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The Secondary Break: Wednesday’s Links

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UConn’s Calhoun working through his slump (Connecticut Post)
After a solid freshman campaign the 2013-14 season has been a disappointing one for UConn guard Omar Calhoun, who’s averaging just 5.1 points per game. Health issues during the offseason robbed Calhoun of valuable playing time to hone his skills, and during the season he’s seen his minutes decrease. But Calhoun continues to work in hopes of being a more influential figure down the stretch for the Huskies.

Butler’s Alex Barlow grows into point guard role (Indianapolis Star)
The first season in the Big East has been a difficult one for the Butler Bulldogs, with a young team taking its lumps in conference play. Also of note for the Bulldogs has been junior point guard Alex Barlow, who began his career as a walk-on and ha grown into a valuable player for the program.

Is Niang the most important Cyclone? (Ames Tribune)
Guard DeAndre Kane and forward Melvin Ejim tend to receive much of the attention nationally when the Iowa State Cyclones are discussed, with both being seniors expected to lead the way. But just as important to Fred Hoiberg’s team is sophomore forward Georges Niang, and an argument can be made that he’s the most important player as Iowa State enters the stretch run.

Ivy League splits and looking for value (Big Apple Buckets)
With ten games being played by each team in Ivy League play, it’s a good time to take a look at some of the most productive players in the Ancient Eight. One thing that can be taken out of these numbers is just how deep first-place Harvard is, with guard Siyani Chambers being the only player ranked in the top five in Pythagorean difference.

Shocker Legacy (The Mid-Majority)
On Tuesday night No. 2 Wichita State moved to 30-0 on the season with a win at Bradley, becoming the first team since the 1990-91 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels to do so. But even with this achievement some have rushed to point out negatives, with much of that conversation focusing on the conference they play in (Missouri Valley) and their strength of schedule as compared to other programs.

Former redshirt Sean Kilpatrick finishing out historic career (CBS Sports)
Cincinnati senior guard Sean Kilpatrick is actually a five-year player, with Mick Cronin making the decision to redshirt the New Yorker as a freshman. And the decision’s paid off for Kilpatrick, who’s steadily improved throughout his career at Cincinnati. And now he’s an All-America candidate on a team that’s tied for first place in the American Athletic Conference.

Patient Tyler Lewis makes the most of his turn for N.C. State (Raleigh News & Observer)
After being a valuable reserve for a team that reached the NCAA tournament a season ago, N.C. State sophomore Tyler Lewis has once again filled that role with freshman Anthony Barber taking over the starting point guard duties. But while some players would become frustrated under such circumstances that hasn’t been the case for Lewis, who has remained patient and continued to work. And as a result he now finds himself in the starting lineup.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.

 

Report: Izundu’s San Diego State transfer ban rescinded

Ernie Kent
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Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.

Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.

Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.

Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.

Ex-Michigan State player Keith Appling faces weapons charges

Keith Appling
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.

Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.

The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.

UNLV transfer to finish career at Michigan State

UNLV forward Ben Carter, right, celebrates after his team defeated Oregon in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Las Vegas. UNLV won 80-69. (AP Photo/John Locher)
(AP Photo/John Locher)
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Former UNLV center Ben Carter announced on Wednesday that he will be transferring to Michigan State to finish his collegiate career.

Carter, who began his career at Oregon, averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 boards in his one season with UNLV before tearing his ACL in late January. He spent two seasons with the Ducks before transferring to Vegas, which is why he’s eligible immediately for the Spartans.

And that’s the biggest reason that Tom Izzo and company targeted him.

The Spartans lost Deyonta Davis to the NBA Draft after one season, a fact that became an inevitability midway through the year but one that the Spartans didn’t necessarily plan for heading into last season. Carter isn’t going to be an instant impact kind of player, particularly not when he’s coming off of an ACL injury, but he is a big body and a veteran presence on a front line that wasn’t going have much of either.