Friday, January 26, 2018

Online Star Lauren Hoffman joins EHR Staff

Lauren Hoffman is a Division I Lacrosse player at Kennesaw State University, as well as a leading on-campus media personality. Her substantial industry experience has included the KSU Owl Network and as an ESPN3 Sideline Reporter.  She is joining the ELITE HOOPS REPORT as one of our online webhosts for 2018 EHR webcasts and as a blog contributor.  We caught up with Lauren this past week and asked her about her new gig.

EHR:        From the big time of ESPN3, welcome to the BBALL travel circuit at EHR.

Lauren:    Excited to be here, I like taking on under-dog projects.

EHR:        How did you get into sports media, was this a life-long calling?

Lauren:    I’ve been into sports since I was young.  I play lacrosse as you know.  My Major is Journalism and Emerging Media.  I always wanted to be the next Linda Cohn or Al Michaels. 

EHR:        Give us your first basketball take – is LeBron the MVP? 

Lauren:    No, actually, we have a long way to go in determining the MVP.  Harden, Durant, Cousins, Davis……just a quick run-down of NBA scoring leaders alone shows a number of guys having a big impact on their team’s success.  I’ll have a prediction after the all-star break.

EHR:        What will “Lauren247” look like – give us your plans for this spring and summer? 

Lauren:    Master of the Universe?  Conquering the world?  You can be a subject in my basketball realm. 

EHR:        Lauren Hoffman, media mogul?

Lauren:    Big dreams to big reality my friend.

EHR:        Your basketball webcast, will that include local talent?

Lauren:    My primary focus is on the local scene and the travel basketball circuit.  We may do some Hawks stuff, obviously some KSU……but the focus will be local “up and coming” basketball personalities.  It won’t necessarily just be “basketball,” but will include the broader world of amateur sports.  But the main emphasis is getting on camera with local basketball talent. 

EHR:        When will see you on the EHR website?

Lauren:    Soon, we will be doing a webcast each month starting in February and running through August.  Blog postings coming soon.  You can follow me on twitter at @Lauren247Hoops. 

EHR:        Can we join your fan club, get an autograph?

Lauren:    Call my agent, she’ll set something up.

EHR:        Thanks Lauren and welcome to EHR!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Duke lands Zion Williamson

Reprint - Jeff Borzello

Shocked? By Duke getting a top-five recruit?

Maybe we should have known not to count out Mike Krzyzewski when it comes to elite prospects, but Zion Williamson picking the Blue Devils on Saturday night counts as a stunner in the recruiting world.

Heading into Saturday, there was no buzz for Duke. Clemson was seen as the favorite, but if not the Tigers, staying in-state and going to South Carolina or heading to North Carolina or Kentucky all were seen as more likely options. There were even some questions as to whether the Blue Devils were still heavily involved for Williamson.

We should have known better.

Krzyzewski pulled the proverbial rabbit out of a hat, landing Williamson -- and securing the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 prospects in the 2018 class, something that’s never been done since the ESPN recruiting database started in 2007.

Williamson joins a class that already had No. 1 prospect R.J. Barrett and No. 3 Cameron Reddish, as well as No. 1 point guard Tre Jones, the No. 10 overall player in 2018.
Krzyzewski is simply on another level on the recruiting trail right now. He has now landed four top-10 prospects in back-to-back years. He’s landed 11 top-three prospects since 2007, seven more than anyone else in the country.

Duke has surpassed Kentucky as the premier recruiting program in the country. The Blue Devils undoubtedly will have the No. 1 recruiting class this year, the fourth time in the past five years Krzyzewski has landed the top-ranked group nationally. He had gone the one-and-done route before, getting Kyrie Irving and Jabari Parker -- but he fully jumped on board when he recruited Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow in the 2014 class. That trio led Duke to a national championship and started a recruiting cycle that brought us to Saturday night.

Krzyzewski saw what having the best talent in the country can do, but what also happened was Duke now had to get used to completely redoing rosters from year to year. Okafor, Jones and Winslow all left. The following year, Brandon Ingram left after one season. After last season, Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles and Frank Jackson were all one-and-done prospects -- while Luke Kennard spent two years at Duke before entering the NBA draft.

This spring, Duke will bid farewell to senior Grayson Allen, and will also likely have to replace projected first-rounders Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter Jr. and Trevon Duval. Krzyzewski knew he needed reinforcements, and Barrett, Reddish and Jones weren’t enough on their own.

Williamson might not be the missing piece, either, but Krzyzewski now has talent that will likely be unrivaled in college basketball -- much as he did last season and this season.

Having Reddish, Barrett and Williamson on the court at the same time creates a number of issues for defenses. Barrett is a terrific two-way player who has improved his playmaking ability; Williamson is a battering ram in transition, but also an underrated passer; and Reddish can handle the ball and create plays for himself and others very well for a 6-foot-7 wing. Krzyzewski will be able to spread the floor and let his three elite prospects go to work in one-on-one situations, and defenses won’t be able to focus on one player. Throw in Jones or Duval running the show, and Gary Trent Jr. knocking down open shots, and there will be few defenses capable of defending Duke.

In an age where the common thought is “Duke and Kentucky always get the best players” or “the rich get richer” in recruiting, it’s easy to overlook just how special this recruiting class is for Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils. Getting the top three players in the country is unheard of. There are any number of complications to getting it done: ego, chemistry, resources, etc.
But Krzyzewski went to Barrett, a small forward; Williamson, who wants to be a small forward; and Reddish, a small forward, and somehow convinced all three to play their one season of college basketball in Durham, North Carolina, next season.

There’s no one else in college basketball able to do that right now.

Next time, we won’t be surprised.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Holly Hickman - aka "Team Holly" - Joins EHR as our online Digital Talent!

Holly Hickman is a prominent fitness professional who also happens to be – lucky us – an all-around sports junkie and online media personality.  She is launching the “Team Holly” brand as a webcast host for “Elite Hoops Report.”  We got a chance to speak with Holly about her upcoming role………


EHR:       Welcome to “Elite Hoops Report!”

HH:         It’s an honor and a privilege…….

EHR:       Seriously?

HH:         I had to turn down Sportscenter, but money’s not everything.

EHR:        Where will you be taking us over the next year in the basketball world, what can we be looking for?

HH:         “Girlz BBall Power Hour???”  “Heels and Hoops???” “How to watch the NBA while loading Instagram at Starbucks???”  Not sure where the journey goes, in the short run just hoping to create a brand, offer some hoops talk, just enjoy my free time doing some media in the sports world……once a jock, always a jock, right?

EHR:    Speaking of being a “jock,” you’re a fitness professional as well as full-time student…….How did you transition into basketball blogging?

HH:         It’s easy – love fitness, already had a media presence, it was a good fit to join you guys!

EHR:        Now turning to hoops, any predictions for the remainder of the NBA season, and what have you seen so far?

HH:         Russell Westbrook remains a fashion maven – so I am always interested in OKC games……..Golden State keeps winning, but it seems a lot harder than it should……I still see a Golden State-Cleveland series in the end.

EHR:        What is an online personality?

HH:         Hmmmmm……good question…….we get to look fabulous, we offer engaging content, we provide our followers great fun and interesting info on topics they find interesting……this has become obvious but social media allows you to engage more people and tailor the message and the medium to a specific audience.    That’s what we are doing here with “Team Holly” and I am glad to be a part of it.

EHR:        Is it just “Team Holly”?

HH:         Well, each webcast will have different titles, the subject matter I blog about will have different each time. “Team Holly” is probably the catch-all phrase to cover what I will be doing.  It will intersperse my content from fitness and being an everyday student, social content, along with the basketball stuff…..will offer everyone a chance to connect in some way, be a part of the team……. It’s not brain surgery, we all have our day jobs, just me doing what I do and hopefully people enjoy it.

EHR:        Thanks Holly for your time and we will be checking in with all that you do……I’m following your twitter right now.

HH:         Ummm…..what took you so long?

Georgia gets commitment from five-star junior Ashton Hagans

Jeff Borzello -
Five-star junior Ashton Hagans committed to Georgia on Thursday night.
Hagans announced his decision in a video on Twitter, pulling a Georgia hat out of a Gucci bag.
"Go Dawgs," Hagans said.
Hagans, a 6-foot-3 point guard, is considered the best player from the state of Georgia in the 2019 class. He slots in as the No. 4 point guard in the country, No. 19 overall in the ESPN 60.
Hagans was one of the best performers on the Adidas Gauntlet circuit last spring and summer, averaging 14.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 8.3 assists for the Game Elite AAU program.
This is a massive pickup for Mark Fox and the Bulldogs. Hagans is the first five-star prospect to pick Georgia since the ESPN recruiting database began in 2007 and the first top-ranked Georgia prospect to stay home for college since Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in 2011.
Hagans is Georgia's first commitment in the 2019 class.

Hagans' commitment continues the strong run for Georgia in recruiting, as the Bulldogs finished Wednesday with the No. 1-ranked football recruiting class in the country -- including No. 1 overall recruit Justin Fields.