Tyler Haws

BYU proves themselves a contender in the WCC with 112-103 win over Stanford

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Tyler Haws popped off for 31 points, and Matt Carlino chipped in with 25 of his own, as BYU went down to Palo Alto and knocked off the Stanford Cardinal, 112-103.

Yup, you read that score right.

It was 112-103.

Nothing weird happened, either. This wasn’t a quadruple-overtime game, it was just good, old-fashioned, uptempo basketball.

And that’s why you should be concerned about BYU this season.

There is a lot of talent on that basketball team. You should already know about Tyler Haws by now. He’s one of the best scorers in the country, having dropped 60 points in his first two games. But he’s far from alone, as point guard Matt Carlino, a UCLA transfer, is finally starting to live up to the reputation that he had coming out of high school. He’s still a score-first player, but he seems to be making some better decision this year.

BYU’s big freshman post Erik Mika is the real deal as well. He runs the floor extremely well, a must for anyone on the Cougars, and he’s got a soft touch and an honest-to-god back-to-the-basket game. The x-factor is Kyle Collinsworth, an athletic playmaker at the small forward spot that returned from his mission seemingly better than ever. Two games into the season, he’s averaging 12.5 points, 9.5 boards and 6.5 assists. That ain’t bad.

Dave Rose’s club isn’t doing this against nobodys, either. The Cougars ran through a really good Weber State team on Friday night, one that’s the favorite in the Big Sky by a good margin. Stanford will compete for an NCAA tournament spot come March, and BYU went down into their place and ran all over them on national TV.

There are still question marks here — what happens on the nights BYU can’t run? Can this team get enough stops? What about when threes aren’t dropping — but no team in the country can boast two wins as impressive as BYU’s right now. It’s early, I know, but the early returns lead me to believe that BYU can compete with Gonzaga or the WCC title. At the very least, the battle between the Cougs and the Zags will be must-see TV.

As far as Stanford is concerned, losing Andy Brown is really hurting them right now. Johnny Dawkins is trying to tinker with his rotation, but right now it isn’t working. Brown was supposed to be his starting small forward, and without him, it’s obvious Dawkins doesn’t trust his perimeter depth. That’s why the Allen twins don’t get minutes.

What Dawkins has done instead is go to a big lineup, one that features two post players with Josh Huestis, one of the nation’s best energy guys and offensive rebounders, at the three. Aaron Bright comes off the bench and Anthony Brown starts. It’s a massive front line, but it didn’t do enough good tonight. It will be interesting to see how long Dawkins sticks with that decision.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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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.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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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.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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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.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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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

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

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.