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Oakland to join the Horizon League in July

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Creighton left the Missouri Valley Conference to join the Catholic 7, Xavier and Butler to form the new Big East. To fill that void the MVC acquired Loyola (Ill.) from the Horizon League. And now the Horizon League found Loyola’s replacement in Oakland University.

The university’s board of trustees voted to accept the Horizon League’s invitation on Tuesday and it became official. The Golden Grizzlies will be members on July 1, 2013. Oakland had been a member of the Summit League since 1997.

“Oakland University is the perfect fit at the perfect time for the Horizon League,” Commissioner Jonathan B. LeCrone in a statement. “They bring a well-respected and growing athletics program and we are adding a university that is aspirational. We look forward to working with President Gary Russi, Athletics Director Tracy Huth and his staff on behalf of the student-athletes. This is an exciting beginning to our external growth plan.”

“Oakland University is pleased to be the newest member of the Horizon League,” added Russi. “The universities in this conference are strong academically and they value the student-athlete experience. Oakland fits well with them and we look forward to being part of their tradition of excellence.”

The move makes sense for Oakland geographically in addition to athletics.

“Moving to the Horizon allows us to associate and compete with institutions with outstanding academic profiles and values,” said Huth. “They value the experience of the student-athlete. It also gives us the opportunity to play University of Detroit Mercy on a regular basis for some spirited Metro Detroit competition.”

Oakland finished 16-17 (10-6 Summit League) this past season, ending the 2012-2013 campaign in the first round of the CBI. The Golden Grizzlies did have a key win over conference foe South Dakota State on Feb. 9.

Oakland joins the Horizon League that had three teams win 20 or more games this year with Valparaiso earning the league’s automatic NCAA tournament bid.

Oakland has made tournament appearances in 2005, 2011 and 2012.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
AP Photo
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.


PHOTO: South Carolina gets new uniforms

Frank Martin
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South Carolina debuted some new uniforms early this week as the school is going with a fresh look and three color ways.

They’re also going to with the “Carolina” branding this season, but I think these new uniforms look pretty cool.