Expressions Elite

Abdul-Malik Abu and Jared Terrell to announce September 7

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Expressions Elite teammates Abdul-Malik Abu and Jared Terrell have cut their respective list of offers to 10, then four and as of Saturday have reached a conclusion for their college decisions.

On Saturday, Sept. 7 at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston, the duo will announce their commitments. Abu, a 6-foot-8 power forward from Kimball Union Academy (N.H.) is down to Florida, N.C. State, Providence and UConn. Terrell, a 6-foot-3 guard who plays at Brewster Academy (N.H.) will pick from Cincinnati, Oklahoma State, Providence and Rhode Island.

Since Expressions Elite’s season came to an end last month, the duo has been busy cutting a list and then scheduling visits. Abu, made unofficial trips to N.C. State on Aug. 11 and then Florida on Aug. 14.

“Abdul liked N.C. State and the fact that he could come in and play right away,” Expressions Elite head coach Ty Boswell told NBC Sports in a phone interview Sunday afternoon. “He liked the overall atmosphere of the school, and he had a real good conversation with the coaching staff.

“He liked the tradition, and the way they develop power forwards for the next level,” Boswell said of the Florida visit. “He also liked Billy Donovan with how he interacts with past and current players.”

The most recent, and final visit for Abu was UConn earlier this week. Kevin Ollie showed the Boston native the new facilities, and according to Boswell, the staff made a great presentation to Abu.

Terrell returned from an official visit to Oklahoma State this past weekend, and is trying to plan a trip to Cincinnati this upcoming weekend.

“He liked the opportunity,” Boswell said of the OK State visit. “Obviously, Marcus Smart is leaving, and he’ll have big shoes to fill. He liked the fact he could come in and play right away.

Though he has the high-major offers, Danny Hurley and the Rhode Island staff have been aggressive in recruiting Terrell, which clearly has paid off.

“Jared liked Danny and the vision they have for him, coming in and being a focal point,” Boswell added. “They see him a guy that can help lead them to an Atlantic 10 championship.”

One school is still in play for both: Providence . Abu and Terrell have been high priorities for the Providence coaching staff, and landing commitments would be great additions to its 2014 class that includes Huntington Prep (W.Va.) small forward Jalen Lindsey. Rumors of a package deal have been consistent throughout their recruitments, though, both stated repeatedly that it would have to be the best possible option for both of them.

Abu and Terrell visited Providence on Aug. 10 for an unofficial visit, and participated in PC’s elite camp.

“It was a great atmosphere and a great situation,” Boswell said. “Ed Cooley has done a great job thus far, and has made it clear he really wants them.

“They have the opportunity to leave a legacy in the New England area.”

Boswell told NBC Sports that the two friends have spent considerable time talking to each other about the process, comparing and contrasting the visits they’ve had. Despite a date being set, Boswell says he doesn’t not know which way either of them are leaning at this point.

“Not yet … we’ll see,” Boswell said, “We’ll sit and chop everything up, and try to make the best decision possible as a group. Then we’ll leave it up to the kids.”

Abu is ranked as the No. 50 overall player in the Class of 2014 by Rivals. Terrell is listed as No. 62 by the same recruiting service.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.