Honoring the great 1993-94 Missouri team that went 14-0 in Big Eight play, the current Tigers opened their exhibition season in the 41-year-old Hearnes Center for perhaps the final time with a 73-48 victory over Oklahoma City University on Friday night.
The Tigers and 9,222 of their home faithful honored Norm Stewart’s acclaimed group of players in a ceremony before the game and Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was there with the details of the ceremony and the details of the exhibition game.
“It means a lot because a lot of these guys I haven’t seen since my last year, and it feels good to be back at the Hearnes Center and also with Coach,” said former Missouri guard Melvin Booker, who was born 16 days after the Hearnes Center opened in August 1972. “For a minute I almost teared up out there because it brought back so many memories.”
The night’s turn-back-the-clock festivities began with a scene familiar to any Missouri fan who visited the Hearnes Center over the years as Truman the Tiger repelled from the rafters to kick off the celebration.
Next up, the 1993-94 team was introduced on at a time. The crowd saved its loudest cheers for the final three players introduced, in order: Lamont Frazier, Jevon Crudup and Booker.
The current Tigers made quick work of Oklahoma City as Tulsa transfer and starting point guard looked promising running Frank Haith’s offense. Clarkson scored seven points and had six assists and zero turnovers in the first half before sitting out the second half as a precautionary measure after taking a knee to his thigh.
Earnest Ross also finished with a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds and freshman forward Johnathan Williams III scored 10 points and added seven rebounds in a solid exhibition debut.
The game was also nice for Missouri as Melvin Booker’s son and star 2014 shooting guard recruit Devin Booker was also on campus for the second straight weekend, as Matter reports that Devin filmed the ceremonies a few rows behind the bench.
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.