Mercer

NCAA Tournament Primer: Mercer Bears

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Get to know all of the NCAA Tournament’s automatic bids here.

Conference: Atlantic Sun

Coach: Bob Hoffman

Record: 26-8 (14-4 Atlantic Sun)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 102
– RPI: 88
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding?: In Dave Ommen’s most recent bracket, it had Florida Gulf Coast as the automatic bid from the Atlantic Sun. Dunk City was projected as a No. 16 seed.

Names you need to know: Langston Hall (14.7 ppg, 5.7 apg); Daniel Coursey (9.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.1 bpg)

Stats you need to know: Had the Atlantic Sun’s top scoring offense (79.5 points per game) and scoring defense (66.4 points per game). Langston Hall, the senior floor general from the Bears has a 2.37 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Tendencies: The Bears have the tendency this season to be in a lot of close ball games. Langston Hall’s 3-pointer gave Mercer a huge win over Ole Miss. Before that the Bears knocked off Seton Hall in double overtime. The Bears played another two overtime game in the A-Sun semifinals, before they held off rival Florida Gulf Coast to finally punch its ticket to the Big Dance on Sunday. Should make for a fun game in the NCAA tournament, right?

Big wins, bad losses: Beat Ole Miss in Oxford by three on Dec. 22 and won in double overtime against Seton Hall. Hung with Texas on opening night before eventually dropping a close one. Mercer split with Florida Gulf Coast before Sunday’s championship win.

How’d they get here?: Breezed past Jacksonville in the conference quarterfinals before barely getting by USC Upstate, 78-75 in double overtime in the semis. The Bears held the Eagles to 17 first half points, limiting them to only five field goals.

Outlook: Mercer has been a good team for several seasons. The Bears are a tough team with a senior-heavy lineup and will can give anyone, regardless of seed, a scare in the NCAA tournament.

How do I know you?: Mercer was actually the Atlantic Sun regular season champion last season before Florida Gulf Coast snagged the automatic bid. And we all remember how that turned out for the Eagles.

Top-100 guard commits to Xavier

Chris Mack has Xavier back in the Sweet 16 (AP Photo)
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Xavier has added a top-100 prospect into its 2017 recruiting class Wednesday.

Elias Harden, a shooting guard from Georgia, pledged to the Musketeers via social media to become the second member of Chris Mack’s next class.

“The recruiting process was not EASY AT ALL,” Harden wrote on Twitter. “I wanna thank all the coaches that took time to recruit me.

“WIth that being said I will continue my academic and athletic career at Xavier University.”

The 6-foot-6 guard is ranked 92nd overall by 247Sports and had offers from Auburn, Maryland, Texas Tech and Ole Miss. He joins Jared Ridder, a Missouri guard, as part of the 2017 Xavier class.

The Musketeers return the bulk of last year’s 28-6 team that narrowly missed out on the Sweet 16.

Clemson recruit to enroll early

Brad Brownell
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Clemson will get a four-star recruit on campus a year earlier than it expected, though his on-court debut for the Tigers will remain on schedule.

A.J. Oliver, a guard from South Carolina, will enroll early at Clemson and redshirt this upcoming season, he announced via social media Wednesday.

“I woke up this morning and realized that the greatest opportunity for me is to enroll early into Clemson,” he wrote on Twitter. “I will redshirt a year & start my college career early.”

Oliver, whose mother is the head women’s basketball coach at Clemson, was a consensus top-100 player in the class of 2017 who committed to the Tigers last December. Texas Tech and the College of Charleston were involved before his commitment.

A three-star shooting guard, Scott Spencer of Virginia, was previously the only member coach Brad Brownell’s 2016 class. While Oliver’s decision to redshirt will keep him off the court for the 2016-17 season, he’ll have spent a full season in the Tiger program before making his debut in 2017

The cupboard isn’t bare in 2017 for the Tigers due to Oliver’s reclassification because Clemson received a commitment from power forward Malik Williams, a consensus top-150 player, earlier Wednesday.

Kentucky used Calipari-Chaney fight in media training

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Kentucky Sports Radio
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Kentucky held some media training sessions yesterday, and one of the topics that head coach John Calipari used to make a point was … his blow-up with John Chaney. The moment was captured on SnapChat by a trio of Kentucky newcomers.

You remember that incident. Chaney, then the head coach at Temple, and Cal, who was coaching Atlantic 10 rival UMass at the time, nearly came to blows over the way that Cal handled officials during the game. Before the video below picks up, the two shared this exchange:

“Could I say this to you, please?” Chaney said, before the video above picks up. “You’ve got a good ball club. But what you did with the officials out there is wrong, and I don’t want to be a party to that. You understand?”

Cal responded: “You weren’t out there, Coach. You don’t have any idea.”

Chaney fired back: “You got a game given to you by officials right here with G.W. on three bad calls, O.K.? Then you send your kids out there pushing and shoving. You had the best officiating you could ever get here. And for you to ride them, I don’t want to be a party to that.”

And that led to “I’ll kill you”:

(h/t KSR)

VIDEO: Shaq’s son, Shareef O’Neal, with monster dunk in Vegas

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Shareef O’Neal is a top 50 prospect in the Class of 2018. In Vegas this past weekend, he threw down a monster put-back dunk.

South Dakota State gets two commits

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Tuesday was a busy and productive one for South Dakota State on the recruiting trail.

The Jackrabbits secured two 2017 commitments from the state of Wisconsin in Ryan Krueger and Alex Arians, a source tells NBCSports.com.

Krueger is a 6-foot-5 wing player from New London, Wisc. while Arians is a 6-foot-4 guard from Madison, Wisc., who also held an offer from Wright State, which is coached by former SDSU coach Scott Nagy. Both players spend their summers playing for the Wisconsin Swing grassroots program.

The pair make it a trio of commits for the Jackrabbits in 2017 with another Wisconsinite, Alou Dillon, pledging to first-year Jackrabbits coach T.J. Otzelberger, himself a Wisconsin native, earlier this summer.

South Dakota State went 26-8 last year and the bulk of the team that made the NCAA tournament last year, including sophomore Mike Daum, who led the team in scoring and rebounding as a freshman.