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SMU gets commitment from 2016 guard

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SMU picked up its first commitment in the Class of 2016 this weekend as key Mustang target and point guard Dashawn McDowell committed.

The 6-foot-5, 183-pound McDowell is coming off a strong junior season at Southeast High School in Oklahoma City.

Regarded as a three-star prospect, McDowell was previously committed to another American program, Tulsa, before opening things back up in April. Now SMU has a guard who coaches named the All-City Athleitc Conference Player of the Year last season as a junior and McDowell is a big guard who head coach Larry Brown can try to mold to help replace the departure of experienced leader Nic Moore.

South Florida losing two to transfer, including graduate transfer point guard

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South Florida is losing two players to transfer on Monday, including an interesting graduate transfer candidate. Redshirt junior point guard Anthony Collins and freshman forward Dre Clayton are leaving the Bulls. The duo leaving was first reported by ESPN.com‘s Jeff Goodman.

The 6-foot-1 Collins was a starting point guard for the Bulls and played a hand in their 2012 NCAA Tournament appearance. Collins played only eight games due to swelling in his left knee in 2013-14 and was granted a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA. This past season, Collins averaged 7.1 points and a team-leading 5.2 assists per game while shooting 44 percent from the field and 27 percent from 3-point range.

Since he has already graduated from South Florida, Collins can become immediately eligible at the next school he chooses and likely becomes an attractive option for a team searching for an experienced floor general.

Clayton is a 6-foot-6 freshman who averaged less than a point per game. The native of Orlando struggled to acclimate to The American and only shot 24 percent from the field and 16 percent from 3-point range.

Losing Collins will certainly hurt South Florida next season, but moving on without Clayton shouldn’t be too difficult. In his first season as head coach of the Bulls, Orlando Antigua guided the program to a 9-23 record and 3-15 conference record.

 

Josh Pastner: ‘We have a long way to go’

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Josh Pastner has a highly-touted recruiting class, couple that with recent news that Missouri transfer Michael Dixon is eligible to play this season, and Memphis once again has high expectations in the preseason.

Though, during Monday’s media session, Pastner made it clear that for all the potential this team has, still has a lot of room for improvement.

“We have some work to do,” Pastner said. “We have a long way to go. We’re not near a finished product at all. There’s some strengths, and we have some weaknesses. We’ve got to get a lot better in a lot of different areas.”

The strength is clearly the guard play with Dixon, Joe Jackson, Geron Johnson and Chris Crawford, a quartet that some argue is the best in the country.

“I don’t think if I could (coach) another 35 years, that I will have another team where I have four senior guards,” Pastner added. “Not just senior guards, but these are four guys who have been on teams that won 30 games and have played major minutes.”

The Tigers will still be matched up with some of the nation’s other top guard play including UConn and Louisville, who are now conference foes in the brand-new American. The Tigers face the Huskies and Cards twice this season, and their inaugural conference schedule is anything but favorable from the start.  Memphis begins league play on the road in South Florida, then the four following games include home against Cincinnati, on the road at Louisville and Temple, wrapping up against UConn in the FedEx Forum.

Before the Tigers even get conference play, they have an out-of-conference slate that features Oklahoma State (another premier backcourt), Florida and potentially an improved LSU team.

Memphis is predicted to be at the top of the conference and rightfully so. Though Pastner and his Tigers have succumbed to preseason hype in the past (remember last season’s Battle 4 Atlantis performance?). He took some heat off when he won an NCAA tournament game, though he still doesn’t have a top-25 win under his belt. He has several tough out-of-conference games and a much more difficult conference schedule, so maybe calming the hype around his program this preseason isn’t the worst decision.

Stephen Lumpkins returns to American University after year playing minor league baseball

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After a year playing minor league baseball, American University forward Stephen Lumpkins is returning to school to play basketball, the Washington Post is reporting.

Lumpkins, a 6-8, 225-pound California native, has reportedly re-enrolled in school after having left at the conclusion of his junior year in 2011.

He plans to play right away, pending approval from the Patriot League.

“Being away for a year made me realize how much I miss basketball,” Lumpkins told the paper. “I enjoyed my three years on the AU team very much and I am hopeful I can play again in my final year.”

In the minors, Lumpkins pitched for the AZL Royals, a rookie league team in Arizona and affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. During his first season, he was 2-1 with a 7.02 ERA. This year, he was 0-0 with a 19.64 ERA in under four innings of work.

During his last year at American in 2010-11, he averaged 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game.

If approved to play, Lumpkins will return to a team that finished 20-14 in 2011-12, including 10-4 in the Patriot League.

The Eagles welcome two recruits to the team from the Class of 2012.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_