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.

LaVar Ball stars in an uncomfortably entertaining segment on WWE’s Raw

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LaVar Ball’s statements and antics over this past year always seemed better suited a professional wrestling ring.

It was only natural that the patriarch of the Ball family — and the head of the Big Baller Brand — made an appearance on WWE’s Monday Night Raw at the Staples Center for an awkwardly entertaining segment with WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz.

With sons, Lonzo — in his first appearance in the Staples Center as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers — and LaMelo looking on, LaVar was the center of attention. When The Miz mentioned something about a partnership between the two, the scripted interview went south. It resulted in LaVar saying nonsensical things like, “There’s only two dudes better than me, and I’m both of ’em!” before later taking off his shirt. When Dean Ambrose, a WWE superstar feuding with The Miz came out on to the ramp, LaVar didn’t quite grasp the concept that that was his cue to stop talking.

This segment was somehow entertaining and cringeworthy at the same time.

Now that Lonzo is beginning his NBA career, maybe it’s time LaVar try something different. A manager in the WWE may just be his true calling. He’s certainly had plenty of practice.

Maryland lands commitment from five-star 2018 forward

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Maryland added to its 2018 recruiting class with its second commit, the newest addition being a five-star in-state product.

Jalen Smith, a 6-foot-9 forward from Baltimore powerhouse Mount St. Joseph, committed to the Terrapins, making the announcement on Twitter.

“I believe that I can academically and athletically achieve my goals at home through my commitment to the University of Maryland … Go Terps,” he tweeted as part of a long passage.

Smith is listed as the No. 13 overall recruit in the Class of 2013 by Rivals. He joins four-star swingman Aaron Wiggins in Mark Turgeon’s current recruiting class.

Playing for Team Takeover on the Nike EYBL circuit, Smith is averaging 10.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game.

Recent grad’s joyride reportedly did $100,000 of damages to Mizzou Arena

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A recent graduate and temporary employee of the University of Missouri took an early morning joy ride that reportedly could rack up around $100,000 to Mizzou Arena.

According to Dave Mater of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nathaniel J. Contant, 23, who graduated from the school in December 2016, drove his Volkswagen Passat through a gate and eventually on to the floor of the 15,000-seat on-campus arena.

At 7:15 a.m. Sunday, MU police were dispatched to Mizzou Arena for a report of property damage. Officers determined that around 4 a.m., the suspect drove his vehicle through a closed gate on the south side of the arena. He ran through a garage door and drove into a dock area where he damaged several golf carts that were stored in the area. He also drove his car onto the basketball court. The man couldn’t leave through the area he used to enter the building, so he drove through the arena’s press gate.

Contant, unsurprisingly, is no longer an employee of the university. He’s being charged with second-degree burglary and first-degree property damage, both of which are felonies. He was released on a $4,500 bond.

The motive for this early-morning joyride remains unclear.

Despite the hype surrounding the upcoming Mizzou season — one that includes the debut of new head coach Cuonzo Martin and the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft Michael Porter, Jr. — Twitter users couldn’t help but poke fun at the dismal recent history the Tigers have had.

(h/t Kansas City Star)

Vance Jackson transfers to New Mexico

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With more than a handful of departures this offseason, New Mexico is set to have a new-look roster for the 2017-18 season. On Monday, Paul Weir, now at the helm of the program, landed a player who should make an impact in the three remaining seasons of eligibility he has left.

Vance Jackson, who spent this past season at UConn, decided to make the move from Storrs to Albuquerque, picking the Lobos over Rutgers, San Diego State, TCU, and Washington.

The 6-foot-8 rising sophomore will have to sit out next year due to NCAA transfer rules before resuming his collegiate career in the fall of 2018.

“The coaches — they trust in me,” Jackson told Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal last month during his official campus visit. “We’re on the same page. They see a vision.”

Weir, who led New Mexico State this past season to a NCAA Tournament appearance in his one and only season as head coach, succeeded Craig Neal in April.

This offseason has been headlined by transfers, though, those mostly were about players leaving the program. Jackson is the second transfer to land at UNM with Akron’s Antino Jackson electing to use his final season of eligibility with the Lobos. Antino Jackson is a graduate transfer, allowing him to play immediately next season.

Vance Jackson, who was rated as the No. 80 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals, averaged 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game while shooting just under 40 percent from three for the Huskies as a freshman.

Adam Silver on lowering NBA Draft age minimum: ‘It’s on the table’

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver joined Dan Patrick this morning and was again questioned about the potential of the NBA changing the age limit to declare for the draft.

“If you’d asked me that a year ago, I would have said ‘if I didn’t have to negotiate this with the union, I would have raised the age minimum to 20 from 19,'” Silver told Patrick. When pressed on it, Silver said, “It’s a possible option. It’s on the table,” adding that it will be discussed by the union and in an owner’s meeting, and that he still doesn’t know what he thinks the best answer is.

But the big news is that he’s actively considering a change.

I wrote a long piece about the one-and-done rule and why the topic of what’s best for the kids is incredibly complicated. Owners don’t want to pay teenagers millions of dollars to develop; they’d rather let them develop in college and have an extra season or two on the back-end, when the player is in his prime. The players don’t want to spend a year in college, but the marketing and branding opportunities for them — not to mention to booster money that is floating around on a college campus — makes going to college a better option that going to the G-League, and that’s to say nothing of the fancy dorms, private flights and perks of being a celebrity on a college campus.

The truth is probably this: The NBA is trying to take control of basketball’s feeder systems. And I’m not just talking about making the G-League a better option than the collegiate ranks.

“It’s no longer an issue of 19 to 18 or 19 to 20,” Silver said. “I think it means that we as the NBA need to do something that we’ve avoided, which is getting more involved in youth basketball. If you sit with the folks from Nike or Under Armour or Adidas, they can tell you who the top 100 14 year olds are in the world, and there’s a fairly close correlation between the top 100 at 14 and the top 100 at 18.”

“Then I look at some of the players coming in internationally who are becoming full time professional basketball players, as we see in soccer, at 16 years old,” he added. “And they’re on a better development program and a more holistic one, in terms of injury prevention and monitoring in terms of control over them.”

This is a really nuanced decision, and again, if it interests you, I would encourage you to read what I wrote last week before listening to the hot take mafia work this story line over.

Because the fact of the matter is that there is a lot more to consider here than simply whether or not high school seniors should be allowed to go directly to the NBA.