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Texas forward Myles Turner among NBPA Top 100 Camp top performers

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The 20th anniversary of the NBA Player’s Association Top 100 Camp kicked off this week as many of the nation’s best high school players came together at the University of Virginia for skill development, games and mentoring sessions from current and former NBA players and other trained professionals.

USA Basketball obligations drew away some of the top players from this year’s camp, but there were still many players that proved themselves among their peers with solid play throughout the weekend. If starting five of the top players at each position were put together, many who attended the camp would start with Myles Turner.

Turner was the main story from this year’s NBPA Top 100 Camp. While Turner wasn’t the dominant player of the event — that distinction didn’t really go to anybody through the two days NBC Sports attended — he was one of the most talked-about players, and might end up as the camp’s top overall prospect among national rankings when it’s all said and done for the 2014 class.

The 6-11 forward from Texas already has a long list of high-major suitors, including most of the Big 12, but he proved to be a potential top 10 player in the 2014 class with his tremendous skills and ability to block shots. Turner’s jumper looks pure from even beyond the three-point line and in multiple games, he showed tremendous footwork and post skills as well.

After drawing rave reviews at the Pangos All-American Camp earlier this month in Southern California, Colorado-native Josh Perkins proved to be worthy of the hype. The 6-2 Perkins is one of the best passing guards in high school basketball and has court vision that would make many college guards envious. Perkins is a member of the 2014 class and makes other guys on his team better and sets them up for easy scores. In a camp environment when teammates that are unfamiliar come together, this trait is especially noticeable. His stock is on the rise nationally and it’s clear he’s one of the nation’s top point guards.

Milwaukee-native and 6-9 forward Kevon Looney has been in the national top-10 for much of his high school career and he didn’t disappoint with his play during the camp. Some media members cited Looney as the event’s top player during Thursday’s opening day and the forward with a Kevin Durant-type of build rebounds the ball very well and is a terror when operating off-the-dribble from the high post.

When it came to scoring, not many were stopping Isaiah Whitehead and his ability to score from nearly anywhere on the floor. Lincoln High School in New York has already produced famous alums like Sebastian Telfair and Lance Stephenson and Whitehead is the next big thing from the traditional basketball power. The 6-4 shooting guard plays aggressively at all times and while he can score using the jumper or attacking the hoop, he can also find teammates using his passing ability.

Rounding out the starting five for the event is North Carolina commit and Houston-area native Justin Jackson. Jackson is a wiry 6-8 small forward, but he’s skilled enough to pass and handle while also having a deadly mid-range game. Jackson can knock in floaters, runners and spin jumpers from the mid-range and scored in double figures in each of his games the first two days of the camp — an impressive feat considering the limited playing time and running clocks.

NBC Sports will have more on the NBPA Top 100 Camp throughout the week including recruiting updates on some of the camp’s best players.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.

VIDEO: Jim Boeheim makes TV appearance to talk Carmelo Anthony

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Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has drawn attention for some recent comments about former Orange star Carmelo Anthony.

After Anthony captured his record third gold medal with USA Basketball, his former college coach told Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard that Anthony didn’t have a great chance at winning an NBA title.

“He’s unlikely to win an NBA title,” Boeheim said of Anthony. “He’s never been on a team that even had a remote chance of winning an NBA title.”

Boeheim maintains that he was speaking of Melo’s legacy being about more than an NBA title and that he’s one of the game’s greats thanks to other accomplishments like the Syracuse title and gold medals. On SportsCenter, Boeheim made sure to stress where those comments were coming from, while also making sure his kids would stop being mad at him.

It’s much easier to understand where Boeheim is coming from in this instance and it clears up something that will probably go away now.