Kamari Murphy’s transfer another blow to a sputtering OK State program

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Oklahoma State has lost another key piece from last season’s team as Kamari Murphy has decided to transfer out of the program, according to multiple media reports.

As a sophomore this past season, Murphy averaged 6.1 points and 6.3 boards. He became a starter when Michael Cobbins went down with a torn achilles.

Of the eight players that Oklahoma State had in their rotation at the start of the 2013-2014 season, five of them are now gone and four left with eligibility remaining: Murphy and Brian Williams transferred, Marcus Smart went pro, Stevie Clark was kicked out of the program in December and Markel Brown graduated. That list doesn’t include Jared Terrell, either. Terrell was the crown jewel of Ford’s 2014 recruiting class but he got out of his letter of intent last month.

That leaves Travis Ford with a roster that is going to be dreadfully thin once again.

The good news? He does return Le’Bryan Nash for what should be a big senior season, and Cobbins and Phil Forte should be back as well. Add in a five-man recruiting class — headlined by JuCo transfer Jeff Newberry — and the cupboard isn’t completely bare, but it’s still hard to see how Ford is going to be able to get this team into the NCAA tournament.

Which brings us back to a point that was brought up by Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman back when the Pokes were bounced from the NCAA tournament in their first game: Travis Ford’s contract is a doozy. The school signed him to a 10-year deal back in 2009, meaning that Ford still has five years and almost $12 million coming to him.

The most important note?

The school has no buy out.

If they want Ford out, they have to pay him the remainder of his salary, and I’m not sure even T. Boone Pickens is willing to shell out that kind of cash for basketball.

It’s no wonder that the Cowboys can no longer fill up Gallagher-Iba Arena. They have a head coach that the fans hate, that couldn’t get the Pokes out of the opening round of the NCAA tournament despite having two seasons with Smart, Nash and Brown on the roster, and it doesn’t look like it will get any better anytime soon.

Ford’s always been able to recruit, but it will be interesting to see if players still want to join a program that’s clearly not in a good place these days.

Reports: Duke’s Frank Jackson to declare for draft

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Frank Jackson will declare for the draft but will not be signing with an agent, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Previous reports had indicated that Jackson “planned” to return to school, and that still may end up proving true. But the combination of Trevon Duval potentially enrolling at Duke combined with the fact that there is zero downside to going through the draft process, it makes sense for Jackson to declare.

Jackson averaged 10.9 points and shot 39.5 percent from three. He’s projected as a mid-first round pick in 2018 by Draft Express, but at 6-foot-3, he’s too small to play the two in the NBA and has yet to prove he can be a point guard.

Jackson is the fourth Duke player to declare, following Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles III and Luke Kennard. All three signed with an agent. Grayson Allen and Marques Bolden are both returning to school.

VIDEO: Top 2018 recruits Zion Williamson and Romeo Langford go head-to-head at adidas

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This weekend is the first live evaluation period of the spring recruiting calendar as college coaches from all over the country are scouting (and babysitting) the top recruits in the Class of 2018 and 2019.

Friday night the adidas Gauntlet in Dallas opened with a marquee matchup of two star players as five-star forward Zion Williamson and five-star guard Romeo Langford went head-to-head in what should be one of the best games of the spring.

Most scouting services have Williamson and Langford as the No. 2 and No. 3 overall prospects in the Class of 2018 as the duo didn’t disappoint in front of the huge crowd in Fort Worth.

Williamson helped his team to a win with 26 points and seven rebounds while Langford had 28 points, four rebounds and four assists. You’ll be hearing plenty about both of these guys over the next few months as both are still wide open in the recruting process.

(H/t: Ball is Life)

Report: Coppin State hires Juan Dixon as new head coach

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Coppin State has hired former Maryland star guard Juan Dixon to be its next head coach, according to a report from Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun.

The 38-year-old Dixon is best known for leading Maryland to the 2002 national championship as he was the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four that year. Now Dixon will have a chance to lead a Division I program for the first time.

Dixon spent seven years in the NBA and also played professionally in Europe before joining the Maryland coaching staff in 2013 as a special assistant to head coach Mark Turgeon. Not retained by Maryland after the 2015-16 season, Dixon took the head coaching job for the women’s team at the University of the District of Columbia last season as the Division II program finished only  3-25.

Coppin State finished last season with an 8-24 record after losing its first 12 games of the season. While Dixon will generate some positive local buzz given his background, he’s going to have an uphill battle trying to rebuild that program.

Nebraska scores important Class of 2017 commitment from four-star guard Thomas Allen

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Nebraska landed an important commitment from the Class of 2017 on Friday as four-star guard Thomas Allen is heading to Lincoln next season.

The 6-foot-1 guard is considered the No. 99 overall prospect by Rivals in the national Class of 2017 rankings as Allen was previously committed to N.C. State before head coach Mark Gottfried was fired.

A scorer with a good amount of skill, Allen has a chance to come in and make an immediate impact at Nebraska as he can play a bit on or off the ball. Allen should help offset the loss of senior Tai Webster in the Husker backcourt.

Allen joins wing Nana Akenten in Nebraska’s Class of 2017 recruiting efforts.

North Carolina lands four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks

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North Carolina pulled in a late Class of 2017 commitment to begin the weekend as the Tar Heels secured a pledge from four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks.

The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Brooks was previously committed to Mississippi State, but he was granted his release this spring to explore other opportunities.

The Tar Heels pounced as they’re getting a low-post threat who could develop into a potential double-double threat. A solid rebounder who isn’t afraid to play with physicality, Brooks has a chance to earn some immediate rotation minutes with seniors like Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks exhausting their eligibility.

Brooks is regarded as the No. 120 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, according to Rivals, as he is a four-star prospect. The native of Auburn, Alabama joins a North Carolina recruiting class that includes point guard Jalek Felton, shooting guard Andrew Platek and big men Brandon Huffman and Sterling Manley.