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North Carolina won’t have Leslie McDonald, P.J. Hairston this weekend

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We don’t know when North Carolina will be blessed with the services of Leslie McDonald and P.J. Hairston this season, but what we do know is that they two won’t be in Connecticut this weekend.

The Tar Heels head up to Mohegan Sun this weekend for the Hall of Fame Tip-Off when they will face Richmond on Saturday and, assuming the No. 3 Cardinals get past Fairfield, Louisville on Sunday. According to ESPN.com’s C.L. Brown, Hairston and McDonald are not only out for those two games, they won’t even be making the trip. They are still waiting to hear from the NCAA on an eligibility ruling.

Good thing I built part of my November schedule around getting the chance to see those two teams.

I’ve said it a number of times, but I’m not sure if I’ve written it here yet, so here goes: Without Hairston and McDonald, North Carolina is not an NCAA tournament team.

Why?

Well, let’s start with the obvious: Hairston is an all-american caliber talent, and when you lose a player that is that good, it is going to hurt your team. I don’t care who you are. It will hurt.

But what hurts more for this Tar Heel group is that without Hairston and McDonald, their severe lack of back court depth gets exposed. Freshman Nate Britt is forced into the point guard role. Britt’s talented, but I’m not sure he’s ready to take over this team yet. More importantly, it means that Marcus Paige has to slide over to the off-guard spot. That doesn’t sound like a major issue, but it is in Roy Williams’ system. The point guard and the off guard play two very different roles for the Tar Heels, and Paige has spent a year and a half in Chapel Hill learning to run the point. Now he has to move off the ball? That’s not an easy thing to do before you talk about the frustration of being forced out of position.

And then there is the issue of North Carolina’s big men. When the Tar Heels are good, they have a best on the block. Sean May, Tyler Hansbrough, Tyler Zeller. This year? Joel James, Kennedy Meeks, Brice Johnson and Desmond Hubert are good players, but they are North Carolina caliber big men.

Long story short: without Hairston and McDonald, I’m not sure that the Tar Heels will be able to get past Richmond on Saturday.

Top-25 guard trims list to six

Trae Young , Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images
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One of the top points guards in the Class of 2017 has trimmed his list of potential collegiate destinations to six.

Trae Young, a consensus top-25 recruit, listed Texas Tech, Kansas, Oklahoma, Washington, Oklahoma State and Kentucky as the schools he is considering as he readies to begin his senior year of high school.

The list of the 6-foot-2 point guard is largely provincial as it includes Oklahoma, whose campus is just minutes away from Young’s Norman North High School, and fellow in-state school Oklahoma. Another pair of Big 12 schools make the list in powerhouse Kansas and the Red Raiders, whose first-year coach, Chris Beard, has spent the bulk of his career working in Texas. Texas Tech is also Young’s father’s alma mater. Washington has been on a role sending its players to the pros and recently received the commitment of top-five 2017 recruit Michael Porter, Jr.

Kentucky, of course, needs no explanation as to its attractiveness to high-level players.

Top-100 guard commits to Xavier

Chris Mack has Xavier back in the Sweet 16 (AP Photo)
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Xavier has added a top-100 prospect into its 2017 recruiting class Wednesday.

Elias Harden, a shooting guard from Georgia, pledged to the Musketeers via social media to become the second member of Chris Mack’s next class.

“The recruiting process was not EASY AT ALL,” Harden wrote on Twitter. “I wanna thank all the coaches that took time to recruit me.

“WIth that being said I will continue my academic and athletic career at Xavier University.”

The 6-foot-6 guard is ranked 92nd overall by 247Sports and had offers from Auburn, Maryland, Texas Tech and Ole Miss. He joins Jared Ridder, a Missouri guard, as part of the 2017 Xavier class.

The Musketeers return the bulk of last year’s 28-6 team that narrowly missed out on the Sweet 16.

Clemson recruit to enroll early

Brad Brownell
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Clemson will get a four-star recruit on campus a year earlier than it expected, though his on-court debut for the Tigers will remain on schedule.

A.J. Oliver, a guard from South Carolina, will enroll early at Clemson and redshirt this upcoming season, he announced via social media Wednesday.

“I woke up this morning and realized that the greatest opportunity for me is to enroll early into Clemson,” he wrote on Twitter. “I will redshirt a year & start my college career early.”

Oliver, whose mother is the head women’s basketball coach at Clemson, was a consensus top-100 player in the class of 2017 who committed to the Tigers last December. Texas Tech and the College of Charleston were involved before his commitment.

A three-star shooting guard, Scott Spencer of Virginia, was previously the only member coach Brad Brownell’s 2016 class. While Oliver’s decision to redshirt will keep him off the court for the 2016-17 season, he’ll have spent a full season in the Tiger program before making his debut in 2017

The cupboard isn’t bare in 2017 for the Tigers due to Oliver’s reclassification because Clemson received a commitment from power forward Malik Williams, a consensus top-150 player, earlier Wednesday.

Kentucky used Calipari-Chaney fight in media training

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Kentucky Sports Radio
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Kentucky held some media training sessions yesterday, and one of the topics that head coach John Calipari used to make a point was … his blow-up with John Chaney. The moment was captured on SnapChat by a trio of Kentucky newcomers.

You remember that incident. Chaney, then the head coach at Temple, and Cal, who was coaching Atlantic 10 rival UMass at the time, nearly came to blows over the way that Cal handled officials during the game. Before the video below picks up, the two shared this exchange:

“Could I say this to you, please?” Chaney said, before the video above picks up. “You’ve got a good ball club. But what you did with the officials out there is wrong, and I don’t want to be a party to that. You understand?”

Cal responded: “You weren’t out there, Coach. You don’t have any idea.”

Chaney fired back: “You got a game given to you by officials right here with G.W. on three bad calls, O.K.? Then you send your kids out there pushing and shoving. You had the best officiating you could ever get here. And for you to ride them, I don’t want to be a party to that.”

And that led to “I’ll kill you”:

(h/t KSR)

VIDEO: Shaq’s son, Shareef O’Neal, with monster dunk in Vegas

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Shareef O’Neal is a top 50 prospect in the Class of 2018. In Vegas this past weekend, he threw down a monster put-back dunk.