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Vin Parise’s 30-second timeout: Five questions with Kevin Willard

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Vin Parise of College Basketball Talk caught up with Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard, who is 1-0 in league after the start of Big East play:

CBT: Let’s start off first with your 81-80 double OT win at Providence on New Year’s Eve.

Willard: Going in I was hoping we could try and steal one if everyone picked up the slack with Eugene Teague being out for us.  I was worried about rebounding and how we were going to match up; but we made the right plays down the stretch.  I’m really proud of how our guys fought up there on the road.

CBT: 2013 as a whole was filled with several injuries for your program. How challenging has it been to deal with that aspect?

Willard: Last year I could have handled it much better.  It was very frustrating times and I let myself get too frustrated.  This year I feel I’ve done a better job handling it personally, and so have the players.  The games we’ve lost we’ve had multiple guys out – but we’re still a deeper team than we were last season.  But you can’t spend time focusing on the things you can’t control.  We have to keep the mindset we had up at Providence the other day.

CBT: Before we move past the injuries topic, what is the latest update on Eugene Teague?

Willard: We honestly don’t have a timeline right now for Eugene.  We’re following the orders of the doctors and going through the proper concussion protocol.  He has been feeling okay and is questionable for our next Big East game.

CBT: Speaking of the Big East, what are your thoughts on this conference as we now know it?

Willard: I think from top to bottom our league is going to be brutal to go through during conference play.  I feel Villanova is a step above the pack right now, but even they needed OT to win at Butler who was picked 10th.  Road wins are going to be a premium this season for sure. And the new teams that were added are going to be very tough road trips because of their home court atmosphere.

CBT: How about your matchup tomorrow at home vs Creighton?

Willard:  Creighton is a very misleading team right now because everyone talks about their offense – and don’t get me wrong, they’re terrific offensively; but not enough people talk about their defense.  For a team that puts up the numbers they do, their team defense is really impressive.  And the other day was no different when they held Marquette to 49 points.  I’m as concerned about us scoring against them, as I am about us defending them.  It should be a great game.

Follow Vin on Twitter:  @VinParise

Top-100 guard commits to Xavier

Chris Mack has Xavier back in the Sweet 16 (AP Photo)
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Xavier has added a top-100 prospect into its 2017 recruiting class Wednesday.

Elias Harden, a shooting guard from Georgia, pledged to the Musketeers via social media to become the second member of Chris Mack’s next class.

“The recruiting process was not EASY AT ALL,” Harden wrote on Twitter. “I wanna thank all the coaches that took time to recruit me.

“WIth that being said I will continue my academic and athletic career at Xavier University.”

The 6-foot-6 guard is ranked 92nd overall by 247Sports and had offers from Auburn, Maryland, Texas Tech and Ole Miss. He joins Jared Ridder, a Missouri guard, as part of the 2017 Xavier class.

The Musketeers return the bulk of last year’s 28-6 team that narrowly missed out on the Sweet 16.

Clemson recruit to enroll early

Brad Brownell
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Clemson will get a four-star recruit on campus a year earlier than it expected, though his on-court debut for the Tigers will remain on schedule.

A.J. Oliver, a guard from South Carolina, will enroll early at Clemson and redshirt this upcoming season, he announced via social media Wednesday.

“I woke up this morning and realized that the greatest opportunity for me is to enroll early into Clemson,” he wrote on Twitter. “I will redshirt a year & start my college career early.”

Oliver, whose mother is the head women’s basketball coach at Clemson, was a consensus top-100 player in the class of 2017 who committed to the Tigers last December. Texas Tech and the College of Charleston were involved before his commitment.

A three-star shooting guard, Scott Spencer of Virginia, was previously the only member coach Brad Brownell’s 2016 class. While Oliver’s decision to redshirt will keep him off the court for the 2016-17 season, he’ll have spent a full season in the Tiger program before making his debut in 2017

The cupboard isn’t bare in 2017 for the Tigers due to Oliver’s reclassification because Clemson received a commitment from power forward Malik Williams, a consensus top-150 player, earlier Wednesday.

Kentucky used Calipari-Chaney fight in media training

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Kentucky held some media training sessions yesterday, and one of the topics that head coach John Calipari used to make a point was … his blow-up with John Chaney. The moment was captured on SnapChat by a trio of Kentucky newcomers.

You remember that incident. Chaney, then the head coach at Temple, and Cal, who was coaching Atlantic 10 rival UMass at the time, nearly came to blows over the way that Cal handled officials during the game. Before the video below picks up, the two shared this exchange:

“Could I say this to you, please?” Chaney said, before the video above picks up. “You’ve got a good ball club. But what you did with the officials out there is wrong, and I don’t want to be a party to that. You understand?”

Cal responded: “You weren’t out there, Coach. You don’t have any idea.”

Chaney fired back: “You got a game given to you by officials right here with G.W. on three bad calls, O.K.? Then you send your kids out there pushing and shoving. You had the best officiating you could ever get here. And for you to ride them, I don’t want to be a party to that.”

And that led to “I’ll kill you”:

(h/t KSR)

VIDEO: Shaq’s son, Shareef O’Neal, with monster dunk in Vegas

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Shareef O’Neal is a top 50 prospect in the Class of 2018. In Vegas this past weekend, he threw down a monster put-back dunk.

South Dakota State gets two commits

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Tuesday was a busy and productive one for South Dakota State on the recruiting trail.

The Jackrabbits secured two 2017 commitments from the state of Wisconsin in Ryan Krueger and Alex Arians, a source tells NBCSports.com.

Krueger is a 6-foot-5 wing player from New London, Wisc. while Arians is a 6-foot-4 guard from Madison, Wisc., who also held an offer from Wright State, which is coached by former SDSU coach Scott Nagy. Both players spend their summers playing for the Wisconsin Swing grassroots program.

The pair make it a trio of commits for the Jackrabbits in 2017 with another Wisconsinite, Alou Dillon, pledging to first-year Jackrabbits coach T.J. Otzelberger, himself a Wisconsin native, earlier this summer.

South Dakota State went 26-8 last year and the bulk of the team that made the NCAA tournament last year, including sophomore Mike Daum, who led the team in scoring and rebounding as a freshman.