NCAA Men's Championship Game - Kansas v Kentucky

Changes coming to the block/charge, flagrant elbow rules

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The NCAA has made another step in their neverending battle in trying to perfect the the block/charge rule.

On Monday, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel voted to make a change to the rule in an attempt to bring some modicum of consistency to how the call is made.

“Under the revised block/charge call in men’s basketball, a defensive player is not permitted to move into the path of an offensive player once he has started his upward motion with the ball to attempt a field goal or pass,” the NCAA wrote in a release. “If the defensive player is not in legal guarding position by this time, it is a blocking foul.”

The 2012-2013 season was rife with complaints about how the block/charge rule was being called, but the impetus for the rule change was a charge that was drawn by Ohio State’s Aaron Craft in the final seconds of an NCAA tournament win over Iowa State.

Remember the hullaballoo this call created? That wasn’t the only time that Iowa State was robbed by a referee misunderstanding the block/charge rule, either, was it, Elijah Johnson? The rule needed to be fixed, and while the changes being made this summer are a good thing, it’s important to remember that this isn’t going to change the fact that there are referees out there that will continue to make incorrect calls. Remember how promising we thought the charge circle was going to be?

New rules don’t mean that the correct call is always going to be made.

There were a couple of other rule changes made on Monday as well:

  • The NCAA took a note out of the Jay Bilas school of basketball and decided to try and find a way to open the game up by reducing the amount of fouling and physicality that goes on. The following fouls will be points of emphasis next season:- When a defensive player keeps a hand or forearm on an opponent.- When a defensive player puts two hands on an opponent.

    – When a defensive player continually jabs by extending his arm(s) and placing a hand or forearm on the opponent.

    – When a player uses an arm bar to impede the progress of an opponent.

  • There will be an increased use of monitor reviews next season. Referees can now use the monitor to review shot clock violations and out-of-bounds calls in the final two minutes and overtime. They can also review to see which player committed a foul, not just to determine who should be the foul shooter. The NCAA will also use the rule the Big Ten tested last season, waiting to review whether a shot was a two or a three until the next TV timeout unless it is in the final four minutes or overtime.
  • The best rule change that will be made is to the elbow rule. Previously, if an elbow was swung and it hit a player above the shoulders, it was an automatic flagrant foul. Now, the referees will be allowed some discretion in determining whether or not to give out a flagrant using a monitor review.

The rule change regarding flagrant elbows is the most important here.

Changing the definition of a charge isn’t going to change how often a ref can may the call correctly. It’s not an easy thing to do. And just because the rule book now says you can’t put two hands on an opponent doesn’t mean that refs will be calling those fouls every time it happens; if they do, Louisville and VCU are going to have long seasons.

New rules won’t make referees more accurate.

But allowing refs to avoid handing out game-changing flagrants on inadvertent elbows is a huge step.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

ESPN.com was the first to report White’s commitment.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

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)
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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.