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.”

Missouri star Jontay Porter tears ACL, MCL

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Missouri announced on Sunday evening that star forward Jontay Porter will miss the season after tearing the ACL and the MCL in his right knee.

The injury came during Missouri’s secret scrimmage against Southern Illinois.

As a freshman, Jontay averaged 9.9 points and 6.8 rebounds for the Tigers. He entered the NBA draft following the season but opted to return to school after if became clear he was not a lock to be picked in the first round of the draft. He would have entered this season as one of the best big men in the SEC, if not the country.

This is the second time in as many seasons that the Porter family has had to deal with a devastating injury. Last year, Michael Porter Jr. — Jontay’s older brother — missed essentially the entire season after undergoing surgery on his back. He was eventually picked 14th by the Denver Nuggets.

The eldest Porter, Bri, suffered five ACL tears during her playing career, while Cierra, another sister, retired from basketball due to chronic knee issues.

Four-star 2019 forward flips commitment from Big Ten to SEC program

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Four-star 2019 forward Tray Jackson flipped his verbal commitment from Minnesota to Missouri on Friday night.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decommitment from the Golden Gophers on Twitter and then announced a commitment to Missouri a little more than two hours later. Regarded as the No. 96 overall prospect in the Class of 2019, Jackson reclassified from the Class of 2018 and saw his recruitment blossom in the summer.

While decommitting happens in basketball recruiting semi-frequently, flipping a commitment to a new school within a matter of hours is a very uncommon practice. Typically associated with football recruiting, Jackson’s switch is a big deal for Missouri.

His pledge gives head coach Cuonzo Martin an athletic and versatile frontcourt player with upside as Jackson could play multiple positions. The Tigers missed on E.J. Liddell, but Jackson is a nice prize to land instead. Missouri now has two four-star prospects in the Class of 2019 as Jackson joins four-star guard Mario McKinney.

Minnesota needs to replenish its recruiting efforts as they are now without a commitment in the Class of 2019. With head coach Richard Pitino facing pressure to win this season, this isn’t good for the future of Golden Gopher basketball either.

West Virginia lands five-star 2019 center Oscar Tshiebwe

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West Virginia pulled in a major commitment on Saturday as five-star 2019 center Oscar Tshiebwe pledged to the Mountaineers.

A late-developing, high-motor big man who ascended into a national recruit this summer, the 6-foot-8, 230-pound Tshiebwe represents an important grab for West Virginia. Tshiebwe represents a potential replacement for Sagaba Konate in the middle as the Mountaineers beat some pretty impressive programs to land him. That includes Baylor and Kentucky.

Tshiebwe is quick off the floor and a good athlete, as he could be a very dangerous player in Bob Huggins’ system because of his brand of basketball. Regarded as the No. 21 overall prospect in the Rivals Class of 2019 national rankings, Tshiebwe also took official visits to Baylor, Illinois and Kentucky during the recruiting process.

Tshiebwe joins three-star guard Miles McBride in West Virginia’s 2019 recruiting haul.

VIDEO: Marshall’s Taevion Kinsey easily clears three teammates on ridiculous dunk

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Marshall freshman Taevion Kinsey put down one of the preseason’s best dunks on Friday night. With the Thundering Herd hosting Herd Madness, the 6-foot-5 Kinsey put down a ridiculous dunk that easily cleared three teammates.

Most dunkers use an arm on the shoulder during the dunk. Kinsey didn’t need any sort of help as he glided over his teammates.

Kinsey is going to be a dunker to keep an eye on in the future. His teammates certainly think highly of his dunking ability, as most of them projected Kinsey to win the dunk contest before the event even started.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson impresses Duke fans in Cameron Indoor debut, downplays link to trial

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Duke freshman Zion Williamson made some ridiculous dunks look effortless in his Cameron Indoor Stadium debut on Friday night. As part of Duke’s annual “Countdown to Craziness” event, Williamson took part in a scrimmage against his Blue Devil teammates.

That included Williamson going head-to-head with fellow freshman R.J. Barrett in a scrimmage. And more absurd dunks in the warm up line.

But besides for the on-court action, Williamson was also asked about his family’s link to the college basketball corruption trial. On Tuesday, a transcript of calls was read to the New York courtroom that allegedly included Williamson’s stepfather on FBI tapes asking for money and a job from Kansas men’s basketball coaches. The tapes were not admitted as evidence.

“Honestly, I’ve paid no attention to it,” Williamson said to reporters, including ESPN’s David M. Hale, about the trial. “I’m just a college kid, out here having fun with my classmates, looking forward to stuff like Countdown and our first game. You only get one chance at the college experience, and I want to enjoy it.”

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski also downplayed Williamson’s link to the trial, pointing to the NCAA eligibility center’s “exhaustive” process to vette incoming recruits.

“They have an eligibility center now that these kids and their parents go through — and they go through everything,” Krzyzewski said. “We feel very comfortable with him and all our freshmen.”

We’ll likely hear more about Williamson, Kansas and this trial, as time goes on. Williamson also might legitimately not know much about this if it was his stepfather on the call. For now, Williamson is making a huge impression with Duke fans every time he steps foot on the floor.

(H/t: Lawrence Davis III and Duke men’s basketball)