Tarik Black

Memphis transfer Tarik Black is in demand, but be wary

1 Comment

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.

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike
Leave a comment

Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images
3 Comments

Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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.