Another ACL tear to sideline LIU Brooklyn’s Julian Boyd until at least January

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The collegiate career of LIU Brooklyn sixth-year senior forward Julian Boyd has hit another bump, as it was reported by Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports that Boyd re-tore the ACL in his right knee this summer. According to the report the earliest that the one-time NEC Player of the Year would be able to return to action would be in January.

This is yet another serious blow for Boyd, whose career nearly came to an end following a freshman season in which he earned NEC Rookie of the Year honors due to a heart ailment. After sitting out the entire 2009-10 season as a medical redshirt Boyd returned to the court with a vengeance, earning first team All-NEC honors while helping to lead the Blackbirds to the first of their three consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament.

Boyd was even better as a junior as he averaged 17.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per contest, winning NEC Player of the Year honors. But eight games into the 2012-13 season he suffered a torn ACL in LIU’s 97-70 win over Rice. Head coach Jack Perri was able to lead the Blackbirds to another NEC tournament crown due to the presence of veterans such as forward Jamal Olasewere (who won NEC Player of the Year) and point guard Jason Brickman.

And just when it seemed as if Boyd was on track to return to the starting lineup, he re-injures his right knee.

While Brickman is back for his senior season Olasewere is out of eligibility, meaning that LIU’s task of winning a fourth consecutive NEC crown gets even tougher with Boyd out of the lineup. Of LIU’s front court returnees sophomore E.J. Reed is the most experienced, as he averaged 7.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game as a freshman.

Can Reed make a significant jump in production now that Boyd is unavailable (there’s also the graduation of both Olasewere and Kenny Onyechi to deal with)? He’ll need to, and junior college transfers Landon Atterberry and Chris Carter will need to hit the ground running as well. LIU also adds a pair of freshmen in Glenn Feidanga and Nurra Zanna, with the latter being the younger brother of Pitt senior forward Talib Zanna.

LIU won’t lack for bodies in Boyd’s absence, but the loss of a player as talented and experienced as the sixth-year senior is a tough blow to take less than a month before practice begins. What kind of player will Boyd be if he’s able to return to the court this season? That’s a tough question to answer, especially when it comes to serious knee injuries.

But given his career up to this point, if there’s anyone who can come back and ultimately flourish it’s Julian Boyd.

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averagedΒ 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.