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Report: Vanderbilt lands commitment from 2014 SG Matthew Fisher-Davis

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With Kyle Fuller entering his senior season and leading scorer Kedren Johnson suspended for the entire 2013-14 season, Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings needed some reinforcements on the perimeter. Earlier this summer the Commodores received a verbal commitment from shooting guard Wade Baldwin, and late Sunday evening it was reported by Evan Daniels of Scout.com that Charlotte, N.C. shooting guard Matthew Fisher-Davis has verbally committed to the SEC school (subscription required).

The 6-5 Fisher-Davis, who attends Charlotte Christian, is highly regarded as a perimeter shooter and his recruitment gained momentum back in July. In addition to Vanderbilt, Fisher-Davis considered programs such as Georgia, Wake Forest and Virginia before making the decision to commit according to Jamie Shaw of the Phenom Hoop Report. Fisher-Davis took an official visit to Vanderbilt in late August, with Baldwin also taking an official to the SEC school that weekend.

Last season was a tough one for the Commodores, as key personnel losses from a team that won the SEC tournament in 2012 proved to be too much to overcome. Johnson’s 13.5 points per game are gone (as is leading rebounder Kevin Bright, who signed a professional contract to play in his native Germany), leaving forward Rod Odom (10.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and Fuller (8.7, 2.3) as the team’s leading returnees from a statistical standpoint.

And with both players being seniors, the development of guards Eric McClellan and Dai-Jon Parker becomes an important aspect of the 2013-14 campaign. Both McClellan and Parker will have eligibility remaining in 2014, as will forwards Shelby Moats, Damian Jones and Luke Kornet with the latter two being freshmen.

Here are a few highlights from Fisher-Davis’ junior season at Charlotte Christian, where he averaged 17.2 points per contest.

Ari Stewart ruled academically ineligible at USC

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Things were getting too good to be true for first year USC head coach Andy Enfield.

Pe’Shon Howard and D.J. Haley recently transferred from their schools on the East Coast back to their native state — Howard from Maryland and Haley from Virginia Commonwealth — and both will be eligible to play for the 2013-14 season, providing immediate help for a team that struggled on offense last year and lost their top two offensive threats in Jio Fontan and Eric Wise to graduation.

Unfortunately for Enfield, Ari Stewart will not be a part of the rebuilding effort that he has on his hands. Stewart has been ruled academically ineligible for the coming season, Galen Central first reported.

Stewart was a Top 50 recruit coming out of high school, according to Scout.com. He spent his first two seasons at Wake Forest, but transferred to USC following the 2010-11 season due to academic struggles. Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik told the Star News Online of Stewart’s struggles in the classroom:

Our players are going to be held accountable for doing the right thing. That means going to class and doing what’s expected. That’s all part of being a player. He’s got some academic work he needs to address.

Stewart’s academic issues have caught up to him once again. His eligibility for the coming season was very much up in the air over the summer as Stewart was actually ineligible, but he was attending summer school in an attempt to regain his eligibility.

Even though his basketball career is all but over, Stewart is reportedly enrolled in classes and began them on Monday as he looks to get back on track academically to earn his degree.

Stewart did not play a prominent role under last year’s initial coach Kevin O’Neil, but was more of a factor under interim coach Bob Cantu. Over a seven game stretch in the middle of the Pac-12 schedule, Stewart averaged 13.3 minutes and 4.4 points, but a broken left hand forced him to miss six of USC’s final eight games.

Late Night Snacks: Court-storming students own the night

Wake Forest court storm
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Game of the Day: Wake Forest 86, No. 18 NC State 84

There haven’t been many things to get truly excited about at Wake Forest in the two-plus seasons coach Jeff Bzdelik has been at the school, but Tuesday’s win over a ranked team gave Demon Deacon fans a reason to storm the floor.

Devin Thomas was the catalyst of it all, posting a career night of 25 points and 14 rebounds. Three other players were in double figures and helped Wake Forest erase a 12-point halftime deficit.

For NC State, it has been an eventful 10-day stretch. On Jan. 12, the Wolfpack stormed the floor to celebrate its win over No. 1 Duke. After losing to Maryland on Jan. 16, Terrapin fans stormed the floor. Now on Tuesday, Wake Forest fans rushed the court. Ten days, one court storm in celebration, two by opposing fan bases.

Important Outcomes 

1. Villanova 73, No. 5 Louisville 64

Louisville was sloppy in its loss to Villanova Tuesday. It turned the ball over 17 times and shot 12-of-24 (50 percent) from the free throw line. The Wildcats are, mind you, a team that lost to Columbia by 18 points back in November. JayVaughn Pinkston and Ryan Arcidiacono led the way for Villanova, two of five players in double figures.

Louisville has now lost two in a row and face a road matchup with Georgetown on Saturday.

2. No. 22 Missouri 71, South Carolina 65 

South Carolina did a good job of using a zone defense to force Missouri into half-court sets in the first half. This all but eliminated the Phil Pressey-driven transition offense and had the Gamecocks in control going into the second half. At one point, though, it clicked. Missouri ripped off an 18-2 run to take the lead and fought off a tough South Carolina comeback to hold on for the win. Credit also goes to Earnest Ross, who had 21 points in his effort to compensate for the absence of Laurence Bowers and Keion Bell.

3. No. 3 Kansas 59, No. 11 Kansas State 55

Travis Releford had 12 points on an efficient 5-of-6 shooting performance to lead Kansas to a tough road win over the Wildcats. The Jayhawks have now won 16 straight games.


1. Devin Thomas, Wake Forest (25 points, 10-of-13 FG, 14 rebounds, 4 blocks, 4 assists, 3 steals)

A lot of things had to be working in Wake Forest’s favor to get an upset win over NC State on Tuesday night. One of those variables had to be a dominant performer, and Devin Thomas delivered. He made an impact in nearly every part of the box score, going for an impressive double-double and adding four blocks.

2. Earnest Ross, Missouri (21 points, 10 rebounds)

Without Laurence Bowers and Keion Bell, Missouri needed someone to step up to avoid an upset loss to South Carolina at home. Earnest Ross was that man for Missouri on Tuesday. Something that doesn’t show up in the box score: Ross made a great pass to Jabari Brown with seconds remaining that set him up for the three-pointer that put Missouri ahead for good.

3. D.J. Richardson, Illinois (30 points, 9-of-14 FG, 6-of-9 3pt FG)

Illinois needed a bounce-back win after losing three straight. Richardson was the offensive engine behind the Illini attack Tuesday. His 30 points accounted for 42 percent of Illinois’ scoring in a win over Nebraska.


1. Russ Smith, Louisville (8 points, 2-of-13 FG, 4 TO)

Smith and backcourt mate Peyton Siva both underperformed in Louisville’s upset loss to Villanova, but Smith’s likely hurt more. The Cardinals depend on Smith for just over 19 points per game but did not get that kind of production Tuesday.

2. Will Spradling, Kansas State (0 points, 0-of-5 FG)

Spradling is an offensive piece that Kansas State could have enjoyed against Kansas on Tuesday. He struggled to find his shooting touch, though, going 0-of-5 from the floor.

3. Damien Leonard (2 points, 1-of-11 FG, 3 TOs)

Le0nard struggled to find his stroke against Missouri on Tuesday, including going 0-of-5 from three-point range.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Wake Forest lands 2014 point guard Shelton Mitchell

ACC Basketball Tournament - Wake Forest v Maryland
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Late Friday night, 2014 point guard, Shelton Mitchell (Cuthbertson High/Waxhaw, N.C.) came off the recruiting board, as he announced he would attend Wake Forest.

Mitchell broke the news by announcing it through his personal Twitter account, which is protected. Regardless, word spread quickly, as Justin Byerly of CarolinaPreps.com, along with others confirmed it.

The 6-foot-3 Mitchell, is considered a four-star point guard, according to Rivals.com. He picked the Demon Deacons over Arizona, Connecticut, Missouri, Illinois, Clemson, and several more schools.

Mitchell ran with the Chris Paul All-Stars on the AAU circuit, as the current Los Angeles Clippers point guard starred at Wake Forest for to seasons. Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik is getting a floor general in every sense of the world. Mitchell has great size and length for his position. He has strong handles and looks to find open teammate and create easy shots for them. On Friday, he told Arizona.Rivals.com his goal is to get double-digit assists every game.

“Shelton is the hardest working kid I’ve ever coached,” Mitchell’s high school coach Mike Helms told Jacey Zembal. “The kid is back in the gym. He’s texting me, ‘How can I get back in the gym the next day?’ He wants to get in there and get better in all facets of his game, and he has. He has continued to improve and knows there are areas he still needs to improve.”

Mitchell is the first commitment for the Demon Deacons for the 2014 class.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne 

Wake Forest freshman Devin Thomas undergoes knee surgery

Devin Thomas Wake Forest
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Devin Thomas, part of Wake Forest’s seven-man incoming freshman class, underwent minor knee surgery Tuesday afternoon and will be out four to six weeks, the school announced.

Thomas underwent arthroscopic surgery, which cleaned up loose fragments in his knee.

“This was a routine procedure to remove some loose cartilage fragments from Devin’s knee,” said the doctor who performed the surgery, David Martin, in a statement. “We wanted to be proactive with this to get him ready for the season.”

Wake Forest opens its season Nov. 9 against Radford, so if Thomas sticks to the four to six week schedule, he should be available for the opener.

Thomas joins Codi Miller-McIntyre, Arnaud Moto, Aaron Rountree, Tyler Cavanaugh, Madison Jones, and Andre Washington to round out the seven-man group of freshman.

The Demon Deacons put together an interesting intro video that got the public acquainted with the new members of the team.

Wake finished 13-18 last season, including 4-12 in the ACC. Coach Jeff Bzdelik is losing eight players from last season, but returns his two top scorers, Travis McKie and C.J. Harris.

McKie and Harris combined for close to 33 points per game last season.

When Thomas returns, Wake Forest might be looking for some theatrics like when he ripped down a backboard in high school.

Photo Credit: Wake Forest Athletics

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Wake Forest taking trip to Canada for two preseason exhibitions

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Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik wanted to take his young team and get away this fall before the season begins, but not too far away.

With that in mind, the Demon Deacons have planned a trip to Canada to play two exhibitions against schools north of the border, the university announced Tuesday.

“With a young team, including seven freshmen and two sophomores, I didn’t want to go all the way across the world for an international trip in August because I was worried about the fatigue factor when you get into February and March,” Bzdelik said in a release. “We’re just going to take a 90-minute flight up to Toronto in October and play two games against two universities up there.”

Wake Forest will take part in exhibitions against Brock University on Oct. 19 in Ontario, then travel to Toronto to take on Ryerson University on Oct. 20.

For the Demon Deacons, this trip to Canada marks the first international trip for the team since their trip to the Bahamas in 2006-07.

Bzdelik leads a team into 2012-13 that returns just four scholarship players and adds seven freshmen. Though they are losing guard Tony Chennault to transfer (now at Villanova), the Demon Deacons return C.J. Harris and Travis McKie, who combined to score close to 33 points per game last season.

As for the seven-man recruiting class, it is led by point guard Codi Miller-McIntyre, a North Carolina native and graduate of Hargrave Military Academy. Also among Wake’s in-state recruits from the Class of 2012 are forward Aaron Rountree and guard Madison Jones.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_