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UConn’s eight newcomers already competing for playing time

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STORRS, Conn. (AP) — The competition to earn playing time is already in high gear at UConn, where eight newcomers have joined the Huskies.

So far, it’s been just pickup games, limited workouts with coaches and on Thursday, their first media session.

But 6-foot-9 freshman forward Josh Carlton said everyone knows they have a chance at playing time and everyone is looking to impress.

“The minutes are out there,” he said. “There is no real solid lineup in stone right now, so everyone is going hard. I think that could be an advantage.”

The roster includes just two players who saw significant action during last year’s 16-17 campaign — guards Jalen Adams, who led the team in scoring at just over 14 points a game, and Christian Vital.

The Huskies no longer have guard Rodney Purvis, who played out his eligibility. Big men Steven Enoch and Juwan Durham and wing Vance Jackson, three players who were expected to have big roles this season, all transferred.

Three others, junior transfer Terry Larrier, and redshirt freshmen Mamadou Diarra and Alterique Gilbert are back after sitting out most of the season with injuries.

There are four true freshmen — forwards Carlton, Tyler Polley, Sidney Wilson and Isaiah Whaley. They join junior college transfers Eric Cobb and Kwintin Williams and graduate transfers Antwoine Anderson and David Onuorah.

“We did a lot of bonding over the summer,” said Onuorah, who graduated from Cornell this spring, where he averaged 3.4 points and 4.7 rebounds. “We all know each other. There’s no need for name tags or anything like that.”

The team won’t have any player over 6-9. But Williams, who is listed at 6-7 and 211 pounds, said that doesn’t mean the team will struggle in the post.

“Some of us are a little better at rebounding, some of us are shooters and some are 6-9 guards,” he said. “Right now we’re getting it all figured out and I believe we’ll have a great season and we’ll be really fast as well.”

The Huskies are waiting to hear whether Wilson, who transferred from St. John’s after taking a single summer school class, will be allowed to play. The 6-7, highly recruited wing is seeking an NCAA waiver to play this season rather than sit out a year as a transfer student.

“The NCAA is something that I can’t control,” he said. “If they grant me the waiver, I’m happy. If not, I’m just going to cheer my teammates on and wait till next year.”

Fans will have to wait a while to see all the Huskies on the court. The annual First Night celebration, marking the start of practice, has been cancelled this year because of ongoing work to replace the roof of Gampel Pavilion. The Huskies will have their first full practice on Sept. 30. The game schedule is expected to be released on Friday.

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Report: North Carolina won’t attend White House

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After capturing a national championship earlier this year, the North Carolina men’s basketball team will not be visiting the White House, a North Carolina spokesman said to Andrew Carter of the The Charlotte Observer.

Although the Tar Heels were invited to go to the White House from the staff of President Donald Trump, the team couldn’t figure out a date that worked.

“We couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties,” North Carolina team spokesman Steve Kirschner said to Carter. “We tried about eight or nine dates and between they couldn’t work out that date, we couldn’t work out that date, so – we would have liked to have gone, but not going.”

According to Carter’s report, Kirschner also said that North Carolina players, “were fine with going.”

With Trump’s recent comments towards NFL players and the national anthem and his Saturday morning tweet at Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the President with regards to athletes over the past 24 hours.

Although the timing of this may seem like North Carolina is making some sort of political statement, the school is downplaying any sort of politics by focusing on the bad timing.

Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer

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Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer from the program to move closer to home, according to a release from the school.

The 6-foot-7 Ridder hails from Springfield, Missouri as he was regarded as a top-150 prospect by Rivals in the Class of 2017.

“After much consideration and talking with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to move home,” Ridder said in the release.

“Jared has indicated to the coaching staff that he has a desire to be closer to home,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. “While we are disappointed, we all want Jared to be happy moving forward. We wish him nothing but the best.”

A potent scorer and noted perimeter shooter at the high school level, Ridder helped MoKan win the Nike Peach Jam during the summer of 2016 playing alongside talented players like Missouri’s Michael and Jontay Porter and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. With a desire to move closer to home, could Ridder potentially land at a spot where one of his talented former teammates is playing?

Ridder averaged 24.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his senior season of high school ball at Kickapoo as he was a first-team, All-State selection in Missouri.

Four-star 2018 forward Ian Steere decommits from Creighton

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Creighton took a big hit to its recruiting efforts late this week as Class of 2018 forward Ian Steere is decommitting from the Bluejays, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Steere’s decommitment was first reported by Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.

The 6-foot-8 Steere is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals as he is coming off of a very solid spring and summer playing with Team Charlotte in the Under Armour Association. A plus athlete who isn’t afraid to bang on the interior, Steere showing an improving skill level throughout the spring and summer as he could see his recruiting soar after opening things up.

According to a report from Jon Nyatawa of the World-Herald, one of the reasons that Steere is opening up his recruitment is his desire to be closer to his native North Carolina. With so many top programs looking for quality help on the interior, it’ll be interesting to see which programs jump in and try to recruit Steere the second time around.

John Wall emotional in Kentucky Hall of Fame induction speech

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John Wall was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as he delivered an emotional speech while talking to his mother.

The first inductee into the Hall of Fame to play for current Wildcat head coach John Calipari, Wall only spent the 2009-10 season in Lexington but he became the first national player of the year to play at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Thanking his mother, Calipari, his family, friends and Big Blue Nation, the Washington Wizards guard gave a very moving speech, including an emotional part directed to his mother at around 4:35.

Ohio State snags third 2018 commitment in a week with four-star guard Luther Muhammad

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Ohio State continued a strong week on the recruiting trail on Friday night by landing a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Luther Muhammad.

Regarded as a four-star prospect, the 6-foot-4 Muhammad is a tough and rugged perimeter defender who can attack the basket. Also showing some ability to play on the ball as a secondary handler, Muhammad is a very solid addition to Ohio State’s recruiting class since they need to overhaul their roster under new head coach Chris Holtmann.

Muhammad is the third player to commit to the Buckeyes in the Class of 2018 this week as he joins four-star forward Jaedon LeDee and three-star guard Duane Washington in the current Ohio State recruiting class. Since Washington is a three-point threat and Muhammad is more of an off-the-bounce specialist, the two guards are a good start for Ohio State in this class as they will likely try to find a true floor leader to play with them on the perimeter.