Isaiah Whitehead, No. 14 in Class of 2014, commits to Seton Hall

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After a wild recruitment that saw some fireworks down the stretch, the latest in a long line of Brooklyn-bred, Lincoln HS stars finally announced where he would be attending school on Thursday afternoon.

“I’d like to announce that I’ll be taking my talents to Seton Hall University,” Isaiah Whitehead, the No. 14 recruit in Rivals 2014 top 150 announced from a press conference at his high school. Lincoln has also produced the likes of Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair and Lance Stephenson.

Whitehead is a 6-foot-3 shooting guard and one of the most potent scorers in the Class of 2014. He’s got sone size and strength to him, and when he gets hot, he can knock down four or five jumpers in a row. He has a tendency to be a bit of a gunner, however, and is known to take some bad shots from time to time. One recruiting analyst called him “the best bad shot maker in the country”.

Whitehead joins a loaded recruiting class for Seton Hall, one that already includes top 100 recruits Angel Delgado Khadeen Carrington and Ismael Sanogo.

Whitehead’s recruitment was a roller coaster. He shocked a lot of people in the recruiting world when he announced this week that he would be making his decision on Thursday, a day after taking a visit to St. John’s. Popular sentiment had Whitehead going to St. John’s, but some movement behind the scenes on Wednesday night and Thursday morning changed things.

One factor that may have played a role in Whitehead’s decision? Dwayne “Tiny” Morton, the Lincoln HS coach and the founder of Whitehead’s AAU program, the Juice All-Stars, will reportedly become a member of Kevin Willard’s staff at Seton Hall. Morton had very publicly made a push to fill Mike Dunlap’s position at St. john’s after Dunlap went to the NBA last summer.

Hiring Morton as an assistant is a completely legal move by Willard, even if it does come across as a bit unsanitary. A few years back, the NCAA implemented a rule that eliminated package deals and job for third-parties connected to a recruit unless the job that was being filled was one of the three assistant coach positions on that staff. Morton would be an assistant coach for the Pirates.

To land a five-star recruit as talented as Whitehead at a place like Seton Hall, that’s a risk that’s worth taking for Willard. His program is in a bad spot right now. They went 3-15 in the Big East. Their second-leading scorer transferred out and their top two players are seniors this season. Willard had a good recruiting class already, but he had to get Whitehead.

And he did.

Whitehead was the first top 25 recruit from New York City since Stephenson and Durand Scott made their way out of Lincoln and Rice, respectively, in the Class of 2009. There doesn’t appear to be much in the way of high-level talent in the city in the Class of 2015 or 2016. Outside of Whitehead, New York has more-or-less become a dead zone for elite high school talent. Some of the players end up heading to prep schools outside the city. Other players buy into their hype too early, while some of the city’s best players are written off thanks to local kids that have been overhyped in the past.

But for one day, the insanity of an old school, no-holds-barred New York recruiting battle was on full display.

And it just felt right that the two schools left swinging at the end were St. John’s and Seton Hall.

N.C. State adds grad transfer Sam Hunt

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N.C. State added its fourth transfer this offseason. Like ex-Baylor guard Al Freeman, the latest one is eligible to play next season.

Sam Hunt, a double-digit scorer the past two seasons at North Carolina A&T, officially enrolled at North Carolina State on Monday morning.

“Sam is a great young man and will bring much needed depth to our backcourt,” N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts said in a statement. “I want guys who are excited about being a part of our program and Sam really wants to be here.

“Sam is a combo guard that can space the floor with his ability to shoot the basketball. He is a good fit for the system and will bring a wealth of experience to our roster.”

Hunt, the 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 12.7 points per game last season, a dip from the 15.4 points per game he posted for the Aggies as a redshirt sophomore.

Hunt joins a roster that lost its three leading scorers from a season ago, one that ended 15-17 (4-14 ACC). Dennis Smith Jr. is a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Maverick Rowan also pursued a professional career and Terry Henderson was denied an additional year from the NCAA.

The Wolf Pack bring back forwards Abdul-Malik Abu and Omer Yurtseven as well as Torin Dorn.

Keatts, who took over the program after leading UNC Wilmington to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, has already built for the future. UNC Wilmington transfer C.J. Bryce, 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Seahawks, has followed him to Raleigh. Utah transfer Devon Daniels committed to the Wolf Pack the same day as Bryce. Both will have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules. Bryce will have two years of eligibility while Daniels will have three.

LaVar Ball stars in an uncomfortably entertaining segment on WWE’s Raw

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LaVar Ball’s statements and antics over this past year always seemed better suited a professional wrestling ring.

It was only natural that the patriarch of the Ball family — and the head of the Big Baller Brand — made an appearance on WWE’s Monday Night Raw at the Staples Center for an awkwardly entertaining segment with WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz.

With sons, Lonzo — in his first appearance in the Staples Center as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers — and LaMelo looking on, LaVar was the center of attention. When The Miz mentioned something about a partnership between the two, the scripted interview went south. It resulted in LaVar saying nonsensical things like, “There’s only two dudes better than me, and I’m both of ’em!” before later taking off his shirt. When Dean Ambrose, a WWE superstar feuding with The Miz came out on to the ramp, LaVar didn’t quite grasp the concept that that was his cue to stop talking.

This segment was somehow entertaining and cringeworthy at the same time.

Now that Lonzo is beginning his NBA career, maybe it’s time LaVar try something different. A manager in the WWE may just be his true calling. He’s certainly had plenty of practice.

Maryland lands commitment from five-star 2018 forward

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Maryland added to its 2018 recruiting class with its second commit, the newest addition being a five-star in-state product.

Jalen Smith, a 6-foot-9 forward from Baltimore powerhouse Mount St. Joseph, committed to the Terrapins, making the announcement on Twitter.

“I believe that I can academically and athletically achieve my goals at home through my commitment to the University of Maryland … Go Terps,” he tweeted as part of a long passage.

Smith is listed as the No. 13 overall recruit in the Class of 2013 by Rivals. He joins four-star swingman Aaron Wiggins in Mark Turgeon’s current recruiting class.

Playing for Team Takeover on the Nike EYBL circuit, Smith is averaging 10.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game.

Recent grad’s joyride reportedly did $100,000 of damages to Mizzou Arena

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A recent graduate and temporary employee of the University of Missouri took an early morning joy ride that reportedly could rack up around $100,000 to Mizzou Arena.

According to Dave Mater of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nathaniel J. Contant, 23, who graduated from the school in December 2016, drove his Volkswagen Passat through a gate and eventually on to the floor of the 15,000-seat on-campus arena.

At 7:15 a.m. Sunday, MU police were dispatched to Mizzou Arena for a report of property damage. Officers determined that around 4 a.m., the suspect drove his vehicle through a closed gate on the south side of the arena. He ran through a garage door and drove into a dock area where he damaged several golf carts that were stored in the area. He also drove his car onto the basketball court. The man couldn’t leave through the area he used to enter the building, so he drove through the arena’s press gate.

Contant, unsurprisingly, is no longer an employee of the university. He’s being charged with second-degree burglary and first-degree property damage, both of which are felonies. He was released on a $4,500 bond.

The motive for this early-morning joyride remains unclear.

Despite the hype surrounding the upcoming Mizzou season — one that includes the debut of new head coach Cuonzo Martin and the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft Michael Porter, Jr. — Twitter users couldn’t help but poke fun at the dismal recent history the Tigers have had.

(h/t Kansas City Star)

Vance Jackson transfers to New Mexico

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With more than a handful of departures this offseason, New Mexico is set to have a new-look roster for the 2017-18 season. On Monday, Paul Weir, now at the helm of the program, landed a player who should make an impact in the three remaining seasons of eligibility he has left.

Vance Jackson, who spent this past season at UConn, decided to make the move from Storrs to Albuquerque, picking the Lobos over Rutgers, San Diego State, TCU, and Washington.

The 6-foot-8 rising sophomore will have to sit out next year due to NCAA transfer rules before resuming his collegiate career in the fall of 2018.

“The coaches — they trust in me,” Jackson told Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal last month during his official campus visit. “We’re on the same page. They see a vision.”

Weir, who led New Mexico State this past season to a NCAA Tournament appearance in his one and only season as head coach, succeeded Craig Neal in April.

This offseason has been headlined by transfers, though, those mostly were about players leaving the program. Jackson is the second transfer to land at UNM with Akron’s Antino Jackson electing to use his final season of eligibility with the Lobos. Antino Jackson is a graduate transfer, allowing him to play immediately next season.

Vance Jackson, who was rated as the No. 80 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals, averaged 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game while shooting just under 40 percent from three for the Huskies as a freshman.