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Arizona lands Cornell forward Stone Gettings for 2019-20 season

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Arizona landed its first addition for the 2019-20 season on Monday, as an Ivy League power forward revealed his intention to join Sean Miller’s program as a graduate student.

6-foot-9 forward Stone Gettings, who averaged 16.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game at Cornell last season, picked Arizona over Stanford and Vanderbilt according to Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com. A second team All-Ivy selection, Gettings is on course to graduate from Cornell in December. Instead of using his final season of eligibility at Cornell, Gettings will sit out this season before playing at Arizona.

Gettings does have a connection to the Arizona program, as one of his high school teammates was former point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright. The addition of Gettings will give Arizona a front court player who can score around the basket and from the perimeter, as he shot nearly 37 percent from beyond the arc last season.

Gettings isn’t the first Ivy League player to make his decision regarding a new school well in advance of his being able to move as a grad transfer, as former Yale point guard Makai Mason took a similar approach. Mason, who missed the entire 2016-17 season with a torn ACL, announced prior to last season that he be joining the Baylor program as a grad transfer for the 2018-19 campaign.

Not counting Gettings, Arizona has four scholarship front court players on its current roster who will have eligibility remaining in 2019-20, in current junior Chase Jeter, sophomores Emmanuel Akot and Ira Lee and freshman Omar Thielemans.

South Carolina lands highly regarded Canadian prospect

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South Carolina made another addition to its roster Tuesday evening, as one of the top prospects from Canada announced that he will be joining Frank Martin’s program ahead of the 2018-19 season. Highly athletic 6-foot-7 wing A.J. Lawson announced that he will be a Gamecock, and in addition to that he is moving up in classes from 2019 to 2018.

Lawson was considered to be one of Canada’s top 2019 prospects ahead of his decision to commit, picking South Carolina over Creighton and Tulane. Lawson joins a team that returns four of its top six scorers from last season, most notably the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year in rising senior Chris Silva.

Silva led the Gamecocks in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots last season and tested the NBA draft process before withdrawing his name ahead of the NCAA deadline last month.

Lawson’s pledge gives South Carolina five incoming freshmen, including four-star guard T.J. Moss, and the program is also adding two transfers in guards Tre Campbell and Jair Bolden. Campbell, who previously played at Georgetown, will be eligible this upcoming season as a graduate student.

Bolden, who averaged 11.2 points, 3.1 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game at George Washington last season, will have two seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2018-19 season per NCAA transfer rules

Four-star wing Romeo Weems commits to DePaul

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DePaul landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2019 Tuesday afternoon, as four-star small forward Romeo Weems announced that he will be a Blue Demon. Weems, who attends New Haven HS in New Haven, Michigan, picked DePaul over Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Oregon and is considered by most major scouting services to be a Top 50 prospect in the 2019 graduating class.

The 6-foot-6 Weems plays his grassroots basketball for The Family on the Nike EYBL circuit, averaging 15.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this spring. Weems also has experience playing for USA Basketball, as he was part of the Under-16 team that won the FIBA Americas U16 title last year. Weems will also be part of the training camp from which the Under-17 team will be selected next month in preparation for this summer’s FIBA Under-17 World Championships.

DePaul managing to land a commitment from a prospect of Weems’ caliber, a versatile wing who can defend multiple positions while also being productive offensively, could be the shot in the arm that Dave Leitao’s program so desperately needs if they’re to improve their standing within the Big East.

Since making the move from Conference USA in 2005, DePaul has finished above .500 in a season just once (20-14 in 2006-07) with that also being the only time in which the Blue Demons finished above .500 in Big East play (9-7). Since Leitao, who led DePaul to its most recent NCAA tournament in 2005, returned for his second stint at the school the Blue Demons have gone 29-65.

Getting out of Allstate Arena and moving to the new Wintrust Arena ahead of last season was an important move for the DePaul program, but it’s been clear that the rebuild won’t be a “quick fix.” Bringing in a talent of Weems’ caliber should help DePaul moving forward, with the key now being to recruit well enough to ensure that the talented wing has ample help when he arrives on campus next year.

Among the players currently on the roster who will have eligibility remaining in 2019 are guards Devin Gage and Justin Roberts and wing Darious Hall, who will sit out the 2018-19 season after transferring to DePaul from Arkansas. Hall appeared in 35 games for the Razorbacks this past season, averaging 5.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in just under 15 minutes per game.

USC lands key commit in 2019 5-star Onyeka Okongwu

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With one of the Pac-12’s top 2018 recruiting classes — even with the loss of Taeshon Cherry — set to enroll this summer, USC has moved on to filling the spots in its 2019 class. On Monday the USC program picked up its first verbal commitment in the class, with 6-foot-9 power forward Onyeka Okongwu announcing that he will don the cardinal and gold when the time comes.

Okongwu attends Chino Hills HS, where he led the team to the CIF-SS Division I title this season, and he plays his grassroots basketball for the Compton Magic program. While there are still some strides for Okongwu to make offensively, should he be able to transition to being a power forward who can step away from the basket, he’s an elite talent on the defensive end of the floor.

Okongwu’s commitment is a big first step for USC with regards to the 2019 recruiting class, especially when considering everything the program had to deal with in the fall.

Former assistant Tony Bland was one of ten indicted in the FBI’s probe into corruption and bribes in college basketball/recruiting, and that led to some wondering that the effects would be on USC’s recruiting both in the short and long-term. But Andy Enfield and his staff managed to put together a good 2018 class, featuring guard Kevin Porter Jr., and to land a player of Okongwu’s talent is certainly a good start to the program’s 2019 class.

Add in the fact that the Trojans are also in the running for highly-regarded southern California based talents such as 2019 guard Cassius Stanley, 2019 forward Isaiah Mobley, 2020 forward Evan Mobley (Isaiah’s brother) and 2020 guard Johnny Juzang, and USC is well-positioned to continue to be a factor within the Pac-12 moving forward.

UCLA lands commitments from two 2019 prospects

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Tuesday afternoon the UCLA program received some good news with regards to its 2019 recruiting class, as two four-star wings announced that they will play their college basketball for Steve Alford.

6-foot-7 wing Jaime Jaquez Jr., who played at Camarillo HS in Camarillo, California, announced via Twitter that he has verbally committed to UCLA. A couple hours later it was reported by Josh Gershon of 247Sports.com that another 6-foot-7 wing, Jake Kyman out of Santa Margarita HS in Rancho Santa Margarita, made his pledge to UCLA during an unofficial visit.

Kyman’s mother won a national title as a member of UCLA’s volleyball team in 1991, and his father was a two-sport athlete at CSUN.

Adding depth on the wing was something that UCLA needed to do in this recruiting class, and while it’s early in the cycle the commitments of Jaquez and Kyman certainly help in that regard. Jaquez and Kyman give UCLA three verbal commitments in the 2019 class, joining guard Grant Sherfield.

UCLA added Jules Bernard and David Singleton III as part of its talented 2018 class, and it remains to be seen who’s all on the roster when Jaquez and Kyman make their way to campus next summer. But, at minimum, UCLA has added two more talented options as the program looks to get back to playing deep into the NCAA tournament after being knocked out in the First Four this past season.

Gregg Marshall does right by Alex Lomax with NLI release

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Memphis introduced Penny Hardaway as its new head coach Tuesday morning, with the former Tiger great and Memphis native making his triumphant return to campus.

And it didn’t take long for Hardaway’s hiring to have an impact on the recruiting trail either, as the point guard who led Hardaway’s Memphis East squad to its third straight TSSAA AAA state title is expected to play for his longtime mentor.

Alex Lomax, who signed a National Letter of Intent to play for Gregg Marshall at Wichita State, requested to be released from his NLI on Tuesday. It didn’t take Marshall long to make his decision, granting Lomax’s request and citing the unique circumstances in his statement as to why.

“Obviously, we take commitments to the Shocker program very seriously, but this is a very unique situation where a young man’s mentor and coach since the 5th grade has become a Division I head coach,” Marshall said. “Allowing him out of his NLI without any penalty is the right thing to do.”

The National Letter of Intent, for those who may not be too familiar with it, is a document that when signed binds the recruit in question to the school they’ve committed to. If the circumstances surrounding the recruitment change, getting released from the NLI can be incredibly difficult. Coaches and universities have no obligation to release a recruit once they sign, and it seems like every year we run into a situation where a coach is refusing to so.

Kansas point guard Devonte’ Graham is only a senior this season because, after signing an NLI with Appalachian State, he was not given a release and forced to go to prep school for a year. That’s not as uncommon as you might think.

That is also perfectly within the bounds of the rules, if not the laws of being a decent human being.

Wichita State and Marshall could have taken this opportunity to make life miserable for Lomax, and there would have been those who rushed to say that since the young man made a commitment he should stick by it no matter what. Lomax was a noteworthy recruiting win for the program during its first season in the American Athletic Conference, as the Wichita State went into Memphis and landed a pledge from a prospect who was likely to be a key part of the program’s plans moving forward.

But the hit that comes with allowing Lomax to leave without fuss is far less severe than what happens if Wichita State and Marshall make things difficult for him.

Faced with the opportunity to do the right thing and help out a young player, Marshall and Wichita State did just that.

The program should, and will, be applauded for it.