CJ McCollum is not an example of why staying in school is wrong

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Over the weekend, CJ McCollum broke the fifth-metatarsal in his right foot as Lehigh visited VCU, an injury serious enough that it essentially ended any chance of McCollum suiting up for a regular season college basketball game ever again.

On Monday, David Steele of the Sporting News filed a column that essentially said McCollum’s injury is yet another example of why players should leave for the seven figure contracts of the NBA when their stock is the highest. If you remember, after sparking the Mountainhawks to an upset of Duke in the opening round of the 2012 NCAA tournament, McCollum declared for the draft but eventually ended up pulling his name out and, obviously, returning to school for his senior year.

In principle, I agree with Steele. The career of a professional athlete is limited. Eventually, knees break down and backs give out as old age kicks in, with each offseason bringing in a new crop of physically blessed 20 year olds that want nothing more than to win your job.

I firmly believe that it makes sense to capitalize on those physical gifts as much as possible. That’s why I think that it’s silly when a guy that’s a lock for the first round returns to school. If you’re looking to set yourself up financially for life and provide for your family, why would you pass on the guaranteed, seven-figure contract that will allow you to avoid pretending to care about class and get rid of those pesky practice limits?

But here’s the problem with Steele’s argument: McCollum was not one of those guys. There was no guarantee that he would get picked in the first round last season. He’s a 6-foot-3 scoring guard whose strength is as a slasher. He’s Dwyane Wade minus three inches and no where near as explosive. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great player, but he would have been one of those guys sweating out the end of the first round, hoping that someone was willing to make an investment on him.

The same can be said for Mike Moser, another guy that has been injured this season after returning to school. Steele uses him in his argument as well. Moser was terrific last season, but he’s a combo-forward that’s not strong enough to play in the post in the NBA and that shot 33.1% from three last season. He may have gotten drafted, but it all-likelihood it would have been in the second round.

Those two both came back to school for three reasons:

1) A chance for another season playing with their teammates. We can make fun of college sports for simply being a proving ground for the next level, but that doesn’t change the fact that those 19 and 20 year olds become a family during their time together.

2) The opportunity to spend another season working on their game and proving themselves for the next level. McCollum had been shooting the ball much, much better this season and, prior to the injury, was projected as a lottery pick by DraftExpress.com. Moser, before the injury, was going to get a chance to prove himself on the perimeter as UNLV’s front line is populated by Anthony Bennett and Khem Birch.

3) The 2013 Draft is wide-open. Think about it like this: Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones III, two guys that could have been top five picks in 2011, went late in the 20’s in 2012. Those are the guys that McCollum and Moser would have been battling with to earn a spot in the first round.

Steele is right.

It’s dumb to return to school and risk injury when you have guaranteed millions staring you in the face.

But neither Moser nor McCollum were in that situation.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

USC adds to top 2019 class with four-star recruit Kyle Sturdivant

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Andy Enfield’s 2019 recruiting haul already includes two five-star, top-20 recruits along with a pair of additional four-star prospects in the top-100. It’s good enough, right now, for USC to own the best class in the country.

And on Thursday, the Trojans added to it.

Kyle Sturdivant, a top-100 recruit out of Georgia, has committed to the Trojans.

The 6-foot-3 point guard previously committed to his home-state Bulldogs and new coach Tom Crean, but backed off that pledge last month. He also had offers from Cal, Clemson, Auburn and Florida, among others.

Sturdivant put up 16.2 points, 5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game last season while playing alongside top-five recruit Vernon Carey on Team Takeover Florida.

His commitment gives Enfield a point guard in an already loaded class. The Trojans previously received commitments from five-stars Isaiah Mobley and Onyeka Okongwu and four-stars Max Agbonkpolo and Drake London, giving them the consensus top class in the country this fall.

The Trojans’ continued success keeps the trend alive of schools who were caught up in the FBI corruption investigation simply shaking it off and landing more top talent.

The kings stay the kings.

Top junior college transfer Chris Duarte commits to Oregon

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Dana Altman and Oregon have reached into the junior college ranks to pick up their first commitment in the 2019 class.

Chris Duarte, a top juco from Northwest Florida State, committed to the Ducks on Thursday, it was announced.

“NWF State helped me grow as a player on and off the court,” Duarte said in a statement. “I want to thank all of the staff who has helped me become the player I need to be to play at a Division I program like Oregon. I’m very excited and thankful for this opportunity.”

In his freshman season at Northwest Florida State, the 6-foot-6 former 2017 Western Kentucky signee averaged 12.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2 steals per game en route to all-conference honors as the Raiders won a state championship and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NJCAA tournament.

“Chris is an outstanding student-athlete who represents Northwest Florida State well,” Northwest Florida State coach Steve DeMeo said in a statement. “The University of Oregon is the best decision for him and I am excited to see what his future holds as he finishes up his career as a Raider and heads to Eugene to play at the next level.”

Duarte will play for the Raiders this upcoming season and then will have two years of eligibility remaining with the Ducks. He is considered one of, if not the, top junior college player in the country.

Oklahoma lands commitment from four-star prospect Jalen Hill

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Lon Kruger continues to assemble a monster 2019 recruiting class.

The Sooners received a commitment Thursday from Jalen Hill, a four-star wing from Las Vegas, to bolster a group that already is among the best in the country.

Hill chose the Sooners after visiting earlier this month. He had also visited TCU and had trips scheduled to DePaul and St. John’s. He also sported offers from Oregon, Arizona and Illinois. The 6-foot-7 small forward announced his decision at his school Thursday.

“I thought that it was just the best fit for me,” Hill told Rivals. “The the players over there are great and I just loved the coaching staff, really. They let you rock over there and let you be you.”In terms of everything else, they didn’t have a lot of wings coming back at that position. They compared me to Buddy Hield a little and said they might use me as a shooting guard and as a small forward.”

Hill averaged 17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists in the EYBL with the Las Vegas Prospects. He’s the latest edition to Oklahoma’s 2019 class that already includes two top-100 prospects. De’Vion Harmon, a top-50 point guard from Texas, committed to Kruger and Co. last November while Victor Iwuaker, a top-100 forward also from Texas, pledged earlier this month. It’s a consensus top-10 class.

It’s hard to call Kruger underrated given the success he’s had in the college ranks and his stint in the NBA, but even with that recent Final Four run and the Trae Young Experience last year, the Oklahoma coach rarely seems to get his due as one of the top coaches in the country. He keeps winning – both on the floor and the recruiting trail.

Gonzaga lands commitment from top Lithuanian prospect

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Gonzaga has landed their third commitment in the Class of 2019, as Martynas Arlauskas, a 6-foot-6 Lithuanian wing, announced that he will be heading to Spokane for college instead of signing a professional contract.

Arlauskas ranks 42nd in the Class of 2019, according to 247 Sports, although he does not show up in their composite rankings; not even recruiting outlet ranks foreign prospects in their top 100. He spent last season played with the second division team from BC Zalgiris, one of the biggest clubs in Lithuania. He averaged 5.2 points as an 18-year old.

The last player Gonzaga recruited from Lithuania was Domantas Sabonis.

A skilled perimeter that is at his best playing on the wing, Arlauskas is the third member of Gonzaga’s 2019 recruiting class, joining Anton Watson, a top 50 prospect from Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, and three-star guard Brock Ravet.

Oklahoma lands four-star 2019 forward Victor Iwuakor

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Oklahoma landed its second four-star prospect in the Class of 2019 on Wednesday as forward Victor Iwuakor pledged to the Sooners.

The 6-foot-7 Iwuakor is a long-armed, undersized forward who has the strength and motor to still compete against other players on the interior. Rivals rates Iwuakor as the No. 116 overall prospect in the Class of 2019, as he joins top-40 point guard De’Vion Harmon in Oklahoma’s group.

Iwuakor is a great start to rebuilding Oklahoma’s frontcourt as they have a lot of scholarships to work with in this class. Now with two four-star prospects in the fold, head coach Lon Kruger is continuing to recruit at a high level — which is also a good sign that they’re capitalizing on Trae Young’s successful season becoming a top-five pick. Oklahoma was in a recruiting battle with Baylor and Texas Tech for Iwuakor, as all three schools received official visits, but the Sooners were able to pull the promising forward out of Texas.