New Year’s Resolutions: Arizona Wildcats

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Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.

Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.

WHAT DOES ARIZONA PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Get more production from the bench.

    • Why it will happen:

Let’s start off by admitting that the Wildcats have a very good six-man rotation, with freshman wing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson being the sixth man. But if this team is to make a run at a national title another reserve needs to step up, preferably one who’s proficient when it comes to knocking down perimeter shots. Arizona’s shooting 38.5% from beyond the arc, which isn’t a bad percentage at all. But given the amount of talent in the front court and the fact that the Wildcats have scored just 21.5% of their points on three-pointers there’s a good chance that they’ll see more zone in conference play. Can a Gabe York be that seventh man? He’s averaging 8.0 ppg over the last two games.

    • Why it won’t happen:

In the six contests prior to that two-game stretch York averaged 3.7 points per game, shooting 6-for-31 from the field. On the season he’s averaging 7.4 points per game, but that could be a product of outings such as he 20-point night in a win over Fairleigh Dickinson as opposed to consistent production. As the best option to supplement what Hollis-Jefferson’s provided off the bench, can he consistently produce for the Wildcats?

WHAT DOES ARIZONA SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF?: Miss free throws.

    • Why it will happen:

Thus far the Wildcats are shooting 67.2% from the foul line, a mark that ranks tenth in the Pac-12, and of the top five players in free throws attempted three are shooting at least 73.8%. The two who aren’t? Freshmen Aaron Gordon (45.2%) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (66.1%). The hope is that as the season wears on they’ll get better from the charity stripe, thus raising the team’s percentage in the process. And given how good this team is around the basket, they’ll have plenty of opportunities to score with the clock stopped in conference play.

    • Why it won’t happen:

Even some of the most talented basketball players turn out to be poor foul shooters; for whatever reason some players have a hard time translating practice repetitions/success to game action. Could that be the case for a player like Gordon? Even if you remove his numbers from the Texas Tech (4-for-12) and Southern (4-for-1) games he’s still shooting just 50% from the foul line. As for Hollis-Jefferson he made six of seven against Northern Arizona, so things may be looking up in that regard.

Reports: Duke’s Frank Jackson to declare for draft

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Frank Jackson will declare for the draft but will not be signing with an agent, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Previous reports had indicated that Jackson “planned” to return to school, and that still may end up proving true. But the combination of Trevon Duval potentially enrolling at Duke combined with the fact that there is zero downside to going through the draft process, it makes sense for Jackson to declare.

Jackson averaged 10.9 points and shot 39.5 percent from three. He’s projected as a mid-first round pick in 2018 by Draft Express, but at 6-foot-3, he’s too small to play the two in the NBA and has yet to prove he can be a point guard.

Jackson is the fourth Duke player to declare, following Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles III and Luke Kennard. All three signed with an agent. Grayson Allen and Marques Bolden are both returning to school.

VIDEO: Top 2018 recruits Zion Williamson and Romeo Langford go head-to-head at adidas

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This weekend is the first live evaluation period of the spring recruiting calendar as college coaches from all over the country are scouting (and babysitting) the top recruits in the Class of 2018 and 2019.

Friday night the adidas Gauntlet in Dallas opened with a marquee matchup of two star players as five-star forward Zion Williamson and five-star guard Romeo Langford went head-to-head in what should be one of the best games of the spring.

Most scouting services have Williamson and Langford as the No. 2 and No. 3 overall prospects in the Class of 2018 as the duo didn’t disappoint in front of the huge crowd in Fort Worth.

Williamson helped his team to a win with 26 points and seven rebounds while Langford had 28 points, four rebounds and four assists. You’ll be hearing plenty about both of these guys over the next few months as both are still wide open in the recruting process.

(H/t: Ball is Life)

Report: Coppin State hires Juan Dixon as new head coach

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Coppin State has hired former Maryland star guard Juan Dixon to be its next head coach, according to a report from Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun.

The 38-year-old Dixon is best known for leading Maryland to the 2002 national championship as he was the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four that year. Now Dixon will have a chance to lead a Division I program for the first time.

Dixon spent seven years in the NBA and also played professionally in Europe before joining the Maryland coaching staff in 2013 as a special assistant to head coach Mark Turgeon. Not retained by Maryland after the 2015-16 season, Dixon took the head coaching job for the women’s team at the University of the District of Columbia last season as the Division II program finished only  3-25.

Coppin State finished last season with an 8-24 record after losing its first 12 games of the season. While Dixon will generate some positive local buzz given his background, he’s going to have an uphill battle trying to rebuild that program.

Nebraska scores important Class of 2017 commitment from four-star guard Thomas Allen

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Nebraska landed an important commitment from the Class of 2017 on Friday as four-star guard Thomas Allen is heading to Lincoln next season.

The 6-foot-1 guard is considered the No. 99 overall prospect by Rivals in the national Class of 2017 rankings as Allen was previously committed to N.C. State before head coach Mark Gottfried was fired.

A scorer with a good amount of skill, Allen has a chance to come in and make an immediate impact at Nebraska as he can play a bit on or off the ball. Allen should help offset the loss of senior Tai Webster in the Husker backcourt.

Allen joins wing Nana Akenten in Nebraska’s Class of 2017 recruiting efforts.

North Carolina lands four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks

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North Carolina pulled in a late Class of 2017 commitment to begin the weekend as the Tar Heels secured a pledge from four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks.

The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Brooks was previously committed to Mississippi State, but he was granted his release this spring to explore other opportunities.

The Tar Heels pounced as they’re getting a low-post threat who could develop into a potential double-double threat. A solid rebounder who isn’t afraid to play with physicality, Brooks has a chance to earn some immediate rotation minutes with seniors like Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks exhausting their eligibility.

Brooks is regarded as the No. 120 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, according to Rivals, as he is a four-star prospect. The native of Auburn, Alabama joins a North Carolina recruiting class that includes point guard Jalek Felton, shooting guard Andrew Platek and big men Brandon Huffman and Sterling Manley.