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Wichita State player collapses at practice, brings back awful memories for Gregg Marshall

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In a situation that’s become all too common in sports these days, Wichita State freshman guard D.J. Bowles collapsed during practice on Tuesday.

“He blacked out, he lost consciousness and we’re at the hospital right now trying to determine what his situation is,” Gregg Marshall told NBCSports.com on Thursday morning. He was admitted on Tuesday night and had tests all day Wednesday, but Marshall said they still don’t know what caused Bowles to collapse.

“I want to commend athletic trainer Todd Fagan, our athletic training staff, and emergency medical personnel, for quick and professional response exhibited in dealing with D.J.’s situation,” Director of Athletics Eric Sexton said in a statement.

Bowles was upgraded to fair condition on Wednesday night, which, obviously, is good news.

For Marshall, however, the incident brought back some terrifying memories.

In April of 2007, just days after being introduced as Wichita State’s new head coach, Marshall was in the stands at New Hampton Prep watching Guy Alang-Ntang, who was committed to the Shockers.

“My first week on the job, I was recruiting a kid that had been recruited by the previous staff,” Marshall said, his voice audibly shaking. “I was confirming his commitment to honor his National Letter of Intent, and he had told me he was going to do that, and 30 minutes later, during a workout, he perished.”

“I witnessed it. It was kind of a déjà vu with D.J., and it scared me.”

The idea that a young athlete, a kid who has dedicated their entire life to being in the best possible shape in order to earn a scholarship and, potentially, make a living playing a sport, can die because of a ticking time-bomb in their chest is terrifying. It’s devastating for those that have experienced it. When I was in college, a kid I had played AAU ball with passed away while jogging on the Morgan State campus due to a bad heart.

Last season, Creighton’s Josh Jones saw his career come to an end after passing out 35 minutes before a game against Nebraska; he has an atrial flutter. That came just days after Utah State’s Danny Berger was revived by a trainer using a defibrillator on his heart after he collapsed during a practice. Allan Chaney of High Point sat out for three years due to a heart condition before playing last season. Four years ago, Emmanuel Negedu needed a defibrillator to revive him after collapsing at a practice at Tennessee. He had a pacemaker installed and was cleared by New Mexico, but his career ended when the pacemaker gave off a bad reading during a game.

The good news, according to Marshall, is that the doctors have ruled out hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an enlargement of muscles in the heart that causes many incidents of sudden cardiac death, but despite a litany of tests, the cause of Bowles’ blackout is still unknown. There’s no timetable for a return.

“I don’t know what other tests they’ve got to do,” he said, “but at some point, they’re going to figure out what’s going on with this kid.”

The incident with Bowles shook Marshall, but he’s thankful this story was different.

“This one had a much, much better ending thus far. A happier ending,” he said.

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)
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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)
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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
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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.