marshall

Arizona State picks up valuable resume-building win over No. 2 Arizona

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In the first meeting between No. 2 Arizona and Arizona State, the Sun Devils were without a key piece. Due to a hip injury, senior guard Jermaine Marshall was held out, and his absence contributed to the Wildcats winning by a comfortable margin in Tucson. Friday night the tables were turned to a certain extent, with Marshall back in the fold while Arizona was playing its third full game without injured forward Brandon Ashley.

And in the end Marshall’s presence made the difference as the Sun Devils beat the Wildcats 69-66 in double overtime, with the Penn State transfer scoring 29 points to lead all scorers. Marshall scored eight of Arizona State’s final ten points, the most important of which came on a layup with 14 seconds remaining to give the Sun Devils a 67-66 lead.

A Jordan Bachynski block led to a Jahii Carson dunk with seven tenths of a second remaining, and when Nick Johnson’s jumper as time expired fell short the Sun Devils had itself an important win for its resume. However the result doesn’t come without controversy, thanks to the way in which the game ended.

Following Carson’s dunk students rushed the floor, and the same went for the players on the bench, with time remaining on the clock. But because the officials deemed the play dead (that was their explanation to the ESPN announcers) no technical foul was called. Of course many also wondered about whether or not Carson should have been hit with a technical foul for hanging on the rim as well. But no calls were made.

In regards to the quality of this game, both teams struggled mightily offensively. Some credit should be given to the respective defenses, and with both teams ranking in the top three in the Pac-12 in defensive efficiency (in conference games) that shouldn’t come as a surprise. But on far too many occasions offensive sets came to a halt, resulting in the teams having to hoist up hurried attempts at the end of the shot clock.

Arizona State scored 0.85 points per possession and Arizona was slightly worse as they could muster only 0.83 points per possession. With this being the case whoever could make things happen individually would win the game, and that player was Jermaine Marshall. Marshall was quiet for much of the second half, and that combined with Arizona’s 54-35 edge on the boards could have spelled doom for Arizona State.

However Arizona converted its 18 offensive rebounds into just five second-chance points, and they were also outscored in the paint 28-26. Even with the offensive struggles some credit for this should go to Bachynski, who blocked seven shots and changed other looks around the rim. His block in the final seconds marks the third time this season the senior has preserved an Arizona State lead in the final seconds, and his presence is the biggest reason why Arizona State’s performed well defensively.

Carson received much of the publicity before the season began, and given how well he played as a freshman that’s certainly fair. But for Arizona State to make its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2009, he wasn’t going to lead the way by himself. And due to the presence of Marshall and Bachynski the Sun Devils, provided they take care of business down the stretch, may have punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament.

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)
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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)
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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.

ESPN.com was the first to report White’s commitment.

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.