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Elite 2014 recruit Craig Victor has plenty of serious suitors

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LAS VEGAS, Nv. — Craig Victor is a wanted man.

The New Orleans native is being tracked by some of the premier programs in the country and as the No. 21 overall recruit in Rivals’ 2014 national rankings, Victor has a lot of coaches present when he takes the floor with New Orleans Elite at the adidas Super 64.

The 6’8″ forward told NBC Sports that Louisville, Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma State, LSU, Oklahoma, Miami, Florida, UConn, Texas A&M, UCLA,  and Oregon were among the schools that had offered scholarships.

Victor noted that a few schools were putting in a big effort to recruit him.

“Arizona’s real hard, LSU’s real hard and I hear from Kansas and Louisville a lot too,” Victor told NBC Sports.

During the game NBC Sports saw of Victor’s at Valley High School in Las Vegas, head coaches from Arizona, LSU and Louisville were present while Kansas also had an assistant coach. Victor said he notices which coaches attend his games.

“Oh yeah, of course, of course; (I notice who is watching) all the time,” Victor said. “I pay attention to all of that. That lets me know that the team really is interested in watching me.”

Now that coaches are able to text with prospective recruits, Victor also has a bevy of text messages to cycle through as he’s cooling down after a game.
After each game, Victor checks his phone to see which coaches have been in touch.

“(They tell me) ‘good game’ or what I did right, what I did wrong. They’ll tell you the truth and let you know if you did something wrong or need to improve something,” Victor said of the texts from coaches. “Most of the time they’re letting me know that they were here watching.”

One of the unique things about Victor is his enjoyment of big games and big matchups. While some prospects shy away from speaking about matchups or don’t wish to speak about them publicly, Victor openly embraces the chance to play good competition.

“It’s a blessing and a good opportunity for me and the other guy I gotta play because it’s going to be a battle,” Victor said. “The coaches come to see when I face guys like Kevon Looney or Leron Black. It’s matchups like that that people want to see so we’re going to come out and compete.”

Victor particularly enjoys the competition he gets when facing Milwaukee-native and top-ten prospect Kevon Looney. The two engaged in a tremendous battle at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in June and also faced earlier during the July evaluation period at the adidas Invitational in Indianapolis.

“I like facing Kevon Looney,” Victor said. “Not just the (NBPA Top 100 Camp game) but we played them in Indy too. I look forward to playing him again; hopefully in this tournament.”

It’s hard to say if Victor will face Looney in the adidas Super 64 — or another time in the future — but no matter the opponent, Victor will come out and play hard.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.