8) North Carolina State — TBS

NC State wants to do nothing other than get out and run the floor. They don’t defend. They don’t even really execute in the half court. They want to run and they want to get their talent in a position to score. That’s a fun style of play to watch, especially when you have the number of really good basketball players that Mark Gottfried does.

But the Owls are pretty entertaining in their own right. Let’s move beyond, for a second, their versatile and dangerous trio of big men — Jake O’Brien, Anthony Lee and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson — as well as the dangerous Scootie Randall. Temple has Khalif Wyatt, and if you’ve never seen him play, you won’t want to miss this. He won’t blow you away with speed or athleticism, but he’s a crafty veteran that hits really tough shots and plays his best when the lights are the brightest. I’m expecting a huge game out of Wyatt on Friday.

Three more games you cannot miss

  • 7:20 PM: (9) Villanova vs (8) North Carolina — TNT: Does anyone really think they know what to expect here? Villanova has a ton of good wins and bad losses. North Carolina doesn’t really have either. The Heels spread the floor, the Wildcats pressure on the perimeter. Jay Wright and Roy Williams. This has “final possession” written all over it.
  • 9:20 PM: (10) Oklahoma vs (7) San Diego State — TBS: SDSU has really good guards and a talented swingman in Jamaal Franklin. Oklahoma has some versatile big men that matchup with well with SDSU. And Lon Kruger used to coach UNLV, SDSU’s rival.
  • 9:45 PM: (10) Iowa State vs (7) Notre Dame — CBS: If you like guard play, there are a lot of them in this game.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET: 3:10 PM: (13) La Salle vs (4) Kansas State — tru TV

I don’t have this in my bracket, but after watching the Explorers handle Boise State on Wednesday night, I got to thinking: How is Kansas State going to matchup with La Salle’s guards? I still haven’t come up with an answer. I think Ramon Galloway goes off and John Giannini advances to the round of 32.

WHO’S NOT GETTING UPSET: 9:57 PM: (11) Minnesota vs (6) UCLA — tru TV

I know the thinking. UCLA is without Jordan Adams, they are allergic to rebounding and all Minnesota can do offensively is rebound the ball. I see it, I promise. But I also know that Minnesota is 5-11 in their last 16 games. Are we really supposed to just assume that this team can simply turn it back on for the postseason?

BEST INDIVIDUAL MATCHUP: 7:15 PM: (15) Iona vs (2) Ohio State — CBS

Momo Jones is a talented basketball player and a blessed scorer. The Arizona transfer is now a member of the Iona Gaels. He’ll be locking horns with Aaron Craft, arguably the best on-ball defender in the country. That should be fun, and I fully expect Jones to be locked down.

INTRIGUING MATCHUP: 2:45 PM: (10) Cincinnati vs (7) Creighton — CBS

Creighton has a ton of scoring and arguably is the best three-point shooting team in the country, but they can’t defend all that well. Cincinnati is as tough and as physical on the defensive end as anyone in the country, but they cannot score. What wins out? And more importantly, if you took Cincinnati’s defense and Creighton’s offense, would that team win the national title?

 

FRIDAY’S SCHEDULE

12:15 PM: (15) Albany vs (2) Duke — CBS
12:40 PM: (12) Ole Miss vs (5) Wisconsin — tru TV
1:40 PM: (9) Temple vs (8) North Carolina State — TBS
2:10 PM: (15) Pacific vs (2) Miami (FL) — TNT
2:45 PM: (10) Cincinnati vs (7) Creighton — CBS
3:10 PM: (13) La Salle vs (4) Kansas State — tru TV
4:10 PM: (16) James Madison vs (1) Indiana — TBS
4:40 PM: (10) Colorado vs (7) Illinois — TNT
6:50 PM: (15) Florida Gulf Coast vs (2) Georgetown — TBS
7:15 PM: (15) Iona vs (2) Ohio State — CBS
7:20 PM: (9) Villanova vs (8) North Carolina — TNT
7:27 PM: (14) Northwestern State vs (3) Florida — tru TV
9:20 PM: (10) Oklahoma vs (7) San Diego State — TBS
9:45 PM: (10) Iowa State vs (7) Notre Dame — CBS
9:50 PM: (16) Western Kentucky vs (1) Kansas — TNT
9:57 PM: (11) Minnesota vs (6) UCLA — tru TV

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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)
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.

VIDEO: Jim Boeheim makes TV appearance to talk Carmelo Anthony

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Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has drawn attention for some recent comments about former Orange star Carmelo Anthony.

After Anthony captured his record third gold medal with USA Basketball, his former college coach told Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard that Anthony didn’t have a great chance at winning an NBA title.

“He’s unlikely to win an NBA title,” Boeheim said of Anthony. “He’s never been on a team that even had a remote chance of winning an NBA title.”

Boeheim maintains that he was speaking of Melo’s legacy being about more than an NBA title and that he’s one of the game’s greats thanks to other accomplishments like the Syracuse title and gold medals. On SportsCenter, Boeheim made sure to stress where those comments were coming from, while also making sure his kids would stop being mad at him.

It’s much easier to understand where Boeheim is coming from in this instance and it clears up something that will probably go away now.