Tom Izzo’s Recruiting Renaissance is Coming Fast and Furious

The Big Lead

Michigan State fans have long inured themselves to the inevitable pain of losing a recruiting battle at the Eleventh Hour. So much so that they've convinced themselves it doesn't matter. And there's some truth to that, as Tom Izzo has made a Hall of Fame career out of projects and misfit pieces. But even a casual glance at past NCAA champions makes it painfully obvious that a huge part of the process is assembling a war chest to take the floor six times in an 17-day stretch come spring. Denying that fact allows some sort of weird blue-collar Midwest zeal to flourish, but doesn't make it any less true.

The sound of Spartans changing their tune swiftly and forcefully on the whole issue of recruiting and its import is reverberating loudly as today the program secured its second five-star player in eight days. Max Christie, an All-Everything shooting guard from the Chicago area, committed to Izzo. Like Emoni Bates, it was a television event. Like Bates, the crown jewel rumored to be the best thing since LeBron James, the result fell in MSU's favor.

Christie even chose East Lansing over Durham. That is … not usually the way it's worked. It's a brave new world and if college basketball exists past the next calendar year, Michigan State is going to be in prime position to bring Izzo's much-desired and long-elusive national title home. 

#basketball, #collegebasketball

Louisville basketball suspends voluntary activities after two positive tests for COVID-19

Kentucky Sports

The ups and downs of attempting to restart collegiate athletics amid a pandemic found their way to Kentucky again this week.

The University of Louisville announced Tuesday it has temporarily suspended all men’s basketball voluntary activities for two weeks after two members of the program tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

“All proper procedures and protocols are being followed, including the quarantining of those impacted,” Louisville announced in a news release that did not identify the individuals involved nor specify whether they were players or staff members. “We look forward to a resumption of men’s basketball activities in the near future.”

Last week, Eastern Kentucky University announced that three athletes and three members of the athletics staff had tested positive and been isolated but workouts on the Richmond campus were scheduled to continue with a few adjustments.

#basketball, #collegebasketball

Is Zion Williamson worth all of the hype?

Essentially Sports

New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson turns 20 today! The NBA rookie is past his teenage years and it is a perfect sign of what is yet to come from the #1 pick of the 2019 NBA draft. Zion’s first year in the league has shown us glimpses of what the monstrous player inside him can perform on the NBA court. 

Though Zion’s rookie year did not get off to a perfect start, he’s shown us what he is capable of in the 19 regular-season games that he played, prior to the league’s suspension. In those limited games that he got, the 6’6” forward managed to post an average of 23.6 points per game. I mean, that is insane right?

Zion’s rebounding capabilities are a major factor in his game. A few highlight reels of him bullying his opponents on the rim can prove as an example to the above-mentioned statement. Owing to his collegiate heroics, Zion’s decision to declare for the draft resulted in a major hype surrounding him. 

Zion was everywhere in the basketball scene. In his single year as a Blue Devil (Duke University Men’s Basketball team), the North Carolina native averaged 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds. Though a player of his quality couldn’t lead his team to the NCAA championship, Zion clearly stood out as a freshman. 

Is Zion Williamson the most hyped player ever?


Free Agency Won’t Deter Brandon Ingram From Playing In Restart

Hoops Rumors

Top restricted free agent Brandon Ingram never considered sitting out the remainder of the season, according to USA Today’s Mark Medina.

The Pelicans star forward was enjoying a breakout season prior to the stoppage of play in March, averaging 24.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 4.3 APG in his fourth NBA campaign after being included in the blockbuster Anthony Davis swap. He averaged 18.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG and 3.0 APG in his third and final season with the Lakers.

New Orleans will try to hold off five other teams during the restart and secure the eighth and final Western Conference playoff berth. Ingram felt that he couldn’t let his teammates down despite a big payday looming this offseason.


Predicting How Many Future Hall of Famers Are on Every NBA Roster

Bleacher Report

The Hall of Fame is the highest honor in any sport, with only 150 NBA players receiving the call since the inaugural class of 1959.

With so much talent in the league today, we could see that number dramatically increase over the next 10-20 years.

Using Basketball Reference's Hall of Fame Probability percentages (explained here), we have a good idea of which players have a real chance at the Hall of Fame. All percentages are rated by the players' current career, not what they project to do.

A final prediction of how many future Hall of Famers are on each roster will be broken down into three categories:

Here's how many future Hall of Famers each team currently has on its roster.

HOF Locks: Veteran players with an extremely high Hall of Fame probability rating and/or younger superstars who are on pace to become some of the league's greatest.

On the Bubble: Guys climbing the Hall of Fame probability list who have not yet established themselves as locks.

Rising Stars: Players in their first few seasons who don't have the necessary resumes yet but have the time and skill set to become Hall of Famers.

Atlanta Hawks: 2 (Vince Carter, Trae Young)

HOF Locks: G/F Vince Carter (94.6 percent)

On the Bubble: N/A

Rising Stars: Trae Young, John Collins

Carter will be officially retiring from the NBA at age 43 following 22 seasons. He places ninth on Basketball Reference's Hall of Fame probability rankings among active players, meaning he is a lock to walk into the Hall.

An eight-time All-Star, Carter is one of the greatest dunkers of all time and was one of the league's best players from 1999 to 2009. His longevity should be admired as well, especially being able to adapt his game from superstar to veteran role player.

Young is certainly off to a tremendous start in his career, becoming an All-Star starter in year two at age 21. He's already joined Oscar Robertson as the only two players in history to average at least 29 points and nine assists in his first two seasons.

Collins can't be ruled out, either, as the 22-year-old power forward became the first player in NBA history to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 58 percent overall and 40 percent from three.

Carter is in, and Young is on a very early path to join him.

Boston Celtics: 2 (Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum)

HOF Locks: N/A

On the Bubble: PG Kemba Walker (15.1 percent)

Rising Stars: F Jayson Tatum

Walker looked like just another good starting point guard in the NBA until the last four seasons, where four straight All-Star Games and a spot on the All-NBA third team in 2018-19 has opened the door for his candidacy.

Now 30, he should have a few more All-Star years and 20-plus point-per-game seasons left. He'll also greatly benefit from moving from the Charlotte Hornets to Boston Celtics, where strong postseason play and a possible championship would do wonders for his resume.

Tatum, 22, should end up in the Hall if he can maintain or improve on his stat line of 23.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals this season. Like with Walker, the Celtics' playoff success will have a lot to do with whether they both get in.

Brooklyn Nets: 2 (Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving)

HOF Locks: SF Kevin Durant (100 percent)

On the Bubble: PG Kyrie Irving (64.8 percent)

Rising Stars: N/A

Durant is one of only three active NBA players (LeBron James, Chris Paul) with a perfect 100 percent chance to make the Hall of Fame, per Basketball Reference.

Even though he hasn't played in a year, Durant has everything one could ask for in a career. He's a two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP, the 2014 regular-season MVP, a four-time scoring champ and a 10-time All-Star.

Irving has a strong chance to make the Hall as well, with his durability the only cause for concern moving forward. Still just 28 years old, he is a six-time All-Star with some of the best ball-handling skills in league history. He hit one of the most famous shots in Finals history en route to a 2016 championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers and should return as one of the elite point guards in the league next season.

DeAndre Jordan is the only other Net on the HoF probability list, but a 1.7 percent rating at age 31 means his chances are probably over.

Charlotte Hornets: 0

HOF Locks: N/A

On the Bubble: N/A

Rising Stars: N/A

While the Hornets have assembled some young talent with Devonte' Graham, PJ Washington and Miles Bridges, none has achieved enough to say he's on a Hall of Fame path.

The only player on Charlotte's roster to sniff the Hall of Fame probability list is Nicolas Batum, with a 0.0002 percent chance. Given his falloff this season at age 31 (3.6 points on 34.6 percent shooting in 23.0 minutes), there's no chance of a rise up the standings

Charlotte's other veterans, Terry Rozier, Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo, aren't close to making the list, either.

Chicago Bulls: 0

HOF Locks: N/A

On the Bubble: N/A

Rising Stars: SG Zach LaVine

The Bulls have a lot of young players who could top out at All-Star status in the league, but none appear to be future superstars.

LaVine has the greatest chance of the bunch, enjoying the best season of his career at age 25 by posting 25.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.5 steals. He's a terrific athlete who made the 2014-15 All-Rookie team but has yet to be named an All-Star now six seasons into his career.

Veteran power forward Thaddeus Young is the only Bull to make the Hall of Fame probability list, albeit with just a 0.0003 percent mark.


Iowa State’s Rasir Bolton accuses Penn State coach Chambers of racism

The Score

Iowa State guard Rasir Bolton leveled allegations of racism against his former coach, Penn State bench boss Patrick Chambers.

"A 'noose' around my neck is why I left Penn State," Bolton wrote in a tweet on Monday. "Head coach Patrick Chambers, the day after his one-game suspension in January 2019, in talking to me referenced a 'noose' around my neck. A noose; symbolic of lynching, defined as one of the most powerful symbols directed at African Americans invoking the history of lynching, slavery, and racial terrorism. Due to other interactions with coach, I knew this was no slip of the tongue."

Bolton said he reported the incident to his academic advisor, and both he and his parents spoke with the Penn State athletic director's office.

"During this time coach Chambers admitted to what he said," Bolton continued. "I was provided one meeting and a phone number to text with a psychologist. I was taught 'ways to deal with coach Chambers' personality type.' Coach Chambers never apologized, he said he was 'from the north and wasn't aware.'

#basketball, #collegebasketball

Noose comment by Penn State basketball coach points to larger NCAA problem

The Undefeated

It began as a normal conversation. Rasir Bolton, the freshman starting point guard for Penn State’s basketball team, was working out with the shooting machine on an off day. The gym was mostly empty. Head coach Pat Chambers called Bolton over to talk.

It was January 2019, and the team was in a troubled state. Four days earlier, during a loss at Michigan, Chambers became enraged during a timeout and shoved one of his players in the chest. The moment was caught on national television. Chambers apologized and was suspended for the next game, a 19-point home loss to Wisconsin. Bolton shot poorly against Wisconsin and finished with seven points, five assists and two turnovers.

The day after the Wisconsin game, Chambers told Bolton he knew the freshman was under a lot of pressure and wanted to help him. Bolton recalls Chambers, who was on the hot seat due to the suspension and a 7-8 record at that point in the season, saying, “I want to be a stress reliever for you. You can talk to me about anything. I need to get some of this pressure off you.

“I want to loosen the noose that’s around your neck.”

This happened what feels like a lifetime ago — before the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery ignited protests that shook America. Before the protests emboldened athletes at Clemson, Iowa, Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Texas State to reveal troubling racial interactions with their coaches, and encouraged Texas football players to demand a more inclusive campus culture. Before NASCAR banned the Confederate flag and was immediately rocked by a noose impersonating a door pulldown in the garage of its only Black driver. Before four Black people were found hanging from trees across the country, supposedly all suicides, in less than a month.

#basketball, #collegebasketball

Why are NBA players, coaches and executives willing to resume the season?

USA Today

The thoughtful NBA head coach became troubled by the rising infections related to the coronavirus. So how can Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers justify the league resuming its season in a state that is considered one of the COVID-19 hotspots?

"It's just a hope," Rivers said. "But when we get to the bubble, it becomes the safest place in America."

The thoughtful NBA role player never flinched about whether he would play even amid concerns about the pandemic and the time away from his family. Still, New Orleans Pelicans guard J.J. Redick hardly seemed at ease just because the league will host the resumed season in a quarantined site in Orlando that calls for daily testing and strict social distancing rules.

"There is absolutely no comfort level. None," Redick said. "I know the league and I know the union has tried to create this environment, and I get it. But there’s so much else going on right now."

The accomplished NBA star plans to stay in his room playing video games any time he is not on the basketball court. Yet, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard predicted not everyone will follow his lead.


Damian Lillard Responds to Lakers Trade Rumors


Damian Lillard found himself mixed up in some recent trade rumors that linked him to both the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks. The Portland Trail Blazers star wants it to be clear — he doesn’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon.

Trade speculation has found Lillard on multiple occasions, despite him being adamant in the past that he’s committed to Portland. The latest report came from Mike Berman of the New York Post, who identified the Knicks and Lakers as possible destinations if Lillard were to have a change of heart and demand a trade.

“If scoring point guard Lillard asks for a trade, it’s believed the Knicks or Lakers would be his choices,” Berman wrote in his mailbag column on Saturday.

Lillard was firm when responding to the rumor on Twitter.


Anthony Davis on why it will be weird to play without Lakers fans

Silver Screen And Roll

When the Los Angeles Lakers won their last championship in 2010, they did it front of their fans at Staples Center. The year before, in 2009, the Lakers celebrated their championship on the Orlando Magic’s floor, with a mix of fans from both teams looking on.

If the Lakers win it all again this year, they won’t celebrate in front of any fans — rival or otherwise — because of the threat of the coronavirus. The possibility of playing the rest of the season without fans first arose in March, so players have had ample time to come to terms with their new reality. However, it’s yet to become a reality because they still haven’t returned to the court. That will all change later this month.

In a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Anthony Davis talked about the challenges the Lakers could face in a game without fans, and how they plan to overcome it.



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