Kevin Willard

Rutgers, Seton Hall announce eight-year series through 2020

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It may not be a rivalry that makes national headlines (due in large part to the lack of success for both programs in recent years) but the annual matchup between Rutgers and Seton Hall was one that grew in importance within New Jersey once the Scarlet Knights joined the Big East in 1995.

Obviously conference realignment has halted (temporarily) some rivalries, but that won’t be the case for these two schools.

It was announced on Thursday that Rutgers and Seton Hall have agreed to an eight-year contract, with the first game of the series being played at Rutgers on December 7, 2013. Rutgers will host the game in odd-numbered years and Seton Hall will do so in even-numbered years.

“I’m obviously very excited that this series is going to continue,” Rutgers head coach Eddie Jordan said in a joint statement released by the schools. “I have been a part of this rivalry as both a player and an assistant coach, and I look forward to preparing our team for it.

“It helps to build spirit and is good for our University, our fans, our students and the New Jersey basketball community. It’s special and we can’t wait to grow the rivalry even more.”

Interestingly enough there is a clause in Jordan’s contract that the school will pay him $5,000 for every win he gets over Rutgers’ in-state rival.

Overall the two schools have met 64 times since 1916 with Seton Hall holding a 35-29 edge, with the two schools meeting at least twice in every season with the exception of two (1996-97 and 1998-99) as fellow Big East members.

With Seton Hall becoming a member of the Big East 2.0 (?) and Rutgers moving to the AAC for a season before joining the Big Ten in 2014, the dynamic will change. But at least they’ll continue to play the series, and the hope of many is that future meetings will occur closer to the holiday season.

“Continuing a local college basketball rivalry with such a rich tradition only made sense,” said Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard.  “This game has evolved into one that both fan bases look forward to each season, so we are happy to see it continue.”

Rutgers won both meetings last season, 57-55 at the RAC on February 12 and 56-51 at the Prudential Center in Newark on March 8.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Texas lands commitment from top 100 center

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James Banks announced on Thursday that he has committed to Texas, joining Jacob Young in Shaka Smart’s first recruiting class as the head coach of the Longhorns.

Banks is an interesting prospect. A 6-foot-10 center from Georgia, Banks is a still-developing prospect that was recruited more on his potential than his immediate ability.

“James Banks emerged as a good low post prospect this spring and summer,” NBC Recruiting Analyst Scott Phillips said. “With a good set of hands, some offensive potential and a frame that can add weight, Banks is a nice upside grab for Texas.”

He’s probably a few years away from having a major impact in the Big 12, but he may not have that much time to develop. Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh and Conner Lamert all graduate after this season, meaning that Banks is going to have to contribute immediately when he sets foot on the Austin campus for the 2016-17 season.

Texas has three commitments in the Class of 2015. Smart convinced Kerwin Roach and Eric Davis to remain committed to the program when he took over for Rick Barnes while he landed a commitment from Tevin Mack, who pledged to Smart when he was at VCU.

Memphis guard could miss season with shoulder injury

Kedren Johnson
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Memphis just cannot catch a break.


It’s to the point where I almost feel bad for Josh Pastner.

Today, reported that Kedren Johnson, a 6-foot-4 point guard that was on track towards being an all-SEC point guard at Vanderbilt, could end up missing the season due to a shoulder injury. If he can handle the pain he can avoid surgery and play with the injury, but at the very least, Johnson is going to be less than his best.

Johnson averaged 6.7 points and 2.7 assists last season for the Tigers. He sat out 2013-14 after leaving Vanderbilt and entered last season incredibly out of shape. There was hope that he would be able to make a bigger impact this season and help fill the void at the point guard spot.

This news comes on the heels of Memphis finding out that Jaylen Fisher is heading to UNLV. Who’s Jaylen Fisher? Well, he’s a point guard and top 40 recruit from Memphis that was Pastner’s No. 1 recruiting target that opted to leave the city for his college hoops instead of play for the Tigers.

That’s a bad sign, but not quite as bad as Memphis losing star center Austin Nichols — another local kid — to a transfer over the summer. Nichols transferred to Virginia.