Mike Hopkins isn’t about to give up on Michael Porter Jr. without a fight.
Hopkins was introduced on Wednesday as Washington’s new head basketball coach. One of his biggest tasks will be trying to convince top recruit Michael Porter Jr. to remain with the school.
Porter Jr. was looking forward to joining the Huskies next season and playing for Lorenzo Romar, who is his godfather. But Romar was fired last week, leaving Porter disappointed.
On top of that, there’s another layer to the situation.
Porter Jr.’s father, Michael Sr., was on Romar’s staff and has been offered a position by Cuonzo Martin at Missouri. Porter Sr. used to coach the women’s team at Missouri and his sons played high school ball in Columbia.
Still, Hopkins is set to meet with Porter Jr. to try convincing him to play at Washington.
Hopkins has spoken to Porter Sr. MPJ will speak with him in person tonight or tomorrow, per source https://t.co/dnwi4Mhc4D
— Dave Softy Mahler (@Softykjr) March 22, 2017
Was just told that Hopkins hasn't called Porter yet because MPJ wants an in person conversation, not a phone call. FWIW
— Dave Softy Mahler (@Softykjr) March 22, 2017
Porter Jr. was honored Wednesday as the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year. He said that he will be requesting his release. Porter Jr. says he’s considering Oklahoma, Virginia, Missouri and Washington.
“I love Seattle and from what I hear Mike Hopkins is that dude so I’m gonna talk to him and see what he’s saying,” Hopkins said Wednesday via USA Today.
Porter Jr. also had this to say about Missouri.
“That’s home for me and they reached out to my dad with a job offer so if he accepts that, not saying I’ll definitely go there, but it’d be big.”
Not only is the recruitment of Porter Jr. huge because he’s such a top player, but also because his younger brother Jontay would likely follow him too.
Matt Barnes will likely forever be linked with Derek Fisher after their infamous 2015 confrontation, but the veteran swingman has gotten to the point where he would very much like to be excluded from this narrative.
In a recent interview with Nubyjas Wilborn of Sporting News, Barnes said he was tired of being taunted by opposing crowds with chants of Fisher’s name.
“Everywhere I go I’m still getting Derek Fisher chants. I’m sick of that s—,” said the 37-year-old journeyman. “I can hear that from the stands. But if I say anything to a fan, I’m catching a fine. So I do my best to tune it out.”
Barnes has heard the chants everywhere from Indiana to New York in the 17 months or so since his incident with Fisher. In fairness, the UCLA product did a lot himself to keep their beef in the headlines, and now he has begun to realize that the pettiness of sports fans knows no statute of limitations.
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The United States has reached the final of the World Baseball Classic, which is reason enough for American baseball fans to celebrate. But comments like what Ian Kinsler had to say is rubbing some the wrong way.
The New York Times published an article on Wednesday ahead of the WBC championship game between the US and Puerto Rico and talked about the differences between how each country regards the WBC. In the article, Billy Witz included the following quote from Kinsler, the United States’ second baseman, discussing differences in style between the US and Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic.
“I hope kids watching the W.B.C. can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays,” Kinsler said via The Times. “That’s not taking anything away from them. That just wasn’t the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way.”
Kinsler’s comment highlights an issue about baseball that’s been magnified over the past few years.
There is a major difference in terms of the culture of the game between the way players from different countries react to their successes and failures on the field. In the US, players are taught to have a respect for the game and opponents, which is generally demonstrated by not showing as much outward emotion. Contrarily, other countries are taught to be showmen because that’s what helps drive crowds and make the game fun.
Younger players like Bryce Harper have been trying to usher in a new era to MLB where fun and emotion is part of the game, but it’s clear that Kinsler belongs to the old guard.
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- Ian Kinsler
There were rumors that Eric Musselman could become the next head basketball coach at Cal, but it sounds like he will opt to stay at Nevada instead of leave for the Pac-12.
CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish reported Wednesday that Musselman will stay at Nevada despite meeting with Cal twice.
Eric Musselman met with Cal officials twice but has decided to remain at Nevada, a source told @CBSSports. Working on a new deal now.
— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) March 22, 2017
Musselman just completed his second season at Nevada. He led the Wolf Pack to the NCAA Tournament, though they lost to Iowa State in the first round. He is 52-21 over two seasons in Reno.
Musselman has ties to the Bay Area and Northern California, as he’s had stints as head coach of the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings. The 52-year-old seems to be content in the college ranks now, as he’s been coaching for NCAA teams since 2012.
Cal has a coaching vacancy after Cuonzo Martin left last week to take the Missouri job.
- Eric Musselman
Pack up your bags everybody because Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau has officially reached self-awareness.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Thibodeau dropped this funny quote about how he manages to keep injured guard Zach LaVine involved, per Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press.
How does Thibs make sure LaVine still feels a part of things while he's out with the injury?
Thibs: "Yell at him daily."
— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) March 22, 2017
Thibodeau is, of course, known as one of the league’s most hard-nosed disciplinarians, and that reputation has only grown in his first season at the helm of the young Timberwolves. His raspy yelling voice has even ascended to meme status within the NBA head coaching fraternity.
The Timberwolves have missed the 22-year-old LaVine’s dynamic play from the shooting guard position since he went out for the season in early February with a torn left ACL. But hopefully Thibodeau’s constant barking is helping LaVine maintain some sense of normalcy in his absence.
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Wednesday’s match between Jiri Vesely and Tommy Haas at the Miami Open was interrupted by the appearance of an iguana on the edge of the court. Seriously.
Just after a game was completed in the third set, Vesely started complaining after noticing an iguana hanging out above an electronic scoreboard.
— Jonathan Tannenwald (@jtannenwald) March 22, 2017
The umpire and players could be heard discussing strategies on how to remove the creature:
— luciahoff (@luciahoff) March 22, 2017
Haas came over to the other side of the court and tried to take a selfie with the reptile:
Haas gets a selfie with the Iguana this is insane ! pic.twitter.com/nJhjNTW6KU
— Joe C (@ProdigyRep) March 22, 2017
The crowd cheered as Haas took the selfie, while the Tennis Channel announcers went wild. Officials allowed Haas to take the photo but then made sure he put his phone away because you’re not supposed to have them out during matches.
The iguana was eventually knocked down from its perch and scrambled onto the court, but it was later cleared away.
We’ve seen sports contests interrupted by animals before (this comes to mind), but this iguana situation seemed unique.
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Restricted free agent cornerback Malcolm Butler has been searching for a team to sign him to an offer sheet, and a post he made on social media Wednesday has led to speculation that he may have found one.
Butler shared a photo of himself on what appeared to be an airplane, and the caption he included was interesting.
A post shared by Malcolm CB Butler (@mac_bz) on
“Nothing changed but the change #BLESSED,” Butler wrote.
Butler has reportedly been negotiating with the New Orleans Saints for several days, and the two sides were said to be making progress on a deal. Since he is a restricted free agent, the New England Patriots would have a chance to match any offer sheet the 27-year-old signs. However, now that the Patriots have signed cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a massive contract, there has been speculation that they could work out some sort of trade with the Saints rather than forcing New Orleans to give up their first-round pick — No. 11 overall — for signing Butler as an RFA.
Though he would be part of another great team if he stayed in New England, Butler wants to get paid. If the report we heard about his negotiations with the Patriots last offseason is true, you can understand why he might want out of town.
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Doug Gottlieb will interview for the Oklahoma State head coaching job.
The former Cowboys point guard has been lobbying for the job since Travis Ford was fired last year, but he did not receive an interview as it went to Brad Underwood. With Underwood leaving for Illinois, the position is vacant again, and Gottlieb is first up for an interview.
News of Gottlieb’s interview came an hour after FOX Sports announced that the former player had been hired by the network. Gottlieb has served as a college basketball analyst and talk show host since ending his playing career. His “The Doug Gottlieb Show” is set to air on FOX Sports Radio and FS1 beginning on April 24.
- Doug Gottlieb
The Chicago White Sox seem determined to get a Jose Quintana trade done before the start of the season.
Jim Bowden of ESPN reports on Wednesday that the White Sox continue to work on moving the All-Star left-hander and could have a deal done before Opening Day with the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves being mentioned as the likeliest possibilities.
#WhiteSox continue to work hard on Jose Quintana trade that could happen before opening day with Astros & Braves appear best possibilities
— Jim Bowden (@JimBowden_ESPN) March 22, 2017
The White Sox have been dangling the 28-year-old Quintana for seemingly the entire offseason and have drawn interest from a number of other teams as well. Quintana is due to make $15.85 million over the next two seasons, and his deal comes with club options for both 2019 and 2020.
The Astros have little lefty depth behind ace Dallas Keuchel (who himself regressed badly in 2016), and the Braves need rotation help wherever they can get it as they will be relying heavily on 42-year-old R.A. Dickey and 43-year-old Bartolo Colon this season. The White Sox already dealt Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox in December, so it’s no secret that Quintana is very available.
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- Jose Quintana
John Calipari signed a two-year contract extension with Kentucky, the school announced on Wednesday.
The two-year deal runs through 2024 and calls for Calipari to make $8 million a year after next season. He will make $7.75 million next season.
“John has achieved consistent championship-level performance at Kentucky,” Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a staement. “No one in America is better suited for everything that comes with being the coach here. Not only has he attained incredible success on the court, he is also a leader in our community and in college basketball. We have been blessed to have him and Ellen here for the last eight years and we are blessed they will continue to call Kentucky home.”
Calipari, whose Wildcats will face UCLA in the Sweet 16 on Friday, is looking to continue his “terrific ride.”
“The last eight years at the University of Kentucky have been a terrific ride,” Calipari said. “This extension shows our full commitment to each other. I believe this school is the gold standard and I’m so thankful and blessed that this university has given me this opportunity at this point in my career.”
Calipari has been at Kentucky since 2009 and taken them to four Final Fours. He has won a national championship and five SEC regular season championships.