South Plains College

Junior college prospect Andre Spight working to improve point guard skills

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LAS VEGAS — While the paths taken to Las Vegas by the players who participated in the JucoRecruiting.com All-American Showcase are different, with Division I transfers playing alongside junior college products entering their second year and unsigned high school grads hoping to earn the opportunity to play somewhere, the ultimate goal tends to be the same: to earn a scholarship to play at a Division I school.

In order to get there, these players have to not only prove their worth on the court but also in the classroom, with that particular issue being the reason why some prospects had to take an alternate route to a Division I school.

That was the case for guard Andre Spight, who after attending summer school at UTEP in 2013 found out in mid-July of that year that he had not qualified academically. For some that would have been the opportunity needed to feel sorry for themselves as opposed to looking in the mirror and addressing the issue directly. That wasn’t the case for Spight, who moved on to South Plains College in Levelland, Texas with a valuable lesson in tow.

“I just have to get my grades straight and my priorities straight,” Spight told NBCSports.com. “After that the sky’s the limit. You can’t let anything stop you, especially academically.”

Spight’s first season at South Plains was a good one, as he posted averages of 16.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game on a team that finished the year with a 29-6 record and reached the quarterfinals of the Division I NJCAA tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas. Spight’s primary role was to provide scoring off the ball, with Sekou Harris (4.9 apg, 1.8 A/T ratio) serving as the team’s primary ball-handler. Now with Harris having moved on to South Dakota, Spight’s responsibilities will change some as he’ll be asked to spend more time at the point.

As a result Spight will need to improve the skills needed to run the show, while also maintaining the skills that have made him a highly regarded prospect in the eyes of some Division I coaches.

“He has the playmaking [ability] and the handle; he has all the skills to play point guard,” South Plains assistant coach Hank Plona said at the showcase. “He just needs to develop the mindset [needed to play the point]. He came in with a scoring mindset, so we had to get him to thinking about ‘making the right play.'”

An event where players are asked to adjust on the fly to teammates they aren’t used to playing with can help in this area, and that was the case for Spight during his time on the floor. While it’s still a work in progress, the environment made Spight more attentive to the details that come with playing the point. That’s one of the positives Spight can take out of the experience, and it’s something that will help him as he prepares for his sophomore season.

“It helps a lot because I’m not sure what anyone’s going to do or what their next move will be,” Spight said. “So it’s up to me to figure that out, and it’s helping me.”

When asked which schools have been the most active in his recruitment, Spight mentioned Arizona State, Creighton, Penn State, Oregon and Tennessee. Head coaches Herb Sendek (Arizona State) and Pat Chambers (Penn State) were in attendance Saturday, with the Sun Devils upping the ante by having their entire coaching staff in the gym during Spight’s first game. The presence of a coach (or coaches) obviously has an impact on recruits, because that’s the best way to gauge a program’s interest regardless of what’s said through text messages or phone calls.

However the most important thing is to take advantage of the opportunity by playing well, something Spight understands.

“I just go play, but when they tell me they’re going to be here I obviously know,” Spight noted. “I just go out there and try to play my game and not try to do too much.”

The task for Spight entering 2014-15 is easy to identify: strengthen his abilities as a point guard while also maintaining the ability to score, as he’ll be asked to spend time at both guard positions at South Plains this season. If Spight proves capable, both team (another trip to Hutch) and individual (a scholarship to a major Division I school) will be well within his reach.

Butler lands commitment from second top 100 prospect

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Butler landed the commitment of top 100 small forward Christian David over the weekend.

“I am excited and proud to announce my commitment to Butler University,” David posted on twitter on Saturday night.

David is a well-rounded perimeter player. At 6-foot-6, he has the size and athleticism to finish and the rim and overpower smaller defenders, but he can also knock down a three and make plays with the ball in his hands.

A four-star recruit, Butler beat out Pitt and Creighton for the services of the native Canadian.

Pac-12 Commissioner Scott has no issue with pregame protests

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott has no issue with players protesting during the national anthem long as it’s done in a respectful way.

Athletes across the country have staged a variety of pregame protests after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem in protest of police violence against African-Americans and minorities.

“Very much believe in the idea of freedom of speech and individuals’ right to express themselves,” Scott said. “I’ve also always seen sport as a great platform for positive social change. To the extent that they’re individuals that want to use their celebrity or use the platform to try to send a positive message and make a positive impact on society. I think that’s great.

“I’ve seen plenty of examples in my career of tennis players and others doing that. As long as it’s done in a respectful way, in a way that’s not demeaning to other people and not disruptive, I think it’s absolutely fine.”

The entire Indiana Fever team recently knelt during the anthem before a playoff game. Several other NFL players, U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe and scores of high school and college players also have participated in some form.

Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade gave an anti-violence speech at the ESPYS and expressed their support of the values behind the Black Lives Matter movement in July.

University of California-Berkeley professor emeritus Dr. Harry Edwards told the Associated Press in July that today’s athletes have a level of power that Muhammed Ali and others didn’t have in the 1960s, and they have begun using it to speak out against violence both by and against police. The newfound power of today’s athlete comes from monetary wealth, celebrity status and having the vehicle of social media to communicate directly with the masses.

CBT’s 2016-17 College Basketball Season Preview Schedule

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Believe it or not, but college basketball season technically begins this week, as programs around the country are allowed to start practicing as early as September 30th, this Friday.

With that in mind, it’s time for us to kick off the process of previewing the 2016-17 season, getting you ready for everything that will happen in our beloved sport for the next five months with a series of predictions that, hopefully, won’t prove to be totally and completely wrong by the end of the year.

Here is a complete schedule of everything you can expect to see from us over the next six weeks.

And be sure to bookmark this page, as we will be updating the schedule with links as each story gets posted. That way, if you miss anything — which is unlikely if you follow @CBTonNBC on twitter and like the College Basketball Talk page on FaceBook — you can go back and find it quite easily.

AWARDS

Sep. 27: NBCSports.com All-American Team
Sep. 27: Expert Picks and Predictions
Oct. 31-Nov. 4: Preseason Top 25 Countdown
Oct. 31: Mid-Major All-Americans
Oct. 31: Mid-Major Power Rankings

RANKINGS

Oct. 24-28: Top 100 Players Countdown
Oct. 25: Top Back Courts
Oct. 25: Top Front courts
Oct. 26: Top Lead Guards
Oct. 26: Top Off-Guards
Oct. 27: Top Wings
Oct. 27: Top Big Men

CONTENDERS SERIES

Oct. 3: Final Four Sleepers
Oct. 10: Final Four Favorites, part 1
Oct. 14: Final Four Favorites, part 2
Oct. 17-21: Title Contenders

CONFERENCE PREVIEWS

Sep. 29: WCC
Oct. 4: ACC
Oct. 5: Mountain West
Oct. 6: Atlantic 10
Oct. 7: American
Oct. 11: Big Ten
Oct. 18: Big 12
Oct. 25: Pac-12
Nov. 1: SEC
Nov. 8: Big East

Sep. 29: America East
Sep. 30: Atlantic Sun
Oct. 3: Big Sky
Oct. 4: Big South
Oct. 5: Big West
Oct. 6: CAA
Oct. 7: Conference USA
Oct. 10: Horizon
Oct. 11: Ivy
Oct. 12: MAAC
Oct. 12: MAC
Oct. 13: MEAC
Oct. 14: Missouri Valley
Oct. 17: NEC
Oct. 18: Ohio Valley
Oct. 19: Patriot
Oct. 20: SoCon
Oct. 21: Southland
Oct. 24: SWAC
Oct. 26: Summit
Oct. 27: Sun Belt
Oct. 28: WAC

LISTS

Sep. 26: Best Non-Conference Games
Sep. 28: Programs on the Rise and Decline
Sep. 28: Impact Transfers
Sep. 30: All-‘Yup, He’s Still In School’ Team
Nov. 1: Top Dunkers
Nov. 2: Coaches on the Hot Seat
Nov. 2: Key Assistant Coaching Hires
Nov. 2: Best, Worst Head Coaching Changes
Nov. 3: Impact Freshmen
Nov. 3: Breakout Stars
Nov. 7: Under-the-Radar Stars
Nov. 8: X-Factors
Nov. 9: Potential Cinderellas
Nov. 9: Most Important Players
Nov. 10: 68 Things To Watch For

Illinois PG expected to be ready for practice

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Illinois point guards and injuries have been an unfortunate trend over the past two seasons with Tracy Abrams, who missed the past two seasons with a torn ACL followed by a torn Achilles the next year.

On Sunday, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports reported some good news for an incoming Fighting Illini floor general. Te’Jon Lucas, a three-star prospect from the Class of 2016, will be fully cleared for the start of practice, according to Rothstein. In February, Lucas had broke his fibula in his right leg in two places during a game.

Lucas had committed to Illinois the previous September.

Abrams received a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA in June, and he decided to remain in Champaign for his final season. If healthy, he’ll be the starter. Jaylon Tate is also back for another season. But they are both seniors, which makes Sunday’s report important for John Groce’s program. Lucas will be on the floor Day 1 of practice, being molded for the future by two experienced guards.

The 5-foot-11 Lucas is the only true freshman on the roster.

Illinois begins the 2016-17 season on November 11, hosting Southeast Missouri State.

Xavier adds to class with three-star center

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Xavier added a fourth piece to its 2017 recruiting class on Sunday morning.

Kentravious Jones, a 6-foot-11, three-star recruit, committed to the Musketeers. He announced the decision via Twitter.

Chris Mack’s current recruiting class is headlined by four-star swingman Naji Marshall. The incoming quartet also includes guard Elias Harden and forward Jared Ridder. But Jones’ commitment fits an area that needs to be addressed for the Musketeers moving forward. Xavier isn’t particularly deep when it comes to big men. That frontcourt only gets thinner once RaShid Gaston, a graduate transfer from Norfolk State, exhausts his eligibility after this season.

Jones, along with current freshman forward Tyrique Jones, gives Xavier a young foundation for the future. Jones is an old-school, big-bodied center. He’s got a nice back-to-the-basket game, and had his best stretch of the summer during the UAA Finals. In three games with the Atlanta Xpress, he averaged 15.3 points, shot 59 percent from the field, and grabbed nine boards per game.

Conditioning will be the emphasis for him over the course of the next year. However, we have seen Xavier work well with a big, skilled centers in the past (see: Stainbrook, Matt). According to Shannon Russell of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Jones has dropped 30 pounds.

Sunday morning’s news may not even be Xavier’s last score on the recruiting trail. The Musketeers have one scholarship remaining (two, or three if Edmond Sumner and Trevon Bluiett enter the NBA Draft this spring), and are in play for several coveted prospects like point guards Paul Scruggs, Quade Green and Matt Coleman, as well as forward Kris Wilkes.