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The Secondary Break: Thursday’s Links

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Skirting the rules (Sports on Earth)
Recruiting obviously has a major impact on college basketball, with the nation’s top recruits making their decisions on national television and a number of games at the high school/grassroots level being televised. And with the way recruiting goes these days there have been plenty of accusations, either directly or indirectly, of cheating. So why have rules regulating it?

Meet Kansas’ Joel Embiid, a Cameroon native blossoming into a top NBA prospect (Bleacher Report)
Andrew Wiggins isn’t the only productive freshman on Kansas’ roster, with Frank Mason, Wayne Selden and Brannen Greene also factoring into the rotation. And there’s also center Joel Embiid, whose upside has turned many NBA executives into fans at this early point in the season.

“Package deal” for former Cooper star Vaughn draws scrutiny (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
When package deals are discussed these days, more often than not the conversation is about two players committing to the same school. But in the case of five-star 2014 prospect Rashad Vaughn, his move to Findlay Prep along with assistant coach/mentor Pete Kaffey has raised eyebrows in Minneapolis.

The Jumper (Slam Magazine)
We don’t discuss too much women’s basketball on here, so the name Maggie Lucas likely isn’t a familiar one. But the Penn State senior guard is one of the nation’s best players, and she’s the leader of a team that plays six freshmen and hopes to make a run at the Big Ten title.

The magic of negative motivation (Ken Pomeroy)
Southern Illinois head coach Barry Hinson made some headlines late Tuesday with his remarks following a loss at Murray State. Many laughed and even applauded the coach for making those statements. With this being the case, do we tend to give coaches the benefit of the doubt in these situations? It’s definitely something to consider.

Thoughts on the freshman hype and how it’s been covered (NBA Draft Blog)
The top freshmen have received a lot of attention this season, be it at the college level or in the professional ranks with many noting which teams may be tanking for a better shot at the top pick. But the hype may be a case of “too much, too soon,” as the cart is being put before the horse so to speak.

Jump hook proving an extremely effective weapon for Niang (Ames Tribune)
Iowa State sophomore forward Georges Niang has been highly productive this season, posting averages of 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. And he has a weapon of choice on the block as well, with the jump hook proving to be a skill few opponents have been able to stop.

Bruins’ basketball success seems like ancient pyramid history (Los Angeles Times)
Of the 11 national titles won by UCLA just one came after John Wooden’s tenure came to an end, with Jim Harrick’s 1994-95 team winning the program’s last national title. And in a program that only hangs one kind of banner, getting back to those heights is something fans demand. Enter Steve Alford, who’s looking to return the Bruins to the top of college basketball.

Chaz Williams plays for past, future (ESPN)
UMass senior point guard Chaz Williams is one of the most exciting players in college basketball, leading the way for a program that’s ranked for the first time since 1998. And he’s got two sources of inspiration as he looks to help the Minutemen return to the NCAA tournament, his late father and his young daughter.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)

POSTERIZED: Class of 2016 forward Chris Seeley has a massive dunk on defender

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The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.

At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.

The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.

 

 

 

Five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt cuts list to nine

Adidas Nations Houston
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LAS VEGAS, NV — Five-star Class of 2017 forward Jarred Vanderbilt has been one of the most sought-after recruits in the country since he was a freshman in high school.

The 6-foot-8 native of Houston is beginning to wind things down in the recruiting process as he cut his list to nine schools on Friday. Vanderbilt’s list includes some of the most storied programs in college basketball and plenty of schools from his home state of Texas.

“I just followed my heart. Went with the schools I liked the most and who I have the best relationships with. Thear were the schools I could see myself playing for,” Vanderbilt told NBCSports.com.

Regarded as the No. 13 overall prospect in the Rivals.com national rankings, Vanderbilt is currently recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

Vanderbilt will see a doctor in three-to-four weeks as he’s currently in a boot to help his foot heal.

Report: Michigan State and Penn State will play at the Palestra

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Head coach Patrick Chambers of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has previously expressed a desire to coach a game at the legendary Palestra in Philadelphia and it appears he’ll get his chance in a Big Ten game this season.

According to a report from Brendan F. Quinn of MLive, Penn State will use the Palestra as its home gym for the Jan. 7, 2017 Big Ten game against Michigan State. It is the only time the two teams are scheduled to play during Big Ten season and Penn’s home gym will offer a unique setting for the game.

Since the capacity of the Palestra is 8,722, it should make for a fun atmosphere for both programs since this will be a game both fan bases will likely want to attend.

With Nittany Lions head coach Pat Chambers making Philadelphia a major recruiting priority for his program, a game like this in Philadelphia makes sense while Michigan State has always been open to playing games in unique settings such as aircraft carriers.

The Palestra has been a college basketball mainstay since it was built in 1927 as it hosts all Penn home games and, in the past, hosted a lot of Big 5 Philadelphia college games between La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova.

Overall, a fun idea that should make for an interesting experience for both programs. It’s not often that a team will change its home venue for a conference game, but it could be the start of something we see other schools look to do.