East Carolina lands two 2014 verbal commitments

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It’s safe to say that this weekend was a productive one for East Carolina head coach Jeff Lebo.

This weekend the ECU head coach had two 2014 prospects on campus for official visits, and by Sunday Lebo had two verbal commitments as point guard Lance Tejada Jr. and forward Grant Bryant have both pledged to attend the school. Tejada and Bryant become ECU’s second and third commitments in the class, joining point guard B.J. Tyson.

https://twitter.com/GrantMBryant/status/374245287734554624

Bryant, a 6-7 forward from Marietta, Ga., averaged 19.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game at Kell High School last season. His best outing came in a 94-93 overtime win over Osborne High School on January 9, as Bryant tallied an astonishing 50 points and 35 rebounds. As for Tejada, the Hollywood, Fla. product currently attends Blanche Ely High School where he averaged 11.9 points and 8.2 assists per game on a team that finished the 2012-13 season with a 27-2 record.

ECU adds four newcomers this season with one (guard Antonio Robinson) being a junior college transfer. Adding Tejada and Bryant to the fold gives the Pirates some much needed depth at both the point and in the front court.

Currently ECU has two players at the point: Robinson and senior Akeem Richmond, whose three-pointer as time expired gave the Pirates a 77-74 win over Weber State in the CollegeInsider.com tournament title game. With Richmond being out of eligibility after the 2013-14 campaign ECU needed to strengthen their numbers at the point, and receiving verbal commitments from Tejada and Tyson has done that.

As for the front court, ECU enters the 2013-14 season with just four options: freshman small forward Brandan Stith, sophomore power forwards Marshall Guilmette and Michael Zangari and senior Ty Armstrong. Armstrong (9.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and Guilmette (4.0, 2.3) had roles in the rotation last season with Armstrong, who began his career at Auburn, starting all 35 games for ECU. With their low numbers inside it was clear that ECU needed to experience some recruiting success in this area, and landing a commitment from Bryant is certainly a step in the right direction.

ECU has one more season in Conference USA before moving to the American Athletic Conference, and while that league does have some traditional powers to build around (UConn, Cincinnati, Memphis and Temple) every program will need to pull its weight if the conference is to be respected nationally. With this weekend’s developments, the Pirates have improved their chances of doing so.

Virginia, Seton Hall, Rhode Island, Vandy in NIT Tip-Off

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NEW YORK (AP) — Virginia and Vanderbilt will meet in one semifinal of the NIT Preseason Tip-Off on Thanksgiving Day at Barclays Center.

Rhode Island and Seton Hall face off in the other semifinal with the winners meeting on Friday, Nov. 24.

This is the third straight year the Tip-Off has been held at Barclays Center. Eventual NCAA champion Villanova won the event in 2015. All games will be televised on ESPNU.

Non-bracketed teams in the NIT Season Tip-Off who will play games at campus sites are: Austin Peay, Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, Oakland City and UNC Asheville.

Miles Bridges explain why he returned to Michigan State

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Miles Bridges changed the landscape of the 2017-18 college basketball season on April 13.

The Michigan State forward spurned the NBA for another year in East Lansing. The decision not only meant that Bridges was a frontrunner for national player of the year, but solidified the Spartans as a national title contender.

But Bridges’ choice to return was still puzzling to many. The 6-foot-7 forward was projected as a lottery pick. Bridges explained his decision to Mike Decourcy of Sporting News in a story published on Thursday.

“He says, ‘You know what, Coach? I want to get better. I don’t want to be in the D-League. I’ve got buddies that are, and I just want to make sure when I go, I’m ready,’ ” Izzo recalled to Sporting News. “I looked at him and I said, ‘Done deal.’ For me, that was a done deal. It was a reasonable, sensible argument.”

Agents, friends, reporters, scouts, acquaintances, fans, strangers and family members — oh and, as we said, coaches — all had one opinion about how Bridges should spend the next year of his life. Miles had another, opposing, viewpoint.

Bridges told Decourcy that support came from his teammates, many of whom were returning to the team as well. Assuming the backcourt of Cassius Winston and Josh Langford make a leap forward, as well as incoming freshman Jaren Jackson providing an immediate impact, the Spartans’ title hopes could become a reality.

Bridges averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks as a freshman at Michigan State. He’s rated as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.

Four conferences sign on to basketball officiating alliance

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Four more Division I conferences will join a men’s basketball officiating alliance formed last year by the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East, the Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association.

The Big South, the Ivy League, the Northeast and the Patriot League are joining ahead of the 2017-18 season, according to announcements from the leagues Thursday. The alliance launched last summer for conferences to work together on officiating matters and enhance training, development, recruitment, retention and feedback for officials.

John Cahill, the Big East’s supervisor of officials, and Bryan Kersey, the ACC’s coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, will continue to lead the alliance operations.

ACC commissioner John Swofford says the new additions to the alliance “provide an even greater opportunity to build chemistry and quality” across the officiating ranks.

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.