Wichita State v Gonzaga

Tuesday’s Pregame Shootaround: Kansas heads to Florida, Boise State visits Kentucky

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 13 Kansas at No. 19 Florida, 7:00 p.m. ET

I wonder how long it’s going to be before Bill Self regrets the schedule that he put together for this Kansas team? Three days ago, the Jayhawks were in Colorado, where they lost to the Buffaloes on a buzzer-beater by Askia Booker. They’ll return to Lawrence where they’ll get New Mexico on Saturday, following that up with home games against Georgetown, undefeated Toledo and San Diego State. Then they kick off Big 12 play. That’s as strong as it gets, and it comes at a time when Kansas is still trying to figure out who they are.

As far as tonight’s game, there are really three things I’m looking forward to seeing:

  • Can Andrew Wiggins build on the performance that he had on Saturday? Kansas lost, but it was the first time that Wiggins actually looked like Wiggins.
  • What will Joel Embiid do going up against Florida’s massive front line?
  • Scottie Wilbekin and Kasey Hill are both cleared to play tonight. It will be the first time that the two of them are both eligible and healthy at the same time. How good will they be? They are the difference between Florida being good and Florida being a legitimate contender.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 20 Gonzaga at West Virginia, 9:00 p.m. ET

The Zags are going to be an interesting team to watch this season, as they are one of the most potent offensive teams in the country. But can they guard? West Virginia has a pretty good offensive team, particularly in their back court, where Eron Harris and Juwan Staten have been awesome. How will Kevin Pangos and David Stockton matchup with those two?

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: Green Bay at Eastern Michigan, 7:00 p.m. ET

Green Bay is a really good team this season. They almost beat Wisconsin at home. They did beat Virginia at home. Kiefer Sykes in one of the nation’s best-kept secrets, and Alec Brown is a legitimate NBA prospect. That said, Eastern Michigan has a couple of high-major transfers, some length and athleticism and a coach that learned how to play a 2-3 zone under Jim Boeheim. Should be a good one.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

1) No. 11 Kentucky will be hosting Boise State, who needed to take a bus from Chicago to Lexington after a connecting flight got cancelled. The Broncos are one of the nation’s best three-point shooting teams. They get up and down the floor. They’ll make it hard for Kentucky to guard them. But they won’t have an answer for UK’s size inside.

2) Indiana will host the Oakland Fighting Travis Baders tonight. The irony: Indiana desperately needs some three-point shooting. If this was the NBA, they’d give up a recruit to be named later for Bader.

3) Cal will be looking to bounce back from a loss to UCSB by hosting Nevada tonight. The best individual matchup of the day will be Deonte Burton vs. Justin Cobbs.

4) Evansville squares off with Xavier tonight. The Muskies have not been impressive this season.

5) Minnesota hosts South Dakota State tonight in a game that would have been a lot more interesting if Nate Wolters hadn’t graduated.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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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

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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
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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.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.