The Secondary Break: Tuesday’s Links

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Up and Down and Unfair: Embiid, Wiggins and Kansas in 2014 (Grantland)
Saturday’s matchup between Oklahoma State and Kansas proved to be one of the nation’s best games to this point in the season, with the Jayhawks hanging on for the two-point victory at Allen Fieldhouse. While Andrew Wiggins was quiet for much of the afternoon the same can’t be said of Joel Embiid, who was outstanding in the middle for the Jayhawks. This story captures the entire day and Kansas’ two freshmen quite well.

Bruce Pearl’s post-coaching life, Richard Pitino and his father and more (Sports Illustrated)
One question that more than a few college basketball fans have asked recently is when would former Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl return to the coaching ranks. Now working at ESPN during the season, Pearl discusses life after Tennessee and his thoughts on a return to the sideline.

Air Force has a straight shooter in Tre’ Coggins (Denver Post)
The Air Force Falcons have gotten off to a 3-3 start to Mountain West play, a bit of a surprise considering the fact that Dave Pilipovich’s team was expected to be one of the league’s weaker teams. One reason for the start: sophomore point guard Tre’ Coggins, who has been one of the Mountain West’s best perimeter shooters to this point in the season.

Clemson basketball wants to avoid getting road-tripped (Charleston Post and Courier)
While much has been made of the play of Duke and North Carolina, one of the positive surprises in ACC play has been the Clemson Tigers. Brad Brownell’s team is off to a 4-1 start to conference play, and with a game at Pittsburgh in front of them the Tigers are hoping to earn a quality road victory.

UMass off to blazing start under Calipari pupil Derek Kellogg (USA Today)
No. 12 UMass has survived some close calls this season, but the fact of the matter is that the Minutemen have done enough to win 16 of their first 17 games. Leading the way is head coach Derek Kellogg, whose team is currently ranked ahead of the team coached by his college head coach, John Calipari.

Oglesby now key contributor for Hawkeyes (Quad City Times)
One reason why No. 10 Iowa was able to whip Minnesota 94-73 on Sunday afternoon was the first-half performance of guard Josh Oglesby, who scored 14 of his 17 points in the opening stanza. Playing with greater confidence, Oglesby’s become a key reserve for the Hawkeyes, who are ranked in the top ten of the AP poll for the first time since 2002.

Creighton’s McDermott embracing return to school (City of Basketball Love)
Creighton senior forward Doug McDermott returned to the place where his junior season came to an end, with the Bluejays falling to Duke in the NCAA tournament’s Round of 32. McDermott very well could have decided that he was ready for the next level but instead he returned to Omaha for his senior season, and McDermott’s happy that he did.

St. John’s lineups: a little bit of everything leads to nothing (Big Apple Buckets)
St. John’s has struggled mightily in Big East, as they’re off to an 0-5 start that has left fans frustrated. One point of frustration for some has been the numerous lineups that head coach Steve Lavin has used, with the thought being that the lack of continuity has led to the team’s struggles. John Templon of Big Apple Buckets broke down the many different lineup combinations used by the Red Storm this season.

N.C. State adds grad transfer Sam Hunt

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N.C. State added its fourth transfer this offseason. Like ex-Baylor guard Al Freeman, the latest one is eligible to play next season.

Sam Hunt, a double-digit scorer the past two seasons at North Carolina A&T, officially enrolled at North Carolina State on Monday morning.

“Sam is a great young man and will bring much needed depth to our backcourt,” N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts said in a statement. “I want guys who are excited about being a part of our program and Sam really wants to be here.

“Sam is a combo guard that can space the floor with his ability to shoot the basketball. He is a good fit for the system and will bring a wealth of experience to our roster.”

Hunt, the 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 12.7 points per game last season, a dip from the 15.4 points per game he posted for the Aggies as a redshirt sophomore.

Hunt joins a roster that lost its three leading scorers from a season ago, one that ended 15-17 (4-14 ACC). Dennis Smith Jr. is a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Maverick Rowan also pursued a professional career and Terry Henderson was denied an additional year from the NCAA.

The Wolf Pack bring back forwards Abdul-Malik Abu and Omer Yurtseven as well as Torin Dorn.

Keatts, who took over the program after leading UNC Wilmington to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, has already built for the future. UNC Wilmington transfer C.J. Bryce, 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Seahawks, has followed him to Raleigh. Utah transfer Devon Daniels committed to the Wolf Pack the same day as Bryce. Both will have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules. Bryce will have two years of eligibility while Daniels will have three.

LaVar Ball stars in an uncomfortably entertaining segment on WWE’s Raw

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LaVar Ball’s statements and antics over this past year always seemed better suited a professional wrestling ring.

It was only natural that the patriarch of the Ball family — and the head of the Big Baller Brand — made an appearance on WWE’s Monday Night Raw at the Staples Center for an awkwardly entertaining segment with WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz.

With sons, Lonzo — in his first appearance in the Staples Center as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers — and LaMelo looking on, LaVar was the center of attention. When The Miz mentioned something about a partnership between the two, the scripted interview went south. It resulted in LaVar saying nonsensical things like, “There’s only two dudes better than me, and I’m both of ’em!” before later taking off his shirt. When Dean Ambrose, a WWE superstar feuding with The Miz came out on to the ramp, LaVar didn’t quite grasp the concept that that was his cue to stop talking.

This segment was somehow entertaining and cringeworthy at the same time.

Now that Lonzo is beginning his NBA career, maybe it’s time LaVar try something different. A manager in the WWE may just be his true calling. He’s certainly had plenty of practice.

Maryland lands commitment from five-star 2018 forward

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Maryland added to its 2018 recruiting class with its second commit, the newest addition being a five-star in-state product.

Jalen Smith, a 6-foot-9 forward from Baltimore powerhouse Mount St. Joseph, committed to the Terrapins, making the announcement on Twitter.

“I believe that I can academically and athletically achieve my goals at home through my commitment to the University of Maryland … Go Terps,” he tweeted as part of a long passage.

Smith is listed as the No. 13 overall recruit in the Class of 2013 by Rivals. He joins four-star swingman Aaron Wiggins in Mark Turgeon’s current recruiting class.

Playing for Team Takeover on the Nike EYBL circuit, Smith is averaging 10.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game.

Recent grad’s joyride reportedly did $100,000 of damages to Mizzou Arena

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A recent graduate and temporary employee of the University of Missouri took an early morning joy ride that reportedly could rack up around $100,000 to Mizzou Arena.

According to Dave Mater of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nathaniel J. Contant, 23, who graduated from the school in December 2016, drove his Volkswagen Passat through a gate and eventually on to the floor of the 15,000-seat on-campus arena.

At 7:15 a.m. Sunday, MU police were dispatched to Mizzou Arena for a report of property damage. Officers determined that around 4 a.m., the suspect drove his vehicle through a closed gate on the south side of the arena. He ran through a garage door and drove into a dock area where he damaged several golf carts that were stored in the area. He also drove his car onto the basketball court. The man couldn’t leave through the area he used to enter the building, so he drove through the arena’s press gate.

Contant, unsurprisingly, is no longer an employee of the university. He’s being charged with second-degree burglary and first-degree property damage, both of which are felonies. He was released on a $4,500 bond.

The motive for this early-morning joyride remains unclear.

Despite the hype surrounding the upcoming Mizzou season — one that includes the debut of new head coach Cuonzo Martin and the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft Michael Porter, Jr. — Twitter users couldn’t help but poke fun at the dismal recent history the Tigers have had.

(h/t Kansas City Star)

Vance Jackson transfers to New Mexico

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With more than a handful of departures this offseason, New Mexico is set to have a new-look roster for the 2017-18 season. On Monday, Paul Weir, now at the helm of the program, landed a player who should make an impact in the three remaining seasons of eligibility he has left.

Vance Jackson, who spent this past season at UConn, decided to make the move from Storrs to Albuquerque, picking the Lobos over Rutgers, San Diego State, TCU, and Washington.

The 6-foot-8 rising sophomore will have to sit out next year due to NCAA transfer rules before resuming his collegiate career in the fall of 2018.

“The coaches — they trust in me,” Jackson told Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal last month during his official campus visit. “We’re on the same page. They see a vision.”

Weir, who led New Mexico State this past season to a NCAA Tournament appearance in his one and only season as head coach, succeeded Craig Neal in April.

This offseason has been headlined by transfers, though, those mostly were about players leaving the program. Jackson is the second transfer to land at UNM with Akron’s Antino Jackson electing to use his final season of eligibility with the Lobos. Antino Jackson is a graduate transfer, allowing him to play immediately next season.

Vance Jackson, who was rated as the No. 80 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals, averaged 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game while shooting just under 40 percent from three for the Huskies as a freshman.