T.J. Warren

Late Night Snacks: NC State, Albany advance to Round of 64

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 16 Albany 71, No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s 64

Albany started the game on a 21-2 run. It looked like the Great Danes would cruise, but the Mountaineers were able to string together a 21-2 run of their own to tie the score in the first half.

In a game that featured talented guards on both sides such as Peter Hooley of Albany as well as Mount St. Mary’s Rashad Whack and Julian Norfleet, it was the 5-foo-9 Great Danes’ floor general D.J. Evans who shined the brightest. Evans scored a game-high 22 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished three assists. He iced the game with a pair of free throws after Whack missed a game-tying free throw and Norfleet missed another look from beyond the arc.

Albany gets top-seeded Florida in the Round of 64 on Thursday evening.

TEAM OF THE NIGHT: No. 12 NC State

The Wolfpack were pegged as being on the wrong side of the bubble by the time Selection Sunday rolled around. A win over Syracuse in the ACC quarterfinals and an endorsement from Coach K helped land NC State and bid and on Tuesday night it did not disappoint in a 74-59 win over Xavier in the second First Four game.

ACC Player of the Year T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis helped their team advance into the Round of 64 where the No. 12 seed NC State will be a popular upset pick over No. 5 Saint Louis, the Atlantic 10 regular season champion, which has lost four out of five games.

An NC State win over an A10 program will likely make Coach K happy and justify his rant from last week.

WEDNESDAY’S NCAA TOURNAMENT GAMES

No. 16 Cal Poly vs. No. 16 Texas Southern, 6:40 p.m. (truTV)

No. 11 Iowa vs. No. 11 Tennessee, 9:10 p.m. (truTV)

STARRED

D.J. Evans, Albany: The undersized guard scored a game-high 22 points and at 5-foot-9 he grabbed nine rebounds. He had some big finishes at key moments for the Great Danes, who advance to the Round of 64 against top-ranked Florida.

T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis, NC State: The sophomore duo proved the Wolfpack did belong in the NCAA tournament with a First Four win over Xavier. Warren scored a game-high 25 points. Lewis was great with the ball in his hands with seven points and eight assists.

K.J. McDaniels, Clemson: He went for 30 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in an NIT opening round win over Georgia State

STRUGGLED

Rashad Whack and Julian Norfleet, Mount St. Mary’s: The duo combined for 23 points off 7-of-31 (3-of-19 from three) shooting. Whack had a great look at a game-tying 3-pointer with 39 seconds to play, only to see if go halfway down and come back out.

St. John’s: Either Robert Morris is the greatest NIT opening round team ever, or the Red Storm wanted to call it a season. What’s the importance of reaching Madison Square Garden for the Johnnies anyways?

Xavier defense: Allowed the Wolfpack to shoot 54.7 percent from the field. Warren was able to go 10-from-18 on the night. On the offensive end, the Musketeers shot 14.3 percent from deep.

NIT

  • No. 8 Robert Morris 89, No. 1St. John’s 78
  • No. 1 Florida State 58, No. 8 Florida Gulf Coast 53
  • No. 4 Georgetown 77, No. 5 West Virginia 65
  • No. 5 Belmont 80, No. 4 Green Bay 65
  • No. 1 Minnesota 88, No. 8 High Point 81
  • No. 3 Arkansas 91, No. 6 Indiana State 71
  • No. 3 Clemson 78, No. 6 Georgia State 66
  • No. 2 Missouri 85, No. 7 Davidson 77

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

ESPN.com was the first to report White’s commitment.

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.