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2014 NBA Draft Preview: Eight second round sleepers

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The NBA Draft is on June 26th, meaning that there are less than a week until the next crop of potential NBA all-stars find out where they will be headed to begin their professional basketball careers. Over the course of the next few days, we will be using the expertise that we’ve gained from watching far too much college basketball to give you our insights on some of these prospects.

Today, we take a look at second round value picks:

MOREUnderrated Prospects | Overrated Prospects | Top Ten Players in Five Years | Busts?

1. Joe Harris, Virginia

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 36), Chad Ford (No. 38)
  • Scott Phillips: “NBA teams are always looking for role players that showcase a specific skill, are low maintenance to deal with and come with a low learning curve. Harris checks the box for all of those details. The four-year college veteran has good size on the wing, can knock down perimeter shots, defend, and he plays with a high IQ thanks to being a coach’s son and four years under Tony Bennett.”
  • Rob Dauster: “I think Harris hangs around the NBA for a while. He can shoot the heck out of the ball, he’s got the size to defend NBA two-guards and he spent four years learning how to play defense under one of the best in the game in Tony Bennett. The next Danny Green?”

2. Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 40), Chad Ford (No. 39)
  • SP: “If it weren’t for a torn ACL on January 12th, Dinwiddie would be in the discussion as a first-round pick. A tall guard that can man both backcourt spots, Dinwiddie had tremendous shooting splits his junior year (46% FG, 41% 3PT, 86% FT) and is also a natural leader.”
  • RD: “ACL injuries aren’t as devastating as they used to be and Dinwiddie is a first round talent. If you can get him without having to give him a guaranteed contract, you do it.”
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3. Bryce Cotton, Providence

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. N/A), Chad Ford (No. 57)
  • Raphielle Johnson: “Count me as a member of the ‘Bryce Cotton Fan Club’. He was asked to do darn near everything for the Friars on the perimeter, especially once they lost Kris Dunn for the season. He obviously can score in a variety of ways, and for that reason I think his ability to distribute the basketball is overlooked by some. Providence needed him to think “score first” in order to be successful; I see him developing into a solid option off the bench for a team even if he doesn’t hear his name called Thursday night, a la Isaiah Thomas.”

4. Johnny O’Bryant, LSU

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. N/A), Chad Ford (No. 42)
  • RD: “O’Bryant is a big body that can score with his back to the basket, and those don’t come around too often. He’s had conditioning issues in the past and he has a habit of forcing tough shots, but that might have also been a by-product of playing in LSU’s ‘system’. I’m not sure how long he lasts in the NBA, but I do think that he is an NBA-caliber and a major sleeper if he falls into the second round.”

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5. Russ Smith, Louisville

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 45), Chad Ford (No. 59)
  • SP: “It took four years for Russdiculous to settle down and be more of a point guard, but I love his scorer’s mentality off-the-bench for a team that will let him hunt his offense. Smith is incredibly fast, makes difficult shots from all over the floor and he can heat up in a hurry. He’s very competitive and won a lot of games at Louisville. His slight frame concerns me a bit.”

6. Deonte Burton, Nevada

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 49), Chad Ford (No. N/A)
  • RJ: “Did he take a high number of shots? Yes. Did his team need him to do that in order to be successful? Yes. Put him in a system that has a credible low-post scoring threat, and I think his assist numbers are better than they were at Nevada. And the athleticism? He’s one of the most athletic players in this draft, and the spark a player like that can provide off the bench is certainly valuable.”

7. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 33), Chad Ford (No. 33)
  • RD: “Early is old for a college senior (23) and, as impressive as his performance against Kentucky was in the NCAA tournament, he never consistently seemed like he was a natural wing player, particularly on the offensive end. He’s athletic enough that he should be able to defend at that level, however, so if he can consistently be a three-point threat, he’s got a chance to latch on.”

8. C.J. Wilcox, Washington

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 34), Chad Ford (No. 35)
  • RD: “I’m surprised there isn’t more buzz around Wilcox. He’s a big-time scorer with deep range that is better finishing in the mid-range than he gets credit for. He’s 6-foot-5 and a good athlete as well. Does he want to defend? Can he create his own shot? He’ll make them if he’s left open, but there are a lot of guys that can shoot if a look is created for them.”

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
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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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.