San Diego St v Kansas

Wednesday’s Pregame Shootaround: 11 ranked teams in action tonight

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 18 Kansas at Oklahoma, 7:00 p.m.

The Jayhawks are coming off of an ugly loss against a San Diego State team that was big, burly and pounded Kansas in the paint. The Jayhawks will have a decided advantage in the paint against Oklahoma, but will that help? The Sooners can spread the floor and essentially play with four guards with Cameron Clark at the power forward spot. The Sooners are good enough to beat anyone in the Big 12 on the right night.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 23 Illinois at No. 4 Wisconsin, 9:00 p.m.

The only game of the night between two ranked teams. Illinois has a talented back court in Tracy Abrams and Rayvonte Rice, but the Badgers guards are a nightmare defensively. Wisconsin did not look great in their win over Iowa at home on Sunday, so this will be a good chance for us to get a feel on whether or not Illinois is truly a team that can compete atop the Big Ten.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: Harvard at UConn, 7:00 p.m.

I don’t even know if this should qualify as an upset. Even with Kenyatta Smith still injured, Harvard might actually be a better basketball team that UConn. The key, as always, is going to be slowing down Shabazz Napier, but the Crimson have routinely proven to be a solid defensive team. On the flipside, I’m not sure how the Huskies will deal with Wesley Saunders. This game is all the more important for Harvard because it’s the last chance they’ll have to beat a marquee team in the non-conference. They need to win it if they really want a chance to earn an at-large bid should they miss out on the Ivy title.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE NIGHT: Boise State at No. 13 San Diego State, 11:00 p.m.

I don’t think this actually qualifies as mid-major, but I still wanted to highlight it. Boise State is a perimeter oriented team built around a slew of talented wings and three-point shooting. San Diego State has a big, talented front line that can matchup with anyone in the country. What wins out? SDSU’s defense or BSU’s offense?

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1) No. 11 Oklahoma State is coming off of a loss at Kansas State. They’ll look to bounce back against Texas in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

2) No. 14 Kentucky has been out of the news since knocking off Louisville in Rupp ten days ago. They’ll host Mississippi State to kick off SEC play tonight.

3) No. 19 UMass kicks off Atlantic 10 play with a visit from St. Joseph’s.

4) No. 6 Wichita State puts their undefeated record on the line as Illinois State pays a visit. Tip is at 8:00 p.m.

5) Pac-12 play kicked off last weekend and Utah put together a couple of impressive performances against the Oregon schools at home. What can they do on the road? They head to Washington tonight.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 8 Villanova at Seton Hall, 7:00 p.m.
  • South Carolina at No. 10 Florida, 7:00 p.m.
  • No. 15 Colorado at Washington State, 9:00 p.m.
  • Georgia at No. 21 Missouri, 8:00 p.m.

NOTABLES

  • Wake Forest at Virginia, 7:00 p.m.
  • Georgetown at Providence, 7:00 p.m.
  • Minnesota at Penn State, 7:00 p.m.
  • Miami at North Carolina, 9:00 p.m.
  • New Mexico at Wyoming, 9:00 p.m.

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)
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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
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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.