Welcome to the first Saluki Basketball 5@5 for the 2019-20 season. Every day, Monday through Friday from now until the week of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, you can catch the latest tidbits from the Salukis and the MVC right here at thesouthern.com at 5 p.m.
1. Tune in to ESPN, CBS Sports Network and Fox Sports Midwest: SIU's television assignments are still taking shape, but almost all of its home games not on another network will air on ESPN3 or ESPN+.
The Salukis have two opportunities to make it to ESPNU and one chance to make their way onto ESPN2. The networks will make their final decision later on this year. SIU's two Sunday games during Missouri Valley Conference play, home against Drake Jan. 19 and at Northern Iowa Feb. 23, will air on either ESPNU or ESPN3. ESPN will pick one game on the final day of the regular season Feb. 29 to air on ESPN2. The Salukis play at preseason favorite Missouri State. The other finales are Loyola at Bradley, Northern Iowa at Drake and Valparaiso at Indiana State.
If SIU's game at Missouri State isn't chosen for ESPN2, it could also air on CBS Sports Network. That network will air the semifinals of the MVC tournament and eight regular-season games, including the Salukis' home game against Bradley Feb. 15. SIU has four games scheduled to air on the MVC-TV Network, which includes Fox Sports Midwest, NBC Sports Chicago and The Valley on ESPN. Here are the four games: At Saint Louis Sunday, Dec. 1; at Indiana State Monday, Dec. 30; at Loyola Thursday, Jan. 16; and home against Northern Iowa Wednesday, Jan. 22, at 8 p.m.
2. Dalton Banks and Eric Butler: SIU got a jumpstart on its 2020 class with the verbal commitment of two high school senior guards in the last two months, Dalton Banks of Wisconsin and Eric Butler of Orlando Christian Prep School.
Banks, a 6-foot-1 point guard, helped Eau Claire North High School to a 14-8 record last season. He averaged 22.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game last season and was the Big Rivers Conference Player of the Year.
Already North's all-time leading scorer, the third team all-state pick had offers from Green Bay, Milwaukee, Montana, North Dakota State and South Dakota, among others, according to WEAU-TV in Wisconsin. Banks visited Ball State and Wright State before going to Carbondale and said he always felt a connection to coach Bryan Mullins, a Hall of Fame point guard at SIU that helped the Salukis reach the Sweet 16 in 2007.
Butler, a 6-2 point guard, helped Orlando Christian reach the state finals in Class 3A. He verbally committed to the Salukis Thursday afternoon after visiting Wyoming last weekend. He was named first team all-state by Source Hoops and the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches.
Mullins has two more scholarships in the 2020 class, and will probably pursue at least one older big. SIU loses graduate transfer Barret Benson at center after this season, and has two freshmen behind him this year (freshman Marcus Domask and redshirt freshman Sekou Dembele).
3. Karrington Davis coming along: Karrington Davis, a transfer from Nebraska that missed the 2018-19 season with an Achilles tear, is still recovering from surgery last October but is getting closer to getting fully cleared. Davis, who won a state championship with Jayson Tatum at Chaminade (Missouri) High School and a national championship at Montverde (Florida) Academy, has started practicing with the squad but hasn't been fully cleared for contact.
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Davis said he has started going 1-on-1 with teammates, and takes everything week by week. Thursday, he was cleared by the NCAA to play this season.
"It's always never going to be fast enough," Davis said Wednesday at Saluki Basketball Media Day. "I'm progressing though, putting on some good weight. I'll be able to get into some practice stuff, and see how practice goes. I started 1-on-1 last week, so it's going good."
At 6-6, Davis brings instant offense and a lot of options at the defensive end, Mullins said.
"He has to be 100% healthy. He's gone through with the Achilles surgery. He's still coming back from that, but, once he does get healthy, he can bring versatility," he said. "He's got a great frame. He can make shots. He can probably switch 1 through 4, defensively, so, he's a unique player in terms of multiple positions he can play offensively and defensively for us."
4. Pippen plays well: Former Saluki center Kavion Pippen, who signed a free agent deal with the Golden State Warriors earlier this month, played 11 minutes in the Dubs' 126-93 loss at the Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday night. Pippen, a third team all-conference pick in the MVC the last two years, made 3 of 3 from the field for six points and grabbed four rebounds. One of his boards came at the offensive end.
Pippen also had a nice dunk of Lakers center Dwight Howard that you can see here:
5. Ready to play somebody else: Before taking Miami (Ohio) on in a closed scrimmage later this month, SIU will take the court against Division II Minnesota State Tuesday night at the Banterra Center. The Salukis can't wait to play somebody else.
"All of our guys, in terms of off-the-court academic success, community—they've been great," Mullins said. "On the court, we've been working extremely, extremely hard and I think when you get to practice 15, you're looking forward to playing someone different. We've been going four hours a week in June, July, in August, part of September; and now we've had three weeks of practice. I think Tuesday when Minnesota State comes here, the guys are going to have a sense of energy and a sense of excitement that they've been looking for."