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.

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.