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Top 50 big Reid Travis to visit Gonzaga, continue working on his versatility

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va — Reid Travis is as tough as they come on the basketball court.

A 6-foot-8, 240 lb bruiser, Travis has developed a reputation for himself nationally as a bully in the paint. He’s a double-double machine with a nose for the ball and a sense of how to gain position down-low. He finishes well through contact as well, which makes sense given the fact that he’s gotten scholarship offers from Big Ten schools as a quarterback.

With all that in mind, it’s funny to consider the fact that the next step that he needs to take in his game is to become … softer?

Well, that’s not quite right, but for Travis to be able to make the leap to the next level, the Minnesota native needs to become a more versatile player, diluting that raw power with a dash of finesse and a dollop of face-up game.

“I think the next step that I have to take is just to expand my game to the outside, and be able to knock down a three here and there while still keeping my principles of being able to pound down low,” Travis said after his first game at the NBPA Top 100 Camp on Thursday afternoon, mentioning that he watches film of NBA power forwards like Amare Stoudamire to help him learn. “I’ve been working on my post game a lot, especially since I’ve been going against all these bigger guys in the post. I’ve gotta expand a lot more, working on my jump shot and my jump hook and stuff like that.”

The better Travis gets from the perimeter, the more attention he will receive as a ballplayer. But attention isn’t all that Rivals’ 41st-ranked player in the Class of 2014 is after, as he already has plenty of it.

Travis already has upwards of a dozen high-major offers. In fact, he’s in the process of whittling that attention down and trying to figure out where he will be playing his college ball. Academics are important to Travis, which is one of the reasons that west coast programs like Stanford and UCLA have garnered his interest. Travis said that he likely will end up visiting those two schools, but the first visit that he has locked-in is a trip to Gonzaga, which will take place in the next couple of weeks.

“The coaching staff [at Gonzaga] intrigues me a lot,” Travis said. “I’ve spent a lot of time with Tommy Lloyd and Mark Few, and I’m trying to keep building that. I just want to see what the campus is about and how they develop their players. Get a first hand look at what they do over there.”

Gonzaga would be a nice fit for Travis, as he could very easily put together a career reminiscent of the one that Elias Harris had over four years in Spokane, but leaving home wouldn’t be an easy thing to do, not with the current excitement in-state of the hiring of Richard Pitino. And you better believe that the new Gopher coaching staff has made the effort to sneak in and earn a commitment from Travis.

“It’s been great talking to Coach Pitino. I think I talk to him like twice a week,” Travis said. “I’ve had a number of unofficials since he came over. It’s been great to build that relationship, I like their whole staff and I like the program.”

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.

LSU looking into starting lineup options

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - MARCH 7:  Head Coach Johnny Jones of the LSU Tigers watches his team play during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena on March 7, 2015 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Tigers defeated the Razorbacks 81-78.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.

While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.

Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?

Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.

Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.