Rider guard Nurideen Lindsey to pursue professional opportunities

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(CLICK HERE to follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.)

When he surprisingly transferred from St. John’s after just nine games during the 2011-12 season, guard Nurideen Lindsey cited the desire to be closer to his native Philadelphia in order to tend to his ill mother.

With that in mind Lindsey, who began his collegiate career at Redlands Community College in Oklahoma, chose to join the program at Rider. Lindsey received a waiver from the NCAA to play at the start of this season instead of having to wait until the end of the fall semester and he was a valuable asset for first-year head coach Kevin Baggett.

Lindsey averaged 8.0 points and 2.8 rebounds per contest for Rider, which finished the season with a 19-15 record (12-6 MAAC). With those numbers an early departure to embark on a professional career may not be seen as the best move by many.

But with his mother still dealing with health issues, Lindsey has decided to take that path as reported by Ryan Restivo of NY Buckets. In an interview with Restivo, Baggett noted the family hardship as the motivating factor behind Lindsey’s decision to pursue professional opportunities.

“He’s in a hardship situation where he’s wanting to support his family,” Baggett said. “This was a thing that he wanted to do from day one. This was something that he had wanted to come and try and have a great year so he could try and turn professional to be able to support his family.”

“That still is his ultimate goal. It’s not because he doesn’t want to be here, it’s more just from his standpoint trying to support his mom [who] has been very sick and that’s why he got cleared to play this year.”

In addition to Lindsey the Broncs lose leading scorer Jonathon Thompson (13.1 ppg) and forward Dera Nd-Ezuma. But with players such as guard Anthony Myles and forward Daniel Stewart returning Rider will have the talent needed to be a factor in the MAAC next season.

Lindsey’s return likely would have placed Rider among the preseason favorites to win the league (Manhattan and Iona being two of those teams). But given the circumstances that led to his decision, it’s difficult to blame him for leaving.

Photo credit: Peter G. Borg/Rider University

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

A record $439 million was bet on basketball in March in Las Vegas

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The month of March was quite friendly to Las Vegas.

According to ESPN, more money was bet on basketball during the month of March than in any month in the state’s regulated sports betting history.

And while the numbers produced by Las Vegas books don’t separate college and professional basketball betting, the money coming in on college hoops is pretty clear: $439 million was bet on basketball in March, more than double the $213 million bet on the sport in February.

It was profitable, too.

Those Vegas books kept more than $40 million dollars of the money that was gambled on basketball, which shattered the previous record of roughly $28 million in winnings.

Gonzaga lands their first post-Final Four commitment

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Gonzaga capitalized on their run to the national title game by landing a commitment from French point guard Joel Ayayi, who announced the news on twitter.

Ayayi is an interesting long-term prospect, according to Draft Express. He has the size and the frame to eventually be a significant contributor in the college game, but he’s raw. His handle needs work, as does his ability to create off the dribble and find teammates off of the bounce.

That said, he’s 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-7 wingspan and the ability to shoot it from the perimeter, and if Gonzaga can do anything, it’s develop players that enter their program.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson, top three prospect in 2018, breaks defender’s ankles

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Zion Williamson, one of the most sought-after recruits in college basketball, had himself a highlight-worthy moment at the Adidas Gauntlet event in Dallas over the weekend, breaking a defender’s ankles before hitting a three.

Illinois lands important commitment from four-star Class of 2017 guard Mark Smith

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Illinois landed a very important Class of 2017 commitment on Wednesday as guard Mark Smith pledged to the Illini.

The 6-foot-4 Smith was previously a Missouri commit for baseball, but some issues with his arm caused him to look back into basketball last summer. A native of Edwardsville, in the St. Louis metro area, Smith came out of nowhere to win the Illinois Mr. Basketball award as a senior this season as he averaged 21.9 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds while becoming a consensus national top-100 prospect.

Rivals rates Smith as the No. 52 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 as he could come in and earn immediate minutes at Illinois next season at either guard spot.

This is a very important commitment for head coach Brad Underwood and the Illini as the new head coach was able to hold off some elite programs like Kentucky and Michigan State for Smith’s services.

Northwestern gets commitment from Boston College transfer A.J. Turner

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Northwestern landed a transfer on Wednesday as former Boston College wing A.J. Turner pledged to the Wildcats, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The 6-foot-7 Turner just finished his sophomore season with the Golden Eagles as he averaged 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. A well-rounded wing who also shot 37 percent from three-point range, Turner will have to sit out one season due to NCAA transfer regulations before getting two more years of eligibility.

With Scottie Lindsay and Vic Law only having limited time left in Evanston, Turner provides a bit of insurance on the wing for the Wildcats for the future as he’s a proven rotation player coming from the ACC.