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.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.