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The Secondary Break: Tuesday’s Links

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Milwaukee’s Aaron inspired by late mother (New York Post)
The NCAA tournament tends to offer up a number of highly compelling story lines, and one of those this season is that of Milwaukee guard Jordan Aaron. Aaron, whose mother passed away after a bout with cancer five years ago, was the inspiration as he helped lead the Panthers to the Horizon League’s automatic bid.

A lone voice takes a shot against March Madness (Miami Herald)
For college basketball fans this week marks the beginning of the best time of the season, with 68 teams competing to determine the national champion. But not everyone’s on board with the fact that the NCAA tournament is one of the best sporting events in sports.

Next step for NCAA-bound Buffs: Win in March (Colorado Springs Gazette)
The Colorado Buffaloes are headed to the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive season under head coach Tad Boyle, and their eight-seed is the highest in school history. But while this is certainly a noteworthy achievement for Colorado, the next step to be taken is to advance in the NCAA tournament with CU having a 1-2 record in their last two appearances.

Anatomy of an upset: Ingredients for unforgettable NCAA tournament games (USA Today)
Upsets are one of the most exciting aspects of the NCAA tournament, with schools many fans haven’t seen much of picking off a “brand name” school and capturing the nation’s imagination as a result. But what’s the recipe for pulling off an upset? There are some common bonds amongst schools that have pulled off the feat in the past, and those bonds are worth considering when filling out your bracket.

Dayton aims to keep “First Four” beyond 2015 (Cincinnati Enquirer)
The NCAA tournament begins Tuesday with two games in Dayton, with the city hosting two more First Four games on Wednesday night. Dayton’s embraced being the starting point of the NCAA tournament, which has been the case since the event expanded to include a 65th team in 2001. And although their current contract expires after next season’s tournament, Dayton is working hard to make sure the road to the Final Four continues to begin there.

St. Joe’s coach takes back seat to grandson (Associated Press)
Saint Joseph’s head coach Phil Martelli has his team back in the NCAA tournament, and he did so while dealing with a difficult year away from basketball. But one of the people who have helped he and his wife is their 4-year old grandson, who’s become a celebrity of sorts for his mimicking of his grandfather during Saint Joseph’s games. Look for Phillip to be in Buffalo this week when the Hawks take on seven-seed UConn.

Lobos approach NCAA tournament differently (Albuquerque Journal)
After winning the Mountain West’s regular season and tournament titles a season ago, New Mexico was a trendy pick to go deep into the NCAA tournament. But that outside noise may have been a distraction for the Lobos, who paid too much attention to the praise and ended up losing to Harvard. This season brings about a different approach, with Craig Neal and his team doing their best to avoid the outside chatter.

March Madness: Canadians set to play starring roles (Hamilton Spectator)
One of the more interesting aspects of college basketball in recent years has been the growing influence that Canada’s had on the sport. Once an afterthought with a few players making the move across the border, Canada has managed to produce some very talented players in recent years. And with stars such as Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins and Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis in this season’s field, this has the potential to be a big tournament for Canadian players.

Marshall should be pursuing D’Antoni (Charleston Daily Mail)
With Marshall relieving head coach Tom Herrion of his head coaching duties a few days ago, the program finds itself looking for a coach who can improve the Thundering Herd’s standing within Conference USA. And according to columnist Chuck Landon, one option the school needs to consider is current Los Angeles Lakers head coach and West Virginia native Mike D’Antoni.

Former Manhattan coach Gonzalez still teaching, scouting basketball (New York Post)
Ten years ago today the Manhattan Jaspers upset Florida in the first round of the NCAA tournament, something the current team hopes to duplicate in its opener against Louisville later this week. The head coach of that team was Bobby Gonzalez, who hasn’t run a program since his tumultuous four-year tenure at Seton Hall came to an end in 2010. And while there have been comments about why Gonzalez hasn’t taken another job, Gonzalez says that he’s happy with what he’s doing now.

Minnesota center to miss a month

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 7: Reggie Lynch #22 of the Illinois State Redbirds and Fred VanVleet #23 of the Wichita State Shockers fight for control of a loose ball during the MVC Basketball Tournament Semifinals at the Scottrade Center on March 7, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Minnesota’s projected starting center is sidelined, but is expected to be ready for the season opener.

Reggie Lynch, the Illinois State transfer, had surgery on his left knee, the program announced on Friday night. According to Marcus R. Fuller of the Star-Tribune, the Golden Gophers are anticipating that Lynch is available for the season opener on Nov. 11 against Louisiana-Lafayette.

The 6-foot-10 Lynch has been in the news this offseason prior to his impending debut with Minnesota. In May, he was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. On August 1, the Hennepin County attorney’s office was announced he would not face charges, citing insufficient evidence.

Lynch spent two seasons at Illinois State, averaging 9.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Redbirds as a sophomore. He sat out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Minnesota is coming off a second-to-last place finish in the Big Ten with an 8-23 (2-16 Big Ten) record.

Women’s hoops coaches boycotting recruiting events

DENVER, CO - MARCH 31:  Head coach Muffet McGraw of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish directs her team during practice prior to the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Final Four at Pepsi Center on March 31, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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For some high-major women’s basketball programs, the final evaluation period of 2016 is being used as a vacation from the recruiting trail.

According to a report from Lindsay Schnell of Sports Illustrated, are not attending events during this weekend’s recruiting period for a host of reasons.

First, many are fed up with the price of tournament packets, booklets of rosters that college coaches receive upon paying their entry fee. Packets are supposed to be chock-full of contact information for the prospects, but sometimes aren’t accurate or up-to-date. (This has become a well-documented issue on the men’s side of college hoops. CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish wrote on it this summer.) Furthermore, there are so many events now that college coaches are often forced to pay obscene amounts of money to watch just one player at a single event, and play recruiting hopscotch around the country, criss-crossing the nation to see so many events and spend thousands of dollars. One Power Five coach said her staff crunched the numbers, and found that in just two years, they’ve spent more than $4,000 more than they did in 2014 on packets alone. Another coach told a story of sending an assistant across the country for one day, to one event, to watch one team. When the assistant arrived, the team had left early for its next event. No refund was available for the college that had paid what turned out to be a useless entry fee. The head coach called it “exasperating.”

Jeff Borzello of ESPN, who spoke to Notre Dame head coach and eventual Hall of Famer Muffet McGraw for his report, estimated that the cost for one of the coaches packets — the ones that include player contact information, rosters, etc. — can cost each school an average of $600 per event.

This era of grassroots basketball has taken off in recent years with Nike, Under Armour and adidas all creating their own sponsored leagues. All three run exceptional events from the staff to the facilities, all the way to the three, free meals a day for coaches. Organizers of these events will argue that there’s a cost to running such high-end events. These packets, some of which are so in-depth they include players’ GPAs, help fund these tournaments (events, paying a staff, etc.).

Coaches, mostly mid to low-major coaches, will argue that these packets aren’t worth the cost, considering that every coach (head and assistant) must purchase them in order to gain entrance. And you will find packets where the information inside is either inaccurate, or missing or both. For elite programs, this isn’t an issue. You show up, you’re seen, you leave, you go to the next event, repeat. For mid to low-major coaches, this really puts a dent in their budget, especially when they have to travel to multiple events (buying packets at each one) because you have to land that “steal,” you have to find that player who is overlooked.

This protest, or boycott (or whatever you want to call it) will hurt those these events are intended to help the most: the players. If coaches continue to avoid these tournaments, that late-bloomer may miss out on a scholarship, or that player with mid-major offers won’t get the chance to play in front of high-major coaches.

According to Schnell, there is a proposal, voted on in April, to eliminate a live recruiting period in April and September. But many coaches in women’s basketball have made it clear this weekend how they feel about the issue.

USC lands commitment from three-star center

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USC added to its 2017 recruiting class with a commitment from a 7-foot big man.

Andy Enfield and the Trojans beat out Florida, Vanderbilt and Tennessee for the services of Calvary Christian Academy (Florida) center Victor Uyaelunmo. He announced his college decision on Friday afternoon.

“It was the best fit for me academically and athletically,” Uyaelunmo said according to David Furones of the Sun Sentinel. “The basketball coaches really wanted me to come, and I thought it was the best place for me.

“They told me how they were going to use me, and they have a couple of guys leaving this year, so I just fit in right.”

Uyaelunmo is regarded as a three-star prospect by Rivals, however, ESPN rates him a four-star recruit. He joins a two-man class which includes four-star forward Jordan Usher.

The departure of Nikola Jovanovic, the Trojans’ leading rebounder during the 2015-16, was a surprising one, and one that left USC with a hole in the middle. While Uyaelunmo still has one more year before arriving on the Los Angeles campus, the Trojans have a promising piece in the paint for the future; a long, athletic big man who has the potential, in time, to become one of the nation’s top shot blockers.

Uyaelunmo played for Nike South Beach in the EYBL this spring and summer. In 12 appearances, he averaged 5.0 points. 5.9 rebounds and 1.0 block in 17.6 minutes per game.

VIDEO: Rupp Arena’s new video board arrives

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Rupp Arena is getting a makeover. Take a peak as the new video board arrives and is put together:

Five-star freshman ruled ineligible to play for Villanova this season

Jay Wright
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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Omari Spellman will not be eligible to play for Villanova this season, the school announced on Friday morning.

“We are extremely disappointed for Omari,” stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. “While we don’t agree with the NCAA’s decision, we are members of the association and respect it. We understand why the NCAA felt it had to rule this way.”

“We will make a positive out of this for Omari. He will concentrate on his academics and individual development this season. In the long run Omari will be a better student and player for this experience.”

Spellman is a top 20 recruit that played for St. Thomas More this past season. At 6-foot-9, 260 pounds, Spellman was going to be counted on to play a major role in replacing Daniel Ochefu, the 6-foot-11 center that graduated this past spring. Without Spellman, Villanova will have to rely on inconsistent senior Darryl Reynolds to man their front line.

It is worth noting, however, that Reynolds did average 9.0 points and 10.6 boards in three games Ochefu missed last year. That was the first time in his career that he was given consistent minutes.

Spellman will be allowed to continue to practice with Villanova as he takes an academic redshirt.