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New Zealander Jack Salt becomes Virginia’s third 2014 commitment

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With Akil Mitchell entering his senior season, the Virginia Cavaliers could have used another front court body in their 2014 recruiting class. On Wednesday the Cavaliers accomplished that task, as 6-foot-10 power forward Jack Salt verbally committed to attend the ACC school according to Evan Daniels of Scout.com.

Salt, a native of New Zealand, was called up by the New Zealand Breakers earlier this month as the team was dealing with injuries to a couple of its key interior contributors (Salt isn’t expected to play much during the regular season, so as to preserve his college eligibility). And Salt, who is also a standout volleyball player, performed well during his stint with the Breakers. Apparently the team was hopeful that Salt would sign on to play professionally, but ultimately his desire to play college basketball won out.

“It was a really tough decision, as the Breakers have done so much for me, and [New Zealand Breakers academy coach] Judd Flavell has helped me out so much. It took me a long time but I decided it would be best for me to go to college,” said Salt before his [New Zealand national team] debut in July.

The left-handed Salt played last season with the Super City Rangers, averaging 8.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

Salt’s experience at the international level for New Zealand could end up benefitting Virginia when he arrives in Charlottesville next year. With Salt now on board head coach Tony Bennett, who played professionally in New Zealand for North Harbor of the Kiwi National Basketball League, has a four-man rotation at the power forward and center positions.

Darion Atkins (4.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg) and Mike Tobey (6.8, 2.9) were contributors on last season’s team, and in Tobey’s case he gained valuable experience playing with the United States Under-19 team at the U-19 World Championships this past summer. Add in South Carolina transfer Anthony Gill (7.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg in 2011-12), who is eligible after sitting out the 2012-13 campaign per NCAA transfer rules, and the Cavaliers should have a solid interior group to work with in 2014-15.

Iowa State’s starting center Jameel McKay remains suspended

Iowa State forward Jameel McKay celebrates on the court at the end of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 82-77. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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Steve Prohm announced on Monday that starting center Jameel McKay will not be in the lineup on Wednesday when the Cyclones take on Texas Tech.

“He’ll practice today because I want him in practice,” Prohm said, “but game-wise, he’s suspended.”

McKay did not make the trip to Stillwater with the team on Saturday, where Iowa State beat Oklahoma State, 64-59. Prohm has not gotten into specifics regarding the cause of McKay’s suspension, but it’s reportedly an issue with the way he has been practicing. McKay is dealing with a nagging knee injury, which may play a role in the situation as well.

“My hope is he’ll be with us on Saturday,” Prohm said.

AP POLL: Villanova climbs to No. 1 in the country.

Jay Wright
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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Like the Coaches Poll, Villanova found themselves No. 1 in the AP Poll during the regular season for the first time in the history of the program.

And like the Coaches Poll, there isn’t much in the way of a consensus when it comes to who is the No. 1 team, as there are six teams that received No. 1 votes in the poll this week.

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The biggest shock to me?

The No. 1 team in the NBC Sports Top 25, Iowa, received just 11 first place votes and is ranked fourth in the AP Poll.

They were ranked fifth in the Coaches Poll.

Can we get Fran McCaffery the love they deserve?

Here is the rest of the AP Poll:

1. Villanova (20-3, 32 first-place votes)
2. Maryland (21-3, 13)
3. Oklahoma (19-3, 7)
4. Iowa (19-4, 11)
5. Xavier (21-2)
6. Kansas (19-4, 1)
7. Virginia (19-4, 1)
8. Michigan State (20-4)
9. North Carolina (19-4)
10. West Virginia (19-4)
11. Oregon (18-4)
12. Miami (FL) (18-4)
13. Louisville (19-4)
14. Iowa State (17-6)
15. Texas A&M (18-5)
16. SMU (20-2)
17. Arizona (19-5)
18. Purdue (19-5)
19. Dayton (19-3)
20. Providence (18-6)
21. Baylor (17-6)
22. Kentucky (17-6)
23. USC (18-5)
24. Texas (16-7)
25. Wichita State (17-6)

DROPPED OUT: No. 22 Indiana, No. 25 South Carolina
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 23 USC, No. 24 Texas