Las Vegas Leftovers: Some notes that didn’t make the recaps

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There was plenty going on in Las Vegas during the final evaluation period of the summer, with there being three events for high school players (adidas Uprising Summer Championships, Bigfoot Hoops’ Las Vegas Classic and Las Vegas Fab 48) and the annual JucoRecruiting.com Elite 80 West Showcase. Below are a few notes on players that did not make their way into the daily recaps. CBT will have even more from last week in the coming days.

Spencer Littleson performs well as 1 Nation wins Fab 48: While we’ve touched on the exploits of both Josh Jackson and Devon Daniels in daily recaps of the action from Las Vegas, fellow 1 Nation guard Spencer Littleson also performed well as the team won the invitational division (the toughest bracket) of the Las Vegas Fab 48. A good perimeter shooter, Littleson knocked down perimeter shots while also displaying the ability to make plays off the dribble.

The 6-foot-4 guard’s play over the weekend has led to offers from Binghamton, Lafayette and Duquesne, and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if there are more in the near future. Prior to Las Vegas, Littleson held offers from Oakland and Saint Joseph’s, with Phil Martelli taking in his semifinal game against We R1.

Christ the King guard preparing for senior year without Rawle Alkins: With Alkins having to move on to prep school for next season, Christ the King will need more productivity from its returning players if they’re to win a fourth straight CHSAA Class AA city title in 2015-16. One such option is NY Rens guard Jared Rivers, who’s working hard to ensure that he’s capable of stepping forward.

“I have to be more of a leader, and I’ll have to take more shots. Rawle was a big piece to our team, and I have to step up,” Rivers told NBC Sports when asked about how his responsibilities will change next season. “My coach expects me to be a leader, make sure my teammates are where they need to be and pick up where I left off last season.”

Rivers, who hopes to stay close to home to play his college basketball, listed Quinnipiac, Stony Brook, Hofstra and Iona as programs that have shown interest.

Junior college forward highly active in return to the court: While the majority of the players at the JucoRecruiting.com Elite 80 West Showcase were players who will be eligible to play at a four-year school in 2016, there were a couple who can make the move up this year. One such player was Darren Smith, who after playing two seasons at the junior college level spent last year shoring up his academics. For a player such as Smith, who was very active in his time on the court Saturday, an event like this can be used as a reintroduction of sorts to college coaches and he’s hopeful that the impression made was a positive one.

“Just to be able to show up, work hard and show my growth,” Smith told NBC Sports. “I first came to this event before I started (San Bernardino) Valley and I didn’t feel that I played well; I was very upset with myself. It’s a blessing to be able to come back and make improvements, and show the coaches that I’ve improved.”

Smith passed on signing with Prairie View A&M in 2014 to return to San Bernardino Valley CC for academic reasons, and the Panthers are in the mix as is Tennessee State as those most active in his recruitment.

2018 PG takes benefitting from special opportunity: One of the perks of The8 event, which this year was incorporated into the Las Vegas Classic after operating as a standalone event for two seasons, is that former players (and current pros) serve as assistants on the eight teams involved. One of those programs is the EP Elite program out of Louisiana, with Orlando Magic point guard Elfrid Payton serving not only as the team namesake but an active participant in helping the players improve (Chris Paul (CP3), Victor Oladipo (Team Takeover), Jabari Parker (Mac Irvin Fire) and Rakeem Christmas (Team Final) were also active with their respective teams).

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One such player is point guard Javonte Smart, who’s one of the top players in the Class of 2018. Smart played well throughout the event, showing off the ability to set up his teammates while also putting some points on the board himself. And in a conversation with Smart following a game against the Arkansas Wings (with Malik Monk & Jayson Tatum) Friday night, he noted how much of a positive it’s been to learn from one of the NBA’s rising stars.

“He’s helped me out a lot. He gives me tips during games, during timeouts, telling me what he sees on the court and what I need to do,” Smart said.

Already holding offers from programs such as LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma, Baylor and Ohio State before the final evaluation period, Smart picked up an offer from Vanderbilt earlier this week.

Vance Jackson garnering attention from many high-major programs: One of the top players in the Class of 2016 on the west coast is four-star 6-foot-8 forward Vance Jackson, a versatile prospect who can score at all three levels. Playing for Dream Vision in the adidas Uprising Summer Championships, Jackson averaged 11.6 points per game and shot nearly 49 percent from the field and nearly 48 percent from beyond the arc.

In speaking with Jackson following a game Thursday afternoon, the California native noted that much of the Pac-12 is in pursuit of his commitment while also mentioning three programs that are not in the conference. With his recruitment being wide open presently, it may be a while before Jackson reveals a concrete list.

“A lot of the Pac-12, UConn, Memphis and Maryland,” Jackson stated when asked about which schools have been most active in his recruitment, and he also stated that he was unsure as to when he would narrow things down. Jackson, who played at St. John Bosco last season, will attend Mater Dei for his senior year according to the Los Angeles Times.

And Jackson wasn’t the only Dream Vision player currently going through an eventful recruitment either.

Former Arizona State commit Brendan Bailey discusses recruitment: Like Jackson, Bailey has some things to sort out with regards to his recruitment. However unlike Jackson, there was a time when the son of former NC State/NBA forward Thurl Bailey was committed, as he’d made a pledge to Arizona State in late November. Since then the program has changed coaches, moving from Herb Sendek to Bobby Hurley, with Bailey deciding to reopen his recruitment in late March.

Since then the 6-foot-7 four-star small forward has been contacted by a number of programs, including Michigan, Gonzaga, San Diego State, Utah and Marquette (former ASU assistant Stan Johnson is now on the Marquette coaching staff). According to Bailey, with the exception of Michigan each of those schools has offered him a scholarship. He also noted that Arizona State remains involved, and with his sister being a member of the volleyball team there’s the family angle to consider as well.

“Somewhere where I fit in with the people and the environment,” Bailey said when asked what will factor into his college decision.”It doesn’t necessarily have to be close to home. The relationships I have with the coaches and players are very important.”

College basketball broadcaster Billy Packer dies at 82

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Billy Packer, an Emmy award-winning college basketball broadcaster who covered 34 Final Fours for NBC and CBS, died Thursday. He was 82.

Packer’s son, Mark, told The Associated Press that his father had been hospitalized in Charlotte for the past three weeks and had several medical issues, and ultimately succumbed to kidney failure.

Packer’s broadcasting career coincided with the growth of college basketball. He worked as analyst or color commentator on every Final Four from 1975 to 2008. He received a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio and Sports Analyst in 1993.

“He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours,” Mark Packer said. “He timed it right. Everything in life is about timing. The ability to get involved in something that, frankly, he was going to watch anyway, was a joy to him. And then college basketball just sort of took off with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and that became, I think, the catalyst for college basketball fans to just go crazy with March Madness.”

Packer played three seasons at Wake Forest, and helped lead the Demon Deacons to the Final Four in 1962, but it was his work as an analyst that brought him the most acclaim.

He joined NBC in 1974 and called his first Final Four in 1975. UCLA beat Kentucky in the title game that year in what was John Wooden’s final game as coach.

Packer was also part of the broadcast in 1979 with Dick Enberg and Al McGuire when Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team beat Larry Bird’s Indiana State squad in the title game. That remains highest-rated game in basketball history with a 24.1 Nielsen rating, which is an estimated 35.1 million viewers.

Packer went to CBS in the fall of 1981, when the network acquired the rights to the NCAA Tournament. He remained the network’s main analyst until the 2008 Final Four.

In 1996 at CBS, Packer was involved in controversy when he used the term “tough monkey? to describe then-Georgetown star Allen Iverson during a game. Packer later said he “was not apologizing for what I said, because what I said has no implications in my mind whatsoever to do with Allen Iverson’s race.?

Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports, said Packer was “synonymous with college basketball for more than three decades and set the standard of excellence as the voice of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.”

“He had a tremendous impact on the growth and popularity of the sport.” McManus said. “In true Billy fashion, he analyzed the game with his own unique style, perspective and opinions, yet always kept the focus on the game. As passionate as he was about basketball, at his heart Billy was a family man. He leaves part of his legacy at CBS Sports, across college basketball and, most importantly, as a beloved husband, father and grandfather. He will be deeply missed by all.”

Packer was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale took to Twitter as word of Packer’s death spread. “So sad to learn of the passing of Billy Packer who had such a passion for college basketball,” Vitale tweeted. “My (prayers) go out to Billy’s son Mark & the entire Packer family. Always had great RESPECT for Billy & his partners Dick Enberg & Al McGuire-they were super. May Billy RIP.”

College basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla tweeted: “We fell in love (with) college basketball because of you. Your voice will remain in my head forever.”

Packer was viewed as a controversial figure during his broadcasting days, often drawing the ire of college basketball fans, particularly on North Carolina’s “Tobacco Road.”

“As a kid, I was a big NC State fan growing up, and I would watch a game and the next day I’d be like, `Boy you sure have it out for NC State, don’t you?’ And he would just laugh,” Mark Packer said.

The younger Packer, who is the host of ACC PM on the ACC Network, said it didn’t matter what school – most fans felt the same way about his father.

“He would cover North Carolina game and Tar Heels fans would be like, `you hate North Carolina,”‘ Mark Packer said. “Wake (Forest) fans would be like, `you hate us.’ And Billy just sort of got a kick out of that.”

Mark Packer said that while most fans will remember his father as a broadcaster, he’ll remember him even more for his business acumen. He said his father was a big real estate investor, and also owned a vape company, among other ventures.

“Billy was always a bit of a hustler – he was always looking for that next business deal,” Packer said.

Clemson starter Galloway will miss time after surgery

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson starter Brevin Galloway is expected to miss games for the 24th-ranked Tigers after having surgery on his groin area Thursday.

The 6-foot-3 Galloway has started 20 of 21 games after transferring from Boston College this past offseason.

Galloway posted on social media that he’d had the surgery. Clemson coach Brad Brownell confirmed in a text to The Associated Press that Galloway had the operation.

Galloway said in his post he will be in uniform soon. He is not expected to play at Florida State on Saturday.

A fifth-year player, Galloway has averaged 10.6 points a game this season. He’s second on the Tigers with 55 assists and 18 steals.

The Tigers (17-4) lead the Atlantic Coast Conference at 9-1 in league play.

Clemson is already down two experienced players due to injury.

Point guard Chase Hunter, who started the team’s first 18 games, has missed the past three with a foot injury.

Guard Alex Hemenway, in his fourth season, has missed the past nine games with a foot injury. Hemenway was the team’s leading 3-point shooter (27 of 54) before getting hurt.

Zach Edey has 19 points, No. 1 Purdue beats Michigan 75-70

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Zach Edey had 15 of his 19 points in the first half and Fletcher Loyer finished with 17 points to help No. 1 Purdue hold off Michigan 75-70 on Thursday night.

The Boilermakers (20-1, 9-1 Big Ten) had a 15-0 run to go ahead 41-28 lead in the first half after there were 10 lead changes and four ties, but they couldn’t pull away.

The Wolverines (11-9, 5-4) were without standout freshman Jett Howard, who missed the game with an ankle injury, and still hung around until the final seconds.

Joey Baker made a 3-pointer – off the glass – with 5.9 seconds left to pull Michigan within three points, but Purdue’s Brandon Newman sealed the victory with two free throws.

Purdue coach Matt Painter said Michigan slowed down Edey in the second half by pushing him away from the basket.

“They got him out a little more, and got him bottled up,” Painter said.

The 7-foot-4 Edey, though, was too tough to stop early in the game.

“He’s one of the best in the country for a reason,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “He’s very effective, especially if he’s 8 feet and in.”

With size and skills such as a hook shot, the junior center from Toronto scored Purdue’s first seven points and finished the first half 7 of 12 from the field and 1 of 2 at the line.

“He did a great job in the first half, going to his right shoulder and using his left hand,” Painter said. “He made four baskets with his left hand which is huge.”

Freshman Braden Smith had 10 points for the Boilermakers.

Purdue’s defense ultimately denied Michigan’s comeback hopes, holding a 22nd straight opponent to 70 or fewer points.

Hunter Dickinson scored 21, Kobe Bufkin had 16 points and Baker added 11 points for the Wolverines, who have lost four of their last six games.

Dickinson, a 7-1 center, matched up with Edey defensively and pulled him out of the lane offensively by making 3 of 7 3-pointers.

“Half his shots were from the 3, and that’s a little different,” Painter said. “His meat and potatoes are on that block. He’s the real deal.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Boilermakers got the top spot in the AP Top 25 this week after winning six games, a stretch that followed a loss to Rutgers on Jan. 3 that dropped them from No. 1 in the poll. Purdue improved to 7-2 as the top-ranked team.

BIG PICTURE

Purdue: Edey can’t beat teams by himself and he’s surrounded by a lot of role players and a potential standout in Loyer. The 6-4 guard was the Big Ten player of the week earlier this month, become the first Boilermaker freshman to win the award since Robbie Hummel in 2008.

“Fletcher is somebody who has played better in the second half, and on the road,” Painter said.

Michigan: Jett Howard’s health is a critical factor for the Wolverines, who will have some work to do over the second half of the Big Ten season to avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. Howard averages 14.6 points and is the most dynamic player on his father’s team.

ROAD WARRIORS

The Boilermakers were away from home for 12 of 23 days, winning all five of their road games. They won at Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan for the first time since the 1997-98 season and beat the Spartans and Wolverines on their home court in the same season for the first time in 12 years.

UP NEXT

Purdue: Hosts Michigan State on Sunday, nearly two weeks after the Boilermakers beat the Spartans by a point on Edey’s shot with 2.2 seconds left.

Michigan: Plays at Penn State on Sunday.

Miller scores 23, No. 10 Maryland tops No. 13 Michigan 72-64

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Diamond Miller scored 23 points, and No. 10 Maryland closed the first quarter with a 13-2 run and led the rest of the way in a 72-64 victory over No. 13 Michigan on Thursday night.

Abby Meyers contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins (17-4, 8-2), who won for the 10th time in 11 games. Lavender Briggs scored 14 points and Shyanne Sellers added 13.

Maryland gained a measure of revenge after losing twice to Michigan last season – including a 20-point rout in College Park.

Leigha Brown led the Wolverines with 16 points.

Michigan (16-5, 6-4) led 13-9 in the first quarter before a three-point play by Miller started Maryland’s big run. Briggs and Faith Masonius made 3-pointers during that stretch.

The Terps pushed the lead to 16 in the third quarter before the Wolverines were able to chip away. Miller sat for a bit with four fouls, and Michigan cut the lead to seven in the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines still wasted too many possessions with turnovers to mount much of a comeback.

Michigan ended up with 24 turnovers, and Maryland had a 25-5 advantage in points off turnovers.

Miller fouled out with 2:19 remaining, but even after those two free throws, the Terps led 65-57 and had little trouble holding on.

Michigan lost for the second time in four days against a top-10 opponent. No. 6 Indiana beat the Wolverines 92-83 on Monday.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan: Whether it was against Maryland’s press or in their half-court offense, the Wolverines turned the ball over too much to score consistently. This was a lower-scoring game than the loss to Indiana, but the margin ended up being similar.

Maryland: While Miller clearly led the way, the Terps had plenty of offensive contributors. They also held Michigan to 13 points below its season average entering the game.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Wolverines have appeared in 48 straight AP polls, and although a two-loss week could certainly drop them, the quality of their opponents could save them from a substantial plunge.

Maryland is tied for 10th with an Iowa team that beat No. 2 Ohio State on Monday night. Now the Terps can boast an impressive victory of their own.

UP NEXT

Michigan: The Wolverines play their third game of the week when they visit Minnesota on Sunday.

Maryland: The Terps host Penn State on Monday night.

 

Boum, Jones lead No. 13 Xavier over No. 19 UConn, 82-79

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STORRS, Conn. – Souley Boum scored 21 points, Colby Jones added 20 and No. 13 Xavier went on the road and held off No. 19 Connecticut 82-79 Wednesday night.

The win was the 13th in 14 games for the Musketeers (17-4, 9-1 Big East) and it gave them a season sweep over the struggling Huskies (16-6, 5-6).

Jack Nunge had 12 points and Jerome Hunter added 11 for Xavier, which led by 17 in the first half and 39-24 at halftime.

Jordan Hawkins scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half for UConn, leading a comeback that fell just short.

Tristen Newton added 23 points for the Huskies, who won their first 14 games this season but have dropped six of eight since.

The Musketeers never trailed but had to withstand UConn runs that cut the lead to a single point four times in the second half.

A three-point play from Hawkins made it 78-77 with 2:40 left. But a second-chance layup from Nunge put the lead at 80-77 just over a minute later.

Newton was fouled with two seconds left by Desmond Claude, but his apparent attempt to miss his second free throw went into the basket.

Boum then hit two free throws at the other end, and Newton’s final attempt from just beyond halfcourt was well short.

Xavier jumped out to a 9-0 lead as UConn missed its first nine shots.

A 3-pointer from Zach Freemantle gave the Musketeers their first double-digit lead at 20-9, and another from Jones pushed it to 35-18.

BIG PICTURE

Xavier: The Musketeers lead the Big East, and the win over UConn was their ninth conference victory this season, eclipsing their total from last season.

UConn: The Huskies came in with a 17-game winning streak at Gampel Pavilion dating to February 2021. They fell to 1-4 against the four teams in front of them in the Big East standings. The lone win came at Gampel against Creighton.

UP NEXT

Xavier: The Musketeers continue their road trip with a visit to Creighton on Saturday.

UConn: Doesn’t play again until next Tuesday, when the Huskies visit DePaul.