AP photo

Tuesday’s Pregame Shootaround: BYU-Wichita State, Saint Louis-Wisconsin highlight the night

Leave a comment

GAME OF THE DAY: BYU vs. No. 12 Wichita St, 10:00 p.m. ET

You want to talk about a contrast of styles? BYU loves to run and loves to score, taking advantage of the talent in their back court — Tyler Haws, Matt Carlino — to light up scoreboards. Wichita State? They’re a physical team, one that would rather get into a streetfight than a foot race. The Cougars have looked good this season, but the issue is going to be whether or not they can score against Wichita State’s tough defense. And if they can’t, they will be in trouble, because if BYU proved anything last night, it’s that they are not going to be much of a defensive team this season.

Expect the Sprint Center in Kansas City, where this game is being played, to have a large contingent of Wichita State fans. It will be a tough environment for BYU to get a win.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: Saint Louis vs. No. 10 Wisconsin, 8:30 p.m. ET

Wisconsin is good, and while I’m struggling to come to terms with the idea that the Badgers are playing faster than they have in the past, this is a team that is quite potent on the offensive end, whether they are playing faster or slower. Saint Louis is undefeated, but they are also somewhat untested at this point. The Atlantic 10 is looking tougher and tougher by the day. Is this the Billikins’ chance to make a statement?

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE DAY: Utah State at Weber State, 9:30 p.m. ET

Weber State entered the season as the favorite to win the Big Sky this season, but they are now sitting at 0-2 on the season after taking pretty solid beatings from Colorado State and BYU. Utah State isn’t on the same level as some of the best teams in the Mountain West, but with Preston Medlin and Jarrad Shaw, that team has the talent.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: Dayton vs. No. 18 Baylor, 10:00 p.m. ET

Can we really bet against Dayton to pull an upset in Maui at this point? They are 6-1 in program history in the event, they are undefeated this season and they now own wins over Georgia Tech and Gonzaga. The key for the Bears will be taking advantage of their size inside. Few teams can handle the likes of Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

1) The Maui Invitational semis take place today, and the best matchup of the bunch might actually be Cal taking on No. 8 Syracuse. The Bears are currently unranked this season, but they are 5-0 and have the kind of talent on their perimeter to attack the Cuse zone.

2) The final of the Legends classic takes place tonight and will pit Pitt against Stanford. This will be the first real test for the Panthers this season. Can they actually compete in the ACC?

3) Some exciting late-night hoops are on the docket as Illinois will square off with UNLV at 10:45 p.m. The Rebels are struggling this season, having lost at home to UC-Santa Barbara and BYU. Can Illinois take advantage?

4) Evansville was supposed to be in rebuilding mode this season, but the 5-0 Purple Aces will head to Assembly Hall to take on Indiana tonight.

5) Dylan Cormier is averaging 29.8 points this season for Loyola MD. The Greyhounds get UConn tonight.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 11 Gonzaga vs. Chaminade, 4:30 p.m.

NOTABLES

  • North Carolina A&T at Ole Miss, 4:00 p.m.
  • Longwood at St. John’s, 7:00 p.m.
  • UMass-Lowell at Cincinnati, 7:00 p.m.
  • Florida-Gulf Coast at N.C. State, 7:00 p.m.
  • Sacred Heart at Boston College, 7:00 p.m.
  • Hampton at Virginia, 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.