Jeff Eisenberg

  • Duke loads up for another title push by adding Brandon Ingram

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 4 hrs ago

    The Blue Devils have assembled a formidable recruiting class capable of filling many of the holes created by the departures of freshman stars Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow. 

    The latest addition came Monday when 6-foot-8 wing Brandon Ingram chose Duke over in-state rivals North Carolina and North Carolina State and national powers Kentucky, Kansas and UCLA. Ingram, Rivals.com's No. 4 prospect in the class of 2015, is the fourth Top 25 prospect the Blue Devils have landed as part of this year's recruiting haul.

    Derryck Thornton solved Duke's point guard issues and became the heir apparent to Jones when he chose the Blue Devils last week and agreed to reclassify from the high school junior class to the senior class. Previously, Duke had signed elite big man Chase Jeter and sweet-shooting wing Luke Kennard. 

    The solution could be using Ingram at both forward spots the same way Duke used Winslow during the latter half of this past season. Ingram can create mismatches like Winslow even if he's taller and lankier but not as strong and defensive-minded as his predecessor.

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  • Austin Hatch ends playing career, becomes student assistant

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 11 hrs ago

    The most inspirational player in college basketball will trade his jersey for a suit.

    Two-time plane crash survivor Austin Hatch will end his playing career and accept a position as a student assistant, Michigan coach John Beilein announced Monday morning. The school has obtained permission from the NCAA to continue to pay for Hatch's education but not have his scholarship count against its limit.

    "This is, and has been, a very difficult decision; one that we have been discussing with Austin over the last few months," Beilein said in a statement released by the school.

    "Over the past year, we closely observed Austin's academic and athletic progress. In the end, Austin and our staff agree that the waiver is the proper next step. This change allows Austin to devote the necessary time he needs to be successful in his studies and obtain a Michigan degree. We also wanted to be sure we continued our commitment to Austin keeping his full scholarship in place for the next three years. This waiver allows for both."

    Hatch emerged from a medically induced coma eight weeks after the crash, but the recovery process has been long and arduous.

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  • College basketball's draft declaration winners and losers

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 13 hrs ago

    The landscape for next year's college basketball season became a bit clearer Sunday night when the NBA's early-entry deadline passed.

    Forty-five players have announced their intention to forgo their remaining college eligibility and declare for the draft. A handful of other top prospects have opted to delay NBA riches another year and return to school to try to improve their stock.

    Here's a look at which programs were hardest hit and which will begin next season in better than expected shape:

    FIVE BIGGEST WINNERS:

    Other winners: Utah (retained projected first-round pick Jakob Poeltl), Indiana (retained projected second-round pick Yogi Ferrell and potential early-entry candidates Troy Williams and James Blackmon), Michigan (retained potential late first-round pick Caris LeVert), Cal (retained potential early-entry candidate Tyrone Wallace), Notre Dame (retained potential early-entry candidates Demetrius Jackson and Zach Auguste), North Carolina (lost forward J.P. Tokoto to the draft but retained Justin Jackson, Brice Johnson, Marcus Paige and Kennedy Meeks), Georgetown (retained star guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera after he initially declared for the draft).

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  • Yogi Ferrell's return gives Indiana a chance to make strides

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    Indiana dropped 10 of its final 15 games last season culminating with an opening-round NCAA tournament loss, but April has treated the Hoosiers far better than February or March did. 

    Not only did they land a commitment from an elite big man who should help shore up their frontcourt woes, they also had each of their top three scorers decide to return to school instead of entering the NBA draft.

    The final player to make his decision was point guard Yogi Ferrell, who postponed a planned announcement Saturday night out of respect for the family of the slain Indiana student whose body was found near campus the previous day. Ferrell will stay at Indiana for his senior season, CBSSports.com and other outlets reported Sunday morning.

    Whereas forward Troy Williams and guard James Blackmon announced their intent to return earlier in April, Ferrell's decision dragged out until the deadline for underclassmen to decide whether to enter the draft. The 6-foot point guard averaged 16.3 points and 4.9 assists this past season and improved his 3-point shooting and assist-to-turnover ratio, but he still was unlikely to be selected any higher than the second round. 

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  • Chris Walker's sad tale is unlikely to have a happy ending

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    The steep decline of Chris Walker reached its nadir Friday afternoon.

    It was then that the onetime top 10 recruit announced he's leaving Florida and declaring for the NBA draft despite having virtually no chance of being selected. 

    In two tumultuous seasons at Florida, Walker delivered occasional flashes of athletic potential but never came close to blossoming into an impact player.

    The 6-foot-10 forward didn't become eligible until early February as a freshman and played sparingly off the bench for a Final Four-bound Florida team, averaging 1.9 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. He made little impact in the postseason for the senior-laden Gators, scoring only seven points and logging only 18 total minutes in five NCAA tournament games.

    The Gators needed Walker to play a bigger role as a sophomore after losing their entire starting frontcourt, but he wasn't up to the task, He frequently looked lost defensively and was constantly a step slow on rotations, which was a major reason he logged only 14.6 minutes per game and averaged a modest 4.7 points and 3.5 rebounds. 

    There are few signs Walker has that level of discipline.

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  • Mississippi State lands elite prospect Malik Newman

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    Six months before he coaches his first game at Mississippi State, Ben Howland has already achieved a meaningful victory.

    The first-year coach landed a commitment Friday from elite scoring guard Malik Newman, Rivals.com's No. 8 prospect in the class of 2015. The son of former Mississippi State forward Horatio Webster chose the Bulldogs over a long list of more high-profile programs including Kentucky, Kansas, LSU and North Carolina State.

    That Howland was able to land Newman is especially impressive considering he took over at Mississippi State less than a month ago. The hire forced Newman to more strongly consider staying home as a result of Howland's history of success at UCLA and Pittsburgh and his track record of producing successful NBA players like Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Darren Collison and Arron Afflalo.

    The arrival of Newman gives Howland a real chance to contend for a postseason bid in his debut season in Starkville. Mississippi State returns five of its top six scorers from a 13-19 team that lost nine games by six or fewer points under former coach Rick Ray.

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  • Buddy Hield's return makes Oklahoma a potential top 10 team

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    How high expectations will be for Oklahoma next season always largely depended on whether Buddy Hield returned to school.

    The Sooners still could have contended for an NCAA tournament bid had Hield turned pro, but they have a chance to accomplish something far more memorable now that the reigning Big 12 player of the year has announced he'll be back for his senior season.

    Oklahoma will likely begin next season in the top 10 in the polls thanks to the return of four starters from last season's 24-win Sweet 16 team. The Sooners also figure to be squarely in the Big 12 title chase along with perennial favorite Kansas and potential preseason top 5 Iowa State.

    The catalyst for Oklahoma will be Hield, one of the highest-scoring guards in the Big 12 both of the past two seasons. The 6-foot-4 native of the Bahamas averaged 17.4 points and 5.4 rebounds as a junior, impressing NBA scouts enough that he had a chance to be a late first-round pick had he opted to enter the draft.

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  • Expectations mount at Cal now that Tyrone Wallace is returning

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 4 days ago

    Cal's hopes of ascending in the Pac-12 pecking order received a huge boost Thursday when its best player announced he's staying in Berkeley.

    Point guard Tyrone Wallace revealed he will return for his senior season after flirting with declaring for the NBA draft for most of the past month.

    Wallace emerged as a potential second-round pick last season when he averaged 17.1, 7.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists in his first year playing point guard. Staying in school gives the long, athletic 6-foot-5 guard a chance to cut down his turnovers, improve his 31 percent 3-point shooting and fulfill a promise to his late grandfather to earn his diploma.

    The return of Wallace could land Cal a spot in the preseason top 25 next fall and should give the Bears a chance to challenge Arizona, Utah, Oregon and UCLA for the Pac-12 title. Some of those teams may have more depth than Cal, but the Bears have as talented a nucleus as any of them.

    Cal's strength should be a backcourt that features Wallace, high-scoring Jordan Mathews and former elite recruit Jabari Bird. Returner Sam Singer and 6-foot-7 Georgetown transfer Stephen Domingo should provide perimeter depth off the bench.

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  • Louisville lands the most coveted transfer on the market

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 4 days ago

    The most prized graduate transfer on the market will join a program that desperately needs a scorer of his caliber.

    Former Drexel wing Damion Lee announced Thursday that he has committed to Louisville, providing a jolt of offense to a Cardinals team trying to overcome the loss of 82 percent of its scoring from this past season's 27-win campaign. 

    Lee received offers from the likes of Arizona, Gonzaga, Maryland and Marquette because he was one of the few transfers who were both immediately eligible and capable of making a real impact. The 6-foot-6 rising senior averaged 21.4 points per game for the Dragons this past season, fifth most of any Division I player in the nation. 

    Louisville could promise Lee guaranteed playing time at wing after losing leading scorer Terry Rozier to the NBA draft, fellow starter Wayne Blackshear to graduation and backups Anton Gill and Shaqquan Aaron to transfers. Incoming combo guard Donovan Mitchell and wing Deng Adel will also surely contribute, but Lee's presence decreases the pressure on both of them to make an immediate impact.

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  • Christian Wood's departure dims optimism regarding UNLV

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 4 days ago

    On the eve of his announcement whether he'd stay at UNLV or turn pro, forward Christian Wood tweeted a picture of himself and three of next year's Rebels with the caption, "Kinda a cool pic. What do yall think?"

    UNLV fans thought it was an omen. Turned out it was Wood giving them false hope.

    Wood announced through a video on his Twitter account Wednesday night that he'll skip his final two years of eligibility and declare for the NBA draft. The athletic 6-foot-11 sophomore is projected as a late first-round pick and could rise even higher if he impresses in pre-draft workouts.

    A role player as a freshman, Wood enjoyed a breakout year this past season during an otherwise forgettable winter for the UNLV basketball program. He was second on the team in scoring at 15.7 points per game, averaged a team-best 10 rebounds per game and developed into a very capable rim protector on defense.

    UNLV needs its frontcourt to be special because its backcourt lacks elite talent or outside shooting in the wake of leading scorer Rashad Vaughn's decision to enter the draft.

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