2014 7-footer Paschal Chukwu commits to attend Providence

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The optimism’s grown in Providence since Ed Cooley returned to his hometown to take over the Providence basketball program. And there’s even more room for positive thoughts, as 7-2 center Paschal Chukwu committed to attend the Big East school via Twitter on Thursday.

Chukwu, who attends Fairfield Prep (Conn.) and played for the Connecticut Basketball Club this summer, joins wing Jalen Lindsey as commitments in Providence’s 2014 class (both are ranked in the Top 100 of many of the major scouting services). The hope amongst the Friar faithful is that those two aren’t it, as Expressions Elite (Mass.) teammates Abdul-Malik Abu and Jared Terrell will announce their college choices on September 7.

Both players cut their respective college lists to four earlier this month, with Providence being the lone school being considered by Abu and Terrell. The other three finalists for Abu’s services are UConn, Florida and N.C. State, with Cincinnati, Oklahoma State and Rhode Island being the other three schools on Terrell’s list. How likely is it that Abu and Terrell will decide to attend the same school? That remains to be seen, but the fact that Providence remains in the discussion is another sign that Cooley and his staff have things headed in the right direction.

As for Chukwu, he’s an important addition to the front court considering Providence’s current rotation. Kadeem Batts, who was the Big East’s Co-Most Improved Player last season (shared with Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams), and Lee Goldsbrough are seniors and Wake Forest transfer Carson Desrosiers will be a junior in 2013-14. Also in the junior class are returnees LaDontae Henton and Brice Kofane, with N.C. State transfer Tyler Harris (sophomore) and freshmen Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock being the underclassmen.

With Desrosiers having just one more season of eligibility after the 2013-14 campaign the Friars needed to add some size in the 2014 class. Landing a verbal commitment from Chukwu, one of the best shot blockers in his class, accomplishes that goal.

North Carolina to unveil national championship banner in October

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The latest addition to the rafters of the Dean Dome will be unveiled this fall.

North Carolina will raise the banner for its 2017 national championship on Oct. 13, according to a report from Inside Carolina.

The event will coincide with the Tar Heels’ “Late Night With Roy” event that marks the public start to the season for the program and also serves, like many other top programs, as a recruiting tool.

North Carolina won its sixth NCAA national championship in April by defeating Gonzaga, 71-65, in Phoenix to avenge its last-second loss in the title game to Villanova the year prior. It was the Tar Heels’ first championship since 2009.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball highlights

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It was the most anticipated matchup of the summer.

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball.

People were turned away at the door – and LeBron James reportedly came and went – as the gym reached capacity for SC Supreme’s 104-92 victory over the Big Ballers. That’s Williamson over Ball (LaMelo and LaVar).

The game was mostly spectacle, and you can see it’s top moments right here.

 

VIDEO: Zion Williamson’s coach is holding a sleeping baby

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LaMelo Ball vs. Zion Williamson was insane, but it wasn’t quite crazy enough to wake up the sleeping toddler that Williamson’s coach is holding in his arms:

This is peak AAU basketball.

It will never be more AAU than that.

PHOTOS: Zion Williamson, LaMelo Ball showdown was, of course, insane

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In a showcase game in the adidas Uprising event in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, LaMelo Ball — the youngest member of the Big Baller Brand — faced off with Zion Williamson, who is a force on youtube and a highlight machine.

The crowd was insane for the game:

According to a report from ESPN, there were even concerns about whether or not the game would actually be allowed to be played; the police and fire marshall considered shutting the event down.

Williamson, of course, put on a show in warmups:

At the time of this posting, there were more than 60,000 people watching a livestream of the game on BallIsLife’s facebook page:

(UPDATE: It’s now over 70,000)

Puerto Rico Tip Off bracket revealed

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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.