Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame 2013 Class Announcement

Minnesota lands a point guard as Nate Mason verbally commits

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With three of their expected perimeter contributors entering the 2013-14 season being seniors, the Minnesota Golden Gophers were in need of a point guard as head coach Richard Pitino looks to begin a successful run in the Twin Cities. While many held out hope that the program would be able to reel in highly regarded floor general Tyus Jones, the chances of that happening look to be slim (and that’s been the case for some time now, with many expecting Jones to be a “package deal” with big man Jahlil Okafor).

Friday afternoon the program received some good news, as 5-foot-10 point guard Nate Mason announced his decision to attend the Big Ten school. Mason is Minnesota’s second commitment in the 2014 class, joining power forward Josh Martin.

According to Mason picked Minnesota over Virginia and Kansas State. Mason’s a native of Georgia, but he currently attends Montrose Christian Academy in Maryland. Last season as a junior at Shiloh HS in Snellville, Ga., Mason helped lead the team to a 23-8 record and his ability to put points on the board has led to some comparing him to former College of Charleston guard Andrew Goudelock.

With Minnesota losing Maverick Ahanmisi, Austin Hollins and FIU transfer Malik Smith at the end of the 2013-14 season, Mason’s ability to make things happen will be a welcome addition to the program. And with forward Reid Travis taking his official visit to Minnesota this weekend, Golden Gopher fans are hoping for more good news on the recruiting trail this weekend.

Here are some highlights of Mason in action.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.

LSU looking into starting lineup options

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - MARCH 7:  Head Coach Johnny Jones of the LSU Tigers watches his team play during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena on March 7, 2015 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Tigers defeated the Razorbacks 81-78.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.

While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.

Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?

Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.

Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.