Deeper St. John’s squad to be without three players for European trip

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With their top six scorers from last season’s team back for another season in Queens, the St. John’s Red Storm have the talent needed to hit the ground running in the Big East this coming season. Steve Lavin’s program will hit the road later this month, leaving on August 19 to play games and take in the sights in France, Italy and Spain before returning on September 1.

Unfortunately for the Red Storm, three of the players expected to have spots in the rotation are unlikely to play in Europe for health reasons. Veterans Phil Greene IV (torn left hip labrum) and Felix Balamou (sprained left ankle) are both recovering from injuries suffered late last season, and freshman Rysheed Jordan has been dealing with back spasms. Those injuries certainly won’t help coach Lavin, especially when it comes to Jordan.

The Philadelphia native is seen by many as the missing piece for the Red Storm, who struggled last season (17-16, 8-10 Big East) due in large part to instability at the point. Adding the talented Jordan to the mix makes the Johnnies a better team at the point from a talent standpoint, but not having him available for the trip is less than ideal. Luckily for the Red Storm, they don’t lack for depth as they approach the start of their summer trip.

“It’s definitely less than ideal to not have Rysheed Jordan, Phil Greene and Felix Balamou’s services. On the flip-side, unlike previous seasons, we now have the depth to absorb some injuries or foul trouble in a game,” Lavin said during the team’s media availability Thursday.

“In the past, the combination of a thin bench and our inexperience made it difficult to overcome injuries. Now we’re at a point where we finally have a more seasoned roster and deeper bench. Naturally, it’s less than ideal to have injuries yet we feel optimistic about the quality and depth of our personnel.”

One of the returnees is junior guard D’Angelo Harrison, whose disciplinary issues didn’t help matters for the Red Storm last season. With a new lease on his basketball career, the high-scoring shooting guard returns with an improved attitude. The task now is to continue to build on the strides made during the offseason, which included spending time with John Lucas in Houston.

“Obviously I didn’t want to be suspended, but I made it the best situation I could,” said Harrison. “I was around the guys constantly. I went home and worked out with John Lucas. I was a part of this wellness program, I attended anger management sessions and pretty much came back a different person. I can honestly say that.”

Also returning for the Red Storm are forwards Sir’Dominic Pointer and JaKarr Sampson and center Chris Obekpa, and they’ll also gain the services of big man Orlando Sanchez and Harvard transfer Max Hooper. After a one-year absence from the NCAA tournament can St. John’s return to the field of 68? They’ll take the next step towards a return when they board the plane Monday.

Puerto Rico Tip Off bracket revealed

AP Photo/Sean Rayford
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The bracket of the 2017 Puerto Rico Tip off was revealed Wednesday, setting up a showdown between a 2016 Final Four participant and the 2016 Big 12 tournament champion.

South Carolina and Iowa State headline the event, which will be played Nov. 16-19, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

The Gamecocks are on the top half of the bracket, opening against Illinois State while the Cyclones are on the bottom half, squaring off against Appalachian State.

Boise State vs. UTEP is the other top-half quarterfinal while Tulsa vs. Western Michigan is the other.

The championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip Off on Sunday, Nov. 19.

VIDEO: Michigan State’s Miles Bridges is dunking again

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Just what you wanted to see, a video of former Michigan State star Denzel Valentine throwing an alley-oop off the glass to current Michigan State star Miles Bridges in a Pro-Am in Michigan:

VIDEO: Kentucky’s entry into the #DriveByDunkChallenge

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A day after Grayson Allen threw an alley-oop to Trevon Duval for Duke’s entry into the #DriveByDunkChallenge, Kentucky’s team of freshmen decided to do one of their own:

https://twitter.com/i/web/status/889947577734574085

That would be, in order, Johnny David, Jarrod Vanderbilt, Nick Richards, PJ Washington and Kevin Knox abusing some poor sap’s rim somewhere in Lexington.

But was that better than John Calipari’s attempt?

VIDEOS: Michigan State’s Miles Bridges puts on another show at local summer Pro-Am

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Watching Michigan State’s Miles Bridges throw down high-level dunks in local summer pro-ams has been a good way to pass the time the last few weeks.

The 6-foot-7 Bridges has been annihilating rims all summer as he had more ridiculous dunks on Tuesday night. Playing with former Michigan State star Denzel Valentine and some of his current Spartans teammates, Bridges had more crowd-pleasing plays to add to his summer reel.

Lansing State Journal reporter James Edwards III has been on the scene for Bridges’ games all summer as he has more dunks from the future lottery pick.

Minnesota keeps in-state three-star 2018 guard Gabe Kalscheur at home

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Minnesota is keeping a big-time shooter at home as Class of 2018 shooting guard Gabe Kalscheur pledged to the Golden Gophers on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-4 Kalscheur is the third in-state prospect to pledge to head coach Richard Pitino in the Class of 2018 as he joins three-star forward Jarvis Thomas and four-star big man Daniel Oturu. The three-star Kalscheur gives Minnesota a valuable floor spacer and a winner as he’s a three-time state champion at DeLaSalle. All three of these commitments also played together with Howard Pulley in the Nike EYBL.

During this spring and summer in the Nike EYBL, Kalscheur averaged 14.9 points and shot 39 percent from three-point range as he made 61 treys in 21 games.

Pitino has certainly done a nice job of keeping local players home as he’s hoping that trend continues with upcoming in-state five-star prospects like 2018 point guard Tre Jones and 2019 forward Matthew Hurt. The Golden Gophers will have to win national recruiting battles to keep those guys home, but they’ve done a nice job of getting the other guys that they need to keep home.