Andrew Wiggins’ performance on Saturday night against TCU was seen as a step forward and rightfully so, despite the fact that the Horned Frogs have yet to win a game in Big 12 play. In scoring his then-career high 27 points Wiggins played with the assertiveness that many have been clamoring for, refusing to simply settle for what was being given to him by the defense and attacking in his quest to score points and put his teammates in position to be successful as well.
However as noted, that was TCU. The next test was to see what Wiggins would be able to do for an encore, and with No. 16 Iowa State visiting Lawrence the Cyclones represented a far more formidable opponent. And Wiggins rose to the occasion, establishing a new career-high by scoring 29 points on 10-for-16 shooting and grabbing seven rebounds to lead the 6th-ranked Jayhawks to the 92-81 victory.
The field goal percentage may be the biggest thing to take out of these last two games when it comes to Wiggins’ progression, as he’s shot 62.1% from the field in Kansas’ last two games after shooting just 39.3% in the three games prior. Not only has Wiggins been more aggressive but he’s also performed well when it comes to where he’s getting his shot attempts, and with that being the case things have opened up for some of his teammates as well.
On Wednesday night one of those teammates was Perry Ellis, who scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds with 15 of those points coming in the first half. With the amount of attention teams will devote to Wiggins and Joel Embiid there will be opportunities for others to step up provided they’re ready to take advantage. Ellis was aggressive in the first half, and his play was a key reason as to why the Jayhawks led at the intermission in spite of the Cyclones shooting 53.3% from the field.
By the end of the night all five starters scored in double figures, with Embiid also accounting for 11 rebounds and Naadir Tharpe dishing out 12 assists with just one turnover (which was a traveling violation). The Jayhawks have now won seven straight games, and their willingness to share the ball (20 assists on 32 made field goals against Iowa State) has resulted in improved offensive execution.
Up two games in the loss column over Oklahoma (who they’ve already beaten) and Texas, Kansas can further strengthen their grip on the Big 12 with a win at Texas on Saturday. Given the way Wiggins and his teammates have been playing not only are the Jayhawks shaping up to be the class of the conference, but they’re also developing into one of the favorites to win the national title.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.