Greene County Daily Word

Matt Graves inks first recruit at South Alabama

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Just a little over a month on the job, first year South Alabama coach Matt Graves announced the signing of 6-8 forward Austin Karazsia as his first recruit.

Graves, who was Brad Stevens’ right-hand-man at Butler during their back-to-back Final Four runs, and South Alabama made headlines in late March when the Jaguars announced the hiring. Just weeks later, Graves hired former steady Butler point guard Ronald Nored to his staff.

Karazsia, who excels on the gridiron perhaps as well on the hardwood passing for 3,328 yards and 42 touchdowns last fall at Linton-Stockton High School, hails from the Hoosier state living just less than 90 miles from the Butler campus.

Is Graves transforming South Alabama into Butler South? Probably too soon to make a bold statement like that, but one cannot help but make that parallel with Nored and now Karazsia heading south to Mobile, AL to join Graves.

In a release from the South Alabama athletic department on May 2nd, Graves had this to say about Karazsia:

“I am very excited that Austin has decided to join the Jaguar basketball family. He really fits in with our program’s vision and values. We believe his upside is tremendous now that he will be able to focus year-round on basketball after having an outstanding career as a two-sport athlete.”

Karazsia led Linton-Stockton to a 24-4 record last season and to the Class 2A state championship game and his coach, Joey Hart, had this to say about the gifted multi-sport athlete:

“Austin combines work ethic, size, intelligence and a skill-set that allows him to continually improve. He shoots awfully well for a kid his size and he doesn’t run like a big kid—he’s athletic and can move, but the biggest thing with him, is his work ethic and intelligence. It’s two intangibles that give him a great chance to succeed.”

“Work ethic” and “intelligence” are two intangibles that seemingly describe every successful Butler basketball player during Matt Graves’ tenure as an assistant coach with the Bulldogs — he was named as the associate head coach in 2010. In fact, these descriptors are an apt depiction of what Ronald Nored brought to the Butler program from 2008-2012.

The late 2013 signing is attributed to Karazsia deciding to pursue basketball at the collegiate level, rather than football. If history tells us anything, it is that having a good deal of success in football at the quarterback position — a highly cerebral one at that — will bode well for Karazsia on the court; one has to look no further than Aaron Craft and Greg Paulus who were both high school star quarterbacks.

If we are to glean anything from Karazsia’s commitment to South Alabama, it is that Matt Graves may be developing a pipeline straight from his old recruiting grounds in Indiana.

You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11

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)
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
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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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.

VIDEO: Jim Boeheim makes TV appearance to talk Carmelo Anthony

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Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has drawn attention for some recent comments about former Orange star Carmelo Anthony.

After Anthony captured his record third gold medal with USA Basketball, his former college coach told Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard that Anthony didn’t have a great chance at winning an NBA title.

“He’s unlikely to win an NBA title,” Boeheim said of Anthony. “He’s never been on a team that even had a remote chance of winning an NBA title.”

Boeheim maintains that he was speaking of Melo’s legacy being about more than an NBA title and that he’s one of the game’s greats thanks to other accomplishments like the Syracuse title and gold medals. On SportsCenter, Boeheim made sure to stress where those comments were coming from, while also making sure his kids would stop being mad at him.

It’s much easier to understand where Boeheim is coming from in this instance and it clears up something that will probably go away now.