bruce ellington

Former South Carolina point guard Bruce Ellington drafted by San Francisco 49ers in NFL Draft

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South Carolina’s Bruce Ellington had a great college career that included leading the Gamecocks on the basketball court as the team’s starting point guard for three-plus seasons while also playing wide receiver for South Carolina in the fall.

Although the 5-foot-9 Ellington was the No. 96 overall prospect for basketball in Rivals.com‘s 2010 national rankings, there aren’t many point guards with that kind of size in the NBA.

So Ellington re-focused his efforts on the gridiron before his final season at South Carolina and the move paid off on Saturday as Ellington was selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Ellington was the 106th overall pick.

Leading into Saturday’s third day of the 2014 NFL Draft, ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay had Ellington as the best available prospect on their big boards and Ellington had 49 receptions for 775 yards and eight touchdowns last season for Steve Spurrier’s ballclub. All three marks led South Carolina for the 2013 season and Ellington averaged 15.8 yards per catch.

Ellington’s signature performances on the football field this season included 10 receptions for 136 yards and two touchdowns in a two-overtime win over Missouri and six receptions for 140 yards and two touchdowns in the Capital One Bowl win over Wisconsin.

For his football career, Ellington amassed 66 receptions for 1,586 yards and 16 touchdowns.

On the basketball court, Ellington was a key member of the Gamecocks for three seasons as he averaged near double-figures in points during his three full seasons for South Carolina. Ellington saw his production on the court decrease over the course of his career, however, as the point guard focused more of his attention on football.

Ellington averaged 12.8 points per game his freshman season before putting up 10.6 points a game as a sophomore and 9.9 points a game as a junior. Ellington only played 69 minutes of basketball during the 2013-14 season, scoring 17 points, dishing out five assists and grabbing four rebounds.

The NFL Draft has seen college basketball players selected before, but Ellington is expected to be the only player selected in 2014 with significant college hoops experience. That won’t stop NFL teams from trying to find the next Antonio Gates or Jimmy Graham, however, as Miami forward Erik Swoope worked out with the Denver Broncos and Kansas big man Tarik Black has received support from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Both Black and Swoope could receive tryouts or a training camp invitation.

Former Washington tight end and Tampa Bay Buccaneers second-round pick Austin Seferian-Jenkins also played some college basketball as the 6-foot-6 forward played in 17 games for Lorenzo Romar’s squad during his freshman year in 2011-12.

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.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.