Malik Newman (Jon Lopez/Nike Basketball)

July Live Period Preview: The most notable events during the summer

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Malik Newman (Jon Lopez/Nike Basketball)

The July evaluation period will kick off at 5:00 p.m. today. We’ve already told you what the live period is and why it’s important. We’ve given you a list of 15 players to keep an eye on this month and 12 programs that need to make noise this July. And we’ve given you a full breakdown of what grassroots basketball is.

Here are the three events that you’ll want to make note of in each of July’s three live periods:

FIRST PERIOD (July 9-13)

  • LeBron James Skills Academy (Las Vegas): LeBron camp is the best of the best when it comes to summer development camps, not only featuring 80 of the nation’s best high school players but also bringing in 30 of the top collegians from around the country. This is the camp that the kids associated with Nike teams end up at. Raphielle Johnson will be covering this event.
  • Reebok Breakout Classic (Philly): Reebok also hosts a top 100 camp during this live period, featuring some of the best players from the eastern and southern US as well as a handful of some of the nation’s elite recruits. Rob Dauster will be at the Breakout Classic on Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Adidas Unrivaled (Chicago): Adidas’ answer to the Breakout Classic and LeBron camp. It takes place in Chicago and will feature 100 of the best hoopers from the midwest. Scott Phillips will be in Chicago for Adidas camp.

SECOND PERIOD (July 16-20)

  • Nike Peach Jam (North Augusta, S.C.): The finals of the EYBL, which is the spring-and-summer long league featuring the best of the Nike-sponsored AAU teams. There are four EYBL events and the top 24 teams make it to Peach Jam. This is the best event in July. Rob and Scott will both be at Peach Jam.
  • The UAA Finals (Atlanta): Under Armour’s answer to Peach Jam. The UA Association is the spring-and-summer long series featuring UA’s AAU teams. The UAA Finals will feature showcase games on Wednesday night and Thursday morning and afternoon before getting into bracket play. Plenty of high-level, top 100-caliber talent will be making their way to Suwanee Sports Academy. Rob and Scott will be at the UAA Finals as well.
  • NY2LA Summer Jam (Milwaukee, Wi.): The best Nike and Under Armour teams will be in Georgia and South Carolina, meaning that the nation’s best Adidas teams and the rest of the unsponsored talent from the Midwest will be at Summer Jam.

THIRD PERIOD (July 23-27)

  • Adidas Super 64, Las Vegas Classic, and Fab 48 (Las Vegas): Vegas has become the epicenter of all things summertime hoops, with LeBron camp, USA basketball, an NBA summer league and three of the summer’s biggest AAU tournaments all taking place during basketball’s offseason. The three tournaments listed here will take place in gyms all over the city and will mean that a late night trip to the casino could mean a chance run-in with a famous coach … or future college all-american. Raphielle will be out in Vegas for all of these events.
  • AAU Nationals (Louisville): AAU moved their National Championship — as well as their Super Showcase event — from Orlando to Louisville this summer. The best option for people that don’t make their way to the Sin City. Scott will be in Louisville for both tournaments.
  • Live in AC (Atlantic City) and Summer Final (Philly): Most of the nation’s elite players will end up in Vegas or at Nationals, but Live in AC and Summer Final do a pretty good job of bringing in talented players and teams from the east coast and the south. Rob will be back in Philly for the final weekend.

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)
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.