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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.

Derek Willis won’t be suspended for offseason citiation

Kentucky's Derek Willis (35) hits an uncontested three point shot during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won 80-70. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
AP Photo/James Crisp
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John Calipari gave a press conference on Thursday morning and, for the first time since his arrest in June, the Kentucky head coach spoke about Derek Willis.

Willis, if you’ve forgotten, was found passed out in the street outside the open driver’s side door of his car at 4:30 a.m. You can see video of the arrest here. Willis is very lucky he wasn’t killed, and that he didn’t kill anyone else trying to drive in that condition.

Cal said that Willis will not be suspended for any games, but “Derek knows he’s under a different eye now than he was.” He did not elaborate on what kind of punishment Willis will receive beyond that, saying that “I don’t throw people under the bus.”

To be honest, I’m a little surprised that Willis won’t be forced to miss any games, but if we’re being frank, sitting out an exhibition and Kentucky’s opener sounds much more appealing than the kind of, ahem, ‘conditioning drills’ that Willis has likely spent the summer doing.

PODCAST: Boeheim’s non-controversy and the coaches we don’t want to fight

Jim Boeheim
AP Photo/Nick Lisi
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In today’s podcast, I’m joined by Travis Hines to discuss stuff that has been in the news over the course of the last two weeks, specifically Jim Boeheim’s comments about Carmelo Anthony and why it is a total non-controversy.

We also dive into why Boeheim’s comments are forced to be taken out of context as well as Monte’ Morris, ‘Pancake’ Thomas and which college basketball coaches we would least like to fight.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.

Cyclones add big man for 2017

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 15:  Head coach Steve Prohm of the Murray State Racers shouts from the sidelines against the Colorado State Rams  during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KFC YUM! Center on March 15, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Iowa State secured its first commitment Wednesday of what will be a pivotal class of forwards in 2017.

KeyShawn Faezell of Mississippi committed to Steve Prohm and the Cyclones, he announced Wednesday.

“After praying to God to lead me in the right path and talking with my dad,” Faezell wrote, “I’ve decided to further my education and basketball career under coach Prohm at Iowa State University.”

Faezell, a 6-foot-9 consensus top-150 forward in the 2017 class, joins wing Terrence Lewis as the first two members of a class that figures to number at least six for ISU. The addition of Faezell is key because ISU will be losing three members of its frontcourt it will likely be leaning on heavily in 2015-16 in Deonte Burton, Merrill Holden and Darrell Bowie. A 2016 big man, Cameron Lard, has also yet to enroll in classes this fall due to academic issues, making Faezell’s commitment even more important should Lard be unable to get clearance.

“They need some people to come in and compete,” Feazell told the Ames Tribune. “I think I fit in the program.”

Prohm’s teams dating back to his Murray State days have always been guard-oriented and guard-heavy, but beginning to stack the roster with quality big men will be key as he looks to continue the Cyclones’ success in the Big 12, which includes a school-record five-straight NCAA tournament appearances.

BYU adds commit for 2019

Dave Rose
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BYU added a commitment from a high school senior this week, but the Cougars won’t be seeing him on campus until 2019.

Kolby Lee, a 6-foot-9 forward from Idaho, pledged to BYU on Monday evening, but won’t suit up until after serving a two-year mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints, according to the Deseret News.

“I had a great feeling about BYU, and I prayed about it,” Lee told the paper. “I just feel like it’s the right fit for me. It just seems right. It feels right.”

Lee chose BYU over offers from  Utah State, Boise State and UC Davis. He was rated a four-star prospect by ESPN and three by Scout.

His decision to forego immediately joining BYU certainly isn’t a new wrinkle for the Cougars, who routinely see their players either delay their initial eligibility or pause it mid-career while serving on missions.

Self pays freshman Jackson a major compliment

Josh Jackson, from Napa, Calif.,, dunks over Nancy Mulkey, from Cypress, Texas, as he competes in the slam dunk contest during the McDonald's All-American Jam Fest, Monday, March 28, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
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Freshman phenom production under Bill Self has been something of a contentious topic. Many fault the coach, who has won one national title and 12-straight Big 12 championships, for not developing one-and-done talent to their fullest potential during their single-season stays in Lawrence. Cliff Alexander and Cheick Diallo are Exhibit 1-A and 1-B for this argument in recent years.

Whatever outside criticism there is (Andrew Wiggins did go No. 1 overall just 2 years ago, after all), Self isn’t shying away from hyping the latest freshman with big expectations to come to KU. When asked who the greatest athlete of all-time is at the school’s annual Tradition Night last week, Self had a simple, if tongue-and-cheek, response.

“I’ll say Josh Jackson,” Self said of the the 6-foot-8 shooting guard ranked No. 1 in his class, according to Lawrence Journal-World.

With others answering with the likes of Michael Jordan and Muhammed Ali, it’s pretty fair to say Self was playing to the crowd with the answer, but it’s still telling that he was willing to deliver such a sound bite, even if it was before a welcoming audience. Self didn’t try to seriously depress expectations for Wiggins, a player Jackson is often compared to, and it looks like he won’t for Jackson as well.

Jackson, though, won’t have the burden Wiggins had as there’s one of the country’s best backcourts in Frank Mason II and Devonte Graham to help shoulder the workload for the Jayhawks.