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Wednesday’s Pregame Shootaround: No. 21 Iowa State visits Provo

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 21 Iowa State at BYU (9:30 p.m., ESPNU) 

Just a couple days after beating then-No. 7 Michigan in Ames, Fred Hoiberg’s Cyclones visit BYU where they’ll encounter one of the nation’s better backcourt tandems (Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino) and one of the toughest environments around. Much will be made of the altitude, especially when considering the fact that Iowa State only played seven players on Sunday, but that Marriott Center crowd can be a handful as well. BYU has the highest adjusted tempo in America, and that could be an issue for ISU given their relative lack of depth.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET? Harvard (vs. Bryant; 7:00 p.m.) 

The Crimson have won their first three games, but none of those opponents have the talent that the Bryant Bulldogs possess. Expected to contend in the NEC, Tim O’Shea’s Bulldogs are led by the dynamic Dyami Starks (33.3 ppg), and veteran Alex Francis can hold his own as well. Bryant’s one defeat came at Gonzaga in their regular season opener and they’ve also soundly defeated Vermont, so they enter this game having been tested.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE DAY: Lipscomb at Belmont (8:00 p.m.) 

Normally a team can be primed for a letdown in the game following a big win, but the fact that their rival is next in line may work to Belmont’s advantage. The Bruins won the first meeting in this season’s edition of the “Battle of the Boulevard,” with J.J. Mann leading five starters in double figures with 21 points in Belmont’s 87-83 victory. How can J.C. Hampton and the Bisons change their luck? By holding their own at the foul line, as Belmont outscored them 33-9 at the charity stripe in that first meeting.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR: 

1) Brian Gregory will face his former employer for the first time as Georgia Tech hosts Dayton (7:00 p.m., ESPN3) in Atlanta. Both teams enter the contest with 3-0 records, and one area to keep an eye on will be turnovers. While the Flyers have had some trouble taking care of the basketball (turnover percentage of 21.2%, per kenpom.com), Georgia Tech’s done a good job in this area (14.3%).

2) Northwestern looks to rebound from its loss to Illinois State on Sunday with a win at UIC (8:00 p.m., ESPN3). Chris Collins’ Wildcats trailed by as many as 18 points on Sunday, and they’ll need to keep UIC’s Marc Brown (21.7 ppg) under wraps if they’re to bounce back.

3) Northern Colorado isn’t a team many put atop the Big Sky alongside the likes of Weber State, Montana and North Dakota before the season began, but their win at Kansas State made some people take notice. Tonight the Bears visit preseason WAC favorite North Dakota State.

4) Baylor’s guards will need to keep Charleston Southern’s Saah Nimley in order for the Bears to win as comfortably as expected (7:00 p.m.). Through four games Nimley, one of the best players in theBig South, is averaging 19.3 points and 8.7 assists per contest.

5) There aren’t too many scorers as hot as Evansville’s D.J. Balentine, who’s led the Purple Aces to a 3-0 start with an average of 29.0 points per game. He’s been consistent, scoring 29 points in each of those games, and for the season he’s posted percentages of 52.3% FG, 50.0% 3PT and 92.1% FT.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25: 

  • American at No. 8 Ohio State, 7:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
  • No. 14 Wichita State at Tulsa, 8:00 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
  • Charleston Southern at No. 20 Baylor, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN3)

NOTABLES:

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

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Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)

POSTERIZED: Class of 2016 forward Chris Seeley has a massive dunk on defender

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The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.

At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.

The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.

 

 

 

Five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt cuts list to nine

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Five-star Class of 2017 forward Jarred Vanderbilt has been one of the most sought-after recruits in the country since he was a freshman in high school.

The 6-foot-8 native of Houston is beginning to wind things down in the recruiting process as he cut his list to nine schools on Friday. Vanderbilt’s list includes some of the most storied programs in college basketball and plenty of schools from his home state of Texas.

“I just followed my heart. Went with the schools I liked the most and who I have the best relationships with. Thear were the schools I could see myself playing for,” Vanderbilt told NBCSports.com.

Regarded as the No. 13 overall prospect in the Rivals.com national rankings, Vanderbilt is currently recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

Vanderbilt will see a doctor in three-to-four weeks as he’s currently in a boot to help his foot heal.

Report: Michigan State and Penn State will play at the Palestra

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Head coach Patrick Chambers of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has previously expressed a desire to coach a game at the legendary Palestra in Philadelphia and it appears he’ll get his chance in a Big Ten game this season.

According to a report from Brendan F. Quinn of MLive, Penn State will use the Palestra as its home gym for the Jan. 7, 2017 Big Ten game against Michigan State. It is the only time the two teams are scheduled to play during Big Ten season and Penn’s home gym will offer a unique setting for the game.

Since the capacity of the Palestra is 8,722, it should make for a fun atmosphere for both programs since this will be a game both fan bases will likely want to attend.

With Nittany Lions head coach Pat Chambers making Philadelphia a major recruiting priority for his program, a game like this in Philadelphia makes sense while Michigan State has always been open to playing games in unique settings such as aircraft carriers.

The Palestra has been a college basketball mainstay since it was built in 1927 as it hosts all Penn home games and, in the past, hosted a lot of Big 5 Philadelphia college games between La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova.

Overall, a fun idea that should make for an interesting experience for both programs. It’s not often that a team will change its home venue for a conference game, but it could be the start of something we see other schools look to do.