Hampton uses trip to Bahamas to gauge upcoming season

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Hampton is back from a recent trip to the Bahamas, where the Pirates played three exhibition games against teams comprised of current and former college players and went 2-1.

While these overseas trips — permitted once every four years by the NCAA — are often meaningless in terms of win-loss record, they do provide 10 extra practices and a chance for players to grow in the offseason with games against real competition.

For Hampton, they got a chance to see the summer development of 6’7″ senior forward Du’Vaughn Maxwell. Maxwell averaged 10.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks last season for the Pirates and Hampton is hopeful entering the season after winning nine of 12 games in the MEAC before losing in the conference tournament. Hampton finished 14-17 on the year but they’re hoping that momentum from the late-season surge carries over into this season.

Dave Fairbanks from the Daily Press in Virginia broke down Maxwell’s play in the Bahamas and Hampton head coach Ed Joyner Jr sounds pleased with Maxwell’s development.

Maxwell is a spectacular athlete in transition and when the Pirates are running. But he demonstrated much more poise in half-court settings and consistently made medium-range jump shots. He averaged almost 22 points and nine rebounds in the three games.

“He’s not just an athlete any more,” Joyner said. “He was very fluid on the floor in the flow of the game. Last year, he did struggle in the flow of the game, the half-court flow. If we’re running the break, it’s fine, he’s great. But in the half-court flow of the game, him being more of an athlete and not very skilled, that hurt him sometimes. But he spent the whole summer working on his total skill set, and it showed over there.”

With MEAC Rookie of the Year Deron Powers returning at point guard, Hampton has two good pieces in place if some other role players begin to form around them. The Pirates return their two leading scorers from a team that finished 11-5 in the MEAC and could compete for the conference title this season.

Report: Four-star center reclassifying to 2015; down to three

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An interesting recruiting development hit on Friday as Josh Gershon of Scout.com reported that four-star center Jayce Johnson is reclassifying to the Class of 2015 and looking to join a program at semester break.

The 7-foot native of California is down to Cal, Colorado and Utah and Johnson is on an official visit to Utah this weekend after transferring to a charter school this week. As Gershon notes, only Cal has a scholarship to offer Johnson this season, but the family is willing to pay a semester at the other programs if it’s the right fit. Johnson would like to redshirt and train with his future college while playing against more mature players.

But if Johnson is persuaded not to redshirt, he could be an intriguing big man off the bench later in the season for a couple of teams looking to make a postseason appearance. As the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson is a talented prospect and he isn’t afraid to score with either hand. With some time to fill out, Johnson can turn into a talented Pac-12 player down the road.

VIDEO: Utah Valley’s Mark Pope dances, lip syncs with daughters

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New Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope made quite an impression on fans at the team’s Midnight Madness celebration last night. That’s because Pope did a dance and lip sync routine with his four daughters that turned out to be pretty impressive.

The former BYU assistant looks to be the leader in the clubhouse for best coach dance so far this preseason. We’ll see if any other coaches pull out elaborate routines at madness celebrations the next few weeks.