Geno Auriemma

Geno Auriemma’s congratulatory call to Mo’ne Davis ruffled some feathers

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This summer has been a busy one for 13-year old Mo’ne Davis, whose pitching exploits during her team’s run to the Little League World Series resulted in increased attention for the event. For Davis, the days following the LLWS have included a meeting with Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, throwing out the first pitch at a Dodger game and meeting both Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx and Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner during the just-completed WNBA Western Conference Finals.

What also came from Davis’ experiences with the Taney Dragons was the nation learning that she would like to play point guard at UConn when the time comes. UConn head coach Geno Auriemma got in touch with Davis, giving the Philadelphia native some words of encouragement during the LLWS. Yet while the conversation had been cleared as being well within NCAA rules since Davis isn’t considered to be a recruitable athlete at this time, an unnamed school reported UConn for a violation of NCAA rules.

Here’s what Auriemma had to say about the matter according to Jim Fuller of the New Haven Register:

“One of the funniest things I have ever heard. I will probably get in trouble for saying this but somebody from the Sixers called and contacted some friends I know and said this kid is great, this kid loves basketball and I think congratulations from Coach Auriemma would really go a long way to helping this kid,” Auriemma said. “I go and get contacted by some people with Little League World Series and say is it OK if she calls you. I said ‘how about I just call and you tell her I said congratulations.’ I call the office and (they said) ‘you know Coach, she is standing right here.’ I said ‘put her on the phone, I want to say congratulations.’ I say congratulations. She is 13 and the conversation lasts about two minutes and she hangs up. How about a school turned us in as a recruiting violation because we are not allowed to talk to her until July 1 of her junior year (of high school) but that is the world that we live in.

“It shows you what is wrong not only for things that go on but also with some of the people that I coach against.”

According to UConn, Davis wouldn’t be considered a recruitable athlete per NCAA rules until she begins high school. Davis will be an eighth grader this school year. It should also be noted that Auriemma stated that he’s never seen Davis play basketball.

Of all the things to report, an brief conversation between a coach and an eighth grader is taking things too far. How’s anyone to know what kind of basketball player Davis will be in a couple years? This appears to be one of those situations where the unnamed school (the school that reported the possible infraction doesn’t have to go public) could have simply gone on about its business.

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)
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.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.