Horizon League

Dennis Gates gets contract extension at Cleveland State thru 2027

Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
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CLEVELAND — Cleveland State isn’t going to let coach Dennis Gates get away.

After turning around a troubled program in just two seasons, Gates signed a contract extension through the 2026-27 season. The deal includes bonus incentives based on the team’s performance on the court and in the classroom.

Gates led the Vikings to the NCAA Tournament in his second season and he has been named Horizon League Coach of the Year in both seasons at CSU.

When he signed a five-year contract in 2019, Cleveland State was coming off a 10-21 season, players were transferring and the Vikings had lost at least 21 games in each of the four previous seasons.

But the 41-year-old Gates has quickly changed the culture and created excitement around a program that has struggled for most of the past two decades.

Given his success, bigger schools were beginning to show interest in Gates and Cleveland State wanted to make sure he had everything he needed. The school revised some of his original deal while extending it for three more seasons.

“Cleveland State men’s basketball has a very rich tradition and history, and I’m humbled to lead this program,” Gates said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to continue to grow upon the success our program has experienced the last two seasons, while building champions in the classroom, on the court and in our community.”

Gates came to Cleveland State after spending nine seasons on Leonard Hamilton’s staff at Florida State. He also has been an assistant at Nevada, North Illinois, Cal and Marquette.

The extension raises Gates’ salary and includes incentives bonuses based on team performance, academic success and rules compliance.

The school will also make a financial investment into the assistant coaching salary pool, work to improve its home schedule and make upgrades in strength and conditioning, recruiting, travel and equipment.

Cleveland State went 19-8 last season, winning 16 games in the Horizon League and making the NCAA field for just the third time and first time 2009. The Vikings were beaten by 31 points by Houston, which went on to make the Final Four.

Top-five recruit Patrick Baldwin Jr. to play for father at Milwaukee

Scott Ash / Now News Group
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MILWAUKEE — Patrick Baldwin Jr., one of the nation’s top recruits in his class, will play college basketball for his father at Milwaukee.

The forward is rated as the nation’s No. 4 senior prospect according to composite rankings of recruiting sites compiled by 247Sports. An ankle injury caused him to miss most of his senior season at Hamilton High School in Sussex, Wisconsin.

Baldwin chose the Horizon League program over Duke and Georgetown. He announced his decision at his high school and Milwaukee made the signing official later in the day.

“First of all, it’s a very emotional day for Patrick and for our family and we are extremely happy that he has finally come to a conclusion on his decision on where he wants to go to school,” Baldwin’s father, Pat Baldwin, said in a statement released by the university. “I am extremely happy for him – he has waited for this moment ever since he could dribble a basketball.”

Milwaukee lists Baldwin Jr. as 6-foot-10, while 247Sports has him at 6-9.

He’s the highest-ranked prospect ever to sign with a Horizon League program. His situation is somewhat comparable to that of Ray McCallum Jr., a 2010 McDonald’s All-American who played for his dad at Horizon League school Detroit Mercy and was a 2013 NBA second-round draft pick.

Jerry Meyer, the director of scouting 247Sports, said that Baldwin’s shooting ability makes him particularly notable.

“He can really shoot off the dribble and come off screens, spot-up and he has deep range,” Meyer said. “There’s a lot of guys who are athletic like him. What set him apart is his overall skill level and he’s a deft shooter. ”

Baldwin is the first top-10 247Sports Composite recruit to sign with a school outside the power conferences that wasn’t Gonzaga or Memphis since Western Kentucky landed Charles Bassey, the nation’s No. 6 overall prospect in 2018.

He was named the 2020 Gatorade Wisconsin Player of the Year after leading Hamilton to a 22-3 record while averaging 24.3 points and 10.8 rebounds per game his junior season. He got hurt in the second game of his senior year and didn’t play again the rest of the season.

His decision is a huge victory for his father, who has posted a 47-70 record in four seasons as Milwaukee’s coach The Panthers went 10-12 this past season and lost in the Horizon League Tournament semifinals.

The elder Baldwin took over Milwaukee’s program after working as an assistant at Northwestern when the Wildcats made their lone NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017.

“We have certainly increased our ability to score and to do some great things,” the Milwaukee coach said in a statement. “I think that Patrick will definitely pair extremely well with the current players we have in our program and will add a tremendous amount of depth to our lineup as well.”

Milwaukee has posted just one winning season – a 20-13 mark in 2015-16 – since earning its last NCAA Tournament berth in 2014. The Panthers are best known for reaching the Sweet 16 in 2005 under Bruce Pearl.

Jarrett Culver’s big game leads No. 3 Texas Tech past No. 14 Northern Kentucky

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All-American Jarrett Culver had a monster outing as No. 3 seed Texas Tech cruised to a 72-57 win over No. 14 seed Northern Kentucky during a Friday afternoon NCAA tournament first-round game in the West Region.

Finishing with 29 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, Culver was efficient and dominant for the Red Raiders as they opened up the game in the second half. Only a 30-26 lead for Texas Tech at the break, the Red Raiders clamped down and used the offense of Culver and it’s No. 1 overall defense to break the game open.

The Big 12 Player of the Year had one of the best individual games of any player in the first round as he was 10-for-17 from the floor and 3-for-5 from three-point range. Big man Tariq Owens also finished in double-figures for Texas Tech with 12 points while Davide Moretti added 10 points.

Northern Kentucky (26-9) stayed in the game for a half thanks to the hot shooting of junior guard Tyler Sharpe as he finished with 23 points on 8-for-13 shooting. The Norse couldn’t generate much consistent offense outside of Sharpe, however, as Northern Kentucky shot 5-for-21 from the three-point line. Horizon League Player of the Year Drew McDonald was held to only five points on 2-for-12 shooting as he struggled to get going. Dantez Wilson (11 points) was the only other double-figure scorer for the Norse.

The Red Raiders advance to face either No. 6 seed Buffalo or No. 11 seed Arizona State in Tulsa on Sunday.

Introducing Cinderella: Northern Kentucky back in the Dance after winning Horizon League tourney

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Top-seed Wright State got the first bucket of the game…and never led again.

No. 2 Northern Kentucky got out in front early and never looked back, claiming its second Horizon League tournament title in three years with a 77-66 victory Tuesday over the Raiders.

The Norse had a dominant first half before Wright State battled back right before halftime and had the deficit cut to nine in the opening minutes of the second half, but then Northern Kentucky built its lead back to 19 points before the midway point of the second half and wasn’t threatened the rest of the way.

Northern Kentucky made 12 of 21 from 3 and shot 60.3 percent overall from the floor. Five Norse players scored in double figures, led by Jalen Tate’s 17 points. Dantez Walton had a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds. Wright State as done in not only by its porous defense but by an offense that couldn’t find its footing. The Raiders shot 7 of 24 (29.2 percent) from 3-point range.

CONFERENCE: Horizon

COACH: John Brannen

RECORD: 26-8, 13-5 Horizon

RATINGS:

  • KENPOM: 105
  • NET: 117

PROJECTED SEED: Given the lack of a signature win or two along with a number of tough Ls, the Norse are likely headed for a 15 seed. The relative strength of the Horizon should help Northern Kentucky avoid the dreaded 16-line and perhaps Dayton, but they’re going to be heavy underdogs in their return to the NCAA tournament since going one-and-done in 2017.

NAMES YOU NEED TO KNOW: Drew McDonald was named the Horizon League player of the year after averaging team-bests in scoring (19.3) and rebounds (9.5) while shooting 48.7 percent from the floor and 41.1 percent from 3-point range as a 6-foot-8 senior. Six-foot-6 sophomore Jalen Tate is one of the country’s top assist men at 4.1 per game at a rate of 31.6 percent while also averaging 13.9 points per game. Tyler Sharpe (14.2) and Dantez Walton (10.9) also average double-digit scoring.

BIG WINS, BAD LOSSES: Their defeat of Wright State (118 KenPom) was their second of the season with both those wins being the best on the Norse’s resume, though non-conference wins against Miami (OH) and Northern Illinois will help their cause some. Losses to Eastern Kentucky (237) and Cleveland State (281), the latter being at home, won’t, though.

STATS YOU NEED TO KNOW: McDonald was just a fraction shy of averaging 20-10, which is impressive enough, but it’s the Norse’s ability to share the ball that’s made them successful and their offense notable. Northern Kentucky assists on 61.6 percent of its baskets, which ranks as the ninth-highest percentage in the nation.

HOW DO I KNOW YOU?: Those of you who follow hoops closely in the Bluegrass State might remember the Norse’s Tyler Sharpe as a former Louisville player. The Mount Washington, Ky. native and Kentucky Mr. Basketball finalist walked-on with the Cardinals as a freshman in 2016-17 before joining the Norse.

FINAL THOUGHT: McDonald might be a tough cover for Horizon defenses, but it’ll be tougher for him to be a matchup problem against whatever Power 5 powerhouse the Norse are likely to draw in the first round. Northern Kentucky also surrenders a lot of 3-point attempts, which could spell trouble if they draw a skilled team. There’s enough experienced talent here that high seeds should be wary, but this team isn’t going to be a popular upset pick.

Horizon League filed a lawsuit against Valparaiso

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The Horizon League is looking to take Valparaiso to court, only this time it’s not on the hardwood of a college campus.

On Thursday, Jason Belzer of Forbes, reported that the league is suing the university for breach of contract. The Horizon League claims Valpo did not give the conference a year’s notice and owes $500,000 in exit fees.

Valparaiso left its conference home since 2007 in order to join the Missouri Valley Conference. The Crusaders were replacing Wichita State, which departed for the American Athletic Conference, as the Missouri Valley’s 10th member.

The Horizon League voted to up the exit fee from $50,000 to $500,000 in 2012. The change came following Butler’s back-to-back national championship game appearances in 2010 and 2011, which led to the university accepting an invitation to join the Atlantic 10 Conference. Valpo’s defense is that the exit fee was not part of the initial agreement the two sides reached in 2006. Belzer went on to note the several cases of exit fees as precedents that would go against Valpo’s defense.

This lawsuit was filed on June 27. A day later IUPUI was added to the Horizon League as Valparaiso’s replacement.

Army veteran leaves Oakland basketball program

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Oakland’s bid to remain atop the Horizon League standings took a hit on earlier this week.

On Wednesday, it was reported by Tony Paul of the Detroit News that rising sophomore forward Isaiah Brock had left the program.

Brock, a 23-year-old Army veteran, made headlines earlier in his collegiate career. In the fall, the 6-foot-8 forward who had done two tours overseas was ruled ineligible by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite earning dozens of credits online and during the summer at Oakland. Following an appeal and the backlash that came with the initial decision, the NCAA reversed the ruling.

According to the Detroit News, Brock is prioritizing academics over athletics and is still enrolled in the university as a student.

Brock went on to have a productive freshman campaign. He started 29 of 33 games for the Golden Grizzlies, averaging 6.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. He earned Horizon League all-defensive team honors.

Oakland finished 25-9, winning a share of the Horizon League regular season title. The Golden Grizzlies were upset in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, wrapping up the 2016-17 season in the NIT.