The Secondary Break: Wednesday’s Links

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Dante Exum should skip college, says Andrew Bogut (The Guardian)
One of the most highly regarded players in the 2014 class is point guard Dante Exum, the son of former North Carolina big man Cecil Exum. But unlike the other players on those lists, Exum has options with one being to enter the 2014 NBA Draft. And according to Golden State Warriors center and fellow Australian Andrew Bogut, that’s the path Exum should take as opposed to spending a year in college.

Indiana benefitting from hoops obsession of Vonleh, the other top frosh (Sports Illustrated)
Much of the attention heaped upon the nation’s top freshmen has been reserved for those who participated in last month’s Champions Classic, leading to some players being ignored (relatively speaking). One of those players is Indiana forward Noah Vonleh, whose work ethic has been one of his greatest strengths at both the high school and collegiate levels.

Bruce Ellington’s back with the Gamecocks after football (Macon Telegraph)
South Carolina guard Bruce Ellington’s been pulling off the football/basketball double for the last couple of seasons, and he’ll do so again in 2013-14 as he’s rejoined the basketball team. Ellington, who’s expected to play on Friday night when the Gamecocks visit No. 9 Oklahoma State, will be with the basketball team until the football team begins its preparations for their bowl game.

Race once bigger deal in college basketball (Casper Star-Tribune)
With the 1963 Loyola (Ill.) Ramblers inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame last week, the sport honored the first predominantly Black squad to win a national title. And it’s safe to say that society is more tolerant now than it was during the 1960s, with the Ramblers’ achievement occurring during a particularly tumultuous time in American history.

Aggie Remi Barry could miss remainder of the season (Las Cruces Sun-News)
New Mexico State is the clear favorite to win the WAC and make a third consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament, but one thing that can make the race closer than expected is injury. There’s a chance that the team could be without forward Remi Barry for the remainder of the season, with Barry suffering a knee injury in the Aggies’ close loss to Colorado State last week.

Ex-basketball player gets plea deal in kidnapping case (Modesto Bee)
Former Alabama forward Devonta Pollard was involved in the kidnapping of a 6-year old relative in relation to a land dispute, with the charges ending his career in Tuscaloosa. On Tuesday Pollard accepted a plea deal, and if he meets the terms of his probation the charges will be cleared from his record in two years. Pollard, now attending East Mississippi CC, testified against his mother during the trial, pinpointing her as the orchestrator of the crime.

Losing Alexander didn’t slow John Groce a bit (Chicago Sun-Times)
In one of the biggest days in recruiting in recent memory fans across the country watched 2014 big man Cliff Alexander pick up an Illinois hat, only to put it down and select Kansas. As a result there were reactions stating that John Groce’s program was in trouble (despite this being just his second season in Champaign), but the head coach has continued to work towards making the Fighting Illini a perennial contender in the Big Ten.

Tar Heels encounter wild swings on basketball court (Greensboro News & Record)
Who is North Carolina? Are the Tar Heels the team that beat Louisville on a neutral floor, or are they the team that has lost to both Belmont and UAB? That’s the question many have asked since Sunday’s loss in Birmingham, with the team working hard to become a more consistent outfit. Next up for North Carolina: a game at No. 1 Michigan State on Wednesday night.

Ranking both new and familiar to Villanova (City of Basketball Love)
After the Villanova Wildcats capped their run in The Bahamas with a victory over Iowa to take home the Battle 4 Atlantis crown, it was hard to think that Jay Wright’s team wouldn’t be in the national polls come Monday. Now ranked 14th, Villanova is back in the polls for the first time in over two seasons with senior James Bell the only player on the current roster who knows what it’s like to play on a ranked team.

Missouri lands No. 1 player in Class of 2017 as Michael Porter Jr. commits

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Missouri and new head coach Cuonzo Martin have landed the No. 1 player in the Class of 2017 a week after he took the job as forward Michael Porter Jr. committed to the Tigers on Friday.

Formerly a Washington commit under now-fired head coach Lorenzo Romar, the 6-foot-9 Porter was released from his Letter of Intent this week and many believed he’d end up back at Missouri.

The Porter family lived in Columbia for many years as two of Michael’s older sisters play for the Missouri women’s team while Michael Porter Sr. was an assistant coach for the women’s team.

When Porter Sr. was hired to Missouri to be an assistant coach on Martin’s staff this week — after losing his assistant coaching job at Washington when Romar was fired — it all but sealed the deal that the Porters would return to Missouri and Michael Jr. would play for the Tigers.

Missouri might not be an NCAA Tournament team next season after struggling to an 8-24 finish and 2-16 record in the SEC. But Porter might be the most productive freshman entering college basketball next season as he has a chance to be dominant in the SEC.

Oklahoma State promotes assistant coach Mike Boynton to head coach

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Oklahoma State has decided to promote assistant coach Mike Boynton to head coach, the school announced on Friday.

Boynton was an assistant with the Cowboys under former head coach Brad Underwood, who left Oklahoma State to take the Illinois job last weekend. Also an assistant coach at Stephen F. Austin, South Carolina, Wofford and Coastal Carolina, Boynton is a native of New York City who played his college ball for the Gamecocks.

The hire of Boynton is surprising since he doesn’t have any head-coaching experience as it follows in the footsteps of Cal promoting assistant coach Wyking Jones earlier in the day. Boynton also notably won the job over broadcaster and former Oklahoma State guard Doug Gottlieb as Gottlieb interviewed for the job but wasn’t selected.

 

Rhode Island junior E.C. Matthews will return to school

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Rhode Island junior guard E.C. Matthews will return to school for his redshirt senior season, the school announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-5 Matthews led the Rams in scoring at 14.9 points per game this past season as he returned from a torn ACL and helped Rhode Island reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999.

Besides for being a talented scorer, Matthews is a good overall playmaker for the Rams as he also put up 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

With Matthews returning, it gives head coach Dan Hurley a huge weapon for next season as Rhode Island returns everyone besides the senior front court of Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson.

Cal promotes assistant Wyking Jones to head coach

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Cal will promote interim head coach and former assistant coach Wyking Jones to head coach, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The story was first reported by Jon Rothstein of FanRagSports.com

A native of Inglewood, California, Jones has been an assistant coach for the Golden Bears for the past two seasons as he replaces former head coach Cuonzo Martin, who departed to take the Missouri job. This promotion comes as a bit of a surprise for some since Jones has never been a head coach at the Division I level.

Jones has spent 15 years as an assistant coach at the Division I level at places like Cal, Louisville, New Mexico, Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount — where Jones spent his playing career.

Helping Louisville to the Final Four in 2013, Jones is a respected coach and recruiter who gets a great opportunity for his first head coaching job at the Division I level with Cal.

The Golden Bears made the NCAA tournament last year but finished 21-13 this season as they missed making the field of 68. Sophomore big man Ivan Rabb has already declared for the NBA Draft and it will be interesting to see what kind of roster Jones gets to work with right away.

One of the reasons Jones might have been retained is to help Cal keep its solid five-man recruiting class from bolting. While the Golden Bears don’t have any five-star talents coming in, it is a solid foundation for the program’s future led by a four-star guard in Jemarl Baker.

Florida State freshman forward Jonathan Isaac declares for 2017 NBA Draft

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Florida State freshman forward Jonathan Isaac has declared for the 2017 NBA Draft.

The 6-foot-10 Isaac was a five-star prospect out of high school as he averaged 12.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. One of the most versatile defenders in the country, Isaac could protect the rim (1.5 blocks per game) and also switch out to the perimeter and cover smaller wings as well (1.2 steals per game). Also showing a solid skill level, Isaac shot 50 percent from the field, 34 percent from three-point range and 78 percent from the free-throw line.

That kind of versatility is what Isaac is banking on in the NBA Draft as he’s expected to be a top-15 pick. If Isaac can prove that he’s a reliable perimeter shooter then teams could be intrigued by him as a matchup nightmare in the front court.