Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament - Semifinals - St. Louis v Butler

Guard Marcus Bartley becomes Saint Louis’ third 2014 commitment

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With Jordair Jett and Mike McCall Jr. entering their senior season the Saint Louis Billikens could use some additional depth on the perimeter. First head coach Jim Crews and his staff reeled in Memphis native Davell Roby, and on Thursday night it was reported by multiple outlets that Decatur, Ill. native Marcus Bartley has verbally committed to the Atlantic 10 school.

Bartley, who attends MacArthur High School and played for the Peoria Irish this spring/summer, joins Roby and 6-11 center Austin Gillman as players verbally committed to attend Saint Louis.

Bartley’s recruitment gained steam during the summer thanks to his play with the Irish, and program director and head coach Gavin Sullivan stated in a story written by Scott Richey of the Decatur Herald & Review back in July that Bartley’s skill set will change as he gains strength.

“Marcus is going to be one of those players that will change a lot in college when he gets stronger,” said Sullivan.

“You could always see his length and skill set. Being that tall and lanky and being able to handle the ball the way he does, a lot of teams can see him being a (point guard), a combo guard or even play him as a (shooting guard) in their system.”

In addition to Bartley and Roby the Billikens will also have Central Michigan transfer Austin McBroom and Villanova transfer Achraf Yacoubou on the perimeter in 2014. In his lone season at CMU, McBroom averaged 10.9 points and 2.7 assists per game, proving to be one of the best newcomers in the Mid-American Conference. As for Yacoubou, in two seasons at Villanova he averaged 2.6 points and 1.8 rebounds per game but the transfer year and a new system could result in increased productivity.

With Jett and McCall on the way out Saint Louis needed additional depth on the perimeter, and with Bartley’s decision to commit the Billikens have taken care of that need.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.