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The Secondary Break: Thursday’s Links

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Duke deliveries by Santa (Duke Blue Planet)
Many college basketball fans across the country received presents that featured their favorite teams/players. Duke’s official blog compiled some of the things Blue Devil fans found under their trees on Christmas Day.

Chris Collins embraces challenge of leading Northwestern to NCAAs (USA Today)
Bill Carmody was relieved of his duties in the spring, with his inability to lead Northwestern to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history being one of the main reasons why. In his place is former Duke assistant Chris Collins, who has embraced the challenge in front of him.

No looking back: A new life and a new-ish game suit Chier Ajou just fine (Inside Northwestern)
One of the players on Collins’ squad is big man Chier Ajou, whose trek to Northwestern is an incredible one. Ajou’s a native of South Sudan, a land that has dealt with a violent power struggle for years. And after playing in just seven games last season, Ajou’s working to become a player who can earn consistent minutes in the new system.

Foreign-born players becoming more commonplace in college basketball (Louisville Courier-Journal)
Ajou was one of 333 foreign-born college basketball players last season, and a player who joined him in those ranks this season is Louisville’s Mangok Mathiang. Mathiang’s also a native of South Sudan, and his trek from the war-torn nation to Louisville began at the age of five.

From Philly to Texas: Aaric Murray now an NBA prospect again (CSN Philly)
Texas Southern forward Aaric Murray’s taken quite the road to the Houston-based school, spending time at both La Salle and West Virginia in his first four seasons (playing three) of college basketball. Now under the tutelage of John Lucas, Murray’s blossomed into the player he was able to only show flashes of in each of his two prior stops.

The commonality of the 40-point scorer in college basketball (CBS Sports)
With scoring in college basketball up from a team standpoint, college basketball has seen a rise in the number of individuals who have scored 40 points or more in a game this season. And the four-game slate on Christmas Day didn’t yield a 40-point scorer, ending a streak of five straight days in which a player reaching that mark.

Marcus Posley has no regrets over college change (Rockford Register Star)
After making the MAC All-Freshman team at Ball State last season, Marcus Posley made the decision to transfer to Indian Hills JC. It’s a decision that Posley doesn’t regret at all, and it’s one that has benefitted Indian Hills as well.

Rutgers land 7-foot grad transfer from UNC Wilmington

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Brandon Ingram #14 of the Duke Blue Devils drives to the basket as he is defended by C.J. Gettys #23 of the North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks in the second half of their game 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 Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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Rutgers landed a commitment from seven-footer C.J. Gettys on Monday night.

Gettys is a graduate transfer from UNC-Wilmington, where he averaged 5.3 points, 5.1 boards and 1.4 blocks for a team that reached the NCAA tournament. Gettys is a slow-footed back-to-the-basket player, however, and that didn’t exactly fit with the way that UNCW head coach Kevin Keatts likes to play; think Shaka Smart’s VCU teams.

So Gettys opted for Rutgers, picking the Scarlet Knights over Dayton, Purdue and Chattanooga.

He is the fifth member of new head coach Steve Pikiell’s first recruiting class.

VIDEO: Seventh Woods dunks on UNC student

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Some poor UNC student decided that he was going to try and block Seventh Woods, a freshman point guard for the Tar Heels, on a dunk attempt.

What ended up happening was that he got windmilled on.

To quote Samuel L. Jackson, as portrayed the great philosopher Dave Chappelle, “You ain’t never seen my movies?” Woods was doing this as a freshman … in HIGH SCHOOL.

Former National Player of the Year Michael Brooks dies at 58

Brooks for All-American Brochure
Courtesy La Salle Athletics
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A Philadelphia basketball legend and a former National Player of the Year passed away on Monday night.

Michael Brooks, a 6-foot-7 forward who was named the NABC National Player of the Year in 1980, died in Switzerland on Monday night due to a massive stroke, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

He was just 58 years old.

Brooks finished his career with 2,628 points and 1,372 rebounds. He never averaged less than 20 points in his four seasons in college. (Think about that for a second.) He was the No. 9 pick in the 1980 NBA Draft and averaged double-figures for four years before season-ending knee injuries sent him to Europe to play. Brooks was also named the captain of the 1980 Olympic team that missed out on the Moscow games due to the USA’s boycott.

Brooks, according to the Inquirer, had aplastic anemia, which required him to receive a bone marrow transplant last week. His body rejected the marrow, which resulted in the strokes that ended his life.

UCLA cruises in opener on Australian tour

UCLA head coach Steve Alford, second from right, watches action against Cal Poly with his assistant coaches in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Baker)
AP Photo/Michael Baker
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UCLA, who will be the most interesting team in all of college basketball this season, played their first game of an Australian tour on Tuesday morning, and they won in pretty impressive fashion.

The Bruins had triple digits on the board early in the fourth quarter, eventually beating a club in Sydney by the score of 123-76. For comparison’s sake, Washington and potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz beat the same team 101-80 a couple of weeks ago, so the win and the margin of victory is somewhat impressive.

Also worth noting: None of UCLA’s freshmen started. Steve Alford rolled with Aaron Holiday, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton on the perimeter — Holiday and Hamilton combined for 27 points, 18 assists and 11 boards while Alford had 17 points on just 10 shots — with G.G. Golomon and Thomas Welsh up front.

But the noteworthy performances here were from the McDonald’s All-Americans that Steve Alford brought into the program. In his first game in the blue and gold, Lonzo Ball, a potential top ten pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, was just OK. He finished with nine points and four assists while shooting 3-for-9 from the floor. Leaf, however, was terrific, as he led the team with 21 points to go along with nine boards and three assists.

The first exhibition game is hardly a great way to predict how a season is going to play out, but given the pressure and expectations currently surrounding the program, everything the Bruins do this season is going to be scrutinized.

This isn’t a bad way to start.

East Tennessee State dismisses Shemar Johnson from team

East Tennessee State coach Steve Forbes shouts from the bench in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Villanova, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Villanova, Pa. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson
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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) East Tennessee State has dismissed guard Shemar Johnson from its basketball team.

Buccaneers coach Steve Forbes said Monday that Johnson was no longer part of the team. Forbes said in a statement that “being a Buc is a special opportunity and at ETSU we provide our student-athletes with a tremendous experience. With that privilege comes accountability and Shemar failed to meet the expectations I have to be a player in our program.”

Forbes added that “I wish him the best now and in the future.”

Johnson, a 6-foot-6 guard from Columbus, Mississippi, was a redshirt freshman who hadn’t yet played a game for ETSU.