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.

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.