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Aaron and Andrew Harrison returning to Kentucky

Harrison-Twins-Kentucky

Kentucky fans are still trying to get over a tough loss to UConn in the national championship game earlier this month, and they received some great news on Friday that should execrate the healing process. The Wildcats’ twin guards, Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison, have decided to return to Kentucky for their sophomore seasons.

Both Aaron and Andrew announced the decision on their respective Twitter accounts.

As usual, John Calipari is expected to bring in one of the top recruiting classes next season. The return of the Harrison twins will give the Wildcats something they have been lacking in recent years come tournament time — experience.

“They wanted to stay in school,” the twins’ father Aaron told ESPN on Friday. “They wanted to explore their options and see what’s out there. They probably made up their minds last week. All the information they got from the draft was that they were middle to late first round. They had to weigh going back to school and improving and maturing. All the things added up to that.”

Julius Randle and James Young, Kentucky’s top two scorers, have already declared for the draft. However, the Harrisons will join Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein, Marcus Lee and Dakari Johnson as freshman who have decided to stick around for another year.

“I’m coming back for a second season in large part because last year’s title run was special, but we still have unfinished business,” Aaron said.

Aaron knocked down not one but two game-winning 3-pointers in the NCAA Tournament to spark Kentucky’s improbable run to the Final Four. The Wildcats should be the No. 1 team in the preseason rankings later this year for a second straight year.

Mitch McGary heading to NBA after marijuana suspension

Mitch-McGary-MichiganMichigan forward Mitch McGary had the potential to become one of the best interior post players in college basketball next season, but he has decided to forgo his junior and senior seasons and declare for the NBA draft. Unlike others who have made the same decision, McGary was not in a hurry to start his professional career. A mistake forced his hand.

Late last season, McGary was randomly drug tested after sitting out several months with a back injury. He tested positive for marijuana and was suspended for a year per NCAA policy. Rather than sitting out his entire junior season, McGary has decided to leave Michigan early.

“It’s just with the NCAA and their strict rules, they don’t show any mercy,” McGary told Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports. “They take their things seriously.”

McGary said that he had previously passed eight drug tests during his two years at Michigan. He passed five this past season while he was unable to play because of his injury. Since the test he failed was administered by the NCAA and not the school, the penalty was much harsher.

“If it had been a Michigan test, I would’ve been suspended three games and possibly thought about coming back,” McGary said. “I don’t have the greatest circumstances to leave right now [due to the injury]. I feel I’m ready, but this pushed it overboard.

“I don’t think the penalty fits the crime. I think one year is overdoing it a little bit.”

McGary said he is disappointed in himself because “this is not who I am.” Michigan coach John Beilein echoed those sentiments, saying he was very surprised by the suspension. The 21-year-old said he had been having a few drinks with friends when he was offered some weed.

“I always turned it down,” he told Wetzel. “But that night I didn’t.”

Kids make mistakes. McGary made a huge one. He certainly could have used another year of college to prove he is healthy and can still be effective, but he doesn’t have that luxury anymore. Now, he simply must adjust accordingly.

John Calipari goes on Colbert Report and things get funny (Video)

John CalipariJohn Calipari is apparently famous enough to the point that Stephen Colbert had him on his Comedy Central show, which is saying a lot.

Cal is a pretty serious dude, and Colbert obviously has a unique, funny style of humor, so watching them interact was pretty amusing. And it says a lot about how big time Calipari is that Colbert had him on to promote his new book.

The interview was very light and enjoyable. Colbert had some great lines, of course, but the best part was seeing the dynamic of serious Cal trying to keep it light while Colbert was running funny circles around him.

H/T Eye on College Basketball

Tucker Max paid $25,000 to hang out with John Calipari

Tucker-Max-John-Calipari

A lot of people feel that John Calipari is an insufferable jerk who thinks way too highly of himself. Award-winning author Tucker Max, who has chronicled his raunchy sexual encounters with women through his best-selling book and popular website, openly admits that he is a narcissist who thinks too highly of himself. Together, they make the perfect pair.

According to Deadspin, Max participated in a silent auction last September at the John Calipari Fantasy Basketball Experience. Everything from three days of instruction from Calipari to playing ball at the UK facilities was offered. One person who attended the camp told Deadspin Max bid $25,000 for a night with Calipari that included a private jet to the Bulls-Bobcats game on Wednesday night.

“Me and @UKCoachCalipari on our way to see the Bobcats and Bulls tonight,” Max wrote on Twitter. “He travels in style pic.”

Calipari’s wife would have probably preferred if someone else was the highest bidder.

Jabari Parker will enter NBA draft

jabari-parker-dukeJabari Parker has decided to give up his final three years of eligibility at Duke and enter the NBA draft. The 19-year-old consensus first-team All-American announced his decision on Thursday in a column he wrote for Sports Illustrated.

“On Tuesday I thanked Coach K for preparing me to become a professional,” Parker wrote. “I expressed my appreciation to him for helping me grow so much as a person and a basketball player. And he reminded me how successful a season it was for our team and me personally. I told him that he is always going to be my coach. But the time has come for me to join the best basketball league in the world.”

Parker averaged 19.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game in his freshman season with the Blue Devils. He had one of his worst games of the season in an upset loss to Mercer in the NCAA Tournament, but he is still expected to be a lottery pick. He said the difficult decision ultimately came down to how short an NBA career can be.

“My father, Sonny, played in the NBA. I know firsthand that the career span of a pro basketball player is finite,” Parker said. “The lucky ones play until their mid-30s. With that perspective, I shrink my professional career with each year that I remain in college. It’s ironic, but true.”

After Duke’s season came to a disappointing end, many speculated that Parker might return to play another season under Coach K. As Seth Davis put it during his interview with Larry Brown Sports earlier this month, there are worse things than being a sophomore in college.

With a 6-foot-8, 235-pound frame, Parker has a great NBA body. There’s no reason to believe he won’t thrive with a bit of fine-tuning.

Brittney Griner: Baylor was not supportive of my sexual preference

Brittney GrinerMost of the people who watched Brittney Griner dominate the basketball court for four years at Baylor did not care what she did with her personal time. The fact that Griner is gay never really seemed to be an issue. However, Griner revealed in her new book that things weren’t always as civil as they seemed between her, Baylor coach Kim Mulkey and the university.

Before she committed to Baylor, Griner said Mulkey told her she cared about nothing besides her basketball ability.

“Big Girl, I don’t care what you are,” Griner recalls Mulkey telling her, via The Slate. “You can be black, white, blue, purple, whatever. As long as you come here and do what you need to do and hoop, I don’t care.”

Apparently that did not turn out to be the case. Griner wrote in her book that she was once out with her girlfriend on Valentines Day when someone spotted her and informed Mulkey. Griner said Mulkey later told her that she needs to be more careful about keeping her relationships private and watching what she puts on Twitter.

“The more I think about it, the more I feel like the people who run the school want it both ways: they want to keep the policy, so they can keep selling themselves as a Christian university, but they are more than happy to benefit from the success of their gay athletes,” Griner wrote. “That is, as long as those gay athletes don’t talk about being gay.”

Griner said there is “no right or wrong side” when it comes to Mulkey’s opinions and that she still loves her, describing their relationship as having “complicated feelings” at times. She also said she would attend Baylor again if she had to do it all over, but that it is hard to be a spokesperson for the school.

“I would love to be an ambassador for Baylor, to show my school pride, but it’s hard to do that,” Griner said. “I’ve spent too much of my life being made to feel like there’s something wrong with me. And no matter how much support I felt as a basketball player at Baylor, it still doesn’t erase all the pain I felt there.”

Unfortunately, this is an issue in many schools across the country. Baylor is a Christian university, and that can mean having to tread the line between biblical truths and equal rights. From the sound of it, Mulkey and school administration didn’t always make the right choices when it came to supporting Griner.

H/T Deadspin

John Calipari says ‘tweak’ he made was having Andrew Harrison pass more

John Calipari KentuckyThe Kentucky Wildcats were a completely different team once the NCAA Tournament began. After a season of disappointing results and tumbling in the national rankings, Kentucky knocked off some of the best teams in the tourney field en route to a National Championship appearance. So what changed?

When reporters asked how the Wildcats were able to make such a deep run, John Calipari credited a minor “tweak” he made in the team’s approach. That apparently involved freshman guard Andrew Harrison. Calipari elaborated on Monday.

“I was trying to make the game easier for Andrew,” Calipari told CBS This Morning, via The Dagger’s Jeff Eisenberg. “I got tapes of Deron Williams, who averaged nine assists throughout his career in the NBA. We had a game where he had 11 assists and I showed Andrew and I said, ‘Look at this. Let’s watch. Would you have passed or shot?’ He said, ‘I would have shot.’ ‘Would you have passed or shot?’ Well, Deron was throwing balls to everybody.”

The only regret Calipari had was not making the change sooner.

“And so I said, ‘Monday, you will not shoot one basketball. You will pass,” he explained. “We’re going to run less plays. You will create shots. We will chart. We’re not telling our team.’ He comes in and has 26 assist attempts. Twenty-six assists that Monday. I’m mad the whole practice because it’s changed my team. Why didn’t I do it earlier? And then I apologized to him, I apologized to the team and I said, ‘I messed this up, make me look good now.’”

It obviously worked. Kentucky probably wasn’t going to beat UConn in the National Championship game regardless given the way Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright were playing. Guard play almost always carries a team in the postseason. By realizing that, Calipari was able to defy the odds.