The Dagger

  • When the NCAA dragged its feet for months in sending North Carolina an amended Notice of Allegations, many wondered whether the lengthy delay suggested that investigators had found new evidence that might lead to additional charges.

    That doesn't appear to be the case.

    The amended Notice of Allegations that North Carolina received on Monday isn't strikingly different from the original one the university received last May. North Carolina still faces five top-level violations, but the gentler wording suggests there's less reason to believe the Tar Heels will be hammered with severe sanctions by the committee on infractions later this year.

    The biggest change is to the first of the five major rules violations the NCAA discovered while investigating academic fraud in African Studies classes that benefited Tar Heels athletes in disproportionate numbers. Whereas that allegation in the first NOA was very broad and left the committee on infractions ample options for how it could choose to

    Read More »from Amended notice of allegations seems more favorable to North Carolina
  • In a year in which virtually every other potential first-round pick at least declared for the draft to get a better idea of his NBA stock, Cal's Ivan Rabb is the rare exception.

    The 6-foot-11 freshman announced he will return to the Bears next season soon after the deadline to enter the draft passed on Sunday night.

    Rabb is probably the most decorated NBA prospect who will definitely return to college next season. Had he chosen to enter the draft, he likely would have been selected in the first round and perhaps would have gone in the top 15 or 20.

    "Ivan is an tremendous person and student-athlete to have on our team," Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said in a statement. "He and his family have put a lot of thought into making a decision that was right for him. He is a talented basketball player with a very bright future, and we are excited to have Ivan continue as a member of our Cal basketball program."

    Rabb played in all 34 games this past season, shot 61.5 percent from the field and

    Read More »from Ivan Rabb may be the best NBA prospect not to declare for the draft
  • One morning last spring, Gregory Dole received a call from a friend with whom he'd played high school basketball in Tanzania nearly two decades ago.

    Deng D'Awol asked Dole for help finding a school in Canada that would be interested in a 16-year-old basketball phenom he'd discovered in war-weary South Sudan.

    "Deng told me, 'There's this amazing kid I want to help get a scholarship,'" Dole told Yahoo Sports on Thursday. "He told me this kid is the best player he's seen in Eastern Africa. He told me this kid reminds him of a young Kevin Durant.' When someone says that, your ears tend to perk up."

    Such sky-high praise typically would have inspired skepticism in basketball circles, but Dole trusted his friend's assessment. After all, Deng is a 7-foot-1 center who set shot-blocking records at NAIA Wayland Baptist University, played professionally in the American Basketball Association and overseas and now helps coach and train kids in his native South Sudan.

    Dole reached out to a longtime

    Read More »from Why an alleged 29-year-old posed as a teenage basketball player
  • Just eight days ago, Dedric Lawson announced he was returning to Memphis for his sophomore season. Then on Wednesday afternoon, ESPN.com reported the freshman forward is planning to test the waters again.

    It's possible Lawson is merely experiencing some indecision. It seems more likely this sudden flip flop is more calculated than that.

    Keelon Lawson, the father of Dedric and fellow Memphis freshman K.J. Lawson, was an assistant coach on Josh Pastner's staff for the past two seasons. Keelon was all but certain to retain that job for a third season until Pastner left for Georgia Tech on April 8 and Memphis hired Tubby Smith as his replacement nearly a week later.

    Smith has yet to announce who he will hire as his assistant coaches, but he has a history of loyalty to guys who have been on his staff before. CBSSports.com reported Sunday that Alvin "Pooh" Williamson will follow Smith from Texas Tech to Memphis. Joe Esposito's presence at a University of Memphis baseball game on Tuesday

    Read More »from There may be more to Dedric Lawson's draft flip flop than just indecision
  • Dwayne "Pearl" Washington, one of the most beloved basketball players in Syracuse history, died Wednesday at age 52, the school announced.

    The heralded point guard was diagnosed with a brain tumor last summer and underwent surgery and various other treatments since the tumor was detected.

    Washington became a legend at Syracuse during a three-year college career in which he earned first-team all-Big East honors three times. He averaged 15.7 points and 2.3 steals and still ranks third all-time in school history in assists despite turning pro after his junior year in 1986.

    While Washington's stats alone are impressive, it was the flair and pizazz with which he played that made him a fan favorite. He had a handle so tight he could practically dribble through a crowded subway and a crossover dribble so lethal it often sent hapless defenders sprawling.

    Washington also had a knack for coming up big at the biggest moments. His most memorable shot was a half-court buzzer beater during his

    Read More »from Syracuse legend Dwayne 'Pearl' Washington dies at age 52
  • Though Ben Simmons and Tim Quarterman have both already turned pro this spring, LSU will at least get one of its stars back next season. 

    Freshman Antonio Blakeney will return to the Tigers, the school announced Tuesday afternoon.

    Blakeney originally declared for the NBA draft without hiring an agent earlier this month, leaving open the possibility of a return to school. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard decided to return without even waiting to see if he'd receive an invite to next month's NBA draft combine.

    "After consulting with my coaches and with my family, I have decided to return to LSU for my sophomore season," Blakeney said in a statement. "I believe I can further improve my skill set in different areas to become even more effective for my team in the future.

    "Although I finished the year strong and posted a solid season, I think it is in my best interest to return and continue to improve as I strive and prepare to be the best I can be. This will also allow me to continue with my

    Read More »from Antonio Blakeney's return gives LSU a star to build around next year
  • One day after new UNLV coach Chris Beard bolted for Texas Tech, Rebels athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy moved quickly to identify a replacement.

    She hired the coach Beard initially beat out for the job less than three weeks ago.

    New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies will be UNLV's next coach pending approval of the Nevada Board of Regents next week. Menzies worked as an assistant under Steve Fisher, former UNLV coach Lon Kruger and Rick Pitino before becoming head coach of the Aggies nine years ago.

    In his past five years at New Mexico State, Menzies has presided over the Aggies' most successful era since their heyday in the early 90s. He has won 23 or more games each season, captured a pair of WAC regular season titles and made the NCAA tournament four times.

    The one hole in Menzies' resume is a lack of signature victories. New Mexico State did not win an NCAA tournament game during his tenure, nor did the Aggies defeat a power-conference opponent. They did have a pair of

    Read More »from UNLV moves quickly to hire New Mexico State's Marvin Menzies
  • At his introductory news conference at UNLV seven days ago, Chris Beard described coaching the Rebels as "the opportunity of a lifetime."

    The 43-year-old coach surely sincerely believed that at the time after working his way from the junior college ranks, to Division II, to a low-major Division I job before finally breaking through.

    Everything changed for Beard on Wednesday, however, when Memphis began its whirlwind pursuit of Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith. By Thursday morning, Smith accepted the Memphis job. By Thursday afternoon, Texas Tech officials were en route to Las Vegas to meet with Beard. And by nightfall, Beard had less than 24 hours to decide whether to stay at UNLV or take a job he coveted more than almost any other.

    Beard accepted an offer to become Texas Tech's next coach on Friday, a decision that certainly has not endeared him to the school he is jilting. Many UNLV fans are furious that Beard is leaving less than three weeks after he accepted the job, especially since

    Read More »from UNLV shouldn't hold a grudge over Chris Beard's abrupt departure
  • Soon after their 4-year-old son Blaise was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer two months ago, Annie and Andrew Davis asked for a favor from a family friend.

    The Pennsylvania residents wanted him to remodel their unfinished basement so that Blaise would have a play room.

    Contractor Tim Moore readily agreed to tackle the project with one stipulation. The Davis family was forbidden from coming downstairs to check out their new basement until the project was done.

    When Annie, Andrew, Blaise and 2-year-old Lucy finally got to see the finished product Wednesday evening, they found more than the new bathroom and fresh paint and carpet they were expecting. Tucked against the back wall was a newly built playhouse with a pair of surprise visitors from Villanova's national championship basketball team inside.

    "It was unbelievable," Andrew Davis told Yahoo Sports. "We're big basketball fans in this house and my wife and my father-in-law have been very big Villanova fans since they were

    Read More »from Villanova stars pop out of playhouse to surprise cancer-stricken boy
  • Thon Maker just revealed a loophole that NBA and NCAA officials probably would have preferred remained closed.

    The skilled 7-footer found a way to bypass the one-and-done rule and go straight from prep school to the NBA.

    Under the current NBA collective bargaining agreement, draft-eligible prospects not defined as international players must be at least 19 years old during the calendar year of the draft and at least one year removed from graduating high school. With the exception of Brandon Jennings, Emmanuel Mudiay and a handful of other prospects who have spent a pre-draft season playing professionally overseas or in the D-League, most elite high school players opt to play a year or more of college basketball. 

    Maker opened another potential avenue on Thursday when the NBA ruled him eligible for this June's draft, a league spokesman confirmed to Yahoo Sports. Maker, 19, completed the requisite coursework to graduate from high school last spring, spent a post-graduate year in prep

    Read More »from Thon Maker being ruled draft-eligible highlights potential loophole
  • For years, Memphis fans have complained that Josh Pastner's teams took quick, ill-advised shots, played disorganized defense and typically didn't win at the level their talent level suggested they should. 

    That should no longer be a problem given who the school tabbed as Pastner's replacement on Thursday morning.

    Memphis has hired Texas Tech's Tubby Smith, an accomplished coach who's basically the complete opposite of his youthful predecessor. He's 64 years old, he hasn't always recruited at an elite level but he is well respected among his peers for being excellent tactically and strong in player development.

    Smith won't be universally embraced right away by Memphis fans who convinced themselves they had a chance to nab a flashier candidate. School officials decided quickly that they could not afford Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall or Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams, that they could not pry Archie Miller away from Dayton and that they sought someone with more coaching experience

    Read More »from For better or worse, Tubby Smith is the exact opposite of Josh Pastner
  • When standout wing Allonzo Trier announced his decision to return to Arizona this month, the lone downside appeared to be the potential for his presence to dissuade other shooting guards the Wildcats were pursuing from coming.

    Turns out that didn't happen.  

    Arizona landed one of the Class of 2016's top wings on Wednesday night when 6-foot-6 Terrance Ferguson announced on Twitter that he had committed. Ferguson, Rivals.com's No. 12 prospect, is an elite shooter who is also an outstanding perimeter defender and one of the best dunkers in his class.

    The relationship between Ferguson and Arizona stems from his stint last summer playing for Sean Miller on USA Basketball's U-19 team. When Ferguson backed out of his initial commitment to Alabama on March 1, Arizona instantly became one of the leading contenders to land him along with fellow suitors Baylor, Kansas, Maryland, North Carolina and NC State.

    Ferguson's commitment leaves Miller with a problem other coaches would kill to have.

    Read More »from Arizona is loaded on the perimeter after landing Terrance Ferguson
  • The NCAA tournament will remain on CBS and Turner for at least the next 16 years.

    The broadcast partners on Tuesday announced an eight-year, $8.8 billion extension that will allow them to provide live coverage of NCAA tournament games on any platform they choose through 2032. That includes those platforms "to be created over the life of the agreement."

    The rights fee is a significant increase over the original 14-year contract CBS, Turner and the NCAA agreed to back in 2010. Whereas CBS and Turner will pay an average of approximately $771 million every year to air the NCAA tournament from 2011-2024, that fee will rise to $1.1 billion per year from 2025-2032.

    That increase is crucial to the NCAA, which secures more than 90 percent of its total revenue from the men's basketball tournament. NCAA president Mark Emmert said that money flows back to the association's 1,100 members schools to help them support other sports that do not produce revenue.

    The stability this TV rights deal

    Read More »from CBS and Turner will retain NCAA tournament through at least 2032
  • If Michigan State is going to contend for a national title again next season, the Spartans will have to rely heavily on their highly touted freshman class.

    That much is clear after forward Deyonta Davis announced Tuesday that he's declaring for the NBA draft and hiring an agent.

    Davis would have been an interior focal point for Michigan State next season had he returned to school, but his stock was too high among NBA scouts for that to be a realistic possibility. The raw but talented 6-foot-10 freshman is a projected mid-first-round pick even though he averaged a modest 7.5 points and 6.5 rebounds and had just begun to scratch the surface of his capabilities while starting 16 of the Spartans' final 17 games.

    "Over the last year, Deyonta has improved as a player, as he is just starting to tap his true potential," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said in a statement. "Off the court, there is no question that he has grown by leaps and bounds as he matures as a young man. I’ve been fortunate

    Read More »from Deyonta Davis' departure makes Michigan State more freshman-reliant
  • When it was time for him to accept the trophy for Big 5 Coach of the Year on Monday night, St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli couldn't resist poking fun at himself.

    The coach whom Martelli had beaten out to win the award went on to win the national title a couple weeks after voters had turned in their ballots.

    "Seriously, there’s not one person in here that would say ‘Big 5 Coach of the Year? It must be Phil Martelli! It’s not Jay Wright!'" Martelli told guests at the Big 5 awards banquet.

    "Jay, this is yours. I’m going to borrow it for an hour and if I can get into your gated community in Newtown Square, I’ll drop it off."

    As recently as three weeks ago, Martelli was not a ridiculous choice. After all, St. Joseph's won 28 games, captured the Atlantic 10 tournament title and led No. 1 seed Oregon deep into the second half before falling in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

    Of course, everything changed when Villanova validated its Big East title with the type of NCAA tournament

    Read More »from Phil Martelli sheepishly tries to give back Big 5 coach of the year trophy
  • At a time when most of the rest of the Big 12's top teams appear poised to take a step backward, Kansas is just reloading.

    The Jayhawks bolstered an already strong roster on Monday night when they landed a prospect Rivals.com considers to be the best in the 2016 class.

    Shooting guard Josh Jackson committed to Kansas, choosing the Jayhawks over fellow finalists Michigan State and Arizona. The 6-foot-7 senior at Prolific Prep in Napa, Calif., is a consensus top-three prospect nationally along with Duke-bound forwards Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum.

    What makes Jackson one of the elite wing prospects to enter college basketball in recent years is his ability to impact a game at both ends of the floor. The tough, ultra-competitive Jackson has a nonstop motor, an explosive first step to the basket, a knack for making plays in transition and the ability to lock down an opposing team's best perimeter player.

    Some of Jackson's attributes were on display at the McDonald's All-American game earlier

    Read More »from Kansas reloads with the addition of elite prospect Josh Jackson
  • The fate of the next Maryland basketball season could hinge on the feedback star point guard Melo Trimble receives from NBA scouts this spring.

    Trimble announced Monday night he will declare for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, leaving open the possibility he could return for his junior season.

    If Trimble leaves, Maryland will have to replace every member of a supremely talented starting five that led the Terps to a 27-win 2015-16 season and a Sweet 16 appearance. If Trimble comes back, Maryland will still have questions in the frontcourt but the Terps can build around a perimeter corps highlighted by one of the nation's most dynamic point guards.

    Trimble returned to Maryland after an outstanding freshman season in hopes of solidifying himself as a future first-round pick, but his sophomore season was too erratic to achieve that goal.

    Among the positives: His assist-to-turnover ratio improved and he enjoyed some strong stretches, especially during the first half of the season.

    Read More »from Maryland's upcoming season may hinge on Melo Trimble's draft decision
  • Having watched another transfer point guard thrive at Creighton this past season, Kaleb Joseph decided to follow in his footsteps.

    The Syracuse transfer committed to the Bluejays on Sunday evening, his former AAU coach Vin Pastore told Yahoo Sports on Monday.

    One of the biggest factors in Joseph's decision was his strong relationship with Creighton assistant Preston Murphy. The other was the success the Bluejays had with point guard Maurice Watson, a Boston University transfer who averaged 14.2 points and 6.6 assists in his debut season in the Big East this year.   

    It appealed to Joseph to go to a school with a track record of helping transfers improve during their redshirt seasons. Creighton also had a need for a point guard with Watson set to graduate after the 2016-17 season and no heir apparent waiting in the wings.

    What Creighton is getting in Joseph is a former Rivals top 50 prospect in need of a fresh start.

    Thrust into the role of top point guard right away at Syracuse as a

    Read More »from Why Syracuse transfer Kaleb Joseph is heading to Creighton
  • In his freshman season at Sacred Heart, he started from the outset and averaged an impressive 14.5 points per game. In his sophomore season with the Pioneers, he scored 23.1 points per game and won conference player of the year honors.

    Now Cane Broome is ready for a bigger challenge.

    Cane Broome (AP Photo/Fred Beckham)Cane Broome (AP Photo/Fred Beckham)The 6-foot combo guard announced Monday he will transfer to Cincinnati, where he'll sit next season before having two years eligibility remaining thereafter. Broome also visited Creighton and received interest from the likes of Seton Hall and NC State, among others.

    Having such prestigious programs pursue him was a new experience for Broome, a Hartford native who was lightly recruited out of high school. Sacred Heart coach Anthony Latina was the first to offer a scholarship to Broome and made him the program's biggest priority the following summer, leading to a commitment early in the 2013-14 school year.

    Broome played as though he had something to prove during his two years at Sacred Heart, and now he's

    Read More »from Nation's eighth-leading scorer Cane Broome transfers to Cincinnati
  • Before Duke's Sweet 16 loss to Oregon last month, point guard Derryck Thornton reflected on the challenge of graduating high school in three years, enrolling at one of the nation's most tradition-rich programs and trying to fill the void left by Tyus Jones' early departure.

    "It's definitely tough, but you can do it if you're mentally focused," Thornton told Yahoo Sports. "This season has been so great for me and for my team and I've learned so much. It was a great opportunity for me to come here and I'm really happy with my decision. I've learned so much from Coach [Mike Krzyzewski]. There's a lot I wouldn't have learned if I were still in high school."

    At that time, Thornton certainly didn't sound like someone who intended to leave when the season ended, but that's not the case any longer. Duke announced Sunday that the sophomore-to-be is transferring.

    “We wish Derryck the best and appreciate his contributions to our team this season,” Krzyzewski said in the statement. “We support his

    Read More »from Duke point guard Derryck Thornton intends to transfer