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NBA teams already looking at Syracuse freshman Tyler Lydon
Nov 26, 2015; Paradise Island, BAHAMAS; Syracuse Orange forward Tyler Lydon (20) looks to drive in the second half against the Connecticut Huskies during the 2015 Battle 4 Atlantis in the Imperial Arena at the Atlantis Resort.. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports (Kevin Jairaj)

Before this season even began, NBA teams began looking at Syracuse freshman Tyler Lydon.

The Detroit Pistons and the Philadelphia 76ers reached out to New Hampton School coach Pete Hutchins at the "beginning of the season," Hutchins told

If Lydon keeps playing the way he did this week at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, you can bet more NBA teams will be on his trail.

The 6-foot-8 freshman forward from Elizaville, New York, went 7-for-10 shooting from 3-point range as Syracuse won the tournament, breaking the event's individual record for 3-point shooting percentage.

In Syracuse's 74-67 win over Texas A&M in Friday's championship game, Lydon shot 4 for 5 overall and 3 for 3 from beyond the arc en route to 13 points and eight rebounds.

"That takes us to Golden State Warriors level,'' freshman guard Malachi Richardson told the Syracuse Post-Standard. "He's almost like a Draymond Green with the way he can step out, bring the ball up the floor, play center, defend anyone, shoot the three, rebound. He can do anything. It helps us out a whole lot. Teams can just key on Mike [Gbinije], Trev [Cooney] and me and they can't just sit in the paint on him.''

"I think it just spaces everything out,'' Lydon told the Post-Standard. "First of all, I'm bringing the five man, if I'm playing that position at the time. So I'm bringing a big man out of the lane, which opens up opportunities for these guys to drive and get in there and get fouled. Malachi, Mike and Trevor were being real aggressive today, and that was because the big guy had to come out on me and respect me as a shooter. It provides different spacing.''

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim would no doubt laugh if you mentioned "NBA" and "Tyler Lydon" in the same sentence, but already has him as the No. 21 freshman in the nation, ahead of LSU shooting guard Antonio Blakeney and UConn combo guard Jalen Adams.

Lydon figures to be at Syracuse for several years going forward, but Hutchins and Lydon's AAU coach, Jim Hart of the Albany City Rocks, aren't at all surprised at what the stretch four showed in the Bahamas this week. And they say his work ethic is unparalleled.

"Tyler has everything working in his favor," Hutchins said. "Everyone can see his talent and how hard he plays; it is obvious. What you can't see is how motivated he is. Those who know him well will tell you that he not only wakes up every day thinking about being the best basketball player he can be, but he also puts in the work. He is always in the gym. Tyler also wants to be coached. He's is constantly seeking feedback about what he can do to improve. Lastly, he's a great teammate. His effort, energy, and attitude are infectious."

Said Hart: "Tyler has a very high ceiling not only because of his natural ability and athleticism but more important because he will not be out-worked. He's his own toughest critic and is never satisfied with individual accolades. He's determined to get the most of his abilities and loves to be coached. Whenever you combine 6-9 with elite athleticism, high IQ, great shooting stroke and a tireless work ethic, the result is usually pretty damn good."

As for his pro prospects, Hutchins said Lydon is the type of kid who's likely to stick around Syracuse for a while, which should make Orange fans feel good.

"It's not my place to say and it's early to speculate but he's the type of person who if he is enjoying the experience [of college]," he said, "he'll stick around longer than he needs to."

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Jay Wright Says Jalen Brunson Has Talent to be One-and-Done
Villanova Wildcats guard Jalen Brunson shoots a layup in the Championship game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports (Vincent Carchietta)

NEW YORK -- Jalen Brunson and the Villanova Wildcats continued their early-season success with a 69-52 win over Georgia Tech in the NIT Season Tip-Off Championship on Friday at Barclays Center.

The 6-foot-2 Brunson finished with 13 points, three rebounds and two assists on 5-for-8 shooting. The freshman guard was named the MVP of the event, and earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team, along with teammate Josh Hart.

"I've said this before, he is a combination of Ryan Arcidiacono and Kyle Lowry," Villanova coach Jay Wright said of Brunson. "He's got some of what both of them have. … He's got the basketball IQ of Kyle, which I don't think people give him enough credit for. Kyle is one of the smartest players I've ever coached. He's got the mental toughness and the maturity of Ryan Arcidiacono."

Said Brunson: "Coach Wright and the coaching staff and all my other teammates, they put me in the right position to be successful. I just have to give the right feeds at the right time. It's really a credit to them."

A top-20 recruit, Brunson is a true freshman, having played his high school ball at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois. As a senior, Brunson was named to the McDonald's All-American Game and won his second Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year award.

Wright has the reputation (and track record) of developing young guards, and that stuck out to Brunson during the recruiting process.

"Just knowing coach's reputation with guards is really good, I really wanted to come here and be coached," he said. "I'm open to coaching and open to getting better."

This past summer, Brunson was part of the 12-man United States' FIBA Under-19 World Championship team. Brunson earned MVP of the tournament after averaging 14.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, and team highs of 5.6 assists and 2.1 steals per game during the tournament.

Brunson is currently projected to be the No. 27 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by However, the freshmen point guard has shown that he has the potential and talent to go to the NBA after just one season at Villanova.

"He definitely has the talent to be one-and-done," Wright said. "That's a decision he'll make at the end of the year."

The Big East has not seen one of its players leave for the NBA after one season since 2013 when Steven Adams departed Pittsburgh after his freshman season.

Yet this year, Brunson could be one of two Big East players leaving for the NBA after only one year of college ball. Marquette's freshman forward Henry Ellenson, who won MVP honors after Marquette won the Legends Classic over Arizona State on Tuesday, is projected to be the No. 8 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

If Brunson continues his high-level of play throughout the season, he could be joining Ellenson in the first round.

"I like him a lot," one NBA scout said of Brunson. "He's smart, highly skilled and clever with the ball. He's a very good college freshman. Physically, he's very average or below for the NBA."

Wright and the rest of Wildcat nation will be relying on Brunson throughout the season, and will need him to deliver if they want to do some serious damage come NCAA Tournament time.

Stanford Defeats Arkansas in Consolation Game

For the majority of the NIT Season Tip-Off consolation game, Arkansas held a double-digit lead over the Stanford Cardinal.

But the Cardinal closed the game on a 21-1 run, and came out of Brooklyn with a 69-66 victory over the Razorbacks.

Leading the way for Stanford was senior forward Rosco Allen, who finished with a game-high 25 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Eleven of Allen's points came during that big run to end the game, including a pair of free throws with two seconds remaining to help clinch the Cardinal victory. Allen was named to the All-Tournament Team. Marcus Allen and Michael Humphrey each finished the game with 12 points.

For Arkansas, senior guard Anthlon Bell led the way with 17 points. Sophomore forward Moses Kingsley recorded the game's only double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Both Bell and Kingsley fouled out during Stanford's late-game surge.

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Kentucky's Ulis Leaves Game With Hyperextended Elbow, Listed As Day-to-Day
Kentucky Wildcats guard Tyler Ulis dribbles the ball against the Boston University Terriers in the second half at Rupp Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports (Mark Zerof)

Kentucky sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis left Kentucky's 84-63 victory over South Florida in the HoopHall Miami Invitational on Friday with a hyperextended right elbow and is being listed as day-to-day, a team spokesman said.

The 5-foot-9 sophomore, who is averaging 14.2 points, 4.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds, got hurt while fighting for a loose ball on the floor.

Ulis is projected as the No. 38 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft by

In his absence, freshman guard Jamal Murray had 21 points, freshman center Skal Labissiere tallied 17 and freshman guard Charles Matthews chipped in with 11. Freshman guard Isaiah Briscoe added seven assists for Kentucky (6-0), now a winner of 37 consecutive regular-season games and 39 in a row against unranked opponents.

(The AP contributed reporting)

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Fields Named for 2016 Thanksgiving College Hoops Tournaments

The fields were named for several Thanksgiving hoops tournaments in 2016. Here's a quick breakdown:

2016 DIRECTV Wooden Legacy, Honda Center (Anaheim, CA)

Dates: Nov, 24-25 & 27

Field: UCLA, CSUN, Dayton, Nebraska, New Mexico, Portland, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech


2016 AdvoCare Invitational, HP Field House at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (Orlando, FL) 

Dates: Nov. 24-27

Field: Seton Hall, Florida, Gonzaga, Indiana State, Iowa State, Miami (Fla.), Quinnipiac and Stanford.


2016 NIT Season Tip-Off, Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)

Dates: TBD

Championship Round Field: Florida State, Illinois, Temple and West Virginia


2016 Battle 4 Atlantis, Paradise Island (Bahamas)

Dates: TBD

Field: Michigan State, Louisville, St. John's, Wichita State, Baylor, LSU, VCU and Old Dominion

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Syracuse, UConn Talking About Series That Would Revive Big East Rivalry
Syracuse and UConn could soon start a new series. Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports (Kevin Jairaj)

If you enjoyed Thursday's thrilling game between Syracuse and UConn in the Bahamas, there is good news.

The two schools are talking about a series that would revive the old-school Big East rivalry as soon as the 2017-18 season, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard.

"I think there's a reasonable likelihood that we will play Connecticut again someday soon,'' Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim told the paper following his team's thrilling 79-76 win in the Battle 4 Atlantis semifinals on Thursday that set up Friday's championship showdown with Texas A&M, who upset No. 10 Gonzaga.

"It's something that we're definitely looking at,'' UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. "It would be a great thing. It's a great rivalry.''

In the last two years, Syracuse played former Big East rivals St. John's and Villanova, and the Orange also begin a new series with St. John's on Dec. 13 at Madison Square Garden. Both Syracuse and UConn will also play Georgetown in non-conference games next month. Syracuse visits the Hoyas Dec. 5, while the Huskies host Georgetown in Hartford Dec. 23.

Now a Syracuse-UConn series could be next.

"We're going to do what's best for UConn,'' Ollie said. "We're going to schedule the guys we need to schedule to make an impact on our season. These are two great programs with a great history. They've played some great games. I think it would definitely be beneficial for both teams.''

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Sixers rookie Jahlil Okafor involved in street fight in Boston

Philadelphia 76ers rookie Jahlil Okafor called his actions Wednesday night "dumb" and "embarrassing." 

The 6-foot-11 Okafor was involved in a street fight in Boston following an 84-80 loss to the Celtics, according to a video obtained and released by TMZ that is at the bottom of this post. Okafor verbally sparred with a man who taunted him and then appeared to punch another man.

"It was definitely dumb on my part," Okafor told the Philadelphia Inquirer Friday in Houston, where the Sixers play the Rockets. "It's something that I am embarrassed about."

Okafor added that he was "still dealing with the league and the team. But I'm not happy about it at all. But we are still going through the process of what we are going to do."

No charges were pressed and no arrests were made.

ESPN's Jeff Goodman quoted a source close to Okafor on what led to the altercation.

"Apparently, they said: 'The 76ers suck and you guys are all losers. You'll never win a game," the source said. "I was around the corner when it happened. I saw him a minute after he knocked the dude out," the source said. "I think the guy was just talking s---. Saying the Sixers suck."

According to TMZ, Okafor responded by saying, "We got money you broke-ass n**ga."

The Sixers released a statement Thursday.

"We are aware of the report and we are currently working to gather additional information," the team said. "Until that time, we will have no further comment."

The Sixers are 0-16 and have lost 26 straight games dating to last season when Okafor was winning an NCAA championship in his only season at Duke.

If the Sixers lose Friday at Houston, they will set an NBA record with 27 straight losses.

"We are all staying together, working extremely hard," Okafor told the Inquirer. "We are coming in every day at shootaround, and we keep coming up a little short. We get close.

"So it does get a little frustrating to hear it all the time that we are 0-and-whatever. So it's definitely frustrating."

St. John's get lone win in Maui, 100-93 over Chaminade
St. John's guard Ron Mvouika (24) is guarded by Vanderbilt guard Riley LAChance during the Maui Invitational at the Lahaina Civic Center. Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)

LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) -- Boy, did St. John's need a win.

The Red Storm had lost two games to ranked teams in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational and were facing a long trip home without getting a win in Hawaii.

That was taken care of Wednesday when freshman Federico Mussini scored a season-high 24 points and junior forward Christian Jones had career highs of 17 points and 11 rebounds to help St. John's beat Chaminade 100-93 in the seventh-place game.

"It's very important (to go home with a win)," Mussini said. "We had two losses against two really big teams, but we improved every day since we got here, so that's the important thing. We need to improve every day like we are doing and we're going to do good, I think."

The Red Storm (4-2) had struggled with their shooting all season but not against the Division II host school. Entering the game shooting 39 percent from the field and 34 percent on 3s, the Red Storm blew those numbers away: 59.3 percent from the field (35 of 59) and 52.6 percent on 3s (10 of 19).

"I know that I have to shoot when I'm open, and I have confidence in my shooting," Mussini said. "And everybody on the team knows when they are open, they are to shoot. So just a lot of confidence. Sometimes the shot doesn't go in, but we have to keep shooting and just believe in ourselves and keep going like that."

Durand Johnson had 18 points for St. John's, which lost to No. 19 Vanderbilt and No. 13 Indiana in the tournament, while Amar Alibegovic had 17, Ron Mvouika 12 and Yankuba Sima 10. Six players accounted for all but two of the 100 points.

"I would love to play that way. With six guys, probably not," first-year coach Chris Mullin said. "But I'm all into sharing the ball and body moving and ball moving and playing free. Motion, I think that's the beautiful way to play. Until we get more bodies, we've got to be somewhat diligent on how we do things. But long-term, yeah, I think that's the way to play basketball."

Kiran Shastri had 19 points for the Silverswords (0-5). Kevin Hu added 17 and Sam Daly and James Harper had 15 each.

St. John's had a first half most teams can only dream about. The Red Storm led 59-42 after shooting 71.0 percent from the field (22 of 31) and 75 percent from 3-point range (9 of 12).

They cooled off in the second half but Chaminade never got closer than five points and that was in final seconds of an up-and-down 20 minutes that featured little defense.

St John's freshman Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA
Chris Mullin (Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports)

St John's freshman forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA, it was announced on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-9 Yakwe out of Centereach (N.Y.) Our Savior New Amerian will be eligible to play when the Red Storm take on Fordham on Dec. 2.

"Great news," St. John's coach Chris Mullin said of Yakwe after his team's 100-93 win over Chaminade at the Maui Invitational on Wednesday afternoon in which six players reached double-figures in scoring. "He's a beautiful kid, and I'm happy for him. It's something that he's very grateful for everything that he gets. He works hard. He's a great teammate and very excited about that."

Yakwe used the same lawyer, Robert Orr, who represented former UCLA star Shabazz Muhammad when the NCAA refused to let Muhammad play early in his college career.

Orr told The New York Times that Yakwe will have to repay $240 to the NCAA for an "extra benefit," although St. John's was never told specifically what NCAA violation Yakwe committed.

"The only person who is victimized here is an 18-year-old kid from Africa," Orr told the Times. "It is just fundamentally wrong."

Kansas' Cheick Diallo, who is also a Mali native and also has a relationship with mentor Tidiane Drame, has to repay $165 in extra benefits to the charity of his choice. So the NCAA effectively smeared and harassed both Diallo and Yakwe over approximately $400 in extra benefits.

A top-100 prospect out of high school, Yakwe was named the 2015 EYBL Regular Season Defensive Player of the Year while playing for the PSA Cardinals.

Meantime, St. John's freshman point guard Marcus LoVett remains out after he was named a partial qualifier on Nov. 11.

"He's exhausted the appeals process," a source told "Absent 'new information' of some sort, he's out [as a partial qualfiier]."

Kansas freshman Cheick Diallo cleared by NCAA

Kansas freshman forward Cheick Diallo has been cleared to play by the NCAA and will be eligible to play Dec. 1 when Kansas hosts Loyola Maryland, it was announced on Wednesday (Nov. 25).

Diallo, who attended Centereach (N.Y.) Our Savior New American, was cleared to play after an independent review and existing information from the Eligibility Center revealed that he had received only a limited amounf of extra benefits. Don Jackson, Diallo's attorney, said the "limited amount" was $165 given to Diallo by his Malian guardian, Tidiane Drame, and that Diallo will repay that amount.

It was then ruled that Diallo would not be allowed to play for five games, which includes the four games Kansas has already played.

"I read the release that was done by the NCAA and our institution," Kansas coach Bill Self said, according to "And I am very happy that he's eligible, but I will say that, me personally, did not agree with the contents of the release. So I'll just leave it at that."

"I am glad that Cheick was granted eligibility," Drame said, according to "The NCAA attempted to save face because they knew since Day One that I did nothing wrong and that Cheick should have been granted immediate eligibility."

On the court, Diallo should help Kansas, which was set to play Vanderbilt Wednesday night for the Maui Invitational championship. He plays with a high motor and was the MVP of the McDonald's All-American Game and the co-MVP of the Jordan Brand Classic.

Diallo is projected as the No. 11 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft by

"I think he can make us better," Self said. "I think it's going to be one of those things that the immediate impact it will have will be limited, compared to what the long-term impact [will be] once we get into conference play and into February."

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On the court, Diallo should help the Jayhawks, who were set to play VAnderbilt Wednesady night for the Maui Invitational championship.


After appeal, Syracuse gets four scholarships back
Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim watches the play on the court during the second half of a game against the Elon Phoenix at the Carrier Dome. (Mark Konezny)

Syracuse has reason to give Thanks.

On the eve of the holiday, the school announced that it had won some minor gains from the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee.

The basketball program will gain back four scholarships over the next four years, not an insignificant gain over the initial penalty imposed on March 6, 2015.  

"The Infractions Appeals Committee ruled that the University will gain back one men's basketball scholarship per year over the next four years," the school announced. "This will result in a total reduction of 8 scholarships over 4 years (2 per year from 2015-16 through 2018-19), rather than 12."

Syracuse also announced that it "won a significant victory by achieving a $1.23 million reduction in the financial penalty previously imposed."

The NCAA has yet to rule on Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim's individual appeal of his nine-game suspension for ACC games. That is slated to begin Dec. 30 at Pittsburgh.

Syracuse also said it was unsuccessful in appealing any of the school's vacated wins. The Syracuse Post-Standard reported that number stands at 101 victories.

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Marquette prevails over Duke in battle of former point guards

NEW YORK -- As a young kid, Steve Wojciechowski looked up to Bobby Hurley.

Hurley, five years older than Wojo, was the floor general as Duke won back-to-back NCAA championships in the early 1990s before Wojo went on to become the Duke point guard in the latter part of the decade.

On Tuesday night, the two men faced off as coaches in the Legends Classic championship game, with Wojo and Marquette prevailing over Hurley and Arizona State, 78-73 in overtime, at Barclays Center.

"Bobby was an idol of mine when I was a kid," Wojciechowski said. "I wasn't like a kid kid. He's not that much older than me but he was somebody that I looked up to and admired. And it's amazing, you're watching somebody on TV as a middle-schooler and a younger high schooler and now to be able to call him a friend."

"Bobby is one of the best competitors in the history of college basketball and he's a terrific coach from a basketball-rich family, Wojciechowski continued. "But more importantly he's a helluva person and it was an honor to compete against him and his team and I know he's going to have outrageous success at Arizona State."

The two men arrived at their current jobs via very different paths.

Along with running buddies Christian Laettner and Grant Hill, Hurley, now 44, was the face of Duke in the early 1990s, but was never a part of Mike Krzyzewski's coaching tree. He left the basketball world completely to breed horses after a 1993 truck accident nearly killed him and prematurely ended his NBA career.

The former St. Anthony's high school legend was lured back to basketball by his younger brother, Dan, and first served as an assistant at Wagner and Rhode Island before landing a head coaching job at Buffalo. After leading the Bulls to the NCAA Tournament last season, he was wooed by numerous programs and ultimately landed at Arizona State in April.

Wojciechowski, 39, was known for perfecting the floor-slap on the Duke teams of the mid-to-late 1990s and never won an NCAA championship as a player. He then spent 15 years under Coach K from 1999-2014, becoming associate head coach in 2008. He was on the staff when Coach K won his third and fourth NCAA championships in 2001 and 2010 respectively. In 2014, "Wojo" finally branched out on his own to take over a Marquette program that he has vowed to return to glory.

"I respect what Steve did as a player and I always followed the Duke program after I left," Hurley said. "He played the position with tenacity and fire and passion and his team played that way tonight and they have some really good pieces to work with. I'm happy he's doing well and it was a great game, a great competitive contest."

Both men appear to face bright futures in the near-term at their respective programs.

Wojo landed a nationally ranked recruiting class in 2015, highlighted by Wisconsin native Henry Ellenson, a former McDonald's All-American who was named the MVP of the Legends Classic after going for 18 points and 11 rebounds in the final.

Ellenson, projected as the No. 8 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft by, could end up being the Big East's first one-and-done player since Pitt's Steven Adams in 2013

In the Class of 2016, Marquette already has signed small forward Sam Hauser. After taking the Arizona State job, Hurley landed some nice pieces in junior college standouts Andre Spight, Obi Oleka and Maurice O'Field along with transfers Shannon Evans and Torian Graham, who are sitting out the season.

Hurley has already signed two players for 2016 -- Seattle shooting guard Sam Cunliffe and Dallas big man Jethro Tshisumpa. He's also strongly in the mix for 7-footer Thon Maker of Orangeville Prep (Ontario), who has a strong relationship with Arizona State assistant Brian Merritt. He is also being courted by Indiana, Notre Dame and St. John's, among others.

"His kids play very hard for him," Wojciechowski said of Hurley. "Obviously, they're well coached. The longer he's there, the more his fingertips will show on that program. I have no doubt that he's going to be an amazing success."

While both Hurley and Wojo are focused on building their current programs into perennial national powers, they will always be linked to Duke.

That, of course, begs the question of whether either man could ultimately replaced the great Coach K one day.

"Both would be great," former Duke forward and current ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said. "Tough act to follow. But, I'm not sure it'll be an issue for five years." Indeed, even at 68, Coach K has shown no signs of slowing down.

He will step down as the head coach of the U.S. national team after the 2016 Rio Olympics, but who knows how long he'll keep going at Duke.

He won his fifth NCAA championship in April, just captured the 2K Classic over Georgetown on Sunday at Madison Square Garden, and has the nation's No. 2 recruiting class coming in next year led by the projected top two picks in 2017 in Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles.

"I loved my team last year. You don't love every team. It's impossible. But it's not like I dislike a team. But I loved that team," Krzyzewski told The Sporting News last month. "And it's the whole team. Sometimes you happen onto a starting five that you love, or a couple kids on the team that are really exceptional. But this was the entire group. Like one of those kind of moments in time that you get, and I'm getting it and it's in my 40th year. Wow. It's a good thing I didn't retire."

When he does retire, some speculate that associate head coach Jeff Capel is a lock to get the job. Who knows what the landscape will look like in three or five years if Krzyzewski does opt to step down?

But for now, two former Duke guards, Hurley and Wojo, are forging their own, very different, coaching paths at Arizona State and Marquette respectively.

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LSU fails to build resume with two losses at Legends Classic

NEW YORK - LSU came to Barclays Center this week at 3-0, ranked 22nd in the latest Associated Press Top 25 and with Ben Simmons, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, in tow.

The Tigers are leaving Brooklyn after a one point loss to Marquette on Monday, an overtime loss to North Carolina State on Tuesday, and a résumé that is devoid of anything impressive with the rest of their non-conference schedule offering little help.

Before opening SEC-play on Jan. 2 at Vanderbilt, LSU will play just one team from a Power Five conference (Wake Forest, on Dec. 29). Besides that game, the Tigers' pre-SEC schedule consists of Charleston, North Florida, Houston, Gardner-Webb, Oral Roberts and American.

Simmons, who was not made available postgame after fouling out in overtime with four points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, is a proven winner, most notably at Montverde Academy, where he won three straight Dick's High School National Championships under legendary coach Kevin Boyle.

With Simmons, another five-star recruit in Antonio Blakeney, one-time St. John's commit Brandon Sampson and a host of veterans in the fold, a season without a run to the NCAA Tournament would be a disappointment in Baton Rouge.

"I think it's huge, I think it's huge for him," LSU assistant and Simmons' Godfather, David Patrick, told "It's the reason he came to college, to play in March. And it's huge for us. I think all the accolades he got in high school was because he was winning at Montverde and winning on his AAU circuit, but moreso winning in high school, and that trait's gotta transfer to our level.

"And for him to really leave with a good stamp -- I think there's no question he's a top-5 college player," Patrick continued. "But I think winning at the end of the day makes you great and puts you in an elite status."

"He's been highly successful doing things the right way and he's been a winner because of it," LSU head coach Johnny Jones said. "I think winning really excites him and I think he tries to put himself in position to do what he can to do. Everything has a tendency to take care of itself."

Even if LSU doesn't make the Big Dance, it likely won't impact Simmons' draft stock much.

"Not in the least," one NBA scout said.

Still, Simmons wants to play on the big stage of March Madness, fans want to see him perform there, and NCAA Tournament TV partners CBS and Turner would surely love to promote him in one of the biggest sporting events of the year.

The season is still young and the Tigers will have plenty of opportunities in conference play to build their résumé, but they really could have used at least one of the two games in Brooklyn this week. McNeese State, Kennesaw State and South Alabama offered little resistance to open the season, not to mention little in the way of RPI and strength of schedule.

Coming in to Tuesday, LSU's computer numbers were poor, specifically an RPI of 265 and a strength of schedule that had ballooned to 321. Both of those numbers will fall as the season moves along and LSU wins more games, but the lack of even one quality non-conference win will be glaring down the road.

"I just think it's time to step up and be a leader for this team," said junior Tim Quarterman, who has been to the NIT and the NCAA Tournament during his career. "We have to go out there, try to win as many basketball games as we can and put ourselves in a position at the end of the year to make some noise in the Tournament. We need go back, get it together in practice and move forward."

"We certainly feel coming into a tournament like this helps if you're successful," Jones said. "Playing two quality teams was a great opportunity for us here. I'm glad this tournament is in the beginning of the season and it is certainly a marker for us to try and get better. We have to make sure we do a great job with the rest of our schedule, but these setbacks certainly weren't what we were looking for."

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Bill Walton says top players 'will flock' to play for Chris Mullin at St. John's
Chris Mullin talks with guard Federico Mussini (4) during the first half against the Wagner Seahawks at Carnesecca Arena. (Anthony Gruppuso)

St. John's lost to No. 13 Indiana, 83-73, on Tuesday at the Maui Invitational, but that didn't stop Bill Walton from praising first-year head coach Chris Mullin and painting a rosy picture of the future.

"As soon as he gets all the great players that are going to flock to St. John's because of Chris Mullin, because of New York, because of this phenomenal University and the opportunities they're going to have there, he's going to sit back like Phil Jackson and say, 'Bring me a high chair and a nice cold drink,'" Walton said on the ESPN2 broadcast on Monday.

Walton, who at times wore sunglasses with his black T-shirt and lei on the broadcast, clearly has great admiration and respect for Mullin, his fellow former NBA star who is coaching the Maui games in shorts and sneakers.

"Who wouldn't want to play for Mullin?" Walton asked. "The guy's as fine a guy as you can possibly find. He's been married to for 24 years to his college sweetheart Liz, she's a big music fan. And they've got four angelic children. That's what you're looking for, a beacon of hope, a shining star and a reason to believe that tomorrow's going to be better."

At the moment, St. John's only has one signee in the Class of 2016 -- Brooklyn Thomas Jefferson guard Shamorie Ponds. But the Red Storm are hoping to make a splash in the spring by landing some combination of Richard Freudenberg, Bashir Ahmed, Rawle Alkins and Thon Maker.

Walton added that New York City players watching these games at home would say to themselves, "Hey, I see a future there for me."

For the moment, the young Johnnies are struggling while being led by freshman point guard Federico Mussini (17 points) and 6-11 freshman big man Yankuba Sima (9 points, 7 rebounds).

"His two best players are Mussini and Sima and they're both like teenagers, they're basically young children," Walton said. "Now Chris Mullin is realizing that he has to get it done."

Ron Mvouika also had 17 points and 5 rebounds in the loss, while Felix Balamou posted 14 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assits.

Yogi Ferrell paced the Hoosiers with 22 points and freshman big man Thomas Bryant had 19.

Walton also said he hoped to see freshman point guard Marcus LoVett -- who was not cleared by the NCAA and is also injured -- out on the court soon.

"I sure hope that Marcus Lovett gets to play for the St. John's Red Storm," Walton said. "That guy's got game and personality."

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Adam Zagoria and Josh Newman are back with an all-new episode of The 4 Quarters Podcast, covering college hoops, recruiting, and the NBA for First up, Evan Daniels of joins the show to talk Duke, Kentucky, and recruiting. Then, Putnam Science Academy coach Tom Espinosa calls in to chat about Hamidou Diallo, Mamadou Diarra, and Eric Ayala. Later, Adam and Josh chat about the storylines coming out of the 2K Classic and the Legends Classic, and then the show wraps up with a look at the early goings in the NBA.

1st Quarter: Evan Daniels (01:05) 2nd Quarter: Tom Espinosa (12:05) 3rd Quarter: 2K Classic & Legends Classic (17:10) 4th Quarter: NBA Early Returns (23:05) E-Mail us with feedback, comments, or questions for a future show:

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ESPN High School Basketball Showcase schedule announced
(Jasen Vinlove)

ESPN has announced their GEICO ESPN High School Basketball Showcase schedule.

The slate of games includes 34 top recruits, 22 commits to college programs and 11 nationally ranked teams.

"Three players ranked No. 1 at their position, in their class, will be televised: Seniors SF Jayson Tatum (Chaminade College Prep, Mo.) and SG Malik Monk (Bentonville High School, Ark.), and junior PG Trevon Duval (Advanced Prep International, Texas). #1 PF Harry Giles (Oak Hill Academy, Va.) was scheduled to appear but will not play due to injury," the network said in a release.

Thon Maker will make his ESPN debut, they said.

Full schedule of games:

  • Sunrise Christian, Kan. vs. No. 4 Advanced Prep International, Tex.
    Thursday, December 3: 5:00 p.m. on ESPNU from Marshall County High School in Benton, Ky.
    • No. 43 Sr. Kameron McGusty & No. 32 Jr. Isaiah Jasey vs. No. 10 Sr. Terrance Ferguson, No. 65 Sr. Mark Vital, No. 4 Jr. Trevon Duval & No. 6 Jr. Billy Preston
  • No. 15 Chaminade College Prep, Mo. vs. No. 3 Oak Hill Academy, Va.
    Thursday, December 3: 7:30 p.m. on ESPN from Marshall County High School in Benton, Ky.
    • No. 2 Sr. Jayson Tatum & No. 51 Sr. Tyler Cook vs. No. 1 Sr. Harry Giles (injured), No. 32 Sr. Mario Kegler, No. 66 Sr. Braxton Key, No. 98 Sr. Joe Hampton, No. 24 Jr. Matt Coleman, No. 29 Jr. Devontae Shuler & No. 50 Jr. Ty-Shon Alexander
  • No. 5 Huntington Prep, W.V. at No. 2 Montverde Academy, Fla.
    Monday, December 7: 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2 from Montverde Academy in Montverde, Fla.
    • No. 8 Sr. Miles Bridges & No. 55 Sr. Curtis Jones vs. No. 97 Sr. Micah Potter, No. 2 Soph. Silvio De Souza & No. 3 Soph. E.J. Montgomery
  • Cypress Lakes High School, Tex. vs. Foothills Christian, Calif.
    Friday, December 18: 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2 from TBD
    • No. 7 Sr. De'Aaron Fox vs. No. 13 Sr. T.J. Leaf
  • Athlete Institute, Ontario, Canada vs. No. 1 Findlay Prep, Nev.
    Saturday, January 16: 6:00 p.m. on ESPN from Blake Arena in Springfield, Mass.
    • Thon Maker vs. No. 15 Jr. P.J. Washington & No. 33 Jr. Markus Howard
  • No. 14 Chaminade College Prep, Mo. vs. No. 7 DeMatha Catholic, Md.
    Monday, January 18: 11 a.m. on ESPNU from Blake Arena in Springfield, Mass.
    • No. 2 Sr. Jayson Tatum & No. 51 Sr. Tyler Cook vs. No. 12 Sr. Markelle Fultz & No. 12 Jr. D.J. Harvey Junior
  • Mater Dei High School, Calif. vs. No. 3 Oak Hill Academy, Va.
    Monday, January 18: 1 p.m. on ESPNU from Blake Arena in Springfield, Mass.
    • No. 1 Sr. Harry Giles (injured), No. 32 Sr. Mario Kegler, No. 66 Sr. Braxton Key, No. 98 Sr. Joe Hampton, No. 24 Jr. Matt Coleman, No. 29 Jr. Devontae Shuler & No. 50 Jr. Ty-Shon Alexander
  • No. 11 Sierra Canyon High School, Calif. vs. No. 2 Montverde Academy, Fla.
    Monday, January 18: 3 p.m. on ESPNU from Blake Arena in Springfield, Mass.
    • No. 22 Jr. Cody Riley & No. 34 Jr. Ira Lee vs. No. 97 Sr. Micah Potter, No. 2 Soph. Silvio De Souza & No. 3 Soph. E.J. Montgomery
  • No. 12 High Point Christian Academy, N.C. vs. No. 8 Chino Hills High School, Calif.
    Monday, January 18: 5 p.m. on ESPNU from Blake Arena in Springfield, Mass.
    • No. 6 Sr. Bam Adebayo vs. No. 11 Sr. Lonzo Ball
  • El Dorado High School, Ark. vs. No. 10 Bentonville High School, Ark.
    Friday, January 22: 5:30 p.m. on ESPNU from Bentonville High School in Bentonville, Ark.
    • No. 45 Jr. Dan Gafford vs. No. 5 Sr. Malik Monk
  • Saint Joseph High School, N.J. vs. Lone Peak High School, Utah
    Friday, February 5: 11:00 p.m. on ESPNU from Lone Peak High School in Highland, Utah
    • No. 36 Sr. Tyus Battle vs. No. 14 Sr. Frank Jackson


LSU's Simmons stars at Legends Classic as NBA hype comes to Brooklyn
More than 50 NBA personnel watched potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons go for 21 points, 20 rebounds and 7 assists Monday night. Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports (Anthony Gruppuso)

NEW YORK - LSU freshman sensation Ben Simmons had a monster game against Marquette in a Legends Classic semifinal on Monday evening, finishing with 21 points, 20 rebounds and seven assists in an 81-80 Tigers loss. 

That stat line is eye-opening, but to at least Tigers head coach Johnny Jones, numbers like those, while very impressive, are a bit of a problem. 

"As a team, we can't ask him to put up those kinds of numbers night in and night out," Jones said. "We have to make sure we carry our weight across the board and allow Ben to be able to make sure that he can come in. He was forced tonight to put himself in a position tonight to get 21 and 20 to give us an opportunity. We have too many guys out there.

"I thought Ben played an excellent game with a sense of urgency when it was needed."

A lot of eyes were focused on Monday night's contest, largely because of Simmons, who is currently slotted as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft according to, but is considered the potential No. 1 pick by several other reputable outlets. The site currently has Kentucky freshman center Skal Labissiere at No. 1.

Among the 51 NBA personnel slated to be at Barclays on Tuesday were a host of NBA GMs and executives, including Danny Ainge (Celtics) Bob Myers (Warriors) Tim Connelly (Nuggets) and David Griffin (Cavaliers). 

Knicks scout Kristian Petesic represented the franchise on Monday, while Nets Director of Player Personnel Gregg Polinsky was also present. Neither the Nets nor the Knicks own their own first-round pick. The latter is ironic given Simmons played Monday in the Nets' building. The Celtics have the Nets' 2016 pick as a result of the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce 2013 draft night trade. 

"I think it's still early in the season," Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress told "I think both are really, really good prospects. I think there's still a lot of college basketball left to be played out, but I think Ben Simmons made a major statement tonight without a question."

Much was made of Simmons matching up with Marquette freshman star Henry Ellenson, the projected No. 8 pick in 2016 who finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds while battling foul trouble. In trying to drag the Tigers across the finish line Monday at Barclays Center, the 6-foot-10 Melbourne, Australia, native and one-time star at prep power Montverde Academy showed off much of his repertoire. 

At one point early in the first half, Simmons led the break, eventually splitting two defenders with a perfect bounce pass to classmate Antonio Blakeney for a layup. A short time later, Simmons hauled in a rebound, went coast-to-coast and dunked on Golden Eagles forward Luke Fischer, capping it with an emphatic scream. 

"Definitely not, it's another game to me," Simmons said when asked if the game seemed bigger being in New York and going against Ellenson. "It's another team we have to beat, but clearly we didn't do that, but I think it was a good lesson for the team. We'd rather lose now than later. For now, it's just a learning curve."

His learning curve is good enough now to wow NBA scouts.

"One of the best I have ever seen, a generational player," one veteran NBA scout told "He can defend when he focuses and applies himself. We did not see a perimeter jumper tonight."

"I think he showed a lot of the same things that we know," Givony said. "He's an elite passer, he's a tremendous ball-handler, he's phenomenal in transition, he's incredibly versatile for his size. He's a great rebounder."

Simmons being compared to the likes of Magic Johnson, LeBron James and Lamar Odom came to the surface on LSU's final possession when he passed the ball not once, but twice, as Jalyn Patterson's missed 3-pointer with 3 seconds left sealed the game for Marquette.

"You know the limitations are still the same limitations," Givony said. "He doesn't always bring it on defense, and we don't know if he can shoot. He still has not taken a single 3-point shot all season and that cost him there at the end. And it cost him a lot during the game when they were just playing 10 feet off him, he wasn't able to punish them. In the NBA that's a real problem. At LSU that's not so much of a problem because they can put him at the 5."

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Kris Dunn Flirts With Quadruple-Double in Providence's 83-76 win over NJIT
Providence guard Kris Dunn (3) dunks against NJIT. The Friars won 83-76. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports (Gregory Fisher)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Kris Dunn flirted with a quadruple-double Monday night.

The Providence guard had 22 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and seven steals to help Providence beat NJIT 83-76.

Dunn was 6 of 14 from the field, but hit all nine of his free throws.

"I'm speechless," NJIT coach Jimmy Engles told "I've seen a lot of players up close. He has Rajon Rondo talent. He can get a lot better offensively, which is crazy to say."

Providence led by double figures for most of the second half. Rob Ukawuba's 3-pointer with 3:18 left pulled NJIT to 70-65, but Dunn answered with a 3-point play. Ben Bentil and Dunn combined to make 8 of 8 free throws in the final 2:30.

Rodney Bullock added 16 points and 12 rebounds for Providence (4-0). Bentil finished with 21 points.

Bullock's 3-pointer with 4:21 left in the first half gave Providence a 33-18 lead, but the Friars scored just four points the rest of the way for a 37-27 halftime advantage.

Damon Lynn led NJIT (3-2) with 24 points and Ukawuba 20. The Highlanders made 9 of 21 3-pointers but turned it over 22 times.

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Kentucky is No. 1 in men's AP poll after Tar Heels loss
Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari reacts during the second half against the Duke Blue Devils at the United Center. Kentucky won 74-63. (Dennis Wierzbicki)

Kentucky is back in a very familiar spot - on top of The Associated Press college basketball poll.

It only took a couple of weeks.

The Wildcats, who were No. 1 every week last season, moved up one spot Monday following North Carolina's loss to Northern Iowa. Kentucky (4-0) beat then-No. 5 Duke in the Champions Classic last week and received 59 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel.

Though the ranking speaks volumes about the early success of Kentucky's latest talented freshman class, junior forward Marcus Lee said the team still has a lot to learn about themselves. Coach John Calipari even criticized his team for uneven play after Friday's 78-63 win over Wright State.

The Wildcats can't afford many more shaky efforts now that the target is on their backs - again.

"We know we're not where we're meant to be right now," Lee said. "We have a really far way to go to be the best team in the country."

And as Kentucky assistant coach John Robic noted, the goal remains being on top in April. Not that this Wildcats squad will dismiss any recognition after replacing seven players that entered the NBA draft.

"It's kind of a neat thing to be honest with you, for each team that we've had here to have a grasp of it (No. 1)," Robic said. "But knowing it's November, it doesn't mean a whole lot. I'm proud of it and I think our team will be proud of it. ... It's what you shoot for."

Maryland (3-0) moved up one spot to second and received the other six first-place votes.

Michigan State, which beat then-No. 4 Kansas in the Champions Classic, jumped from 13th to third. The Spartans were followed in the top 10 by Iowa State, Kansas, Duke, Oklahoma, Villanova, North Carolina and Gonzaga.

Miami entered the poll at No. 15 after wins over Utah and Butler in taking the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The other four newcomers are No. 23 Xavier, No. 24 Cincinnati and co-No. 25 Texas A&M and SMU. Utah, Baylor, Butler and Michigan dropped out.

Tags: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Duke's Ingram Struggles at 2K Classic, but NBA Upside is Evident
Duke's Brandon Ingram is the projected No. 3 pick in the NBA Draft according to Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports (Anthony Gruppuso)

NEW YORK - The willingness of longtime Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski to adapt to college basketball's one-and-done culture is well-documented.  

He won a national championship in April with Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Junes and Justise Winslow leading the way before all three became first-round NBA draft picks in June. Next year's freshman class will include Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum, the projected top two picks in the 2017 NBA Draft according to DraftExpress.  

In between those two recruiting classes, there is the latest projected Coach K one-and-done, Brandon Ingram, the headliner of Krzyzewski's current freshman class that includes three other five-star prospects, Derryck Thornton, Luke Kennard and Chase Jeter.  

Ingram, a long, bouncy 6-foot-9 wing who has occasionally brought the ball up in Duke's offense, is the projected No. 3 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. With that comes expectations for his play, and at least early this season, it seems it will take some patience to get Ingram going.  

Coming off the bench on Sunday for the first time, he scored just five points on 2-for-7 shooting in 16 minutes of the Blue Devils' 86-84 win over Georgetown in the 2K Classic championship game at Madison Square Garden.  

"In a couple of years, if he can do what he did in high school, which remains to be seen, preseason picks and ratings are not worth the paper they are printed on," one NBA scout told "He is on the biggest stage in college ball, so if he performs at the highest level consistently, he will move up the draft charts. Right now, he is just learning the college game. 

"He has to adjust to playing with big, strong boys before he looks at the men's league. Remember, NBA stands for 'No Babies Allowed.'" 

Over Duke's last three games against Kentucky, VCU and the Hoyas, Ingram has just 17 total points on 5-for-18 shooting. Those numbers came after torching Siena and Bryant for a combined 36 points in Duke's first two games.  

"I think people knew coming in that this would be a long-term thing and it was kind of expected that he would have up-and-down performances," Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress told "We've seen the talent in small glimpses, but he has also showed you probably can't expect to draft him (in 2016) and have him be a go-to guy right away.  

"From a physical standpoint, he needs to add strength to really reach his full potential. In the end, he is clearly a very talented guy." 

The NBA Draft often works off potential and the long-range view of what a prospect can give a franchise, maybe not right away, but a few years down the road. Furthermore, it should be noted that of the 10 highest-slotted American-born prospects in the 2016 draft by DraftExpress, Ingram is the youngest at 18 years, 2 months.  

"Right now, his defense is ahead of his offense," a second NBA scout told "He is active on offense, but not finishing. His length is his best asset, and it might just be a confidence thing on offense. He'll be fine after a few more games." 

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BLAIRSTOWN, N.J. -- Over the summer, Kodye Pugh, a 6-foot-8, 195-pound small forward, transferred to Blair Academy from Boys' Latin School in Baltimore and reclassed to the Class of 2017 from 2016.

At Blair, he's playing alongside fellow 2017 standouts in 6-4 point guard Matt Turner and 6-11 big man Deng Gak.

"Just the competition out here [at Blair], getting this level of competition in practice every day and playing games like this will help my ceiling to increase," Pugh told me last week at the school.

Off the court, he's adjusting to life at Blair, which resembles a college environment with its spacious campus, huge green lawns and focus on academics.

"I'm just focusing on basketball and school, two things I should be focused on," he said.

Pugh continues to see his recruitment evolve and holds offers from 22 schools, including Florida, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, Georgetown, Seton Hall and Northwestern.

"A lot of coaches have been calling me, texting me, keeping up with me, so it's pretty even right now," he said.

Pugh likely won't cut his list until next summer or beyond.

"He is a super-skilled with a huge upside," We R1 coach Terrell Myers told SNY. tv. when Pugh transferred to Blair. "In my eyes, that makes him one of the top three wings in his class. KP is fairly young for his grade. The extra year will help him develop physically and emotionally.

"He is an exceptional student and has qualified academically."

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Duke tops Georgetown at Garden

NEW YORK - College basketball fans love to boo Duke players, but those boos usually mean said Duke players have done something well.

Take Grayson Allen for example. The Blue Devils' sophomore shooting guard came to Madison Square Garden this weekend and lit it up. He scored 30 points against VCU on Friday night, then followed that on Sunday afternoon with a game-high 32 points on 9-for-12 shooting in an 86-84 win over Georgetown in the championship game of the 2K Classic.

Allen's play made him an easy Most Valuable Player selection, but also an easy target. When he was given the MVP award, the Georgetown part of the 17,287 present at MSG began lustily jeering the Jacksonville, Fla., native.

Who could blame those fans? Allen was nothing short of terrific.

"Grayson had a spectacular performance," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "To score 32 points is one thing, but to do it with 12 shots is incredible, absolutely incredible. He was so deserving of the MVP for this. There wasn't someone in second or third."

"I think he helped himself this weekend for sure, especially after Kentucky (on Tuesday night) when he showed flaws," Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress told on Sunday afternoon. "He really turned things around and showed people what his good side looks like. A lot of that shooting came from the NBA 3-point line and he was good off the dribble. He did a really good job."

Allen's big weekend in Manhattan came on the heels of Duke's 74-63 loss to Kentucky on Tuesday at the Champions Classic in Chicago. Allen shot just 2-for-11 and finished with six points while turning the ball over four times in 28 minutes. For much of Tuesday night, he was being guarded by Wildcats freshman and former Roselle Catholic (N.J.) sensation Isaiah Briscoe.

With three days to think about that forgettable performance, Allen came to the Garden and made it his personal playground, especially on Sunday when a good Hoyas team threatened to run away with the game.

Georgetown led by as many as eight with 8:30 to play in the first half and by five, 47-42, at halftime, but Duke charged ahead for good early in the second half. Over the first 4:36 of the second half, Allen either scored or assisted on all 16 Blue Devils points.

"I think he wanted to show what he means to us and the team," Blue Devils senior forward Amile Jefferson said. "I think the performance he had this weekend was unbelievable and we're not in this game tonight without Grayson. He kept us afloat and he's been amazing.

"One game doesn't judge a man and he knew that. He came back with a fight, with a burn, with a toughness that I knew he would have and it was amazing."

Said Allen: "It's so great to play in this arena, Madison Square Garden, it's an honor. This is a historic basketball arena and it's amazing to be here. It's a great opportunity to us."

Allen's strong play this season is a continuation of last season's national championship game, when he scored 16 points in a win over Wisconsin and was named to the Final Four All-Tournament Team. That immediately led to questions of whether or not he would declare of the 2015 NBA Draft.

That was never a real option and the notion quickly faded, but questions of whether or not Allen could come out for 2016 have begun to surface. That isn't likely to slow down now that Allen is a primary scoring option on this Duke team.

Allen is currently slotted as the No. 33 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by DraftExpress, but that could certainly change.

"Considering he's 6-5, you would like to see what he would look like as a combo guard," Givony said. "Can he handle the ball, play pick-and-roll, and create? Those are the questions. He hasn't really shown playmaking ability, ability to change speeds, read the other side of the floor and make guys better.

"He showed flashes of that, nifty passes and stuff along those lines and that will help him. Defense is going to be a big thing for him. He's not the tallest or the longest, so can he guard an NBA shooting guard? I will say, he's a very competitive dude."

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Of all the names on the rosters of the 23 teams at the National Prep Showcase this weekend, one stood out as perhaps the most fascinating of all.

Ted Kapita is a 6-foot-8 power forward originally from the Congo now playing for DME Academy of Daytona Beach, Fla, coached by longtime prep school coach Chris Chaney.

After he failed to qualify to enroll at Arkansas this summer, Kapita has been awash in rumblings, rumors and inaccurate reports. He was reportedly headed to play for Spire Institute (Ohio), which is also at the National Prep Showcase. He was said to have signed a professional contract to play overseas. And the controversial AmeriLeague out of Las Vegas said Kapita had signed with them.

"Ted Kapita The FUTURE of AmeriLeague," the league Tweeted in September.

The league's now disgraced head Glendon Alexander, aka Cerruti Brown, also told me Kapita had signed with the league, and I reported it, as did others.

"Actually, I'm glad you mentioned that because that almost messed up my NCAA eligibility," Kapita, 19, told me on Saturday after he went for 12 points and 8 rebounds in DME's 93-86 loss to New Hampton Prep that came with numerous college assistants watching. "I didn't sign anything for anybody."

The AmeriLeague was targeting players such as Kapita who failed to qualify for the NCAA (Alexander/Brown told me and other reporters as much), and Kapita said he spoke with Alexander/Brown about potentially playing in the Las Vegas outfit.

"He calls me, but I haven't committed or decided that I'm going to sign," Kapita said. "He called me but I didn't sign anything."

Kapita added that the fact that he was now playing for a post-grad team was proof.

"The fact that I'm here playing in high school, this is post-grad, this is almost high school," he said. "I wasn't qualified if you read my article online, so this is my post-grad."

It was also reported that Kapita signed a contract to play in France.

Kapita said he's not on Twitter and can't control what people report about him.

"I cannot stop people from saying stuff they want to say, we're in America," Kapita said.

Chaney also said Kapita never signed a pro contract, and sources close to at least one college recruiting him said they failed to find any evidence that Kapita signed with anyone.

As for his recruitment, Kapita said Arkansas is no longer involved.

"I just wanna open up my recruitment," he said. "Whoever recruit me I will talk to them. It's like I'm doing everything over again."

Still, both Chaney and Kapita said SMU is recruiting him the hardest right now. SMU assistant K.T. Turner is the lead recruiter.

"Yes, they're definitely doing the best job on him right now," Chaney said.

"Yeah, I have SMU but I'm not trying to focus on recruitment so much," Kapita said. "I'm just trying to play and the rest of it will take care of itself. I'm just trying to play basketball."

The fact that SMU is recruiting him certainly could raise some eyebrows.

SMU was handed a postseason ban and head coach Larry Brown is currently serving a nine-game suspension after the NCAA penalized the school because a secretary was found to have improperly helped former SMU player Keith Frazier with an online class (a class a source said Frazier didn't even need.)

"Right now I'm taking my ACT prep class so I can take the ACT and get eligible," Kapita said. "I didn't qualify, I didn't pass my test [to get into Arkansas]."

Kapita emphasized that he believes the only thing holding him back from being college-eligible is his test score.

"I'm clear, but I didn't pass my test," he said. "My test score wasn't high enough. I gotta work on that and that's the only thing left."

Asked if he believes he will ultimately qualify for college, he said, "Yes, the only thing is my test. I don't have anything with NCAA, I don't have any problem with transcript, I don't have any problem. The only thing was my test score was low."

Said Chaney: "Yeah, I think he's working hard on that aspect [academics] also. He's definitely making the most of his time on and off the court."

Chaney believes Kapita has a high upside going forward.

"No. 1, he's an unreal athlete, has an unreal work ethic, so great teammate, wants to get better all the time," he said. "And with our facilities down there he's made the most of it. So I think his better days are definitely ahead of him and he can play inside and outside."

Jonathan Givony of watched Kapita play Saturday and believes he would be eligible for the NBA Draft if he chose to go that route.

Still, if he fails to qualify for college beginning in 2016-17, Kapita said he's not sure if he will go the pro route right away.

"I don't know about that right now," he said. "Right now I'm just trying to get better and help my team."

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- One of the most sought after players still on the board in the Class of 2016 is Alpha Diallo, a 6-foot-6 wing from Brewster (N.H.) Academy.

The Harlem native saw his stock take off after a strong performance in August at the adidas Nations event.

"It gave me a lot of confidence in my scoring ability," Diallo said at the National Prep Showcase where he had 15 points in a way over Northfield Mount Hermon (Mass.) on Saturday and 17 in a victory over Spire Institute (Ohio) on Sunday. "Even though I get my teammates involved a lot, I really notice I can score so I just have to get that done."

As far as recruiting, Diallo said Florida, Miami, Texas A&M, VCU, Kansas and Indiana were working the hardest. All have offered except Kansas. He also holds offers from Rutgers, Seton Hall and others.

"I'm still definitely open," he said. "I haven't signed yet so coaches have been still calling me. I'm still soaking everything in. I might take a few visits here and there coming up."

He said he doesn't have any in mind but he's already visited VCU.

"It was great, coaches were awesome," he said. "They welcomed me as well. I love Richmond so it was a great place."

He also likes Florida and Miami.

"Great programs," he said. "Florida [has a] new coach [Mike White] but he has a pretty tough resume.

"Miami, [Jim] Larranaga great coach," he added. "Great programs, so I love their style."

For now, Diallo has no timetable on a decision but will sign in the spring.

"No timetable to cut down anything," he said."

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Kentucky told Hamidou Diallo back in August they would track him going forward.

And on Saturday night, John Calipari walked into the Albertus Magnus College gym to watch the 6-foot-5, 185-pound 2017 shooting guard from Putnam (CT) Science Academy. UConn coach Kevin Ollie was also on hand to watch Diallo and 2016 signee Mamadou Diarra.

"I definitely noticed Coach Calipari and Coach Ollie out there," Diallo said after going for 8 points in a 90-78 blowout of Montverde Academy Prep at the National Prep Showcase.

Still, Diallo was frustrated because he's dealing with injuries to his Achilles and thumb that limited his play.

"I feel I played alright but a couple injuries [are] holding me back right now so I couldn't play to my highest level," he said. "It was definitely frustrating because I wanted to put on a show but couldn't put on a show. It is what it is. Hopefully they see me again and I play better."

The Queens, N.Y. native holds offers from Kansas, Florida, Villanova, Maryland, UConn, Providence, Louisville, N.C. State, Indiana, Iowa State, Seton Hall, VCU and UMass, among others.

"Schools are trying to get me to commit left and right," he said. "I just don't worry about that, I just come out and play. I'm not making any decision any time soon."

He said Arizona and UNLV are the latest schools to text him.

"The schools that came in the most this year are UConn and Providence, the closest schools," he said. "They've been in the most. Some schools been in twice a day."

As for UConn, "It's a great school, great program, great coach." He said they told him he would be an "immediate impact player" there.

Diallo has visited UConn, Providence and St. John's, and he lives five minutes from the St. John's campus.

"I hear from St. John's quite a bit," he said. "The whole staff came in to see me most. Matt [Abdelmassih] and Slice [Rohrssen] and [Chris] Mullin, they all reach out to me.

"It's good but they're in the same boat as every other school."

As for Kentucky, he said an offer is "something I want" but he's not really focused on it.

"They run a great program," he said. "Their pitch is obviously they run an NBA clinic, they send those guys to the NBA, so that's been his pitch to me."


Earlier Saturday, Calipari watched one of his six new signees, Bam Adebayo, go for 15 points on 7-for-8 shooting and 10 rebounds "while being triple-teamed," High Point (N.C.) Christian coach Brandon Clifford told

Last week on The 4 Quarters Podcast, Clifford compared the 6-foot-9 Adebayo to a former NBA star.

"I'd compare him to Shawn Kemp," Clifford said. "He's 6-9, Bam's up to 260 now, eight percent body fat. He's just powerful and he's really, really good in the open floor. On the circuit, not a lot of people were able to see that.

"He has skill, he can play the game, he's not just a power guy. I'd compare him to the 'Reign Man,' I think that's the closest comparison."

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Jax Levitch, a 6-foot-7, 190-pound small forward from Delray Beach (FL) Elev8 Sports Institute, hopes to decide soon between Rutgers and Delaware.

"Those are my final two schools unless more come along," he said after going for 6 points and 5 rebounds Saturday as Elev8 beat Notre Dame Prep, 75-57, at the National Prep Showcase at Albertus Magnus College.

"I plan on [deciding] before Christmas but if something doesn't work out, if I'm not ready, then there's no rush. That's what I would like to do, is commit before Christmas-time."

Levitch visited Rutgers earlier this week.

"I liked it a lot," he said. "I like the coaching staff, I like the players, I like what their mission is. I liked it a lot."

He has visited Delaware officially and unofficially.

"I was close to committing there but they're still on me," he said. "I like the coaching staff a lot. I've developed a good relationship with [associate] Coach [Jeff] Rafferty."

Levitch is still thin and needs to add weight and get stronger. It's also unclear what position he would defend.

"I see myself as a 3 but two of our big men have been out the whole year so I've been playing the 4," he said. "But in college I'll be a 3 or stretch 4."

Rutgers has no commits for 2016 yet, although they are strongly in the mix for Issa Thiam, a 6-9 small forward from the Canarias Basketball Academy who is also playing there.

"They said they need a shooter bad," Levitch said of Rutgers, where he's being recruited by assistant Van Macon. "That's what I would do is come in and help them knock down shots."

Elev8 coach Chad Myers says Levitch has a high basketball IQ, too.

"I think he has such a great basketball feel," he said. "He makes all the right plays. He can really, really shoot it, he can handle it. He's kind of between a 3 and a 4 right now.

"He's gotta fill out [physically], box out, especially if you put him out there at the highest level with four other really good other players, he's going to keep them under control and he's got good pace to his game and everything."

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Taurean Thompson, a 6-foot-10 power forward at Brewster (N.H.) Academy, says two schools are working the hardest for his services right now.

"I'm been really just talking to Seton Hall and Syracuse," Thompson said after going for 19 points and six rebounds as Brewster topped Sunrise Christian Academy, 71-64, at the National Prep Showcase at Albertus Magnus College.

Asked if those were the two main schools on his list, he said, "Yeah, I guess so. I've been on an official to Syracuse and I've been to Seton Hall a bunch of times."

Ranked the No. 11 center by, Thompson is a Manhattan native who transferred from St. Anthony's before the season because of what he called "a lot of personal stuff involved.

"It wasn't really the school, but it was really a lot of personal stuff going on," he said of leaving the school led by Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley.

Now he loves Brewster and head coach Jason Smith.

"It was a smooth adjustment and I'm getting better," he said.

As for Syracuse and Seton Hall, Thompson likes aspects of both schools.

"Syracuse, the tradition," he said. "Coach [Jim] Boeheim is a great coach."

They have told him he would fit well into the 2-3 zone.

"They say they see me as a high-post, face-up guy, especially Syracuse," he said. "They like me because of my length in the 2-3 [zone]."

Thompson said he's friendly with Syracuse freshman Malachi Richardson and Frank Howard.

Seton Hall is also a factor "because they have a lot of young players, too," Thompson said.

"I've talked to Isaiah [Whitehead] a little bit," he said. "I know Khadeen [Carrington] and Desi [Rodriguez] as well."

Thompson also said he's open to new schools.

"Nobody's really contacted me of late," he said. "I got an offer from Providence but they haven't really talked to me of late, so right now it's just those two."

As of now, he's targeting a decision in the spring.

"Probably mid-spring," he said.


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Taken out of starting lineup, Duke's Grayson Allen responds with 30-point night
Nov 20, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Grayson Allen (3) puts up a shot during the first half against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports (Anthony Gruppuso)

NEW YORK -- The 2015-16 version of Duke basketball isn't nearly as talented as the 2014-15 version that won the national championship and produced three first-round one-and-dones in Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones, but this much seems obvious through four games: Duke will go as far this year as Grayson Allen can lead them.

And Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski knows that better than anybody.

Krzyzewski made a calculated move Friday by taking the 6-foot-5 sophomore guard out of the starting lineup and replacing him with freshman Derryck Thornton for Duke's 2K Classic semifinal against a tough and talented VCU team.

Allen was coming off a horrid performance Tuesday against Kentucky when he shot 2 for 11 for six points in an 11-point loss at Rupp Arena. Some players might shrivel up and become invisible after such a perceived slight.

If that had happened Friday, Duke's fragile psyche might have taken a major hit early in the season while its still forming an identity.

But Allen did the opposite. He put the team on his back and broke out for a career-high 30 points to go with six rebounds and three assists, as No. 5 Duke edged VCU, 79-71, to advance to play Georgetown in Sunday's 1 p.m. championship game.

"Grayson didn't play well against Kentucky," Krzyzewski said. "He didn't have a good look and he didn't adjust. That was his first big-time start, too. It's not like Grayson is this big combat veteran, so I was hard on him, but honest. And he's fine, we have a great relationship.

"For him to respond the way he did was terrific."

Allen shot 9 for 15 from the field and 4 for 8 from deep as Duke outscored VCU 41-32 in the second half after trailing for much of the second half.

Kentucky's length -- and the defensive hounding of 6-3 New Jersey native Isaiah Briscoe -- made for a very long night Tuesday for Allen and projected lottery pick Brandon Ingram.

VCU certainly isn't Kentucky, but Allen pointed to the defensive strengths of both teams.

"Kentucky is a great defensive team and they have length," he said. "But where they have length the team that we played tonight has aggressiveness and speed, so there's different adjustments you have to make. Obviously, you have to adjust to Kentucky's length and with this team, they're very active and their guards are always looking to make steals so you have to make an adjustment against that."

The game turned when Duke went small, putting Luke Kennard at the 4, and allowing a lineup of Thornton, Allen, Kennard, Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson to play to its strengths.

"They had four good perimeter players," Krzyzewski said. "We could switch them 1-4. We just ran motion. ... Having the four perimeter guys in there was better in running motion than having the two big guys in."

Krzyzewski also praised Thornton, the freshman who reclassed to 2015 from 2016 to give Duke added depth at the point after Jones departed early for the NBA. Thornton finished with 19 points, four assists and three turnovers, looking more like a tested veteran than a kid who should be a high school senior at Findlay Prep.

"That kid had a helluva game," Krzyzewski said of Thornton. "I thought he was terrific. And how he handled the ball and didn't lose it, at the end of the clock, made plays, found people. And then he played really good defense. And their guard is quick, [Jequan] Lewis is quick. I can't say enough about them, their team is really good. I don't know of anybody who wants to play them. They come at you, they come at you. So Derryck playing that well in that type of game, he needs to be congratulated."

But more than anything, this game was about Allen rebounding from a tough spot at Kentucky when he did not play well and then heard about it from the national media, his own fans and his coach.

Next up for Duke is a tough Georgetown team on Sunday and the next stage of Allen's development will unfold.

If Allen can step up and be the player he was in the national championship game against Wisconsin, when he went for 16 points off the bench, there's no telling how far Duke can go this year. But if Allen plays more like the version we saw against Kentucky, they don't figure to do as well.

"The response that Grayson had from Kentucky is huge," Krzyzewski said. "I think it's spectacular, to be quite frank with you. A lot of kids would question themselves and he never did. Obviously, he never did."

Next up for Duke is a tough Georgetown team on Sunday and the next stage of Grayson Allen's development will unfold.

But on this night, Coach K learned a lot about the leader of his young team.

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In return home, Cameron, Govan spark Georgetown to win in 2K Classic
Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes (10) drives against Georgetown forward Reggie Cameron (5) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Georgetown won 71-61. Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports (Anthony Gruppuso)

NEW YORK -- After losing to Maryland on Tuesday night to fall 0-2 on the young season, Reggie Cameron and the Georgetown Hoyas couldn't wait to get back on the court.

It was an added bonus for Cameron that he would be returning home to Madison Square Garden for a game against Wisconsin.

The 6-foot-7 former Hudson Catholic (N.J.) standout showed up and showed out, scoring all of his career-high 14 points in the first half as Georgetown knocked off the Badgers, 71-61, in the first semifinal of the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden. No. 5 Duke beat VCU, 79-71, in the second semifinal.

The Hoyas (1-2) will meet Duke in Sunday's final (1 p.m., ESPN), while Wisconsin (2-2) will play VCU in the consolation game (3:30, ESPN2).

"Reggie made shots in the first half because that's what Reggie Cameron does, he makes shots" Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "I thought he was very, very good on defense, too. A lot of the plays when we needed stops, we needed deflections, him taking a charge. Obviously [Nigel] Hayes (22 points) is a load for whoever is on him, but I thought Reggie's defensive effort today was just as important as his shots in the first half."

Cameron connected on 4 of 6 from downtown as the Hoyas shot 9 for 18 overall from beyond the arc. Cameron didn't score in the second half, but teammate Isaac Copeland took over, scoring all 15 of his points after the break.

"I was open and my teammates got me the ball," said Cameron, who had about a dozen family and friends in the crowd. "They found me and I made my shots. If I make them, they're going to keep feeding me. Like coach said, Reggie Cameron, he make shots and that's what I gotta do."

Freshman big man Jessie Govan out of Wings Academy in New York also played well in his return home, posting 13 points, five rebounds and three blocks. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera added 12 points on just 2-for-9 shooting.

"[Govan] showed up and played well. He showed a small glimpse of what's coming from big Jessie," Thompson III said of Govan, who led Wings to the New York State Federation title last spring.

Georgetown lost its first two games to Radford and Maryland to open at 0-2 for the first time since 1998-99 and was desperate for a win.

"This last week, this last 10 days has been hell and then you look and you see there's no break," said Thompson, whose team was picked to finish second in the Big East behind Villanova. "Hopefully that will prepare us as we move towards Big East play and post Big East play. ... Also I have a group of guys that can handle it as we continue to go forward because whoever we play on Sunday, VCU and Duke, it doesn't get any easier."

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Hofstra surprises Florida State 82-77 in Paradise Jam
Nov 25, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Hofstra Pride guard Brian Bernardi (14) shoots a three pointer over South Florida Bulls guard Nehemias Morillo (5) during the first half at USF Sun Dome. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) -- Brian Bernardi scored a career-high 24 points and Hofstra made 10 of 22 3-pointers to shock Florida State 82-77 in the Paradise Jam tournament on Friday.

Juan'ya Green added 17 points, Denton Koon had 15 and Ameen Tanksley 14 for the Pride (3-0).

Bernardi made 8 of 10 shots, including six of eight 3-pointers. He had 19 points at halftime as Hofstra led 41-35.

Rokas Gustys had 11 rebounds as Hofstra outrebounded Florida State 39-36.

The Pride went 18 of 24 at the foul line, all in the second half. They were eight for 10 in the last 2:22.

Malik Beasley led the Seminoles (2-1) with 25 points, 18 in the second half. He was four of five behind the arc after intermission, but FSU finished 6 of 25 on 3s after going 0 for 10 in the first half.

Florida State averaged 103.5 points in its first two wins.


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Kwe Parker signs with Tennessee
(Courtesy @Vol_Hoops)

Former Rutgers commit Kwe Parker has signed with Tennessee.

"Kwe wanted to be closer to home," his AAU coach, Roderick Brown, told "The chance to play in the SEC provides a place where Kwe can play and be closer to his family and friends."

The 6-foot-2 2016 point guard from Wesleyan (N.C.) Christian decommitted from Rutgers on Nov. 4, leaving coach Eddie Jordan's team without a commit in the early signing period.

"I think Kwe is like a Russ Smith, that's how he plays," Karolina Diamonds coach Kevin Graves told when Parker committed to Rutgers.

He joins small forward Jalen Johnson, his high school teammate, in coach Rick Barnes' 2016 recruiting class.


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Adam Zagoria and Josh Newman deliver an all-new episode of The 4 Quarters Podcast, covering college hoops, recruiting, and the NBA for

First up, Steve Wiseman of the Durham Herald Sun calls in to talk early returns on Duke and their current recruiting. Then, Brandon Clifford, head coach at High Point Christian, joins the show to talk about Bam Adebayo. Later, Adam and Josh chat about the 2K Classic and the Legends Classic, and then the show wraps up with a full recruiting roundup.

1st Quarter: Steve Wiseman (01:00)

2nd Quarter: Brandon Clifford (08:55)

3rd Quarter: 2K Classic & Legends Classic (16:35)

4th Quarter: Recruiting Round Up (20:45)

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Future Lottery Picks Passing Through New York This Week
Kentucky Wildcats forward Skal Labissiere. (Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports)

NEW YORK -- While the Knicks and Nets are out of town, a parade of likely future lottery picks will pass through their buildings in the coming days.

As the Knicks begin a four-game road swing Friday night in Oklahoma City, Duke freshman forward Brandon Ingram, the projected No. 3 pick according to, will be on display at Madison Square Garden when the Blue Devils comes to town for the 2K Classic.

On Monday and Tuesday, LSU freshman forward Ben Simmons, considered by many the likely No. 1 overall pick, will showcase his talents in the Legends Classic at Barclays Center. He will be joined by Marquette freshman big man Henry Ellenson, the projected No. 8 pick by Draft Express.

On Dec. 19, Kentucky, which features three projected one-and-dones in Skal Labissiere, Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe, will arrive at Barclays to face top-ranked North Carolina, which has four projected picks in 2016.
Yet with all this talent on display, it will only serve as a reminder -- a massive tease -- to Knicks and Nets fans that neither team has a first-round draft pick in 2016.

The Celtics get Brooklyn's pick, and with the Nets at 2-10, that pick is looking pretty appealing right now.

The Knicks, who at 6-6 are looking much improved from the disaster of a team that landed NBA Rookie of the Year candidate Kristaps Porzingis at No. 4 in this year's draft, must surrender their 2016 first-round pick to Toronto.

"I don't know if there's irony to it," Bobby Marks, the former Nets assistant GM, said in a phone interview. "The fans of this region are going to look at these kids when they do come in and may be wanting them in June and not be able to get them in June."

A year ago, of course, the Knicks historically bad season devolved into a talk of Tank Slogans like "Lose some more for Okafor" and "Play like clowns for Towns," in reference to Duke's Jahlil Okafor and Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns.

Nobody was really talking about Porzingis, although one message board fan came up with "Mishaps for Kristaps."
In honor of Simmons, who has drawn comparisons to Magic Johnson and LeBron James, we'll throw out "Win less than 10 for Ben" and "Play without Zen for Ben."

For Labissiere, my colleague Josh Newman came up with "Lose 80 for the kid from Haiti."

On Murray, @revans0 came up with, "Lose 'em all for Jamal."

But of course, neither the Knicks or Nets will be landing any of those studs.

Still, fans of those teams shouldn't feel alone.

The Lakers could end up with no pick, too. They do have a first-round pick but it will go to Philadelphia unless the Lakers finish in the top three in the draft lottery.

"If you are in that top four [of the lottery] it's a safe place where potentially some of these teams could be with Simmons and Labissiere and [Dragan] Bender and Murray and Kris Dunn from Providence," Marks said. "There's a lot of kids who will get the hype."

Still, Marks points out, you don't really know how a draft pick will pan out until you see him play over time. The 7-foot-3 Porzingis is certainly proving that right now, and proving that Phil Jackson and Steve Mills made what appears to be a brilliant pick.

"These teams still have to draft these guys and make the right pick and I think that's kind of what you saw with the Knicks," Marks said. "A lot of people got bent out of shape [over Porzingis]."

On the flip side, Marks pointed to the Celtics drafting of Kentucky one-and-done James Young at No. 17 in 2014. He has spent much of his time in the NBA D-League so far.

"Boston drafted James Young and he hasn't played a game yet," Marks said. "If you don't make the right pick then there's a different story line there."

This much seems certain, though.

The 0-12 Sixers seem headed for the lottery.


In fact, the team that has seemingly been tanking since George Bush No. 2 was President could have as many as four first-round picks.

"I think Philly will be in good shape unless they finish 1 [with the NBA's worst record] and they fall to whatever they can fall to in the lottery," Marks said.

"They should potentially have a couple a lottery picks."

But the Nets don't even have one so even if they "Win less than 10 for Ben," Simmons won't be playing at Barclays Center, folks.


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2015-16 Elite High School Hoops Schedule

Every year I try to compile a list of some of the most high-profile high school hoops tourneys. These events feature some of the top recruits and coaches in the nation and are great stops to see future college standouts.

Here is a preliminary list; click on the name of the event for schedule and details. If your event doesn't have a website, pull it together and get one up.

If I've missed anything, shoot me a note on Twitter with the tourney info and link.

NATIONAL PREP SHOWCASE, Nov. 20-22, Albertus Magnus College, New Haven, CT



CITY OF PALMS CLASSIC, Dec. 18-23, Fort Myers, Fla.

KREUL CLASSIC, Dec. 18-22, Coconut Creek, Fla.

CHICK FIL A CLASSIC, Dec. 18-22, Columbia, S.C.

HOOP GROUP TIP-OFF, Dec. 19-20, West Orange, N.J.

BEACH BALL CLASSIC, Dec. 26-31, Myrtle Beach, Fla.

JINGLE BELLS JUBILEE, Dec. 26-29, Paterson, N.J.

SKYLINE CLASSIC, Dec. 27-29, Jersey City, N.J.

SLAM DUNK TO THE BEACH, Dec. 27-29, Lewes, DE


HOOPS FOR TROOPS, Jan. 2, Roselle (N.J.) Catholic

NEW YEAR'S JUMP-OFF, Jan. 4, Hackensack, N.J.



TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS, Jan 14.-16, Springfield, MO

SPALDING HOOPHALL CLASSIC, Jan. 14-18, Springfield, MA

FLYIN' TO THE HOOP, Jan. 15-18, Dayton, OH

DAN FINN CLASSIC, Jan. 16, Jersey City, N.J.

BIG APPLE BASKETBALL INVITATIONAL, Jan. 16 & 18, Baruch College (Manhattan)


SNY INVITATIONAL, Jan. 29-30, New York, N.Y.

TOM RICHEL MEMORIAL HOOPFEST, Feb. 6-7, Roselle (N.J.) Catholic

METRO CLASSIC, Feb. 11-12, Kean University, Union, N.J.

PRIMETIME SHOOTOUTFeb. 13-14, Roselle Catholic, N.J.

McDONALD'S ALL-AMERICAN GAME, March 30, United Center, Chicago

ESPN NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL CHAMPIONSHIP, April 1-3, Christ the King, Queens, N.Y. & Madison Square Garden

NIKE HOOP SUMMIT, April 9, Moda Center, Portland

KENTUCKY DERBY FESTIVAL, April 15, Freedom Hall, Lexington, KY

JORDAN BRAND CLASSIC, April 15, Barclays Center, Brooklyn

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In battle of rebuilding teams St. John's edges Rutgers, 61-59

NEW YORK -- Rutgers and St. John's both dipped into their pasts with an eye toward the future when hiring their current men's basketball coaches.

In 2013, Rutgers brought back Eddie Jordan, a star of their 1976 Final Four team and a former NBA player and coach, with hopes that he could stabilize their image in the post-Mike Rice era and lead them to success as they transitioned to the Big Ten Conference.

Last spring, St. John's hired Chris Mullin, the star of their 1985 Final Four outfit and a former NBA Dream Teamer, to replace the outgoing Steve Lavin with the hopes that he could restore the program to something resembling its mid-1980s glory.

After being picked to finish last in their respective leagues, both programs face plenty of obstacles to becoming relevant in their own conferences, much less nationally.

But on Thursday night St. John's came from 16 points down in the second half to beat Rutgers, 61-59, in a Gavitt Tip-Off Game at Carnesecca Arena. Score another one for the Big East in the series.

(In something of an ironic twist, Lavin was on hand -- sporting a coat and tie, which he seldom wore as a coach -- to call the game for Fox Sports 1.)

"All these experiences, good, bad, close, these are all experiences we're going to go through together to make us better," Mullin said. "We're building something so each experience is going to be valuable in the long run."

For St. John's (3-0), 6-foot-11 freshman Yankuba Sima and freshman point guard Federico Mussini had 13 points apiece, grad student Ron Mvouika tallied 12 points and 10 rebounds and senior guard Felix Balamou -- who was reinstated by the NCAA before the game after missing the first two games with an NCAA violation -- finished with 8 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists.

"A couple weeks ago we went to the Big East media day [and] as all of you guys know they got us all the way at the bottom," said Balamou, a native of Guinea. "But we're not worried about that..We're going to execute and play our game."

The Red Storm will fly to the Maui Invitational on Friday morning feeling good about themselves. They don't play until facing Vanderbilt on Monday, giving them the weekend in Hawaii to practice and hope that Malik Ellison (foot) and Darien Williams (shoulder) heal up after missing the game.

Bishop Daniels had a career-high 21 points for the Scarlet Knights (2-1), who failed to execute on the final possessions down the stretch and then watched as Daniels' potential game-winning three-pointer went through the net after the horn sounded.

"They just out-hearted us," said Jordan, whose team went 5-for-14 from the stripe. "They had more grit, more determination, more will. ...down the stretch they had more will and determination than we did."

He added: "I don't know if I can teach heart, but they just out-hearted us."

In the longer term, one wonders whether Jordan and Mullin can ever return their programs to the glory years of the 1970s or '80s.

Much is standing in their way.

Rutgers hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 1991 and has been a bottom-feeder in whatever league its been in in recent years, be it the Big East, the AAC or the Big Ten.

Now as he moves into Year 4 of a five-year contract paying him an average of $1.25 million annually, the pressure is surely building on Jordan.

This year and next he will probably have to show some significant improvement to ward off calls for yet another coaching change on the banks.

It will be tough considering Rutgers, picked last in the Big Ten, has to deal with the Michigan States, Marylands, Indianas, Wisconsins and Michigans of the world.

The Scarlet Knights will lose three players from this team and don't have a single commit in the Class of 2016 after guard Kwe Parker decommitted. Jordan and his staff may have to go the JUCO or overseas routes to add some players in the spring.

At St. John's, a new and hopeful era has just begun as Mullin is in the first year of a deal reportedly worth more than $2 million annually.

Mullin and his crack staff led by Barry "Slice" Rohrssen and Matt Abdelmassih did strong work by adding nine new players after Lavin's departure, even if point guard Marcus LoVett and forward Kassoum Yakwe aren't NCAA-eligible.

They have some nice young pieces, but will have their work cut out with the Villanovas and Georgetowns of the world every year, to say nothing of rising Big East programs like Marquette and Butler.

St. John's can no longer advance to Final Fours solely on the backs of city kids like Chris Mullin and Walter Berry, but they are doing their best to put a wall around New York.

On Wednesday, they announced the signing of guard Shamorie Ponds of Thomas Jefferson as their lone 2016 commit.

Indicating their need to spread their recruiting base, sources said they are also strongly in the mix for German small forward Richard Freudenberg.

Slice has also made them relevant with late-signing studs like 7-footer Thon Maker of Orangeville Prep (Ontario) and Brooklyn's Rawle Alkins of Word of God (N.C.).

Still, it figures to be at least another couple of years before St. John's can think of a return to the NCAA Tournament -- where Lavin took them last season.

The futures of both programs remain hazy at best, but on this night Mullin and St. John's emerged from Carnesecca with the win.

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Adebayo, Fox, Gabriel, Killeya-Jones, Monk and Wynyard sign with Kentucky
(UK Media Relations)

Edrice "Bam" Adebayo, De'Aaron Fox, Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Malik Monk and Tai Wynyard have all signed with Kentucky, the University announced.

"One of the things I loved about this group is they all want to play together," head coach John Calipari said in a release from the school. "This recruiting wasn't just coming from me and my staff; this whole group wanted to play together and wants to be one of the best groups ever. To make this work, they've got to like each other and want to play together, and this group already has that.

All six players are four- or five-star recruits, with four of them considered Top 10 players in the country.

"Every player in this class is different," Calipari said. "They all have their own strengths. They all bring something to the table. They're all different and they're all concerned with being the best version of themselves. Each kid made a decision based on their goals and dreams and what's best for them personally. As we bring this all together, I'm excited."

From the school:

Edrice "Bam" Adebayo, F, 6-9, 230
Adebayo, a forward, could be one of the gems of the 2016 class. A physical specimen at 6-foot-9, 230 pounds, Adebayo can not only run the floor well, he's an athletic and explosive finisher around the basket who can score with both hands. 
"Of all the players I saw in the summer, no one had a combination of a dominating spirit and a physical presence like Bam," Calipari said. "He has a skill level of a player that is normally four inches smaller than him. Aside from his rebounding ability, he plays positionless basketball, just like our other kids. Bam is going to be a big-time player for us."
Adebayo will join Kentucky out of High Point Christian Academy in High Point, N.C. He's ranked in the top 10 by Rivals (No. 6) and ESPN (No. 6). 247Sports (No. 14) and Scout (No. 15) tab him as a top-15 prospect in the 2016 class. He has prior USA Basketball experience and was named a MaxPreps All-American in 2013.
"They're a winning program," Adebayo said on ESPN's "Mike and Mike in the Morning" on Tuesday. "They're just a great all-around environment. I just like the staff and I like Coach Cal. … Whatever I need to do for Kentucky I'll do."
De'Aaron Fox, G, 6-3, 170
Fox is an elite-level point guard considered to be one of the top overall players in the country in the 2016 class. The Katy, Texas product out of Cypress Lakes High School is blessed with exceptional speed, a knack for beating defenders off the dribble and a penchant for finishing at the basket.
"De'Aaron Fox has speed, he has scoring ability, he can really pass and he can guard the ball," Calipari said. "But those are things that can be said about different players. The intangible that I really loved is that every player wants to play with him. This whole class wants him to be the guard on the team. When I found out how much they loved him, I nicknamed him 'the General' because they all want to play for him." 
Fox, measured at 6-3, 170 pounds, is rated as high as No. 2 overall in the rankings by 247Sports. Scout ranks him at No. 4, Rivals has him at No. 5 and ESPN tabs him No. 7. Scout and 247Sports both rank the five-star prospect as the No. 1 point guard in the talented 2016 group. He participated in the 2015 USA Basketball Junior National Team minicamp and made the 2015-16 USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team in September. 
"It felt like a family there," Fox said during his announcement on ESPNU. "When I went on my visits, every fan knew who I was. When I got off the airplane, people greeted me like I had been there my whole life. Getting to the players and Coach Cal - I felt like I had the best relationship out of any coach that recruited me with Coach Cal. That's what set it apart."
Wenyen Gabriel, F, 6-9, 200
Gabriel is a 6-9, 200-pound forward who currently plays at Wilbraham & Monson Academy in Wilbraham, Mass. Ranked as high as No. 10 in the national rankings, Gabriel is an inside-out forward with a high motor, length to cause problems inside, and an ability to stretch opposing defenses with a great shooting touch for a big man.
"When I saw Wenyen, I knew he had grown from 6-3 to 6-9," Calipari said. "I see him as a 6-10 guard in the sense that, if we're playing three guards, he's one of them. He can really shoot it, he's got a great shot and he's a shot blocker defensively. He's an energy guy who can guard multiple positions and is getting better by the day. Wenyen fits in perfectly with this class."
Scout ranks Gabriel as the 10th-best player overall in the 2016 class. 247Sports and Rivals tab him at No. 17 and ESPN places him at No. 23. He is a consensus five-star recruit.
"Kentucky made it clear that they had a plan for me personally and for helping me take my game to the next level," Gabriel told Adam Finkelstein of ESPN when he verbally committed in early October.
Sacha Killeya-Jones, F, 6-10, 207
Killeya-Jones is a long, athletic big man considered to have a ton of upside. The 6-10, 207-pound forward is a highly skilled offensive post player who is a consensus top-35 player. 274Sports ranks him 16th overall, Rivals has him 26th, Scout tabs him at No. 29, and ESPN has him at No. 31.
"When we learned about Sacha and were contacted about him having an interest in us, I asked him why Kentucky," Calipari said. "His answer was, 'Because you've coached players like me who have had growth spurts and all of those players have done well for you.' You're talking about a skilled player who can block shots. He can play multiple positions and fits in with the mold of kids we have, which are great kids, great students and great teammates."
Like Gabriel, Killeya-Jones is a consensus top-10 power forward. He currently plays at Virginia Episcopal in Lynchburg, Va.
"I know going to play for Coach Cal at Kentucky means I will be playing against great players in practice," Killeya-Jones told Reggie Rankin from ESPN in August. "That's what I was looking for, because it will help me develop as a player and prepare me for the games. I know I have to earn my playing time."
Malik Monk, G, 6-4, 185
Monk is considered the top shooting guard in the class. At 6-4, 185 pounds, Monk is a long and athletic guard that can both shoot it and make plays off the dribble. The consensus five-star prospect is ranked No. 5 overall in the 2016 class by 247Sports and ESPN and No. 6 by Rivals and Scout.
"Malik is a scoring point guard who can play both positions," Calipari said. "Malik has Derrick Rose explosiveness. Think about that for a second. He's as good of a scorer, as good of a shooter and as good of a shot creator as I've seen in a while. With his quickness and speed, he should be a great defender - a great defender."
Monk, a Bentonville, Ark., product, participated in the 2015 USA Basketball Junior National Team minicamp and was named to the 2015-16 USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team in September.
"Having the opportunity to win a national championship with my friends and the relationship I have with the coaching staff was very impactful on my decision," Monk released in a statement on Twitter. 
Tai Wynyard, F, 6-9, 230
Wynyard is a 6-9, 230-pound forward. The Auckland, New Zealand native, who was a part of the World Select Team that edged the USA Junior National Select Team at the 2015 Nike Hoop Summit, is a physically imposing forward who does his best damage around the basket.
"With Tai, you're talking about a 6-9 physical athlete who is not afraid to get physical," Calipari said. "He has good skills. The most exciting part is what he's done with his country's national team. Everybody that's watched him recently has said, 'Man has he gotten better. He's competing at a high level.' They've never seen him as physically fit. Tai is totally different than any player we have." 
Wynyard played with the New Zealand senior national team in the summer of 2014 and was the first commit in the 2016 class.
"Kentucky seemed like the best fit for me," Wynyard told the Courier-Journal in January. "They are going to push you to their max no matter who you are or what you do. If you are the best player in the country or the world, they're going to push you. That's the thing that really got to me. No other college really said that to me, and that's why I chose them." 


New Zealand Big Man Tai Wynyard Has Signed NLI With Kentucky
Kentucky coach John Calipari is looking forward to adding Tai Wynyard to his front court next month. (Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

Tai Wynyard has signed his National Letter of Intent with Kentucky and expects to come to the United States from New Zealand "in about a month," his mother told

"All signed and done," Karmyn Wynyard said via email. "NCAA Eligibility Center complete, just US student visa being processed now and he's good to go. Should be heading over in about a month."

The 6-foot-10, 265-pound New Zealand big man has previously said he will enroll at Kentucky in December and will play the second semester of this season. However, it's possible he may redshirt this season.

"I'm sure I will be coming to UK in December to begin classes winter/spring semester," Wynyard told "I'm looking forward to and excited about joining the program in December."

Wynyard will join bigs Skal Labissiere, Isaac Humphries, Marcus Lee, Alex Poythress and Derek Willis up front.

"I've played with and against both [Jamal Murray and Humphries]. They are very talented players and I look forward to joining them in December," Wynyard said.

Kentucky has the No. 1-ranked recruiting class in 2016 with guards Malik Monk and De'Aaron Fox and bigs Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones and Bam Adebayo. All of them have signed their NLIs.

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Chris Mullin officially signed the first player of his 2016-17 recruiting class as guard Shamorie Ponds inked a National Letter of Intent to play basketball for St. John's University next season.

The 6-foot-1, southpaw from Brooklyn, N.Y., is a consensus four-star prospect, who ranks No. 41 on the ESPN 100 list and No. 42 by Rivals for the Class of 2016.

"We are thrilled to welcome Shamorie to St. John's University and our basketball family," said Mullin. "His commitment to St. John's has set the tone for the future of our program as we strive to keep New York's top talent home.

Ponds entered his senior year at Thomas Jefferson High School rated the No. 3 player in New York State and No. 12 nationally for his position.

"Shamorie strengthens our foundation as we continue to build the program from the ground up," Mullin added. "He's a crafty guard with a tremendous work ethic. Shamorie will fit well into our system."

The local product averaged 25 points, nine rebounds and six assists as a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School playing for head coach Lawrence Pollard. He helped guide Jefferson to the PSAL Class AA City League semifinals last season, registering 24 points, six rebounds and four assists per game in five playoff games.

Ponds climbed more than 50 spots on the 2016 Rivals 150 after outstanding play in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) circuit, averaging 16.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.5 steals in 22 games with the New York Lightning.

He competed in the 2015 Under Armour Elite 24, which showcased 24 of the nation's top players for the class of 2016 and 2017. Previously at the Adidas Uprising All-American Camp, Ponds scored 22 points in the Uprising Showcase game in front of the home crowd at Rucker Park.

Ponds is the highest-rated local player to choose St. John's since current Portland Trailblazers forward Maurice Harkless committed in August 2011.


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Rutgers-St. John's Set for Gavitt Tip-Off Battle on Thursday
Chris Mullin (Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports)

At this stage, Rutgers and St. John's have a lot in common.

Both are 2-0 on the season.

Both were picked to finish last in their respective conferences - Rutgers in the Big Ten and St. John's in the Big East.

And both are now coached by legendary former alums who went on to play in the NBA and then were welcomed back by their alma maters as potential saviors.

Now Eddie Jordan and Chris Mullin will go toe-to-toe when the two schools meet Thursday night in a Gavitt Tip-Off Games contest at Carnesecca Arena.

"Eddie was a great player at Rutgers and came back to coach at his school," Mullin said Wednesay. "He had a long career in the NBA so there are some similarities there [as far as coming back to coach at our alma maters]."

Both coaches are under pressure to restore glory to their alma maters.

Mullin is 2-0 in his first season back on campus, while Jordan is 24-43 in his third.

"I feel like it's more of a responsibility [to bring the program back to prominence]," Mullin said. "When you are a player there is pressure, but what I did [to lessen that pressure] was get lost in the preparation. Each and every program is at different stages and we understand where we are [right now]. We're realistic about that so we carved out our game plan to build it."

One team will come out of the game at 3-0 and feeling pretty good, the other will have taken a hit at the hands of a local rival projected to finish last in its league.

On top of all that, league pride is on the line.

Entering Wednesday's Illinois-Providence game, the Big Ten leads the Big East, 2-1, in the Gavitt Games, with three more tilts set for Thursday including this one.

"We have Rutgers coming in, a member of the Big Ten, obviously it's an important game," St. John's graduate student Durand Johnsonsaid. "Like we did [in the past two games] to help us get to 2-0, we're going to focus on the defensive end. [Tomorrow] will definitely be a good test before we head to Maui."



Shamorie Ponds, St. John's lone commit in the Class of 2016, signed his NLI on Monday but the school has yet to issue a press release announcing it, sources told Rutgers is still awaiting its first 2016 commit after guard Kwe Parker decommitted.



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2015-16 Non-Conf., College Basketball Event Schedule
(Jasen Vinlove)

Here's a look at some of the top non-conference college basketball events for the 2015-16 season. If you know of other events, hit me up on Twitter.

Nov. 13: Veterans Classic, Alumni Hall, Annapolis, MD

Teams: North Carolina vs. Temple, Navy vs. Florida.


Nov. 13: Armed Forces Classic, Okinawa, Japan

Teams: Gonzaga vs. Pittsburgh


Nov. 17: State Farm Champions Classic, Chicago, Illinois

Teams: Duke vs. Kentucky, Kansas vs. Michigan State


Nov. 19-22: Gildan Charleston Classic, Charleston, S.C.

Teams: Bradley, George Mason, Long Beach State, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Seton Hall, Towson, Virginia


Nov. 19-22: Puerto Rico Tip-Off, San Juan, P.R.

Teams: Butler, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Missouri State, Temple, Texas Tech, Miami, Utah


Nov. 20 & 22: 2K Classic, Madison Square Garden, NY, NY

Teams: Duke vs. VCU, Wisconsin vs. Georgetown


Nov. 20-22: Hall of Fame Tip-Off, Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut

Teams: Vermont, Buffalo, NC A&T, Florida, Niagara, Old Dominion, Purdue, St. Joe's


Nov. 23 & 25: MGM Grand Main Event, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada

Teams: Clemson vs. UMass, Creighton vs. Rutgers


Nov. 23-25: EA Sports Maui Invitational, Lahaina Civic Center, Maui, Hawaii

Teams: Chaminade, Indiana, Kansas, St. John's, UCLA, UNLV, VAnderbilt, Wake Forest


Nov. 23-24: Legends Classic, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY

Teams: N.C. State vs. Arizona State, Marquette vs. LSU


Nov. 23-24: CBE Hall of Fame Classic, Kansas City, Missouri

Teams: Missouri vs. Kansas State, Northwestern vs. North Carolina


Nov. 25-27: Battle for Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas

Teams: Syracuse, UConn, Michigan, Texas, Gonzaga, Washington, Texas A&M, Charlotte


Nov. 26-27: NIT Season Tip-Off, Barclays Center, Brooklyn

Teams: Arkansas vs. Georgia Tech, Stanford vs. Villanova


Nov. 26-29: DirecTV Wooden Legacy, Anaheim, CA

Teams: UC-Irvine, Boise State, Boston College, Michigan State, Evansville, Providence, Santa Clara, Arizona


Nov. 26-29: Advocare Invitational, Orlando, FL

Teams: Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, Dayton vs. Iowa, Xavier vs. Alabama, Wichita State vs. USC


Nov. 27-28: Barclays Center Classic, Brooklyn, NY

Teams: George Washington vs. Tennessee, Nebraska vs. Cincinnati


Nov. 28: Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY

Teams: Louisville vs. St. Louis


Dec. 8: Jimmy V Classic, Madison Square Garden, New York

Teams: West Virginia vs. Virginia, Maryland vs. UConn


Dec. 19: CBS Sports Classic, Barclays Center, Brooklyn NY

Teams: UCLA vs. North Carolina, Kentucky vs. Ohio State


Dec. 22-25: Diamond Head Classic, Honolulu, Hawaii

Teams: Auburn, New Mexico, BYU, Harvard, Oklahoma, Washington State, UNI, Hawaii


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The ugliness of the Internet was on display Wednesday soon after Malik Monk announced he would become the latest probable one-and-done player to head to Kentucky. The 6-foot-3 lead guard is an Arkansas native and the fact that he picked SEC rival Kentucky over Arkansas didn't go over well with some. Arkansas native and Chicago Bulls forward Bobby Portis chimed in with this Tweet:



Meantime, somebody (presumably angry Arkansas fans) messed with Marcus Monk's Wikipedia page, writing, "Just leave Arkansas now, traitor."page. Monk 1Monk 2Follow Adam Zagoria on TwitterAnd like ZAGS on Facebook



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Miami scored its second huge commitment of the day when Dewan Huell picked the Hurricanes over South Carolina.

The 6-foot-10 Huell is ranked the No. 7 power forward in the Class of 2016 by He joined shooting guard Bruce Brown of Vermont Academy, who committed to Miami over Indiana Wednesday morning. Miami also has a pledge from Oak Hill Academy (VA) big man Rodney Miller.

Huell has won three straight state championships at Miami (FL) Norland and is seeking a fourth straight.

"I'm getting better at getting the ball at the top of the post and attacking," Huell told "I still need to work on my strength, especially after what I saw battling in the paint all summer."

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Malik Monk to Kentucky as Wildcats Solidify No. 1 Class
(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Hot on the heels of their victory over defending national champion Duke on Tuesday night in Chicago, Kentucky got even more good news on Wednesday.

Malik Monk has committed to Kentucky and will sign his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday, giving the Wildcats the No. 1-ranked recruiting class, according to



The 6-foot-3 Monk out of Bentonville (AR) considered several other schools, but in-state Arkansas was the main challenger.

Monk joins fellow point guard De'Aaron Fox along with big men Bam Adebayo, Sacha Killeya-Jones and Wenyen Gabriel in Kentucky's class.

Kentucky now has three projected Top 10 picks in the 2017 NBA Draft according to in No. 4 Fox, No. 7 Monk and No. 10 Adebayo.

Meantime, Kentucky point guards Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe and Jamal Murray could all depart for the NBA, paving the way for Fox and Monk to take over in 2016-17. Murray is projected as the No. 6 pick by and Briscoe at No. 18.

Kentucky will also likely return guards Mychal Mulder, Charles Matthews and Dominique Hawkins.

Fox recently talked to Jonathan Givony of about teaming up with Monk.

"Oh yeah I do [think we could play together], we've talked about it," Fox said at the recent USA Basketball mini-camp in Colorado. "We were in the Bahamas together. We were there for a couple days together. We talked about the recruiting process. It's not set in stone that we'll go to the same school but it's a possibility."
Fox specifically highlighted Kentucky's past success with two point guards in his interview with Givony.

"Some point guards want to play together," Fox said. "Some twos are coming into point guards, guys talk about playing together at the next level. At Kentucky with John Wall and Eric Bledsoe, they're both point guards in the NBA and they both came together at Kentucky. Guys want to play together, guys want to play with elite players at their position. It's competitive every day. You don't want to go to a practice and it's not competitive, you just run through people.

"With all of our elite guards, people are going to try to play together and try to get to the NBA together."

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Vermont Academy guard Bruce Brown is headed to warmer weather.

The 6-foot-4 Brown announced for Miami over Indiana on Wednesday on ESPN. Ranked the No. 6 shooting guard in the Class of 2016 by, he previously cut Xavier, UMass and Purdue from his list.

"I will be attending the University of Miami," Brown told ESPN's Adam Finkelstein.

Brown said Miami had texted him every day since his sophomore season. He figures to get significant playing time beginning next season when guards Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez depart.

"They run pick-and-rolls, I love pick-and-rolls," Brown said. "They pressure the ball and also Angel and Sheldon are leaving."

This summer, Brown averaged 16.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.9 steals on the Nike EYBL circuit.

"Bruce Brown's best asset is his leadership," Vermont Academy coach Alex Popp told "He competes hard in every drill and he prepares to win. He's a Top 30 player in the country who treats practices like games. We think that's special at our level."

He joins 6-10 Oak Hill Academy big man Rodney Miller in Miami's 2016 recruiting class.

Dewan Huell, a 6-10 power forward from Miami (FL) Norland, is also expected to pick Miami over South Carolina later Wednesday, the last day of the early signing period.


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Duke, Kentucky Now Have 5 Projected Top 10 Picks in 2017
Duke and Kentucky are once again leading the way on the recruiting front. (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)

Following Kentucky's victory over Duke Tuesday night in the Champions Classic in Chicago, the two schools are once again leading the way on the recruiting front.

With the addition Wednesday of Arkansas guard Malik Monk, Kentucky replaced Duke as the school with the No. 1-ranked recruiting class in the nation, according to, and the two schools now have a combined five of the projected Top 10 picks in the 2017 NBA Draft by

All five would be one-and-dones.

Duke already has signed small forward Jayson Tatum and power forward Harry Gilesthe projected No. 1 and 2 picks in 2017.

Kentucky now has pledges from point guard De'Aaron Fox, the projected No. 4 pick who committed last Thursday, No. 7 Monk and No. 10 Bam Adebayo, who committed on Tuesday.

A year ago, the two schools featured players taken No. 1, 3, 6, 10, 12, 13 and 24 in the draft, highlighted by Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns at No. 1 and Duke's Jahlil Okafor at 3.

Tuesday's showdown featured players projected No. 1 (Kentucky's Skal Labissiere), 3 (Duke's Brandon Ingram), 6 (Kentucky's Jamal Murray), 18 (Kentucky's Isaiah Briscoe), 29 (Kentucky's Marcus Lee) and 58 (Kentucky's Alex Poythress) in the 2016 Draft. The first four are projected one-and-dones. Thus, more than 60 NBA scouts are expected at the United Center.

Much has been made of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's increased tendency to recruit one-and-dones the way Kentucky coach John Calipari has done for years.

Last year, Duke relied on three one-and-done freshmen to win the national title in Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones.

In previous years, Duke recruited Jabari Parker, the No. 2 pick in 2013, and Austin Rivers, the No. 10 pick in 2012.

"As far as the kid we go after," Krzyzewski told's Ian O'Connor in a great column, "we look at three things: Is he talented enough to help us win a championship? [That doesn't mean he has to be a pro right away.] Is he academically prepared to do a good job here? And third - and they all have the same importance - what kind of character does he have? Does he have great character?

"If Johnny Dawkins was here today, he might be one- or two-and-done. Put Grant Hill and [Christian] Laettner and those guys in this era, they could be one-and-done. So we haven't changed as far as who we look for. We just have to look for them more frequently."

As for copying Kentucky, Coach K says it's not part of his plan.

"We don't copy anybody. If you try to be someone else, you'll be, at best, second best."

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Valentine's Day Comes Early as Michigan State Stuns Kansas
Valentine had 29 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists and only a single turnover to lead the Spartans to a comeback after trailing by 11 with 9:21 remaining. (Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

CHICAGO- Michigan State made sure Valentine's Day came about three months early on Tuesday night.

Denzel Valentine, the Spartans' senior star, became the fourth player in program history to record a triple-double to boost No. 13 Michigan State to a 79-73 victory over No. 4 Kansas in the second game of the State Farm Champions Classic.

Valentine had 29 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists and only a single turnover to lead the Spartans to a comeback after trailing by 11 with 9:21 remaining. Magic Johnson is the only other Michigan State player to record a triple-double against Kansas.

Magic called Valentine to congratulate him and asked him what his favorite part of the triple-double was. Valentine told him, "Assists."

"It was Magic, what else are you supposed to say?" Valentine said.

Kansas coach Bill Self had a front-row seat for Valentine's run, and left the game impressed.

"Give him credit," Self said. "I always thought he was a good player. Tonight I think he proved to everybody that he's an exceptional player… He totally controlled the game when they were coming back."

Freshman Matt McQuaid also made a coupe of key three-pointers late in the game for the Spartans. But it was the trio of veterans in Valentine, Matt Costello and Bryn Forbes who sat together at the postgame media table.

That group may be different than the younger cores that lead teams like Kentucky or Duke, but Spartans coach Tom Izzo said that one style of team or recruitment doesn't make him feel any more or less comfortable.

"I don't think about it that way," Izzo joked. "You know, if you have a 'one-and-done' brother somewhere, send him my way. Better players make you a better coach.

"I like it whatever way I got it. I just like guys who want to compete. I like guys who think that winning is important."

And Izzo certainly owes a lot to Valentine for this victory.

"We didn't execute really well at times, we kind of hammed-and-egged it through," Izzo said. "But he sucked it up… the kid is like Draymond [Green]. Thank God he's mine."

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Guard Trio Leads Kentucky Over Duke in Champions Classic
Kentucky Wildcats guard Jamal Murray (23) drives past Duke Blue Devils guard Matt Jones (13) during the second half at the United Center. Kentucky won 74-63. (Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

CHICAGO - Duke and Kentucky seemed destined to meet last April in the NCAA Championship game. But while the Blue Devils went the distance and cut down the nets for the fifth time in school history, Kentucky was taken out by Wisconsin in the national semifinals.

In the first real test of the 2015-16 season, the Wildcats proved to be up to the challenge.

No. 2 Kentucky topped No. 5 Duke 74-63 in the first game of the State Farm Champions Classic Tuesday night at the United Center. Kentucky's guards were the difference, as Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe combined for 46 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in front of more than 60 NBA personnel.

"If you have good guards, you have a chance to win, and Kentucky has three point guards," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters.

The 5-9 Ulis, one of the team's few holdovers from last year, was extremely poised and confident as Kentucky's main ball-handler and finished with 18 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds.

"God was good to him," Coach K said. "They didn't give him height, but they gave him probably a heart that's five times bigger than most people."

He added: "I admired his presence throughout the game and his face throughout the game. It was the look of a winner."

Said Ulis on ESPN: "Being here last year and just having so much experience I just have to come try to lead these guys. Jamal did a great job handling the pressure. I like how Isaac [Humphries] stepped up. Alex [Poythress] played like he did before the injury. I feel like we came together as a team."

The 6-foot-5 Murray put up 16 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds and Krzyzewksi called him "a man."

The 6-3 Briscoe chipped in with 12 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist while battling a leg ailment.

Conversely, Duke's key contributors were relatively quiet on Tuesday. Brandon Ingram and Grayson Allen struggled for much of the night, scoring only 10 points combined and going 3-for-17 from the floor. Allen, the hero of the NCAA title game, entered averaging 27 points in his first two games.

The Blue Devils also shot poorly from the free throw line, shooting only 61 percent.

The Wildcats led from the latter part of the first half and began to pull away in the final minutes. Marcus Lee had a pair of flashy alley-oop jams in the first half and chipped in 10 points and 10 boards before fouling out in the second half. Skal Labissiere, a 7-foot freshman projected as the No. 1 pick in the Draft, also fouled out, collecting seven points and four rebounds before that.

Beyond just the numbers, Kentucky's guards seemed to fool Duke's defense with crisp passes and smooth drives to the rim for most of the night. Murray also provided a highlight-reel assist in the second half, splitting two defenders with a behind-the-back dribble before throwing a pass to Poythress for the slam.

Ulis, Murray and Briscoe scored or assisted on 11 of the Wildcats' 14 second-half field goals.

Amile Jefferson and Matt Jones led the Blue Devils with 16 points each. Marshall Plumlee had an effective first few minutes, scoring over Labissiere on multiple put-backs early in the first half. He was quiet after that, however, finishing with 12 points and 10 boards.

In the end, it was Kentucky's speed and athleticism that led them to victory, letting the Wildcats score early and often while keeping Duke's offense disjointed for much of the game. Kentucky improves to 3-0, while the Blue Devils now fall to 2-1.

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4_3526442Jalen Harris, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound point guard from Raleigh (N.C.) Word of God Christian Academy, has decommitted from Buffalo, he told on Tuesday.

Harris initially chose the Bulls over Providence, South Carolina, Louisiana Tech, UNCC and Wright State.

"When I took my official it felt like home," he said last month when he committed. "Me and Jules [assistant coachJulius Hodge] are really close. I feel with Monte [Lamonte Bearden] we will be a tough backcourt to match up with."

Now he will re-open his recruitment, but it appears that Buffalo is out of the mix.

The Bulls did sign a three-man class of 6-11 Brock Bertram, 6-7 Quate McKinzie and 6-4 James Jones. 


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ARDSLEY, NY - May 23: Under Armour Association session three at the House of Sports in Ardsley New York. (Photo by Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

Bam Adebayo committed to Kentucky on Tuesday. (Photo by Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

The rich got richer on Tuesday when Bam Adebayo chose Kentucky over home state N.C. State, adding to the Wildcats already rich front court in the Class of 2016.

"I would like to announce that I'm taking my talents to the University of Kentucky," Adebayo said on the Mike & Mike show on ESPN News as he put on a blue UK baseball cap.

"They're a winning program, they're just a great all-around environment. I just like the staff and I like Coach Cal."

The 6-foot-8 power forward out of High Point Christian (N.C.) is ranked the No. 6 player in the class by Kentucky already has pledges from No. 7 De'Aaron Fox, No. 23 Wenyen Gabriel and No. 31Sacha Killeya-Jones. 

The Wildcats now have the No. 2 recruiting class in the nation behind Duke, according to

With Alex Poythress and potentially other front court players leaving Kentucky after the season, coach John Calipari now has a slew of new options up front in Adebayo, Gabriel and Killeya-Jones to play alongside Tai Wynyard (who arrives in December) and Australian big man Isaac Humphries.

Adebayo is projected as the No. 10 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by, but his high school coach believes he could ultimately be in the mix as a No. 1 pick.

Bam"Bam is much more skilled than most people give him credit for," High Point coach Brandon Clifford told "He's a great passer, is becoming a better shooter by the day (even to the 3-point line) and is great at getting the ball off the rim and pushing it himself.

"In my mind he's the best player in the country, and a potential No. 1 pick. Of course that sounds biased, but my teams have played against many guys that have held those type of distinctions, and I'd take Bam over ANY of them. People see the body and the motor, he also has the skills that could allow him to play his game for a long time."

Asked if he was already thinking about being a one-and-done at Kentucky, Adebayo said, "It's something that pops into your head every now and then but I'm focused on college basketball right now. I'm just worried about winning a national title."

He added: "I can produce, I can make things happen, I'm just one of those players that don't care how much I score. I just want to win."

Adebayo, who averaged 14.2 points and 10.6 rebounds for Team Loaded North Carolina on the Adidas Gauntlet circuit this season, visited Kentucky and N.C. State officially and Auburn unofficially.

Adebayo had long been linked as part of a potential package deal with Dennis Smith Jr., the point guard who signed with the Wolfpack and then announced he will enroll in January to facilitate his ACL recovery.

But Adebayo always maintained that he would do what was best for him, and things turned dramatically after Calipari began recruiting him and offered him in late July.

In July at the adidas Uprising All-American Camp on Long Island, Calipari watched a game featuring Adebayo against Brooklyn guardRawle Alkins. 

"I guess it means I'm a good player," Adebayo told me then.

Calipari then visited Adebayo and his mother in North Carolina several times this fall to show his interest.

"Their fan base is incredible," he said this summer. "I like the way they play, fast, they go through their bigs. They just play hard basketball."

Asked then if he saw himself as a one-and-done type of player, he said, "I think it's more a feeling of you feel it in your heart kind of thing."

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Thon Maker has set his first official visit for Arizona State in late January, his guardian told

"We are looking to visit Arizona State for their game against Oregon," Ed Smith told Scout. "We play against Prolific in Napa and we'll go from there and visit Arizona State at that time. I think that's around the 29th."

On Thursday, Maker listed Arizona State, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Notre Dame and St. John's as the schools recruiting him the hardest.

Maker will choose a college in the spring and is also hoping to take official visits to Kansas and Notre Dame, Smith told previously

"As the season goes on, that's what we look forward to do," Maker recently told "Last year I got a chance to take a few visits on the road so I really want to do something like that again. I know I'll definitely take a few, if not all my officials on the road also, but I don't know any particular dates."

Maker visited Kansas last weekend unofficially and plans to return for an official.

"[Kansas'] point guard Frank Mason is a Team Loaded guy and played under coach [Michael] Blackwell and Ty White so you know he's cut tough," Smith told of Kansas. "The other guard Devonte' [Graham] can share it or score it. They lose a lot of their front line but got three big wings that can shoot and slash in [Brannen] Green, [Wayne] Selden, and [Sviatoslav] Mykhailiuk if they stay. For Thon it's intriguing to see how the frontline shapes up, who stays, and how things play out with Cheick [Diallo].

"Cheick is such a good kid and it was hard for Thon to watch him sit because they've battled in the past and both chase the same dream of playing in the NBA. Right now Thon is playing so well under coach [Brandon] Lesovsky so you want to go from positive to positive."


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