Late Night Snacks: No. 4 Duke, No. 17 Saint Louis fall

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Wake Forest 82, No. 4 Duke 72

This was the most surprising result of the night, with the Demon Deacons using multiple defenses in their win over the Blue Devils in Winston-Salem. Tyler Cavanaugh scored 20 points off the bench and Travis McKie added 19 for Wake Forest, which has beaten Duke, North Carolina and N.C State in the same season for the first time since 2009. As for Duke they’ve got some issues to address offensively, and head coach Mike Krzyzewski dealt with lightheadedness as well.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) No. 11 Louisville 84, No. 18 SMU 71

Russ Smith scored 22 of his 26 points in the second half as the Cardinals beat SMU in Dallas. Defending Smith was one problem for the Mustangs, who also turned the ball over 23 times on the night. Nic Moore played just 19 minutes due to foul trouble, and both he and Nick Russell struggled with the Louisville pressure.

2) Dayton 72, No. 17 Saint Louis 67

Dayton arrived in Saint Louis in need of a quality win for its resume, and the Flyers left with the desired result. Dayton defended well in the second half and their reserves scored 31 points, outscoring the Saint Louis bench by 17. As for the Billikens, they’ve now lost three straight games and need to get things back in order ahead of the conference tournament next week.

3) No. 3 Arizona 74, Oregon State 69 

Nick Johnson scored 25 points and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 13 off the bench as the Wildcats held off the Beavers in Corvallis. However for as impressive as that point total may look for Johnson, his defending of Roberto Nelson was even better. Nelson scored 25 points but shot 7-for-22 from the field, and as a team Oregon State shot 19-for-30 from the foul line.

STARRED

1) F Tyler Stone (Southeast Missouri State) 

In the Redhawks’ 79-61 win over Eastern Illinois in the first round of the OVC tournament, Stone racked up 27 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots.

2) G Maurice Watson (Boston University)

Watson led the Terriers to a 91-54 win over Lafayette in a Patriot League quarterfinal with 21 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and four steals.

3) F Ryan Watkins (Boise State) 

Watkins shot 9-for-12 from the field, accounting for 27 points and 14 rebounds in the Broncos’ 83-81 double overtime loss to Nevada.

STRUGGLED

1) G Jon Severe (Fordham)

Severe made just one of his 12 field goal attempts, scoring three points in the Rams’ 77-65 loss at Rhode Island.

2) G Chris Denson (Auburn) 

Tennessee made sure to take the Tigers’ leading scorer out of the game, as Denson shot 1-for-10 from the field in Auburn’s 82-54 home loss to the Volunteers.

3) F Jesse Chuku (Lehigh) 

Chuku shot 1-for-11 from the field in the Mountain Hawks’ 54-48 loss to Holy Cross in a Patriot League quarterfinal.

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS 

  • Big South: Charleston Southern the lone surprise on day one
    Charleston Southern, the fifth seed out of the South Division, beat 4N Campbell 81-71 in the first round of the Big South tournament. Arlon Harper scored 20 points and Will Saunders added 18 off the bench for the Buccaneers, who will face 1S Coastal Carolina on Thursday. Winthrop, Radford and Gardner-Webb were the other winners on Wednesday
  • Northeast: Mount St. Mary’s erases 17-point deficit
    Mount St. Mary’s trailed by as much as 17 in their quarterfinal matchup with St. Francis-Brooklyn, and with 1:53 remaining the Mountaineers trailed by 11. But Jamion Christian’s team found a way to fight back, winning 72-71 on a Rashad Whack three-pointer with 2.4 seconds remaining. The lone surprise on Wednesday was Saint Francis (PA) upsetting Bryant, 55-54. Top seeds Robert Morris and Wagner advanced by comfortable margins.
  • OVC: SEMO, Tennessee Tech advance
    The start of the OVC tournament didn’t provide an upset, with Southeast Missouri State beating Eastern Illinois 79-61 and Tennessee Tech holding off SIU-Edwardsville 74-67. SEMO’s Tyler Stone was the star of the night (27 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks), and Tennessee Tech’s Jeremiah Samarrippas led four Eagles in double figures with 16 points.
  • Patriot League: Army wins at Bucknell
    Just one of the four road teams managed to win on Wednesday: Army, which beat Bucknell 72-71 on a Kyle Wilson jumper with 12.5 seconds remaining. The Black Knights trailed by seven points with three minutes remaining. The top three seeds, Boston University, American and Holy Cross, all won.

NOTABLES

  • Nebraska continued its late charge towards an NCAA tournament berth with a 70-60 win over Indiana in Bloomington. Also of note for Tim Miles’ Huskers is the fact that they’re still in play for a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament.
  • All three SEC bubble teams won on Wednesday. While Arkansas (Ole Miss) and Tennessee (Auburn) blew out their opponents, Missouri beat Texas A&M 57-56 in Columbia.
  • Colorado and Utah picked up valuable road win, with the Buffaloes beating Stanford 59-56 and the Utes holding off Cal by the final score of 63-59. And from a bubble standpoint, the Golden Bears have lost four of their last five and may be in trouble.
  • George Washington added a quality win to its resume, beating Saint Joseph’s 76-71 in Washington, D.C. That result means that Saint Louis wins the Atlantic 10 regular season title despite their loss to Dayton.
  • No. 9 Wisconsin won its eighth straight game, outlasting Purdue 76-70 in Madison. And given some of the other happenings across the country, don’t rule out the Badgers in the race for a one-seed.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

Five-star forward King picks Oregon

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Oregon has nabbed one of the top players in the 2018 class.

Louis King, a top-20 forward, committed to Dana Altman and the Ducks on Thursday via a video on social media.

“It’s been a tough, strenuous process,” King said, “but today makes all of that worth it. I’ve been blessed with great opportunities.”

The 6-foot-8 New Jersey native selected Oregon over other finalists Seton Hall, NC State, Purdue and Kansas.

“I would like to thank each of them for all the time and effort they put into my recruitment,” King said. “I would like to thank my coaches and my teammates that have pushed me and helped get me to this point in my career. My friends for all their love and support, but most of all I would like to thank my family, who has been by my side through it all.”

King is Altman’s second commit in 2018, joining four-star big man Miles Norris, a top-75 recruit in the class. It’s the beginning of what could be an absolutely dynamic class for Oregon, which still has two scholarships remaining.

“Out of all of my schools I felt like it was best for me and my family,” King said to MADE Hoops. “Coach Altman said that I would have the ball in my hands throughout the season. When I get there, it will be an easy adjustment for me with how I handle rock and get my teammates open. Our goal is to win a national championship next year.”

 

Four-star forward Miller Kopp commits to Northwestern

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Northwestern has a second four-star recruit in its 2018 class.

The Wildcats received a commitment from Miller Kopp, a 6-foot-6 forward, on Thursday, he announced via social media.

“I built a really strong relationship with (coach) Chris Collins and I fell in love with the campus,” Kopp told Scout. “I knew it would be a nice campus and have that stuff, but I think me and him are wired the same way. II think that his personality fits mine and I think we complement each other. I’m definitely excited to be able to go to a program on the rise and be able to make some history.”

Kopp picked the Wildcats over offers from Georgetown, Butler, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. The Houston native is ranked in the top-100 of his class by most recruiting services.

He gives Collins and the Wildcats an exceedingly strong 2018 class, which already featured four-star guard Pete Nance of Ohio along with three-star recruits Jordan Lathon and Ryan Young. It represents a major leap forward for Northwestern. It would appear that the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament appearance last March has brought momentum to the recruiting trail.

 

NEXT ONE? Hoops phenom at 13 has college offer, NBA height

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Emoni Bates walks out a front door of Clague Middle School with just inches to spare.

A wide smile tops his 6-foot-7, extra-lean frame. He’s holding a seventh-grade honor society certificate in his right hand. His braces gleam in the afternoon sun.

Meet the best 13-year-old basketball player in America, according to some recruiting services. One of his highlight reels on YouTube has been viewed about 1 million times.

“I don’t really pay attention to it,” Emoni insists in a voice just louder than a whisper, “because if I pay attention to it, it’s just going to get to my head.

“And I don’t want it to get to my head. I just want to play basketball.”

He’s got the pedigree.

Emoni’s father, E.J. Bates, has been around the game most of his life. He picked greens and baled hay as a kid in nearby Milan, Michigan, then developed into a smooth-shooting guard. But he didn’t take school seriously until it was too late. Instead of playing for a basketball power like Kansas and maybe even in the NBA, E.J. wound up going to Kentucky Wesleyan and settling for pro hoops in Switzerland.

E.J. is determined to make sure his son doesn’t make the same mistake. The academics are a sign of that. House rules bar Emoni from picking up a basketball until his homework is done.

Yet E.J. knows when kids are this good this early, distractions roll in like waves. Already, it seems, lots of people want a piece of Emoni. Prep, private and public high school coaches are lining up. Colleges have him on their radar. DePaul took it a step further, offering Emoni a scholarship in late August. Two other much-touted players in the Class of 2022 — Amari Bailey of Illinois and Skyy Clark of California — also have offers from DePaul.

E.J. knows the shoe company bird dogs and other hustlers looking to buy favors are lurking, too. So he and wife Edith, who works for the Red Cross, keep their inner circle very tight.

“I’m his coach to keep the snakes away,” Bates says, sitting on one of Clague’s concrete benches. “We’re not for sale.”

The Bates family has agreed to provide The Associated Press with a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the life of one of the most coveted basketball prospects in the country for at least the next five years. The periodic series will include video, photos, audio and text updates to track his progress.

Will Emoni stay near his current home to attend a public high school? Or will he take his next step at a private school like Detroit Country Day, like Michigan native Chris Webber?

Will he follow the footsteps of Marvin Bagley III and other five-star prospects, reclassifying to finish high school in three years? Bagley did to play college ball at Duke this coming season — and potentially to get a jump on a pro future.

Will E.J. and Emoni emulate the father-son team of LaVar and Lonzo Ball, grabbing headlines while hawking their own brand at every turn?

No one knows.

E.J. says all options are on the table. But he won’t be loud, unlike LaVar Ball in the lead-up to his son Lonzo being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I don’t have to brag about what we’re doing,” E.J. says. “I let other people do all the talking about how good Emoni is because word of mouth is the best advertising there is.”

A POTENTIAL STAR IS BORN

Emoni James-Wayne Bates was born Jan. 28, 2004, at the University of Michigan hospital. He was on the light side — 6 pounds, 7 ounces — and a little long at 21 inches. Just over a year later, Emoni slept with his head cradled in his left arm and his right wrapped around a black and red basketball. A cherished photo was made.

“He would always sleep with the ball,” his father recalls, holding a framed picture in his Ypsilanti, Michigan, home. “If the ball wasn’t around, he would cry about the ball. Even to this day, he has a mini-ball he keeps with him, which is crazy to me.”

There were more hints. During a second visit to the doctor, E.J., who is 6-foot-4, and Edith, 5-9, asked how tall their son might grow.

“He was off the charts,” E.J. laughs, “so they couldn’t tell us.”

Emoni has shot up 7 inches in the last two years. He’s tall enough right now to play shooting guard at any level. He handles the ball like a point guard and launches 3-pointers like a savvy veteran. He can create his own shot like a wing or drive the lane and dish off to a teammate like another rail-thin former prodigy, Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant.

But adding weight and muscle is an ongoing challenge. He weighs just 155 pounds — not heavy or strong enough to play a dominating inside game that would complement his fluid perimeter skills.

“We try to stuff him full of food at night and hope it sticks,” E.J. sighs.

TEEN CELEBRITY

The Adidas Invitational in Fishers, Indiana, attracts some of the Midwest’s top seventh-grade AAU teams. Inside Best Choice Fieldhouse, talk centers on whether the Bates Fundamentals squad starring Emoni and coached by E.J. can live up to the hype.

“They’ve been hearing a lot about him,” says Bernetta Kelly, watching her son’s Peoria Area Elite team take its shot.

Bates Fundamentals wins 95-44 and Kelly understands why. She approaches Emoni and asks for a photo with her son and his team.

“I’ve seen the best players from Pittsburgh to Vegas the last four years, and he’s been the best in his class,” Peoria coach Zach Martin says. “I told the guys, ‘There are not many times you will be able to say you played an NBA player, but you just did.'”

After another lopsided victory in the two-day tournament won easily by Bates Fundamentals, Emoni walks off the court. A younger competitor darts out of his team’s pregame layup line to slap his hand. Moments later, the excitement follows Emoni out the door.

“Hey, that’s him,” a young boy entering the facility says to teammates.

How does a 10-year-old from Fort Wayne, Indiana, know who Bates is?

“YouTube,” he says.

Duh.

The highlight reel posted last summer had nearly 1 million views before Emoni walked into the doors at Clague for the first time as an eighth-grader. Several other videos have racked up 500,000-plus views in less than one year.

By the spring of 2018, the suspense about where he plans to attend high school may be its own mini-drama. Then a few years later: Which college?

E.J. and Edith hardly need reminding that’s still a long way off. As good as the recruiting services have become at projecting stars, it’s easy to forget the object of all that attention is still just 13. At times, the recruiting experts simply miss.

“It’s always a crap shoot,” E.J. says. “You don’t know what life will deal you. You never know what can happen with injuries, the loss of motivation or pressure getting to be too much.”

Yet fans of two college basketball powers with the inside track can already start thinking about the fall of 2021, when Bates can officially sign a scholarship offer. In quiet moments, Emoni sometimes does, too.

Asked about his favorite programs, the soft-spoken kid doesn’t hesitate to name the early front-runners.

“Michigan State and Kentucky,” Emoni says.

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Follow the series: https://www.apnews.com/tag/TheKid

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Follow Larry Lage at http://twitter.com/larrylage

NCAA punishes Pacific men’s basketball for violations

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STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) — The men’s basketball team at Pacific has been punished by the NCAA for academic and recruiting violations under former coach Ron Verlin.

The NCAA said Wednesday that Verlin failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance when he violated academic misconduct and recruiting rules to get prospects eligible. He also failed to monitor his coaches and violated NCAA ethics rules when he encouraged others to give false information during the investigation.

The baseball program was also cited because former coach Ed Sprague impermissibly provided an athletic training student with a $16,000 scholarship to help with the housing costs of two baseball student-athletes, including her brother.

Penalties for the school include two years of probation, recruiting and scholarship reductions, a $5,000 fine and a vacation of all games in which ineligible athletes participated.

Memphis lands commitment from 2018 center Connor Vanover

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Memphis picked up its first commitment in the Class of 2018 on Wednesday night as unique center prospect Connor Vanover announced his decision on Twitter.

At 7-foot-2, Vanover brings elite size to the interior for the Tigers and he’s also skilled enough that he was a 43 percent three-point shooter during his stint playing with Pro Skills in the Nike EYBL this spring. Although Vanover needs to add strength and athleticism to adapt to the college level, he simply has size that you can’t teach. Pair that size with an intriguing perimeter jumper and it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Tubby Smith is able to develop Vanover the next few years.

A three-star prospect according to Rivals, Vanover averaged 9.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game during the spring. Originally from Arkansas, Vanover is spending his senior season of high school ball at prep school powerhouse Findlay Prep.