Isaiah Whitehead-Ja’Quan Newton package deal is ‘serious,’ could take official visit to Minnesota

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ARDSLEY, N.Y. — A few tweets sent three weeks ago, and another college basketball package deal was born.

Isaiah Whitehead (Lincoln High/Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Ja’Quan Newton (Neumann-Goretti/Philadelphia, Pa.) initially confirmed the rumors to Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports on June 28. Following the first July live period this weekend, Whitehead continued to fuel the fire of the package deal that would send two top-50 players to one school’s backcourt.

“We’re just talking about it,” Whitehead told NBC Sports at the BasketBull Summer Championships on Saturday. “We’re serious, but we haven’t pictured ourselves at a school, actually play together.”

The duo both hold offers from Georgetown, Minnesota, Rutgers and Syracuse. As Borzello mentioned in June, Richard Pitino and his staff have made an effort to recruit the northeast and it appears it is paying off for the Golden Gophers

“I’m taking [my official visits] after the live period,” Whitehead said.

As for taking any official visits with Newton?

“Possibly Minnesota,” Whitehead answered.

Whitehead, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard is ranked as the No. 17 overall player in the Class of 2014 by Rivals while the Newton, the 6-foot-2 point guard, is listed as the No. 41 by the same site. Both have a wide-open recruitment, and Whitehead said has no interest in cutting down his list of offers.

If this package deal were to become a reality, it will likely happen sooner rather than later.

“I’ll probably commit early in my senior year,” Whitehead said. “Probably like September.”

Though Whitehead says the talks with him and Newton are serious, he did tell NBC Sports that the school would have to be the right fit for both. He listed UCLA as school they are both interested in — however, Newton is still waiting for an offer from the Bruins.

This weekend athe BasketBull Summer Championships, St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin and an assistant were in attendance to watch Whitehead play with the Juice All-Stars (N.Y.). Lavin had a front-row seat to watch Whitehead score an easy 25 points in a win Saturday afternoon. St. John’s has yet to offer Newton, as well.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Louisville’s Rick Pitino on allegations: ‘We will get through this’

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville coach Rick Pitino remains defiant that his program will survive the allegations in a book by an escort alleging that former Cardinals staffer Andre McGee hired her and other dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players.

Pitino said Tuesday that the Cardinals “will get through this the right way.”

The coach told a packed room at a tipoff luncheon that he understands the motivation behind Katina Powell’s book “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” but questions the need for the alleged activities given the talent his program has produced.

Pitino added, “We will find out the truth, whatever it may be, and those responsible will pay the price.”

Georgia Tech lands Class of 2016 guard

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Georgia Tech picked up its third Class of 2016 commitment on Tuesday as the Yellow Jackets landed a pledged from three-star guard Josh Okogie.

The 6-foot-4 guard is considered the No. 143 overall prospect in the national Class of 2016 rankings and Okogie played with a very talented Team CP3 in the Nike EYBL. In 22 games this spring and summer, Okogie averaged 10.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 45 percent from the field.

Okogie joins three-star wing Christian Matthews and four-star big man Romello White in head coach Brian Gregory’s Class of 2016 at Georgia Tech. The group is definitely a solid influx of talent with some coming from successful grassroots programs.