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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.

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.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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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

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

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.