For the fifth consecutive game, No. 19 UMass found themselves locked in a battle that went down to the final possessions.
And while the Minutemen found themselves in the loser’s column when they went down to Florida last month to take on Florida State, Derek Kellogg’s club has now managed to win four straight dog fights, the most recent a 73-68 come-from-behind victory over St. Bonaventure in Amherst on Saturday afternoon.
It wasn’t easy, however. With 9:49 on the clock, St. Bonaventure’s Chris Dees hit a jumper to put the Bonnies up 60-47 and, seemingly, in complete control of the game, but that’s when it all went off the rails. Over the final 9:49, St. Bonaventure managed just three field goals while turning the ball over eight times against the relentless pressure from the Minutemen.
UMass finally took the lead with 1:07 left when Trey Davis hit a three after UMass corralled an offensive rebound.
Chaz Williams was just 1-for-7 from the floor and finished with only eight points, but he added nine assists and collected three steals and a block during the UMass comeback.
UMass has the ability to go on extended runs like this. They play uptempo, they can hit threes and the length and athleticism in their press makes them difficult to bring the ball up against. When they start forcing turnovers, they’re tough to handle. But UMass is going to want to break this habit of second half runs and comebacks. The best teams in the Atlantic 10 — VCU, Saint Louis, George Washington, Dayton — they aren’t going to be as susceptible to that press as some of the teams at the bottom of the conference.
A win is a win, and it’s tough to argue against it.
But just because UMass won doesn’t mean there aren’t things that they can improve upon.
Frank Jackson will declare for the draft but will not be signing with an agent, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Previous reports had indicated that Jackson “planned” to return to school, and that still may end up proving true. But the combination of Trevon Duval potentially enrolling at Duke combined with the fact that there is zero downside to going through the draft process, it makes sense for Jackson to declare.
Jackson averaged 10.9 points and shot 39.5 percent from three. He’s projected as a mid-first round pick in 2018 by Draft Express, but at 6-foot-3, he’s too small to play the two in the NBA and has yet to prove he can be a point guard.
Jackson is the fourth Duke player to declare, following Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles III and Luke Kennard. All three signed with an agent. Grayson Allen and Marques Bolden are both returning to school.
This weekend is the first live evaluation period of the spring recruiting calendar as college coaches from all over the country are scouting (and babysitting) the top recruits in the Class of 2018 and 2019.
Friday night the adidas Gauntlet in Dallas opened with a marquee matchup of two star players as five-star forward Zion Williamson and five-star guard Romeo Langford went head-to-head in what should be one of the best games of the spring.
Most scouting services have Williamson and Langford as the No. 2 and No. 3 overall prospects in the Class of 2018 as the duo didn’t disappoint in front of the huge crowd in Fort Worth.
Williamson helped his team to a win with 26 points and seven rebounds while Langford had 28 points, four rebounds and four assists. You’ll be hearing plenty about both of these guys over the next few months as both are still wide open in the recruting process.
(H/t: Ball is Life)
Coppin State has hired former Maryland star guard Juan Dixon to be its next head coach, according to a report from Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun.
The 38-year-old Dixon is best known for leading Maryland to the 2002 national championship as he was the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four that year. Now Dixon will have a chance to lead a Division I program for the first time.
Dixon spent seven years in the NBA and also played professionally in Europe before joining the Maryland coaching staff in 2013 as a special assistant to head coach Mark Turgeon. Not retained by Maryland after the 2015-16 season, Dixon took the head coaching job for the women’s team at the University of the District of Columbia last season as the Division II program finished only 3-25.
Coppin State finished last season with an 8-24 record after losing its first 12 games of the season. While Dixon will generate some positive local buzz given his background, he’s going to have an uphill battle trying to rebuild that program.
Nebraska landed an important commitment from the Class of 2017 on Friday as four-star guard Thomas Allen is heading to Lincoln next season.
The 6-foot-1 guard is considered the No. 99 overall prospect by Rivals in the national Class of 2017 rankings as Allen was previously committed to N.C. State before head coach Mark Gottfried was fired.
A scorer with a good amount of skill, Allen has a chance to come in and make an immediate impact at Nebraska as he can play a bit on or off the ball. Allen should help offset the loss of senior Tai Webster in the Husker backcourt.
Allen joins wing Nana Akenten in Nebraska’s Class of 2017 recruiting efforts.
North Carolina pulled in a late Class of 2017 commitment to begin the weekend as the Tar Heels secured a pledge from four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks.
The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Brooks was previously committed to Mississippi State, but he was granted his release this spring to explore other opportunities.
The Tar Heels pounced as they’re getting a low-post threat who could develop into a potential double-double threat. A solid rebounder who isn’t afraid to play with physicality, Brooks has a chance to earn some immediate rotation minutes with seniors like Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks exhausting their eligibility.
Brooks is regarded as the No. 120 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, according to Rivals, as he is a four-star prospect. The native of Auburn, Alabama joins a North Carolina recruiting class that includes point guard Jalek Felton, shooting guard Andrew Platek and big men Brandon Huffman and Sterling Manley.