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, ESPNย 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.

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averagedย 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and Iโ€™m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment โ€“ both by our university and by Chris โ€“ allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.