Wichita State working to get Corey Henderson Jr. prepared for backup point guard role

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One of the remarkable things about Wichita State’s 35-1 record last season was the Shockers’ lack of a backup point guard. With the loss of backup point guard D.J. Bowles before the 2013-14 season due to a heart condition, Wichita State had to rely on sophomore Fred VanVleet to carry a heavy amount of minutes as the team’s only point guard.

VanVleet averaged 31.7 minutes per game last season, and when he wasn’t running the Shocker offense, head coach Gregg Marshall usually handed the reigns to shooting guard Ron Baker, who also did an admirable job with the ball in his hands in spot situations.

For the 2014-15 season, however, Marshall and Wichita State would like a stable option to backup VanVleet at the point. Not only will this allow the rising junior point guard to  rest more on the bench, but it lets Baker stay at his more natural spot off-the-ball.

In a story from Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle, Marshall and VanVleet talk about getting true freshman point guard Corey Henderson Jr., prepared for that task. Henderson Jr., is the son of former Texas A&M guard Corey Henderson and the Shockers believe the 6-foot-3 guard is up to the challenge to be the team’s new backup point guard. Rivals regarded Henderson Jr., a native of Dallas, as a three-star prospect coming out of high school.

“I just hope he continues to grow like his dad did and continue to get stronger,” Marshall said of Henderson to Suellentrop. “If he puts on 10 pounds and takes care of that basketball, he’s going to be out there.”

VanVleet is working closely with Henderson to help him understand the Wichita State playbook and the freshman is also doing his own homework by watching DVDs of last season’s games. VanVleet said that learning the plays is part of the equation, but being a point guard is also about getting the offense to move at the right speed at the right time.

“The first few months are always hard for a point guard in this system,” VanVleet said to Suellentrop. “You’ve got to learn the pace of the game, learn how to control the game and understand the value of the game. A high school point guard can turn the ball over 20 times and nobody says anything.”

For his part, Henderson seems to at least be grasping the concepts during the summer workouts in which the Wichita State coaches get to work with the players for two hours a week. It doesn’t hurt that one of the nation’s best point guards is one of Henderson’s teachers.

“Fred told me to make sure I start off the play in the backcourt, not starting in the front court,” Henderson said. “Timing is one of the most important things the point guard needs. It all starts with us.”

Redshirt freshman Ria’n Holland will also join the Shockers this season in the backcourt, but he’s more likely to be a combo guard that can play a bit of both guard spots. If Wichita State can add a freshman like Henderson into the rotation, it would be a luxury to get VanVleet some time on the bench while also developing a future starting point guard for when he graduates in two years.

Tennessee lands impact graduate transfer James Daniel

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Tennessee and head coach Rick Barnes earned a commitment from one of the top graduate transfers on the market on Monday when Howard guard James Daniel pledged to the Volunteers.

The 6-foot-0 Daniel was the nation’s leading scorer at 27.1 points per game his junior season in 2015-16. Daniel played in only two games last season as a left ankle injury caused him to have surgery.

With nearly 2,000 career points to his name, Daniel gives Tennessee an additional perimeter scorer who should come in and make an immediate impact right away. While Howard has low shooting percentages and a high usage rate during his time at Howard, it’ll be interesting to see how the year off and more talented teammates will alter his game.

If Howard can be a more efficient scorer in his final season, then he has a chance to be one of the better players for the Volunteers this season.

Two workouts this week could alter Caleb Swanigan’s NBA Draft decision

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Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan has the most important decision among any college basketball player who could return next season from the 2017 NBA Draft process. If Swanigan comes back for his junior season, he’s the frontrunner for National Player of the Year. More importantly, Purdue would have a serious chance to repeat as Big Ten regular season champions, especially if Vince Edwards also returns from the same draft process.

Wednesday night is the decision deadline for players to return to college basketball for next season and Swanigan will use two more workouts scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday to help decide his future. According to multiple reports, Swanigan will workout for the Orlando Magic on Tuesday and the New York Knicks on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s workout with the Magic will also reportedly involve Cal big man Ivan Rabb — an important workout for Swanigan since Rabb is listed ahead of Swanigan on a lot of popular mock drafts. The Magic own three picks between No. 25 and No. 35 — which is listed slightly above the No. 40 slot that Draft Express has Swanigan listed. So if Swanigan has a good workout against Rabb for the Magic, then he could get himself some sort of guarantee from a Magic team that desperately needs talent and has a lot of picks in that range.

The Knicks also have Swanigan scheduled for a Wednesday workout as they own the No. 44 overall pick in the second round. Again, the Knicks are a team in win-now mode with current stars like Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis openly feuding with the team’s front-office, so it wouldn’t be out of the question for Swanigan to land some sort of guarantee from New York in the second round.

Of course, guarantees for draft night are nice to have, but things can change quickly on draft night. Swanigan has to consider all of the information he is receiving before he makes his decision on Wednesday. But if Swanigan has two strong workouts and gets the information that he’s looking for this week, then he could easily bolt for a potential guaranteed contract.

Angel Delgado’s return to Seton Hall makes Pirates Big East contender

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Seton Hall got huge news on Monday when Angel Delgado announced that he would be returning to school for his senior season.

“I am coming back to school for my senior year,” Delgado said in a statement on Monday. “It’s very important to my family and me that I finish what I started. This was a difficult decision that took time and patience. Coming back feels just right.”

Delgado, a 6-foot-10 forward from the Dominican Republic, averaged 15.1 points and 13.2 boards last season for the Pirates. He was one of the best big men in the country over the last six weeks of the season.

And his return should bring about one of the best years that Seton Hall basketball has had in a long time.

The Pirates are loaded with talent, tough and, most importantly, old players, from Delgado to Khadeen Carrington to Ishmael Sanogo to Desi Rodriguez. They are going to be a nightmare to run offense against, and they may just be the best team in the Big East not named Villanova. Delgado should end up being a preseason all-american.

Seton Hall is currently ranked No. 17 in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25.

Texas to return Andrew Jones for sophomore season

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Texas got another boost on Monday as former five-star recruit Andrew Jones announced that he will be returning to school for his sophomore season.

“I’ve matured and learned a lot through this process,” Jones said in a statement released on twitter. “I enjoyed the experience and opportunity that I had to be able to participate in the combine and team workouts.

“Time to go work out with my teammates. Hungry and Humble.”

This comes on the heels of Texas landing a commitment from a top five prospect in Mo Bamba. With all those pieces in the fold, including a recruiting class that features four more top 100 prospects, the Longhorns look like they are on track to be a borderline preseason top 25 team and heading back to the NCAA tournament.

This could end up being a narrative-changing year for Texas.

West Virginia returns potential Big 12 Player of the Year in Jevon Carter

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West Virginia got some great news on Monday as Jevon Carter announced that he will be returning to the Mountaineers for his senior year.

“I’m excited about coming back to West Virginia and playing with my teammates for my senior season,” he said. “The entire NBA process was a great experience for me and to gain valuable feedback that I can use to prepare for the future.”

This is massive for the Mountaineers. Not only is Carter the team’s leading scorer at 13.5 points, but he is a three-time all-Big 12 Defensive Team member and led West Virginia in minutes played last season. He’ll be a favorite to win Big 12 Player of the Year, with Devonte’ Graham of Kansas.