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College Hoops Week in Review: Julius Randle, Kendrick Perry and Providence

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Kendrick Perry, Youngstown State

Perry led the Penguins to a championship in the Kennesaw State Tournament this weekend, becoming the only team in the country to go 3-0 in the first three days of the season. The wins themselves weren’t overly impressive — Kennesaw State, Florida International and Eastern Kentucky — but Perry’s play was. He averaged 22.0 points, 5.7 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals in the three games, including a 31-point, nine-rebound, seven-assist performance in the championship game against EKU.

They were good, too:

  • Julius Randle, Kentucky: Randle’s college basketball career started in impressive fashion, as he averaged 22.4 points and 14.5 boards while leading Kentucky to a 2-0 start heading into Tuesday’s showdown with Michigan State.
  • Cady Lalanne, UMass: The Minutemen big man went for 27 points, 12 boards and three blocks in an impressive, 13-point win over Boston College on Sunday.
  • Casey Prather, Florida: With the Gators struggling and shorthanded, Prather went for 28 points in Florida’s opener against North Florida, a game the Gators only won by eight points.
  • Trevor Cooney, Syracuse: Cooney struggled to find confidence as a freshman, but he certainly didn’t lack it on Friday night. He finished with 27 points and hit 7-for-8 from three to lead Syracuse to a win over Cornell after trailing by 14 in the first half.
  • Dylon Cormier, Loyola (MD): Cormier led the Greyhounds to a 2-0 week by averaging 32.5 points, 8.5 boards and 3.0 blocks in wins over Binghamton and Cornell.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Providence Friars

Providence entered their season opener against Boston College short-handed, as Kris Dunn continues to battle the shoulder injuries that slowed him last season and Brandon Austin has managed to get himself suspended from the team already. But that didn’t matter, as Ed Cooley’s club knocked off a better-than-you-think Eagles club in overtime on Friday night. Bryce Cotton led the way with 28 points, six boards and four assists.

They were good, too:

  • UConn: The Huskies nearly blew a 17-point second half lead to Maryland, but ended up pulling out a 78-77 win at the Barclays Center on Friday night. Shabazz Napier led the way with 18 points, seven boards and seven assists.
  • Wisconsin: The Badgers put together an impressive win over St. John’s on Friday, jumping out to an 18-point first half lead, never allowing the Johnnies to get back within four points. Five Badgers finished in double figures, but it was seldom-used big man Duje Dukan’s 15 points off the bench that were most notable.
  • Oregon: Playing without Dominic Artis or Ben Carter, the Ducks picked up a key non-conference win against Georgetown on Friday, surviving despite watching their depleted front line get dominated by Josh Smith.
  • Northern Colorado: Credit where credit is due: UNC was the first team to knock off a high-major program when they went into Manhattan and knocked off Kansas State.
  • Nebraska: It was the first game of the season and it came against a team that finished second in the Atlantic Sun last season while losing their head coach and leading scorer, but the Cornhuskers’ blowout win over Florida-Gulf Coast was impressive. Not because of the final score, but because Nebraska actually looked like a basketball team that will be able to compete in the Big Ten. That conference is going to be really, really balanced this season.

Minnesota center to miss a month

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 7: Reggie Lynch #22 of the Illinois State Redbirds and Fred VanVleet #23 of the Wichita State Shockers fight for control of a loose ball during the MVC Basketball Tournament Semifinals at the Scottrade Center on March 7, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Minnesota’s projected starting center is sidelined, but is expected to be ready for the season opener.

Reggie Lynch, the Illinois State transfer, had surgery on his left knee, the program announced on Friday night. According to Marcus R. Fuller of the Star-Tribune, the Golden Gophers are anticipating that Lynch is available for the season opener on Nov. 11 against Louisiana-Lafayette.

The 6-foot-10 Lynch has been in the news this offseason prior to his impending debut with Minnesota. In May, he was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. On August 1, the Hennepin County attorney’s office was announced he would not face charges, citing insufficient evidence.

Lynch spent two seasons at Illinois State, averaging 9.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Redbirds as a sophomore. He sat out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Minnesota is coming off a second-to-last place finish in the Big Ten with an 8-23 (2-16 Big Ten) record.

Women’s hoops coaches boycotting recruiting events

DENVER, CO - MARCH 31:  Head coach Muffet McGraw of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish directs her team during practice prior to the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Final Four at Pepsi Center on March 31, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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For some high-major women’s basketball programs, the final evaluation period of 2016 is being used as a vacation from the recruiting trail.

According to a report from Lindsay Schnell of Sports Illustrated, are not attending events during this weekend’s recruiting period for a host of reasons.

First, many are fed up with the price of tournament packets, booklets of rosters that college coaches receive upon paying their entry fee. Packets are supposed to be chock-full of contact information for the prospects, but sometimes aren’t accurate or up-to-date. (This has become a well-documented issue on the men’s side of college hoops. CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish wrote on it this summer.) Furthermore, there are so many events now that college coaches are often forced to pay obscene amounts of money to watch just one player at a single event, and play recruiting hopscotch around the country, criss-crossing the nation to see so many events and spend thousands of dollars. One Power Five coach said her staff crunched the numbers, and found that in just two years, they’ve spent more than $4,000 more than they did in 2014 on packets alone. Another coach told a story of sending an assistant across the country for one day, to one event, to watch one team. When the assistant arrived, the team had left early for its next event. No refund was available for the college that had paid what turned out to be a useless entry fee. The head coach called it “exasperating.”

Jeff Borzello of ESPN, who spoke to Notre Dame head coach and eventual Hall of Famer Muffet McGraw for his report, estimated that the cost for one of the coaches packets — the ones that include player contact information, rosters, etc. — can cost each school an average of $600 per event.

This era of grassroots basketball has taken off in recent years with Nike, Under Armour and adidas all creating their own sponsored leagues. All three run exceptional events from the staff to the facilities, all the way to the three, free meals a day for coaches. Organizers of these events will argue that there’s a cost to running such high-end events. These packets, some of which are so in-depth they include players’ GPAs, help fund these tournaments (events, paying a staff, etc.).

Coaches, mostly mid to low-major coaches, will argue that these packets aren’t worth the cost, considering that every coach (head and assistant) must purchase them in order to gain entrance. And you will find packets where the information inside is either inaccurate, or missing or both. For elite programs, this isn’t an issue. You show up, you’re seen, you leave, you go to the next event, repeat. For mid to low-major coaches, this really puts a dent in their budget, especially when they have to travel to multiple events (buying packets at each one) because you have to land that “steal,” you have to find that player who is overlooked.

This protest, or boycott (or whatever you want to call it) will hurt those these events are intended to help the most: the players. If coaches continue to avoid these tournaments, that late-bloomer may miss out on a scholarship, or that player with mid-major offers won’t get the chance to play in front of high-major coaches.

According to Schnell, there is a proposal, voted on in April, to eliminate a live recruiting period in April and September. But many coaches in women’s basketball have made it clear this weekend how they feel about the issue.

USC lands commitment from three-star center

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USC added to its 2017 recruiting class with a commitment from a 7-foot big man.

Andy Enfield and the Trojans beat out Florida, Vanderbilt and Tennessee for the services of Calvary Christian Academy (Florida) center Victor Uyaelunmo. He announced his college decision on Friday afternoon.

“It was the best fit for me academically and athletically,” Uyaelunmo said according to David Furones of the Sun Sentinel. “The basketball coaches really wanted me to come, and I thought it was the best place for me.

“They told me how they were going to use me, and they have a couple of guys leaving this year, so I just fit in right.”

Uyaelunmo is regarded as a three-star prospect by Rivals, however, ESPN rates him a four-star recruit. He joins a two-man class which includes four-star forward Jordan Usher.

The departure of Nikola Jovanovic, the Trojans’ leading rebounder during the 2015-16, was a surprising one, and one that left USC with a hole in the middle. While Uyaelunmo still has one more year before arriving on the Los Angeles campus, the Trojans have a promising piece in the paint for the future; a long, athletic big man who has the potential, in time, to become one of the nation’s top shot blockers.

Uyaelunmo played for Nike South Beach in the EYBL this spring and summer. In 12 appearances, he averaged 5.0 points. 5.9 rebounds and 1.0 block in 17.6 minutes per game.

VIDEO: Rupp Arena’s new video board arrives

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Rupp Arena is getting a makeover. Take a peak as the new video board arrives and is put together:

Five-star freshman ruled ineligible to play for Villanova this season

Jay Wright
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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Omari Spellman will not be eligible to play for Villanova this season, the school announced on Friday morning.

“We are extremely disappointed for Omari,” stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. “While we don’t agree with the NCAA’s decision, we are members of the association and respect it. We understand why the NCAA felt it had to rule this way.”

“We will make a positive out of this for Omari. He will concentrate on his academics and individual development this season. In the long run Omari will be a better student and player for this experience.”

Spellman is a top 20 recruit that played for St. Thomas More this past season. At 6-foot-9, 260 pounds, Spellman was going to be counted on to play a major role in replacing Daniel Ochefu, the 6-foot-11 center that graduated this past spring. Without Spellman, Villanova will have to rely on inconsistent senior Darryl Reynolds to man their front line.

It is worth noting, however, that Reynolds did average 9.0 points and 10.6 boards in three games Ochefu missed last year. That was the first time in his career that he was given consistent minutes.

Spellman will be allowed to continue to practice with Villanova as he takes an academic redshirt.