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SOUTHLAND BASKETBALL

Creighton and Marquette headline Wooden Legacy basketball tournament

The two Associated Press top 25 teams will be featured on the tournament's opening day Thursday at Cal State Fullerton.

November 26, 2013|By Diane Pucin
  • Creighton's Doug McDermott is averaging 27.5 points with 8.0 rebounds and two steals a game for the No. 20 ranked Bluejays.
Creighton's Doug McDermott is averaging 27.5 points with 8.0 rebounds… (Nati Harnik / Associated…)

Creighton and Marquette, both ranked in the Associated Press men's top 25, are the headliners in the Wooden Legacy basketball tournament that begins Thursday at Cal State Fullerton.

Creighton (4-0), ranked 20th, is led by All-American candidate Doug McDermott, a 6-foot-8 forward who is averaging 27.5 points per game and shooting 50% from three-point range. McDermott, whose father, Greg McDermott, is Creighton's coach, was second in the country in scoring last season with an average of 23.2 points per game.

Marquette (3-2), ranked 25th, is paced by guards Davante Gardner and Todd Mayo, O.J. Mayo's younger brother, who leads the Golden Eagles with a 13.8 points-per-game average.

Arizona State, which held on to upset Marquette, 79-77, on Monday, is also in the tournament.

The first two days of the tournament are at Cal State Fullerton. There is one consolation game on Saturday, also at Fullerton. The final four games on Sunday are at the Honda Center, beginning at 11 a.m.

Thursday's schedule: Miami vs. George Washington, 11 a.m.; Marquette vs. Fullerton, 1:30 p.m.; College of Charleston vs. San Diego State, 5:30 p.m.; Creighton vs. Arizona State, 8 p.m.

On the block

Mamadou Ndiaye, a 7-6 freshman center on UC Irvine's men's basketball team, had a Big West Conference-record 10 blocked shots in a game against Eastern Washington. That game was part of the 2K Sports Classic at Irvine, and Anteaters guard Alex Young was chosen to the all-tournament team.

Called for traveling

Cal State Northridge's men's team has been on the road nine days and was in Bozeman, Mont., on Tuesday night.

Those types of stops weren't on Coach Reggie Theus' old NBA itinerary, but the Matadors took a respectable 3-3 record into the game, which was their second against Montana State in two weeks.

Theus said he is working toward the future.

"We have an administration that wants to do the right thing, working hard to build us a new arena, and I'm never going to have problems getting players," he said. "We're the only show here in the [San Fernando Valley], we're in a winnable conference, and now I just have to fight through that third-world mentality. What's in the past is in the past."

Theus pointed to Stephan Hicks, a junior guard from Thousand Oaks who is averaging 17.8 points and making 85% of his free throws, as someone who is improving every game.

"More kids like him," Theus said, "and we'll be all right."

UCLA top recruiter

The 2014 recruiting class for the UCLA women's basketball program is ranked No. 1 in the country. That's a first for UCLA, and for one of the Bruins' five recruits, Monique Billings, it was a selling point driven home by Coach Cori Close.

"Coach Close asked us if we wanted to pass the baton or receive the baton," Billings said Tuesday. "Being the first, passing the baton, that's what we want to do."

Billings was recruited by the big three of women's college basketball — Connecticut, Tennessee and Stanford — but she wasn't tempted.

"UCLA works hard, really hard, but I appreciated hearing how it's not only basketball here," Billings said. "I model and like to do other stuff, and that's OK. But then, when you come to the basketball part, you go flat out."

All five of UCLA's recruits were ranked among the top 40 high school seniors in the country; three were in the top 10.

The recruits: Billings, from Corona Santiago High, Jordin Canada of Los Angeles Windward, Lajahna Drummer of Long Beach Poly, Recee' Caldwell from San Antonio and Kelli Hayes from San Jose.

Billings, a 6-foot-4 forward, averaged 12.8 points and 11.4 rebounds to pace Santiago to a 28-2 record last season. Canada, a 5-6 point guard, averaged 17.0 points, 8.0 assists and 5.0 steals. Drummer, a 6-1 forward, averaged 16.1 points and 12.3 rebounds for St. Bernard last season but is playing for Poly as a senior. Caldwell, who is originally from Riverside, is a 5-9 guard who averaged 20.5 points and 5.0 rebounds last season. Hayes, a 6-0 guard, averaged 17 points and 7.0 rebounds and led her San Jose Archbishop Mitty team to the state Division II title.

While praising all the players, Close singled out Billings, saying, "She is one of the most spectacular athletes I've ever seen. She has tremendous spring off the floor and is very quick."

diane.pucin@latimes.com

Twitter: @mepucin

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