With five seniors among its top six scorers, the ACC champion Miami Hurricanes will look far different in 2013-14. The one player among those six who isn’t due to graduate is sophomore point guard Shane Larkin, who proved to be one of the nation’s best point guards as the season progressed.
Larkin’s skill has put him in position to possibly leave school early to enter the NBA Draft, with many expecting Larkin to be a first round selection.
And in response to a tweet from Jorge Milian of the Palm Beach Post that he would forego his final two seasons of eligibility, Larkin denied the report and announced that he will make his decision public Sunday evening.
Don’t listen to whoever put the rumor out that I declared. It isn’t true. I will make an announcement Sunday at 6 about my future.
In 36 games Larkin averaged 14.5 points, 4.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game for the Hurricanes, who won their first-ever ACC title and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
(CLICK HEREto follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.)
If Larkin were to move on to the professional ranks Miami’s leading returning scorer would be rising senior Rion Brown, who averaged 6.4 points per game in 2012-13. Brown would also be the lone returnee to average double-digit minutes (22.2 mpg), with center Tonye Jekiri (6.9 mpg) and forward Erik Swoope (6.0 mpg) being next in line in that regard.
Head coach Jim Larrañaga and his staff have signed two talented shooting guards in the 2013 class, Deandre Burnett and Davon Reed, and both figure to receive plenty of chances to earn playing time given how much Miami loses production-wise.
If Larkin were to return those two would get the chance to learn from one of the nation’s best floor generals. But if he goes, the task of returning to the NCAA tournament becomes incredibly difficult.
Miami hasn’t reached the NCAA tournament in consecutive seasons since making three straight appearances from 1998 to 2000.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.