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The Secondary Break: Tuesday’s Links

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Questions remain as UMass hits home stretch (Daily Hampshire Gazette)
During much of the non-conference portion of the season, Derek Kellogg’s UMass Minutemen were a pleasant surprise that put together one of the better resumes in college basketball. Unfortunately for UMass the rigorous Atlantic 10 schedule has resulted in three losses, and as they approach the home stretch there are some significant questions to be addressed.

Talent in college basketball in need of new definition (Sports Illustrated)
What does it take to be labeled as “talented” in college basketball? Is it solely about physical gifts, or are there other aspects that need to be taken into consideration? Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis tackles this question and makes some good points about what all should be taken into consideration when discussing “talent.”

Documentary on Duke/North Carolina rivalry premieres Sunday (Beverly Hills Courier)
For all the great games that the Duke and North Carolina basketball programs have staged over the years, there seems to be a shortage of documentaries on one of college basketball’s greatest rivalries. On Sunday evening a new documentary on the rivalry will make its west coast premiere in Los Angeles.

Petteway leading Cornhuskers’ surge in Big Ten play (Associated Press)
Who’s the leading scorer in Big Ten play? Michigan State’s Gary Harris? Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell? The answer is actually Nebraska sophomore Terran Petteway, who’s currently averaging 19.5 points per game in Big Ten play. And he’s a big reason why Tim Miles’ Cornhuskers have won three of their last four games.

Caught in a shooting slump, Oregon’s Joseph Young found his answer in a familiar place: the gym (The Oregonian)
Shooting slumps are something that every basketball player has to deal with at some point in their career. What separates the standouts from the ones who are merely good is what they do about it. Oregon’s Joseph Young was faced with a shooting slump entering last week’s games against the L.A. schools, and his hard work helped the Houston transfer snap out of that funk.

John Calipari expects better defense from Kentucky basketball team (Louisville Courier-Journal)
One issue that many freshmen have trouble with when making the move from high school to college is understanding the commitment it takes to play well on the defensive end. That’s something that Kentucky’s had to address, and John Calipari isn’t too pleased with the way in which they’ve defended of late.

Maryland set for last game as ACC member in Chapel Hill (Raleigh News & Observer)
On Wednesday night the Maryland Terrapins will visit North Carolina, with the contest being the final one between the two as ACC members. The series has been in existence since 1924, and the two programs have staged some quality games over the years. But with Maryland moving to the Big Ten, this long-running chapter will be coming to an end.

High-scoring games becoming routine for Haws (Salt Lake Tribune)
After hitting a rough stretch during the latter stages of non-conference play, BYU finds itself tied for second place in the WCC at the halfway point. The biggest reason why: the prolific scoring ability of junior guard Tyler Haws. Haws’ ability to score has reached the point where some have even begun to take his recent stretch for granted.

Arizona Wildcats basketball: Surgery likely for Ashley (Arizona Daily Star)
With Brandon Ashley sidelined for the remainder of the season after breaking his right foot, No. 2 Arizona has begun the process of moving forward with the pieces they have. What does Ashley’s injury mean for their rotation? More minutes for the six players safely in the rotation, and an opportunity (depending in part on the opposition) for forward Matt Korcheck and guards Jordin Mayes and Elliott Pitts.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)

POSTERIZED: Class of 2016 forward Chris Seeley has a massive dunk on defender

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The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.

At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.

The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.

 

 

 

Five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt cuts list to nine

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Five-star Class of 2017 forward Jarred Vanderbilt has been one of the most sought-after recruits in the country since he was a freshman in high school.

The 6-foot-8 native of Houston is beginning to wind things down in the recruiting process as he cut his list to nine schools on Friday. Vanderbilt’s list includes some of the most storied programs in college basketball and plenty of schools from his home state of Texas.

“I just followed my heart. Went with the schools I liked the most and who I have the best relationships with. Thear were the schools I could see myself playing for,” Vanderbilt told NBCSports.com.

Regarded as the No. 13 overall prospect in the Rivals.com national rankings, Vanderbilt is currently recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

Vanderbilt will see a doctor in three-to-four weeks as he’s currently in a boot to help his foot heal.

Report: Michigan State and Penn State will play at the Palestra

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Head coach Patrick Chambers of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has previously expressed a desire to coach a game at the legendary Palestra in Philadelphia and it appears he’ll get his chance in a Big Ten game this season.

According to a report from Brendan F. Quinn of MLive, Penn State will use the Palestra as its home gym for the Jan. 7, 2017 Big Ten game against Michigan State. It is the only time the two teams are scheduled to play during Big Ten season and Penn’s home gym will offer a unique setting for the game.

Since the capacity of the Palestra is 8,722, it should make for a fun atmosphere for both programs since this will be a game both fan bases will likely want to attend.

With Nittany Lions head coach Pat Chambers making Philadelphia a major recruiting priority for his program, a game like this in Philadelphia makes sense while Michigan State has always been open to playing games in unique settings such as aircraft carriers.

The Palestra has been a college basketball mainstay since it was built in 1927 as it hosts all Penn home games and, in the past, hosted a lot of Big 5 Philadelphia college games between La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova.

Overall, a fun idea that should make for an interesting experience for both programs. It’s not often that a team will change its home venue for a conference game, but it could be the start of something we see other schools look to do.