Kelly Kline/Under Armor

CBT Quotables Part 1: Jawun Evans, Diamond Stone, Skal Labissiere and more

Leave a comment

Over the course of July’s live recruiting period, we at College Basketball Talk will be posting anonymous quotes from coaches about the prospects that they are watching and recruiting. With coverage from the LeBron James Skills Academy, Reebok Breakout Classic and Adidas Unrivaled, we have people are the three biggest events of the week. 

Here’s what the coaches had to say, with quotes cobbled together from a handful of conversations we had:

PG Jawun Evans, No. 32 Class of 2015: “Quick point guard that controls the pace of the game and possession of the ball. He makes the right decision the majority of the time and tries to play the game the right way, which is a rarity in a setting like this. His jumper needs work, but he’s quick and can beat his man off the dribble and get into the lane. Bottom line: he’s an absolute stud.”

C Skal Labissiere, No. 14 Class of 2015: “He’s probably the most versatile big man. He’s got a developing skill set and a great feel for the game, inside and outside. He’s got long arms and huge hands. He can hit threes and has a soft touch on his jump hook. He needs to add strength and size to his frame, but isn’t afraid to challenge people at the rim.”

PG Derryck Thornton, No. 11 Class of 2016: “Derryck Thornton’s really good. Great feel for the game. Someone that can lead a team and take it to the next level. He’s adding range to his jumper, but his mid-range game is killer right now.”

MOREAll our content from the 2014 July Live Recruiting Period

PF Carlton Bragg, No. 9 Class of 2015: “I want more from Carlton Bragg. You see him make a play at the rim and it excites him enough to make him play hard for multiple possessions. But then he does something negative and doesn’t go as hard. He’s too talented for that.”

C Diamond Stone, No. 6 Class of 2015: “Big, physical big man. He’s got a good skill set and nice footwork around the rim, but he’s not as versatile as a guy like Skal where he can step out and knock down a perimeter jumper. He’s got a good upside and a chance to be special. He’s cut some weight but needs to add lower body strength. He doesn’t hold position in the low post as well as he should.”

C Chase Jeter, No. 8 Class of 2015: “Chase Jeter is a pro. He’s gotten a lot better over the last year or so. Love him as a player and love him as a kid. He has a bright future.”

PG Damontrae Jefferson, No. 49 Class of 2015: “Damontrae Jefferson is so talented, and athletic for his size, but I just question how his attitude would hold up within the structure of a team?”

SF Kaiser Gates, No. 109 Class of 2015: “Kaiser Gates is intriguing because he can hit shots and make some plays, but I wonder if he’s athletic enough to defend wings at the next level?”

SG Jarron Cumberland, No. 64 Class of 2016: “I don’t know if Jarron Cumberland has much long-term growth as a prospect, but he gets it done almost each time out and he’s a winner.”

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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.