2013 UA Pitt Jam Fest

Devin Robinson highlights Saturday’s action at the Pitt Hoop Group Jam Fest

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PITTSBURGH — Devin Robinson made a name for himself last summer. When you’re a lanky and athletic 6-foot-7 forward with a solid three-point stroke, that’s not a difficult thing to do.

Robinson, who plays his AAU ball with Squires Richmond (VA), has amassed quite a list of offers: UConn, Rutgers, Towson, VCU, Virginia Tech and Xavier were among the schools that he mentioned.

“VCU’s coming after me the hardest,” Robinson said of Shaka Smart’s program. “They play a lot of good D, they get up and down the floor, they shoot a lot of threes. They play hard.”

VCU may have some competition after the way that Robinson played in the Pitt Hoop Group Jam Fest on Saturday. Squires knocked off Philly Pride before losing to a loaded Atlanta Xpress, and Robinson played great. He was knocked down threes, he was blocking shots around the rim, he was beating top 50 center Trayvon Reed for offensive rebounds, and he showed that he could use the dribble to create shots.

Robinson, who is ranked No. 106 in the 2014 class according to Rivals, has heard from Cincinnati, Miami and Georgetown recently.

Chris Chiozza is picking up offers: Anyone that watched college basketball this season will find it easy to make a comparison for Memphis native Chris Chiozza: Missouri point guard Phil Pressey.

Chiozza, who is ranked 90th in the Class of 2014 according to Rivals, stands 5-foot-9 on a good day, but the Team Thad (TN) point guard is a dynamic playmaker. He’s quick with an ankle-breaking handle, he can get into the lane and create for himself or for his teammates, and he’s started to hit threes when defenders play off of him.

It’s enough that Chiozza — who already holds offers from Murray State, Richmond, UMass and Auburn, among others — is getting plenty of interest from bigger programs. Missouri has begun to show interest, although that may change now that they have two Class of 2013 point guards committed (Shane Rector and Wes Clark), as well as the Florida Gators.

Keep an eye on Temarcus Blanton: No one at the Pitt Hoop Group Jam Fest has had as good of a week as Temarcus Blanton, a 6-foot-4 off-guard from Georgia that plays for Atlanta Xpress.

Blanton, who currently is not ranked by Rivals, is often overlooked on the AAU circuit by more highly-regarded teammates, but he put on a show against Team Thad (TN) on Friday night and against Squires Richmond (VA) on Saturday night. The Class of 2014 product was a terror in transition, getting to the rim at will and often finishing while drawing a foul.

“I wanna play fast,” Blanton said. “Just keep running. It’s my style. When it comes time, I want to have the ball in my hands. I’m confident.”

Blanton said that he currently holds offers from George Mason, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Mercer and Murray State, and that schools like Cincinnati, Alabama and Tennessee have started to show interest.

What’s interesting about Blanton is that he’s not only looking for his “best chance of playing” when it comes to a college, but he wants a school with a good Sports Management program. He said that he wants to get into coaching once his playing career comes to an end, but that his dream is to be a commentator.

“I like being on TV,” he said. “I like to talk.”

Quadri Moore gaining more attention: Quadri Moore, a 6-foot-9 center from Linden, NJ, continues to generate attention from high-major programs along the eastern season board.

The No. 80 recruit in the Class of 2014 according to Rivals, Moore is a versatile center that can step out and knock down a three. Duke, Florida, Georgetown and Cincinnati have been in touch with him recently while he currently holds offers from Wake Forest, Providence, Seton Hall, Rutgers and St. Joe’s.

(Image credit: Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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)
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.