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Emmanuel Mudiay to visit Kentucky, trim list to five at the end of the month

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PHILADELPHIA — Reebok’s Breakout Classic kicked off in with style, as top ten recruits Rashad Vaughn and Emmanuel Mudiay squared off in the first game of the first day.

The game itself ended up being a bust, as neither Mudiay or Vaughn played all that well with Mudiay’s team winning in a rout. Andrew Wiggins vs. Julius Randle, this was not. It was, however, a chance for Mudiay to play in front of two of the head coaches currently pursuing the Texas native: Larry Brown and John Calipari.

“I notice them. They wink at me here and there,” Mudiay, who is ranked No. 3 in the Class of 2014 according to Rivals and who is the No. 2 PG in the class, said with a chuckle on Wednesday afternoon. “I’m used to it now.”

Mudiay’s list is down to ten school: Kentucky, SMU, Arizona, Baylor, Kansas, Louisville, NC State, Oklahoma State, St. John’s and Texas. He said he’ll be trimming that list to five by the end of the month.

But he’s only scheduled a visit with one of those schools, having locked in a trip to Lexington for an official visit during Big Blue Madness. And if you’ve ever seen the videos from Big Blue Madness, you understand why. And while SMU doesn’t seem like the kind of basketball program that can compete for a recruit like Mudiay with a school like Kentucky, the Mustangs have a puncher’s chance, Mudiay says.

“They’re 20 minutes away from the house and they’ve got a legend there in the office,” Mudiay said. “The thing about Larry Brown that I love is that he don’t talk to me just about basketball. He talks to me about family and life, and that’s a big thing to me. He’s religious, I’m religious.”

Mudiay has said all spring and summer that the thing that he’s working on the most in competing on every possession, which isn’t exactly a promising thing to hear from a star lead guard. But it’s also understandable; when you’re criss-crossing the country all spring and summer playing in event after event where the outcome of the games don’t matter, it’s not easy to care about every single possession.

At least Mudiay is open about that fact.

It’s also not the only part of his game he’s working on improving.

“Being more consistent with my shooting, I’ve been working on that,” he said. “I’m getting better. Mo Williams, my coach for AAU basketball, has been working with me.”

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.