Pregame Shootaround 1.13.13: Trey Burke, Aaron Craft highlight major Big Ten showdown

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Game of the Day: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 15 Ohio State (1:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

With Duke’s loss yesterday to NC State, Michigan will become the nation’s No. 1 team if it can get out of Columbus with a tough road victory. But, despite being ranked No. 2 in the country, Michigan is the underdog Sunday.

Two key matchups will likely decide the outcome of this one. At the point guard spot, Michigan’s Trey Burke is emerging as an early Player of the Year candidate, while Ohio State’s Aaron Craft has been the Buckeyes’ best defender and offensive facilitator with 4.9 assists per game.

At the wing spot, Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas is one of the nation’s best scorers and he’ll be matching up with standout freshman Glenn Robinson III. Both have the ability to carry the offensive load for their respective teams, but it will be interesting to see how the young Robinson III responds to playing against an upperclassman who can go shot-for-shot with him.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: No. 23 Wichita State vs. Evansville (4:35 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Cleanthony Early is coming off one of the most impressive performances of any player in the country this season, having dropped 39 points on 13-of-19 shooting to help Wichita State over Southern Illinois earlier this week. He and the Shockers return to the floor Sunday to meet an Evansville team that is 3-1 in Missouri Valley play so far and has hung with a number of tough teams, including Notre Dame, Butler, and Colorado State.

Wichita State will need to contain Evansville’s Colt Ryan, who has reached the 20-point mark in four of his last five games and is averaging 15.9 points per game on the year.

Five Things to Watch For

1) Miami turned some heads earlier this week when it went on the road to Chapel Hill and beat North Carolina without the services of big man Reggie Johnson. They face another tough ACC test against Dez Wells, Alex Len, and Maryland on Sunday.

2) Iowa is 0-3 in Big Ten play, but that is more a product of being in the nation’s toughest conference than any major lack. The Hawkeyes ran both Indiana and Michigan State to the wire, and played a solid first half against Michigan before the Wolverines opened it up. They’re in line for a win over Northwestern on Sunday.

3) Oregon handed No. 4 Arizona its first loss of the season and now needs to contain one of the nation’s best young point guards, Arizona State’s Jahii Carson. It’s a nice nightcap that tips at 9:00 p.m. ET.

4) Billy Baron and Canisius were the talk of the mid-major world in the non-conference season after they upset Temple, but the Golden Griffins have cooled off a bit in conference play. They have a tough matchup with Iona on Sunday.

5) Chaz Williams continues to be one of the most enjoyable mid-major point guards to watch after tallying 14 points, seven assists, and six rebounds Thursday against Saint Louis. Massachusetts meets Fordham on Sunday.

The Top 25

No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 15 Ohio State (1:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 22 Michigan State vs. Nebraska (6:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

No. 23 Wichita State vs. Evansville (4:35 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Other Notable Games

Penn State vs. Purdue (12:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Providence vs. Seton Hall (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Iowa vs. Northwestern (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Maryland vs. Miami (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Arizona State vs. Oregon (9:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks)

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

Memphis, Penny land commitment from second five-star prospect, Precious Achiuwa

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The transformation is complete.

On Friday afternoon, Precious Achiuwa, a top 15 prospect in the Class of 2019, announced that he has committed to play his college basketball at Memphis, joining one of the best recruiting classes in the country and affirming that Penny Hardaway will enter the 2019-20 season with a preseason top 10 team.

Achiuwa, one of the top combo-forwards in the class and the kind of athlete that will make him an attractive player to NBA GMs, joins No. 1 player James Wiseman and fellow four-star prospects D.J. Jeffries, Lester Quinones, Boogie Ellis, Damion Baugh and Malcolm Dandridge in Penny’s first real recruiting class as Memphis head coach.

The Tigers also add Rayjon Tucker, arguably the nation’s top grad transfer and a potential NBA player in his own right.

As we wrote earlier this week, Penny is building an absolute monster in Memphis.

Grant Williams will remain in 2019 NBA Draft

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Grant Williams announced on Friday morning that he will be staying in the NBA draft after an All-American junior season with Tennessee.

Williams averaged 18.8 points, 7.5 boards, 3.2 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.1 steals this past season, helping lead Tennessee to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and on a run to the Sweet 16, where they lost in overtime to Purdue.

This is probably the right decision for him to make. While he is somewhat undersized and limited athletically, Williams is such a smart and savvy players. He really understands how to pass, he can defend multiple positions and, most importantly, he has a skill-set that should allow him to be able to contribute as a role player at the next level, particularly if his three-point stroke is as good as it has looked in postseason workouts.

Williams is slotted in at No. 19 to San Antonio in the most recent NBC Sports mock draft.

Tennessee will now have to play the waiting game with Jordan Bone, who is still undecided on his status. The Vols currently sit 22nd in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.

Clemson lands Texas Tech transfer Khavon Moore

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Clemson is adding a former top-50 recruit to its roster.

Texas Tech transfer Khavon Moore has pledged to coach Brad Brownell and the Tigers, he announced Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 Moore, a former four-star recruit, played just 2 minutes last season for the Red Raiders and saw his season shutdown amid medical concerns due to lingering issues from a broken leg he suffered in high school. The plan was for him to seek a medical hardship redshirt for last season, which could allow him to still have four years of eligibility remaining at Clemson after sitting out the upcoming season as a transfer.

The Tigers went 20-14 last season and missed the NCAA tournament for the seventh time in nine seasons under Brownell.

Texas Tech, meanwhile, continues to build a monster even with departures like former high-profile recruit.

 

 

Four-star forward Jalen Wilson asks out of Michigan letter of intent

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John Beilein isn’t the only loss Michigan sustained this week.

Jalen Wilson, a top-50 guard in 2019, has requested out of his National Letter of Intent with the Wolverines, he announced Thursday.

“Due to the sudden head coaching change, I have requested my release from The University of Michigan, and will re-open my recruitment,” he wrote on social media.

Beilein’s decision to leave Michigan for the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers shocked the college basketball world earlier this week, and there’s little surprise to see it shake the Wolverines’ recruiting class as the head coaching position remains vacant and Michigan conducting a search of its next coach.

Wilson, a 6-foot-8 forward, is now considering Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and Florida along with the Wolverines, according to 247Sports. The Texas native suddenly becomes one of the most desirable players left available ahead of the upcoming season.

Cole Bajema, a top-150 wing from Washington, is the lone remaining signee in Michigan’s 2019 class.

Nebraska adds former Tennessee forward Walker

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Former Tennessee forward Derrick Walker is transferring to Nebraska.

Nebraska announced Wednesday it has added Walker to its roster. Nebraska officials said Walker will sit out the 2019-20 season before playing for the Cornhuskers. He has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Walker entered the NCAA transfer portal after averaging 0.8 points, 1.1 rebounds and 5.3 minutes for Tennessee this past season. The 6-foot-8 Walker averaged 1.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 8.8 minutes as a freshman in the 2017-18 season.

Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said in a statement, “Derrick is a physical player who gives us skill and versatility in the post.”