JohnnyJones

Plenty of positives for LSU in loss to UMass

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AMHERST, Mass. — Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee are seen as the three top teams in the SEC this season. LSU, like the Vols, is much improved heading into this season, and despite a 92-90 road loss to UMass on Tuesday afternoon, the Tigers showed a lot of promising in their opening game of the 2013-2014 season.

“I thought our guys did an excellent job of continuing to battle regardless of guys on the bench with foul trouble or injuries,” LSU head coach Johnny Jones said. “And I thought they did an excellent job of hanging in there, battling until the end, hitting big shots. We didn’t make enough stops against a good team.

“I think it’s great experience for us. We played a very experienced basketball team on the road, the first game of the season for us. And I thought our guys passed the test in a lot of areas, unfortunately the score wasn’t too our liking at the end, but I thought a lot of positive things happened.”

The opening minute could not have been more of an ominous sign for the Bayou Bengals. Jarell Martin, a five-star forward and the prize piece in Jones’ recruiting class, went to the bench with an ankle injury and did not return. Jones didn’t want to risk it, he needs the 6-foot-9 Martin during conference play, not to get a November win.

In his absence, another freshman, Jordan Mickey stepped up with 16 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in 38 minutes during his collegiate debut.

“Jordan helped a lot,” LSU junior forward Johnny O’Bryant added. “I told him after the game, even at halftime, that I was proud of the way he played. Jarell goes down and he stepped up.”

The first half saw 34 fouls called with UMass taking one more field goal than free throws through 20 minutes. O’Bryant, who had 14 points and six boards in the first half, picked up his third foul late, and then his fourth foul with 13 minutes to go and LSU trailing 64-59.

UMass opened up its second double-digit lead a little more than a minute after O’Bryant was seated on the bench. Following an LSU timeout, the Tigers went on a 13-2 run — with key buckets from Mickey, Andre Stringer and Anthony Hickey —  that cut the lead to one with 10 minutes to play.  The Tigers cut it to one two more times, but could not tie or take the lead.

Still, Mickey’s impressive debut, contributions from other players not named O’Bryant and Martin, and a narrow loss to a contender in the Atlantic 10 isn’t a bad way to start off the year if you’re the Tigers.

“It was a challenge,” Jones said. “That’s something that we needed and something we have the opportunity to grow from.”

LSU will look to do just that on Saturday against Northwestern State.

Five-star 2017 point guard Trevon Duval down to 10 schools

CHARLOTTE, NC - JULY 9: Trevon Duval during the 2015  Under Armour All-America Basketball Camp on July 9, 2015 at Queens College in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
(Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
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Five-star point guard Trevon Duval is the most electrifying lead guard in the Class of 2017. The native of Delaware dominated the Under Armour circuit this spring and is currently regarded by many as a top-five player in the class by most recruiting services.

Now he’s down to 10 schools as his recruiting is starting to become more of a focus. The 6-foot-2 Duval is down to Arizona, Cal, Kansas, Maryland, Oregon, St. John’s, Seton Hall, UCLA, USC and Villanova.

Things are still early in the process for Duval and it will be interesting to see if he schedules any official visits soon.

Ohio State gaining recruiting momentum with two 2018 commitments

DAYTON, OH - MARCH 24: Head coach Thad Matta of the Ohio State Buckeyes claps on the sideline in the first half against the Iowa State Cyclones during the third round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at UD Arena on March 24, 2013 in Dayton, Ohio.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Ohio State has lost quite a few transfers and hasn’t had a lot go their way with regards to recent recruiting, but things could be changing after a good weekend.

The Class of 2018 is starting to look really good for the Buckeyes as they landed commitments from wings Darius Bazley and Justin Ahrens this weekend. The two in-state products are grassroots teammates together on King James and they give Ohio State three commitments in that class.

Bazley is considered a four-star prospect on Rivals while Ahrens checks in as a three-star. They join another Ohio native, guard Dane Goodwin, in the class as this could be the group that helps bring Ohio State back in regular Big Ten contention.

Butler lands commitment from four-star 2017 forward Kyle Young

Atlanta, GA - SUNDAY, MAY 29: Nike EYBL. Kyle Young #34 of King James Session 4. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
(Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Butler picked up an important commitment on Monday as four-star forward Kyle Young committed to the Bulldogs.

A Class of 2017 stretch forward who can hit jumpers and has an improving skill set, the 6-foot-7 Young comes from Massillon, Ohio and he’s regarded as the No. 109 overall prospect.

Young was impressive in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer with King James as he averaged 15.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game as he shot 48 percent from the field and 36 percent from 3-point range.

This is a nice grab for Butler as Young is the type of versatile perimeter shooter that they like to utilize and he should be able to help a bit on the glass as well.

Young joins a class that includes guards Cooper Neese and Jerald Butler.

VIDEO: Collin Sexton with a trick shot for the ages

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 1.33.34 PM
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Earlier this summer, we told you the story of Collin Sexton, how the 6-foot-2 Georgia native went from being a mid-major recruit to a five-star prospect being courted by the likes of Kansas, Arizona, North Carolina and Villanova.

It’s because he’s a bucket-getter.

     RELATED: Making A Five Star

He averaged 31 points in the Nike EYBL circuit, nine points better than Michael Porter, who finished second in the league in scoring. No one puts points on the board like he does, so it’s only fitting that he was the guy that made a shot from the balcony during ‘The Trip’, Nike’s effort to keep kids associated with their brand from Elite 24:

Lonzo Ball struggled on UCLA’s Australian tour

Lonzo Ball (UCLA Athletics)
UCLA Athletics
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UCLA capped their three-game trip to Australia on Sunday night with a 94-91 win over the Brisbane Bullets, a game in which sophomore point guard Aaron Holiday finished with a team-high 17 points. Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton both added 16 points and freshman Ike Anigbogu finished with 13 points and 10 boards.

This win came just two days after the Bruins lost to Melbourne United, 89-84, when Hamilton — 18 points and five assists — and Holiday — 16 points — were both once again impressive. Alford also added 18 points in Friday’s loss.

It’s not surprising that the Bruins had some up and down performances abroad. Everyone does. It’s what happens when a team of college kids, with three freshmen playing key roles, heads to the other side of the world to square off against teams made up of professionals. Don’t go hanging the ‘Fire Steve Alford’ banners on anymore airplanes just yet.

There are, however, two interesting things to consider from this trip:

– Lonzo Ball, UCLA’s star freshman, was, at best, their fourth-best perimeter player. Seniors Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford and sophomore Aaron Holiday all played well and posted impressive numbers on the three-game trip. Ball? He didn’t shoot well. At all. In UCLA’s 47-point opening win, he was 3-for-9 from the floor and 1-for-3 from three, putting together was was by far his best shooting performance of the trip. In the three games, he shot a total of 25 percent (9-36) from the field and 19 percent (4-21) from three. He did average 5.0 assists and, in one game, notched 13 boards, but Ball’s ability to shoot will be something to keep an eye on.

– And then there’s this, from Bryce Alford:

UCLA needs to travel with more towels.