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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.

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)
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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)
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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.