Cameron Bairstow

The Secondary Break: Friday’s Links

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From Ontario to Wichita, Lufile and Wiggins reach senior day together (Wichita Eagle)
No. 2 Wichita State will play its final home game of the season on Saturday, and while much of the attention will focus on whether or not they can complete the regular season undefeated it’s also senior day. Two seniors being honored are forwards Chadrack Lufile and Nick Wiggins, who have been friends for years.

Seat owner at Assembly Hall says he’s “lucky” he wasn’t hit (Indianapolis Star)
On Thursday Indiana played its rescheduled game against No. 20 Iowa, beating the Hawkeyes 93-86 at Assembly Hall. A large piece of metal falling from the roof resulted in the game needing to be moved, and had the event occurred a couple hours later it would have been catastrophic. And the man who was planning on sitting in one of the damaged seats for the Iowa game spoke of his good fortune.

Bairstow appears to lead for Mountain West Player of the Year (Albuquerque Journal)
New Mexico senior forward Cameron Bairstow was one of 15 players named to the Robertson Award list of finalists on Thursday, and he was the only Mountain West player to be honored. And given his play throughout the season, Bairstow may be the frontrunner for league Player of the Year. But he’ll be challenged down the stretch, with teammate Kendall Williams and San Diego State’s Xavier Thames also having solid arguments.

Napier takes Samuel under his wing, and UConn benefits (Hartford Courant)
UConn wasn’t playing particularly well against USF on Wednesday night, but one player who provided the needed spark was freshman guard Terrence Samuel. With Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright being the primary options there hasn’t been much available playing time for Samuel this season, but he’s taken advantage of his situation by learning all he can from Napier.

My Wichita State talking points (Ken Pomeroy)
Much of the conversation regarding Wichita State has centered on two general themes: their schedule, and the fact that if they go undefeated the Shockers should automatically receive a one-seed. That’s far too simplistic for Ken Pomeroy, who offers his thoughts on the matter.

Marquette’s Chris Otule a study in resilience (USA Today)
Marquette sixth-year senior center Chris Otule may not have the statistics that some look for in assessing the impact of a player, but there’s no doubt that he’s been a key figure for Buzz Williams’ program. Playing with a prosthetic eye Otule’s persevered throughout his career, fighting his way back from three serious injuries that he didn’t alway believe he’d be able to come back from.

For Casey and Curry, a long road to Senior Night (Harvard Crimson)
Harvard seniors Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry have both experienced interesting careers at the school, highlighted by their being forced to withdraw for a year in the aftermath of an academic scandal that involved both athletes and non-athletes. That withdrawal led to them missing out on the basketball team’s first-ever NCAA tournament win, and their work to get back has helped a team looking to make a third consecutive trip to the Big Dance.

The real ACC champion is crowned in Greensboro (Duke Basketball Report)
On Saturday afternoon No. 4 Syracuse visits No. 12 Virginia with the Cavaliers looking to win the ACC’s regular season title. However while that would be a notable achievement for Tony Bennett’s program (and for Jim Boeheim’s should the Orange end up winning the conference), the fact of the matter is that the ACC acknowledges the winner of the conference tournament as its official “champion.”

Dinwiddie weighing options for future (Boulder Daily Camera)
When Colorado point guard Spencer Dinwiddie went down in late January with a torn ACL, there were two major concerns. First and foremost was the concern of what the injury would mean for the Buffaloes, who look to be headed back to the NCAA tournament after struggling in the immediate aftermath of his injury. The other concern was what the injury would do to Dinwiddie’s NBA hopes, something he’s currently evaluating.

Four-star 2017 shooting guard commits to Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams celebrates a play in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Blacksburg, Va. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP) LOCAL STATIONS OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; LOCAL PRINT OUT (SALEM TIMES REGISTER; FINCASTLE HERALD; CHRISTIANSBURG NEWS MESSENGER; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL; MANDATORY CREDIT
Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP
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Recruiting, and on-court results, have picked up at Virginia Tech since Buzz Williams took over as head coach. In his second year at the helm the Hokies won ten conference games, and in reaching the Postseason NIT made their first postseason appearance since 2011.

Thursday night Virginia Tech landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2017, as four-star shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker made his pledge.

The 6-foot-5 Alexander-Walker, who’s ranked 91st in his class by Rivals.com, also took official visits to Maryland and USC before making his pledge to the ACC program. Alexander-Walker attends Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but as a native of Canada plays his grassroots basketball for the Canada Elite program on the Under Armour Association circuit.

Good with either hand, Alexander-Walker can play either on or off the basketball. And that versatility should serve him well in a system that places a high value on “switch-ables,” or players who can fill multiple roles.

The Canada connection paid off for Virginia Tech in the recruitment of Alexander-Walker, with assistant coach Jamie McNeilly being a native of the country himself and having a connection to the Walker family. The Hokies will lose two perimeter players at the end of the 2016-17 season in Devin Wilson and Seth Allen, which will give Alexander-Walker the opportunity to earn minutes as a freshman.

Oakland lands former Oklahoma State guard Clark

AP
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File
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When point guard Stevie Clark began his career at Oklahoma State in 2013, the Top 100 prospect was expected by many to be an impact player for the Cowboys. Things didn’t go as planned however, as off-court issues ultimately led to Clark’s dismissal from the program before his sophomore season. Add in a lawsuit filed by Clark in which he alleged that he was forced by the school to take psychotropic drugs, and it’s safe to say that his time in Stillwater was anything but smooth.

Clark ultimately landed at Arkansas Baptist College, and on Thursday it was reported by the Detroit Free Press that he’s committed to Oakland University to play for head coach Greg Kampe. Clark joins a program with an immediate need at the point, with All-American Kahlil Felder having entered the NBA Draft and hired an agent as well.

The obvious question regarding Clark is whether or not he’s managed to take care of business off the court, and in an interview with Mark Snyder of the Free Press the Oklahoma native made note of the benefits of getting away from home for college.

Playing in Rochester, far from his home, will serve him well, he said.

“Anywhere away from home is the best thing,” Clark said. “It’s just hard balancing everything being close to home.”

Clark will be one of the options Kampe has to choose from at the point, with incoming freshmen Brailen Neely and Billy Thomas also among the new arrivals, and sophomore Jaevin Cumberland looking to earn more playing time than the 5.6 minutes per contest he averaged as a freshman.

Creighton point guard Watson Jr. to return for senior season

Creighton's Maurice Watson Jr. (10) reacts after scoring during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Xavier in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Creighton won 70-56. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
AP Photo/Nati Harnik
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Creighton’s chances of moving up the Big East standings and returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014 improved a great deal Thursday, as starting point guard Maurice Watson Jr. announced that he will be returning for his senior season. Watson, who began his college career at Boston University, entered his name into the NBA Draft pool without hiring an agent but decided that another year in Omaha would be best for him.

Watson was one of the most impactful transfers in the country last season, as his play at the point was a major factor in the Bluejays winning 20 games and going 9-9 in conference play after being picked to finish eighth in the Big East preseason poll. Watson averaged 14.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game last season, earning second team All-Big East honors.

With Watson’s return the Bluejays will welcome back three of their top four scorers from last season, with center Geoffrey Groselle being the lone departure. Head coach Greg McDermott adds a talented shooting guard in Marcus Foster, who sat out last season after transferring in from Kansas State. With Watson and Foster working together, Creighton will have a formidable perimeter tandem leading the way in 2016-17 with the likes of forward Cole Huff and guard Isaiah Zierden also being key contributors.

In addition to what Watson can provide in games he’ll also serve as a good mentor for Kaleb Joseph, who will have to sit out next season after transferring in from Syracuse. Joseph, who will have two seasons of eligibility remaining, fell out of the rotation as a sophomore so the year in residency should benefit him as he works towards grabbing the reins in 2017-18.

h/t ESPN.com

UConn, four-star 2017 big man Brown part ways

Brown, Zach
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Back in mid-January UConn made waves on the recruiting trail by securing a verbal commitment from 7-foot-1 center Zach Brown, a player seen by many as one of the top prospects in the Class of 2017. That partnership came to an end Thursday, as the two parties decided to part ways. News of the mutual decision was first reported by Scout.com.

The Miami native is currently ranked 28th in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, and Thursday’s news opens up a spot in the front court that UConn head coach Kevin Ollie and his staff will now have to fill. Amida Brimah, who’s currently going through the NBA pre-Draft process, will be a senior next season should he return to Storrs as will Kentan Facey.

Among the interior options who will have eligibility remaining beyond next season for the Huskies are sophomore Steven Enoch and incoming freshmen Mamadou Diarra and Juwan Durham.

UConn was in the running for 2016 power forward Taurean Thompson, but multiple outlets have the Brewster Academy product considering Michigan State (which added UNLV grad transfer Ben Carter Wednesday), Seton Hall and Syracuse at this point in his recruitment.

UCF lands commitment from transfer Terrell Allen

New UCF men's NCAA college basketball coach Johnny Dawkins speaks at his introductory press conference Thursday, March 24, 2016 in Orlando, Fla. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via AP) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT
Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via AP
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Having already landed one transfer in former Michigan guard Aubrey Dawkins (the new head coach’s son), UCF landed a second Thursday afternoon as former Drexel guard Terrell Allen announced that he’ll finish out his college career playing for Johnny Dawkins.

Allen, a CAA All-Rookie Team selection in his lone season at Drexel, announced the news by way of his Twitter account. After sitting out the 2016-17 season per NCAA transfer rules, Allen will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

On a team that struggled throughout the 2015-16 season, winning just six games, Allen averaged 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 32.5 minutes of action per game. The 6-foot-2 point guard finished the season ranked in the top ten in the CAA in both assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, with his assist tally ranking eighth and his A/T ratio of 1.9 placing him seventh.

With B.J. Taylor entering his junior season and Jeremy Carter-Sheppard joining the ranks this summer, the addition of Allen gives UCF another option at the point for the 2017-18 campaign.