It’s official: The Gavitt Tipoff Games are happening

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The Gavitt Tipoff Games became official on Monday, as the two conferences confirmed the news that broke on Sunday night with a press conference at Madison Square Garden.

Dave Gavitt, who the event is named after and who passed away in 2011, was one of the driving forces behind the formation of the Big East.

“This all started with friendship and it ends with competition,” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said at a news conference at Madison Square Garden. “This shows Dave’s spirit is with us today as much as when he was with us.”

“Dave was about events and he was always talking about the start of the season,” said Mike Tranghese, the Big East’s first employee hired by Gavitt and his successor as commissioner. “He would be so happy about this, not only the great games but especially with the relationships between the conferences.”

“Dave created the Big East-ACC Challenge, the first of all the early-season challenges. Even back then he talked about getting the season started with a bang. He wanted everybody in the country to have that one opening day. He would have a smile today about this, but if he were here he’d be thinking about getting everybody in the country involved.”

The way it works is that during the first full week of college basketball’s regular season, the Big East and the Big Ten will play eight games, with two each coming on that Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Each Big East team will get at least six games during the course of the eight-year deal, which is slated to begin in 2015-2016, while the Big Ten teams will all play at least four times.

This is a great idea for an event for a number of reasons.

To begin with, getting intriguing matchups this early in November is not usual, particularly getting the games to be played on campus. As entertaining as it is to see Duke play Kansas at the United Center or to get eight top 50 programs on a tropical island to play in front of crowds where media outnumber actual fans, what makes college basketball special is just how energized a game and a campus can be. We need more of that early in the season.

The better part is that these games will be played during the week, meaning that they won’t be competing with football on the weekends for eyeballs. Throw in the fact that there are some potentially juicy matchups — Xavier vs. Ohio State and Georgetown vs. Maryland immediately come to mind — and this is precisely the kind of event that we’ve been needing to see early in the season.

Texas lands commitment from top 100 center

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James Banks announced on Thursday that he has committed to Texas, joining Jacob Young in Shaka Smart’s first recruiting class as the head coach of the Longhorns.

Banks is an interesting prospect. A 6-foot-10 center from Georgia, Banks is a still-developing prospect that was recruited more on his potential than his immediate ability.

“James Banks emerged as a good low post prospect this spring and summer,” NBC Recruiting Analyst Scott Phillips said. “With a good set of hands, some offensive potential and a frame that can add weight, Banks is a nice upside grab for Texas.”

He’s probably a few years away from having a major impact in the Big 12, but he may not have that much time to develop. Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh and Conner Lamert all graduate after this season, meaning that Banks is going to have to contribute immediately when he sets foot on the Austin campus for the 2016-17 season.

Texas has three commitments in the Class of 2015. Smart convinced Kerwin Roach and Eric Davis to remain committed to the program when he took over for Rick Barnes while he landed a commitment from Tevin Mack, who pledged to Smart when he was at VCU.

Memphis guard could miss season with shoulder injury

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Memphis just cannot catch a break.


It’s to the point where I almost feel bad for Josh Pastner.

Today, reported that Kedren Johnson, a 6-foot-4 point guard that was on track towards being an all-SEC point guard at Vanderbilt, could end up missing the season due to a shoulder injury. If he can handle the pain he can avoid surgery and play with the injury, but at the very least, Johnson is going to be less than his best.

Johnson averaged 6.7 points and 2.7 assists last season for the Tigers. He sat out 2013-14 after leaving Vanderbilt and entered last season incredibly out of shape. There was hope that he would be able to make a bigger impact this season and help fill the void at the point guard spot.

This news comes on the heels of Memphis finding out that Jaylen Fisher is heading to UNLV. Who’s Jaylen Fisher? Well, he’s a point guard and top 40 recruit from Memphis that was Pastner’s No. 1 recruiting target that opted to leave the city for his college hoops instead of play for the Tigers.

That’s a bad sign, but not quite as bad as Memphis losing star center Austin Nichols — another local kid — to a transfer over the summer. Nichols transferred to Virginia.