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The Secondary Break: Monday’s Links

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If Marcus Smart is to learn, doesn’t somebody have to teach? (The Sporting News)
In the aftermath of Marcus Smart’s three-game suspension, one question that has been asked is how the sophomore will go about applying the lessons learned from his actions on Saturday night. In this particular column, the question asked is who will go about teaching Smart.

Watson making a case as Southern Miss’ best guard ever (Biloxi Sun Herald)
Donnie Tyndall’s Southern Miss Golden Eagles picked up another win on Sunday afternoon, moving into a tie for first place in Conference USA. And they did so with Neil Watson sitting out the second half with a sprained ankle. However, even with that being the case Watson may end up being the greatest guard in the history of the school.

Blame overzealous fans, not players, for college basketball’s woes (Kansas City Star)
The other angle of the Marcus Smart situation is the one of Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr, whose words led to Smart shoving him. Orr apologized for his role in the incident as well, but the events of Saturday (including a report of an Arizona State fan spitting on an Oregon assistant) leads to the question of whether or not fans are being held accountable for their actions.

SMU emerges as contender in and beyond American Athletic Conference (USA Today)
SMU picked up its biggest win of the season on Saturday, whipping No. 7 Cincinnati to pickup another quality result for its resume. And in Larry Brown’s second season in charge, the question now isn’t whether or not he can lead the Mustangs to prosperity but rather how far can he take them.

Wolfpack enjoys a moment in the sun (Raleigh News & Observer)
ACC play has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for N.C. State, with the Wolfpack being a young team working to become a factor within the conference with sophomore T.J. Warren leading the way. So while their 56-55 win at Miami may not seem like a big deal to many, the fact of the matter is that the result was a much-needed one for Mark Gottfried’s team.

Friars in need of the finishing touch (Providence Journal)
Providence dropped a key road game on Saturday afternoon, losing 59-53 at Xavier. And with that result Monday’s game at Georgetown becomes even more important for the Friars, who are looking to make their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2004.

Problems in the paint reemerge in Michigan’s loss at Iowa (MLive.com)
No. 10 Michigan didn’t put forth its best effort on Saturday afternoon, losing 85-67 at No. 17 Iowa. Iowa’s Roy Devyn Marble may get the majority of the attention due to his scoring 26 points, but another issue for Michigan was the fact that their front court was outplayed by Iowa’s bigs. And that’s something that can’t happen if the Wolverines are to win the Big Ten.

Packed Bramlage awaits young Jayhawks (Wichita Eagle)
Kansas was able to take care of business on Saturday afternoon, beating West Virginia 83-69. Next up they have a trip to Manhattan to take on Kansas State, with Bill Self’s young players expecting the worst from a venue some of them have never played in.

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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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.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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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.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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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.