Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Matta talks with guard Craft in the second half against the Wichita State Shockers during their West Regional NCAA men's basketball game in Los Angeles

Saturday’s Pregame Shootaround: Ohio State-Marquette highlights the day

Leave a comment

GAME OF THE DAY: No. 10 Ohio State at No. 17 Marquette, 1:00 p.m. (FS1)

One of the more interesting matchups of the non-conference season. Even with Jameel McKay’s decision to leave the program, Marquette is absolutely loaded up front. Davante Gardner, Chris Otule, Jamil Wilson, Steve Taylor. But Buzz Williams’ club is young in their back court, which just so happens to be where Ohio State’s strength lies. The combination of Aaron Craft and Shannon  Scott may be the most terrifying back court duo try and handle the ball against. Throw in Sam Thompson at the three, and OSU’s perimeter defense is as good as it gets, but they don’t have much front court size. Who takes advantage?

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: Creighton at St. Joseph’s, 7:00 p.m.

The biggest question mark with Doug McDermott’s transition to the Big East will be how he acclimates to playing against guys that are bigger, longer and more athletic than him on a daily basis. He’ll have a nice test on Saturday, as he’ll go toe-to-toe with Ronald Roberts.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 20 Wisconsin at UW-Green Bay, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN3)

We all know about the Badgers, but the Phoenix are legit this year. Alec Brown is a seven-footer with some actual NBA potential, while the best guard on the floor this evening will likely be Kiefer Sykes, the UWGB point guard. Wisconsin is coming off of a pair of solid wins against St. John’s and Florida. Could this be their letdown?

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE DAY: George Washington at Manhattan, 7:00 p.m.

GW is better than a lot of folks will give them credit for this season, but Manhattan looks like they’re going to have a chance to win the MAAC this year with George Beamon back in the fold. The Colonials are still without Patricio Garino, however.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

1) Marshall Henderson returns to the court on Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m. as Ole Miss takes on Coastal Carolina.

2) Davidson is in a bit of a rebuilding year, but the Wildcats are still one of the best-coached teams in the country. This will be a tough road test for No. 25 Virginia (12:00 p.m.).

3) So we all love Florida-Gulf Coast, right? Well, Mercer not only won the Atlantic Sun last season, they’re the favorite this year as well. The Bears take on Seton Hall at 3:00 p.m.

4) Torrey Craig of USC-Upstate will face a serious challenge going up against Tennessee big, physical defense. Can the Vols bounce back from Tuesday’s loss to Xavier?

5) UC-Santa Barbara is coming off of a 21 point win at UNLV. They visit Utah State on Saturday night, a team that can theoretically play themselves into NCAA tournament contention with a strong MWC season. Are the Gauchos for real?

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • Tennessee State at No. 16 Wichita State, 1:00 p.m.
  • Colgate at No. 9 Syracuse, 4:30 p.m.
  • Arkansas-Little Rock at No. 11 Florida, 4:30 p.m.
  • Winthrop at No. 14 VCU, 6:00 p.m.

NOTABLES

  • Jackson State at Colorado, 12:00 p.m.
  • Appalachian State at Cincinnati, 2:00 p.m.
  • Northern Iowa at George Mason, 4:00 p.m.
  • Campbell at N.C. State, 7:00 p.m.
  • Hawaii at Missouri, 7:00 p.m.
  • Minnesota at Richmond, 7:00 p.m.

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike
Leave a comment

Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images
2 Comments

Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

ESPN.com was the first to report White’s commitment.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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.