While Canadian Jamal Murray was not able to compete with his national team at their upcoming Olympic qualifying tournament, another current college basketball player was able to do so for the nation in which his father was born. And for Syracuse senior guard Michael Gbinije, his run with the Nigerian national team at the Afrobasket 2015 tournament in Tunisia was the first step towards wrapping up a roster spot for next summer’s Olympics.
Nigeria defeated Angola 74-65 in Sunday’s title game, thus clinching a spot for the team in next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Gbinije scored five points in the win, and for the tournament he averaged 7.3 points and 2.1 rebounds per contest. Gbinije scored in double figures in two of Nigeria’s eight games, one being a 15-point, five-steal outing against Gabon.
Of course, being part of the roster for Afrobasket doesn’t guarantee Gbinije a spot on Nigeria’s Olympic roster next summer. But to be part of a team that not only clinched its spot in Rio but also won its first continental title is pretty special as both he and his father discussed with the Syracuse Post-Standard.
“Playing on this team was a unique experience for me,” he said. “Overall, I enjoyed playing with these guys.”
Frank Gbinije watched today’s game via FIBA’s live feed and was thrilled to see Nigeria win and his son contributing to the team’s push to Rio.
“I’m pretty excited,” Frank Gbinije said by telephone. “I’m glad he had the opportunity. I think it’s been a wonderful experience for him and something he can carry into his senior season at Syracuse.”
Former Illinois State guard Champ Oguchi led the Nigerians, which finished the game with five double-digit scorers, with 19 points. Among those on Angola’s team was former SMU big man Yanick Moreira, who finished the title game with 13 points and six rebounds.
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 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 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.
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.
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.”