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College Basketball Talk’s Recruiting Roundup

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(Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

Each Monday and Friday, College Basketball Talk’s Scott Phillips goes over some important news and notes in the world of college basketball recruiting. This week, Doral Moore takes an official visit to Kentucky, Texas A&M’s pipeline to the Texas Titans and do-it-all utility wing Chris Clarke cuts his list to seven.

Doral Moore visiting Kentucky

Kentucky will host a big official visit this weekend when Georgia native and 7-footer Doral Moore trips to Lexington. Moore doesn’t have the five-star rating of many of his Class of 2015 front court counterparts, coming in at No. 38 according to Rivals, but the thing you have to like about Moore is his upside is as high as many big man in the class. With great natural size, good touch around the basket and in the mid-range and length under the hoop that helps him as a shot blocker, Moore has a chance to improve greatly once he gets to college and gets in a weight room.

And while the Wildcats might actually have too many quality big men this season, many of them could leave for the NBA or for more playing time at the end of the season and Moore could use a year or two of seasoning before earning quality rotation minutes inside.

With John Calipari’s recent track record with Willie Cauley-Stein — who was also not a five-star big man as a high schooler and got better in college as a late-blooming 7-footer — Moore could be attracted to the chance to be Kentucky’s next project in the post.

Texas A&M continues Texas Titans pipeline

On Friday afernoon Tyler Davis commitmented to Texas A&M, according to Scout.com’s Evan Daniels. The commitment of the No. 35 player in the class, according to Rivals, and a 6-foot-9 center is significant in a number of ways. For one, the Aggies are getting a massive post scorer with good hands and feet who is a load to move off of the block. Kennedy getting a potential McDonald’s All-American in a class loaded with elite big men is a great start in the Class of 2015.

But another reason Davis’ commitment is big for head coach Billy Kennedy is it continues to the Texas Titans-to-Texas A&M pipeline that has developed in recent years.

The Aggies pulled in a pair of point guards from the Titans in the 2014 class in Alex Robinson and Avery Johnson Jr., and now they have started their 2015 efforts with a Titans big man in Davis.

The Titans have been one of the more successful grassroots programs in recent years and Davis, along with Texas A&M targets D.J. Hogg and Mickey Mitchell, have played with Robinson and Johnson Jr. the last two years in the EYBL. The Titans made Peach Jam in both years and the group plays well together while also being tight-knit.

As Rivals’ Eric Bossi noted on Twitter, the Aggies are getting some buzz now for both Hogg and Mitchell, who decommitted from Ohio State last night. If Kennedy can keep that pipeline open, it would be greatly beneficial, because the Titans are usually stocked with some talented players while the coaching staff there does a good job of developing players.

2015 wing Chris Clarke down to seven

One of the best winners in the class is do-it-all small forward and Class of 2015 top-100 player Chris Clarke. The 6-foot-6 Clarke had a really good summer with Boo Williams and helped the team make the EYBL final four this year.

Now, the native of Virginia has formed a list of seven, according to Corey Evans. Clarke is down to Creighton, Florida, Iowa State, Minnesota, Tennessee, UConn and Virginia Tech.

It will be interesting to see if Clarke opts to stay home and play for Buzz Williams at Virginia Tech, as Williams and staff relentlessly followed Clarke in July. Rivals puts Clarke at No. 64 in their current 2015 rankings.

Malik Newman to return to school, considering transfer

Mississippi State guard Malik Newman (14) dribbles past a Northern Colorado player during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/15712769/mississippi-state-malik-newman-withdraw-draft-transfer
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Malik Newman will withdraw his name from consideration and return to school for his sophomore season.

Newman was a top 10 recruit in the Class of 2015, a high-scoring combo-guard that opted to stay home and play for Mississippi State instead of enroll at one of the blue bloods that was recruiting him. He averaged 11.3 points as a freshman, but it was a largely disappointing season as he spent the year off of the national radar playing inefficient basketball.

Put another way, the fourth-leading scorer on a 14-17 SEC team isn’t exactly a lock for the lottery.

But here’s the catch: he may not be returning to Mississippi State, as Newman is considering a transfer, according to a report from ESPN. That report quotes a source close to the situation saying “unhappy with his role and how he was utilized.”

It will be interesting to see what happens from here. Newman would have to sit out a year if he transferred to another Division I program, and for a kid that thought he was destined to be a one-and-done star, locking himself into a three-year college career would be an odd move.

Whitehead to stay in NBA Draft

Seton Hall guard Isaiah Whitehead (15) shoots past Xavier forward Sean O'Mara (54) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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Seton Hall sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead has signed with an agent and will remain in the NBA Draft, according to multiple reports.

Whitehead averaged 18.2 points, 5.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game last season for Seton Hall, which went 25-9 and reached the NCAA tournament. He likely projects as a second-round pick with a bit of a shaky shot, but a high usage and assist rates. His strong finish to the season likely lifted him on some draft boards, but his inefficiency will cap his ceiling in June’s draft.

The loss is significant for the Pirates as Whitehead was so much of their offense, but they’ll bring back Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, Angel Delgado and Ismael Sanogo. It’s a group that will miss Whitehead’s playmaking, but is still a solid enough foundation that Seton Hall will still likely be competitive in the Big East and vying for another NCAA tournament berth.

Hart returning for Villanova’s title defense

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Villanova’s title defense just got a whole lot stouter.

Josh Hart, the leading scorer of the Wildcats’ national championship team, will return for his senior season, he announced on Twitter.

The decision for Hart to return is a major boost for Villanova in its quest to become the first back-to-back champions since Florida in 2006 and 2007. Hart, a 6-foot-5 guard,  averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from 3-point range.

Most draft pundits had him pegged as a potential end-of-the-first-round pick in next month’s draft though he could have certainly slid into the second should he had decided to forego his senior season. Instead, Hart will be a potential first-team All-American exhausting his eligibility in Philadelphia.

The 2016-17 season is taking shape nicely, and Hart returning to Villanova only increases the strength of the field at the top. Title game hero Kris Jenkins as well as Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges are also back for the defending champs while the super recruiting classes of Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State, Kansas’ returning core along with Josh Jackson and a solid group of teams including North Carolina, Arizona, Louisville and Wisconsin make for an intriguing upper-tier of teams that could very well make for a top-heavy season following last year’s free for all.

College basketball isn’t the NFL. Parity doesn’t equal strength and quality, and when the sport has a handful high-quality teams, it is at its best. It’s looking like that is a possibility for the 2016-17 campaign.

UConn duo returning to school

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Connecticut may have lost its 6-foot-7 wing scorer but it is keeping its defensive stalwart and leading scorer.

Center Amida Brimah and guard Rodney Purvis have withdrawn their names from NBA Draft consideration and will return to the Huskies for another year, the school announced Tuesday.

The decisions from Brimah, a 7-foot center, and Purvis, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, help soften the blow dealt by Daniel Hamilton’s decision to sign with an agent and leave school despite having some shaky draft stock. The Huskies may not open the season as a top-25 team, but they won’t be far behind and will be one of the AAC’s favorites, along with Cincinnati.

Brimah averaged 6.5 points per game last year, but blocked 2.7 shots per game. He missed 11 games last season with a broken finger. Purvis registered 12.8 points per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the floor.

Neither Brimah or Purvis were among those invited to this month’s NBA Draft combine nor were either expected to be drafted should they have kept their names in the draft.

Gonzaga’s Karnowski returning for fifth year

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The man in the middle is returning to Gonzaga.

Przemek Karnowski will return to the Bulldogs for his final year after a medical redshirt waiver was granted allowing him a fifth season in Spokane, the school announced Tuesday.

“I’m excited to be coming back,” Karnowski said in a statement. “After talking with the coaches, my parents and the team, I decided this was the best decision for me. I still have a ways to go with my rehab, but I’m staying positive about the upcoming season.”

The 7-foot-1 Karnowski, a Poland native, would have, at minimum, had professional opportunities overseas, but instead will return to play for the Bulldogs once more after a back injury limited him to five games last season. He averaged 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as a junior in 2014-15.

With Karnowski returning along with  Josh Perkins and Silas Melson, Gonzaga coach Mark Few will be having newcomers Nigel Williams-Goss, Zach Norvell, Johnathan Williams II and Zach Collins joining an experienced and talented group.

Gonzaga (shocker) will be the West Coast Conference favorite once more, but the Bulldogs will also be fielding a team that should open the season in most everyone’s top-15.