The Secondary Break: Thursday’s Links

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Bret Stretlow’s on-foot attempt to reach Chapel Hill cut short by postponement of Duke-North Carolina (Fayetteville Observer)
With No. 8 Duke scheduled to play North Carolina on Wednesday night, more than a few people abandoned their cars on Highway 54 when it became clear that driving to Chapel Hill would be too much of a test. And then there was Bret Stretlow of the Fayetteville Observer, who attempted to walk from his home to the Dean Dome, only to learn during his trek that the game had been postponed.

Retirement not an option for SMU coach Larry Brown (New York Post)
No. 23 SMU is in the Top 25 for the first time in nearly three decades, and they have their head coach to thank for it. During a time when most 73-year olds would be enjoying retirement, Larry Brown’s having the time of his life on the sidelines in Dallas.

Low-key front court sparks Iowa (Dubuque Telegraph Herald)
No. 16 Iowa picked up one of its biggest wins of the season last Saturday, beating then-No. 10 Michigan 85-67 in Iowa City. Roy Devyn Marble, who scored 26 points in the game, was the star for the Hawkeyes but he had plenty of help. Some of the helpers play in the front court, with Melsahn Basabe, Gabe Olaseni and Adam Woodbury all chipping in.

Loss shines spotlight on deficiencies of Buckeyes (Columbus Dispatch)
After winning two consecutive games, Ohio State seemed to be headed back in the right direction entering their game against Michigan on Tuesday night. But those problems that sprouted up during the stretch in which the Buckeyes lost five of six games were once again an issue in the 80-70 defeat. The biggest problem: the lack of an NBA-caliber go-to guy on the offensive end.

Fans cross line too often in college basketball venues (Statesman Journal)
With the events of this past Saturday, fan decorum has received an increased amount of attention in college basketball. While there’s certainly a need for schools to do a better job of policing fans, there also remains the need for players to do their best to ignore taunts that cross the line, although that can be hard to do at times.

Virginia rides humble approach to basketball success (USA Today)
No. 17 Virginia is the biggest threat to No. 1 Syracuse’s run to win the ACC in its debut season, with the Cavaliers boasting an 11-1 record in conference play after beating Maryland on Monday. And after missing out on the NCAA tournament last season, humility and solid team leadership has led to a resurgence in Charlottesville.

Near his father, Kentucky transfer Ryan Harrow finds peace, success at Georgia State (Sports Illustrated)
After a frustrating 2012-13 season, guard Ryan Harrow made the decision to leave the Kentucky basketball program. And the move had more to do with the health of his father, who had suffered a stroke, than anything that had taken place on the court. Now closer to his father at Georgia State, Harrow’s been a key figure for the Panthers.

Reports: Duke’s Frank Jackson to declare for draft

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Frank Jackson will declare for the draft but will not be signing with an agent, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Previous reports had indicated that Jackson “planned” to return to school, and that still may end up proving true. But the combination of Trevon Duval potentially enrolling at Duke combined with the fact that there is zero downside to going through the draft process, it makes sense for Jackson to declare.

Jackson averaged 10.9 points and shot 39.5 percent from three. He’s projected as a mid-first round pick in 2018 by Draft Express, but at 6-foot-3, he’s too small to play the two in the NBA and has yet to prove he can be a point guard.

Jackson is the fourth Duke player to declare, following Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles III and Luke Kennard. All three signed with an agent. Grayson Allen and Marques Bolden are both returning to school.

VIDEO: Top 2018 recruits Zion Williamson and Romeo Langford go head-to-head at adidas

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This weekend is the first live evaluation period of the spring recruiting calendar as college coaches from all over the country are scouting (and babysitting) the top recruits in the Class of 2018 and 2019.

Friday night the adidas Gauntlet in Dallas opened with a marquee matchup of two star players as five-star forward Zion Williamson and five-star guard Romeo Langford went head-to-head in what should be one of the best games of the spring.

Most scouting services have Williamson and Langford as the No. 2 and No. 3 overall prospects in the Class of 2018 as the duo didn’t disappoint in front of the huge crowd in Fort Worth.

Williamson helped his team to a win with 26 points and seven rebounds while Langford had 28 points, four rebounds and four assists. You’ll be hearing plenty about both of these guys over the next few months as both are still wide open in the recruting process.

(H/t: Ball is Life)

Report: Coppin State hires Juan Dixon as new head coach

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Coppin State has hired former Maryland star guard Juan Dixon to be its next head coach, according to a report from Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun.

The 38-year-old Dixon is best known for leading Maryland to the 2002 national championship as he was the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four that year. Now Dixon will have a chance to lead a Division I program for the first time.

Dixon spent seven years in the NBA and also played professionally in Europe before joining the Maryland coaching staff in 2013 as a special assistant to head coach Mark Turgeon. Not retained by Maryland after the 2015-16 season, Dixon took the head coaching job for the women’s team at the University of the District of Columbia last season as the Division II program finished only  3-25.

Coppin State finished last season with an 8-24 record after losing its first 12 games of the season. While Dixon will generate some positive local buzz given his background, he’s going to have an uphill battle trying to rebuild that program.

Nebraska scores important Class of 2017 commitment from four-star guard Thomas Allen

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Nebraska landed an important commitment from the Class of 2017 on Friday as four-star guard Thomas Allen is heading to Lincoln next season.

The 6-foot-1 guard is considered the No. 99 overall prospect by Rivals in the national Class of 2017 rankings as Allen was previously committed to N.C. State before head coach Mark Gottfried was fired.

A scorer with a good amount of skill, Allen has a chance to come in and make an immediate impact at Nebraska as he can play a bit on or off the ball. Allen should help offset the loss of senior Tai Webster in the Husker backcourt.

Allen joins wing Nana Akenten in Nebraska’s Class of 2017 recruiting efforts.

North Carolina lands four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks

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North Carolina pulled in a late Class of 2017 commitment to begin the weekend as the Tar Heels secured a pledge from four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks.

The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Brooks was previously committed to Mississippi State, but he was granted his release this spring to explore other opportunities.

The Tar Heels pounced as they’re getting a low-post threat who could develop into a potential double-double threat. A solid rebounder who isn’t afraid to play with physicality, Brooks has a chance to earn some immediate rotation minutes with seniors like Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks exhausting their eligibility.

Brooks is regarded as the No. 120 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, according to Rivals, as he is a four-star prospect. The native of Auburn, Alabama joins a North Carolina recruiting class that includes point guard Jalek Felton, shooting guard Andrew Platek and big men Brandon Huffman and Sterling Manley.