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 caseย (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.

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averagedย 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and Iโ€™m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment โ€“ both by our university and by Chris โ€“ allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.