Five-star 2016 point guard Dennis Smith, Jr. is the next great guard out of North Carolina

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INDIANAPOLIS — Dennis Smith, Jr. has recently made waves on the national recruiting scene thanks to his tremendous play in the adidas Gauntlet.

The 6-foot-2 Smith is regarded by Rivals.com as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2016 national rankings, but his recruitment was still rather quiet for a five-star prospect heading into the spring.

That’s all changed in the last few weeks, however, as Smith had a great weekend at the Dallas stop of the Gauntlet during the live period in front of college coaches.

RELATED: adidas Gauntlet Friday: Jaylen Brown goes for 48 points

Smith told NBCSports.com that he’s picked up scholarship offers from Charlotte, Kansas, N.C. State, VCU and Wake Forest with recent interest this spring from Arizona, Duke, Louisville, Michigan and North Carolina.

With explosive athleticism, good court vision and an ability to get in the lane at will, Smith has drawn comparisons to past North Carolina natives like John Wall and Rodney Purvis. Smith told NBCSports.com that he’s spoken with both guards before.

“I know both of them, actually, and they both know me,” Smith said. “I’ve known them a couple months, like six months. It was around October when I met (Purvis). I haven’t met (Wall) I talk to him a little bit. Texting with him.”

On Friday, Smith matched up with another top-25 guard as his Team Loaded (North Carolina) squad faced recent Arizona commit and 2015 guard Justin Simon.

Smith stuffed the stat sheet in the 73-71 win as he scored 14 points, grabbed six rebounds and had six blocks and six steals to go along with four assists. If there’s one major fault with Smith’s game — at the moment — it’s his propensity to try too hard to make a flashy pass and it helped lead to four turnovers in the game.

“It’s great; I get to measure myself up against him,” Smith said of facing Simon. “Obviously since he’s already committed he’s going to play at the next level so it’s good to measure my game up to his.”

RELATED: adidas Gauntlet Saturday: Chase Jeter shows steady improvement

Although Smith has faced players like Simon and has been compared to Wall and Purvis, thanks to geography, he looks up to a couple of other guards when modeling his game.

“I watch a lot (of basketball),” Smith said. “In the NBA I watch a lot of (Russell) Westbrook and Damian Lillard. In college I watch a lot of Kasey Hill.

“Damian Lillard, he’s really good off the pick-and-roll and he can shoot pretty good. Kasey Hill, he gets his teammates involved pretty well. Westbrook, he’s super explosive and he plays hard every play.”

RELATED: Five-star Jaylen Brown wants to end recruitment this summer

Recruiting is starting to pick up for Smith and he’s most receptive to hearing from two SEC powerhouses that have yet to get in touch.

“I’ve heard from just about every school except Kentucky and Florida. Those two schools are ones I would be looking forward to hearing from,” Smith said.

Those programs — and others — will have plenty of time to recruit Smith as he’s still very early in the process.

“I probably won’t be making a list until the middle of my junior year,” Smith said.

Villanova lands four-star 2018 guard

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Villanova added its first recruit in the Class of 2018 on Wednesday night.

Jay Wright and his staff landed a verbal commitment from Paul VI Catholic High School’s Brandon Slater, a four-star guard by Rivals as the No. 42 overall prospect in the rising senior class.

The 6-foot-5 Slater announced his decision via Twitter.

Slater, according to Jeff Borzello of ESPN, picked the Wildcats over Maryland, Miami, South Carolina, and Virginia.

He is currently playing the Nike EYBL with Team Takeover, the same grassroots program that produced current Villanova guard Phil Booth.

Comic-Con forces Providence to play at Alumni Hall for home opener

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Providence will play its first game at Alumni Hall, the on-campus facility, for the first time in 35 years this fall.

The Friars unveiled their 2017-18 non-conference schedule on Thursday afternoon. The team’s home opener will play either Houston Baptist or Belmont in Mullaney Gym inside Alumni Hall.

According to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, the reason for that is a schedule conflict at Providence’s home arena, the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, in downtown Providence. A Comic-Con convention is scheduled Nov. 10-12. As McNamara notes, it’s a busy part of the season for The Dunk. The arena also is home to the Providence Bruins, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Boston Bruins, and by mid-November, their season is in full swing.

The Friars haven’t played at Alumni Hall since 1972, the same year the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was opened. In the three decades since Providence last played a regular season game there, the facility has gone under necessary renovations, as you could imagine. Even with added seats, Mullaney Gym can host a maximum of 1,549. That’s a fraction of what The Dunk’s capacity of 12,400.

Providence will return to its downtown home on Nov. 13, hosting Minnesota as part of the Gavitt Games. The Golden Gophers will likely be a top-20 team to open the season. The Friars, who bring back every notable player from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, is a fringe top-25 team.

Jalen Coleman-Lands to transfer out of Illinois

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The already-thin Illinois roster got thinner on Thursday afternoon.

Evan Daniels of Scout.com reported that sophomore guard Jalen Coleman-Lands has requested and received his release from the program. He will have to sit out next season but will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Coleman-Lands was a top-40 recruit in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals. He becomes the second player from that recruiting class this month to exit the school. Reserve guard D.J. Williams elected to transfer on May 8. With Jeremiah Tilmon and Javon Pickett, two incoming recruits, both previously reopened their recruitments following John Groce’s firing.

Even with the addition of Wright State graduate transfer Mark Alstork, who officially joined the Fighting Illini on Wednesday, Illinois is left with only nine scholarship players as of right now.

Coleman-Lands’ production dipped from his freshman campaign, ending the 2016-17 season averaging 8.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, shooting 38 percent from three.

One destination that will likely be rumored will be nearby DePaul. Coleman-Lands played for new DePaul assistant coach Shane Heirman at prep school powerhouse La Lumiere School. Heriman quickly tapped into that prep pipeline, helping secure a commitment from La Lumiere from five-star 2019 point guard Tyger Campbell earlier this month.

Coleman-Lands had taken official visits to Notre Dame and UNLV before committing to the Illini in September 2014.

North Carolina releases response to latest NCAA Notice of Allegations

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North Carolina is still trying to convince the NCAA that their investigation into the paper classes given by the university’s African-American Studies Department is not, in fact, an NCAA matter.

On Thursday afternoon, the University released their response to the NCAA’s third iteration of the Notice of Allegations, and the core argument in that response is that the school’s “inadequate academic oversight” does not fall under the jurisdiction of the NCAA’s bylaws. In other words, North Carolina is arguing that a rogue professor creating fake classes is not an NCAA issue. It’s a school issue.

What’s more, North Carolina is also arguing that athletes taking these classes should not be classified as an extra benefit because they were available to the entire student body.

“No special arrangements were made for student-athletes in violation of NCAA extra-benefit legislation,” the response reads. “Student-athletes were not treated differently than other students who took the Courses.”

“The public narrative for the last six years, popularized by media accounts, is that Department of Athletics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took advantage of ‘fake classes’ in the Department of African and African-American Studies to keep student-athletes eligible. That narrative is wrong and contradicted by the facts in the record.”

The NCAA’s allegations center around the idea that UNC’s athletes, most notably members of the football and men’s and women’s basketball teams, were guided to the fake classes within that department in order to keep their GPAs high enough to remain eligible. The classes in question had a disproportionate percentage of athletes.

A hearing in front of the Committee on Infractions is expected to take place at some point this summer.

No indictment for escort, staffer in Louisville sex scandal

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A grand jury declined to indict an escort and former Louisville men’s basketball staffer in a sex scandal that engulfed the program.

The Jefferson County grand jury decided Thursday there wasn’t enough evidence for charges of prostitution and unlawful transactions with a minor against Katina Powell and Andre McGee.

Powell wrote in a book published in 2015 that McGee hired her to provide dancers to perform sex acts for Cardinal recruits and players from 2010-2014.

The announcement by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office comes as the school awaits discipline in early June by the NCAA after an investigation.

Louisville has imposed its own penalties, including a postseason ban in 2015-16 and reductions in scholarships and recruiting visits by coaches.