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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Saturday / July 13.

    Special to ZAGSBLOG

    SPARTA, N.J.Jermaine Lawrence had to wait more than a month for his senior year debut.

    When it finally came, he made the most of it.

    After missing the first half of the season with a hand injury, Lawrence took the floor with his Pope John XXIII teammates at the 5:27 mark of the first period and helped his team easily defeat Morris Hills, 58-36, in a Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference game.

    Lawrence did not appear rusty in notching 18 points, nine rebounds and five blocks in front of St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin and assistant Tony Chiles, who were coming off a 72-60 victory at Rutgers Wednesday night.

    Duke, Louisville and Indiana have all spent time as the nation’s No. 1 college basketball team this year and none of them have been able to hold onto it.

    No. 1 Duke was slaughtered by Miami Thursday night, 90-63, and will be deposed from the No. 1 ranking come Monday.

    No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Kansas and No. 4 Syracuse all wait in the wings.

    The dominant narrative remain the same. There is no clearcut favorite to cut down the nets in Atlanta in April the way there was last year with Kentucky.

    Rutgers has its first pledge in the class of 2013 and it’s South Kent (Conn.) point guard Shane Rector.

    “I called Coach [Mike Rice] earlier this morning,” the 6-foot-1, 177-pound Rector told SNY.tv.

    “I just liked what Coach Rice and Rutgers has to offer and I felt it woudl be a good fit for me. ”

    SNY.tv reported Jan. 15 that Rector was leaning to Rutgers following his Jan. 5 visit for the Pitt game.

    Julius Randle will headline a list of visitors to N.C. State beginning Friday.

    The No. 18 Wolfpack hosts ACC rival North Carolina on Saturday.

    “My next visit will be to N.C. State the weekend of Jan. 26, and I cannot wait to get down there to hang out with the coaches and my boy Rodney (Purvis),” the 6-foot-9 Randle out of Prestonwood (TX) Christian wrote on his USA Today blog. “I talk to him all the time and he tells me about how he’s doing and things like that. The whole team and staff seem pretty close, so I really like that.”

    N.C. State already has an impressive 2013 class that includes point guard Anthony “Cat” Barber, who will also visit this weekend, power forward Kyle Washington and center Beejay Anya.

    Just when you thought this Manti Te’o story couldn’t get any weirder comes this revelation.

    The voice Te’o thought was his “girlfriend” — Lennay Kekua — was actually Ronaiah Tuisasasopo, a man who has taken dramatic voice lessons and was president of his high school drama club.

    Te’o  “thought it was a female he was talking with,” lawyer Milton Grimes acknowledged to the Daily News. “It was Ronaiah as Lennay.”

    PISCATAWAY, N.J. — You would think after all the bulletin board material JaKarr Sampson gave to Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights would have come to play in arguably their biggest game of the season.

    You would have been wrong.

    Rutgers — and their fans — put up a pathetic effort as Sampson and the Johnnies came into the RAC and throttled the lifeless Scarlet Knights, 72-60, to earn revenge from their two-point loss two weeks ago at Madison Square Garden.

    On a brutally cold night that coincided with the return of students to campus from winter break, the Rutgers’ student section slowly filled up after a weak early showing, but the total crowd number ended at 4,742.

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