Ed Cooley

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.

VIDEOS: Rhode Island, Maryland exchange heated words in Cancun

Dan Hurley
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No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.

Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.

But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.

It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:

After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”:

Wayne Selden stars as Kansas wins the title in Maui

Wayne Selden Jr., Jeff Roberson
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The last time we wrote about Wayne Selden in this space, it was my colleague Scott Phillips who questioned, after a poor performance in the Champions Classic, whether or not Selden is capable of bring a primary scorer for a team with NCAA title aspirations.

At the time, it wasn’t an unfair question to ask.

Selden is a former top 15 recruit. He is a guy who was expected to go one-and-done that played poorly in the first big game of his third year on campus. But after three days it Maui, it appears that the old Wayne Selden is gone.

[MORE: Kansas got Cheick Diallo news today]

He capped an MVP performance in the Maui Invitational with 25 points and seven boards on 8-for-11 shooting as the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks knocked off No. 19 Vanderbilt, 70-63, in the title game. Selden was terrific for the entire weekend, averaging 21.5 points in the two games against Division I competition and shooting 12-for-17 from beyond the arc in the three game tournament.

It was the best that we’ve seen Selden play during his Jayhawk career, and it came in a game the Jayhawks desperately needed it. Vanderbilt is a damn good team. They’re ranked 19th, which may actually be too low, and they seem to clearly be the biggest challenger to Kentucky in the SEC. They jumped out to a double-digit lead on Kansas in the first half as the Jayhawks seemed to be sleep-walking early in the game.

Enter Selden. He drilled three threes in the first half and scored 13 of the 26 Jayhawk points to keep them close. In other words, he played like a star on a night Kansas desperately needed someone to step up and play like a star. Remember: this is a dude that had enough talent and potential in high school to be considered a McDonald’s All-American and a potential lottery pick. The ability is there:

(That move is filthy.)

The question has always been whether or not he is capable of putting it all together, of being the guy that can be relied upon to make the big play in the big moment, to carry a team with title aspirations.

And to be fair, the jury is still out in that regard. Are we just going to ignore those four free throws he clanged down the stretch?

But seeing Selden have this kind of performance in a game like this against a team that is this good is unquestionably a positive for Kansas moving forward.