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The Secondary Break: Friday’s Links

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After Syracuse falters, Florida and Wichita State jockey for No. 1 (Sports Illustrated)
With No. 1 Syracuse losing on Wednesday night many power rankings are undergoing changes, and that includes Luke Winn’s power rankings. The new team on top of the poll: Florida, which is a serious threat to run the table in the SEC. But they, like any other national title contender this season, have a flaw that can be exploited according to Winn.

On Rainier Beach (The Classical)
Rainier Beach High School in Seattle has given the game of basketball some special players over the years, including Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson. And this season they’re once again among the best teams in the nation, with Louisville signee Shaqquan Aaron being one of their talented prospects. How do they do it year in and year out? By being different.

Inside Kentucky Basketball: Why it’s now or never in 2014 (Bleacher Report)
Kentucky has one of the nation’s most visible programs, with factors such as their sustained excellence and prowess on the recruiting trail being two reasons why. John Calipari’s got a team that currently has an 18-5 record and hopes of making a run at the school’s ninth national title. And whether or not they get there will depend on the maturation of the freshmen.

Tall Firs history puts new spin on tourney (Eugene Register-Guard)
Oregon won the first national title in 1939, with a group dubbed the “Tall Firs” leading the way. Terry Frei has written a book on the first tournament entitled “March 1939,” which focuses not only on Oregon but also the NCAA and NIT tournaments with the latter seen by some as being the more prestigious at the time.

BYU, Gonzaga in their own incredible universe (Deseret News)
Late Thursday night BYU and Gonzaga played a game of high importance in Provo, with the Cougars looking to add a quality win to their resume and the Bulldogs hoping to clinch the WCC title. BYU ended up winning 73-65, and while many focused on the Duke/North Carolina tilt played earlier in the night the fans in attendance found this one to be important as well.

The “Gentle Giant” leads by example, on and off the court (The New Hampshire)
New Hampshire senior center Chris Pelcher has been a quality member of the UNH program since transferring in from Iona, and he’s been a good example both on and off the court for head coach Bill Herrion. After having missed time due to a leg injury Pelcher’s looking to find his groove during the stretch run.

Penn senior to be honored by basketball writers association (Philadelphia Daily News)
On Thursday the United States Basketball Writers Association announced its three winners of its Most Courageous Award, one of whom is Penn senior guard Dau Jok. Jok and his family, which includes a younger brother named Peter who currently plays at Iowa, fled South Sudan amidst civil unrest.

A program on the upswing (Sports on Earth)
When Larry Brown accepted the head coaching job at SMU, the question was whether or not he’d be around long enough to rebuild a program that hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 1993. Well in his second season at the school Brown has the program well-positioned to reach the NCAA tournament, and this could just be the beginning for SMU basketball.

Five-star 2017 point guard Trevon Duval down to 10 schools

CHARLOTTE, NC - JULY 9: Trevon Duval during the 2015  Under Armour All-America Basketball Camp on July 9, 2015 at Queens College in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
(Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
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Five-star point guard Trevon Duval is the most electrifying lead guard in the Class of 2017. The native of Delaware dominated the Under Armour circuit this spring and is currently regarded by many as a top-five player in the class by most recruiting services.

Now he’s down to 10 schools as his recruiting is starting to become more of a focus. The 6-foot-2 Duval is down to Arizona, Cal, Kansas, Maryland, Oregon, St. John’s, Seton Hall, UCLA, USC and Villanova.

Things are still early in the process for Duval and it will be interesting to see if he schedules any official visits soon.

Ohio State gaining recruiting momentum with two 2018 commitments

DAYTON, OH - MARCH 24: Head coach Thad Matta of the Ohio State Buckeyes claps on the sideline in the first half against the Iowa State Cyclones during the third round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at UD Arena on March 24, 2013 in Dayton, Ohio.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Ohio State has lost quite a few transfers and hasn’t had a lot go their way with regards to recent recruiting, but things could be changing after a good weekend.

The Class of 2018 is starting to look really good for the Buckeyes as they landed commitments from wings Darius Bazley and Justin Ahrens this weekend. The two in-state products are grassroots teammates together on King James and they give Ohio State three commitments in that class.

Bazley is considered a four-star prospect on Rivals while Ahrens checks in as a three-star. They join another Ohio native, guard Dane Goodwin, in the class as this could be the group that helps bring Ohio State back in regular Big Ten contention.

Butler lands commitment from four-star 2017 forward Kyle Young

Atlanta, GA - SUNDAY, MAY 29: Nike EYBL. Kyle Young #34 of King James Session 4. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
(Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Butler picked up an important commitment on Monday as four-star forward Kyle Young committed to the Bulldogs.

A Class of 2017 stretch forward who can hit jumpers and has an improving skill set, the 6-foot-7 Young comes from Massillon, Ohio and he’s regarded as the No. 109 overall prospect.

Young was impressive in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer with King James as he averaged 15.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game as he shot 48 percent from the field and 36 percent from 3-point range.

This is a nice grab for Butler as Young is the type of versatile perimeter shooter that they like to utilize and he should be able to help a bit on the glass as well.

Young joins a class that includes guards Cooper Neese and Jerald Butler.

VIDEO: Collin Sexton with a trick shot for the ages

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 1.33.34 PM
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Earlier this summer, we told you the story of Collin Sexton, how the 6-foot-2 Georgia native went from being a mid-major recruit to a five-star prospect being courted by the likes of Kansas, Arizona, North Carolina and Villanova.

It’s because he’s a bucket-getter.

     RELATED: Making A Five Star

He averaged 31 points in the Nike EYBL circuit, nine points better than Michael Porter, who finished second in the league in scoring. No one puts points on the board like he does, so it’s only fitting that he was the guy that made a shot from the balcony during ‘The Trip’, Nike’s effort to keep kids associated with their brand from Elite 24:

Lonzo Ball struggled on UCLA’s Australian tour

Lonzo Ball (UCLA Athletics)
UCLA Athletics
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UCLA capped their three-game trip to Australia on Sunday night with a 94-91 win over the Brisbane Bullets, a game in which sophomore point guard Aaron Holiday finished with a team-high 17 points. Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton both added 16 points and freshman Ike Anigbogu finished with 13 points and 10 boards.

This win came just two days after the Bruins lost to Melbourne United, 89-84, when Hamilton — 18 points and five assists — and Holiday — 16 points — were both once again impressive. Alford also added 18 points in Friday’s loss.

It’s not surprising that the Bruins had some up and down performances abroad. Everyone does. It’s what happens when a team of college kids, with three freshmen playing key roles, heads to the other side of the world to square off against teams made up of professionals. Don’t go hanging the ‘Fire Steve Alford’ banners on anymore airplanes just yet.

There are, however, two interesting things to consider from this trip:

– Lonzo Ball, UCLA’s star freshman, was, at best, their fourth-best perimeter player. Seniors Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford and sophomore Aaron Holiday all played well and posted impressive numbers on the three-game trip. Ball? He didn’t shoot well. At all. In UCLA’s 47-point opening win, he was 3-for-9 from the floor and 1-for-3 from three, putting together was was by far his best shooting performance of the trip. In the three games, he shot a total of 25 percent (9-36) from the field and 19 percent (4-21) from three. He did average 5.0 assists and, in one game, notched 13 boards, but Ball’s ability to shoot will be something to keep an eye on.

– And then there’s this, from Bryce Alford:

UCLA needs to travel with more towels.