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South Carolina G Beatty granted release from men’s program

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Reserve guard David Beatty has been granted a full release from South Carolina’s men’s basketball program.

Gamecocks coach Frank Martin announced Beatty’s status on Monday.

Beatty, a 6-foot-2 guard from Philadelphia, played in 29 games off the bench this year, averaging less than 12 minutes a game. Beatty had a reputation as a scorer in high school, but shot just 25 percent this season (30-of-118).

Martin thanked Beatty for all he did for the program while here and wished him the best “on and off the court moving forward.”

Beatty is the third South Carolina reserve to leave the team since the season ended. Earlier, sophomore 7-foot forward Khadim Gueye and freshman 6-6 forward Ibrahim Famouke Doumbia announced their intentions to transfer.

Vic Bubas, who coached Duke to three Final Fours, dies at 91

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DURHAM, N.C. — Former Duke coach Vic Bubas, who led the Blue Devils to three Final Fours in 10 seasons, died at 91.

School spokesman Jon Jackson says family members told him Bubas died on Monday. No cause of death was given.

“Duke Basketball lost a true legend earlier today,” said Krzyzewski. “When I first arrived at Duke, Coach Bubas gave me the best advice. Essentially, he told me to be myself and to focus solely on Duke, while not getting caught up in everything going on around us. We have tried to honor him over the years by playing a level of basketball that lived up to his very high standards, and to those of the program he built here in the 1960s. We offer our deepest sympathy to the Bubas family, particularly to his wife Tootie, as well as their friends and the multitude of great players who attended this university during Coach Bubas’ tenure. He was a terrific coach, and more importantly, a special leader who will be missed greatly.”

Bubas went 213-67 with the Blue Devils from 1959-69 and won the first of his four Atlantic Coast Conference titles in his first season. He led Duke to Final Fours in 1963, 1964 and 1966.

He played on North Carolina State’s Final Four team in 1950 and served as commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference for 14 years.

Auburn hires Wes Flanigan as men’s basketball assistant

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AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn has hired former Arkansas-Little Rock head basketball coach Wes Flanigan as an assistant.

Tigers coach Bruce Pearl announced the hiring of the ex-Auburn point guard on Monday.

Flanigan was a four-year starter at Auburn from 1993-97 and led the Southeastern Conference in assists as a junior.

He was fired from Arkansas-Little Rock in March after two seasons following a 7-25 season that set a program-record for losses in a season.

Flanigan was an assistant under Greg Beard for the 2015-16 team that went 30-5 and won its first outright Sun Belt Conference title.

He has also worked on the staffs at UAB, Nebraska and Mississippi State.

Villanova’s Spellman declares for draft without agent

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Villanova center Omari Spellman announced on Tuesday morning that he will be declaring for the NBA draft but will not be hiring an agent, preserving his collegiate eligibility as he goes through the draft process.

“Omari’s intelligence and willingness to be coached allowed him to make great strides last season,” said Wildcats head coach Jay Wright in a release. “His development as a complete Villanova Basketball player was instrumental to our team’s success. We look forward to working together with Omari and his family in the coming weeks as they go through the process of evaluating the next step in his basketball career.”

Spellman is a 6-foot-9 big man that totally changed his body when he arrived on campus at Villanova. After getting ruled ineligible for his freshman season by the NCAA, Spellman proceeded to drop nearly 50 pounds of fat from his frame. He’s now a chiseled 245 pounds, and, at the end of his redshirt freshman season, far more explosive than anyone thought he would be. He isn’t a great shot-blocker, but he was effective at the college level.

Spellman’s real skill is his ability to play on the perimeter. He shot 43.3 percent from three this season, and he’s skilled and coordinated enough to be able to put the ball on the floor and attack a closeout. His ability to play on the perimeter offensively and defend the paint on the defensive end was what brought everything together for Villanova. He was their keystone. There is no more valuable combination of skills in basketball at this point than being able to defend the rim on one end and space the floor on the other.

And that’s what makes his decision here so important.

Spellman is a borderline first round pick and probably will get selected high enough in this draft that he could be looking at a guaranteed contract this season. If he stays for another year, he could be looking at being drafted higher in a weaker draft, but I’m not quite sure just how much more he is going to be able to improve his stock beyond becoming a better creator. He is what he is, and that’s a promising prospect as an NBA role player in the pace and space era.

But if he returns to Villanova, that’s where things change. Spellman would probably show up on some preseason all-american teams. His presence on the roster makes Villanova a legitimate threat to repeat as national champs as opposed to simply being the favorite to win what is probably going to be a watered down Big East.

The choices that Spellman, as well as Donte DiVincenzo and Eric Paschall, make will be the decisions with the most influence on the 2018-19 college basketball season.

Purdue’s Nojel Eastern isn’t going to get drafted, yet made the smart decision to declare

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Nojel Eastern spent his freshman season playing as Purdue’s back-up point guard, averaging 2.9 points and 2.5 boards with fewer assists than turnovers as it took him a couple of months to crack the rotation of a team that had as much veteran presence on the roster as any in the country.

On Monday morning, Eastern declared for the NBA draft without signing with an agent.

And he spent the rest of the morning getting roasted for making the decision that every underclassmen with the goal of, and the talent to, one day playing in the NBA should be making. Trust me when I tell that just about every player currently on scholarship at the Division I level counts themselves in that group, whether they believe they’re the next C.J. McCollum or that they just need a few more shots a night to prove that they are the real talent on the roster.

As of today, well over 100 college players have declared for the NBA draft. By the time the April 22nd deadline comes around, that number could surpass 150. That is before you factor in the seniors that are going to get drafted and the international prospects that are going to get selected. Hell, there are a handful of American players that have declared for the draft without setting foot on a college court.

You don’t need to be Will Hunting to figure out that not all of those players are going to be among the 60 kids selected in June’s NBA draft.

But roughly a quarter of those players that have declared have actually signed with an agent, foregoing their remaining eligibility, and even a handful of those players are turning professional despite the fact that they are unlikely to get drafted. Some, like Harry Froling of Marquette, are looking to play professionally overseas. Others, like Max Montana of San Diego State, have already completed their degree and would rather pursue a professional career than pretend to care about graduate classes.

All of that, however, is beside the point.

Two years ago, the NCAA changed the way that the early entry process works, allowing college basketball players to declare for the draft, workout for NBA teams and attend the NBA combine while returning to school so long as they don’t sign with an agent and pull their name out of the draft a week-and-a-half after the combine; this year, that deadline is May 30th.

The point is simple: To allow the players to truly gauge what their chances are of playing at the next level, and to get feedback directly from the mouths of NBA personnel on where they might be picked and what they would need to improve upon to better their draft standing.

Sometimes, that advice can change the trajectory of a player’s career; when Buddy Hield was told that he needed to become a better shooter if he wanted to last in the NBA, he spent a summer doing four-a-days to improve his stroke, became the 2016 co-National Player of the Year, reached a Final Four and got picked fifth in the 2016 draft. He was projected as a second round pick the year before.

And sometimes, the player declaring is barely going to hear from NBA people.

That will likely be the case with Eastern. A 6-foot-7 point guard with the kind of length and athleticism that NBA teams are going to look for out of a perimeter player, Eastern is still learning how to play the point at this level and, to date, is a non-shooter. He attempted just nine threes as a freshman, and that is not going to fly for a point guard unless you’re Ben Simmons or Rajon Rondo. Eastern is neither of them.

So what will happen?

He’ll probably struggle to find workouts, maybe getting invites to workout against other guards when teams within driving distance of Purdue’s West Lafayette campus — the Pacers, the Bulls, the Cavs, etc. — need a body to go up against the players they’re keen on evaluating. He’ll hear about how much work he needs on his jump shot and how he needs to develop as a lead guard. He’ll get that information straight from the horse’s mouth, and then return to Purdue next season with a chance to prove what he can do as a starter.

This is precisely why the rule was changed.

Because this is what’s best for the kids, even if there are players — like Eastern — who we all know are a ways away from being draftable.

Georgetown adds two key commitments on Monday

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Georgetown landed a pair of massive commitments on Monday, as a former UConn recruit and a former N.C. State player both pledged their future to the Hoyas.

The first was James Akinjo, a 6-foot point guard from California that was initially committed to UConn. A four-star prospect, Akinjo committed to the Huskies after he won MVP honors at the 2017 Peach Jam with the Oakland Soldiers, but reopened his recruitment when Kevin Ollie was fired.

Akinjo will provide immediate depth for the Hoyas at the point guard position, although he’s more of a long-term prospect than he is a player that can change the course of the program next season.

On Monday afternoon, Georgetown announced that Omer Yurtseven, a 7-foot native of Turkey that played the past two seasons for Kevin Keatts and N.C. State, had signed scholarship papers with Georgetown. Yurtseven averaged 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks as a sophomore with the Wolfpack. He’ll be eligible in 2019-2020 and have two seasons left to play.

“I needed a big man coach and I don’t think anybody is better than Patrick Ewing when it comes to the experience he has as a player,” Yurtseven told ESPN.

Ewing has also signed 6-foot-9 forward Grayson Carter, 6-foot-6 forward Josh LeBlanc and 6-foot-2 guard Matthew “Mac” McClung.