Utah Valley v Oklahoma State

The Secondary Break: Tuesday’s Links

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NBA player supports Dayton’s First Four efforts (Dayton Business Journal)
Dayton’s hosted the opening round of the NCAA tournament since the bracket expanded from 64 to 65 teams in 2001. Since 2011 four games have been played at UD Arena, and the city is doing its best to make sure that the NCAA tournament continues to begin in Dayton. Joining the efforts: Golden State Warriors guard Kent Bazemore, who made a “significant financial contribution” to the cause.

Three- and four-and done still has merit in college basketball (USA Today)
One of the biggest issues in college basketball these days is the stigma attached to some players who end up spending multiple years in college. If a player’s expected to be a “one-and-done” prospect, some rush to label him a disappointment if that doesn’t turn out to be the case. And frankly, that’s highly unfair.

One-two punch keeps San Diego State on the rise in college basketball (Los Angeles Times)
No. 6 San Diego State has surpassed the expectations many had for the program before the season began, with senior guard Xavier Thames leading the way for a team that was picked to finish fourth in the Mountain West. Two other key figures are head coach Steve Fisher and top assistant (and head coach-in-waiting) Brian Dutcher, with this tandem being together since their days at Michigan.

Mihalich is rebuilding quickly at Hofstra (City of Basketball Love)
Some were quite surprised when Joe Mihalich made the move from Niagara to Hofstra this past offseason. And the move has been a successful one for the Pride, which has surpassed last season’s win total with Dion Nesmith and Zeke Upshaw leading the way. And the future is bright, with Niagara transfer Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley eligible to play next season.

Black basketball pioneers walked rocky path (Louisville Courier-Journal)
In 1962 Eddie Whitehead was one of three African-American players recruited by the Louisville program, and that ended up being an important moment for the school as they helped integrate college basketball in Kentucky. The process was difficult but also necessary, with Louisville benefitting from the courage of those three.

Washington’s energy gives NC State a lift (Raleigh News & Observer)
On Saturday NC State nearly upset No. 1 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, falling 56-55 on a C.J. Fair basket with 6.7 seconds remaining. One of the reasons why the Wolfpack were competitive throughout was freshman forward Kyle Washington, who tallied 14 points and ten rebounds on the evening.

This week, Okon’s basketball travels take him to a familiar place (Wichita Eagle)
One person who has been with Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall throughout his time at the Missouri Valley Conference school is Dominic Okon, who has been the program’s director of basketball operations for seven years. Okon’s journey began in his native Nigeria, and on Wednesday night he’ll return to the school where he played his last two seasons of college basketball when the Shockers visit MVC newcomer Loyola (Chicago).

Abreu wants to return to University of Akron basketball team (Akron Beacon-Journal)
Alex Abreu was the starting point guard for the Akron Zips last season before being arrested on charges of marijuana trafficking. With Abreu no longer in the fold the Zips pushed forward, earning an NCAA tournament berth few expected them to get due to his suspension. Now released from jail, Abreu spoke to schoolchildren about his mistakes and hopes that his story will have a happy ending.

Pitt has little margin for error in bid for NCAA tournament spot (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
In the aftermath of their loss at North Carolina on Saturday afternoon, more people are taking a closer look at Pittsburgh’s NCAA tournament resume. And upon closer inspection, the Panthers have a resume that lacks much in the way of quality wins. Entering the stretch run in the ACC Jamie Dixon’s team won’t lack for opportunities to change that, but they have to take advantage.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

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Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)

POSTERIZED: Class of 2016 forward Chris Seeley has a massive dunk on defender

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The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.

At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.

The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.

 

 

 

Five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt cuts list to nine

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Five-star Class of 2017 forward Jarred Vanderbilt has been one of the most sought-after recruits in the country since he was a freshman in high school.

The 6-foot-8 native of Houston is beginning to wind things down in the recruiting process as he cut his list to nine schools on Friday. Vanderbilt’s list includes some of the most storied programs in college basketball and plenty of schools from his home state of Texas.

“I just followed my heart. Went with the schools I liked the most and who I have the best relationships with. Thear were the schools I could see myself playing for,” Vanderbilt told NBCSports.com.

Regarded as the No. 13 overall prospect in the Rivals.com national rankings, Vanderbilt is currently recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

Vanderbilt will see a doctor in three-to-four weeks as he’s currently in a boot to help his foot heal.

Report: Michigan State and Penn State will play at the Palestra

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Head coach Patrick Chambers of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has previously expressed a desire to coach a game at the legendary Palestra in Philadelphia and it appears he’ll get his chance in a Big Ten game this season.

According to a report from Brendan F. Quinn of MLive, Penn State will use the Palestra as its home gym for the Jan. 7, 2017 Big Ten game against Michigan State. It is the only time the two teams are scheduled to play during Big Ten season and Penn’s home gym will offer a unique setting for the game.

Since the capacity of the Palestra is 8,722, it should make for a fun atmosphere for both programs since this will be a game both fan bases will likely want to attend.

With Nittany Lions head coach Pat Chambers making Philadelphia a major recruiting priority for his program, a game like this in Philadelphia makes sense while Michigan State has always been open to playing games in unique settings such as aircraft carriers.

The Palestra has been a college basketball mainstay since it was built in 1927 as it hosts all Penn home games and, in the past, hosted a lot of Big 5 Philadelphia college games between La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova.

Overall, a fun idea that should make for an interesting experience for both programs. It’s not often that a team will change its home venue for a conference game, but it could be the start of something we see other schools look to do.