Duke Mondy

Duke Mondy making most of chance at Oakland

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The college career of Oakland guard Duke Mondy hasn’t been an easy one.

Mondy, who hails from Grand Rapids, MI, was recruited to Providence by then head coach Keno Davis. He spent his freshman and sophomore seasons with the Friars, but was in and out of disciplinary trouble there. Mondy was benched for the final four games of the 2010-11 season due to a “coach’s decision,” which ultimately led to his transfer to Oakland.

After sitting out the 2011-12 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Mondy was an immediate impact player for the Golden Grizzlies a season ago. He was third on the team in scoring, and led in assists at 5.1 per game. Perhaps his biggest impact on the floor, however, was on the defensive end where he averaged 3.0 steals per game. This year, he has upped that average to a remarkable 4.0 per game — no played has finished above four steals per game since 2002.

Mondy told Noah Trister of Kentucky.com: “I kind of put myself — if I was a player, at each position, what would I do?” Mondy said. “Like, if I was the center, what would I do? Would I kick it out? Or if I was the point guard, would I penetrate and try to kick?”

There’s no question he has a knack for the ball, but he also has a nose for trouble.

If you recognize Mondy’s name, that’s most likely due to an off-the-court incident earlier this season when Oakland was on the road in California. Mondy and teammate Dante Williams were arrested based on a woman’s sexual assault complaint. Authorities in California did not proceed with formal criminal charges, but a bad taste was still left in Oakland head coach Greg Kampe’s mouth.

Said Kampe:

“I have a real problem with what happened in California, morally, but I didn’t grow up on the streets, or how he grew up. The compass that I have inside of me and the compass that Duke has inside of him aren’t the same. … Duke is a good young man. We’ve just got to work on his compass.”

Kampe has provided Mondy with chances to redeem himself, both after his issues at Providence and most recent one in California. The chances have paid dividends on the floor for Oakland. Kampe explained what an impact Mondy has had:

I’ve never seen anything like it. We knew it when we got him. The sit-out year, he just took the ball from us in practice all the time. Early on, it caused us as many problems as it helped us, because he’s gambling and putting us in a bad situation, and that’ll happen now and then. But you have to live with that if you want the five run-outs that you’re going to get in a game.

Oakland played a brutal schedule in the non-conference, and are out to a less than stellar 5-11 record as a result, but are looking to get on track during Horizon League play, where they are competing in their first season after coming over from the Summit League.

Like many coaches, Kampe is having a profound affect on Mondy off the court. Mondy said: “He’s going to tell me straight, how it is. He’s not going to sugar coat anything. He’s been hard on me. He’s been helping me a lot, changing my life around.”

While Kampe is helping Mondy to turn things around, Mondy is still focusing on creating headaches on the floor for the opposition, and he’s doing a damn good job at that.

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
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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
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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)
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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.