The Dagger

  • Six of Memphis’ eight leading scorers have transferred since Tubby Smith’s debut season ended (AP).

    One evening earlier this month, Cabot High School coach Jerry Bridges’ phone buzzed with a text from senior forward Matt Stanley.

    “He told me, ‘I’ve just been offered by Memphis,'” Bridges said. “I went, ‘Wow, really?'”

    The late scholarship offer from such a prominent program was a surprise to Bridges because Stanley hadn’t received much interest from other Division I programs. Miami (Ohio), SIU Edwardsville and a handful of other small-conference schools had all kept tabs on the skilled 6-foot-8 stretch forward, but Stanley committed to Division II Ouachita Baptist earlier this year because none of the Division I programs pulled the trigger with a scholarship offer.

    Bridges’ first inkling that Memphis might be interested in Stanley came via a voicemail that Memphis assistant Saul Smith left on his office phone the Friday before Cabot High’s spring break. The high school coach did not get

    Read More »from Did Memphis really lose a recruit to Division II Ouachita Baptist?
  • Shareef O’Neal at the 2017 Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts. (AP)

    The son of NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal won’t star at LSU like his father did.

    Shareef O’Neal has instead committed to Arizona, his AAU team announced on Twitter early Wednesday morning.

    O’Neal, a versatile, high-upside 6-foot-9 forward, is Rivals.com’s 16th-ranked prospect in the 2018 class. The Santa Monica Crossroads High standout chose Arizona from a long list of suitors that included Kentucky, UCLA, USC and his dad’s alma mater LSU.

    While O’Neal shares his father’s height, athleticism and facial features, little else about his game bears much resemblance. Shaq dominated around the rim because of his massive size, uncanny strength and nimble footwork. Shareef is a leaner, more

    Read More »from Shareef O'Neal, the heralded son of Shaquille O'Neal, commits to Arizona
  • Gonzaga should be a contender again next year if Nigel Williams-Goss stays in school. (AP)
    Gonzaga should be a top 20 team next year even without Nigel Williams-Goss. (AP)

    He produced an All-American-caliber junior season. He earned a degree in psychology. He led Gonzaga to its first Final Four in program history.

    Nigel Williams-Goss raised his stock about as high as it will go this past season, so it’s difficult to fault him for forgoing his final year of college eligibility and turning pro on Tuesday even if he’s not a lock to be selected in this point guard-heavy draft class.

    Williams-Goss averaged 16.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists for a Gonzaga team that won 37 games, earned a No. 1 seed and lost by six to North Carolina in the national title game. The 6-foot-3 point guard will have a long, lucrative career playing professional basketball somewhere even if he’s unable to play his way onto an NBA team next fall.

    “After many discussions with my coaches and family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA Draft with representation,” Williams-Goss wrote on Instagram on

    Read More »from Gonzaga won't slip too far next season even without Nigel Williams-Goss
  • That's right, college basketball fans. Grayson Allen will likely be back at Duke for his senior year. (Getty)
    Grayson Allen will return Duke for his senior year. (Getty)

    The most polarizing player in college basketball will be back for one more year.

    Duke announced on Tuesday that guard Grayson Allen has decided to bypass the NBA draft and return for his senior season.

    “I’m a firm believer that when something feels right, you go with it,” Allen said in a statement. The chance to play with next year’s team just felt right. I’m completely focused on helping Coach K and our staff lead this team to a special season. I love being a Duke student, and continuing to be part of the university culture is something I don’t take for granted.”

    Allen’s return gives him a chance to undo some of the damage he did to his draft stock with a disappointing junior campaign marred by a rash of injuries and yet another tripping incident. In late December, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski suspended Allen for one game and stripped him of his captaincy after he stuck out his right leg and swept the left leg of Elon’s Steven

    Read More »from Grayson Allen bypasses the NBA draft to return to Duke for his senior year
  • NCAA tournament games will return to North Carolina next year. (AP)

    The NCAA tournament is coming back to North Carolina.

    The state on Tuesday was awarded a women’s basketball regional in Charlotte in 2019 and men’s first- and second-round games in Greensboro in 2020 and Raleigh in 2021. It also will retain men’s NCAA tournament games previously earmarked for Charlotte in 2018.

    The decision comes seven months after the NCAA stripped North Carolina of seven championship events to condemn the passage of a controversial bill by the state’s General Assembly. The so-called “bathroom bill” limited protections for LGBT people and forced transgender people to use public bathrooms corresponding with their birth gender rather than the gender with which they identify.

    At the time, the NCAA said its events must “promote an inclusive atmosphere for all college athletes, coaches, administrators and fans.” The governing body did not feel it could guarantee host communities in North Carolina could

    Read More »from NCAA returns events to North Carolina after state repeals elements of HB2
  • Marcus Evans averaged 19 points per game at Rice last season. (AP)

    The prized recruit in Mike Rhoades’ three-year tenure at Rice is following him to VCU.

    Sophomore guard Marcus Evans announced on Twitter on Monday night that he will transfer to the Rams.

    The addition of Evans is a massive pickup for Rhoades as he tries to keep VCU in its customary spot near the top of the Atlantic 10 pecking order.

    A slippery 6-foot-2 guard with the ability to consistently create his own shot off the dribble, Evans averaged 19.0 points and 3.7 assists as a sophomore this season, after averaging 21.4 points as a freshman. The two-time first-team all-Conference USA selection chose VCU over Miami and Arizona, among others.

    For Evans, the appeal of VCU went beyond the presence of his former head coach. Evans is from Chesapeake, Virginia, which is less than a two-hour drive from

    Read More »from Prized Rice transfer Marcus Evans follows his former coach to VCU
  • K.J. Lawson and his brother Dedric are transferring to Kansas. (AP)

    Having lost six of his top eight players to transfers and failing to land any noteworthy recruits as replacements, Memphis coach Tubby Smith was in desperate need of a PR win to assuage the concerns of Tigers fans.

    Smith was gifted one on Thursday when one of those transfers said goodbye to the program in embarrassingly graceless fashion.

    In a Snapchat video captured by the Twitter account @PeopleofMemphis, redshirt freshman K.J. Lawson shouted into the camera, “This is what we do when we leave Tubby. F— Tubby.” The NSFW video is below.

    The video surfaced eight days after brothers K.J. and Dedric Lawson announced they intended to transfer from Memphis. That same day, K.J. quoted Drake’s “Lose You” in a since-deleted tweet that read, “I know I

    Read More »from K.J. Lawson's graceless goodbye to Memphis: Shouting 'F--- Tubby' on Snapchat
  • Allonzo Trier will return for his junior season. (AP)

    Only one day after joking that it would take 20 billion retweets for him to come back to Arizona next season, Allonzo Trier made it clear his return wasn’t quite such a long shot after all.

    The sophomore guard announced on Thursday that he will not test the NBA draft process even though he had a chance to be taken in the second round had he come out. Arizona confirmed Trier is instead coming back to the Wildcats next season to try to improve his stock and chase a national title.

    “I have thought about it for a while, and I have decided to continue my education and basketball career at Arizona,” Trier told ESPN. “Because of my relationship and faith in Coach [Sean] Miller, the coaching staff and my teammates, I will continue my original goal when I came here — to help lead the team to a national championship.”

    The return of Trier makes Arizona a leading candidate to be the preseason No. 1 next fall. The Wildcats will have a nice mix of

    Read More »from Allonzo Trier's return makes Arizona a leading candidate for preseason No. 1
  • Roy Williams won his third national championship in 13 seasons with a 71-65 victory over Gonzaga. (Getty)

    It didn’t take long for North Carolina coach Roy Williams to fire back at University of Maryland president Wallace Loh.

    In an interview on Wednesday morning with SiriusXM College Sports Nation, Williams was asked if winning the 2017 national title had “special significance” given the backdrop of allegations of academic fraud that have hung over the Tar Heels since 2010. Unprovoked, Williams used the question as a platform to respond to Loh recently saying that he would expect the NCAA to hit North Carolina with the so-called “death penalty” as punishment.

    “There has been a lot of junk and people have questioned my integrity,” Williams said. “Even since we won, people have come out and said some things without information. They’ve just gone by what somebody else has said.

    “We have a President that says we should get the death penalty. A president of another University. I mean, to me

    Read More »from Roy Williams fires back at Maryland president, calling him a 'double idiot'
  • Wenyen Gabriel will likely be the only Kentucky rotation player returning next season. (AP)

    John Calipari’s remarkable ability to reload on the fly may be tested like it seldom has before next season.

    Kentucky is likely to lose as many as eight of its top nine scorers after reserve forward Isaac Humphries announced on Wednesday that he’s turning pro with the intent of hiring an agent.

    Humphries is the fifth Kentucky player to declare for the NBA draft since the Wildcats lost to North Carolina in the Elite Eight last month. Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox, Isaiah Briscoe and Humphries are definitely forgoing their remaining eligibility, while freshman big man Bam Adebayo has preserved the possibility of returning to school by not hiring an agent for now.

    With Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins and Mychal Mulder all set to graduate this spring, freshman forward Wenyen Gabriel is the only Kentucky rotation player definitely returning. Gabriel averaged 4.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in 17.8 minutes per

    Read More »from Isaac Humphries' exit means Kentucky may lose eight of its top nine players
  • Zach Collins is projected as a mid-first-round pick this June. (AP)

    So much for the notion that this year’s Final Four did not have a one-and-done.

    Zach Collins cemented himself as Gonzaga’s first in program history with his exemplary NCAA tournament performance.

    Collins declared for the NBA Draft with the intent to hire an agent at a later date, Gonzaga announced Tuesday. The 7-foot freshman is projected to be taken in the middle of the first round this June.

    “This was a significant decision for my family and me,” Collins said in a statement. “It was definitely one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make. I just want to thank everyone at Gonzaga, especially the coaching staff and my teammates.

    “This season was special and something I will never forget. It was the most fun year of my life. I want to thank all of the Zag fans for all of their support and passion. I’ll always be proud to be a Zag.”

    The first McDonald’s All-American ever to sign with Gonzaga out of high

    Read More »from Zach Collins enters draft, becomes Gonzaga's first one-and-done
  • Six of Memphis’ eight leading scorers have transferred since Tubby Smith’s debut season ended. (AP)

    There’s no good way to spin losing six of your top eight players to transfers, but the approach Memphis athletic director Tom Bowen took was especially ill-conceived.

    In a letter addressed to Tigers fans on Tuesday morning, Bowen blamed the culture of modern college basketball for the exodus that has occurred after Tubby Smith’s debut season as Memphis coach.

    “While student-athletes deciding to leave our university has been difficult to watch, it has not surprised us,” Bowen wrote. “Across the country, more than 700 Division I men’s basketball student-athletes transferred last year. That record number of transfers is expected to be eclipsed again this year as this trend continues to grow.”

    To try to sell fans that what has transpired at Memphis is the new normal in college basketball is wrong at best and disingenuous at worst. Transfers are rampant these days, but most leave either

    Read More »from Memphis AD's statement on rash of transfers badly misses the mark
  • The day before home games during his debut season at San Diego State, Steve Fisher would venture out onto campus with his pockets stuffed full of free tickets.

    More often than not, he couldn’t give them all away.

    When Fisher became San Diego State’s new head coach in 1999, the Aztecs had never won an NCAA tournament game and were coming off a dismal stretch of 13 losing seasons in 14 years. Their newly built 12,000-seat arena was often mostly empty on game days because students and alums in sun-drenched San Diego had better things to do than support a losing team.

    The transformation Fisher engineered during his 18 seasons at San Diego State is the most underappreciated element of his decorated coaching career. Under Fisher’s guidance, the Aztecs evolved from perennial afterthoughts into one of the West Coast’s best programs, making six straight NCAA tournaments from 2010-2015 including a pair of Sweet 16 appearances in 2011 and 2014.

    A source confirmed to Yahoo Sports on Monday

    Read More »from Steve Fisher achieved the unimaginable by turning around San Diego State
  • Steve Fisher is retiring.

    The legendary coach who revived San Diego State’s moribund basketball program is stepping down after 18 seasons leading the Aztecs, a senior administrator confirmed to Yahoo Sports. Fisher, 72, will be succeeded by longtime coach-in-waiting Brian Dutcher.

    Steve Fisher is retiring at age 72. (AP)

    Fisher’s head coaching career began on the eve of the 1989 NCAA tournament when Michigan coach Bill Frieder revealed that he had agreed to become Arizona State’s next coach. Frieder expected to remain with the Wolverines through the end of the postseason, but Michigan athletic director Bo Schembechler famously banished him from the program out of anger and elevated Fisher from assistant to head coach.

    Schembechler had no intention of making anyone associated with Frieder the permanent head coach, but Fisher had recruited many of Michigan’s best players and had the respect and admiration of the locker room. The idea of winning for Fisher inspired players because they

    Read More »from San Diego State coach Steve Fisher has decided to retire
  • Dedric Lawson was one of the best players in the American Athletic Conference this past season. (AP)

     

    Five days after they announced they’re leaving Memphis, brothers Dedric and K.J. Lawson have already chosen a destination.

    The Lawsons will transfer to Kansas, they confirmed via Twitter on Monday afternoon.

     

    The addition of Dedric and K.J. is a massive boost for Kansas’ 2018-19 season and perhaps even for many years thereafter.

    An athletic 6-foot-9 forward capable of making an impact both inside and outside the paint, Dedric averaged is a former McDonald’s All-American who averaged 19.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists this past season for a 19-win Memphis team. The junior-to-be will sit out all of next season for Kansas but projects as an all-Big 12 candidate and NBA prospect once he becomes eligible.

    K.J. Lawson, a 6-foot-7 wing, averaged 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds as a redshirt freshman

    Read More »from Kansas lands transfers Dedric and K.J. Lawson, cementing its longterm future
  • Kansas point guards Devonte Graham (4) and Frank Mason. (AP)

    When Devonte Graham announced on Sunday that he intends to return for his senior season, it didn’t just cement Kansas as the favorite to capture the Big 12 for the 14th year in a row.

    Graham’s return also eases the pressure on the Jayhawks to land a marquee point guard this spring to replace consensus national player of the year Frank Mason.

    Although Graham has played mostly off ball the past couple years alongside Mason, he is a capable ball handler and natural point guard. The possibility of spending more time at that position had to make returning to Kansas a more attractive option for him.

    In addition to Graham, Kansas has several other guards capable of handling the ball. Mississippi State transfer and former five-star recruit Malik Newman is a combo guard who could slide into Graham’s former role, while incoming four-star freshman Marcus Garrett should also see playing time off the bench next season.

    Throw in wings

    Read More »from Devonte Graham's return eases pressure on Kansas to land impact recruit
  • LaVar Ball might be known for the confidence he has in his kids, but UCLA recruit Jaylen Hands’ parents just put their trust in their son to the test.

    Hands, a five-star recruit out of Foothills Christian High School in San Diego, dunked over both of his parents at Friday’s San Diego All-Star Dunk Contest.

    This is not the first jaw-dropping dunk we’ve seen from Hands. Earlier this year at the McDonald’s All-American Game, Hands threw down over ESPN analyst Jay Williams.

    UCLA may be losing Lonzo Ball to the NBA, but the Bruins will not be short on point guard talent next season.

    Read More »from UCLA commit Jaylen Hands dunks over both parents to win dunk contest
  • Wichita State won the Valley tournament in its final year in the league. (AP)

    Having piled up a sparkling 68-4 record in the Missouri Valley Conference the past four years, Wichita State basketball is ready for a new challenge.

    The Shockers will get one next season when they join the American Athletic Conference.

    Wichita State accepted an invitation Friday to join the American in all sports beginning with the 2017-18 school year. The league voted unanimously to add the Shockers earlier Friday morning.

    The American is a significant upgrade for Wichita State basketball despite the increased travel time and expenditures in a league with a geographic footprint that spans half the country. Insufficient competition in the Valley made it difficult for Wichita State to earn a favorable NCAA tournament seeding the past few years since the Shockers often didn’t face more than one top 100 opponent after non-league play was over.

    Wichita State has won 10 NCAA tournament games the past five years

    Read More »from Increased competition in the American will bolster Wichita State basketball
  • Lavar Ball isn't one to withhold his opinions. (Getty)
    Lavar Ball isn’t one to withhold his opinions. (Getty)

    LaVar Ball revealed on Thursday that his son, Lonzo, pulled his hamstring in UCLA’s season-ending Sweet 16 loss to Kentucky last month. But according to the Orange Country Register, the injury isn’t the only thing LaVar is blaming for the loss.

    LaVar said that Lonzo’s white teammates, likely referring to starters TJ Leaf, Bryce Alford and Thomas Welsh, were too slow and unathletic to make up for Lonzo’s hamstring injury.

    “Realistically you can’t win no championship with three white guys because the foot speed is too slow,” LaVar told the Register. “I told Lonzo – ‘One of these games you might need to go for 30 or 40 points.’ It turned out that was the one game. Then once they get to the Elite 8, they’re right there.”

    Leaf, Alford and Welsh combined for 39 points in the loss. Lonzo scored 10 points while shooting 4-for-10 from the field and 1-for-6 from 3-point range. He also had four turnovers to go along with eight assists.

    Read More »from LaVar Ball blames UCLA loss on 'three white guys' because their 'foot speed is too slow'
  • Carlton Bragg (No. 15) is transferring from Kansas (AP).

    Eleven days after he did not get off the bench in his team’s season-ending Elite Eight loss, Kansas forward Carlton Bragg announced he won’t be back next season.

    The former five-star recruit instead will transfer in hopes of finding a program where he can carve out a bigger role.

    “This past year didn’t go as well as I thought it would and it’s in my best interest to get a fresh start,” Bragg said in a statement. “I want to thank my teammates, coaches and the fans for all their support these past two years. I will always cheer for the Jayhawks.”

    Hailed as the heir apparent to forward Perry Ellis when he signed with Kansas, Bragg was expected to enjoy a breakout season as a sophomore after spending his freshman year as the All-American’s understudy. Bragg instead averaged 5.2 points and 4.1 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per game during a tumultuous 2016-17 season during which he was suspended for four of the Jayhawks’ 35 games.

    One of

    Read More »from Carlton Bragg transfers from Kansas in search of 'a fresh start'