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UAA The Finals Thursday Recap: Josh Jackson vs. Jaylen Brown highlights the day

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SUWANEE, Ga. — The highlight of Thursday’s action at the Under Armour Association’s final summer tournament, The Finals, was a matchup between Jaylen Brown, the No. 3 recruit in the Class of 2015, and Josh Jackson, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2016.

The gym was packed with coaches to see a battle between arguably the two best wings in high school basketball regardless of age group, and the pair did not fail to disappoint.

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Kelly Kline/Under Armour

Brown was on fire early, hitting four catch-and-shoot threes from four different spots on the floor in the first half, finishing with 18 points as his Game Elite team jumped out to a big lead over Jackson’s 1 Nation squad. It was clear early on that Jackson was pressing — his team did not have as much talent on the roster as Brown’s — and it manifested himself as tough shots, quick threes and an early benching.

Late in the first half, Jackson began to assert his will on the game. He made a handful of beautiful passes in transition, he started making his presence felt on the glass and he even had a LeBron-esque chasedown block. In the end, Brown won the scoring battle — he finished with 26 points while Jackson had 14 — but Jackson’s team got the win in the end as Jackson played a better overall game in the second half.

It was an odd way for things to end. Jackson is generally known as the better perimeter scorer, a smooth athlete that can get buckets at all three levels while finding assists and contributing on the glass. He did most of his damage in the paint on Thursday, while Brown — whose reputation is of that as a more physical, interior player developing his perimeter game — did most of his damage from beyond the arc.

At the end of the day, both Brown and Jackson did exactly what the AAU trail is designed for: they both played well in front of coaches like Roy Williams, John Calipari, Bill Self, Mark Fox and Steve Alford.

Keep an eye on Darius Perry: While the stars of the show were Brown and Jackson — and to a lesser extent Stanford commit Marcus Sheffield and Pitt commit Damon Wilson — 2017 shooting guard Darius Perry proved himself to be a name to be watched. He knocked down a trio of catch-and-shoot threes, two from well-beyond the three-point line, and also hit a mid-range pull-up jumper from the foul line.

Diamond Stone also plays well: I caught Stone’s final game of the day, as he squared off with Penn State-commit Mike Watkins and put together the most impressive performance that I have seen from the big man to date. He knocked down a couple of trail-threes from the top of the key, make a couple of plays around the rim and had one startling crossover that led to a dunk over Watkins in a half-court possession.

Stone, who is ranked No. 6 in the Class of 2015 by Rivals, did not have an overly impressive performance in Philly last week for the Breakout Classic, but certainly made his presence known on Thursday. The Wisconsin-native has made a point to try and show off his perimeter ability this July, which is frustrating and promising at the same time: he does appear to be getting better with his ability to shoot the ball and face opponents up, but his biggest strength still lies in his back-to-the-basket game.

But hey, that’s really what AAU basketball is for, a chance for kids to try out moves they have been working on in games that, in all reality, don’t matter.

Chance Comanche vs. Doral Moore fizzles: The other elite big man matchup of Thursday came between Doral Moore, No. 38 in the Class of 2015, and Chance Comanche, No. 21 in the same class. Moore is the more physically imposing center of the two, but he has limited post moves and a motor that leaves much to be desired. He did show off his overwhelming ceiling with a massive dunk over Comanche in the second half.

To be fair, Comanche did not play all that well himself. He’s got a decent ability to finish in the post, a solid 15-footer and the length and athleticism to finish above the rim, particularly in transition, but he needs to add strength. He was a bit overwhelmed by the size of Moore and his front court mate, Tim Rowe.

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.

VIDEO: Jim Boeheim makes TV appearance to talk Carmelo Anthony

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Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has drawn attention for some recent comments about former Orange star Carmelo Anthony.

After Anthony captured his record third gold medal with USA Basketball, his former college coach told Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard that Anthony didn’t have a great chance at winning an NBA title.

“He’s unlikely to win an NBA title,” Boeheim said of Anthony. “He’s never been on a team that even had a remote chance of winning an NBA title.”

Boeheim maintains that he was speaking of Melo’s legacy being about more than an NBA title and that he’s one of the game’s greats thanks to other accomplishments like the Syracuse title and gold medals. On SportsCenter, Boeheim made sure to stress where those comments were coming from, while also making sure his kids would stop being mad at him.

It’s much easier to understand where Boeheim is coming from in this instance and it clears up something that will probably go away now.