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2017 point guard verbally commits to Arizona State

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Having done a good job of mining the junior college ranks in his most recent recruiting classes, Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek got a head start on the Class of 2017 on Wednesday night. According to Chris Karpman of Rivals.com, 2017 point guard Markus Howard has verbally committed to attend Arizona State.

The 5-foot-10 Howard put together a very good season at Perry High School in Gilbert, Arizona last year, averaging 23 points per game on a team that included his older brother Jordan. For his efforts Markus was named Boys Basketball Player of the Year by the East Valley Tribune, and Perry head coach Joe Babinski was effusive in his praise of Howard as a competitor in a story written in April.

“Throw anything at him and he’ll compete,” Babinski said. “He’s the best competitor I’ve been around. He just does whatever circumstance happens and what is thrown at him. For a young kid that’s really special. Most kids don’t until they’re juniors or seniors in high school, and even then many don’t. He’s never intimidated by the moment. He just ignores everything else. If I knew how I’d have five or six state championship rings.”

Howard’s ability to score from the point guard position resulted in the attention being paid to him on the recruiting trail and it likely would have increased in time, but he’s made the early decision to remain close to home for college. But with the opportunity to step onto a college campus still being three years away a lot can change for both the player and the school he’s chosen to attend.

With that being the case, it’s difficult to truly forecast who Howard will be competing with for playing time come 2017. But if Howard can build on what was a very good freshman season, Arizona State will have gotten its 2017 recruiting off to a solid start.

Akron reveals special bobble heads for LeBron, high school teammates

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When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.

LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.

Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).

All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.

NEW PODCAST: Indiana, Cal, troublesome trends and a weekend preview

California's Jabari Bird celebrates a score against Oregon in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.

Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.