It took more than a month for Wisconsin-Green Bay to fully evaluate claims that coach Brian Wardle mistreated players, but the university has found that "a good deal of what was alleged did not occur."
As a result, Wardle will not only retain his job but also avoid either a fine or suspension.
What led UWGB to hire an independent investigator to look into Wardle's behavior was a series of alarming accusations by former forward Brennan Cougill and walk-on center Ryan Bross. In a story published last month by the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Bross claimed Wardle called him derogatory and homophobic slurs, interfered with his academic course choices and ran him when he was ill during preseason conditioning to the point where he lost control of his bowels.
The statement UWGB chancellor Tom Harden released Friday mostly defended Wardle's conduct, especially how he handled Bross' illness during preseason drills.
Evidence culled from interviews with more than two dozen individuals suggested Wardle neither forced Bross to keep running even though he wasn't feeling well or humiliated him in front of the team. Harden does acknowledge, however, that "Wardle should have more appropriately sent the player back to the locker room at an earlier point in the drill."
UWGB also largely dismissed Bross' claims that he was prevented from pursuing a certain major because the course load would interfere with basketball. The investigator found that, like all freshmen, Bross' course preferences weren't given the same priority when the team's practice schedule was set as they would have been were he an upperclassmen.
The one area where the school did fault Wardle was the language he used when criticizing his players. Harden said some of Wardle's words were "obscene or vulgar" and he crossed the line encouraging a player to have sex because it would make him better in practice.
"I do not condone the notion, as some have suggested, that Division I basketball “culture” should allow coaches to mistreat players or direct obscene or vulgar language toward them," Harden said.
"There are certain words that are unacceptable — period — and Coach Wardle has acknowledged they are unacceptable. [The] report shows Coach Wardle has, at times, used such unacceptable language in criticism and comments to players,though whether it was specifically directed at particular players remains unclear. Coach Wardle has acknowledged the need to stop using certain offensive words in his dealings with student athletes, and I am confident he will be able to do so."
Since the school essentially found Wardle was only guilty of something numerous coaches do across the country, his punishment is predictably minor. In addition to a disciplinary letter addressing his language being placed in his personnel file, Wardle will not get his usual rollover contract extension and will be assigned an adviser to help him properly motivate players in the future.
Wardle, not surprisingly, was pleased by the outcome.
"I want to stress that I am grateful for the opportunity to represent this University and will continue to build a program of which it can be proud," Wardle said in a statement. "As a head coach it is my responsibility to care for our student athletes as if they were my own children. Their personal development is very important to me. I have done a tremendous amount of reflection and self-examination over the past several months that will help me improve as a coach. I am confident that our players are in a healthy environment where they can reach their academic and athletic potential."
That the independent investigator essentially refuted the worst of the accusations has to be a relief both for Wardle and for UWGB. As I wrote a few weeks ago, the allegations from Bross, in particular, were severe enough that Wardle's job likely would have been in jeopardy were they found true.
Of course, the one question that remains is why Cougill and Bross would concoct or embellish accusations against Wardle.
Maybe other players and coaches covered for Wardle. Maybe the two ex-players simply had an axe to grind. Maybe the truth is somewhere in between. Regardless, hopefully this experience serves as a learning experience for Wardle and his staff and accusations like this don't surface again.
They told Sporting News they intervened this week, requesting point guard Aaron Craft's name be removed from the ad out of fear the use of it could result in a minor NCAA violation. NCAA rules stipulate that a current student-athlete’s name or likeness cannot be used for commercial ventures.
"We have taken the necessary steps with all parties involved to alleviate any potential NCAA issues," Ohio State associate athletic director for compliance Doug Archie told Sporting News. "Aaron Craft's eligibility was never in danger. He had no knowledge nor provided consent."
Craft's name pops up in the commercial because of his role in the career-altering mistake that got Bruce Pearl fired as Tennessee's basketball coach.
Pearl hosted a backyard barbecue at his home for Craft while Tennessee was recruiting the point guard, a violation uncovered by the NCAA enforcement staff when they found pictures of the future Ohio State star at Pearl's home. Bruce Pearl later lied to NCAA investigators when questioned about the location of the barbecue, resulting in his firing.
In the radio ad, Steven Pearl, Bruce's son and host of a weekly show on Tennessee Sports Radio, begins by telling listeners "if there's one thing we Pearls know, it's how to throw a barbecue." Then after lauding the food at the restaurant chain, Pearl delivers this hilarious line: "Just remember, my two rules for legendary backyard barbecues – get your food from Calhoun’s and absolutely no photography."
The part of the commercial Ohio State has asked to be removed is the brilliant one-liner in the legal disclaimer at the end of Pearl's pitch. "Offer not available to Aaron Craft," it concludes.
Of course, the purpose of the radio ad obviously wasn't to get Craft in any trouble, but it's understandable Ohio State would send a cease and desist request. The school has endured enough trouble with the NCAA compliance issues recently. It doesn't need a clever but innocuous radio ad creating anymore.
There already was the memorable game in early March in when Kelly returned to the Duke lineup after missing nearly two months because of injury to score 36 points in a win over Miami. Kelly drained seven of nine 3-pointers that day and seemed unstoppable.
Kelly was part of another Duke run to the Elite Eight where the Blue Devils lost to eventual national champion Louisville, capping his final season playing for coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Kelly will also get his shot at playing in the NBA later this year. He is expected to be a second-round pick in next month's NBA draft. Whether he's drafted or not, the 7-footer will get his chance to make a NBA club in summer league and training camp in the fall.
At the end of Thursday's news conference formally announcing his return as U.S. men's national team coach, Mike Krzyzewski made a brief but intriguing comment sure to spark debate.
Asked if the opportunity to coach in the NBA still intrigues him, Krzyzewski explained he is happy at Duke, especially because of the challenge the revamped ACC will provide.
"I love what's happening with our conference," Krzyzewski said. "We're going to be a 10-bid conference. We're going to be the best conference in the history of the game. It's exciting to be part of that."
The ACC will certainly improve dramatically thanks to the addition of Syracuse, Pitt and Notre Dame next season and Louisville the following year, but Krzyzewski's suggestion it will be the best league of all time is a bit more dubious.
Don't forget the powerful Big East produced three Final Four teams in the same season during its Chris Mullin-Patrick Ewing heyday in 1985 and sent two different schools to the Final Four two years later. Or that the more recent version of the Big East earned three No. 1 seeds in 2009 and landed a record 11 NCAA tournament bids in 2011, with its ninth-place team capturing the national championship. Heck, you could argue this may not even be the strongest incarnation of the ACC considering the caliber of the league before it added Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech in a bid to improve in football.
For this upcoming era of ACC basketball to compare favorably, the league will need not only Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse and Louisville to remain powerhouses but some of its lower-echelon programs to step up in class.
Georgia Tech faded from national relevance late in Paul Hewitt's tenure and has yet to fully recover so far under Brian Gregory. Wake Forest is in the midst of one of its worst periods in program history under embattled coach Jeff Bzdelik. Boston College hasn't made the NCAA tournament in four years or won an NCAA game in six. And football-first Virginia Tech, Clemson and Miami have been erratic at best, aside from the Hurricanes' brilliant but perhaps short-lived success this past season.
Throw in long periods of mediocrity from NC State, Virginia and soon-to-be-Big Ten-bound Maryland, and it's fair to say the ACC has mostly ridden Duke and North Carolina's coattails recently.
The league has averaged a modest five NCAA Tournament bids per season since its 2004 expansion and produced only four NCAA teams two of the past three seasons. No ACC team besides Duke and North Carolina has made a Final Four since Hewitt's Georgia Tech team lost to UConn in the 2004 national title game.
Obviously, it's unrealistic for every program in a 15-team league to be strong in a given season. But for the ACC to live up to Krzyzewski's gaudy expectations, the league will need some of its middling programs to rise to the level of their competition.
Oklahoma's three most well-known universities have found a clever way to raise money for victims of the tornadoes that ravaged the state earlier this week.
Tulsa, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are jointly selling T-shirts with the logos of each school on the front underneath the phrase "OKTOGETHER." All proceeds from the sale of each $19.95 short-sleeved shirt and $24.95 long-sleeved shirt will go to The United Way and will be used to aid disaster relief efforts in the towns struck by tornadoes.
"It’s the Oklahoma Standard," the blurb describing the T-shirt to potential buyers reads. "In times of need, our communities rally around each other with an outpouring of love and compassion. As a Cowboy, Hurricane and Sooner fan, you can do your part to help the Oklahomans that have been affected by the recent devastation by supporting those in need with this 2013 Disaster Relief Efforts tee."
The shirt is one of numerous T-shirts being sold to benefit tornado victims in Oklahoma. It will take a lot of T-shirts purchased to match Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant's generous $1 million donation earlier this week, but every little bit helps.
When Mike Krzyzewski and his wife were discussing earlier this spring whether he ought to return as U.S. men's national coach, she asked if that commitment would be easier for him if he resigned from his post at Duke prior to the 2016 Olympics.
Krzyzewski's response will make all Blue Devils fans smile.
"Really it's just the opposite," Krzyzewski told reporters at a news conference in Durham on Thursday. "I don't think anybody should coach the (Olympic) team unless they're still coaching. You've got to stay sharp. I'm coaching in the best league against the best competition and the best players that I can. Doing that, it becomes easier."
Asked to clarify if that meant he'd definitely coach at Duke through at least the 2015-16 season, the 66-year-old Krzyzewski said, "Obviously I'm not going to end before the Olympics."
And with that, any chatter about Krzyzewski retiring soon should die down for the foreseeable future. Barring a sudden reversal, college basketball's winningest coach will be on the Duke bench for at least the next three seasons, and he doesn't sound as though he's certain he'll be ready to step down even then.
Krzyzewski has long maintained coaching the U.S. national team has energized him and rekindled his passion for his profession, a point he emphasized again on Thursday. He reiterated the point Duke president Richard H. Brodhead made earlier in the news conference when he said that Krzyzewski had become an even better coach as a result of taking on the challenge of coaching the NBA's biggest stars.
"I don't think I did it bad before the Olympics," Krzyzewski said. "We weren't bad before then. But I got better from doing it. Just like a player gets better from doing it, we all got better. That energizes you because it's like a teacher learning new material. I'm 66. I don't know how you're supposed to feel at 66, but I never think of my age. I may look my age, but I feel energetic, passionate, wanting to achieve."
That Krzyzewski remains enthusiastic about coaching is great news for everyone from USA Basketball, to Duke, to the sport as a whole.
Since taking over as coach of the U.S. national team at a time when many of the nation's best players weren't representing their country, Krzyzewski has helped change the culture of USA Basketball. In the process, he has accumulated a 62-1 record and captured gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics.
Many originally worried Duke's program might suffer if Krzyzewski was spread too thin, but the Blue Devils have remained one of the nation's elite teams. They won the national championship in 2010, reached the Elite Eight last March and are expected to begin next season in the top five in the polls.
Krzyzewski originally planned to let someone else replace him as U.S. coach, but the relentless courtship by Jerry Colangelo and the encouragement of his family and Duke officials helped change his mind. Once talks with Colangelo heated up after the college season ended, it didn't take long for Krzyzewski to agree to lead the team's quest for a third straight Olympic gold.
"The main thing is will you still have the drive and the energy and can you give the time that's going to be necessary to do it," Krzyzewski said. "The final decision was yes, I can do that."
The release of USA Basketball's training camp roster Wednesday afternoon for the U-19 world championships inspired one obvious question: Why weren't any Kentucky players participating?
It's not that USA Basketball wasn't interested or that John Calipari advised against it. Forward Julius Randle, guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison and the rest of the members of Kentucky's top-ranked recruiting class simply preferred to spend the summer getting acclimated to college life and preparing for a run at the national title.
"Most of it is, they didn’t want to play. I’m not forcing kids to do anything," Calipari told Sporting News. "I think the reason they all turned it down is, they want to get started."
"I’m happy they’re thinking in those terms. They know the spotlight’s on them."
The knee-jerk reaction here is to criticize players for turning down a potentially once-in-a-lifetime chance to represent their country, but in this case that doesn't seem fair.
First of all, the Kentucky incoming freshmen were far from alone in their decision. Arizona-bound Aaron Gordon was the lone top 20 Class of 2013 recruit who chose to try out for the U-19 team and the only other incoming freshmen on the roster are Arizona's Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Washington's Nigel Williams-Goss and UCLA's Bryce Alford.
Secondly, Kentucky's decorated recruiting class faces a different level of pressure than any of their peers.
Thanks to the arrival of a group of freshmen considered as one of the greatest recruiting hauls of all time, Kentucky will likely begin the season No. 1 in the polls and with championship-or-bust expectations. It makes sense that a team with so many newcomers would want to spend the summer building chemistry on and off the court to ensure they don't flop the way last year's team did.
Ultimately, the decision of the Kentucky freshmen and fellow class of 2013 stars Jabari Parker (Duke) and Chris Walker (Florida) explains why the U-19 championship is the most difficult for USA Basketball to win. The U.S. has only captured gold at the U-19 championships once in the past six tournaments in part because other countries send cohesive rosters featuring their best players and top American prospects are sometimes more interested in preparing for college or the NBA.
There's nothing wrong with that decision. It just helps level the international basketball playing field.
Had Cody Larson opted to attend South Dakota State straight out of high school a few years ago, the highly touted in-state product's decision would have been celebrated as a tremendous recruiting coup.
It's difficult to project how big an impact Larson can make at South Dakota State because the former top 100 recruit rarely saw the floor at Florida. Larson played for the Gators just one of his three years in Gainesville, redshirting as a freshman, averaging 0.5 points and 0.8 rebounds during the 2011-12 season and leaving the team altogether in October after Billy Donovan pulled his scholarship.
Part of the reason Larson's once-promising career stalled is because of a spate of off-the-court problems.
Larson was suspended during his senior year of high school for sharing prescription pain pills with a teammate. He violated the plea agreement he reached after that incident in April 2011 when he was arrested in St. Augustine for breaking into a vehicle outside a bar after closing time.
Donovan set certain conditions for Larson to meet in order to keep his scholarship for the 2012-13 season, but the 6-foot-9 forward did not satisfy them. He declined to remain on the team as a walk-on last season, opting instead to merely attend classes and focus on his academics and personal issues.
Larson told the Argus Leader he's transferring to South Dakota State because he is ready to move forward with his life and try to rekindle his basketball career again. Depending on the outcome of the petition he'll likely file with the NCAA, he will either play right away with two years eligibility remaining or sit out next season and have only one year of eligibility left.
"I wanted to come closer to home where I can have some fun and just play basketball with no outside distractions," he told the Argus Leader. "Just put my head down and work hard and earn every minute I get."
The sentiment Larson expressed there is spot-on, but there's no question South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy is taking a risk bringing him aboard. It's not easy for small-conference program to find a versatile, skilled 6-foot-9 forward with Larson's pedigree, but it will also be a black eye for the Jackrabbits if they offer a second chance only to see him misbehave again.
Ultimately, however, Larson is probably worth the gamble for a South Dakota State program hoping to remain in the upper echelon of the Summit League even after star guard Nate Wolters' graduation.
It didn't work out for Larson at Florida, but perhaps a change of scenery and some time to mature will do him good.
Unlike most levels of international basketball, the U.S. has seldom been dominant at the U-19 World Championships.
Six different countries have captured gold in the last six tournaments, with the U.S. failing to medal altogether three times. Not only do other countries have the advantage of fielding more cohesive teams who have played together previously, USA Basketball often struggles to attract the top American players since many are either getting acclimated at college or preparing for the NBA draft.
The training camp roster the U.S. has assembled for this year's event has a bit more star power than usual but it's still reflective of past problems. Of the 24 players trying out in Colorado Springs next month for the 12-player U.S. Team, there are only a couple of established college stars or incoming McDonald's All-Americans.
One of the centerpieces of the team will almost certainly be Marcus Smart, the Oklahoma State rising sophomore who likely would have been a top 10 pick had he chosen to enter next month's NBA draft. Duke's Rasheed Sulaimon, Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes, Louisville's Montrezl Harrell and Syracuse's Jerami Grant are also among the returning college players who will compete for a roster spot.
The most highly touted incoming freshman on the roster is Arizona signee Aaron Gordon, a gifted forward who was among the top players in the Class of 2013. Besides him, however, not one of Rivals.com's top 20 players in the Class of 2013 are participating in the training camp, likely contributing to USA Basketball's decision to invite Class of 2014 standouts Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow.
Though the U.S. team's roster would surely be more stacked if the likes of Andrew and Aaron Harrison or Julius Randle were trying out, the good news is the Americans haven't always needed star power to win.
In 2009, the U.S. captured gold for the first time since 1991 even though its best players were modest talents like Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas), Trey Thompkins (Georgia) and Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh). In retrospect, the guy who has become the best player from that team was Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, and the Washington State wing came off the bench for that team.
The 2011 U.S. team was headlined by UConn standout Jeremy Lamb, Creighton's Doug McDermott, Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr. and Florida's Patric Young. They went 5-1 in the prelims but crashed out of medal contention with a quarterfinal loss to unheralded Russia, an upset highlighted by the U.S. zero made 3-pointers.
It will be up to 12 of the players from the above list to avenge that loss. It's not the most high-profile group the U.S. could have assembled, but the talent is still there for a gold medal run.
Earlier this week, former Memphis big man Tarik Black revealed he'll transfer to Kansas for the 2013-14 season. Now the other impact Tigers transfer appears to be on the verge of announcing where he will play his final season of college basketball.
There's no mystery why Barton chose to leave Memphis: he's in search of more playing time. The 6-foot-2 Baltimore native averaged a career-low 16.7 minutes per game off the bench last season as he was surpassed in the Memphis rotation by fellow guards Joe Jackson, Geron Johnson and Chris Crawford, each of whom are expected to return to the Tigers next season.
It's unclear which of Barton's potential choices should be considered the front runner entering Sunday's announcement, but the one thing each of the schools he has visited has in common is ample playing time available at point guard.
Maryland has been in search of a point guard since Pe'Shon Howard decided to transfer earlier this spring, leaving only sophomore Seth Allen and incoming freshman Roddy Peters with any experience at the position. The Terrapins could be an appealing option for Barton because of the proximity to Barton's hometown of Baltimore and the presence of close friend Nick Faust on the roster.
Tennessee and Kansas State are even more desperate for a point guard than Maryland as a result of the key departures earlier this spring. Angel Rodriguez's surprise transfer in late April deprived the Wildcats of an all-conference point guard, while Trae Golden's dismissal earlier this month leaves the Vols without a single true point guard on their roster.
The connection with Texas A&M stems from associate head coach Glynn Cyprien, who helped recruit both Barton brothers to Memphis. When Cyprien left for Texas A&M after the 2010-11 season, Will Barton expressed his disappointment, first tweeting "Coach Cyp u said u wouldn't" and later adding "That's my guy. I'm happy 4 him just sad."
So in reality, there's reason for all four schools to feel as though they have a realistic shot of landing Barton. On Sunday, he'll reveal which one gets its wish.
Vanderbilt football fans were irate this week over Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy's decision to block quarterback Wes Lunt from transferring to any school in the SEC. Now Commodores basketball coach Kevin Stallings appears to be doing the same thing to a transfer from his own program.
Stallings is blocking rising sophomore forward Sheldon Jeter from transferring to Pitt, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Tuesday. Jeter, a Pennsylvania native, announced Friday he was leaving Vanderbilt to transfer to a school closer to home, citing personal issues as the reason for his departure.
The Jeter family is appealing to Vanderbilt's athletic department to overturn Stallings' ruling, Pantherlair.com reported Tuesday. If Jeter loses that appeal, he can enroll at Pitt and pay tuition for one year before being put on scholarship or he can transfer to a school other than Pitt.
That Stallings would attempt to block Jeter's transfer only reinforces how disappointed the Vanderbilt coach was to lose a key piece of the Commodores' rebuilding efforts. Jeter averaged 5.5 points and 3.4 rebounds as a freshman, showing comfort in the paint and on the perimeter and emerging as a likely starter next season had he remained.
Nonetheless, just because Stallings is frustrated at losing a key player doesn't make it right for him to impede Jeter's quest to find a school that's a better fit, especially if there's no evidence Pittsburgh tampered in this instance. Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan learned this the hard way last year when his attempt to block Jarrod Uthoff's transfer to numerous schools resulted in national outcry.
Stallings is risking taking a public relations hit here as well unless he reverses course.
Just like college coaches leave their programs for higher-profile or better-fitting jobs all the time, college players should be able to do the same.
A little over two years after Tennessee fired Bruce Pearl for lying to NCAA investigators in hopes of covering up a minor violation he committed, the ex-Vols coach apparently doesn't mind some good-natured ribbing about his career-altering mistake.
"Hey TSR, I'm Steven Pearl, and if there's one thing we Pearls know, it's how to throw a barbecue," the younger Pearl begins. Then after lauding the food at Calhoun's, Pearl delivers this hilarious line: "Just remember, my two rules for legendary backyard barbecues – get your food from Calhoun’s and absolutely no photography."
Of course the commercial's most memorable one-liner comes during the legal disclaimer at the end of Pearl's pitch. "Offer not available to Aaron Craft."
It's pretty terrific that Bruce Pearl and his family are able to laugh at themselves over what had to be a traumatic period of their lives.
By compounding a minor mistake with the foolish decision to lie to NCAA investigators, Pearl cost himself a job he had worked hard to attain. By being willing to endure a joke or two at his expense, he has helped Vols fans forgive his mistake and attained the acceptance that could one day help him get back into coaching if he chooses.
Bill Self already landed the nation's most coveted high school recruit last week. Now the Kansas coach has also received a commitment from one of the most prized transfers on the market.
Tarik Black, a 6-foot-9, 260-pound big man who played at Memphis the past three years, has chosen Kansas over Duke, Oregon and Georgetown, among others, CBSSports.com reported Monday. The rising senior has graduated from Memphis and will be eligible immediately for the Jayhawks.
It's a testament to the laws of supply and demand that Black had all these powerhouse programs pursuing him considering he lost his starting job at Memphis last season and averaged a modest 8.1 points and 4.8 rebounds off the bench.
One reason he was in such high demand is there simply weren't many available big men with size and athleticism that teams could plug into their rotation right away. The other is that teams felt he has untapped potential he was never able to fully utilize at Memphis.
Once projected as a potential NBA draft pick early in his college career, Black fell out of favor in Memphis because his production plateaued after his freshman season and he was often foul-prone and inconsistent. His NCAA tournament performance was a microcosm of his Memphis career: 12 points and seven rebounds on perfect 5 of 5 shooting against Saint Mary's in a round of 64 victory gave way to six points, two rebounds and four fouls in a loss to Michigan State two days later.
Nonetheless, Black may yet be a significant addition for Kansas if a change of scenery and Self's history of success developing big men can help.
With all five starters from last season graduating or turning pro and a wealth of young talent set to play immediately, Kansas had a clear-cut need for a veteran big man it can plug into its rotation. Black will team with promising sophomore Perry Ellis, reserve Jamari Traylor and shot-blocking freshman Joel Embiid to form a talented and versatile frontcourt nucleus.
It's a bit surprising Black would choose Kansas over Oregon or Duke simply because those programs appeared to have a greater need for him. The Blue Devils are lacking a true back-to-the-basket big man and Black would only have had to beat out Waverly Austin to start alongside fellow transfer Mike Moser for the Ducks.
Credit Self for being able to persuade him to come to Kansas anyway. Now the Jayhawks are even better positioned to start the season in the preseason top six and to make a run at another Final Four.
George Washington is the latest school to enhance its floor with a design, and credit the Colonials for getting it right. The school announced Monday the floor of the Charles E. Smith Center will include silhouette images of The White House, the Capitol building and the Washington Monument, a subtle yet distinctive design that sends the message to fans and recruits they're watching a Washington D.C. program.
"Unveiling this spectacular new floor design today further emphasizes our campus setting in the heart of D.C.," George Washington athletic director Patrick Nero in a press release. "When people around the world are watching our games, we want them to immediately recognize and understand the university’s unique setting in the middle of the action in this world-class city."
The other unique touch to the floor is the "#RaiseHigh" hashtag behind one of the baselines where the university's name would typically be. The slogan, originally coined during the 2011-12 basketball season, has developed into a campus-wide rallying cry featured on T-shirts and billboards.
Since George Washington's court isn't as gaudy as other new designs have been, it likely won't get the same nation-wide publicity Oregon or FIU did. No matter, though. The classy court design will be a source of pride for years to come.
Some lauded Bello's potential, posting high school highlight reels in which the 6-foot-4 wing showcased an explosive first step to the rim, impressive length and athleticism and an array of high-flying dunks. Others wondered why Missouri would want a player who averaged a modest 2.4 points and 1.4 rebounds last season for a Baylor program that wasn't exactly loaded at the shooting guard and small forward spots.
So, which side of the debate is right? Well, in a lot of ways, both of them.
Bello is a classic boom-or-bust transfer because of his elite talent but lack of production. Missouri has to hope that a change of scenery, more playing time and a year to sit out and develop his game will help Bello tap into the immense potential that made him a top 60 recruit in the Class of 2011.
Hailed as a key piece of Baylor's future when he arrived along with high school teammate Quincy Miller two years ago, Bello made minimal impact in his two seasons in Waco. He averaged just over 10 minutes per game both seasons, occasionally injecting energy with hustle plays and highlight-worthy dunks but shooting too poorly from the free throw line and the perimeter to justify a greater role.
With veterans Brady Heslip and Gary Franklin returning for Baylor and incoming guards Allerik Freeman and Kenny Chery set to contribute right away, it's unlikely Bello would have seen more playing time as a junior. As a result, he announced earlier this month that he was leaving Baylor in search of a school where he'd receive more playing time.
Missouri has become a destination for elite transfers under coach Frank Haith, but the question will be whether the Tigers are the appropriate fit for Bello.
He could have dropped down a level and ensured himself ample opportunity to play for a mid-major program from his native North Carolina. Instead he's risking that he'll develop enough to crack Missouri's lineup as a junior, a starting five that could feature the likes of Tulsa transfer Jordan Clarkson and Oregon transfer Jabari Brown at the wings if both are still around.
Missouri's up-tempo style fits Bello's knack for defending the perimeter and finishing in transition, but he needs to develop a more well-rounded game between now and the end of the summer of 2014.
If he does, his transfer could be a coup for Missouri. If not, he could get lost in the shuffle the same way he did at Baylor.
Midway through a mid-November practice in preparation for his team's matchup with North Carolina later in the week, Long Beach State coach Dan Monson halted a drill to tear into Keala King for his lack of effort.
Monson needed King to go all-out crashing the glass as a member of the scout team to help prepare the rest of the roster for North Carolina's vaunted offensive rebounding prowess. The highly touted Arizona State transfer clearly didn't appreciate the criticism, sniping back at Monson, then making a show of mockingly counting out loud every time he got a rebound the rest of practice, sometimes even when he merely picked the ball up after an opposing player made a basket.
It's a shame for Long Beach State that King and Freeland couldn't behave well enough to remain part of the program because both were talented enough to help the 49ers become a mid-major power on the West Coast. Monson recruited King, Freeland and Jennings to help replace the five ultra-productive seniors who led Long Beach State to a No. 12 seed in the NCAA tournament in 2012.
King, who was averaging a team-high 13.7 points as a sophomore at Arizona State when Herb Sendek sent him packing, has an explosive first step to the rim and excellent size and length for a combo guard. Freeland, a bouncy 6-7 forward who once erupted for 24 points at Georgetown and 25 at Syracuse, had natural ability rarely seen from a forward in the Big West.
Those two teamed with Jennings, standout point guard Mike Caffey and high-scoring wing James Ennis to lead the 49ers to a Big West regular season title and an NIT bid, but the season apparently was never a smooth ride.
Monson frequently publicly questioned his team's attitude and practice habits during the course of the season. The Press-Telegram story also painted a picture of a team that never found a way to mesh the newcomers and the returners, leading to tension, if not outright dissension in the locker room.
The problems were most visible on the floor late in the season as Long Beach State finished with five losses in its final seven games. Among those were a 71-51 rout at Pacific, a maddening Big West semifinal loss to middling UC Irvine and a non-competitive 112-66 meltdown in the opening round of the NIT at eventual champion Baylor.
Even before last season began, Monson appeared to have an inkling his transfer-heavy roster had a boom-or-bust quality to it.
"Our goal is to always challenge in the Big West, and I think the talent is there," Monson told Yahoo! Sports last summer. "There's a lot of individual talent, but is there a team? When you have that many transfers, they came for themselves. They left for personal reasons, they come to you as individuals and they've got to buy into what makes the team successful. So I know there's enough talent to contend and now it's my job to get them on the same page."
Monson wasn't as successful as he hoped to be in accomplishing that goal. Now he's pushing the reset button and hoping to build around Caffey, Jennings and promising incoming class going forward.
It's apparently no accident former Baylor star Brittney Griner didn't publicly reveal she was gay until after her college career ended last month.
Griner told espnW that Baylor women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey requested players not be publicly open about their sexuality out of fear it would affect the perception of the program in the community and negatively impact recruiting.
"It was a recruiting thing," Griner told espnW. "The coaches thought that if it seemed like they condoned it, people wouldn't let their kids come play for Baylor.
"It was just kind of, like, one of those things, you know, just don't do it. They kind of tried to make it, like, 'Why put your business out on the street like that?'"
Griner casually acknowledged she was gay last month during a series of interviews with reporters leading up to the WNBA draft. The No. 1 overall pick of the Phoenix Mercury told reporters her friends and family had known she was gay since her freshman year of high school and it was an open secret among her Baylor coaches and teammates.
That Baylor would discourage gay players from publicly discussing their sexuality is a sad testament to the pervasiveness of homophobia in America and to the pressure on college coaches to win. Mulkey was apparently willing to ask players to hide part of their identity because she couldn't risk alienating a recruit or two who wouldn't be comfortable playing alongside openly gay teammates.
Of course, this issue is far from unique to Baylor in women's college basketball.
In 2007, longtime Penn State coach Rene Portland was forced to resign amid criticism over her longstanding policy that no lesbian would ever play on her team. A 2011 ESPN the Magazine article also revealed how Iowa State and other prominent programs would more subtly market themselves to straight recruits by selling themselves as "family-oriented" and "wholesome." Recruits interviewed in the story perceived the practice as a thinly veiled attack on programs led by unmarried female coaches.
It's a stain on women's college basketball that coaches will go to these lengths in their quest to get top players and that schools will tolerate it.
Hopefully, Griner's revelation can help publicize this issue and increase pressure on coaches not to negatively recruit based on sexual orientation. That way there will be far less reason for Mulkey or her peers ever to insist that players not openly discuss their sexuality again.
New Mexico and Steve Alford have reached a deal on a separation agreement.
Alford and UCLA will pay $300,000 to New Mexico to satisfy a buyout clause in his contract with his former employer. New Mexico had initially demanded a $1 million buyout when Alford was hired by UCLA in late-March.
Alford left New Mexico on March 30 just 12 days after agreeing to a new contract with New Mexico that was scheduled to take effect on April 1. Alford maintained that he was not responsible for the $1 million buyout in that new deal because he was hired by UCLA before it went into effect.
New Mexico argued that because Alford didn't provide 30 days notice of his departure as required by both his contracts at New Mexico, he was responsible for the $1 million.
New Mexico reported Friday a $625,000 net benefit to the school in its separation with Alford. That figure includes bonuses that Alford had previously agreed to forgo.
Want to join the conversation? Follow @YahooDagger on Twitter and @KyleRingo and be sure to "Like" The Dagger on Facebook for basketball conversations and stuff you won't see on the blog.
Ben McLemore is under no obligation to speak to NCAA investigators since he no longer plays for Kansas, but the future NBA lottery pick appears willing to cooperate anyway.
In an interview at the NBA draft combine in Chicago on Thursday, McLemore told SI.com if NCAA investigators want to chat about alleged payments an agent made to his former AAU coach, he'd be willing to meet with them.
"I would tell them the truth and tell them what I know, and just cooperate with them," McLemore said. "Hopefully they'll cooperate with me and hear my side."
McLemore's side appears to be that he knew nothing about the $10,000 cash and gifts AAU coach Darius Cobb admitted to USA Today he accepted from a runner this spring in return for steering the talented shooting guard toward certain agents. If he reiterates that stance to investigators and they find no proof to the contrary, it will put the NCAA in a difficult position as it tries to determine the punishment.
On one hand, the money Cobb acknowledged taking did not benefit Kansas in the least since it had nothing to do with McLemore choosing the Jayhawks two years prior. At the same time, the payments rendered McLemore ineligible based on the letter of the NCAA rulebook, which means Kansas could be punished and perhaps even have to vacate the wins it achieved after Cobb allegedly began accepting cash and gifts.
McLemore seems intent on doing everything he can to clear his name and that of Kansas. He told SI.com he has not spoken to Cobb since learning of the payments and he was hurt that Cobb would jeopardize his reputation by accepting money.
"I hope it don't affect Kansas because there's so much tradition there," McLemore told SI.com "I don't want to be one of those guys that can't be allowed to come back."
The release of the Big Ten's unbalanced schedule earlier this week undoubtedly inspired different reactions from various fan bases.
They were smiling in Madison. They were cringing in Iowa City.
Wisconsin caught a huge break only playing Big Ten contenders Michigan State and Ohio State once apiece, both at home, a coup for a Badgers team 0-8 in the Breslin Center since 2004 and 9-1 at home against the Buckeyes since 2001. The advantage is tempered a bit by also getting perennial bottom feeders Nebraska and Penn State once as well, but not going to East Lansing or Columbus should enable Wisconsin to contend for yet another top four Big Ten finish.
Iowa is positioned to rise in the Big Ten pecking order after returning the core of a NIT finalist, but schedule makers did the Hawkeyes no favors giving them all the league's top teams twice apiece. The four teams Iowa faces once are rebuilding Nebraska, mediocre Purdue and Penn State and an Indiana program likely to take a step or two backward after the departure of Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford.
Unbalanced schedules are necessary in the 12-team Big Ten because schools favor an 18-game league schedule over a 22-game round-robin format. As a result, Big Ten schools play seven conference opponents twice and faces the remaining four only once.
The other disadvantage to the format is it fails to guarantee rivalry games will be played twice each year. Next season, for example, Michigan and Ohio State will only meet in Columbus and Indiana and Purdue will only meet in West Lafayette.
When the Big Ten adds Rutgers and Maryland in time for the 2014-15 season, this is a problem league officials should consider addressing. It's worth guaranteeing every team in the league two games against its chief rival so that this predicament doesn't become more common in the future.
“We’re going to play,” Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart told the paper. “We’re going to continue the basketball series.”
Meanwhile, several outlets reported that the Memphis Commercial Appeal has told its readers that while scheduling has been discussed between the two schools, there is no deal.
Memphis coach Josh Pastner can't be happy if he is going to have to play the Vols again.
Pastner made it clear last season he doesn't like playing the Vols because doing so every two years in Memphis boosts Tennessee's recruiting presence in the city and hurts Pastner's chances of keeping some of the elite players Memphis produces at home for school.
"When we're done with them (this year), it's over," Pastner told the Commercial Appeal early this year prior to the last scheduled game in the series, which Memphis won.
The Knoxville News asked Pastner about the agreement this week and Pastner said he stands by decisions made by Memphis AD Tom Bowen.
Memphis is changing conferences moving out of Conference USA and into the American Athletic Conference, which has myriad scheduling issues to work out. The Memphis-Tennessee series announcement probably won't come until the new leagues gets its conference scheduling ironed out.
Want to join the conversation? Follow @YahooDagger on Twitter and @KyleRingo and be sure to "Like" The Dagger on Facebook for basketball conversations and stuff you won't see on the blog.
Rick Pitino appears to have adopted an NHL mentality after winning the national championship last month. Just as they do in hockey with the Stanley Cup, Pitino has taken the national championship trophy along on a few adventures.
The latest was a trip to Florida to celebrate his daughter Jacqueline's 21st birthday. Pitino, his daughter and several friends posed for the picture above in Fort Lauderdale at Cafe Martorano.(h/t busted coverage.com)
Pitino also took the trophy on a recent trip to the Bahamas where he caught an 80-pound marlin. It's good to be Pitino these days and it's fun to see him enjoying the spoils of victory. Most Pitino's peers would probably have the trophy locked away in some glass case by now.
Want to join the conversation? Follow @YahooDagger on Twitter and @KyleRingo and be sure to "Like" The Dagger on Facebook for basketball conversations and stuff you won't see on the blog.
In addition to becoming the winningest Division I basketball coach in history in 2011, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski had bragging rights over his peers in at least one other respect.
He was very, very well paid.
Krzyzewski made nearly $9.7 million in total compensation during the 2011 calendar year, USA Today reported Wednesday after reviewing the Duke coach's federal tax return recently filed by the school. That is the highest single-year salary for a college basketball or football coach since the newspaper began tracking compensation in 2006, topping the $8.9 million Louisville coach Rick Pitino received in 2010-11.
Krzyzewski’s base salary in 2011 was $1,978,401, but the rest of his total income came from several sources. He earned $5,642,574 in bonus and incentive compensation and $1,982,097 in retirement and other deferred compensation. There was also $59,616 for "other reportable compensation" such as charter travel for family and friends and $19,344 from non-taxable benefits.
USA Today reported Krzyzewski earned more than $7.2 million in the 2010 calendar year and nearly $4.7 million in 2009. Assessing why Krzyzewski's annual compensation more than doubled in two years is tough because private schools typically decline to make their contracts available to reporters.
It's also difficult to compare salaries across sports due to differences in accounting methods. Nonetheless, here's a look at how Krzyzewski's total compensation in 2011 compares to the highest paid coaches in major sports today.
Highest paid soccer coach: José Mourinho (Real Madrid) Salary: $19.7 million per year Source: Sports Business Daily
Highest paid NFL coach: Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints) Salary: $8 million per year Source: ESPN.com
Highest paid NBA coach: Doc Rivers (Boston Celtics) Salary: $7 million per year Source: Yahoo! Sports
Highest paid college football coach: Nick Saban (Alabama) Salary: $5.3 million per year Source: Forbes
Highest paid MLB coach: Mike Scioscia (Los Angeles Angels) Salary: $5 million per year Source: FoxSports.com
The billboard stands along U.S. Route 52 in Winston Salem, a monument to the anger and discontentment many Wake Forest fans feel after Ron Wellman gave Bzdelik a fourth season to turn around the program even though he's just 34-60 in his first three. The top line of the billboard features the hashtags #BuzzOut and #FireWellman and the message below that reads "Demand Accountability, Rewake the Nation."
Brian Stratton, a Wake Forest fan who has been vocal in his displeasure with Bzdelik, explained to WXII-TV that he believes the billboard is necessary because Wellman has alienated the fan base with his allegiance to the coach. Stratton elaborated further on Wednesday in a Facebook post to the Fire Jeff Bzdelik group, noting that fans have sent hundreds of emails, placed dozens of phone calls and tried every possible way to convey they want the embattled coach gone.
"To date, we haven't received a single reply from Wellman, the athletic department, or the administration," Stratton wrote. "This is very odd considering that 90 percent of the fan base wants Bzdelik gone. It's even more insulting given the fact that Wellman wants us to donate to the Deacon Club, renew season tickets, and help fund the cost of buying and renevating the Joel.
"All would have been forgiven had he done the right thing and fired Bzdelik at the end of the year, however, he boxed us into a corner and we had to take the next step. Ron Wellman has clearly brought this on himself and needs to be relieved of his duties."
Bzdelik was an unpopular hire in 2010 when Wellman plucked him from Colorado after he went 36-58 in three seasons in Boulder and never finished higher than eighth in the Big 12. The complaints have only grown louder during his Wake Forest tenure thanks to an 11-42 record in ACC play and a flurry of losses to small-conference foes in the non-league portion of the schedule.
Wellman's defense of Bzdelik's lack of success at Wake Forest is that the coach's primary responsibility his first two seasons was to cut loose some holdovers from the previous regime and rebuild the character of the program. Six ACC wins including a victory over league champion Miami this past season also give Wellman some incremental progress to help keep the detractors at bay.
"Jeff has done everything we asked him to do when he first came here," Wellman told WXII in late March. "He has made every decision for the longterm benefit and wellbeing of our program. He has recruited well. We've got a group of freshmen who have much promise for the future."
For the sake of Wellman, Bzdelik and the Wake Forest program, that promising future better arrive sooner than later. Otherwise expect the billboards, T-shirts and newspaper ads to pop up more frequently and the cries of protest to only get louder.
Davis, who averaged 17.6 points and 10.7 boards at Tulane last season, is a versatile player capable of rebounding, defending multiple positions and scoring with his back to the basket or by attacking the rim. He has graduated from Tulane and will be eligible to play his final year of eligibility next season for San Diego State.
"I think San Diego State is a really good fit for him," Athens Drive High School coach Robert Clemons said. "Gonzaga was really high on his list too. It came down to either or and I think he just liked San Diego State a little bit better."
Originally a North Carolina State signee under Sidney Lowe, Davis transferred to Tulane after a freshman season in which he played only 10.4 minutes per game for the Wolfpack. The Raleigh native became an impact player for the Green Wave, playing either forward position the past two years and even some center and helping lead the team to a 20-15 record last season.
Davis considered staying at Tulane and turning pro, but ultimately he decided his best option would be playing his final year of college basketball on a bigger stage than the Green Wave could provide. Numerous high-major schools expressed interest since he was coming off an impressive season and would be eligible immediately, but San Diego State was ultimately Davis' top choice.
Clemons said Davis felt comfortable with the San Diego State coaching staff and liked that the Aztecs will have ample playing time available to him. It also probably didn't hurt that Fisher has been successful with athletic, active, versatile forwards in the past at San Diego State, from Billy White, to Kawhi Leonard, to Franklin.
With Franklin, Chase Tapley and James Rahon all departing from a team that made the round of 32 of the NCAA tournament last season but at times struggled to score, San Diego State desperately needed a proven scorer to to contend in the Mountain West. Davis can't resuscitate the Aztecs' offense by himself, but he certainly should help a lot.
In dire need of perimeter scoring, veteran leadership and another ball handler, Indiana added a player who can help in all those areas.
Arizona State transfer Evan Gordon announced Wednesday morning that he has chosen the Hoosiers over Butler. The younger brother of former Indiana star Eric Gordon has graduated from Arizona State and will be eligible to play his lone season with the Hoosiers immediately.
Gordon became a priority for Indiana coach Tom Crean as a result of the departure of backcourt standouts Victor Oladipo and Jordan Hulls as well as reserves Remy Abell and Maurice Creek. Yogi Ferrell returns at point guard and Will Sheehey will move into the starting lineup at small forward, but the addition of Gordon enables Crean to go with a veteran at shooting guard instead of throwing an incoming freshman into the lineup before he's ready.
Expectations for Gordon's lone season at Indiana need to be realistic, however, because he's not going to conjure memories of Oladipo. The 6-foot-1 combo guard averaged 10.1 points per game playing alongside Jahii Carson at Arizona State last season, but he shot 39.1 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from behind the arc.
What Gordon can do is play solid defense, aid Ferrell and Sheehey in providing leadership for a young team and assume ball handling responsibilities whenever Ferrell needs a rest. That's probably not going to elevate this Indiana team into Big Ten title contention alongside Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State, but it will help the Hoosiers contend for an upper half of the league finish and an NCAA bid.
In addition to whatever Gordon provides Indiana on the court this season, he could also help Crean on the recruiting trail.
Gordon's younger brother, Eron Gordon, is one of the most coveted players in the Class of 2016. If the elder Gordon has a good experience in Bloomington, that can only strengthen the Hoosiers' ties with the younger sibling.
For Texas fans to stop bemoaning their recent run of football mediocrity long enough to pay attention to basketball, the Longhorns either have to be contending for Final Fours or enduring uncharacteristic struggles.
Unfortunately for coach Rick Barnes, right now it's the latter.
On the heels of a disappointing season in which Texas missed the NCAA tournament for the first time in Barnes' 15-year tenure, the line of players leaving the program in search of a fresh start continues to grow more crowded. Starting guard Julien Lewis, the program's leading 3-point shooter last season, became the fourth underclassman to leave since March when Texas revealed Tuesday that he will transfer.
The departure of Lewis means a Texas team that already shot 29.7 percent from behind the arc a year ago and 41.3 percent overall now will have to replace its three leading scorers. Sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo entered the NBA draft despite missing the first 23 games of last season due to NCAA eligibility issues and promising sophomore wing Sheldon McClellan announced in late March he intends to transfer.
The responsibility of providing perimeter scoring punch likely would have fallen to Lewis with Kabongo and McClellan gone, but an increased role apparently wasn't enough to keep the rising junior in Austin. Already there are reports Lewis will likely join former Texas assistant Rodney Terry at Fresno State.
Texas appears to be floating the idea that some of the transfers were mutual and could be addition by subtraction, but it's difficult to get behind that concept considering the lack of proven players on next season's roster.
Point guard Javan Felix showed flashes of promise filling in for Kabongo as a freshman, but Demarcus Holland is the lone returning shooting guard, a bit of a misnomer for a defensive-minded player who sank only 8 of 46 threes last season. Young big men Jonathan Holmes, Connor Lammert and Cameron Ridley are also expected back, but each of them need to make major strides during the offseason.
Of greater longterm concern for the Longhorns is that the elite recruiting classes Barnes once annually landed haven't been as common recently. None of Barnes' four signees for next season ranked in the top 100 of the Rivals 150 and the Longhorns were non-factors in the recruitment of highly touted Kentucky-bound Texas products Julius Randle and Aaron and Andrew Harrison.
The pressure will be on Barnes to show progress either on the floor or the recruiting trail in the near future because an oft-apathetic Texas basketball fan base is starting to become frustrated with him.
Since a co-Big 12 title and an Elite Eight run in 2008, Texas hasn't advanced past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament and it has finished higher than a tie for fourth in the Big 12 only once. The Longhorns were fortunate to slip into the NCAA tournament in 2012 and they were all but out of contention by the start of conference play this past year.
There's a good chance next season will bring more of the same.
Whereas Big 12 rivals Kansas, Oklahoma State and Baylor have gotten stronger in recent weeks with the addition of impact recruits or the return of key underclassmen, Texas is losing players in droves and doesn't seem to be in position to compete.
Much like the games in the Big 12/Pac-10 series were annually spread over the course of a month, next season's Big 12-SEC challenge games span a six-week window from Nov. 14 to Dec. 21. Spacing the games so far apart hampers the event's chances of creating early-season buzz because only the most hardcore fans will even realize all 10 of the games are part of a challenge between the two leagues.
The only way a series between two leagues can truly capture the attention of fans is if the format is similar to the highly successful ACC-Big Ten Challenge, a battle for bragging rights that spans only two days. The Big 12's release announcing the event mentions that scheduling conflicts were the reason the event is so spread out next season and pledges to work with ESPN to schedule the games across consecutive days in the future.
Hopefully schools in both leagues commit to juggling their future schedules and making this event a two-day blockbuster because it does have potential if it's organized properly. The other problem with the inaugural version, however, is the matchups don't seem to have been chosen with much imagination.
Besides a potential top 10 showdown between Kansas and Florida and an already existing neutral-court game between Kentucky and Baylor, the rest of the slate is far from inspiring. Some of that is a result of the weakness of the bottom half of both leagues, but some of it is also a product of poor matchup choices.
Why is Big 12 title contender Oklahoma State hosting rebuilding South Carolina when it could have drawn an NCAA tournament contender like Ole Miss, Tennessee or Alabama? Send Frank Martin's Gamecocks to play his former team, Kansas State, and give Marshall Henderson and the Rebels a chance to try to shoot down the Cowboys.
One of the other factors that held back the Pac-10/Big 12 series was the insistence of the leagues that the same teams play each other in back-to-back years to make it easier to give each school one home game and one road game. Organizers lacked the flexibility to create the most appealing matchups each year because teams who were contenders one season often weren't the next.
It seems for now the Big 12 and SEC have avoided falling into that trap again. Perhaps in year two they'll clean up some of the other format issues so that their annual event can reach its full potential.
It turned the lone reporter allowed in Huntington Prep's gym on Tuesday afternoon into an instant must-follow for diehard college hoops fans.
Grant Traylor, who covers Marshall Athletics and high school sports for the Huntington Herald Dispatch, had a modest 1,962 Twitter followers Sunday when he went to cover the NCAA tournament selection show party for the Thundering Herd softball team. Once Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford revealed Sunday night that Traylor would be the only reporter in the building for Wiggins' announcement, however, that number began to mushroom.
It reached 8,100 by Monday morning. It reached 10,400 by Monday night. And minutes before Wiggins revealed Tuesday at 12:09 p.m. EST that he was headed to Kansas, Traylor had more than 17,800 followers, roughly nine times the number he had less than 48 hours earlier.
That Traylor was the lone reporter in the room when Wiggins made his long-awaited announcement was no accident. The 29-year-old has diligently covered Fulford's efforts to transform Huntington Prep into one of the most successful prep school basketball program's in the nation.
"He and I have had a good working relationship for the last few years," Traylor told the Tallahassee Democrat on Monday. "I guess I was one of the first people that recognized the level of talent he was bringing in and tried to spread the word. That earned me that trust."
Other media outlets sent reporters to Huntington to interview Wiggins and his family after the announcement, but security kept them out of the gym until everything was over. Tweeted Louisville Courier-Journal reporter Adam Himmelsbach: "A couple of policemen standing watch outside entrance to St. Joe's. I asked if they'd ever had to guard a college decision before. 'Uh, no.'"
The brief moment in the national spotlight probably won't last too long for Traylor, who displayed a great sense of humor as his Twitter following began to shrink within minutes of Wiggins' announcement being over.
Lets hope the stock market doesn't fall like my Twitter follower count. #ThePlunge — Grant Traylor (@GrantTraylor) May 14, 2013
Related college basketball video from Yahoo! Sports:
The most anticipated announcement in many years in college basketball recruiting took place Tuesday afternoon in a manner befitting the quiet, intensely private prospect who was making it.
There were no ESPN cameras present to document Andrew Wiggins' college decision, nor was there a live feed of a press conference broadcast over the internet. In fact, besides Wiggins' classmates, family and coaches, the only other person allowed in the gym at Huntington Prep was a lone reporter from the local newspaper, the Huntington Herald-Dispatch.
That small group of onlookers witnessed Wiggins reveal a decision that has been the subject of endless speculation for months among everyone from college coaches to reporters to fans on social media. The top-ranked recruit in the Class of 2013 announced he will attend Kansas for what will probably be his lone year of college, choosing the the Jayhawks over Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida State.
Kansas had as much at stake of any of Wiggins' suitors because landing the ultra-talented 6-foot-7 forward may elevate the Jayhawks from a borderline preseason top 20 team to one capable of reaching another Final Four.
Even though Kansas is losing all five starters from a team that won the Big 12 and reached the Sweet 16 last season, the addition of Wiggins to an already deep recruiting class ensures the Jayhawks can reload instead of rebuild. An explosive athlete and gifted scorer with ideal size and length for the small forward position, Wiggins is the type of player who could ease the burden on the rest of his young teammates by carrying Kansas offensively for long stretches.
Suddenly, new starting point guard Naadir Tharpe doesn't have to work as hard to initiate the offense and can focus on making sound decisions. Suddenly, promising sophomore forward Perry Ellis doesn't have to be the No. 1 scoring option and can remain a complementary scorer. And suddenly, McDonald's All-American Wayne Selden and the rest of the freshmen can ease their way into their college careers instead of being needed to emerge as impact players immediately.
That Wiggins chose Kansas is a tremendous coup for a Jayhawks program that had to make up ground late to land him. Though the proximity of older brother Nick Wiggins at Wichita State probably helped Bill Self's cause, he still didn't have as many advantages as some of Wiggins' other suitors had.
Both Wiggins' parents were star athletes at Florida State, his best friend, guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes, will play for the Seminoles next year and Coach Leonard Hamilton had been recruiting him longer than anyone else. Kentucky also had pursued Wiggins longer than Kansas did and tried to sell him on the chance to be the centerpiece of maybe the most decorated recruiting class ever.
What's most amazing about Wiggins' recruitment is his decision remained a secret until he revealed his college choice despite intense public interest.
Older brother Nick Wiggins said at the Final Four he gets asked where Andrew is going to school at least a few times a day. Host mother Lesley Thomas had to ask her kids to stop asking Wiggins about it because she wanted her house to be a safe zone. And Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford has sometimes had to turn off his phone or screen his calls because he has been bombarded with so many questions about Wiggins.
All the digging by fans, friends and reporters led to few answers. Not only were the college coaches in question in the dark about his decision Tuesday morning, even those in his inner circle were left guessing until he sat down alongside his family at a table in his high school gym and shared that he intended to be a Jayhawk.
Once Wiggins made his announcement and the stress of a laborious decision-making process was finally off his shoulders, those in the room with him said he smiled as wide and carefree as they had seen him in a longtime.
Only in Lawrence, Kansas were the grins any bigger.
Having determined his team's most glaring weakness next season was likely to be outside shooting, newly hired Marist coach Jeff Bower began asking around last month to see if any of his friends knew of a perimeter marksman still on the market.
One name he got in response left him especially intrigued.
A prep school coach told Bower about a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Southern California once viewed as a high-major prospect before a back injury sidelined him for most of his junior and senior seasons. Bower watched film of Nick Colletta from his sophomore year at Glendora High School and scouted him in person at a Las Vegas AAU tournament a couple weeks ago, both of which left him surprised no other Division I schools were showing any interest.
"You never get overzealous too quickly and you're always trying to be as reserved as you can, but Nick really did fit every criteria I laid out as far as if I wanted to use a scholarship this spring," Bower said. "Obviously this time of year, you understand the challenges of finding someone in the mold of what you're looking for. With Nick, we really liked how he shot the ball, how he played the game, his competitive instinct and his ability to make plays."
A little-known Metro Atlantic Conference program on the other side of the country once may not have interested Colletta, but his outlook had changed dramatically over the previous two years.
Phone calls and letters from Division I coaches gradually became less and less frequent during his injury-plagued junior season until by the start of his senior year no schools were recruiting him at all. Before Bower and his staff began showing interest in late April, Colletta's plan for this spring was to showcase himself on the AAU circuit to prep schools and enroll at whichever one offered the best platform to drum up interest from college coaches the following year.
A handful of conversations with Bower and a visit to the Marist campus during the first week of May led Colletta to scrap that plan. He committed to the Red Foxes on Wednesday and faxed his letter of intent Monday afternoon once he and his parents determined they were comfortable with him attending school on the East Coast.
"This kind of came out of nowhere," Colletta said. "I knew the chances of getting a scholarship offer weren't great this spring considering it was so late in the process, so I was already applying to prep schools before Marist came along. I loved the campus, I loved the team and I loved the coaches. It seems like it's going to be a good fit for me, so it's definitely a relief for this to happen."
It wasn't long ago that it seemed Colletta would have his choice of colleges rather than having to wait for a lucky break.
Twenty Division I programs including most of the Pac-12 were already recruiting Colletta after a sophomore season in which he averaged 24 points and eight rebounds for a storied Glendora program that has won four section titles under coach Mike Leduc. He ran bigger defenders off screens to create space for jump shots and took smaller defenders into the post, emerging as one of the premier scorers in the Los Angeles area.
Everything changed entering Colletta's junior year when his back flared up for the first time. Not only did he experience constant stiffness and soreness in his lower back and occasional shooting pain down his legs, Colletta also couldn't bend or move quickly without exacerbating the discomfort.
Since doctors initially diagnosed Colletta only with back spasms, he tried to play through the pain. Two games into his junior season, the discomfort was too great, so he sat out for a month. Two more games after Christmas didn't go any better. Even after shutting it down for the rest of the season and only doing light training to strengthen his core the first two months of spring, Colletta's back still wasn't getting any better.
"When I didn't know if I was going to be healthy again, there were certain points where I was ready to quit basketball," Colletta said. "I knew it was something serious and I realized something wasn't right, but I was frustrated the doctors couldn't figure out what it was."
Only after Colletta went to see a fourth doctor last year did someone finally identify the real source of his pain: two fractures in his lower back. Even though the injury required Colletta to sit out another nine months and miss the all-important summer viewing period and his entire senior season, the diagnosis was comforting to him in a way because it represented hope that he'd again be healthy enough to play basketball.
Colletta channeled his frustration at not playing as a senior into getting himself into the best shape possible for the spring AAU circuit.
In November, he began lifting weights. In January, he started running more and doing conditioning drills to regain his stamina. And throughout the whole process, he kept shooting day after day, first just honing his form and later with jump shots and movement.
It took Colletta until late April to regain his basketball shape and get comfortable shooting against live defenders, but to his delight his back problems gradually dissipated and doctors expressed confidence they would not return. As a result, he was able to serve as an effective spot-up shooter for his talent-laden AAU team this spring, a role he was even better suited for after his hiatus because of the work he'd put in to improve his stroke.
"My game was a lot more perimeter-oriented because driving to the basket still didn't feel natural to me yet," Colletta said. "I was doing the things that I felt confident in, which was play hard defense, rebound and catch and shoot. I really feel like I never lose confidence in my jump shot now just because it's so natural to me at this point. It's completely mindless. Shooting is what I did for a year straight."
Perhaps at some point Colletta will regain his ability to absorb contact in the lane and finish at the rim, but for right now his catch-and-shoot capability fits Marist's needs. Bower would be thrilled if the forgotten recruit he landed in mid-May was simply able to knock down perimeter jumpers, play solid defense and make some of the coaches who lost contact with him regret allowing him to slip off their radar.
"Somebody who scored 24 points a game at a good high school program as a sophomore is someone who typically has a lot of options in front of them in the future," Bower said. "His ability to perform at that level in the past is something we think he'll be able to do in the future."
In 2010, fresh off a season in which he averaged 15.1 points per game and earned Sun Belt Conference freshman of the year honors, guard Brandon Reed bolted from Arkansas State in favor of higher-profile Georgia Tech.
Three years later, however, Reed is pulling the unusual move of retracing his steps.
Reed will transfer back to Arkansas State this fall for his final year of eligibility after losing his starting job at Georgia Tech midway through last season. He is on pace to complete a sociology degree at Georgia Tech this summer and would be eligible immediately at Arkansas State next season.
"We are excited about Brandon rejoining our program and enrolling in our master’s degree program,” said Arkansas State coach John Brady said in a statement released by the school. "He brings leadership, experience, and an ability to score the basketball. His family and I have visited in depth about this move and we all believe it will benefit all involved."
Though a player transferring twice in his college career has become more common since the NCAA began granting graduates immediate eligibility, it's still unusual for someone to return for a second stint where he originally began.
What makes Reed's situation even more unusual is the acrimonious nature of his original departure from Arkansas State. Clearly fed up with losing a promising freshman who he offered a scholarship when many of his peers passed, Brady initially didn't want to grant a release to Reed and later lashed out at him publicly for not showing more loyalty.
"Arkansas State gave [Reed] an opportunity to play at a high level and put him in a system that allowed him to showcase his talent and prove himself as a player in his first year of Division I basketball," Brady said in 2010. "We gave him a scholarship when other schools that saw him did not. It is a situation that really disappoints me, upsets me, is not right and does not sit well with me."
Just like you wouldn't expect a Sun Belt coach to turn down an offer from an ACC program, you can't expect a Sun Belt player to do the same. On the other hand, just like a Sun Belt coach sometimes isn't a good fit in the ACC, Reed eventually saw his role diminish because younger guards whom second-year Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory recruited eventually overtook him in the rotation.
Reed averaged 6.4 points per game in 21.2 minutes per game in two seasons at Georgia Tech. Against all odds, he's heading back where he started, and he'll likely put up much bigger numbers than that.
When newly hired New Mexico coach Craig "Noodles" Neal pulled into his driveway following his introductory press conference last month, he found his son waiting inside the house to chat with him.
Cullen Neal told his dad he wanted to back out of the letter of intent he signed with Saint Mary's and play at New Mexico, which forced the elder Neal to do something few coaches ever do: Try to talk a top recruit out of committing on the spot.
"I had to take off my coaching hat for a second and play the role of dad," Craig Neal said. "I wanted to give him my expectations of him, have him look at the pluses and minuses of it and allow him to get feedback from other people on what it's like to play for your dad. It's a weird thing because he's a really good player who can help the program the next four years, but I wanted to make sure he didn't make the decision on emotion."
Before Craig would allow Cullen to make a choice, he took his son to the Final Four in Atlanta to speak with other father-son duos about the experience of playing for dad or coaching their kid. Cullen chatted with Valparaiso's Bryce Drew, Creighton's Greg McDermott and Oklahoma's Lon Kruger and exchanged texts with Doug McDermott, each of whom described the father-son dynamic as challenging at times but also rewarding.
That Cullen reaffirmed his desire to come to New Mexico after returning from Atlanta is a coup for a Lobos program suddenly in need of depth on the perimeter. With junior Tony Snell turning pro, junior Demetrius Walker transferring and incoming freshman Bryce Alford opting to follow his dad to UCLA, immediate playing time should be available to Cullen next season behind guards Kendall Williams and Hugh Greenwood.
"I'm really excited about my decision," Cullen said. "I wanted to do a lot of research and my dad knew a lot of guys who had been through it. They gave me a bunch of great advice. They told me playing for your dad is going to have its ups and downs that you have to work through but that it's going to be the best experience of my life. They said they wouldn't want to do anything else."
The most unusual part of Cullen playing for his dad at New Mexico is it will be the first time the elder Neal has ever coached his son. Whereas many dads get this milestone out of the way when their son is in grade school, Craig Neal was content to just be a dad in the stands when Cullen was a kid and could not coach Cullen because of NCAA rules once he became a recruitable prospect.
Though Cullen never played for his dad, he certainly benefited from growing up in a basketball-oriented family.
From attending New Mexico practices and walk-throughs the past six years, to tagging along on recruiting trips, to watching game film, Cullen received his basketball education from his dad. The knowledge aided Cullen on the floor as he developed an excellent feel for the game and a high basketball IQ to go along with good size for a combo guard and deep range out to behind the 3-point arc.
"I think you can see my dad's impact in my game," Cullen said. "When I was younger, I wanted to go to practice every day and watch every game film with him. That helped out a lot."
As Cullen emerged as one of the two best players in the state of New Mexico midway through his high school career, it seemed like a natural fit that he'd become a Lobos standout one day. The trouble was New Mexico had a glut of guards in the program and the state's other best player was Bryce Alford, the son of New Mexico coach Steve Alford and a fellow guard whose cerebral, high-scoring game was very, very similar to Cullen's.
Since Craig Neal and Steve Alford were longtime best friends and Bryce and Cullen were very close as well, the competition between the two high school stars always remained amicable. Nonetheless, it stung Cullen when it became clear Steve Alford was going to take Bryce at New Mexico, leading the elder Neal to advise his son to look for another school where playing time would be available more quickly.
"He didn't talk about it much, but I think it was really hard for him to hear that," Craig Neal said. "At the time, it wasn't in Cullen's best interest to come to New Mexico because Bryce and him were so similar and because we just had so many guards. It was going to be very hard for both Bryce and Cullen to come here and be happy because only one of them would be able to play right away."
Eventually Cullen moved on and sought out an out-of-state program that appeared to be a better fit. He chose Saint Mary's because he developed a good relationship with coach Randy Bennett and because the Gaels had a history of developing elite point guards, from Patrick Mills, to Mickey McConnell, to Matthew Dellavedova.
The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Neal was all set to go to Saint Mary's and perhaps become the heir apparent to Dellavedova until UCLA hired Alford away from New Mexico at the end of March. Craig knew Alford was in talks with UCLA for about 48 hours before his departure became official, but he and Cullen didn't discuss the potential ramifications at that point because it wasn't clear who the next coach of the Lobos would be.
Having been passed over the previous spring by Colorado State and the year before that by his alma mater, Georgia Tech, Craig Neal knew better than to assume he'd be New Mexico's top choice once Alford left. Only after Alford publicly campaigned for his best friend to get the job and Lobos players wore homemade "UNM HIRE NOODLES" T-shirts around campus did New Mexico administrators decide to value continuity and make the elder Neal their permanent hire.
"It was humbling and very overwhelming the support I got from the community, from Steve and also from the players," the elder Neal said. "I tried to get the job at Georgia Tech, where I played, and I tried to get the Colorado State job, but it just didn't work out. I definitely feel fortunate my patience paid off and I get to coach at a place I really like."
Since New Mexico administrators didn't reveal they were hiring Neal until the day before his press conference, Cullen and his dad didn't seriously discuss the possibility of him becoming a Lobo until after the hire became official. It was only then that Cullen brought it up with his father, that Craig told him to do his research and that the two of them came to the mutual decision it was best for both their family and the program.
The only person it clearly wouldn't be good for was Bennett, which made for a difficult phone call for Cullen. The Saint Mary's coach hated losing a player of Cullen's caliber so impossibly late in the recruiting process, but he certainly wasn't going to stand in the way of a son playing for his father.
"It was probably the toughest conversation of my life," Cullen said. "I had built a great relationship with Coach Bennett. He was very understanding. He was upset, but then again who wouldn't be? He was really good through the whole thing."
Now that the decision-making process is finally over and Cullen will be remaining in Albuquerque, he's looking forward to playing for his dad. He knows the transition may be rough at first, but he told his father he only has one expectation.
"I'm fine with him getting on me, but the big thing is I want him to be a father off the court and a coach on the court," Cullen said.
For the first time in his life, Craig Neal will get to fill both those roles – and he can't wait.
Still reeling from last month's player abuse scandal that cost coach Mike Rice and athletic director Tim Pernetti their jobs and resulted in a handful of transfers, the beleaguered Rutgers basketball program is again in the news for the wrong reasons.
In a statement released late Friday night, Rutgers defended Jordan, insisting that he hadn't claimed to have a degree on the resume he submitted and that school officials had made the error of referring to him as a graduate. The statement also said coaches at Rutgers are not required to be college graduates, though curiously, a posting for an assistant coach opening on Jordan's staff states the job "requires a bachelor's degree."
That Rutgers stood behind Jordan is probably a wise move under the circumstances. Neither the school nor the basketball program can afford more instability at this point. Plus, the bigger this story became, the more it would lead to questions about whether school officials did their due diligence when they looked into Jordan before hiring him.
Had Jordan claimed a degree he did not have, history suggests his job could have been in jeopardy.
It seems likely in this case that Jordan won't face similar consequences.
When Jordan arrived at Rutgers, he was celebrated as a new coach who could help the basketball program heal from the scars left by Rice. He may yet be the right man for that job, but the process is now off to a bumpy start.
Royal chose George Mason over Vanderbilt, opting to reunite with coach Paul Hewitt, who initially recruited him to Georgia Tech two years ago. The 6-foot-8 rising junior will sit out next season and have two years of eligibility remaining once he's allowed to play again in 2014.
The addition of Royal could be a coup for a George Mason program looking to upgrade its roster so it can contend once it joins the Atlantic 10 this fall. Royal put up modest stats in two seasons at Georgia Tech, but the question is whether the former consensus top 100 recruit suffered from being overhyped or underutilized.
Expected to consider asking out of his letter of intent when Georgia Tech fired Hewitt and replaced him with Brian Gregory two years ago, Royal instead chose to honor his commitment to the Yellowjackets. He averaged 16 minutes per game in 3o games as a freshman, but the arrival of promising Robert Carter last year and the return of Daniel Miller and Kammeon Holsey shuffled Royal to fourth in a three-man frontcourt rotation.
What will determine whether Royal is a shrewd gamble for George Mason is whether Hewitt can tap into the potential the young forward showed when he was the Georgia state player of the year as a high school senior.
A face-up forward comfortable from the perimeter and in the paint, Royal is a potential mismatch in the guard-heavy Atlantic 10. It's not a great sign that he was unable to make an impact last season for a Georgia Tech team that went 6-12 in the ACC, but perhaps a fresh start with the coach who recruited him can help tap into his potential.
In an interview with reporters after a Dec. 29 victory over Tulsa, Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton described high-energy forward Terrance Shannon's performance by saying he has the ability to "create havoc."
Perhaps Hamilton had a premonition of what was to come a few months later.
Shannon will have the chance to create more havoc because he's transferring to VCU for his last year of college eligibility, CBSSports.com first reported Thursday night. The 6-foot-8 rising senior graduated this spring and will be eligible to help the Rams attempt to win a revamped Atlantic 10 and return to the NCAA tournament next season.
At first blush, Shannon's departure appears to be a bigger coup for VCU than it is a blow to Florida State. Shannon was likely to come off the bench for the Seminoles behind fellow seniors Kiel Turpin and Okaro White and his exit frees up a scholarship for Andrew Wiggins should the nation's top-ranked recruit choose Florida State later this month.
More playing time should be available at VCU, where Shannon will likely play alongside top big man Juvonte Reddic and enable the Rams to play a more traditional lineup instead of the four-guard look they went with a year ago. Shannon averaged a modest 8.7 points and 5.6 rebounds last season, but relentless effort, explosive athleticism and high character makes him a good fit for VCU's frenetic, trapping style of play.
Of course, the addition of Shannon isn't without some red flags.
In four years at Florida State, Shannon played in barely half the Seminoles' 144 games as a result of injuries to both his knees, his neck and his left shoulder. Shannon also hasn't developed a consistent mid-range jump shot or a back-to-the-basket game and he has shown a tendency to foul too often.
Still, Shannon is an ideal one-year risk for VCU.
He'll provide size and athleticism that should help the Rams defend in the half court against a team that can break their pressure. And his lack of a well-developed offensive game will be obscured somewhat by the fact that he runs the floor well and so many of VCU's buckets come in transition.
The NCAA men’s basketball rules committee announced a handful of recommended rules changes on Thursday afternoon that must be approved by the rules oversight panel on June 18 before becoming effective for the 2013-14 season. Here's a look at the four most significant proposed changes and their potential impact:
Proposed rule change: A defender will now receive a blocking foul if he moves into the path of an offensive player starting his upward motion with the ball in order to shoot or pass. The current rule calls for a defender to be in legal guarding position before the offensive player lifts off the floor.
Potential impact: This rule change won't reduce the number of questionable block-charge calls next season, but it should move the blurry line in favor of the offense. Couple that with the committee's recommendation that officials call more fouls when defenders hand check or use arm bars to impede movement, and it's clear there was a clear effort to boost scoring in college basketball. The average points scored by one team in Divison I last season was 67.5, lowest since the 1981-82 season.
Proposed rule change: No longer will an elbow above the shoulders be an automatic flagrant foul as has been the case the past couple years. Officials will now have the ability to use their judgment to determine if the elbow is worthy of a flagrant 2, a flagrant 1, a common foul or no foul out all. When the officials use the monitor to review a situation not called on the floor, the only options are flagrant 2, flagrant 1 or no foul.
Potential impact: This is a smart rule change in response to criticism over elbows that barely made any contact and were entirely unintentional being called as game-changing flagrant fouls. Referees will still be able to protect players and penalize vicious elbows that can hurt someone, but now they'll also be able to use some common sense when handing out penalties.
Proposed rule change: In the last two minutes of regulation and overtime, referees would have the ability to use the monitor to review shot clock violations and determine which team should be awarded the ball when it was deflected out of bounds. They'd also be able to use the monitor to determine who committed a foul when there is uncertainty after a call is made.
Potential impact: How you feel about this rule change probably depends on how strongly you feel about the final two minutes of college basketball games taking too long. I've always been more worried about the referees getting key calls right even if it comes at the expense of the flow of the game, but certainly this rule change would lead to even more stoppages late in close games.
WOMEN'S 10-SECOND RULE
Proposed rule change: The addition of a 10-second rule forcing teams to get the ball across the mid-court stripe as already exists in all other levels of basketball. In the past, women's teams could take as much time off the 30-second shot clock as they needed to get the ball across mid-court.
Potential impact: It's about time women's basketball implemented a rule that literally every other level of basketball throughout the world already has. The rule change would likely increase the pace of women's basketball and reward teams who play effective full-court pressure defense.
When Laurie Koehn was playing for Kansas State almost a decade ago, she'd wake up at dawn six days a week, drive her Honda Civic to Bramlage Coliseum and start her day by attempting a few hundred shots.
"All through high school and junior high, I'd shoot every day," Koehn said. "My freshman year I had to redshirt because I had stress fracture injuries. They definitely saved my career and prolonged my career by being strict about taking a day off."
Some of Koehn's peers undoubtedly thought her dedication was borderline crazy, but the perseverance has certainly paid off. Koehn, who spent last season with the WNBA's Atlanta Dream, pulled off a feat few if any players could match this week, sinking 132 of 135 rapid-fire 3-point attempts from the top of the key in a five-minute span.
The inspiration for the incredible shooting performance was a video Kansas State coach Deb Patterson sent Koehn showing another player using two balls and sinking 118 threes in five minutes. Koehn is always seeking new challenges to keep her shooting practices from getting monotonous, so she set out first to exceed 118 and second to see how many she could hit.
The first time Koehn tried the drill, she sank 115 threes. On her second try, she eclipsed 118. Only a few attempts later came the 132 out of 135, a feat that had her beaming and hugging her rebounder afterward.
"I really hadn't done a drill like that before, so it was a fun challenge," Koehn said. "I'm always looking for new drills because when you do the same thing over and over again, it can get tedious and you get to the point where you kind of master a drill. It's so important to keep challenging yourself to get better, and to do that you've got to keep adding new drills."
That Koehn could hit 132 threes in five minutes might be eye-opening to most people, but those closest to her probably weren't surprised.
Since there weren't too many other elite female basketball players in her hometown of Moundridge, Kansas, Koehn would spend hours every day shooting by herself in her driveway. Koehn finished her Kansas State career with 392 3-pointers, surpassing former NCAA all-time record holder Erin Thorn of BYU by one in 2005.
Though video of Koehn's 132 of 135 shooting performance earlier this week has spread quickly on social media, she believes she's had better efforts in the past.
I've made 127 threes in a row before and I've been over 100 in a row numerous times," Koehn said. "The thing that was unique about that drill is I've never tried to do it with speed before. When I've done it before, I'd be in a rhythm. This drill takes away your rhythm and fatigues your arms a lot more than you would think."
Koehn is not planning to play in the WNBA this coming season, but she intends to return to Australia in the fall to play another professional season over there. That means she'll be doing more shooting drills almost every day to make sure she's prepared.
"Someone like me, I'm limited by natural ability and athleticism, so shooting is my niche," Koehn said. "I want to make sure I give my all to this game because it's my passion."
Yes, that's Pitino on a boat in the Bahamas with an 80-pound marlin he just caught.
Pitino told SI.com last week one of his friends was taking him to a resort at Baker's Bay, a three-mile stretch of coastline on the island of Great Guana Cay in the Northeastern Bahamas. Marlin fishing was something Pitino said he had never done before, not that it kept him from becoming an instant success.
Of course, the beginner's luck fits with the past few weeks Pitino has enjoyed.
During one magical week in April, Pitino won his second national championship, got inducted into the Naismith hall of fame, landed a horse in the Kentucky Derby and saw his son Richard become the Big Ten's youngest head coach when Minnesota hired him.
San Diego State has become a popular destination for promising transfers seeking a return to California and a fresh start. Ex-Arizona big man Angelo Chol went to high school in San Diego and was in search of a new school.
Seems like a natural fit, right? Well, they both apparently thought so too.
Chol visited San Diego State on Tuesday and told the San Diego Union-Tribune the next day that he has informed coach Steve Fisher he plans to join the Aztecs. Despite interest from dozens of schools across the country, San Diego State was the only school the 6-foot-9 rising junior visited.
The addition of Chol is more impactful for San Diego State than his modest scoring and rebounding numbers at Arizona would suggest.
A former top 100 recruit at San Diego's Hoover High School, Chol chose Arizona over the likes of Kansas, North Carolina and Washington. The Sudan native contributed sparingly at Arizona as a freshman before watching his playing time off the bench all but vanish as a sophomore as a result of the three highly touted big men coach Sean Miller landed in the class of 2012.
Even with forward Grant Jerrett unexpectedly turning pro recently, it probably would have been more of the same next season for Chol. The addition of McDonald's All-American Aaron Gordon to go with returners Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski ensured that Chol would have been no better than Arizona's fourth big man had he returned.
There should be more opportunity for Chol at San Diego State. Whereas Miller typically would replace Chol with a starter as soon as he missed a defensive rotation or had a ball squirt off his hands, Aztecs coach Steve Fisher has a reputation for patience and for letting players play through mistakes.
Chol probably won't provide much scoring for San Diego State besides a few put-backs or dunks here and there, but his shot-blocking, rebounding and ability to run the floor can be an asset. Pair him with shot-blocking big man Skylar Spencer once Chol becomes eligible for the 2014-15 season, and that's an intriguing interior duo.
The one problem with adding Chol for San Diego State is it does little to address the team's primary need at the moment: more scorers.
A lack of scoring was already an issue for the Aztecs before Chase Tapley graduated and Jamaal Franklin turned pro. Chol probably won't help address that much unless he develops a low-post game during his redshirt year, but his rebounding and defensive prowess were too hard for San Diego State to pass up.
1. Michigan at Duke (Dec. 3): If the Wolverines and Blue Devils had to go this long without meeting in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, at least it's a marquee matchup that ought to be worth the wait. Both teams should begin the season in the top 10 with Michigan returning three starters from a team that reached the national title game and Duke boasting one of the nation's best perimeter units.
2. North Carolina at Michigan State (Dec. 4): Two experienced potential top 10 teams will meet in East Lansing for the fifth time in Challenge history, with both teams having split the previous four meetings. Michigan State returns every key player besides Derrick Nix, while North Carolina is highlighted by the inside-outside duo of James Michael McAdoo and P.J. Hairston.
3. Indiana at Syracuse (Dec. 3): A young but talented Hoosiers team seeking to replace Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo will try to prove it has learned how to attack a two-three zone. Indiana had little success against Syracuse in the Sweet 16 this past March when the Orange sprung an upset on their way to the Final Four.
4. Maryland at Ohio State (Dec. 4): The ACC's latest parting shot to Big Ten-bound Maryland? How about a road game against a Big Ten title contender? Deshaun Thomas' departure creates a scoring void for the Buckeyes, but Sam Thompson and LaQuinton Ross are capable of filling it. Plus, Aaron Craft should be a nightmare defensive matchup for Maryland freshman point guard Roddy Peters.
5. Wisconsin at Virginia (Dec. 4): The most talented Virginia team of Tony Bennett's tenure will meet a Wisconsin team that once again figures to challenge for a top-four finish in the Big Ten. The Badgers lost a lot of front court talent, but forward Sam Dekker will be primed for a breakout season and emotional leader Josh Gasser will be back after missing last season with a knee injury.
6. Notre Dame at Iowa (Dec. 3): Notre Dame's first-ever Big Ten-ACC Challenge matchup will come against an Iowa team that could begin the season on the fringes of the Top 25. The Hawkeyes return every key player from a team that reached the NIT title game last season and they'll also add Wisconsin transfer Jarrod Uthoff at power forward.
7. Florida State at Minnesota (Dec. 3): If it seems as though you've seen this game before, it's probably because you have. Minnesota won at Florida State 77-68 last year, evening the Challenge history between the two teams at two wins apiece. A guard-heavy Gophers team could have a more difficult time this year as the Seminoles return every key player besides Michael Snaer and could add Andrew Wiggins to that group.
8. Penn State at Pittsburgh (Dec. 3): Know who boasts one of the top backcourts in the Big Ten next year? Believe it or not, it's Penn State. D.J. Newbill, Jermaine Marshall and a returning Tim Frazier form a good enough trio to pose a threat to a Pittsburgh team making its Challenge debut. The two in-state foes have not met since 2005 and the Panthers have won the past five contests.
9. Northwestern at NC State (Dec. 4): It would be a bad omen for NC State if it were to lose this game and a good omen for Northwestern if it were to win it. The Wolfpack have lots of questions with C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown turning pro, Rodney Purvis transferring and Richard Howell and Scott Wood graduating. NC State's freshmen and sophomores will be challenged by a Northwestern team boosted by new coach Chris Collins and returning standout Drew Crawford.
1o. Boston College at Purdue (Dec. 4): This is actually a significant momentum game for two young teams looking to rise in the standings. Boston College is building around the inside-outside tandem of junior Ryan Anderson and sophomore Olivier Hanlan, while Purdue will rely on the development of senior Terone Johnson and a group of sophomore standouts.
11. Illinois at Georgia Tech (Dec. 3): I might be underselling this matchup at No. 11, but I suspect both these teams will struggle next year. An Illinois team that didn't have a whole lot of frontcourt offense last season loses its two leading perimeter scorers in D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul, while Georgia Tech still feels as though it's at least a year away from an upper-division ACC finish.
12. Miami at Nebraska (Dec. 4): Thanks to the opening of its sparkling new arena, Nebraska will have a sellout crowd for this and every home game next year. Huskers fans didn't exactly get rewarded with the greatest matchup, however, as Miami is replacing all five starters from last year's ACC championship team and likely will be rebuilding, especially if Kansas State transfer Angel Rodriguez isn't granted a waiver to play right away.
* Not participating this year: Clemson, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech
On his first day of high school almost four years ago, William Gates Jr. began to understand the pressure that came with sharing the same name as a Chicago basketball legend.
A classmate familiar with the award-winning 1994 documentary "Hoop Dreams" approached Gates that afternoon and told him he'd never be as good a player as his dad.
Occasional jabs like that were probably inevitable for a kid whose father's basketball exploits were chronicled in one of the most popular documentaries ever made, but the younger Gates exacerbated the situation by trying to emulate his dad. Since Gates wore the same jersey number as his father, attended the same Catholic high school and even played for the same coach, teammates resented the attention he received and opposing fans taunted him with derisive chants.
"Once they found out who my dad was, people in the stands would say, 'You're nothing like your dad' or they'd chant, 'Hoop Dreams' in my face," Gates said. "Being 14, that was a lot to swallow. I was just trying to have fun, but I really couldn't at that time. It was a lot of pressure because I basically tried to recreate my dad's life. I wasn't really playing for me anymore. I was playing so people would be like, 'Oh, you are just as good as your dad.'"
The challenge of trying to eclipse his father's legend gradually drained Gates' passion for basketball.
When he played on the JV team at St. Joseph as a freshman, he felt like a failure because his dad spent all four years on varsity. When he cracked the varsity starting lineup as a sophomore, he still viewed it as a disappointment because his dad had emerged as one of Chicago's best players by then.
Even as the elder Gates tried to ease the pressure his son was feeling, the irony of the situation was not lost on him. The former Marquette guard knew his son possessed the raw talent to go as far or further in basketball than he ever did, but the only way the younger Gates would do it is if he stopped worrying so much about matching his dad's accomplishments.
"He thought he had to do everything dad did but better," the elder Gates said. "People thought I was under pressure in the movie. This kid was under the same pressure and he was living in dad's shadow. That's tough. He'd talk about it with me, and I'd just let him know, 'Hey son, I have no expectations. I'm just glad you love the game.'"
• • • • •
It's no surprise the younger Gates wasn't at his dad's level when he began high school. Whereas Gates' father displayed NBA potential before a knee injury during his junior year at St. Joseph robbed him of much of his explosiveness, the younger Gates only began playing organized basketball when he was in eighth grade.
Though Gates played with his friends at the park as a kid and attended camps at St. Joseph every summer, he never asked to join a local youth team and his parents never pushed him to do so. Looking back, he now admits he wasn't sure he was good enough to pursue the same sport his father used as a way out of the Chicago projects.
What changed Gates' mind was the success he enjoyed at a camp at St. Joseph the summer before he began eighth grade. He beat out dozens of his peers to win the camp's free throw shooting contest and one-on-one competition, prompting him to come home that night and announce to his parents that he wanted to play organized basketball in school for the first time the following year.
"That was a defining moment that really launched his career," the elder Gates recalled. "Dad had to go into overdrive teaching him how to play the game and understand the game. 'Son this is a two-three zone. This is man-to-man. This is your position. We had to go through all those things in one summer that you're supposed to learn gradually growing up."
Once it became time for the Gates to choose a high school, neither he nor his father had any doubt which to pick.
The younger Gates was born five months after Hoop Dreams premiered, began watching the documentary in second grade and attended his first camp at St. Joseph soon afterward. The elder Gates had fond memories of his time at St. Joseph, especially the academic aid he received and the unconditional support longtime coach Gene Pingatore provided.
It wasn't until Gates' dad saw how much the constant comparisons between father and son were dragging down his boy that he realized the family had made a mistake. After the younger Gates opened up to his father about how unhappy he was in a series of conversations during his sophomore year at St. Joseph, his father realized the only way his son could rekindle his love of basketball would be to start fresh at a new school.
• • • • •
The evolution of Gates' game and his mindset began when he transferred to a Chicago public school after his sophomore year.
Other players still knew him as the son of one of the Hoop Dreams stars, but the external pressure eased because Gates was no longer wearing the same St. Joseph jersey his father once did. It also helped that his father consistently reassured him that just giving 100 percent in school and on the court would be more than enough to satisfy his family.
"He helped me begin to adopt that mindset," Gates said. "One day he came over and told me, 'Son, I can't hide you from me and from what I've done. You have to accept that's how it's going to be the rest of your basketball career, but at the same time you don't have to be me. You can be yourself.'"
Thanks to an improved attitude and long hours in the gym, Gates tapped into his basketball potential enough as a junior to emerge as one of the better players in Chicago. What helped him blossom further as a senior, however, was his family's well-timed move last August from violence-riddled Chicago to a safe neighborhood just outside San Antonio.
When Gates showed up at Samuel Clemens High School to begin his senior year last fall, people there treated him like any other new student. Coach Clifton Ellis inquired whether he was comfortable talking about the movie and a few of his new teammates asked about his dad, but unlike in Chicago, many of his classmates were only vaguely familiar with Hoop Dreams.
Free from the burden he had coped with the past few years, Gates fully embraced his father's advice and finally began playing to be the best version of himself he could be. He showcased his ability to get to the rim and to score from the perimeter, averaging 23.6 points per game and leading previously struggling Clemens to a 25-win season and a berth in the state playoffs.
Interest from Division I schools only trickled in at first because Midwest coaches lost track of him after the move and Texas coaches were previously unaware of him, but the late-blooming Gates forced his way onto the Division I radar with his strong senior season. Gates was drawing interest from the likes of Utah State, Long Island-Brookyln and Texas-Arlington when new Furman coach Niko Medved and his staff ramped up their pursuit the past few weeks.
Even though he only spoke to the Furman coaches for the first time last month, Gates called Medved on Monday to accept his scholarship offer. Gates appreciated that Medved made him his top priority, a stark contrast to some of the other coaches who pursued him but viewed him as a backup option if other guards they were recruiting headed elsewhere.
"Furman really got a steal of a player," Ellis said. "He was really excited there was a school that didn't want to wait around. They said, 'We've seen you and we want you.' The straightforwardness of it all appealed to him, his dad and his family. Instead of waiting around and dragging out the process, they were ready to come in and say, 'Hey, we want you.' That was good for him to hear."
That Gates will play Division I basketball is especially gratifying for his dad because he knows the struggles his son endured to get to this point.
The father of four cringed as his son tormented himself for years trying to duplicate his success. Now the elder Gates is finally getting to see his son living out his own hoop dreams.
"The expectations were a little overwhelming for him at first but coming to Texas, he has really busted out of his shell and you can just see him maturing," the elder Gates said. "I'm very proud of how he has handled being the son of William Gates from Hoop Dreams."
Dana Altman's growing reputation for having success with transfers in their final year of eligibility has helped Oregon land one of the most coveted fifth-year seniors available this spring.
Portland native Mike Moser, a first-team all-Mountain West forward at UNLV during the 2011-12 season, has chosen his hometown Ducks over Washington and Gonzaga, his former AAU coach Kumbeno Memory confirmed via text Tuesday night. Moser is on track to graduate this spring, meaning he'll be able to play immediately and help fill the void at both forward spots left by the graduation of E.J. Singler and Arsalan Kazemi.
The ability of Moser to emulate the success fifth-year transfers Kazemi, Devoe Joseph and Olu Ashaolu enjoyed in their lone seasons at Oregon rests on whether he can regain the form he showed as a sophomore at UNLV.
An elite rebounder who defended multiple positions and scored effectively in transition, Moser contended for Mountain West player of the year that season, averaging 14.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. He regressed in all facets of his game as a junior, hampered by a December elbow injury and overtaken in the frontcourt rotation by freshman Anthony Bennett and Pittsburgh transfer Khem Birch.
Moser sought to transition to small forward last season because it's likely the position he would have to play as a pro, but playing on the perimeter exposed his spotty outside shot and prevented him from making as big an impact on the glass. He averaged a modest 7.1 points and 6.1 rebounds and shot only 36.9 percent from the field, becoming more and more of an afterthought as the season went along.
What will be important for Oregon is whether Moser embraces the idea of playing power forward in the Ducks' attack or if he still has visions of proving himself on the perimeter.
If Moser is healthy and happy playing at the four, he's capable of providing much of the rebounding Kazemi did while also thriving offensively in Oregon's high-octane transition attack. The Ducks also could add another impact transfer who could contribute right next season if 6-foot-9 former Memphis big man Tarik Black also chooses the Ducks.
This past March, Kazemi helped Oregon win the Pac-12 tournament and reach the Sweet 16 with his defense, rebounding and timely scoring. Moser fills that immediate need for the Ducks and will have every chance to make a similar impact.
Even though his shooting percentage was miserable and he sometimes struggled to get the ball to the team's best players where they needed it to score, Trae Golden was the lone true point guard on Tennessee's roster.
Golden produced an erratic junior season, averaging 12.1 points and 3.9 assists this past season even though his shooting percentage plummeted to 38.3 percent and his percentage from behind the arc dropped below 30 percent. He also wasn't reticent to call his own number despite the poor shooting, attempting 95 threes and taking more shots than promising big man Jarnell Stokes.
A pass-first point guard with a more consistent jump shot would be a better fit for a Tennessee team that returns Stokes and Jeronne Maymon in the frontcourt and emerging perimeter scorer Jordan McRae in the backcourt. The trouble is the Vols don't have a scholarship point guard of any kind on their roster and would probably start McRae and talented incoming freshman shooting guard Robert Hubbs in the backcourt if the season started today.
The best option for Tennessee might be trying to find a transfer point guard who is on track to graduate this spring and would be eligible to play his final season at Tennessee immediately. The Vols should be an attractive destination for a playmaking point guard who fits that description since playing time certainly will be available.
Neither Golden nor coach Cuonzo Martin offered specifics in Tennessee's release, but CBSSports.com cited a source who said it was a result of "academic issues" and it was out of Golden's hands. Martin wished Golden "nothing but the best" and Golden said only that he had "a great three years at Tennessee"
"I really appreciate the staff and all the great support from Vol fans," Golden said. "I’m definitely going to miss my teammates. I want them to have nothing but success in the future."
Further proof the decision may have been out of Golden's hands comes via the reaction of his close friend forward Tobias Harris. The former Vols star tweeted that Golden wanted to stay and that it wasn't his choice.
Tweeted Harris, "Vol Nation y'all don't want to know how I feel about all of this .... SMH!!"
Most recruits don't have the luxury of waiting until mid-May to reveal their college choice out of fear a scholarship at their chosen school will no longer be available by then.
Andrew Wiggins has no such concerns.
The nation's most coveted high school basketball player will choose between Florida State, Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina sometime in the next week or so, his host mother Lesley Thomas told the Louisville Courier-Journal on Monday. The deadline to sign a letter of intent in the spring signing period is May 15, but Wiggins could merely sign scholarship papers instead if his decision dragged on further.
An explosive athlete and gifted scorer with ideal size and length for the small forward position, the 6-foot-8 Wiggins would be a season-changing addition for whichever one of the four schools he selects. Here's a look at the impact he could make at each of them:
FLORIDA STATE Projected starting five with Wiggins: G Devon Bookert, G Aaron Thomas, F Andrew Wiggins, F Okaro White, C Kiel Turpin Outlook: There's no school with more at stake in the chase for Wiggins than Florida State, the alma mater of both his parents. Florida State projects as a middle-of-the-pack ACC program with a chance to return to the NCAA tournament without Wiggins, but the Seminoles would probably start the season in the preseason Top 15 with him. Every key player is back for Florida State from last year's 18-win team with the exception of Michael Snaer, the team's leading scorer and top perimeter defender. With perimeter scoring punch from Wiggins, interior scoring from White, development from a young backcourt and improved defense from the whole roster after another year in Leonard Hamilton's system, Florida State would have as high a ceiling as it has had in recent history.
KENTUCKY Projected starting five with Wiggins: G Andrew Harrison, G Aaron Harrison, F Andrew Wiggins, F Julius Randle, C Willie Cauley-Stein Outlook: Kentucky will likely have the nation's most talented roster regardless of whether Wiggins comes or not, but John Calipari will boast the top-rated recruit at every position if the talented Canadian joins the Wildcats. Between Wiggins, Kentucky's six other top 20 recruits and returning contributors Alex Poythress, Kyle Wiltjer and Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky would be two deep with prep All-Americans at every position. The question for Wiggins regarding Kentucky is twofold: Does he want the nonstop attention he'd receive in a basketball-crazed state and does he mind sharing the ball with so many other high-level prospects? By all accounts, Wiggins is more publicity-shy than publicity-starved, so that could impact his decision.
KANSAS Projected starting five with Wiggins: G Naadir Tharpe, G Wayne Selden, F Andrew Wiggins, F Perry Ellis, C Joel Embiid Outlook: With all five starters graduating from a team that won the Big 12 and reached the Sweet 16, Kansas has more questions than usual next season. For now, the Jayhawks' hope of holding off Oklahoma State and extending their Big 12 title streak depends on Naadir Tharpe solidifying the point guard position, Perry Ellis emerging as a breakout star and a promising freshman class making big contributions immediately. What the addition of Wiggins would do is give Kansas a go-to scorer and ease the pressure on everyone else. Suddenly, Tharpe won't have to work as hard to get everyone else buckets, Ellis can be a complementary scorer instead of the No. 1 option and the rest of the freshmen would be able to ease their way into their college careers. A Wiggins-led Kansas team would instantly vault into the preseason top 10 and would have very realistic hope of a Final Four-type season.
NORTH CAROLINA Projected starting five with Wiggins: G Marcus Paige, G P.J. Hairston, F Andrew Wiggins, F James Michael McAdoo, F Desmond Hubert Outlook: With or Without Wiggins, North Carolina coach Roy Williams appears to be committed to going back to a traditional lineup with two big men on the floor. That likely means a backcourt of Paige, Leslie McDonald and Hairston, with McAdoo at power forward and whoever emerges among the group of Joel James, Desmond Hubert, Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks at center. Add Wiggins to that group, and North Carolina instantly goes from ACC contender to ACC favorite and from borderline top 10 team to right there with Kentucky, Louisville and Michigan State in the title chase. Wiggins would thrive in the up-tempo system Williams favors, ease the pressure on McAdoo and allow McDonald to continue to come off the bench.
The fate of the rivalry between Syracuse and Georgetown remains uncertain as a result of the Big East's breakup, but the ACC-bound Orange will still be playing several former league foes the next few years.
Syracuse will host Villanova at the Carrier Dome during the upcoming season and will visit Villanova for a return game the following season. Then, the two longtime Big East rivals will meet at Madison Square Garden in a neutral-court matchup during the 2015-16 season.
Extending the series seems like a shrewd decision by both parties.
For Villanova, it's the chance to sustain a historic rivalry against an elite opponent, one that will also provide a neutral-court game in a city that's an alumni hotbed and at an arena that will host the new Big East tournament. For Syracuse, it's the opportunity to keep a longtime rivalry going and to maintain a recruiting presence in Philadelphia, the city that produced recent stars Dion Waiters and Scoop Jardine and current big man Rakeem Christmas.
The only concern about adding Villanova and St. John's to Syracuse's non-conference schedule the next couple years is that spots are filling up fast. Throw in a mandatory ACC-Big Ten Challenge game and Jim Boeheim's notorious reluctance to leave the New York area too often during non-league play, and it's natural to wonder if there will be room for an annual game against Georgetown anytime soon.
Hopefully the series between the Orange and Hoyas doesn't go into longterm hiatus. Syracuse-Villanova and Syracuse-St. John's are great matchups worth preserving, but Syracuse-Georgetown is still the rivalry college basketball most needs to continue.
Already under fire as a result of its unscrupulous tactics in recent high-profile cases, the NCAA's enforcement arm may have made yet another damaging misstep.
Missouri coach Frank Haith has filed a petition with a Florida federal court in hopes that a judge will help him determine if the NCAA accessed his bank records by improper and possibly illegal means, CBSSports.com reported Monday afternoon. The NCAA obtained Haith's bank records while investigating former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro's claims that the ex-Hurricanes coach provided money to help recruit top prospect DeQuan Jones.
Haith voluntarily turned over some bank statements to the NCAA during its investigation according to the CBS report, but the petition alleges other information may have been obtained improperly by accessing microfiche copies of Haith's checks without permission. Haith apparently became aware of the possible improprieties when he tried to obtain the microfiche copies of those checks at the NCAA's request only to find out they already had been viewed by another party.
A judge will determine the merits of the petition and whether Haith will be able to issue subpoenas to the bank and speak with witnesses who can confirm how the NCAA got the information in question.
If it turns out, the NCAA acted wrongly here, it will represent another gut punch to the credibility of an organization that has sustained too many of those recently.
In January, the NCAA admitted to "a very severe case of improper conduct" when it put the Shapiro's lawyer on its payroll even though his client was one of the figures under investigation. The lawyer had the ability to access information enforcement staffers could not because he is able to issue subpoenas and force key witnesses to testify.
Noel is one of a handful of Kentucky athletes who have gotten to know Melton during the seven-year-old's stay at Kentucky Children's Hospital. New Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops has also made frequent visits, recently inviting Melton to the Wildcats' spring game and awarding him the game ball in the locker room afterward.
Noel recently told WKYT Melton is an inspiration to him as the big man tries to recover from a knee injury suffered three months ago.
"I really admire that kid," Noel said. "He's a very strong kid. Through everything he has been through, that's something I really look up to. He's really a great kid with a great personality. Doing something like that gives you a really good feeling. I love that kid like he's my little brother."
Unless evidence emerges proving either McLemore or Kansas coach Bill Self knew about the payments, it doesn't seem fair to punish the Jayhawks for something they neither were part of nor benefited from in the slightest. The money St. Louis-based AAU coach Darius Cobb acknowledged taking from a man trying to worm his way into position to serve as a runner for high-profile agents had nothing to do with McLemore choosing Kansas two years prior.
At the same time, if the NCAA were to follow its rulebook, it would seem to have little choice but to punish Kansas and perhaps even vacate the victories the Jayhawks achieved after Cobb and McLemore's cousin allegedly began accepting cash and gifts. NCAA rules state a player becomes ineligible if he, his relatives or friends accept transportation or other benefits from an agent or representative of an agent.
Acquiring information not already in the USA Today story will not be easy for the NCAA since most of the key figures in the case are under no obligation to cooperate with investigators. Kansas will have questions to answer because would-be runner Rodney Blackstock's name appears on McLemore's pass list for multiple games, but Blackstock's connections to agents don't seem concrete enough to fault school officials for not being aware of them.
That the NCAA isn't facing this quandary more frequently is somewhat surprising because deals like the one would-be runner Rodney Blackstock tried to foster with Cobb are likely pretty common.
Agents, runners and financial advisers often try to cultivate relationships with NBA draft prospects and their families long before the college season ends, a process that often includes payments to family members or former coaches in exchange for their influence. As CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish correctly pointed out Sunday, it's no coincidence many future lottery picks select an agent days after declaring for the draft if not sooner.
What makes the McLemore case unusual is the decision of his former AAU coach to come forward and acknowledge the money he has taken.
Cobb claims to USA Today that he's only trying to protect the family by making himself the bad guy, but that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The more plausible explanation is Cobb found himself less involved in the decision-making process than he hoped to be, so he decided to reveal the cash and gifts he had accepted out of spite.
Regardless, this saga will have minimal impact on McLemore's draft stock. The talented redshirt freshman will likely be the first guard selected in next month's draft after averaging nearly 16 points per game for a Kansas team that went 31-6 and won a share of its ninth straight Big 12 championship.
Nebraska football is no longer the toughest ticket in town in Lincoln.
Nebraska basketball finished 15-18 last season and in 10th place in the Big Ten Conference, but a sparkling new arena in downtown Lincoln has helped the program sell out the public allotment of tickets for the 2013-14 season despite those results and has started a wait list.
Nebraska announced Friday the 15,147-seat Pinnacle Bank Arena is sold out aside from tickets the school is required to reserve for visiting teams and approximately 100 student tickets.
The long-awaited $179 million arena is the centerpiece of a development just a few blocks from campus that could revitalize downtown with shopping, restaurants and hotels. The arena replaces the Devaney Sports Center, located away from downtown.
The Huskers' average attendance was 10,352 last season while going 5-13 in what was the toughest conference in the nation, producing four Sweet 16 teams.
Want to join the conversation? Follow @YahooDagger on Twitter and @KyleRingo and be sure to "Like" The Dagger on Facebook for basketball conversations and stuff you won't see on the blog.
The NCAA gave men's college basketball programs some needed flexibility this week when it approved a rule change allowing preseason practices to begin six weeks before the first game of the season.
That means fans can count on some programs holding Midnight Madness, which traditionally starts the build up to the season, as early as Oct. 1.
It also could mean we'll see more of those events in the future with the proliferation of conference networks and the need for programming. The earlier date would give more programs a chance to be in the spotlight, though that obviously had nothing to do with the rule change.
The first thought for some might be that coaches will simply use it as an additional two weeks to run their players ragged, but the NCAA only allows 30 days of practices within those 42 days. It is most likely an improvement in the eyes of coaches and players because it gives the athletes more recovery time than the previous setup in which teams practiced virtually every day for a month leading up to the season opener.
The change puts the men's game more in line with current rules on the women's side, which allow for 30 days of practice within 40 days of the first game.
Want to join the conversation? Follow @YahooDagger on Twitter and @KyleRingo and be sure to "Like" The Dagger on Facebook for basketball conversations and stuff you won't see on the blog.
What do you get when you combine Mark Hollis' scheduling ingenuity and Tom Izzo's willingness to challenge his team in non-league play?
Another really creative early-season idea.
Michigan State is trying to honor legendary ex-Spartans coach Jud Heathcote by organizing a Dec. 7 doubleheader in his hometown of Spokane, Hollis told the Detroit Free Press on Thursday. The doubleheader would feature four teams with ties to Heathcote, with Michigan State facing Gonzaga in one game and Montana and Washington State squaring off in the other.
Heathcote, 85, served as the head coach at Montana from 1971-76 and was an assistant at Washington State prior to that. Since returning to Spokane after retiring at Michigan State in 1995, Heathcote has become close with Gonzaga coach Mark Few.
The event would hold special significance to Izzo and Hollis because both view Heathcote as a mentor. Heathcote, 85, hired Izzo as an assistant and Hollis as a student manager during his 19-year tenure as Michigan State coach. Hollis told the Free-Press he intends to invite every Michigan State player and student manager from Heathcote's era to fly out to the game at the university's expense and participate in a tribute event for Heathcote on the eve of the game.
First of all, how cool will that be for Heathcote if it comes together?
I remember how touched John Wooden was when dozens of his former players showed up to a ceremony in his honor in 2003 when UCLA named the floor at Pauley Pavilion after him and his late wife. I can only assume Heathcote will have a similarly special experience if dozens of his former players arrive in Spokane in his honor.
Of secondary importance, the concept of the double-header is good for college basketball and for the teams involved as well.
Michigan State gets to honor a former coaching great, Gonzaga gets to face an elite team mere minutes from its campus, Washington State gets a pseudo-home game against a quality mid-major and Montana will surely collect a nice guarantee fee for participating.
Depending on the draw in the formidable Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, Kansas could face as many as seven preseason top 25 teams before the start of Big 12 play. The only surefire wins on the schedule are Louisiana Monroe, Toledo and ... well ... that's pretty much it unless you think quality mid-majors Towson and Iona pose no threat.
The marquee games on the schedule are a Nov. 12 matchup with Duke in Chicago, a Dec. 10 visit to Florida and the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in the Bahamas from Nov. 28 to Nov. 30. The Blue Devils may have the best perimeter talent in the nation next season, the Gators are likely to start the season in the top 10 and the Battle 4 Atlantis field includes the likes of Tennessee, Villanova, Xavier and Iowa.
Besides those matchups, Kansas still has a handful of other challenging games against quality teams.
A Dec. 7 visit to old Big 12 foe Colorado will be difficult with the Buffs returning four of five starters and likely to contend with Arizona and UCLA for the Pac-12 crown. Games against Mountain West favorite New Mexico in Kansas City and new Big East contender Georgetown in Lawrence will also be tough. Heck, even a Jan. 5 visit from rebuilding San Diego State is no gimme, especially if the Aztecs have found new scorers to replace departed stars Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley by then.
"We’ve always played a schedule that has a great RPI and we’ve always played a tough non-conference schedule that prepared us for the league, but this year our schedule will rival any schedule that we’ve ever played," Self said in a release from the school.
"This will certainly be as difficult a schedule, especially when you’re replacing five starters. This is probably not the brightest thing I’ve done since I’ve been here, but it’s a schedule that will force us to get ready at an accelerated pace."
Although the idea of Kansas facing so many marquee opponents is terrific for fans and for college basketball as a whole, the lingering question entering the season will be if the Jayhawks over-scheduled.
Next year's team will lean heavily on promising sophomore forward Perry Ellis, returning backups Naadir Tharpe and Jamari Traylor and a deep and versatile recruiting class that will need to contribute right away. Wayne Selden is a McDonald's All-American, center Joel Embiid is a gifted shot blocker who's still raw offensively and Conner Frankamp and Brannen Greene are both skilled shooters who should provide perimeter scoring.
Suggesting Kansas is in store for a down season by its lofty standards is typically foolish because Self has a way of making doubters feel silly by midseason. Nonetheless, to survive the gauntlet their coach has laid out for them, the Jayhawks will need Ellis to emerge as a breakout star, Tharpe to solidify the point guard position and several of the freshmen to become comfortable in a hurry.
If Josiah Turner thought the low point of his basketball career was being asked to leave Arizona last spring amid drug and alcohol problems, the highly touted point guard quickly learned things could get tougher.
The Hungarian pro team he originally signed with last fall housed him in a filthy, bedbug-infested apartment so dilapidated his agent removed him from the team after only one month. The Canadian pro team he joined after leaving Hungary informed him in January his services were no longer required after he repeatedly clashed with the head coach. And even after a successful second-half of the season with another Canadian team, Turner still had to return to Arizona and serve two days in prison as a result of a DUI charge from the previous year.
"Everything I've been through has served a purpose because it has humbled me and forced me to mature," Turner recently told Yahoo! Sports. "I'm more focused and disciplined now. I'll never go down a bad path again."
The challenge now facing Turner is to prove that to skeptical scouts and general managers before next month's NBA draft. He'll have his first opportunity on Saturday in Los Angeles when representatives of about 10 NBA teams attend one of his workouts and visit with him afterward.
Though the 2013 draft is especially weak at point guard and the 6-foot-3 Turner has the size, court vision and explosiveness NBA teams covet at the position, raw ability alone may not be enough to get the Sacramento native drafted in even the second round.
He'll have to persuade executives from NBA teams he has matured enough that alcohol and marijuana are no longer issues and that he won't continue to butt heads with coaches the way he did in high school and college. It also wouldn't hurt if he showed improvement in his ability to sink an outside shot coming off a pick and roll, a liability both at Arizona and in Canada.
"He has an uphill battle for sure," an NBA scout familiar with Turner said. "Lot of baggage with him and not sure the talent level trumps it either. Maybe a second-round pick for someone but he will need to prove he has been humbled."
It's difficult for Turner to hear he has little chance of being selected in the first round because it wasn't very long ago that he was more highly regarded than the players projected to go ahead of him. Rivals.com rated Turner the No. 11 recruit in the class of 2011, well ahead of likely first-round picks Trey Burke (No. 142), Michael Carter-Williams (No. 29) or Shane Larkin (No. 72).
"It's frustrating that I've played against every single guard they say is better than me and I've done well," Turner said. "The basketball part, that's easy. That's not what I'm worried about. It's getting the teams to know that I've matured and grown into a grown man."
Turner readily admits that wasn't the case when he arrived at Arizona in fall 2011.
Hailed as the next great point guard in the Arizona lineage after he chose the Wildcats over Kansas, UCLA and Louisville among others, Turner instead struggled on the court and succumbed to the temptation of a hard-partying lifestyle off it. He lost his starting job early in his freshman season, sat out a December game for disciplinary reasons and later was suspended for the rest of the season on the eve of the Pac-12 tournament.
The problems continued for Turner even after Arizona coach Sean Miller asked him to leave the program. In April 2012, campus police arrested Turner on suspicion of extreme DUI when he drove through a red light and recorded blood-alcohol levels of 0.15 and 0.16, nearly twice the legal limit.
Rather than seeking a fresh start at another college, Turner passed on a scholarship offer from SMU and revealed he was turning pro last July. He believed he had a better chance of achieving his NBA dreams this June by proving himself against pro players overseas.
Albacomp of the Hungarian premier division offered Turner a forum to showcase himself, but in retrospect signing with the team wasn't the appropriate choice. Not only was the competition insufficient, Turner's paychecks often arrived late and the living conditions at the apartment the team chose for its foreign players was deplorable.
"It was like projects I was staying in – third-world projects," Turner said. "I've lived in some bad places, but that was horrible out there. I'd go to practice and show the coaches that I had bedbug bites on my back and all on my neck and everything. I wanted to stay there and show I could handle it, but my agent just decided to get me out of there."
Where Turner resurfaced a few weeks later was with the Halifax Rainmen of the National Basketball League of Canada, a fledgling two-year-old league not too far below the NBA Development League in quality. Turner got off to good start despite being the youngest player in the eight-team league, but everything deteriorated soon after Halifax fired coach Cliff Levingston five games into the season and replaced him with Robert Spon.
Even though Turner initially moved into the starting lineup after the coaching change, he was not comfortable under a coach who encouraged his team to walk the ball up court and ran very few pick and rolls in half-court sets. Turner clashed with Spon over the system and sets the team utilized, which led to a reduction in his playing time in late December and ultimately to his departure.
Other Halifax players and coaches insist Spon's portrayal of Turner is inaccurate and unfair.
Small forward Hilary Haley, who lived with Turner in Halifax, described his ex-roommate as humble and hard-working and said "none of those things that were said about him are true." Assistant coach Colter Simmonds echoed those sentiments, adding that he agreed with Turner that the Rainmen did not utilize him properly and that he argued vehemently with ownership not to release Turner.
Simmonds, who served as a mentor to Turner in Halifax, suspects concerns about the point guard partying too much hastened his exit, an issue the assistant coach believes was overblown.
"I think he started to make strides when he was here, but there was a perception because of his past," Simmonds said. "He'd have a bad practice and others would think it was because he was out partying. Sometimes I had been with him the day before and could honestly vouch for him that wasn't the case."
Being cut by a team from an obscure league in Canada had to be humbling for a player of Turner's pedigree, but he insists he wasn't too discouraged. The biggest reason for that was five of the other seven teams in the league immediately offered him a contract for the rest of the season.
When the Summerside Storm signed Turner in January, assistant coach Mike Leslie admits he was wary about what it would be like to have Turner on the team because of his reputation. Leslie's concerns vanished soon afterward, however, because he discovered Turner was nothing like what he feared.
Turner accepted initially coming off the bench behind Summerside's veteran point guard. He shared the ball unselfishly when he got on the court. He stayed in the gym for hours after practice working on various aspects of his game. And he routinely would approach the coaches after games with questions about what he could do differently or why they chose to run a certain play in a certain situation.
"You always worry about a kid with his past, but we had no issues," Leslie said. "He's a young man who I think got off track in life because he's so talented and some things were probably ignored or accepted as part of that package. He came here to a very small community where there's nowhere to hide. If you yawn today, somebody knows about it in town tomorrow. From day one, he accepted that and there were no issues whatsoever. Absolutely none."
It took Turner until the eve of the playoffs to finally usurp 29-year-old Al Stewart as Summerside's starting point guard, but once he did he displayed his full arsenal in a way he hadn't since high school. He averaged 13.6 points, 5.7 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals in eight playoff games, leading the Storm to the league finals with his ability to push tempo, create for others and finish at the rim.
Once he returned to the U.S. last month, entered a plea agreement in his DUI case from the previous spring and served two days in prison as part of his penalty, Turner was finally free to shift his focus to preparing for the NBA draft. He has worked the past few weeks in Los Angeles with Tyrell Jamerson, a former UNLV player who also trained Turner last summer as he was preparing to leave for Hungary.
Each day, Jamerson puts Turner through an array of drills designed to improve the point guard's ball handling, his passing and especially his shooting. Not only does Jamerson rave about Turner's first-round talent and gym rat work ethic, the trainer has also detected a change in attitude from Turner between last year and this year.
"He's more upbeat this year," Jamerson said. "It doesn't seem like the weight of the world is on his shoulders. He smiles more and has more fun during drills. He opens up more. That's what makes him more fun to be around. Before he'd just come in and do his work. Now he comes up to everyone and talks to them, even when he doesn't know them."
That's a great sign for Turner because he'll need to be comfortable talking to NBA scouts and team executives the next few weeks in order to show them he's a more mature, driven person than his reputation would suggest.
Asked what he'll say to persuade scouts that he has changed, Turner has his answer ready.
"All the stuff that has happened, that's in the past and it won't happen again," he said. "I'm more mature, I'm more focused, I'm more disciplined and I'm ready to get out there and prove myself. I'm ready to show that I'm the old Josiah."
Make that the old Josiah on the court and a new Josiah off of it.
When I heard last week that UNLV would be unveiling a statue of former coach Jerry Tarkanian outside the Thomas & Mack Center, I immediately wondered the same thing I'm sure most people did.
Would Tarkanian be chewing on a towel?
Sure enough, artist renderings UNLV unveiled at a press conference Wednesday evening show Tarkanian sitting in a folding chair clad in his trademark short-sleeved shirt and tie and holding a towel to his mouth. The bronze statue, created by sculptor Brian Hanlon of Toms River, N.J., is expected to be finished sometime this summer.
The statue for Tarkanian is the latest proof that the legendary coach is finally getting the recognition he deserves, albeit at a time when his failing health makes it difficult for him to appear in public anymore. Last month, it was announced during the Final Four in Atlanta that Tarkanian was finally voted into the Naismith Hall of Fame, a long overdue honor for a man who won 729 games and led UNLV to four Final Fours and the 1990 national championship.
Honors like these for Tarkanian surely would have come sooner were it not for his well-chronicled distaste for the NCAA. He was convinced NCAA investigators targeted him and his teams at UNLV and Long Beach State and he railed against selective enforcement, once memorably quipping, "The NCAA is so mad at Kentucky, it's going to give Cleveland State two more years' probation."
It's probably no coincidence that the honors for Tarkanian are coming at a time when two of his former players are leading the UNLV program. Dave Rice is UNLV's head coach and Stacey Augmon is one of his assistants.
Entitled "Boeheimian Rhapsody," the song mimics Queen's original music video with its shadows, lighting and sequencing while mixing in scenes of well-known Syracuse landmarks. The lyrics poke fun at every aspect of the Syracuse basketball program and celebrate a 2012-13 season that exceeded expectations but ended two victories shy of a second national championship.
They bemoan Trevor Cooney's ill-fated errant shot with Syracuse down three in the final seconds against Michigan in the Final Four. They lament Jim Boeheim's tendency to pick his nose with TV cameras rolling. And best of all they take a shot at the player whose academic woes derailed Syracuse's Final Four bid the previous year, introducing the concept of "Good Melo" (Carmelo Anthony) and "Bad Melo" (Fab Melo)."
Humor Whore member Nick Ferreiro, 19, told the Syracuse Post-Standard that he, Samii Ruddy, 21, and Matt Del Greco, 22, wrote the Boeheimian lyrics together in about two weeks and filmed it over the next three weekends. The video has more than 5,000 views on YouTube in less than 24 hours and it has been well received so far among Syracuse fans and rival fans alike.
Next year's unprecedented recruiting class might give Calipari his best chance yet to chase perfection, but attaining it will not be easy with the non-conference schedule the Kentucky coach has assembled. The Wildcats will face two teams expected to join them in the preseason top three next year, a third likely top 10 team on the road and a handful of other NCAA tournament contenders either at home or on neutral courts.
The biggest early test is a Nov. 12 matchup in Chicago with a Michigan State team that returns every key player besides Derrick Nix from a team that contended for the Big Ten title and reached the Sweet 16. The Spartans will be much more experienced than the freshman-heavy Wildcats and should start the season no lower than third in the polls.
Among the other marquee games on the non-league schedule are a visit to North Carolina on Dec. 14 and a home game against Louisville on Dec. 28. The Tar Heels have the talent to contend in the ACC thanks to the return of James Michael McAdoo and P.J. Hairston, while the defending champion Cardinals have seven of their top nine back and are the only team besides Kentucky with a legit case to begin the season ranked No. 1.
There are no true road games on the schedule besides the visit to Chapel Hill, but some of the remaining home and neutral-court games will be challenging.
A Baylor team that upset Kentucky at Rupp Arena this past season has enough talent to pose a threat in Dallas on Dec. 6, as does an improving Providence team that will meet the Wildcats in Brooklyn on Dec. 1. And Boise State, which will face Kentucky in a guarantee game on Dec. 10, returns the core of an NCAA tournament team and figures to contend in the Mountain West next season.
With three marquee games instead of two and a home slate that features much stronger mid-major foes, it's clear Calipari sought to build a schedule that will boost Kentucky's RPI this season. The Wildcats missed the NCAA tournament last season partially because a modest non-conference schedule and a woeful SEC gave them many more chances for bad losses than quality wins.
Another crash-and-burn season would be stunning for a Kentucky team that could have the No. 1 recruit at every position if Andrew Wiggins comes aboard. This Wildcats team has high aspirations, but it will have to play at a high level right away to avoid suffering a few early losses against a rugged non-league schedule.
The official early-entry list the NBA released on Wednesday morning didn't contain too many surprises aside from a handful of low-major and lower-division players who decided to enter the draft. Click here for the full early-entry list and read below for some relevant statistics from this year's list.
77: Early-entry players on this year's list, 45 college underclassmen, 31 international prospects and one post-graduate high school student
60: Number of players selected in every NBA draft
9: Freshmen on this year's list – Steven Adams (Pittsburgh), Anthony Bennett (UNLV), Archie Goodwin (Kentucky), Grant Jerrett (Arizona), Ricky Ledo (Providence), Ben McLemore (Kansas), Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA), Nerlens Noel (Kentucky), Joshua Simmons (Spartanburg Methodist JC)
10.4: Average number of freshmen on list the past five years
13: Sophomores on this year's list
23: Juniors on this year's list
3: Previously unreported names on list – Christian Kabongo (Morgan State), John Taylor (Fresno Pacific), Joshua Simmons (Spartanburg Methodist JC)
6: SEC and Big East players on the list, tied for most of any conference.
3: Big 12 players on the list, the least of any power conference. The Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC all had five.
In a dusty box in someone's attic or basement, there may still be video of my sixth-grade talent show lurking on a mid-90s vintage camcorder.
I pray it never makes it to YouTube because I'm sure it's 100 times more cringe-worthy than this classic video of Indiana point guard Yogi Ferrell rapping in sixth grade.
According to the person who uploaded the song this week, Park Tudor School had a business fair seven years ago at which every student had to sell a product. Ferrell's product was apparently the above rap song, and it's probably safe to assume he didn't sell too many copies except to sympathetic family members.
Finding the right adjectives to describe the self-written song is not easy, but I'm going to go with adorably awful. Seventy percent of the lyrics are inaudible, but you can definitely here him say at the 26-second mark, "I wanna play for Duke …"
Thankfully for Indiana fans, Ferrell changed his mind in high school. And thankfully for Ferrell, he chose to focus on basketball instead of music.
A lawsuit filed by Manhattan-based Rafaello & Co. in Sept. 2012 brought attention to the purchase by Thomas because it raised eyebrows that a college senior from a single-parent home would attempt to purchase $97,800 in diamond necklaces, watches and earrings. The infractions case was especially noteworthy because it had the potential to jeopardize Duke's 2010 national championship that Thomas helped win.
Thomas forked over $30,000 for a down payment for the jewelry and initially agreed to pay the rest within 15 days, but Rafaello & Co. eventually sued him almost three years later because it did not receive the money. If Rafaello & Co. awarded Thomas a loan based on future earnings he could make as a professional either in the NBA or overseas, that would violate NCAA rules prohibiting such transactions.
Once Thomas and Rafaello & Co. reached a settlement last September, however, the NCAA's hopes of proving the Duke forward did anything wrong instantly became remote. Since a confidentiality agreement was likely part of the settlement and the NCAA lacks subpoena power, investigators would have needed to make their case without any input from either Thomas or the jeweler.
In addition to not cooperating with NCAA investigators, Thomas spoke publicly about the infamous jewelry purchase only once, and he did not shed any light on where he acquired the money for the down payment.
Asked at New Orleans Hornets media day in October whether he violated NCAA rules, Thomas told the Durham Herald Sun, "No. I don't think so." Thomas then declined to elaborate further, adding only that "everything will unfold once everything is taken care of the right way."
That the NCAA was unable to find reason to punish Duke will surely anger those who believe Mike Krzyzewski's program receives preferential treatment. They'll compare this to the infamous Corey Maggette case when the elite recruit received cash payments from his summer basketball coach while still in high school yet still was eligible to help lead Duke to the 1999 Final Four.
The truth is the NCAA was powerless here. They could neither force Thomas or the jeweler to talk, nor could they punish Duke simply because a transaction merely looked suspicious and nobody would explain it.
If Thomas comes forward publicly and offers a plausible explanation for the jewelry, then all this can be put to rest for good. If not, it will always be a question mark hanging over an otherwise brilliant championship season from the Blue Devils.