With Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. now in the NBA, the Michigan Wolverines have some needs to address in their quest to build on last season’s run to the national title game. A key figure in the Wolverines’ plans this season is sophomore forward Mitch McGary, who played his best basketball of the season during the stretch run. With that being the case, many expect the Chesterton, Ind. native to lead the way for John Beilein’s squad.
Unfortunately for McGary and the Michigan program as a whole he’s been dealing with a lower back issue. According to Beilein the 6-foot-10 McGary is “day-to-day” due to the ailment, which has slowed down the big man in his preparations for the upcoming season.
During Michigan’s run in the NCAA tournament McGary averaged 14.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, but even with the progress he’s expected to make this season McGary won’t be doing all of the heavy lifting by himself. Michigan also welcomes back fellow sophomores Spike Albrecht, Caris LeVert, Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas.
Robinson III (11.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Stauskas (11.0, 3.0) were the most consistent of these four sophomores last season, with Albrecht (17 points off the bench in the national title game) and LeVert proving to be valuable reserves as the season progressed. Add in front court veterans Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan, not to mention freshmen Mark Donnal, Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr., and Michigan has more than enough depth to be a contender both in the Big Ten and nationally.
If anything, the new practice schedule may work in Michigan’s favor when it comes to making sure McGary’s rested and healthy leading into their season opener against UMass-Lowell on November 8 (the Wolverines’ first test is at Iowa State on November 17). With programs having 42 days in which to complete a maximum of 30 practices as opposed to beginning on October 15, there are more opportunities to give the squad some extra rest.
Michigan has enough talent to accomplish a great deal in 2013-14, but the task becomes more difficult if McGary isn’t at his best. It’s better to have nagging issues such as this one come up now as opposed to in the middle of the season, when it’s tougher for the body to fully recover.
Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.
Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.
Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.
Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.
Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.
O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:
O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.
Is he a one-and-done prospect?
Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.
But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.
Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.
The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.
Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.
That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.
Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.
The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.
The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.
“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.
Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools
Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.
An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.