Bright future evident after SMU’s blowout win over No. 7 Cincinnati

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Nick Russell finished with 15 points and Nic Moore chipped in with 14 as SMU picked up their biggest win in the Larry Brown era on Saturday night, smacking around No. 7 Cincinnati in Moody Coliseum and eventually winning 76-55.

The Mustangs held Cincinnati to 35.4% and 4-for-22 from three, which isn’t exactly a shock given how inept the Bearcats can be on the offensive end of the floor when Sean Kilpatrick is having an off-night and how improved SMU is on that end of the floor; they’re 17th in defensive efficiency this year, as opposed to 151st last season. What was surprising, however, is that SMU managed to shoot 54.3% from the field against a Bearcat D that had built a reputation as one of the toughest and most physical in the country.

It was a beatdown.

SMU was clearly the better team on this night, and it wasn’t even close.

It was the third time that SMU has beaten a ranked team on their home court, which is probably the best sign of just how far this program has come under head coach Larry Brown, who is more than a decade or two past the age where you’re still celebrating birthdays with numbers. Moody was sold out on Saturday night in a game on national television in front of a student section that could only be described as raucous.

The biggest hurdle Brown had to clear at SMU was fan apathy. He’s done that, fielding a team full of transfers that will likely see their first national ranking in almost three full decades on Monday morning.

Here’s the crazier part, however: this was supposed to be the year before the year. Next season, SMU has the nation’s top point guard, Emmanuel Mudiay, coming into the program to join a team that will basically bring everyone back next year. Keith Frazier, the all-american wing that Brown brought in from the Class of 2013, still hasn’t reached his potential.

Most importantly, SMU had their biggest win in decades in their best performance of the season in front of a terrific college basketball environment all while a ridiculous amount of local high school talent was in attendance: Elijah Thomas (No. 9 2015), Jawun Evans (No. 59 2015), Matt McQuaid (No. 58 2015), Austin Grandstaff (No. 32 2015), King McClure (No. 14 2015), Admon Gilder (No. 123 2015), Terrance Ferguson (No. 10 2016), P.J. Washington (2017).

The state of Texas has as much hoops talent as anywhere in the country right now, and those players have to go somewhere. Rick Barnes of Texas hasn’t seemed to care about recruiting in recent summers. Scott Drew has brought in some talent to Baylor, but his teams — and players — always seem to underachieve. Texas A&M isn’t relevant right now. Neither is Texas Tech and Houston.

That leaves SMU.

Where a hall of fame coach with impressive NBA credentials is already winning games and already has a McDonald’s all-american this season with another on the way.

Who knows how long Brown’s coaching career actually lasts, and speculating about a group of uncommitted high school juniors would be getting way — WAY — ahead of myself.

But right now, the pieces are in place for Brown to turn SMU into a powerhouse in the AAC.

I guess that was a pretty good hire after all.

Memphis lands commitment from 2018 center Connor Vanover

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Memphis picked up its first commitment in the Class of 2018 on Wednesday night as unique center prospect Connor Vanover announced his decision on Twitter.

At 7-foot-2, Vanover brings elite size to the interior for the Tigers and he’s also skilled enough that he was a 43 percent three-point shooter during his stint playing with Pro Skills in the Nike EYBL this spring. Although Vanover needs to add strength and athleticism to adapt to the college level, he simply has size that you can’t teach. Pair that size with an intriguing perimeter jumper and it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Tubby Smith is able to develop Vanover the next few years.

A three-star prospect according to Rivals, Vanover averaged 9.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game during the spring. Originally from Arkansas, Vanover is spending his senior season of high school ball at prep school powerhouse Findlay Prep.

Bill Self unsure of how long he will continue to coach

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Kansas head coach Bill Self is one of the most decorated college basketball coaches of all time.

Recently inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame earlier this month, Self has won a record 13 consecutive Big 12 regular-season championships while also claiming a national title for the Jayhawks during his storied career.

But while most legendary coaches in contemporary college basketball have stayed around to coach well into their late 60s or early 70s, the 54-year-old Self doesn’t necessarily see his career playing out that way.

Speaking with ESPN.com reporter Myron Medcalf on Wednesday, Self acknowledged that he’s thinking about potentially retiring once his next contract ends after the 2021-22 season. With five more years left on his current deal, that would mean that Self would be retiring before he would even turn 60.

“I’ve said all along that if I could go to my late 50s, that’d be good for me,” Self said to Medcalf. “Now that I’m getting close to my late 50s, I’m like, ‘Well…’ but my contract runs until I’m 59, so I’ve got five more years left. I definitely want to do that. Then whatever happens after that I’d be happy with whatever. But I don’t want to [coach too late].”

While Hall of Fame coaches like Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim (72 years old), Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (70 years old) and North Carolina’s Roy Williams (67 years old) are showing no signs of slowing down, Self acknowledged to Medcalf that coach, and specifically recruiting, has started to take its toll on him.

“With recruiting the way that it is, it just wears you down,” Self said to Medcalf.

With Kansas pursuing so many potential one-and-done prospects over the past few seasons, it means that Self usually has to recruit sizable recruiting classes

Self is certainly entitled to do what he wants with his career and his life but it would be a shame to see one of the game’s greats hang it up at that point in his career. Potentially retiring at that age means that Self won’t chase 1,000 wins or any additional longevity records

Ohio State lands second pledge in two days with 2018 guard Duane Washington

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Ohio State stayed hot on the recruiting trail on Wednesday as the Buckeyes landed a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Duane Washington.

The 6-foot-3 Washington is the second commitment for Ohio State and new head coach Chris Holtmann in the last two days after four-star forward Jaedon LeDee pledged to the Buckeyes on Tuesday.

One of the better shooters in the Class of 2018, Washington averaged 14.9 points per game on tremendous shooting splits (48% FG, 87% FT, 45% 3PT) playing with The Family in the Nike EYBL this spring. A Michigan native who now resides in California, Washington gives Ohio State a much-needed guard commitment in the Class of 2018.

With the Buckeyes needing to fill a lot of scholarships due to roster turnover, Washington is a solid start to their perimeter class. While Washington isn’t likely to play point guard, he can play multiple perimeter spots and should be a solid addition to the Buckeye rotation.

Syracuse walk-on accused of sexual assault

Syracuse Post-Standard
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Dominick Parker, an 18-year old freshman who was added to the Syracuse roster as a walk-on just 12 days ago, was arrested last Friday and charged with sexual abuse in the first degree, reports Syracuse.com.

Parker is accused of having sexual contact with an 18-year old female student while she was incapable of giving consent. His name and picture have been removed from the Syracuse athletics website.

“Sexual and relationship violence is not tolerated at Syracuse University,” the school said in a statement. “We are now doing all that we can to support and provide assistance to those affected by the alleged incident. As this is an ongoing investigation, Syracuse University will not be providing further comment.”

Wichita State to sell beer at Koch Arena

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As if it wasn’t already hard enough to win games at Koch Arena.

Starting this season, Wichita State fans will be able to buy beer during games at their home arena, a fact that should ensure that the raucous home environs that have made the Shockers so difficult to beat in Wichita remains the same.

That’s not a bad thing to add to a home court advantage while making the move into a new conference, the American, for the 2017-18 season.

Once a rarity, beer at college sporting events in a growing trend. Minnesota, Florida and Texas, among a number of others have added alcohol sales in recent years. Given the money that would seem likely to be generated, it’s a trend that will probably become even more pervasive in college athletics.

Let’s just make sure that everyone partakes in moderation.