Memphis transfer Tarik Black is in demand, but be wary

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Outside of Andrew Wiggins, there may not be a more sought-after player in the country right now than Tarik Black.

How do I know that?

Well, on Tuesday night, Duke reportedly put the “full court press” on Black, trying to lure him to spend his final season of eligibility as a Blue Devil. That was followed up by a visit from Kansas head coach Bill Self on Wednesday night. If Duke wants you and Kansas wants you, than it’s safe to say you’re in fairly high demand.

It makes sense, too. Black is a veteran, having played at Memphis for Josh Pastner the past three years. He’s 6-foot-9, 250 pounds and athletic. Most importantly, he’s on track to graduate from Memphis this spring which means that Black will be eligible to play this fall for whichever schools he ends up deciding to transfer to.

Right now, Duke’s big man rotation consists of Josh Hairston, the surgically repaired Marshall Plumlee, and a trio of forwards — Jabari Parker, Alex Murphy, Amile Jefferson — that are more perimeter oriented than bruisers in the paint. There’s not much physicality there, and adding a body like Black certainly seems ideal.

Kansas has Perry Ellis coming back and they bring in freshman Joel Embiid, but there isn’t really all that much quality depth on the Jayhawk front line. They could certainly use a bruiser as well.

But here’s the problem: the idea of Tarik Black works much better in theory than it does on the court.

Black has a ton of potential. He’s been hyped up for the last two seasons. He’s got enough talent that he should have been an all-conference player for the Tigers at least once in his career. And yet, he’s never averaged more than 10.7 points in his three seasons. He’s never grabbed more than 5.0 boards, and that came as a freshman. His production on the glass went down the last two seasons, and it was never that impressive to begin with.

Was that simply a disconnect that he had with Memphis and the coaching staff and the way that he was used? Was he too distracted playing in his hometown?

Or is this simply who Tarik Black is? A big, athletic center that can do little more than be a big, athletic center?

A change of scenery may help, but don’t count on Black being much more than a piece in a rotation wherever he ends up.

But here’s the thing: who couldn’t use a piece like that? Who couldn’t use an athletic, 6-foot-9, 260 lb senior that can step in and play minutes? At the end of the day, Black is big and he’s physical and he’s, quite simply, the best option available for teams that are in need of a big man.

When your next best option is Josh Hairston or Justin Wesley, it’s no wonder that Duke and Kansas, respectively, come calling when a guy like Tarik Black becomes available.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.