Minnesota Boys All State Basketball

Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones commit to Duke

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USA Basketball

The single biggest recruiting haul in the Class of 2014 finally made the decision about where they are headed to play their college ball.

Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones are headed to Duke.

The story of the friendship between Jones and Okafor has been told over and over again. They met playing for Team USA’s U16 squad. They became became close off the court, which only made them play that much better together on the court. They decided they wanted to play their college ball together, eventually deciding on the school that was long considered their leader. 

Jones is a 6-foot point guard that is the definition of a “true” point guard. He’s got an uncanny ability to throw pinpoint passes regardless of their difficult, not only getting the ball to his teammates, but hitting them in the shooting pocket in a spot on the court that they can score. Jones also is terrific leading the screen and roll. He’s a throwback.

And so is Okafor, only he plays a very, very different position.

Okafor is a massive low-post scorer. He stands 6-foot-11 and checks in at about 270 pounds, but he’s nimble on his feet and can really score on the block. He’s a real, honest-to-goodness center, and that’s something you don’t see at any level these days, especially one this big and this polished at this young of an age.

Combined, these two are enough to make the Blue Devils a favorite to win the 2015 National Title.

Think about it like this: Duke just added a guy that will be one of the best big men in the country. They also happened to add a guy that may be the best distributor in the country. Now, if I had to make an assumption at this point, it would be that Duke loses two of Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood and Rasheed Sulaimon, with Hood and Parker the most likely duo to head to the league.

But that still means that Coach K will have Sulaimon, Matt Jones and Duke’s third freshmen, Grayson Allen, on the wins. And he’ll likely still have Amile Jefferson and Semi Ojeleye to play at the four alongside Okafor. That team would be good enough to compete for the ACC title right now, let alone in 12 months.

Okafor is the No. 1 recruit in the country, according to Rivals, and Jones is No. 5. Allen checks in at No. 34, which means that these commitments should slide Duke up to the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.

Here is Rivals lead scout Eric Bossi’s take on Okafor: “Jahlil Okafor is one of the most skilled and poised back to the basket centers to come along in some time. He establishes and holds positions, finishes with either hand and is a great rebounder. Okafor isn’t a high flyer but fully understands how to use his skill and size advantage.”

And Jones: “Jones is a heady floor general and a tough competitor. He runs the show and is in total control of what is happening while he has the ball. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and shoots with accuracy. Jones isn’t the biggest or most explosive athlete but he has great body control and balance.”

Cal and San Diego State set three-game series

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 10:  Jarmal Reid #32 of the Oregon State Beavers tries to steal the ball from Ivan Rabb #1 of the California Golden Bears during a quarterfinal game of the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 10, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. California won 76-68.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Cal and San Diego State played last season in the Las Vegas Invitational and decided to play more often.

According to multiple reports, the two teams will play each other the next three seasons, starting with a neutral-court matchup in Sacramento on Nov. 21. The game in Sacramento will be unique in a couple of ways, as it will be the first college basketball game in the Sacramento Kings’ brand-new home arena. It will also be Cal’s first game in Sacramento since 1947.

After the Sacramento game during the 2016-17 season, San Diego State will host the Golden Bears the next season and Cal will host the Aztecs the following year to close out the three-game deal.

With both Cal and San Diego State returning plenty of talent from last season, this season’s contest should be one of the more intriguing non-conference games between schools out west and it should be fun for the players as they get to take the floor in a new NBA arena.

Report: Creighton’s Zach Hanson to miss a few months following knee surgery

OMAHA, NE - MARCH 3: Zach Hanson #40 of the Creighton Bluejays fights for position with Daniel Ochefu #23 of the Villanova Wildcats  during their game at CenturyLink Center March 3, 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska.   (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Creighton will be without a key big man for the start of practice as senior Zach Hanson will be out after having knee surgery.

According to a report from Marjie Ducey of the Omaha World-Herald, the 6-foot-9 Hanson will likely be out for eight to 12 weeks. Creighton head coach Greg McDermott told Ducey that Hanson will hopefully be available when Creighton opens its regular season in November.

As a junior, Hanson was a key rotation big man for the Bluejays as he put up 6.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, making one start on the season. As McDermott noted in Ducey’s story, he’s not concerned about Hanson missing practice time from a learning curve standpoint but he is a bit worried about his conditioning. Before the knee surgery, Hanson was also nursing some ankle injuries that he was dealing with during the season, so he hasn’t had a great chance to get in proper condition.

This loss will definitely hurt Creighton as they have a ton of backcourt pieces for next season, but not as many in the front court. Hanson’s an experienced player who will help once he returns but it will something worth monitoring to see what kind of condition he’s in during the early season.

VIDEO: Mixtape of the Under Armour Association

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Now that summer basketball is nearly finished, a lot of good mixtapes are beginning to pop up from this spring and summer’s action.

Ball is Life just dropped some highlights from all of the Under Armour Association events from this spring and summer in one mixtape and it’s loaded with high-level players making tremendous plays.

Some of the top Class of 2017 prospects included in the video include Trevon Duval, Kris Wilkes, Ira Lee, M.J. Walker and North Carolina commit Jalek Felton.

Judge to review surveillance video in Appling gun case

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 30:  Keith Appling #11 of the Michigan State Spartans reacts against the Connecticut Huskies during the East Regional Final of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 30, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) A Michigan judge will review surveillance footage from the night former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling was arrested outside a strip club on weapons and drug charges.

Appling’s defense attorney presented the footage at Friday’s preliminary examination. It includes security videos from the Pantheon Club parking lot and video from police dashboard cameras.

The hearing was adjourned until Aug. 5 to allow Judge William Hultgren time to review the footage.

The 24-year-old Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and had two 10-day contracts with the Orlando Magic this season.

He was arrested in May after two guns and suspected marijuana were found in a vehicle he was in.

Appling also faces a trial in Detroit where he was charged in June with carrying a concealed weapon.

Arkansas hoping for more backcourt depth and stronger press in 2016-17

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Dusty Hannahs #3 of the Arkansas Razorbacks drives to the basket against Michael Humphrey #10 of the Stanford Cardinal  at Barclays Center on November 27, 2015 in Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Arkansas is coming off of a disappointing 16-16 season in which they missed the postseason.

The Razorbacks lost two key guards in Anthlon Bell and Jabril Durham — who both exhausted their eligibility — but they’re hoping a couple of additions will bolster the depth of their backcourt and make their trademark press stronger.

In a story from Tom Murphy of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Razorbacks are excited about the possibilities of their new backcourt.

Although Arkansas lost two talented seniors and a transfer in Jimmy Whitt, they return Dusty Hannahs, Manny Watkins and Anton Beard while also getting two of the best junior college guards in the country. Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon come in highly touted for next season and both junior college guards garnered a lot of praise from their play last season.

With Arkansas also bringing in some freshman guards like C.J. Jones and RJ Glasper, head coach Mike Anderson is hoping to have enough bodies to play fast and use his press. The team appears to be optimistic as well.

“I think we’ll have a lot more toughness at the guard position, and depth,” Watkins said to Murphy. “We’ve got a lot of guys. When we’re pressing and stuff, we’ve got bodies we can bring in.”

Arkansas also returns an SEC Player of the Year candidate in big man Moses Kingsley and they could be an intriguing team to track this season if Barford and Macon are as good as advertised. They’ll certainly have more bodies to throw at opposing guards and that should help Arkansas play faster than they did last season.