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NBA releases the official early entry list

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The NBA released their official early entry list on Wednesday, and while there were no relevant surprises — Marcus Smart didn’t slide his name into the NBA Draft pool when no one was paying attention — but there were a handful of names that hadn’t made their way into the headlines. Here are the NBA Draft’s seven biggest surprises:

Nurideen Lindsey, Rider: Lindsey’s basketball career has been a long and winding road, going from Philly to a JuCo in Oklahoma to St. John’s and, finally, to Rider. But Lindsey opted to enter his name in the draft in part because he wants to help take care of his sick mother.

Trevis Simpson, UNC-Greensboro: After averaging 18.8 points as a junior for the Spartans, Simpson made the decision to bypass his senior season and begin a career as a professional. It’s not likely that Simpson will get drafted, but he’s talented enough that he should be able to make enough money to support his wife and daughter playing the game. Simpson may be best known for breaking a rim putting on a dunking clinic against Miami:

Tahj Tate, Delaware State: Tate left the MEAC school earlier this month with the intention of entering the NBA Draft in large part because he believes that he’ll be “a better NBA player than a college player”. Tate averaged 16.7 points as a freshman, but his production dropped to 12.8 points as a sophomore.

Adrien Coleman, Bethune-Cookman: Coleman will pass up his senior season at B-CU, where he averaged 17.8 points and 7.4 boards as a junior. But Coleman, who began his career at Nebraska and sat out one season as a redshirt, will graduate with a degree in May.

Christian Kabongo, Morgan State: Kabongo averaged 14.6 points as a sophomore at New Mexico State before transferring to Southern Miss and, then, Morgan State, where he never set foot on the court. Kabongo is best known for an, ahem, “obscene gesture” that got him suspended after a game at UTEP. He in Myck Kabongo’s cousin.

John Taylor, Fresno Pacific: Taylor averaged 27.5 points this season and scored 50 in an NCCAA tournament game. That’s the National Christian College Athletic Association tournament.

Joshua Simmons, Spartanburg Methodist: That’s a JuCo. He’s not even listed on the roster.

Here’s the entire list:

  • Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
  • C.J. Aiken, Saint Joseph’s
  • Anthony Bennett, UNLV
  • Vander Blue, Marquette
  • Lorenzo Brown, NC State
  • Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
  • Trey Burke, Michigan
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
  • Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
  • Adrien Coleman, Bethune-Cookman
  • Allen Crabbe, California
  • Dewayne Dedmon, USC
  • Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
  • Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
  • Archie Goodwin, Kentucky
  • Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
  • Grant Jerrett, Arizona
  • Christian Kabongo, New Mexico State
  • Myck Kabongo, Texas
  • Shane Larkin, Miami (Fl.)
  • Ricky Ledo, Providence
  • Alex Len, Maryland
  • C.J. Leslie, NC State
  • Nurideen Lindsey, Rider
  • Amath M’Baye, Oklahoma
  • Ray McCallum, Detroit
  • Ben McLemore, Kansas
  • Tony Mitchell, North Texas
  • Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
  • Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
  • Victor Oladipo, Indiana
  • Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga
  • Norvel Pelle, Los Angeles College Prep Academy
  • Otto Porter, Georgetown
  • Marshawn Powell, Arkansas
  • Phil Pressey, Missouri
  • Andre Roberson, Colorado
  • Joshua Simmons, Spartanburg Methodist (JC)
  • Trevis Simpson, UNC-Greensboro
  • Tony Snell, New Mexico
  • Tahj Tate, Delaware State
  • John Taylor, Fresno Pacific
  • Adonis Thomas, Memphis
  • Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
  • BJ Young, Arkansas
  • Cody Zeller, Indiana

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)
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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
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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.