The big question for the Colorado Buffaloes entering the 2013-14 season was how they would go about accounting for the early departure of Andre Roberson. The Pac-12’s best defender, Roberson grabbed more than 11 rebounds per game as a junior and left Boulder as one of the most productive front court players in school history.
With that being the case, players such as sophomores Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson will need to raise their production of the Buffaloes are to factor into the Pac-12 race. And through two games Scott, who transformed his body during the offseason in order to be better equipped to handle physical play, has been a factor for Tad Boyle’s team.
After accounting for 15 points and 11 rebounds in Colorado’s 72-60 loss to Baylor on Friday night, Scott posted 15 points and eight rebounds in the Buffaloes’ 91-65 win over Tennessee-Martin on Sunday afternoon. Scott was one of four Colorado starters to score in double figures, with freshmen Jaron Hopkins and Dustin Thomas adding nine points apiece off the bench.
After struggling mightily from the field on Friday night Colorado shot 59.2% from the field (they scored 44 points in the paint), and while the caliber of opponent wasn’t as strong Boyle’s bunch did a better job of working to find quality looks for much of the game.
Scott won’t be the only interior player Colorado leans on this season, with Colorado arguably being deeper inside than they were a season ago. Redshirt freshman Wesley Gordon, expected by many to be an impact newcomer, finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocks, displaying the athleticism and activity needed to make good on the preseason promise. And sophomore Xavier Johnson bounced back from a tough opener, scoring 12 points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing out three assists in the win.
There are still concerns for Colorado, most notably perimeter shooting after making five of their 14 three-point attempts and Askia Booker still dealing with a slump before knocking down a pair of shots in the second half. But the talent’s there as well, and if Scott can continue to show signs of growth Colorado’s chances of contending get stronger.
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.