NCAA Basketball Tournament - St Louis v Michigan State

The Secondary Break: Monday’s Links

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On first anniversary of his death, Billikens recall lasting legacy of Rick Majerus (Fox Sports Midwest)
Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of the passing of former Saint Louis head coach Rick Majerus, and with that being the case former players and friends took time to discuss what they learned from him.

NU’s Scott Eatherton rebounds with new body (Boston Herald)
After sitting out last season following a transfer over from St. Francis (PA), Northeastern forward Scott Eatherton has been a valuable contributor for Bill Coen’s Huskies. Averaging 16.3 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, Eatherton has transformed his body in recent years according to his former high school coach.

Louisville’s Wayne Blackshear needs consistency (Louisville Courier-Journal)
With the loss of Peyton Siva from last year’s national champion squad, Louisville junior guard Wayne Blackshear will be required to do more for the Cardinals this season. The only problem is that he’s struggled with consistency, and that’s something that needs to change if Louisville’s to make a run at another title.

UK’s Cauley-Stein, block party of one (Lexington Herald-Leader)
For all the attention that Kentucky’s freshmen have received, they’re joined by a very good sophomore in center Willie Cauley-Stein. Against Providence on Sunday night the 7-foot-1 big man accounted for 15 points, eight rebounds and nine blocked shots, and he’ll be a key contributor as the Wildcats look to win the program’s second national title in three years.

Midseason form is a good look for Arizona basketball (USA Today)
Arizona earned the NIT Season Tip-Off title on Friday with a win over Duke on Friday, and the feeling is that Sean Miller has the pieces needed to make a run at the program’s second national title. One of the leaders is point guard T.J. McConnell, who like Miller is a native of western Pennsylvania and is playing his first season at Arizona after spending two years at Duquesne.

Calipari in town as a coach and a topic (New York Times)
Another source of attention in Kentucky’s win over Providence was the presence of head coach John Calipari, who at one time was the head coach of the franchise that now calls the Barclays Center home (the Nets were in New Jersey then). Of course there’s been plenty of discussion regarding a possible return to the NBA, chatter that Calipari has dismissed on multiple occasions.

What we learned from Butler’s second-straight narrow miss (Indianapolis Star)
Butler left the Old Spice Classic with just one win, but it very well could have been three and a title had they been more fortunate in close losses to Oklahoma State and LSU. The goal now is to apply the lessons learned with the start of Big East play less than a month away.

Newcomers yet to catch up for Lobos (Albuquerque Journal)
While the New Mexico “big three” of Kendall Williams, Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow has hit the ground running, the same can’t be said of Craig Neal’s newcomers. The players in their first season with the New Mexico program have struggled to pick things up on both ends of the floor, and that’s had an impact of the team’s depth.

Summitt and son taking poignant journey together (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
While Pat Summitt, one of the greatest coaches in the history of the sport, is no longer coaching there’s still a Summitt in women’s basketball. That would be her son Tyler, who’s now an assistant at Marquette. And as Tyler embarks on a career of his own, the two are making this voyage together.

The Sweet 16 of College Basketball Venues (Travel Channel)
It’s always interesting to see how observers rank the best arenas in college basketball, and in this slideshow the Travel Channel singles out 16 buildings. Rupp Arena, Allen Fieldhouse and The Palestra are among the 16 buildings discussed.

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.