San Diego State picks up first 2014 commit in PG Kevin Zabo

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Steve Fisher received good news on Saturday when highly touted point guard Kevin Zabo made a verbal commitment to play at San Diego State.

Zabo, who is from Sherbrooke, Quebec and represented his native country at the FIBA U17 World Championships in Kaunas, Lithuania this summer, will soon become acclimated with a warmer climate after having spent last year at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire.

Prior to spending last season at Brewster, Zabo also spent time at St. Mark’s (Southborough, MA) and Montrose Christian School (Rockville, MD).

On Saturday, Zabo announced his decision via his Twitter account:

Along with San Diego State, Zabo boasted offers from Illinois, Iowa State, and West Virginia.

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman tweeted out the news of Zabo’s commitment, along with this nugget of information yesterday:

If you don’t know much about Justin Hutson, he is regarded as one of the top recruiters in the game, and was primarily responsible for putting San Diego State basketball on the map several years ago thanks to recruiting Kawhi Leonard and Chase Tapley. Hutson was the associate head coach at UNLV for the past two seasons, but returned to San Diego State in April of 2013. From Hutson’s biography on the San Diego State men’s basketball website:

Hutson played a pivotal part in San Diego State’s recruiting efforts. He was instrumental in securing a pair of nationally recognized recruiting classes, including the No. 15 class leading into the 2009-10 campaign, which included 2011 NBA first-round draft pick Kawhi Leonard and the recently departed and four-year starter Chase Tapley. That class was also rated the top group among non-automatic qualifying BCS schools by a pair of recruiting sites.

It’s easy to see why Goodman has connected Zabo’s verbal pledge with Hutson’s return. Moreover, the connection between the two was ostensibly formed as a result of Hutson’s close relationship with Zabo’s AAU team — CIA Bounce. Hutson recruited both Khem Birch and Anthony Bennett to UNLV from this program.

Kevin Zabo is a quality addition to Steve Fisher’s program, and he should be able to provide meaningful minutes early in his career.


Marcus Paige, Joel Berry lead No. 9 North Carolina past No. 2 Maryland

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.

For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.

On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.

Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.

Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.

In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.

As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.

(More to come from Chapel Hill…)

VIDEO: Melo Trimble drops Nate Britt with a crossover

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North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.

(H/T: The Cauldron)