Milwaukee

NCAA Tournament Primer: Milwaukee Panthers

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

Conference: Horizon League

Coach: Rob Jeter

Record: (21-13, 7-9 Horizon)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 173
– RPI: 145
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding?: Likely 15 or 16 seed

Names you need to know: Jordan Aaron, 5-foot-10 senior guard (14.9 ppg, 3 rpg, 2.5 apg), Kyle Kelm, 6-foot-9 senior forward (12.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.6 apg), Matt Tiby, 6-foot-8 sophomore forward (12.3 ppg, 6.6 apg, 2.0 rpg), Austin Arians, 6-foot-6 sophomore forward (10.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.5 apg)

Stats you need to know: Milwaukee led the Horizon League in three-point percentage defense (32 percent) and also shot 32 percent from three-point range.

Tendencies: Milwaukee is pretty average in terms of tempo on the offensive end and they don’t pressure the ball all that much, but they are a Horizon League best 32 percent in three-point percentage defense. The Panthers turn the ball over a bit too much (14 times a game) and can take some bad shots, but when they play patiently they can be a dangerous team with four double-figure scorers.

Big wins, bad losses: Milwaukee owns solid non-conference wins at Davidson and at home against Northern Iowa. In Horizon League play, the Panthers went 2-1 against top-3 league opponents Green Bay — with both wins coming on the road — and Wright State. Milwaukee only played one top-25 team all season and lost 78-52 at Wisconsin.

How’d they get here?: The Panthers won four Horizon League Conference Tournament games — at three different campuses — beating Detroit, 83-73, in the first round at home, Valparaiso, 74-57, at Green Bay, No. 1 seed Green Bay, 73-66, in overtime at Green Bay and No. 3 seed Wright State, 69-63, at Wright State.

Outlook: Milwaukee isn’t headed for a great seeding of any kind, but after winning four consecutive games — the last two on the road — in the Horizon League Conference Tournament, the Panthers won’t be fun to face at all compared to your typical 15 or 16 seed.

How do I know you?: In 2005, the Panthers made an unlikely Sweet 16 run behind former head coach Bruce Pearl, who also led Milwaukee to a 2003 NCAA Tournament bid. Current Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan is also a former Panther head coach from 1999-2001. Milwaukee last made the NCAA Tournament in 2006, in head coach Rob Jeter’s first season as head coach, and beat Oklahoma in the first round.

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)
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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
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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.