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USA Basketball experience motivates five-star big man Chase Jeter

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MOREAll our content from the 2014 July Live Recruiting Period

CHICAGO — Chase Jeter has been playing very good basketball this summer and the Class of 2015 big man had some added motivation back in June.

The 6-foot-10 native of Las Vegas was trying out for the USA U18 team to play in FIBA Americas in Colorado Springs, but he was the last person cut from the team.

Dejected, but determined, Jeter flew from Colorado Springs to Charlottesville, Virginia for the NBPA Top 100 Camp and focused on continuing his strong summer. After playing in only one game at the camp, Jeter received a phone call from USA Basketball. Incoming UNLV freshman wing Dwayne Morgan could no longer play with the team due to a family illness and Jeter was back on board with the team.

A gold medal later, Jeter is just happy the experience worked out with USA Basketball and the No. 8 player in Rivals‘ Class of 2015 rankings is now a marked man during the July evaluation period.

“It was tough [being cut], but I handled it really well and that’s one of the main reasons I got asked back to USA because of how well I handled it,” Jeter told NBCSports.com. “They said I was the first person they called and that was just an honor in itself. I think that’s a testament to my character. I felt really good about that.”

The USA Basketball experience of being cut and re-joining the team to help them earn the gold has made Jeter a mentally tougher player going into July. Jeter could have handled being cut in a number of different ways, but he just tried to focus on his play.

“When I got cut, I mean, there’s different emotions going through my head,” Jeter said. “But me handling it well is what separated me from many other players that got cut. Motivation-wise, I didn’t let it hold me back. I went the next night to Top 100 and got 20 points and got called back and had to go back to Colorado Springs.”

Jeter has made huge strides in his game since last season. Although earlier in his high school career he was a bit overshadowed by Bishop Gorman High School teammate and fellow big man Stephen Zimmerman, Jeter has put in a lot of work not only on his skill set but staying mentally sharp before each game. Now, Jeter and Zimmerman are both ranked in the top 10 nationally and Jeter might have one of the best upsides in the Class of 2015.

Whichever school lands Jeter will also getting one of the youngest players in the class. The big man doesn’t turn 17 until September and he was the youngest member of the USA U18 team by over 10 months.

“I’ve definitely done a great job this spring in terms of applying different things and skill sets in my game,” Jeter said. “Mainly motor and mindset is the main thing I’m going after. The skill set is there, and it’s going to continue to develop, but my mindset and how I play and doing all of the right things when I take the floor is what’s separating me this summer.”

The skill set for Jeter includes a devastating hook shot with his right hand. Jeter has used that hook as his go-to move this spring and summer and he keeps progressing in making the move more-and-more unstoppable.

“It’s definitely efficient; that’s the main thing is efficiency,” Jeter said of the right hook. “It’s an easy go-to move and if I do everything right it’s pretty much unblockable.”

There’s been a great deal of speculation with Jeter when it comes to his recruitment. He formed a final list of six schools, but many around basketball believe Jeter is leaning towards committing to Duke. Coach K took in Jeter’s games at the adidas Unrivaled Camp on Friday with assistants Jeff Capel and Jon Scheyer in tow, but Jeter maintained that he’s still figuring things out in the process.

Kansas head coach Bill Self and Oregon head coach Dana Altman have both checked in to see Jeter this week and assistants from Arizona, UNLV and UCLA have been tracking Jeter as well.

“I already formed my final six schools in Oregon, Kansas, UNLV, Duke, Arizona and UCLA. I don’t think I’ll cut down anymore. I’ll probably make my decision at the end of the summer,” Jeter said.

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

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.