Three-star guard Javon Bess commits to Michigan State

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Following a text message to his Lincoln High School in Gahanna, Ohio, shooting guard Javon Bess became the second commit in Michigan State’s Class of 2014.

“We got a text from Javon saying, ‘I committed to Michigan State,'” Lincoln athletic director Justin Sanford told Diamond Leung of on Monday afternoon following the commitment.

The 6-foot-5 Bess held other offers from Dayton, Kansas State, UMass and Xavier among others. This summer he ran with All Ohio Red in the Nike EYBL. During the summer he averaged 11.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game playing alongside Ohio State commit Jae’Sean Tate and Purdue commit Vincent Edwards. He as rated as a three-star commit by Rivals.

“He fits the DNA profile of a Michigan State and Big Ten player,” Lincoln High School head coach Tony Staib told Brian Calloway of the Lansing State Journal on Monday afternoon. “He’s tough, he’s a tremendous rebounding guard, he defends really hard and defends really well. He can guard multiple positions. He’s athletic enough to guard a point guard and he’s big and strong and tough enough to guard a small four. Those things right there I think really fit the profile of a Michigan State basketball player.”

Bess joins Sunrise Christian Academy (Kan.) point guard Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn in the Spartans’ Class of 2014. The 5-foot-10 Nairn committed on Sept. 26. Tom Izzo has two commits that can help make up for the loss of it’s back court if Gary Harris decides to leave following the season. Keith Appling is graduating, and Harris is being projected as a first round pick in this June’s draft. The Spartans 2014 back court could also improve, as Michigan State is still in the running for four-star shooting guard Devin Booker of Moss Point High (Miss.) and five-star guard James Blackmon of Marian High (Ind.).

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
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While a few teams did manage to hold special events for the official start of practice this weekend, most simply went about their business with drills and conditioning. One team that was the exception to all of this was Louisville, which held the first of its two intersquad scrimmages on Saturday. The Cardinals had a head start of sorts on the season, as they played six exhibition games in Puerto Rico this summer.

One hope heading into Saturday’s scrimmage was that guards Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider would have better chemistry than they did in Puerto Rico. But according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that remains a work in progress for the Cleveland State transfer (Lewis) and rising sophomore (Snider).

They struggled in Puerto Rico, and they struggled again in Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, the first public intrasquad practice since August. They played one half of the game together, paired with the presumed starting lineup with Mangok Mathiang out with an eye injury, a group that also included Damion Lee, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.

That team lost the first half by 13 points to a younger group of Louisville players, and Lewis and Snider combined for eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, five turnovers, five steals, four assists and three rebounds.

“I thought (Snider) and (Lewis) did not play well together,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “They’ve got to get used to that. Neither guy made other guys better. That’s what they need to learn to do.”

As Greer also noted in his story the Cardinals have in recent years employed backcourt tandems in which both guards are capable of making plays for themselves and others. On the 2013 national champion team Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way, with Smith being joined by Terry Rozier or Chris Jones the following season and Rozier/Jones being the grouping last season before the latter was dismissed from the team.

Once Jones was dismissed Snider saw more time on the court, and his development was one of the keys for a Louisville team that fell one win short of the Final Four. Louisville needs him to take another step forward heading into the 2015-16 season, because even with Lewis’ experience at the Division I level Snider has more experience playing in Pitino’s system.

But while Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t go as well as anyone involved hoped, there’s still plenty of time for Louisville to work out the kinks before they open the season November 13 against Samford.

Knee injury sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.