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.

Virginia, Seton Hall, Rhode Island, Vandy in NIT Tip-Off

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NEW YORK (AP) — Virginia and Vanderbilt will meet in one semifinal of the NIT Preseason Tip-Off on Thanksgiving Day at Barclays Center.

Rhode Island and Seton Hall face off in the other semifinal with the winners meeting on Friday, Nov. 24.

This is the third straight year the Tip-Off has been held at Barclays Center. Eventual NCAA champion Villanova won the event in 2015. All games will be televised on ESPNU.

Non-bracketed teams in the NIT Season Tip-Off who will play games at campus sites are: Austin Peay, Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, Oakland City and UNC Asheville.

Miles Bridges explain why he returned to Michigan State

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Miles Bridges changed the landscape of the 2017-18 college basketball season on April 13.

The Michigan State forward spurned the NBA for another year in East Lansing. The decision not only meant that Bridges was a frontrunner for national player of the year, but solidified the Spartans as a national title contender.

But Bridges’ choice to return was still puzzling to many. The 6-foot-7 forward was projected as a lottery pick. Bridges explained his decision to Mike Decourcy of Sporting News in a story published on Thursday.

“He says, ‘You know what, Coach? I want to get better. I don’t want to be in the D-League. I’ve got buddies that are, and I just want to make sure when I go, I’m ready,’ ” Izzo recalled to Sporting News. “I looked at him and I said, ‘Done deal.’ For me, that was a done deal. It was a reasonable, sensible argument.”

Agents, friends, reporters, scouts, acquaintances, fans, strangers and family members — oh and, as we said, coaches — all had one opinion about how Bridges should spend the next year of his life. Miles had another, opposing, viewpoint.

Bridges told Decourcy that support came from his teammates, many of whom were returning to the team as well. Assuming the backcourt of Cassius Winston and Josh Langford make a leap forward, as well as incoming freshman Jaren Jackson providing an immediate impact, the Spartans’ title hopes could become a reality.

Bridges averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks as a freshman at Michigan State. He’s rated as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.

Four conferences sign on to basketball officiating alliance

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Four more Division I conferences will join a men’s basketball officiating alliance formed last year by the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East, the Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association.

The Big South, the Ivy League, the Northeast and the Patriot League are joining ahead of the 2017-18 season, according to announcements from the leagues Thursday. The alliance launched last summer for conferences to work together on officiating matters and enhance training, development, recruitment, retention and feedback for officials.

John Cahill, the Big East’s supervisor of officials, and Bryan Kersey, the ACC’s coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, will continue to lead the alliance operations.

ACC commissioner John Swofford says the new additions to the alliance “provide an even greater opportunity to build chemistry and quality” across the officiating ranks.

North Carolina to unveil national championship banner in October

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The latest addition to the rafters of the Dean Dome will be unveiled this fall.

North Carolina will raise the banner for its 2017 national championship on Oct. 13, according to a report from Inside Carolina.

The event will coincide with the Tar Heels’ “Late Night With Roy” event that marks the public start to the season for the program and also serves, like many other top programs, as a recruiting tool.

North Carolina won its sixth NCAA national championship in April by defeating Gonzaga, 71-65, in Phoenix to avenge its last-second loss in the title game to Villanova the year prior. It was the Tar Heels’ first championship since 2009.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball highlights

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It was the most anticipated matchup of the summer.

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball.

People were turned away at the door – and LeBron James reportedly came and went – as the gym reached capacity for SC Supreme’s 104-92 victory over the Big Ballers. That’s Williamson over Ball (LaMelo and LaVar).

The game was mostly spectacle, and you can see it’s top moments right here.