- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger5 days ago
Not content to merely challenge himself against some of the nation’s top players his own age, Tyrek Coger sought a step up in competition.
The high school junior goaded budding NBA star John Wall into a game of 1-on-1 at the 2012 Reebok Breakout Challenge in Philadelphia.
In front of a few dozen onlookers, several of whom were filming with cell phone cameras, Coger showed no fear, promising to “show John how to play ball.” The 6-foot-8 forward actually knocked down a couple jumpers and even swatted away one of Wall’s shots before the Washington Wizards guard got serious, punctuating his victory by blowing by Coger off the dribble and drawing gasps with a ferocious left-handed dunk.
Video of the game hit YouTube within hours and spread quickly on social media, generating more than 12 million views. The title of the YouTube clips were “John Wall shuts up high school kid” and “John Wall teaches high school kid a lesson,” but Coger painted a slightly different picture when he described the 1-on-1 showdown to friends.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger6 days ago
When Mike Lonergan signed a contract extension two years ago after leading George Washington to the NCAA tournament, the relationship between the school and its basketball coach appeared strong.
Athletic director Patrick Nero said Lonergan “has done everything we have asked of him.” Lonergan called it his “truest hope” that George Washington would be where he retires.
A long-lasting marriage between Lonergan and George Washington seems less certain now, however, in the wake of an ugly Washington Post story published Thursday. Current and former players and staffers anonymously told the Post that Lonergan verbally and emotionally abused them, creating a toxic environment that caused many of them to leave the program.
Thirteen players have transferred from George Washington during Lonergan’s five-year tenure, an unusually high number even in an era in which the transfer rate has soared nationwide. Players who spoke to the Post cited Lonergan’s behavior as the primary reason.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger7 days ago
The younger brother of University of South Florida coach Orlando Antigua resigned on Wednesday in the wake of an ESPN.com report that the Bulls are under NCAA investigation for academic fraud.
Oliver Antigua has been an assistant coach under his older brother for the past two seasons. He has been forbidden from venturing off campus to recruit during the July evaluation period, the ESPN.com report said.
“The University of South Florida and the NCAA enforcement staff are working together to investigate and resolve an inquiry into potential violations of NCAA bylaws and university standards by one of our intercollegiate athletic programs,” the school said in a statement Wednesday. “Because the University of South Florida is committed to protecting the integrity of the investigation and ensuring those involved receive fair treatment, we cannot provide any details about the investigation at this time.”
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger8 days ago
North Carolina was the big winner on Tuesday after the unveiling of next season’s Maui Invitational bracket.
The Tar Heels received by far the most favorable draw of any of the the contenders in the eight-team field.
North Carolina will open play Nov. 21 against Division II Chaminade, which is 7-84 all-time at the Maui Invitational, and will face either Connecticut or Oklahoma State the following day. The Tar Heels also landed on the opposite side of the bracket from Wisconsin and Oregon, both of which may join North Carolina in the preseason top 10 next fall.
Of course there are no truly easy draws in a Maui Invitational field rife with name-brand programs. Seven of the eight teams in next season’s tournament hail from major conferences and Connecticut could easily give the Maui Invitational four preseason top 25 teams.
North Carolina could be close to as strong as it was last season despite the loss of senior leaders Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige. Three starters return from last year’s national runner-up squad including guard Joel Berry, forward Justin Jackson and center Kennedy Meeks.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger9 days ago
College basketball’s elite teams have a new incentive to vie for the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament.
Starting next March, the No. 1 overall seed will have the chance to select the regional site where it plays first- and second-round games.
Geography has previously been the determining factor for which site the No. 1 overall seed is assigned. Contenders now will be able to share their preferences with the NCAA tournament selection committee in advance.
The eight cities hosting first- and second-round NCAA tournament games next March are Buffalo, Greensboro, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Orlando, Sacramento, Salt Lake City and Tulsa. Michigan State could now request to play in a familiar arena in Indianapolis even if it’s 50 miles farther from campus than Milwaukee and Arizona could now ask to play in Wildcats-friendly California even if Sacramento is 100 miles farther from Tucson than Salt Lake City.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger12 days ago
John Calipari found a thoughtful way to provide comfort to a Kentucky family rocked by tragedy this month.
The Kentucky coach sent a letter and autographed picture to the three young sons of a Wildcats fan who has been missing for nearly two weeks. A photo of the letter, via Nation of Blue, is below:
Calipari’s letter arrived just under two weeks after Robert Jones and girlfriend Crystal Warner went missing on July 3.
Jones and Warner were last seen checking on the tenant of a rental property he owned in Springfield, Ky. Craig Pennington, who rented the cabin from Jones, has been charged with murder in the wake of the couple’s disappearance. The couple’s bodies have yet to be found.
Jaclyn Roberts, the mother of Parker, Ryder and Gunner, wrote on Facebook thanking Calipari for the letter.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger13 days ago
When New York governor Andrew Cuomo banned all state-funded non-essential travel to North Carolina earlier this year, his decision had an unforeseen impact on the University of Albany basketball program.
The Great Danes have been forced to cancel their previously scheduled Nov. 12 road game at Duke.
Cuomo’s travel ban came in response to the North Carolina General Assembly passing House Bill 2 in March. HB2 is best known for requiring transgender people to use public restrooms corresponding with their birth gender and for limiting the ability of employees to sue for discrimination or wrongful termination.
Albany, Buffalo, Binghamton and Stony Brook are the four Division I basketball programs affected by Cuomo’s travel ban. Other New York schools like St. John’s and Syracuse do not have to comply with Cuomo’s stance because they’re private schools. Syracuse is scheduled to visit North Carolina and North Carolina State during ACC play next season.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger14 days ago
In 2012, the Battle 4 Atlantis featured five preseason Top 25 teams. In 2014, every team in the field besides Florida made the NCAA tournament. Last year, the four semifinalists each went on to win at least one NCAA tournament game.
The Battle 4 Atlantis has produced some astonishingly strong fields since its inception, so the 2016 first-round matchups announced Wednesday feel a little underwhelming by comparison.
One half of the draw will feature Louisville-Old Dominion and Wichita State-LSU. The other will include Michigan State-St. John’s and Baylor-VCU.
Granted Michigan State is expected to land in the preseason top 10 this fall and Louisville has preseason top 20 potential, but there may not be another top 25 team in the bunch.
Wichita State is entering a transition year without Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet. Baylor must replace first-round pick Taurean Prince and rebounding machine Rico Gathers. LSU loses Ben Simmons and two other starters off a dysfunctional NIT team. Even VCU loses two of its three leading scorers off a team that should still contend in the Atlantic 10.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger14 days ago
The point guard who led Buffalo to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances the past two seasons will seek a bigger stage to showcase his talents.
The Bulls announced Wednesday that leading scorer Lamonte Bearden intends to transfer. Bearden will sit out the 2016-17 season and then have two years of eligibility remaining at his new destination.
“I spoke with Lamonte Bearden last week about his basketball future and he thought it would be in his best interest to transfer,” Buffalo coach Nate Oats said in a statement. “Even though I am disappointed in his decision, I want him to be at peace with where he is at. He has been given his release to pursue other options.”
Credit Buffalo for granting him a full release even though his decision came far later in the offseason calendar than most transfers. Bearden will seek a high-major program with a vacant scholarship and playing time available at point guard following next season.
Buffalo transfer Lamonte Bearden gave following list to Bulls, per source: Nevada, Arizona, TCU, Texas A&M, Wisc., Marquette, Iowa St, Miami
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) July 13, 2016
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger16 days ago
If the potential for a huge 2017 recruiting class was among the biggest reasons Illinois opted to show patience with John Groce last spring, then the fifth-year coach is making that decision look wise.
Groce is assembling a class deep and talented enough to one day help the Illini return to Big Ten title contention.
The latest addition to the class is Jeremiah Tilmon, a five-star center rated Rivals.com’s No. 24 prospect in the 2017 class. Tilmon, the highest rated recruit Groce has landed during his tenure, committed to the Illini on Monday despite offers from the likes of Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan State, Texas and Missouri.
— Jeremiah Tilmon (@jeremiahtilmon_) July 11, 2016
Tilmon joins a class that already includes two other Illinois natives.