Minnesota Boys All State Basketball

Rivals releases their post-live period Class of 2014 rankings

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On Wednesday afternoon, Rivals released the latest installment of their Top 150 rankings for the Class of 2014, and it should really come as no surprise to anyone that 6-foot-11, 270 pound center Jahlil Okafor is the No. 1 recruit in the class.

Big men that are that size, that nimble, and that enjoy playing in the paint are a rarity, and the fact that he’s an awesome basketball player and, by all accounts, a good kid only helps matters.

There was a bit of a shakeup in the rest of the top five, however.

New SMU point guard commit Emmanuel Mudiay is the No. 2 player in the country, followed wing Stanley Johnson, big man Cliff Alexander and point guard Tyus Jones. Myles Turner, Rashad Vaughn, Trey Lyles, Justise Winslow and Justin Jackson round out the top ten.

Here’s the most interesting part about these rankings: only one player in the top nine (Mudiay) has committed to a school, and just three of the top 14 players have made a decision on where they want to play their college ball. There’s plenty of uncommitted talent across the country, which should make for some fireworks on the recruiting front over the course of the fall, as players take their official visits and dominoes begin to fall as players across the country make decisions.

What do I mean by dominoes falling?

Here’s an example: the common consensus is that Jones, the highest-ranked point guard in the country, will be committing to Duke once he and Okafor — who have been quite vocal about the fact that they want to play their college ball together — finish going on their scheduled visits. That made Mudiay a top priority for Kentucky, who will likely need a point guard next season once Andrew Harrison enters the NBA Draft.

But Mudiay committed to SMU, which puts Kentucky in a tough spot. Joel Berry, Jaquan Lyle, Ja’Quan Newton, Josh Perkins and Chris Chiozza are all committed already. Quentin Snider is from Louisville. Jordan McLaughlin wants to stay out west. This puts the Wildcats in a bind, which is why they’ve ramped up their recruitment of Tyler Ulis and Dominic MaGee.

With Kentucky going hard after some of the top-ranked point guards in the class, pressure on schools like Michigan State and Kansas mounts as well, as both programs need but remain without a point guard in the Class of 2014.

Mudiay’s decision to commit to SMU set in motion a chain of events that shot up the value of the best remaining point guards in the class.

Who will be the next top ten recruit to commit?

And how will that decision affect the rest of the players at that position in top 150?

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.