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Reebok Breakout Classic Day 2 Recap: Derrick Jones puts on a show

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PHILADELPHIA — Derrick Jones ended Day 2 of the Reebok Breakout Classic with the highest scoring game of the camp to date, finishing with 31 points in a win during the afternoon session on Thursday. He followed that up with 18 points in the night cap, combining to shoot 18-for-22 from the floor for the two games.

It was a refreshing show of dominance from Jones, who has developed a bit of a reputation for coasting through games when he feels his competition is overmatched. The 6-foot-6, left-handed wing is as elite as an elite athlete can get, which allows him to thrive in transition and when attacking and finishing around the rim. He’ll find his way on high light reels.

But the reality of his game at this point in his development is that there simply isn’t that much beyond his ability to jump. It looks like it’s starting to come along, as he knocked down a jumper off of a pick-and-roll on Thursday and got by his defender and to the rim in half court sets a couple of times as well. He still has work to do, but that’s a step in the right direction.

Here’s the thing about Jones right now: he hasn’t made the leap to where he’s taking a professional approach to his daily life as a basketball player. And that’s fine. He just turned 17 years old and he’s clearly still maturing into his body, as well as maturing as a person. The good news? He’s not concerned with media attention — he has no interest whatsoever in getting interviewed — and he’s yet to be jaded by a system that monetizes the sport.

As his AAU coach Terrell Myers told NBCSports.com, he’s still just a kid playing a game.

Take notice of Jeantal Cylla: Cylla has one of the most unique names that you’ll come across on the circuit this July, but that doesn’t mean that he’ll be one of the most memorable players, especially when he’s taking the court at events like Reebok Camp. He shares a roster with Danjel Purifoy, Kendall Small and Diamond Stone, which makes it easy to be overlooked.

But it also creates opportunity, as a couple good performances with all the eyeballs on the stars is enough to ramp up a recruitment, and it looks like that’s beginning to happen to Sylla. An explosive, 6-foot-7 wing, Sylla spent the second day of Reebok Camp attacking the rim and making plays in the paint. He’s still more of an athlete that plays basketball than an athletic basketball player at this point — he’s in a similar position to Jones — but that development will come with time.

Sylla listed Virginia Tech, East Carolina, South Florida, Houston, FIU and FAU as the schools that have offered him while mentioning that Wichita State, Tennessee, Clemson and Memphis made a point to watch him play during this camp. Gregg Marshall, Donnie Tyndall, Brad Brownell and Josh Pastner all were in attendance on Thursday.

Perry Dozier’s return from injury continues: Dozier is just a little more than 10 months removed from surgery to repair the ACL in his right knee. He claims to be back to 100%, but at the NBPA Top 100 Camp last month, it was clear at times that Dozier was still working his way back to being the player that he was last summer. Thursday was a big step, however, as the 6-foot-6 guard really impressed with his ability to make decisions with the ball in his hands, knocking down a couple of jumpers in the process.

Mike Watkins will have an impact at Penn State: Watkins is the kind of big man that every coach in the country is going to love. He understands his limitations and plays to his strengths. He’s got a terrific motor, he attacks the glass on both ends and he doesn’t mind mixing it up in the paint. Pat Chambers is going to be happy he locked him up early on.

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.