Travis Carroll

Northwestern forward Mike Turner takes leave of absence from program

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First-year head coach Chris Collins has made quite a splash in his first few months on the job. Recruiting has picked up, with the Wildcats landing verbal commitments from guards Vic Law and Bryant McIntosh and forward Gavin Skelly. With the success on the recruiting trail, the most important question to be answered is whether or not Collins is the man capable of leading the Wildcats to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance.

Northwestern will be able to begin practicing with an eye towards that goal on September 27, but they’ll do so without the services of 6-8 forward Mike Turner. Turner is taking a leave of absence from the program, but will remain in school during this period.

“Mike will take some time away from the program to focus on aspects of his life other than basketball,” Northwestern head coach Chris Collins said in the release. “He has our complete support and we will revisit his status within the program once the time is appropriate.”

Turner played just under 16 minutes per game in 2012-13, posting averages of 1.9 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. One of his best performances came in a 69-59 loss at Ohio State on Valentine’s Day, as he accounted for four points, four rebounds and a game-high eight assists. Turner’s season high for points in a game was seven, with that outing coming in a loss at Purdue in late-February.

Losing Turner doesn’t sap Northwestern’s depth, especially when considering the fact that both Drew Crawford (injury; 13.5 ppg and 4.6 rpg in ten games last season) and JerShon Cobb (suspension; 7.1 ppg in 2011-12) are back in the fold. Crawford, who was a third team All-Big Ten selection as a junior, was sidelined after ten games due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Other players in the running for playing time on the wing include redshirt freshman Sanjay Lumpkin, sophomore Kale Abrahamson (4.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg) and freshman Nate Taphorn.

Top-100 guard commits to Xavier

Chris Mack has Xavier back in the Sweet 16 (AP Photo)
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Xavier has added a top-100 prospect into its 2017 recruiting class Wednesday.

Elias Harden, a shooting guard from Georgia, pledged to the Musketeers via social media to become the second member of Chris Mack’s next class.

“The recruiting process was not EASY AT ALL,” Harden wrote on Twitter. “I wanna thank all the coaches that took time to recruit me.

“WIth that being said I will continue my academic and athletic career at Xavier University.”

The 6-foot-6 guard is ranked 92nd overall by 247Sports and had offers from Auburn, Maryland, Texas Tech and Ole Miss. He joins Jared Ridder, a Missouri guard, as part of the 2017 Xavier class.

The Musketeers return the bulk of last year’s 28-6 team that narrowly missed out on the Sweet 16.

Clemson recruit to enroll early

Brad Brownell
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Clemson will get a four-star recruit on campus a year earlier than it expected, though his on-court debut for the Tigers will remain on schedule.

A.J. Oliver, a guard from South Carolina, will enroll early at Clemson and redshirt this upcoming season, he announced via social media Wednesday.

“I woke up this morning and realized that the greatest opportunity for me is to enroll early into Clemson,” he wrote on Twitter. “I will redshirt a year & start my college career early.”

Oliver, whose mother is the head women’s basketball coach at Clemson, was a consensus top-100 player in the class of 2017 who committed to the Tigers last December. Texas Tech and the College of Charleston were involved before his commitment.

A three-star shooting guard, Scott Spencer of Virginia, was previously the only member coach Brad Brownell’s 2016 class. While Oliver’s decision to redshirt will keep him off the court for the 2016-17 season, he’ll have spent a full season in the Tiger program before making his debut in 2017

The cupboard isn’t bare in 2017 for the Tigers due to Oliver’s reclassification because Clemson received a commitment from power forward Malik Williams, a consensus top-150 player, earlier Wednesday.

Kentucky used Calipari-Chaney fight in media training

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Kentucky held some media training sessions yesterday, and one of the topics that head coach John Calipari used to make a point was … his blow-up with John Chaney. The moment was captured on SnapChat by a trio of Kentucky newcomers.

You remember that incident. Chaney, then the head coach at Temple, and Cal, who was coaching Atlantic 10 rival UMass at the time, nearly came to blows over the way that Cal handled officials during the game. Before the video below picks up, the two shared this exchange:

“Could I say this to you, please?” Chaney said, before the video above picks up. “You’ve got a good ball club. But what you did with the officials out there is wrong, and I don’t want to be a party to that. You understand?”

Cal responded: “You weren’t out there, Coach. You don’t have any idea.”

Chaney fired back: “You got a game given to you by officials right here with G.W. on three bad calls, O.K.? Then you send your kids out there pushing and shoving. You had the best officiating you could ever get here. And for you to ride them, I don’t want to be a party to that.”

And that led to “I’ll kill you”:

(h/t KSR)

VIDEO: Shaq’s son, Shareef O’Neal, with monster dunk in Vegas

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Shareef O’Neal is a top 50 prospect in the Class of 2018. In Vegas this past weekend, he threw down a monster put-back dunk.

South Dakota State gets two commits

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Tuesday was a busy and productive one for South Dakota State on the recruiting trail.

The Jackrabbits secured two 2017 commitments from the state of Wisconsin in Ryan Krueger and Alex Arians, a source tells NBCSports.com.

Krueger is a 6-foot-5 wing player from New London, Wisc. while Arians is a 6-foot-4 guard from Madison, Wisc., who also held an offer from Wright State, which is coached by former SDSU coach Scott Nagy. Both players spend their summers playing for the Wisconsin Swing grassroots program.

The pair make it a trio of commits for the Jackrabbits in 2017 with another Wisconsinite, Alou Dillon, pledging to first-year Jackrabbits coach T.J. Otzelberger, himself a Wisconsin native, earlier this summer.

South Dakota State went 26-8 last year and the bulk of the team that made the NCAA tournament last year, including sophomore Mike Daum, who led the team in scoring and rebounding as a freshman.