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


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.

VIDEO: Kris Dunn wills Providence to win over No. 11 Arizona

Kris Dunn, Elliott Pitts
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
Leave a comment

Kris Dunn spent the first 35 minutes of Friday night’s game against No. 11 Arizona in foul trouble, splitting his time between sitting on the bench and trying to avoid finding himself, again, on the wrong side the whistle.

With 11 minutes left in the game, and with Dunn yet to find a rhythm, the all-american point guard was whistled for his fourth foul as he battled for a rebound with Arizona’s Mark Tollefsen. Head coach Ed Cooley say his superstar beside his for six game minutes, time enough for Arizona to turn a 49-47 deficit into a 58-54 lead.

There were just over five minutes left when Dunn reentered the second semifinal of the Wooden Legacy, and he proceeded to show everyone in the country why he was named the NBCSports.com Preseason Player of the Year. Providence had nine possessions after he reentered the game. Dunn scored 11 points and had a pair of assists on those eight possessions, and if Ben Bentil had stuck a wide-open three — that was setup by Dunn — the Friars would have scored on all nine.

In total, Dunn was responsible for all 15 Friar points in a game-changing, 15-7 run in the final 4:30. It was capped off by this Kobe-in-his-prime-esque game-winner:

The win for Providence is huge for a couple of reasons:

  • Dunn showed a killer instinct against a marquee opponent, something that we didn’t necessarily see out of him a season ago. He wasn’t going to let his team lose, and given that Providence doesn’t have anyone else that can consistently create good shots, they are going to need that from him a lot this year.
  • It makes a statement for the Friars. Arizona is overrated at No. 11 in the country, yes, but going out on national television against an elite program and getting this kind of performance from Dunn is a confidence-booster and a tone-setter. Providence hasn’t been accustomed to winning in recent years. This is a way to set a trend.
  • Ben Bentil continues to play like a star. Dunn had 19 points and eight assists on Friday, but Bentil followed up a 24-point performance in the win over Evansville with 21 critical points on Friday.

This win sets up a matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence on Sunday night, which means that Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn — the two best players in the country, sorry Ben Simmons — will be going head-to-head.

Oh. Hell. Yes.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
Leave a comment

After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.