Josh Pastner

Tuesday’s Pregame Shootaround: Jimmy V Classic highlights a solid slate

1 Comment

GAME OF THE DAY: No. 16 Florida vs. No. 15 Memphis, 9:30 p.m.

The nightcap of the Jimmy V Classic is one of the more intriguing games left before we get into league play. Both Florida and Memphis has enough talent on their roster to be considered a top ten team and a challenger to make the Final Four. But the narrative with these two teams couldn’t be more different. Florida has a reputation for being a team that wins big games, particularly in the NCAA tournament where Billy Donovan is perpetually outperforming his seed. Josh Pastner, on the other hand, finally picked up a “big” win earlier this season when his Tigers got revenge for a beatdown they took at the hands Oklahoma State.

Honestly, there is so much intrigue in this matchup it’s hard to put it all in a few paragraphs. The key to Florida’s team is how their back court plays, while it’s the Memphis back court that is one of the most talented in the country. On the other hand, Shaq Goodwin and Austin Nichols are the difference-makers for Memphis and they’ll have their hands full with the massive front line of the Gators.

I’ll be there tonight. I’m pumped. Obviously.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET? No. 11 Wichita State at Alabama, 9:00 p.m.

Let me get this out of the way off the bat: I am as big of a fan of the Shockers as you’ll find in the media. Ron Baker as firmly entrenched himself on my all-Man Crush team, and the combination of Fred Van Vleet, Tekele Cotton, Cleanthony Early and a handful of serviceable big men makes WSU, in my mind, as legitimate as anyone. That said, they’re heading on the road to take on an SEC team with a talented, senior point guard and a desperate need for a marquee win. Hopefully, Baker’s ankle is healthy.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: Belmont at Denver, 10:00 p.m.

This is the kind of game that make junkies like me salivate. Two thoroughly well-coached teams, two completely contrasting styles of play, two excellent mid-major programs. Neither team may be destined to reach the Sweet 16, but this will be a good basketball game.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

1) Pittsburgh is undefeated in mid-December, which isn’t a surprise for anyone that follows the college basketball. The Panthers have a rep for not playing anyone before league play. They’ll get Cincinnati in the Jimmy V opener tonight.

2) Dominic Artis and Ben Carter were suspended for the first nine games of the season for selling shoes. They return tonight, although they’ll come off the bench. UC-Irvine isn’t a pushover, either. They went into Seattle and whipped up on Washington earlier this season.

3) You like rivalry games? Check out New Mexico State at New Mexico tonight.

4) Charlotte has been one of the more impressive teams in Conference USA this season. They head to Tallahassee tonight to take on Florida State.

5) Three top ten teams take the floor tonight, as No. 5 Michigan State hosts North Florida, No. 6 Louisville gets a visit from Missouri State and No. 7 Oklahoma takes on Delaware State.

NOTABLES:

  • Florida-Gulf Coast at South Florida, 7:00 p.m.
  • Manhattan at South Carolina, 7:00 p.m.
  • Elon at Georgetown, 7:00 p.m.
  • Wofford at VCU, 7:00 p.m.
  • UT-Arlington at Oklahoma, 8:00 p.m.
  • Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Creighton, 8:00 p.m.
  • Ball State at Marquette, 9:00 p.m.

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike
Leave a comment

Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images
3 Comments

Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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.