(State Fair C.C.)

Who’s left?: The best available junior college transfers

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Junior college prospects aren’t the sexiest recruits on the block but they serve an important purpose in the world of college basketball recruiting. Many junior college prospects were glossed over in high school thanks to any number of reasons — academics, strength, skills, etc. — but thanks to a few more years of seasoning, they can become an instant contributor to some programs since they’re more experienced and ready to contribute than their high school counterparts.

CBT has already looked over the best available high school prospects and college basketball transfers that are still left on the board earlier on Friday and now we take our attention to the junior college ranks.

Here’s a look at some of the top junior college prospects that are still available:

1. Deng Deng, Lee College: The 6-foot-8 Deng has already visited Baylor and Nebraska and trips to LSU for a visit this weekend, according to Jucorecruiting.com’s Brad Winton. Indiana is also trying to get Deng on a visit, but LSU might be the team to beat in this one. Deng committed to LSU last year as a 2013 recruit with three years of eligibility left, but returned to Lee College when he was unable to attend LSU. A native of Sudan, Deng has also lived in Egypt and Australia and averaged 20.9 points this season for Lee College.

2. Shane Henry, Georgia Perimeter: The 6-foot-8 Henry will take official visits to Louisiana Tech on May 9-10 and Texas Tech May 19-20, while also planning a visit to Virginia Tech, according to Winton. Henry averaged 13.2 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.7 blocks per game at Georgia Perimeter Community College this past season.

3. Tobe Okafor, Western Texas: A native of Nigeria and a 6-foot-10 forward, Okafor is taking a visit to Houston this weekend and a visit to Long Beach State next weekend, according to Winton. Okafor has also heard recently from Memphis while a bevy of mid-major suitors are also showing interest. Okafor is a former Loyola Marymount commit and there’s some questions surrounding his eligibility. “He would have been off the board a long time ago, but is waiting to hear back from the NCAA to see if he has two years to play or just one,” Winton said of Okafor to NBC Sports.

WHO’S LEFT?: College Basketball Transfers | High School Prospects

4. Kevin Punter, State Fair: The 6-foot-3 Punter is a former Mizzou commit who re-opened his recruitment earlier this month. Punter is still considering playing for the Tigers, and new head coach Kim Anderson, but he’s also visiting Tennessee this weekend and will choose between the two SEC programs, according to Winton. Punter averaged 20.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.4 steals per game for State Fair Community College. The guard also shot 57 percent from the field, 37 percent from three-point range, and 83 percent from the charity stripe.

5. Keith Thomas, Westchester College: Despite only playing one season of high school basketball, Thomas averaged 15.3 points, and a junior college-leading 15.7 rebounds per game for Westchester. Thomas visited St. John’s and South Florida last week and also previously visited Loyola (Chicago), according to Adam Zagoria of Zags Blog. Thomas will decide between Fordham, Loyola, St. John’s and South Florida early next week.

Guy V. Lewis, coach of Phi Slama Jama teams, dies at 93

Guy Lewis
Associated Press
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HOUSTON (AP) Former University of Houston men’s basketball coach Guy V. Lewis, best known for leading the Phi Slama Jama teams of the 1980s, has died. He was 93.

He died at a retirement facility in Kyle, Texas, on Thanksgiving morning surrounded by family, the school said Thursday.

Lewis coached the Cougars for 30 years. He guided Houston to back-to-back NCAA title games in 1983 and ’84 but never won the national championship, losing to N.C. State in the 1983 final on Lorenzo Charles’ last-second shot, one of the NCAA Tournament’s greatest upsets and most memorable plays.

“It feels awful,” Lewis said after that game. “I’ve never lost a game that didn’t feel that way, but this one was terrible.”

Lewis, who helped lead the integration of college basketball in the South by recruiting Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney to Houston, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.

Known for plaid jackets and wringing his hands with a red polka-dot towel during games, Lewis compiled a 592-279 record at Houston, guiding the Cougars to 27 consecutive winning seasons from 1959-85. He was honored as the national coach of the year twice (1968 and `83) and led Houston to 14 NCAA Tournaments and five Final Fours.

Lewis had mostly avoided the spotlight since retiring in 1986. He suffered a stroke in February 2002 and had used a wheelchair in recent years.

He was known for putting together the “Game of the Century” at the Astrodome in 1968 between Houston and UCLA. It was the first regular-season game to be broadcast on national television. Houston defeated the Bruins in front of a crowd of more than 52,000, which, at that time, was the largest ever to watch an indoor basketball game.

Lewis attended the introductory news conference in December 2007 for Kevin Sumlin, the first black football coach in Houston history. It was a symbolic, significant appearance because Lewis signed Houston’s first two black basketball players and some of the first in the region in Hayes and Chaney in 1964, when programs were just starting to integrate.

Hayes and Chaney led the Cougars to the program’s first Final Four in 1967 but lost to Lew Alcindor’s UCLA team in the semifinal game.

“Basketball in the state of Texas and throughout the South is all due to coach Guy V. Lewis,” Hayes said in 2013. “He put everything on the line to step out and integrate his program. Not only that, he had vision to say: `Hey, we can play a game in the Houston Astrodome.’ Not only that, he just was such a motivator and such an innovator that created so many doors for the game of basketball to grow.”

Along with Hayes, Lewis also coached fellow All-Americans Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. The three were included on the NBA’s Top 50 greatest players list in 1996. Lewis and North Carolina’s Dean Smith were the only men to coach three players from that list while they were in college.

Players and CBS announcer Jim Nantz lobbied for years for Lewis to get into the Naismith Hall of Fame. When he finally received the honor in 2013 he made a rare public appearance. It was difficult for him to convey his thoughts in words in his later years because of aphasia from his strokes, so his daughter spoke on his behalf at the event to celebrate his induction.

“It’s pure joy and we’re not even upset that it took so long. … Dad is used to winning in overtime,” Sherry Lewis said.

Lewis announced his retirement during the 1985-86 season, and the Cougars finished 14-14, his first non-winning season since 1958-59.

Guy Vernon Lewis II was born in Arp, a town of fewer than 1,000 residents in northeast Texas. He became a flight instructor for the U.S. Army during World War II and enrolled at the University of Houston in 1946.

He joined the basketball team, averaged 21.1 points and led the Cougars to the Lone Star Conference championship. By the early 1950s, he was working as an assistant coach under Alden Pasche and took over when Pasche retired in 1956.

Funeral services are pending.

AP Sports Writer Chris Duncan contributed to this story.

Syracuse upsets No. 18 UConn as Tyler Lydon stars again

St Bonaventure Syracuse Basketball
AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth
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Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney combined for 34 points as Syracuse overcame an early 10-point deficit to knock off No. 18 UConn in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis, 79-76.

The talking point at the end of this game is probably going to end up being UConn’s decision not to foul Syracuse with 36 seconds left on the clock. Trevor Cooney dribbled out the clock and, with six seconds left, missed a 35-foot prayer, the offensive rebound getting corralled by Tyler Roberson, sealing the win.

But that’s not the real story here.

That would be Tyler Lydon, who suddenly looks like he may end up being the difference maker for this Syracuse team.

If you don’t know the name, I don’t blame you. Lydon was a low-end top 100 recruit that had been committed to the Orange for a long time. He’s not exactly a game-changing prospect, but he’s a perfect fit for Syracuse. At 6-foot-9, Lydon has the length to be a shot-blocker in the middle of the 2-3 zone — he entered Thursday averaging 3.3 blocks — but his biggest skill is his ability to shoot the ball from beyond the arc. When he plays the middle of that zone, when he is essentially the five for the Orange, they become incredibly difficult to matchup with defensively.

The question is whether or not he can consistently be that guy on the defensive end of the floor. Against UConn, Lydon had 16 points and 12 boards. Against Charlotte, he finished with 18 points, eight boards and six blocks. But neither the Huskies nor the 49ers have a big front line that crashes the offensive glass.

Lydon is great at using his length to make shots in the lane difficult, but at (a generous) 205 pounds, he may run into trouble against bigger, stronger front court players.

The perfect test?

Texas A&M, who the Orange will play in the title game on Friday.