Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Five-star prospect Nassir Little commits to North Carolina

Jeff Borzello - ESPN.com
 
Five-star prospect Nassir Little committed to North Carolina on Wednesday.
 
 
Little, a 6-foot-6 small forward, chose the Tar Heels over Georgia Tech, Duke, Arizona and Miami.
 
"I just love Coach [Roy] Williams," Little told ESPN. "He really cares about the players off the court, which is important. They're a basketball school, which is something I wanted to be a part of. Coach Roy really knows how to win. I love winning. I really do. And that's important to me."
 
Arizona and Miami were considered the favorites for most of the past couple months, but both schools were mentioned in an FBI investigation last week. Little's AAU program director, Brad Augustine of 1 Family Hoops, was one of the 10 men arrested.
 
Shortly after the news broke, Little said he removed Arizona and Miami from consideration.
 
"I just didn't want to be mixed in a situation where any of the accusations seemed like it was true. Because it wasn't," Little said on Wednesday. "Every school I was considering was because I had a genuine interest in them. North Carolina had been the school I wanted, regardless.  "I just block it out. They can say they want. I just focus on myself, and do what my heart desires."  The 1 Family Hoops program released a statement on Twitter last week, regarding the investigation.  "We would like to address the allegations against one of our families," the statement read. "The Little family did not ask for, nor were offered money by any institution or individual. They were completely unaware of any of the alleged offenses that may have mentioned or contained their son's name.
 
 
 
"There is not one single player in our program, nor family member of any player, that had any knowledge or discussion about payments being made in regards to making a college decision. We stand by this 100% and will allow the truth to come out as this process unfolds."
 
Ranked No. 14 in the ESPN 100, Little slots in as the No. 4 small forward in the 2018 class. He averaged 17.6 points and 7.5 rebounds on the Adidas Gauntlet circuit this spring and summer, vaulting into five-star status in the rankings. Little is also a high-level defender who can guard multiple positions.
 
"They're looking at me to play immediately," Little said. "They're losing a wing in Theo Pinson. They need another tall, athletic wing that can come in and make plays. They want me to be that guy."
 
His ideal comparison at the NBA level is San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard.
 
"Just the way I play at both ends," Little said. "Offensively, very versatile. I can shoot the 3, midrange, post up smaller guards, athletic, finish inside. And defensively, I play with toughness and motor that most people don't have."
 
Little is North Carolina's third ESPN 100 commitment in the 2018 class, joining four-star guards Coby White (No. 25) and Rechon Black (No. 48). The Tar Heels are also one of the few schools remaining for elite forward Simi Shittu (No. 6). Shittu will visit Chapel Hill in November.
 
Williams has now landed at least one five-star prospect in five of the past six classes. North Carolina is the defending national champion, having defeated Gonzaga for the title in April.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Is Brendan Tucker the next late-bloomer from Georgia

Dan Mcdonald - Rivals.com 
Over the past few years, the state of Georgia has produced some pretty notable prospects who didn't earn notoriety until later in their recruitment, is junior point guard Brendan Tucker the next breakout star from the Peach State?
In 2015, current Denver Nugget shooting guard 
 emerged later in the process. It took until the latter half of his junior year for Alabama's star freshman  to hit the national radar. An explosive athlete off to a sizzling start to his junior season, Tucker could be headed down a similar path.

Georgia became his first high-major offer right before Thanksgiving and Clemson jumped in with an offer on Tuesday night. Georgia Tech has shown a lot of interest. Previously, he had collected offers from UAB, Florida Gulf Coast, College of Charleston and Kennesaw State.
Brendan Tucker
Point guard
 RR: N/A
Dacula
Dacula, GA
6'1" 170 lbs Class of 2019
UNDECIDED
RANK
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POSITION
 
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NATIONAL
 
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STATE


Clemson: “Clemson is good. They have a nice coaching staff and the facilities are good. They have a nice team and a nice arena.”
Georgia: “They are really good people. I’ve been getting recruited by them since like the 8th grade, so I know them pretty well. I talk to Coach Jonas Hayes. He just talks to me about keeping Georgia on my mind and trying to get me to go there.”
Georgia Tech: “They’ve been talking to my mom a little bit. They’ve done well so far with Coach [Josh] Pastner.”
On schools he’d like to hear from: “I’d like to hear from UConnSyracuseKansasFlorida and some California schools. Those are some schools I’ve been watching since I was young.”

RIVALS' REACTION

Comparing Tucker to Malik Beasley and Collin Sexton, a first round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and a likely high lottery pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, doesn’t mean he’s going to follow in their footsteps with a quick stint in college before leaving for the NBA. But he will likely join them in becoming nationally known prospect over the next year. Clemson and Georgia will be the first of many high-major offers for him, and both programs were smart to get involved early, especially given their proximity to him.
Tucker said he’s not going to be rushing into a decision and plans to play out the travel season before making a decision. He did mention he’s going to be attending a few Georgia games and plans to be back at Clemson soon as well.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Making the Case: R.J. Barrett


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"Thank You" to our American Veterans



Friday, October 27, 2017

Wichita State isn't trying to make a name for itself anymore

Myron Medcalf - ESPN.com
WICHITA, Kansas -- With his arm in a sling, Wichita State's Gregg Marshall marched around the Charles Koch Arena court and barked orders to the players on his roster.
Marshall, who underwent surgery to repair ligaments in his right shoulder this offseason, saved his most stern instructions for his freshmen during a September practice.
After fumbling through his assignment for the second consecutive play, 7-foot newcomer Asbjorn Midtgaard of Denmark didn't wait for Marshall to blow his whistle during a scrimmage. He caught one glare from the 54-year-old coach and spontaneously lined up to run wind sprints.
Marshall never holds back.
Marshall's "play angry" mantra and approach have turned Wichita State basketball into a national power with a legitimate opportunity to win the American Athletic Conference in its inaugural season with the league.
"He's obviously very fiery in practice," point guard Landry Shamet said. "He's a phenomenal coach and good guy."
With their seven top scorers from last season returning, the Shockers could finish the season in San Antonio at the Final Four.
Four years ago, Wichita State's run to the Final Four intensified the hype for a series between the Shockers and Kansas, the state's flagship school 160 miles away.
But that game hasn't happened. And it probably never will.
"It'll happen at some point -- probably not while Bill [Self] is the coach [at Kansas] and I'm the coach at [Wichita State]," Marshall said. "I'm not stressed about it, honestly. He's obviously not stressed about it."
But Wichita State does not need a series with Kansas -- which the Shockers defeated in the 2015 NCAA tournament -- or any other blue blood to validate its status as one of America's premier programs. That's the most impressive proof of progress under Marshall.
"I don't think we necessarily have to play anyone," Wichita State athletic director Darron Boatright said. "I think the program Gregg has built, and the support we have, can stand on its own."
Last season, Bam Adebayo and Malik Monk blocked Shamet's 3-point attempt at the final buzzer of Wichita State's 65-62 loss to Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Shamet finished with 20 points and one turnover against a squad that had three picks in last summer's lottery. That performance has led to the hype surrounding this season's Shockers.
"Going into that, it was just, 'I'm tired of people thinking we're some punks, like we can't play,'" Shamet said. "We show up every day. Our record speaks for itself. We beat good teams. We compete. We do all this stuff, and we're just as good, if not better, than everybody we play against. That was just my mindset going into that game. We hear all the talk, all the rankings, all the draft projections, and you're just like, 'That stuff didn't matter. I want to prove I'm better or just as good as them.'"
That battle with Kentucky changed the narrative about Wichita State.
"You look at some of the teams we beat. You're talking about blue bloods. You're talking about Kansas and Indiana. You're talking about Arizona, who we had by 20. Who beats Arizona by 20? Just tell me. We beat Kansas by 13. We beat Gonzaga. We beat Vandy and Pitt when Jamie Dixon was really good. Dayton last year. The only teams we lose to are Kentucky twice."
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall
But the Shockers will enter this season as an incomplete squad. Both Shamet and junior forward Markis McDuffie are nursing stress fractures in their right foot and left foot, respectively. Both players could miss the first month, but they're expected to play the bulk of this pivotal season.
Still, Wichita State can withstand the temporary absences of its top scorers from the past season. Marshall can move Conner Frankamp, the transfer from Kansas, to point guard while Shamet is sidelined. And the shifty Samajae Haynes-Jones, a junior college transfer and local product, played like a capable point-guard substitute in practice last month.
"I think we can win it all," McDuffie said. "That's the goal now. For years it's been just getting into the tournament, just getting wins. Nah, man. We have experience now. It's time to take that to another level. Coach has been really hard on us. He sees the potential. He's really motivating us to be the best we can be."
The mix of talented veterans and an explosive point guard feels familiar to the program's supporters. Wichita State relied on future pros Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker and Cleanthony Early to secure a spot in the national semifinals in 2013. But postseason wins over Indiana, Kansas and Arizona since that Final Four berth have showed the college basketball world that the Shockers have earned their place at the game's head table.
"You look at some of the teams we beat," Marshall said. "You're talking about blue bloods. You're talking about Kansas and Indiana. You're talking about Arizona, who we had by 20. Who beats Arizona by 20? Just tell me. We beat Kansas by 13. We beat Gonzaga. We beat Vandy and Pitt when Jamie Dixon was really good. Dayton last year. The only teams we lose to are Kentucky twice."
When Marshall arrived from Winthrop in 2007, Mark Turgeon had just led Wichita State to its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1988 before accepting an offer from Texas A&M.
Under Marshall, the crowds grew along with the hoopla -- Wichita State finished 34th in Division I last season, with an average attendance of 10,738 -- but the team hadn't reached its goals six years into his tenure.
With the program celebrating a win that snapped a three-game losing streak during the 2012-13 season, former Wichita State and NBA standouts Antoine Carr and Xavier McDaniel approached Marshall and asked him if they could talk to the team.
That's the night the team's "play angry" motto was born.
"It was Antoine Carr," Marshall said. "They're the ones that actually came up with it. And they were pissed. They were pissed how our guys had played. I think we won the game, but we didn't play great. So Antoine uttered the words, 'Man, you gotta play angry!'"
The motto was adopted by a Wichita State squad that blossomed into that season's Cinderella, reaching the Final Four two months after Carr's speech and commencing a historic chapter in the program's history.
"Our fans have embraced that mantra," Boatright said. "Wichita, as a community, sometimes has a chip on its shoulder."
Marshall sharpened that edge and shifted his program, even as NCAA tournament appearances became the norm. He continues to question the NCAA tournament selection committee's view of schools outside the Power 5, especially after the Shockers were assigned a 10-seed following last season's 31-5 campaign.
"I don't know if me complaining about it and being real and telling the truth bothers them -- them being the selection committee," he said. "I don't know if it's just a lack of respect for the conference we were in [the Missouri Valley Conference]. I don't know if, honestly, they just don't really want non-Power 5 teams in the tournament ... because every year it seems to be less and less, and then they put them together, like us playing Dayton."
That might invigorate Wichita State's backers. But the team's ongoing success and fan support are what attracted officials from the American conference. When Mike Aresco, the league's commissioner, visited Wichita State for a welcoming ceremony earlier this month, a strong contingent of fans ignored heavy rainfall to attend.
The Shockers are the lone non-football school in the conference, but Aresco said Wichita State's basketball brand is powerful and will strengthen the conference. He said he hopes the addition of Wichita State will also allow the league to push its "Power 6" narrative.
"Mainly," Aresco said of the Shockers, "they've become an iconic name in basketball."
That's why Marshall stays.
A conversation in his spacious office feels like a pitch from the local welcoming committee. He touts the city's position as an aviation hub known as the "Air Capital of the World." He loves its schools and neighborhoods, components in the city's current ranking of 68th in the "best places to live in the USA," per U.S. News and World Report.
He lives on a lake, next to a golf course, reasonable luxuries for a man who makes $3 million per season, more than Iowa State's Steve Prohm ($1.5 million) and Xavier's Chris Mack ($1.4 million) combined. His buddy Charles Koch is worth nearly $50 billion and is generous with his donations to the program, which the billionaire supported by contributing $6 million to a massive arena renovation 15 years ago.
Koch also reportedly put cash in the pot to keep Marshall, who made $1.85 million per season when he attracted a $4.2 million per season offer to coach Alabama in 2015.
The increase raised Marshall's salary to $3 million. That boost placed Marshall among the 10 highest-paid basketball coaches in America.
Marshall uses private jets to recruit, just like his Power 5 peers. He has rejected multiple offers in recent years to keep a gig he believes can compete with any job in the country and one he intends to keep, perhaps until he retires.
And if Wichita State -- again -- fulfills expectations, why would he ever leave?
"Here, we've put ourselves in a position in this program where it's a destination job, and I'll be able to live any lifestyle that we choose when that day comes, when we decide to hang up the whistle," he said. "Now, some people say, 'How can that be a destination job?' Come see what we've got going. Come see the type of young people that I get to coach every single day. I'm not dealing with handlers. I'm not dealing with the street agents. I'm dealing with dudes that want to do it right."

Friday, October 20, 2017

Five-star recruit Jahvon Quinerly decommits from Arizona; had hired lawyer amid FBI investigation

Jeff Borzell, ESPN.com reprint.
Five-star point guard Jahvon Quinerly decommitted from Arizona on Thursday night.
"After careful consideration, my family and I have determined it is in my best interest to retract my verbal commitment to The University of Arizona," Quinerly said in a statement released on Twitter. "I'd like to thank my extended family and fans for your continued love and support. Your positivity and kindness never goes unnoticed."
At the USA Basketball Junior National Team minicamp two weeks ago, Quinerly said he remained committed to Arizona -- but was "not sure" whether he would end up there.
Quinerly told ESPN earlier this month that his family hired a lawyer because of the FBI investigation, but had not been in contact with federal authorities at the time. Quinerly was not named in the FBI documents but was recruited by Arizona assistant Emanuel "Book" Richardson, one of the four coaches from various schools arrested in the probe. The documents allege a $15,000 bribe from Richardson to Player-5, who "verbally committed to attending" Arizona "on or about August 9, 2017."
Quinerly originally committed to Arizona on Aug. 8.
He told ESPN earlier this month his family hired Alan Milstein, who represented Maurice Clarett in 2004 in his fight against the NFL's age minimum.
Quinerly, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Hudson Catholic (New Jersey), is ranked No. 23 in the ESPN 100 for 2018 and considered the No. 4 point guard in the country. When he selected Arizona in August, Villanova was the other finalist.

Arizona also holds commitments from five-star power forward Shareef O'Neal (No. 24), the son of Shaquille, and four-star point guard Brandon Williams (No. 52).