Top 2014 prospect Trey Lyles taking his time with the recruiting process

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FORT WAYNE, In. — The Bill Hensley Memorial Run-N-Slam is always one of the most well-attended high school basketball events of the spring and this past Friday there was even more of a local buzz then usual as some of the best travel teams from the Midwest took the floor at the Spiece Fieldhouse. For host Spiece Indy Heat, that buzz was centered around the return of power forward Trey Lyles, who made his 2013 debut on the grassroots circuit on Friday night as he returned to action for the first time since injuring his left knee in sectional play of the Indiana state tournament.

Lyles is regarded as the No. 4 player in the country according to Rivals and although his Spiece Indy Heat team is loaded with talent, none of his teammates have the package of skill, size and upside that the 6-10, 245-pound Lyles possesses.

For Trey, it just felt good to return to the hardwood and get back to playing in games with his teammates.

“My return has been good so far. I’m missing some shots that I usually wouldn’t miss but that’s to be expected after missing so long and I’m not really worried about it. But it feels good to be back out there,” Lyles told NBC Sports.  “Health-wise, I’m 100 percent, but conditioning I’m probably at 95 percent. Workout conditioning is different from game condition, so I just have to get back in game condition.”

It also doesn’t hurt that Lyles is surrounded by a very talented supporting cast. Teammates Jaquan Lyle (No. 17), Trevon Bluiett (No. 46) and Indiana commit James Blackmon (No. 47) all rate as top-50 prospects in Rivals’ 2014 national rankings and have helped ease Lyles back into the flow of the game. Throughout the weekend, local fans often packed all four sidelines in standing-room only fashion to get a glimpse of Spiece Indy Heat when they took the floor.

“I feel no pressure at all, we’re just coming out here and trying to have fun and trying to win games,” Lyles said. “It’s definitely fun (playing with this team). Everybody can score, everybody can play, everybody can do everything. You’re playing with the best guys and hanging with them. It’s like you’re with family so it’s a great time.”

Now that Lyles has rehabilitated his knee and returned to action, recruiting has naturally become a topic of discussion when Trey speaks to the media. Trey maintains a list of six schools that he’s actively considering.

“I have six top schools: UCLA, Butler, Florida, Kentucky, Duke and Louisville and all of those schools are ones that I’m really looking at,” Lyles said.  “They’re all kind of (recruiting me) the same; I hear from every school every week.”

With a list of schools that includes perennial Final Four candidates, Lyles is taking his time with the process and hasn’t set any official deadlines.

“I’ll probably make a decision after the next high school season. I’m undecided on visits, but I’ll probably take some this summer,” Lyles said.

Scott also writes for NY2LA Sports and can be followed on Twitter @sphillipshoops

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.