The Secondary Break: Thursday’s Links

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Forget freshmen, transfers are the new prized recruits in college basketball (Sports Illustrated)
While freshmen have received much of the attention to this point in the season, transfers have proven to be just as influential to some programs. Players such as Arizona’s T.J. McConnell, George Washington’s Maurice Creek and Iowa State’s DeAndre Kane have all played pivotal roles in the success of their new teams.

UCLA-Arizona has been west coast’s top college basketball rivalry (Long Beach Press-Telegram)
On Thursday night the top-ranked Wildcats and Bruins renew acquaintances at Pauley Pavilion, with Arizona looking to reverse its fortunes after losing to UCLA three times last season. And this series is one with a history of exciting match-ups, with this story including the ten best games in the series according to the author.

College basketball arena poll: All 12 individual ballots (Athlon Sports)
The folks over at Athlon Sports compiled a list of the top 10 arenas in college basketball with some help from 12 college basketball experts, including CBT’s own Rob Dauster. Not only did Athlon reveal the list, but it also revealed the ballots of each of the 12 voters.

JV: A year in the college basketball wilderness (Dime Magazine)
As discussed in yesterday’s Break, there aren’t a high number of junior varsity teams at the college level. But they still exist, and in this story the author gives a first-hand account of his experience playing JV basketball at a small college.

Titus’ Top 12 NCAA power rankings (Grantland)
Former Ohio State basketball player Mark Titus compiles his weekly power rankings, taking a look at some of the nation’s best teams. It’s an interesting read, especially the portion in which he declares Iowa State to be a team of destiny.

Duke’s Jabari Parker: “I’m human too” (Greensboro News & Record)
In some instances this season the nation’s best freshman have been built up to near legendary status, with every game being a referendum on their skill level and chances of long-term success. After Andrew Wiggins bore the brunt of that pressure early, Duke freshman Jabari Parker’s been the latest subject thanks to his recent struggles. He’ll be OK.

Mother, coach reveal former Auburn basketball player faked kidnapping to escape pressures (ABC News)
In one of the more bizarre stories heard regarding college basketball players dealing with the pressure that comes with playing a sport and having to succeed in school, former Auburn basketball player Sierra Sims faked her kidnapping as a college freshman back in 2008. What resulted was a 24-hour search for Sims, who turned to binge drinking before running away and saying that she was kidnapped when found.

Kansas plans $17.5 million apartment complex that would house basketball players (Kansas City Star)
The business of major college athletics is alive and well, with programs doing whatever possible to put everything their athletes need within arm’s reach. At Kansas there are plans for a new apartment complex that would house the men’s and women’s basketball teams, with completion of the project expected for the 2016-17 academic year.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.

Report: Nike, Adidas and Under Armour all pass on sponsoring Lonzo Ball

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Lonzo Ball will enter his rookie season in the NBA without a sponsorship deal from Nike, Adidas or Under Armour, only his family’s Big Baller Brand apparel.

That, according to a report from ESPN, is due to his father LaVar’s insistence that Lonzo not sign with one of the three major apparel companies unless they opted to sign a licensing deal for Big Baller Brand merchandise instead of outfitting Lonzo with their own gear.

“We’ve said from the beginning, we aren’t looking for an endorsement deal,” LaVar told ESPN. “We’re looking for co-branding, a true partner. But they’re not ready for that because they’re not used to that model. But hey, the taxi industry wasn’t ready for Uber, either.”

LaVar had been representing his son in the negotiations, and is now expected to reach out to other shoe brands, including Chinese apparel companies like Li-Nang.

Big Baller Brand is a startup apparel company launched by LaVar Ball. They sell t-shirts, sweatshirts and hats, with most of their products costing at least $50.

Lonzo declared for the NBA Draft after an all-american season that saw him and the UCLA Bruins flame out of the NCAA tournament in the Sweet 16. UCLA lost to Kentucky in that game, and Lonzo had a quiet night while his point guard counterpart, De’Aaron Fox, went off for 39 points.

Lonzo is a likely top three pick in the NBA Draft and, potentially, could still end up going No. 1. He has two younger brothers as well. LiAngelo will be a freshman with the Bruins next season while LaMelo just finished his sophomore season in high school. Both will attend UCLA.