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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.

South Dakota State gets two commits

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Tuesday was a busy and productive one for South Dakota State on the recruiting trail.

The Jackrabbits secured two 2017 commitments from the state of Wisconsin in Ryan Krueger and Alex Arians, a source tells NBCSports.com.

Krueger is a 6-foot-5 wing player from New London, Wisc. while Arians is a 6-foot-4 guard from Madison, Wisc., who also held an offer from Wright State, which is coached by former SDSU coach Scott Nagy. Both players spend their summers playing for the Wisconsin Swing grassroots program.

The pair make it a trio of commits for the Jackrabbits in 2017 with another Wisconsinite, Alou Dillon, pledging to first-year Jackrabbits coach T.J. Otzelberger, himself a Wisconsin native, earlier this summer.

South Dakota State went 26-8 last year and the bulk of the team that made the NCAA tournament last year, including sophomore Mike Daum, who led the team in scoring and rebounding as a freshman.

Incoming Gator freshman ineligible for upcoming season

Mike White
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Florida will need to wait a year before seeing 6-foot-11 recruit Gorjok Gak playing games for the Gators.

The NCAA ruled that the incoming freshman will be able to enroll at Florida this year and practice with the team, but will be ineligible for games this season, the school announced Tuesday.

Should he meet all his progress marks during his freshman year, he’ll have three seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2017-18.

Gak’s eligibility issue centered on his playing games during his postgraduate year at Victory Rock Prep, according to his coach there.

“Following his graduate year from Australia, he was supposed to play from December to December,” Loren Jackson told the Gainesville Sun, “but instead played from December until the following May.”

Gak originally signed with Oklahoma State, but de-committed following Travis Ford’s firing in Stillwater this past spring. Gak averaged 13.8 points and 9.3 rebounds last season at Victory Rock in Bradenton, Fla.

Florida went 21-15 last season under first-year coach Mike White.

Video: Coach K talks Team USA with Dan Patrick

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Team USA has blown through its competition in its first two exhibition games ahead of next month’s Olympics in Rio De Janeiro with wins over Argentina and China by a combined a combined 96 points.

Tonight, they’ll have a rematch against China, which they defeated 106-57 on Sunday, but it will also serve as the unofficial debut of Kevin Durant in front of his new hometown fans with the game taking place at the home of the Golden State Warriors, Oracle Arena, in Oakland.

“Excited for Kevin tonight to make his debut in front of the Golden State fans,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said Tuesday on the Dan Patrick Show. “He got a great reception (Monday) at a function. He was, as he should be, warmly welcomed.”

The team has been together since July 18 in the run-up to its first Olympic contest on Aug. 6 against China. For Krzyzewski, a couple of players have made an impression already.

“You see these guys on TV,” the Duke coach said, “but I don’t get a chance to see them in person. (Clipper) DeAndre Jordan is such a good player. A great athlete, a great guy. To see him run, defend, holy mackerel. He’ s really good.

“I haven’t seen Paul George in two years when he had that horrific (leg) injury in Las Vegas at one of our camps, and he’s so darn good. On defense, tremendous.”

It’s on the defensive side of the floor that Coach K believes his team can really make its mark even with the incredible collection of offensive talent the roster has.

“We’re very athletic so defensively we could be a very good defensive team,” he said. “We’ve shown a willingness to want to do that in the first two games.”

As usual, Team USA is the prohibitive favorite to bring back gold for the third consecutive Olympics, which will be Coach K’s last at the helm after taking over after the 2004 bronze medal debacle.

“I’m excited about the team,” he said. “It’s a short time. to see our guys working so hard and they get along so well, I’m excited about the team we might be in Rio. We’ll use tonight to get a little bit better.

“I kind of have the blinders on. You only have a short time. It’s a little over a month, and we want to win the gold medal in Rio.”

Rose’s transfer to BYU becomes official

Ge'Lawn Guyn, L.J. Rose
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His commitment came more than a month ago, but L.J. Rose’s transfer to BYU became official Tuesday.

The former Houston guard was officially announced as an immediately-eligible graduate transfer by BYU on Tuesday. He’ll bring much needed help to a Cougars backcourt that lost Kyle Collinsworth and Chase Fischer to graduation and Jordan Chatman and Jack Toolson to transfers.

“L.J. will add great experience and talent to our guard line,” BYU coach Dave Rose said in a statement released by BYU. “We’re excited about the leadership he will bring on the court and in the locker room. He will make us a deeper and more versatile team.”

As a junior, L.J. Rose averaged 9.8 points and 5.3 assists, but a foot injury limited him to just two games last season and allowed him to receive a medical redshirt and the opportunity to be a graduate transfer for his final collegiate season. He’ll be a big part of BYU’s attempt to build on last year’s 26-11 season as a former top-100 recruit, who began his career at Baylor, on a team in need of an infusion of talent after absorbing the losses from last year’s roster.

His father, Lynden, Sr., was a teammate of BYU coach Dave Rose at Houston during the program’s Phi Slama Jama era.

UCLA loses key forward to professional ranks

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 02:  Dillon Brooks #24 of the Oregon Ducks steals the ball from Jonah Bolden #43 of the UCLA Bruins during a 76-68 Ducks win at Pauley Pavilion on March 2, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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UCLA announced on Tuesday afternoon that Jonah Bolden will be forgoing his college eligibility to turn professional.

“Jonah Bolden has informed the coaching staff that he has opted to play professionally this season,” the release said.

Bolden is a versatile, 6-foot-10 forward with some NBA potential. In his only season playing with the Bruins, he averaged 4.6 points and 4.8 boards while starting 11 games. His ability on the defensive end of the floor was something the UCLA staff was counting on this season.

A sophomore this past season, Bolden was ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA as a freshman, meaning that he was allowed to be on scholarship and in class but could not play during the 2014-15 season.

He had two seasons of eligibility remaining. Without Bolden, T.J Leaf will likely be counted on to play more minutes at the four.