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The Secondary Break: Monday’s Links

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Mike Poole has become a leader for Iona hoops (LoHud Insider)
One-year transfers have an interesting challenge in front of them in many cases, with their short-term stay in a program requiring greater effort in order to incorporate themselves into the program. One such transfer is Iona’s Mike Poole, who arrived at the school after spending three seasons at Rutgers. And he’s done well at his new home, even earning the role of captain for a team that clinched a share of the MAAC regular season title on Sunday.

Jim Boeheim’s act isn’t funny; just imagine if a player acted that way (CBS Sports)
In the aftermath of Jim Boeheim’s ejection with 10.4 seconds remaining in Syracuse’s loss at Duke on Saturday night, many had fun with the situation. Whether it was laughing at the post game press conference or the many memes developed as a result of Boeheim removing his blazer in anger, the moment certainly didn’t lack for entertainment. But not everyone found the situation funny.

CAA setting up for wide-open tournament (City of Basketball Love)
Drexel knocked off Delaware in Newark on Sunday afternoon, resulting in the Blue Hens’ lead atop the CAA shrinking to just one game in the standings. Monte Ross has been without two starters in Jarvis Threatt and Marvin King-Davis for close to a month due to suspension, but his team still managed to post a 12-2 record. And the tight nature of the CAA standings could be a harbinger of what’s to come in the conference tournament.

The “Big Dog” still feeling the Purdue love (Fort Wayne News-Sentinel)
Thursday night may not have gone well for Purdue on the court as they lost to No. 13 Michigan State, but the fans did get to welcome back a hero from the past. Glenn Robinson, the “Big Dog” was back in town, and to commemorate the occasion the school gave away bobble head dolls of one of the school’s greatest players.

Despite foot injuries, Sparrow helps Spiders step forward (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
When Richmond’s Cedrick Lindsay was lost for the rest of the season after tearing the meniscus in both knees, the Spiders’ prospects for the remainder of the season did not look good. But Chris Mooney’s team has remained among the top teams in the Atlantic 10, and one reason why is the play of Wayne Sparrow.

Coaches talk a good game to boost bid (Boston Herald)
It’s something that happens every year around this time and only intensifies as we get closer to Selection Sunday: coaches becoming salesmen in hopes of convincing the committee that their team should be in the NCAA tournament field. Whether it’s to sell their team or their conference, more than a few coaches will make their cases in the next three weeks.

Wisconsin badgering way into conversation for No. 1 seed (The Sporting News)
Saturday afternoon saw No. 16 Wisconsin add yet another quality win to its resume, with Bo Ryan’s Badgers winning at Iowa. As a result of their many quality wins the Badgers may have a case for a one-seed in the NCAA tournament should they run the table, something few expected when they were struggling in late-January.

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.