Gene Teague

The Secondary Break: Monday’s Links

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Gophers centers push to make each other improve (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
Elliott Eliason and Mo Walker have seen their roles grow under first-year head coach Richard Pitino, and they’ve taken advantage of the opportunity while pushing each other to improve on a daily basis. That will need to continue to be the case as Big Ten play wears on, as Minnesota looks to return to the NCAA tournament.

The ramifications of a lengthy layoff for Seton Hall’s Eugene Teague (South Orange Juice)
After losing to Creighton on Saturday afternoon Seton Hall dropped to 1-1 in Big East play. And they’ve been shorthanded of late too, as starting center Eugene Teague’s missed the last two games after a horrific fall in a win over Lafayette. With their lack of interior depth and other players (Patrik Auda, Fuquan Edwin and Aaron Geramipoor) also dealing with recent health issues, what would the impact of Teague missing a a lengthy amount of time on the Pirates be?

Duluth East grad Dyami Starks among scoring leaders in Division I (Duluth News Tribune)
Bryant guard Dyami Starks has been one of the nation’s best scorers this season, scoring up an average of 21.2 points per game. And one reason for the junior guard’s success was his hard work during the summer, with days beginning at 4:00 a.m. with a job at a FedEx facility in Duluth, Minn.

Prosecutor raps reinstatement of Shaw (Logan Herald Journal)
Utah State forward Jarred Shaw was reinstated by head coach Stew Morrill after being suspended one game due to his arrest on a drug possession charge. And the fact that Shaw was reinstated so quickly doesn’t sit well with Cache County prosecutor Tony Baird, who lamented the fact that the decision sends the wrong message to kids who look up to athletes such as Shaw.

Colorado products making impact on Division I hoops teams (Denver Post)
No. 20 Colorado’s win over No. 10 Oregon may have been spearheaded by two guards from California, but the Buffaloes also have two big men from the the state of Colorado in Josh Scott and Wesley Gordon. And they aren’t the only Colorado natives to enjoy success at the Division I level this season, with Colorado State, Denver and Air Force also making good use of local talent.

Alford proving critics wrong with fast, fun Bruins (Fox Sports)
In UCLA’s 107-73 win over USC on Sunday the talent disparity between the two teams was clear, with Steve Alford’s team playing faster than the opposing head coach thought they were capable of prior to the start of the season. And it was the latest positive result for Alford, who’s proving people wrong with this start.

Chester’s Hollis-Jefferson giving Arizona all he’s got (Delaware County Daily Times)
Arizona freshman wing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has been a key contributor for the top-ranked Wildcats, filling the sixth man role for much of the season and even starting when Kaleb Tarczewski missed time with a sprained ankle. And Hollis-Jefferson’s goals for the future aren’t limited to basketball either, as he hopes to lift up his hometown of Chester, Penn. as well.

Young Deacons finally provide tangible signs of growth in upset of North Carolina (Wilmington Star News)
Wake Forest’s 73-67 win over No. 19 North Carolina was an outcome fans have been waiting for, with the desire to see any sign of growth from Jeff Bzdelik’s program. The question now is whether or not the Demon Deacons can build on the result as they move deeper into ACC play.

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.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers 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 Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.