Saint Louis Billikens

Jim Crews

Saint Louis announces plans for August trip to The Bahamas

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After winning the Atlantic 10 with a senior-laden rotation in 2014 the Saint Louis Billikens weren’t as successful last season, going 11-21 overall and finishing last in the conference with a 3-15 record. With their six freshmen of a season ago now being sophomores, the hope for the Billikens is that they can take a step forward and be a more formidable team in the A-10 in 2015-16.

Jim Crews’ team will have a bit of a head start on the upcoming season, as the program announced Friday its plans for a three-game trip to The Bahamas scheduled for next month. Saint Louis, per NCAA rules, will have ten practices before leaving for Atlantis August 7, and they’ll play against local all-star teams August 8, 10 and 11 before returning home.

With nine underclassmen (six sophomores and three freshmen) and just one senior (Achraf Yacoubou) on the roster, these early practices and games could help SLU as it prepares for the 2015-16 season. It’s one thing to be told how to run sets and what the coaching staff expects, but being able to apply those summer lessons in game situations should help the young players moving forward.

SLU’s greatest struggles came on the offensive end of the floor last season, as they ranked at or near the bottom of the Atlantic 10 in scoring (last), field goal percentage (13th) and offensive efficiency (last). If Saint Louis is to be a better team in 2015-16 they’ll have to be better offensively, and given the fact that the A-10 should be better than it was a season ago that’s no easy task.

The Billikens’ hope that these practices and exhibitions will help them in that regard.

Five-star 2016 forward aims for pre-fall commitment, notes North Carolina’s NCAA issues

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Jayson Tatum is considered to be one of the best players in the Class of 2016, and the 6-foot-8 St. Louis native has kept his recruitment tidy when compared to other players of similar regard over the years. In the spring Tatum trimmed his list down to just four schools- Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and Saint Louis; three traditional powers and the hometown school where his father Justin played during the 1990’s.

According to a report from News 4 KMOV in St. Louis, Tatum will likely make his college decision “in the next month or two.” Also of note in the report is the fact that North Carolina’s ongoing NCAA investigation is a concern, as was the case for 2015 five-star forward Brandon Ingram. Ingram ultimately chose Duke earlier this spring.

Brian Feldman of News 4 KMOV wrote the following about Tatum’s recruitment:

The top recruit in the country, as ranked by ESPN, says he’ll likely decide which school he’ll go to in the next month or two. It’ll definitely be before school starts in the fall. Interestingly enough, Tatum said he’s down to two schools (though he wouldn’t officially say which two they were).

Reading between the lines, Tatum talked a ton about SLU and Duke. He cited concern over North Carolina’s pending academic issues with the NCAA. Many who follow the situation strongly believe Tatum is deciding between staying home (and being a Billiken) and going to play for Duke and legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Tatum saying that he’s down to two schools is a big deal, but it’s also noted that he didn’t divulge which schools remain in the running. Either way he’d be a huge addition for any of the schools on the list, especially the hometown school that hasn’t had the best luck when it comes to keeping elite talent in St. Louis.

As for North Carolina, even with Tatum not revealing the final two this is another sign that from a recruiting standpoint they need the NCAA solution resolved as soon as possible. The school still hasn’t released the Notice of Allegations it received from the NCAA, although there have been reports that UNC may do so this week.

UNC had 90 days from the day that it received the NOA to respond to the NCAA, and from that point the governing body will be able to take the next step in the process. That may wind up being too late for Tatum, but with other highly-regarded prospects on the board (and a veteran team heading into 2015-16) a relatively quick resolution would help Roy Williams’ program moving forward.

EYBL Session 3 highlights for 2016 five-star forward Jayson Tatum

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Last month Jayson Tatum, one of the top players in the Class of 2016, announced that he’d cut his list to four with Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and Saint Louis making the cut. The St. Louis native (his father played collegiately at SLU) is spending this spring/summer playing for the St. Louis Eagles grassroots program, and his smooth game has led to Tatum being on the receiving end of a lot of praise this spring.

Above are some of Tatum’s highlights from the third session of Nike EYBL play, which took place in Houston last weekend. Tatum and the Eagles won all four of their games in Houston, and the 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 22.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in Nike EYBL games.

Video credit: Ballislife South

Arguably the top player in 2016 cuts his list to four


Jayson Tatum, arguably the top player in the Class of 2016, cut his list to just four schools on Friday afternoon. The St. Louis native, who attends Chaminade College Preparatory School announced he’s down to Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and Saint Louis via his Instagram page:

My final 4 schools 🙏

A post shared by Jayson Tatum🙏🏀 (@jaytatum0) on

Tatum is ranked as the No. 3 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. Arizona, Florida, UCLA and UConn were among the casualties.

The 6-foot-8 swingman will be appearing on the grassroots circuit with the St. Louis Eagles again this season. The Nike EYBL season begins this weekend with Session 1 in Hampton, Virginia. He averaged 18.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest in 16 games in the EYBL last year.

VCU’s Treveon Graham goes coast-to-coast for the game-winner (VIDEO)

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VCU had the ball with eight seconds left in the first half. Treveon Graham couldn’t get to the basket, settling for a stepback, contested 3-pointer from well beyond the arc. That missed shot would send the Havoc and Saint Louis to the locker room tied.

A similar situation arose with the game on the line. The score was tied 61-61 with VCU needing to go the length of the floor with 7.6 seconds left. Graham took the ball up the floor, the aptly-nicknamed “Freight Train” going full steam toward the hoop, finishing through contact for the game-winning bucket with 0.8 seconds left, as the Rams remained perfect in Atlantic 10 play with 63-61 road win over the Billikens.

Graham had game-high 21 points, grabbing six rebounds as well. Briante Webber scored 15 with two steals. Four freshmen accounted for 34 of Saint Louis’ 61 points led by Milik Yarbrough with a team-high 15.

Pregame Shootaround: Horizon League showdown, No. 16 VCU headline Friday slate

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Valparaiso at Green Bay, 9:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

Depending upon what happens in Cleveland State’s home game against Detroit, this could be for sole possession of first place in the Horizon League. Like the Vikings, both the Crusaders and Phoenix enter Friday with 5-1 league records, and two of the best players in the Horizon League will be on display at the Resch Center. Of course the name Keifer Sykes (Green Bay’s electric point guard) is known by now, but how about Valpo’s Alec Peters? The 6-foot-9 sophomore can score both inside and out and is averaging 17.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game for Valparaiso, which is off to an 18-3 start and has won five straight games. Green Bay’s limiting opponents to 58.8 points per game, and they’ll need a similar defensive effort to keep Bryce Drew’s team in check.


  • No. 16 VCU is back in action, and they’ll put their 5-0 Atlantic 10 record on the line at Saint Louis (7:00 p.m., ESPN2). Shaka Smart’s Rams have won ten straight games, with their last defeat coming at the hands of the nation’s second-best team in Virginia. Obviously turnovers, especially those of the live-ball variety, are key in games involving VCU as they’re forcing nearly 18 per game. But another area to keep an eye on is the fact that Jim Crews’ Billikens are allowing opponents to shoot nearly 46 percent from the field. If SLU isn’t better in that area, things could open up for the Rams, who have shot no better than 42.5% in five of their last six games.
  • Cleveland State hosts Detroit (7:00 p.m., ESPN3) in the other Horizon League matchup Friday night, with the Vikings having three players averaging double figures led by junior guard Trey Lewis. Detroit will counter with senior Juwan Howard Jr., who averaging 18.5 points per game for the Titans.
  • The most important of the three MAAC games on Friday’s schedule is Manhattan’s trip to Hamden, Connecticut to take on Quinnipiac (7:00 p.m., ESPNU), with the Jaspers just one game behind first-place Iona in the loss column. Keep an eye on the rebounding here, as the Jaspers are allowing opponents to rebound just over 34 percent of their misses and Quinnipiac is a very good offensive rebounding team led by seniors Ousmane Drame and Justin Harris.
  • Monmouth can move into a tie for first in the MAAC with a win over a Niagara (7:00 p.m, ESPN3) team that nearly beat Iona last Friday night. King Rice’s Hawks are limiting opponents to 39.2% shooting from the field, and guards Justin Robinson and Deon Jones combining to average just over 34 points per game.
  • Rivals Marist and Siena meet in Albany (7:00 p.m., ESPN3), with the Red Foxes still in search of their first conference win under new head coach Mike Maker. Siena’s had some issues defensively this season, but the sight of a team that’s averaging 58.2 points per game should help Jimmy Patsos’ team.