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College Basketball Talk’s Recruiting Roundup

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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, Bruce Pearl getting it done at Auburn, Texas guard cuts his list to six and fast-rising Seattle native cuts his list to four.

Bruce Pearl is getting it done on the recruiting trail at Auburn

Bruce Pearl couldn’t begin recruiting as the head coach of Auburn until 12:01 a.m. on August 24th and when that time came he landed two quality commitments to go with a Friday night commitment of another four-star player.

After a big weekend, it’s clear that Pearl will be a force on the recruiting trail at Auburn.

Not only did the former Tennessee coach, fresh off a three-year NCAA show-cause, land a big weekend of three key 2015 recruits, but he’s landed impact transfers to quickly rebuild the talent base at Auburn.

And he’s getting it done because he’s charismatic and has a lot to sell at his new job.

With his television stint on ESPN, the newly-programmed SEC Network and an athletic department already in the national limelight from a national championship appearance in football, kids know Auburn as an option and Pearl’s selling points have made it an attractive spot.

With plenty of playing time and an uptempo system, prospects want to play in that kind of situation, and with Pearl’s previous track record, recruits are already impressed.

Now, the big question for the newly-free Pearl and Auburn: Can they land a high-level recruit? While a class of high-quality, top-100 players is a promising beginning for Auburn, to compete with Kentucky and Florida in the SEC, they’ll likely need some pro-level talent to enter the picture.

High school 2015 forwards Danjel Purifoy, Horace Spencer and junior college wing T.J. Dunans are good recruits for Pearl, but he has a long way to go before winning games on the floor at Auburn.

But he’s winning recruiting battles and that’s a great start.

Texas guard Admon Gilder cuts his list

During the summer, Texas guard Admon Gilder was one of my favorite players to watch on the grassroots circuit.

The 6-foot-3 guard from Dallas was tough on the defensive end and played well in the open floor during the month of July and now he’s down to six schools.

While in-state programs like Baylor, SMU, Texas and Texas A&M are in the picture, Gilder is also considering Kansas State and Oklahoma State.

Gilder is currently considered the No. 62 prospect in Rivals’ rankings.

Matisse Thybulle down to four schools

As an emerging wing player from the Pacific Northwest, Class of 2015 6-foot-6 Matisse Thybulle drew the interest of high-major programs from the west during the month of July.

A native of Seattle, Thybulle is now down to Cal, Gonzaga, Oregon and Washington, according to Scout.com’s Kim Grinolds.

Currently a three-star player, according to Rivals, Thybulle had a good July with Northwest XPress and has vaulted into some top-100 rankings.

Battle 4 Atlantis title proves Syracuse will be relevant this season

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Michael Gbinije scored 20 points and Trevor Cooney added 15 points and five assists as Syracuse left the Bahamas with a title, beating No. 25 Texas A&M 74-67 in the finals of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

I guess it’s time to start taking the Orange seriously.

There’s a lot to like about this group. Gbinije and Cooney are both fifth-year seniors that not only understand how to operate at the top of the 2-3 zone that Jim Boeheim runs, but they both have developed into versatile offensive weapons. Cooney was known as nothing more than a jump-shooter when he arrived up north, but he’s now averaging 3.5 assists on the season.

And Gbinije?

He has been one of the best players in the country through the first two weeks of the season. Through six games, he’s averaged 19.7 points, 4.2 assists, 3.0 boards and 2.8 steals while shooting 51.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Freshman Malachi Richardson, who had 16 points in the win over A&M, has scored double-figures in all six games this season while another freshman, Tyler Lydon, was against terrific on Friday, finishing with 13 points and eight boards. He’s now shooting 58.8 percent from beyond the arc this season.

And that’s where this team is going to do the majority of their damage this season.

Through six games, they’re shooting 41.1 percent from beyond the arc. In the three wins in the Bahamas, the Orange knocked were 34-for-73 from beyond the arc, a 46.5 percent clip. The question isn’t whether or not that rate can continue — four of the six players that saw action on Friday are dangerous three-point shooters while the other two, Tyler Roberson  and DaJuan Coleman, aren’t going to be shooting threes — but what happens on the nights where the threes aren’t going down.

There are going to be nights where they shoot 5-for-25 instead of 11-for-25. Will they have enough firepower then? Will their defense be good enough? Will guys like Roberson and Coleman be able to supply a scoring punch? Will Cooney, Gbinije and Richardson attack the paint instead of settling for jumpers?

Because at the very least, these three games in the Bahamas have proven that the Orange are going to be relevant this season, even in the loaded ACC. Whether that means they’re going to push for a top four finish or simply end the year as a tournament team remains to be seen, but this much is clear: Jim Boeheim has himself a squad Upstate.

No. 10 Gonzaga outlasts No. 18 UConn despite late offensive struggles

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No. 10 Gonzaga survived a furious rally from No. 18 UConn to win the third place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis, 73-70.

The Zags were up by as much as 21 points early in the second half, leading 48-27, but UConn slowly chipped away at the lead. Kyle Wiltjer led four players in double-figures with 17 points while Eric McClellan added 15 points, making a number of key plays in the second half when it looked like the Zags were in danger of giving away the lead.

As good as Gonzaga looked in the first 22 minutes of this game — and they looked really, really good — the second half exposed the concerns that many had with this group entering the season. Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., who both shot around 40 percent from beyond the arc and started for four years, graduated, meaning that Gonzaga’s point guard situation is, more or less, Josh Perkins.

Perkins was terrific in the second half of a loss to Texas A&M on Thursday. He played 17 foul-plagued minutes against UConn. When UConn’s defense ratcheted up during the second half, Gonzaga struggled finding a way to consistently get good shots on the offensive end. Part of that was due to ineffective point guard play and part of it was a result of not really having anyone on the offensive end that can create a look on their own. As skilled as Wiltjer is, his impact can be limited when pick-and-pop actions aren’t working and he’s getting doubled in the post.

Perkins is talented, but this is essentially his first season of college basketball; he was a medical redshirt last season after breaking his jaw last November. There are going to be ups-and-downs, and that’s problematic on a team where he is essentially the only point guard on the roster.

The good news?

Gonzaga beat a good UConn team on a day when their best players struggled in crunch-time. It was McClellan and Kyle Dranginis that made the big plays down the stretch, not the big names on the Gonzaga roster.