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Oregon returns suspended guard Dominic Artis and forward Ben Carter

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The Oregon Ducks are off to a 9-0 start and are the No. 13 team in the country. Now, the Ducks return suspended sophomores Dominic Artis, a point guard, and forward Ben Carter for Tuesday’s game with UC Irvine after the duo was suspended nine games in November for selling school-provided shoes.

The return of Artis gives the Ducks a deep backcourt that is capable of doing a number of different things along with senior guards Johnathan Loyd and Jason Calliste Houston transfer Joseph Young and sophomore Damyean Dotson.

Carter should help inside alongside Mike Moser, who is also off to a strong start after transferring from UNLV.

According to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports.com, the duo will come off of the bench after Rothstein spoke with Ducks’ head coach Dana Altman on Monday morning.

“We’ll work them in,” Altman said to Rothstein. “We’ve set a rotation early on but we’ve only played nine games so nothing is set in stone. We’re hoping that now we’ll have a bit more depth so we can pressure the ball even more defensively.”

It is scary to think how deep this Oregon team is with the return of Artis and Carter to the rotation and now Dana Altman can really pressure teams and up the tempo if he wants.

UConn greats expect program to climb back to elite status

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Don’t tell Jim Calhoun or his former players that UConn is no longer an elite basketball program.

Yes, the Huskies have missed the NCAA Tournament three times in four years and are 30-35 the past two seasons while playing outside a power conference. UConn is under investigation by the NCAA, and has accused former coach Kevin Ollie of recruiting violations, prompting his firing in March and sparking at $10 million contract dispute.

But the Hall of Fame coach Calhoun says the program Dan Hurley has inherited remains of championship caliber.

“I still think that with four national championships from ’99, in the last 20 years, the last 19 years, we’re as good as anybody in the country and better than almost everybody else,” Calhoun said last week at his biennial UConn alumni charity game. “And there is no question in my mind that we can keep on going.”

The key to doing that will be for Hurley to embrace that past and the family atmosphere that has traditionally surrounded the program, Calhoun said.

UConn’s recent problems have had a lot to do with player recruitment, retention and development. The Huskies have landed relatively few top recruits and several players who have come have either left early for the professional ranks (Daniel Hamilton), transferred out (Steven Enoch, Vance Jackson) or been unable to contribute to at the level that had been anticipated because of injury (Alterique Gilbert).

Hurley has made a point of convincing current players, including Gilbert and guard Jalen Adams, to stay to create their own chapter in UConn’s storied history.

The new coach and several of his players, including Adams and Gilbert, were in the stands Friday night as about 50 former UConn players and coaches returned to honor Calhoun, raise money for charity and relive past glory.

The gathering included many of the big names from an era when the Huskies had 13 NBA lottery picks. Ray Allen, Donyell Marshall, Rudy Gay, Richard “Rip” Hamilton, Charlie Villanueva and Jeremy Lamb all played.

And while that level of talent may seem like a distant memory to many fans, Allen said he believes Hurley can still get top recruits to come to Connecticut, no matter what conference they are in and despite their recent troubles both on and off the court.

“Every university goes through its lulls,” said Allen, who will be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame next month. “We’ve established such greatness here that we’ve given people a lot to expect and a lot to be proud of. I just think that we have to keep pushing forward.”

Allen and other alumni said they also think it’s important the school settle its dispute with Ollie, who played point guard for the Huskies in the 1990s before becoming an assistant under Calhoun and then taking over as head coach.

The school, in outlining why it fired Ollie, cited several recruiting violations, including shooting baskets with a recruit on a visit to campus and arranging a video call between recruits and Allen.

“I don’t think this (rift) should hurt us and I don’t think it will,” Villanueva said. “There is too much history and too much work that Calhoun has done. At UConn we will always be a family and a brotherhood. That’s one thing that coach (Calhoun) instilled in all of us.”

Ryan Boatright, the point guard under Ollie on UConn’s 2014 national championship team, said he believes the recent hard times have given UConn players and fans another chip on their shoulders.

“We’ve always had that. We won in ’11 and people said we’d never do it again it ’14 (as a seventh seed),” he said. “So as long as these guys come in and work hard and feel they’ve got something to prove, we should be all right.”

West Virginia forward arrested after breaking man’s nose in road rage incident

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Wesley Harris is in trouble again.

The West Virginia forward was charged with two misdemeanor counts of battery and destruction of property over what appears to be a road rage incident.

According to court documents, Harris was driving in Morgantown in mid-July when a driver on the wrong side of the road approached his vehicle. Both Harris and the other driver exited their cars, and after a verbal confrontation, Harris threw the other driver into his vehicle, denting it, before throwing him to the ground, punching him in the face and breaking his nose.

Harris was identified by a bystander who, according to 247 Sports, works for WVU’s athletic department.

“We are aware of the situation, and the matter is being handled internally,” a spokesperson for West Virginia said.

Harris, a 6-foot-8 forward, averaged 5.3 points and 3.6 boards for the Mountaineers as a sophomore, his first season with West Virginia. He was reprimanded during the 2017-18 season after he punched a Texas Tech fan that had stormed the court after a loss in Lubbock. WVU was ranked No. 2 in the country at the time:

North Carolina lands five-star 2019 big man Armando Bacot

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North Carolina added a key piece to its Class of 2019 recruiting haul on Thursday as five-star big man Armando Bacot pledged to the Tar Heels.

One of North Carolina’s main recruiting targets over the past year, the 6-foot-10 Bacot gives the Tar Heels an old-school big man and an immediate double-double threat. Although Bacot won’t blow away fans with athleticism or leaping ability, he’s a fundamentally-sound big man with good hands and feet as he throws a number of post moves at the opposing defense. With North Carolina having success with big men like Bacot in the past — most recently with Kennedy Meeks — it means they should know how to utilize Bacot’s assets right away.

Landing a five-star prospect like Bacot is also a huge step for North Carolina’s recruiting efforts as it gives them much-needed stability. This is a class where head coach Roy Williams and his staff are attempting to make serious moves with the rest of the bluebloods of college basketball after years of being outside the top ten in team recruiting rankings.

North Carolina recruiting took its biggest downturn with the Class of 2017 — as the school was in the midst of an academic scandal. That year saw the Tar Heels take a handful of three-star prospects to plug holes on the interior. The program only landed one five-star prospect in that class — Jalek Felton. He already transferred out after one season.

But after a strong Class of 2018 recruiting haul that featured five-star prospects like forward Nassir Little and guard Coby White, followed by this solid start in the Class of 2019, and it appears as though North Carolina is picking up right where they left off before the academic scandal shook things up.

Now that Bacot is already in the fold, North Carolina can focus its recruiting efforts on trying to land elite talent to go along with four-star guard Jeremiah Francis — another Tar Heel pledge in 2019. North Carolina recently received an unofficial visit from five-star point guard Cole Anthony in late July. Australian native and five-star shooting guard Josh Green also put the Tar Heels in his top list of six schools earlier this week. And the Tar Heels also continue to target other talented interior players like Vernon Carey, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Matthew Hurt. Four-star guard Tre Mann is scheduled to take an official visit to Chapel Hill in September.

If North Carolina continues to add quality pieces to the Class of 2019, then they might have the program’s first top-ten recruiting class (based on 247Sports composite team rankings) since 2014. While Duke and Kentucky have dominated recruiting headlines with their yearly one-and-done wars, the Tar Heels have quietly continued to win games and make Final Four appearances.

The North Carolina Class of 2014 recruiting group included players like Joel Berry, Theo Pinson and Justin Jackson. That trio was a huge reason for the program’s recent on-court success. After a brief lull, North Carolina fans are hoping that Tar Heel recruiting wins in 2018 and 2019 can form the foundation of the school’s next potential run at a title.

Duke guard Alex O’Connell hospitalized after fracturing orbital bone

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Alex O’Connell was taken to the hospital following an eye injury that he suffered early on in Duke’s exhibition win over Ryerson in Toronto on Wednesday night. On Thursday, Duke announced that he suffered an orbital bone fracture and will miss the rest of the trip.

He is expected to make a full recovery.

Early on in the first half, a Ryerson player threw down a dunk and accidentally caught O’Connell with an elbow.

“Alex got hurt right away and he’s in the hospital right now,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game. “He got hit with an elbow, I’m not saying it was intentional, but he got hit. We’re worried about his eye and the socket to see what happened.”

Duke is already dealing with some injury issues on this trip, as two of their four elite freshmen are out. Tre Jones is dealing with a hip injury while Cam Reddish has a lingering groin issue. Both were projected to start for the Blue Devils this season, while O’Connell is thought to be their first guard off the bench.

Duke won the game, 86-67.

Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett highlights in Duke debut

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Duke is making its foreign exhibition debut on Wednesday night, as they battle respected Canadian program Ryerson in front of a packed crowd in Mississauga, Ontario.

It’s also the debut of the highly-touted freshman class that the Blue Devils are bringing in — including forward Zion Williamson and wing (and Canada native) R.J. Barrett.

Barrett and Williamson haven’t disappointed in their Duke debuts as each of the top-five prospects have dominated during stretches of the game. Both freshmen made some stunning highlight-reel plays as well.

Williamson had a monster putback dunk and a goaltend near the top of the square in the first half. Barrett already made an opposing defender look silly as a Ryerson defender made the mistake of jumping with him on a breakaway dunk.

Barrett finished with a game-high 34 points to pace Duke while Williamson had some electric plays in finishing with 29 points and 13 rebounds. Duke continues its Canadian exhibition tour through the end of the weekend as they’ll play a few more exhibitions against Canadian college opponents.

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