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.

Minnesota center to miss a month

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 7: Reggie Lynch #22 of the Illinois State Redbirds and Fred VanVleet #23 of the Wichita State Shockers fight for control of a loose ball during the MVC Basketball Tournament Semifinals at the Scottrade Center on March 7, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Minnesota’s projected starting center is sidelined, but is expected to be ready for the season opener.

Reggie Lynch, the Illinois State transfer, had surgery on his left knee, the program announced on Friday night. According to Marcus R. Fuller of the Star-Tribune, the Golden Gophers are anticipating that Lynch is available for the season opener on Nov. 11 against Louisiana-Lafayette.

The 6-foot-10 Lynch has been in the news this offseason prior to his impending debut with Minnesota. In May, he was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. On August 1, the Hennepin County attorney’s office was announced he would not face charges, citing insufficient evidence.

Lynch spent two seasons at Illinois State, averaging 9.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Redbirds as a sophomore. He sat out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Minnesota is coming off a second-to-last place finish in the Big Ten with an 8-23 (2-16 Big Ten) record.

Women’s hoops coaches boycotting recruiting events

DENVER, CO - MARCH 31:  Head coach Muffet McGraw of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish directs her team during practice prior to the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Final Four at Pepsi Center on March 31, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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For some high-major women’s basketball programs, the final evaluation period of 2016 is being used as a vacation from the recruiting trail.

According to a report from Lindsay Schnell of Sports Illustrated, are not attending events during this weekend’s recruiting period for a host of reasons.

First, many are fed up with the price of tournament packets, booklets of rosters that college coaches receive upon paying their entry fee. Packets are supposed to be chock-full of contact information for the prospects, but sometimes aren’t accurate or up-to-date. (This has become a well-documented issue on the men’s side of college hoops. CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish wrote on it this summer.) Furthermore, there are so many events now that college coaches are often forced to pay obscene amounts of money to watch just one player at a single event, and play recruiting hopscotch around the country, criss-crossing the nation to see so many events and spend thousands of dollars. One Power Five coach said her staff crunched the numbers, and found that in just two years, they’ve spent more than $4,000 more than they did in 2014 on packets alone. Another coach told a story of sending an assistant across the country for one day, to one event, to watch one team. When the assistant arrived, the team had left early for its next event. No refund was available for the college that had paid what turned out to be a useless entry fee. The head coach called it “exasperating.”

Jeff Borzello of ESPN, who spoke to Notre Dame head coach and eventual Hall of Famer Muffet McGraw for his report, estimated that the cost for one of the coaches packets — the ones that include player contact information, rosters, etc. — can cost each school an average of $600 per event.

This era of grassroots basketball has taken off in recent years with Nike, Under Armour and adidas all creating their own sponsored leagues. All three run exceptional events from the staff to the facilities, all the way to the three, free meals a day for coaches. Organizers of these events will argue that there’s a cost to running such high-end events. These packets, some of which are so in-depth they include players’ GPAs, help fund these tournaments (events, paying a staff, etc.).

Coaches, mostly mid to low-major coaches, will argue that these packets aren’t worth the cost, considering that every coach (head and assistant) must purchase them in order to gain entrance. And you will find packets where the information inside is either inaccurate, or missing or both. For elite programs, this isn’t an issue. You show up, you’re seen, you leave, you go to the next event, repeat. For mid to low-major coaches, this really puts a dent in their budget, especially when they have to travel to multiple events (buying packets at each one) because you have to land that “steal,” you have to find that player who is overlooked.

This protest, or boycott (or whatever you want to call it) will hurt those these events are intended to help the most: the players. If coaches continue to avoid these tournaments, that late-bloomer may miss out on a scholarship, or that player with mid-major offers won’t get the chance to play in front of high-major coaches.

According to Schnell, there is a proposal, voted on in April, to eliminate a live recruiting period in April and September. But many coaches in women’s basketball have made it clear this weekend how they feel about the issue.

USC lands commitment from three-star center

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USC added to its 2017 recruiting class with a commitment from a 7-foot big man.

Andy Enfield and the Trojans beat out Florida, Vanderbilt and Tennessee for the services of Calvary Christian Academy (Florida) center Victor Uyaelunmo. He announced his college decision on Friday afternoon.

“It was the best fit for me academically and athletically,” Uyaelunmo said according to David Furones of the Sun Sentinel. “The basketball coaches really wanted me to come, and I thought it was the best place for me.

“They told me how they were going to use me, and they have a couple of guys leaving this year, so I just fit in right.”

Uyaelunmo is regarded as a three-star prospect by Rivals, however, ESPN rates him a four-star recruit. He joins a two-man class which includes four-star forward Jordan Usher.

The departure of Nikola Jovanovic, the Trojans’ leading rebounder during the 2015-16, was a surprising one, and one that left USC with a hole in the middle. While Uyaelunmo still has one more year before arriving on the Los Angeles campus, the Trojans have a promising piece in the paint for the future; a long, athletic big man who has the potential, in time, to become one of the nation’s top shot blockers.

Uyaelunmo played for Nike South Beach in the EYBL this spring and summer. In 12 appearances, he averaged 5.0 points. 5.9 rebounds and 1.0 block in 17.6 minutes per game.

VIDEO: Rupp Arena’s new video board arrives

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Rupp Arena is getting a makeover. Take a peak as the new video board arrives and is put together:

Five-star freshman ruled ineligible to play for Villanova this season

Jay Wright
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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Omari Spellman will not be eligible to play for Villanova this season, the school announced on Friday morning.

“We are extremely disappointed for Omari,” stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. “While we don’t agree with the NCAA’s decision, we are members of the association and respect it. We understand why the NCAA felt it had to rule this way.”

“We will make a positive out of this for Omari. He will concentrate on his academics and individual development this season. In the long run Omari will be a better student and player for this experience.”

Spellman is a top 20 recruit that played for St. Thomas More this past season. At 6-foot-9, 260 pounds, Spellman was going to be counted on to play a major role in replacing Daniel Ochefu, the 6-foot-11 center that graduated this past spring. Without Spellman, Villanova will have to rely on inconsistent senior Darryl Reynolds to man their front line.

It is worth noting, however, that Reynolds did average 9.0 points and 10.6 boards in three games Ochefu missed last year. That was the first time in his career that he was given consistent minutes.

Spellman will be allowed to continue to practice with Villanova as he takes an academic redshirt.