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Monday, June 26, 2017

College Basketball

Nigel Williams-Goss’ girlfriend Kirstyn Thomas is Washington softball player

Nigel Williams-Goss Kirstyn Thomas

One of the stars of Washington’s softball team has been Kirstyn Thomas, who also has another sports tie.

Thomas, who has been a key contributor during the Huskies’ Women’s College World Series run, is the girlfriend of Gonzaga star Nigel Williams-Goss:

Scooped her up like a ground ball

A post shared by Nigel Williams-Goss (@nigelwg5) on

The two have been together for nearly three years. Williams-Goss attended Washington from 2013-2015 before transferring to Gonzaga. Thomas was a freshman during Williams-Goss’ sophomore season at Washington.

Williams-Goss posted this photo of them together on his Instagram page back in 2015: (more…)

Kentucky fans bombarded referee with over 800 angry voicemail messages

Kentucky basketball

We already knew that Kentucky fans went overboard with their actions against a referee following an Elite Eight loss in the NCAA Tournament, but just how far they went is now coming to light, and the extent is pretty ridiculous.

Referee John Higgins has been in contact with law enforcement officials regarding death threats he has received since the game in late March. Higgins has received hateful messages via the phone at his residence as well as a roofing company he owns. The fans also tried to destroy his company’s reputation with bad reviews on Facebook.

But how ridiculous did Kentucky fans get? WKYT says Higgins received 800 angry voicemail messages. Here are just a few of the messages Higgins received:

“You should put a gun in your mouth and blow your won fricking brains out.”

“You enjoy your life before somebody kills you.”

“I hope you all get in a plane crash and die.”

After the game, Kentucky head coach John Calipari commented on the officiating, saying it was amazing his team was in that game where they “practically fouled out my team.”

While the stakes were obviously high for a game that led to a spot in the Final Four, there is never a need for this kind of response towards anyone involved in a game, whether it’s a player, coach, or referee. Big Blue Nation is a passionate bunch, but this is an example of going way too far and using it for the wrong purpose.

H/T Deadspin

Bryce Alford defends Lonzo Ball: ‘He gets a rep he doesn’t deserve’

Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball is more of a household name because of his father’s brash personality than he is for his basketball ability, and one of Ball’s former UCLA teammates feels that is not right.

Bryce Alford, UCLA’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made and the son of head coach Steve Alford, was asked about some of the negative attention the Ball family has received in recent months. He described it as “unfair” to Lonzo.

Lonzo has managed to keep his name out of headlines for the wrong reasons despite all of the ridiculous things his father has said. Some players would lose their cool over the questions he gets asked, but the younger Ball hasn’t let that happen.

LaVar, on the other hand, has done everything from declare himself a better 1-on-1 basketball player than Michael Jordan to having awkward heated exchanges with TV personalities. As Alford alluded to, a lot of that has led to resentment toward Lonzo. It’s understandable if you disagree with Lonzo’s refusal to work out with certain teams before the NBA Draft, but he is still arguably the best player in his class. The Los Angeles Lakers, who have the No. 2 overall pick, seem like they’re willing to ignore LaVar’s antics.

John Calipari dodges question about ‘involved’ father LaVar Ball

John Calipari

If John Calipari has a negative opinion of LaVar Ball like so many others in the basketball world, the Kentucky coach is not going to share it.

TMZ caught up with Calipari at the BTIG charity event in New York City on Tuesday, and the coach was asked about UCLA star Lonzo Ball and his father. Calipari was quick to note that he has not followed all of the things LaVar has said, but he praised him for being an “involved” parent.

“I was so far removed that I don’t even know what that means. I know he’s involved,” Calipari said. “Fathers being involved aren’t always bad for these kids. They’ve got a loving relationship. I didn’t follow it that way.”

As for Lonzo, Calipari believes he has a shot to be a great player in the NBA.

“What I can say is the kid can really play,” he added. “He’s a competitor and has a will to win.”

The “loving relationship” Calipari spoke of with LaVar and Lonzo is a bit more than just that. Ball may have the best interests of his children in mind, but he has rubbed a number of people the wrong way with his outlandish comments and overconfidence. For example, LaVar said recently that he wants Lonzo’s rookie shoe deal to be in the $200 tier, which is extremely unrealistic.

At the moment, it looks like all of the major apparel companies are passing on shoe deals for Lonzo. Despite what Calipari thinks about how great it is for LaVar to be involved, you could make a case that he is damaging his son’s earning potential.

HS coach: Kawhi Leonard was originally slated to play for UCLA

Kawhi Leonard

Could Kawhi Leonard have assumed the torch from Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love as the next great Bruin baller?

In a feature by Sam Gardner of FOX Sports that ran on Thursday, Leonard’s high school coach, Tim Sweeney of Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, California, said the San Antonio Spurs superstar originally had his sights set on UCLA for college and was “signed, sealed and delivered” to then-head coach Ben Howland. But Sweeney claims that jealousy over Leonard’s standout play in a brief AAU stint with the L.A. Dream Team in 2008 led to his falling out of favor with the more prestigious programs in the area.

“Kawhi outshined Renardo Sidney and everyone on the team,” Sweeney was quoted as saying. “The Sidney group all of a sudden was badmouthing him around everybody, OK? Everybody kind of bought in it, and all these big-time schools — which were probably about eight or 10 of them — dropped off. They literally dropped off the face of the map.”

For what it’s worth, Gardner notes that Steve Fisher, Leonard’s head coach at the university he ultimately wound up attending, San Diego State, as well as Justin Hutson, Leonard’s lead recruiter, were both unaware of the blacklisting of sorts that Sweeney claimed.

Leonard wound up averaging 14.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per game in his two seasons at SDSU. At the time, he was largely seen as a raw prospect who mainly specialized on the defensive end, nowhere near the two-way machine he has since blossomed into (as even his current head coach will admit). But given that the Bruins were led by the likes of Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee during that two-year stretch, it’s worth wondering if landing a big fish like Leonard could have bought Howland, who was fired in 2013, some more time and drastically altered the way the UCLA program looks today.

5 players making a mistake by leaving school early for NBA Draft

Nigel Williams Goss

It’s difficult to begrudge any young player who chooses to forego additional time playing as an amateur when they could cash in on their talents by heading to the pros. Judging the financial standing of any young man or the motivation behind his decision to turn pro can get dicey.

Making the choice to begin playing professionally is a huge proposition, and the timing of that decision can have serious repercussions for the player’s chances to succeed as a pro and potentially affects their future career earnings.

Any player has the right to choose to use their skills to earn money, but some choose to cash out too soon and hurt themselves in the long run.

The new draft system allows players to test the waters and play out the draft process, receiving feedback if they don’t hire an agent. Some players forego that safety and hire an agent right away, jeopardizing their career before it even starts.

Here’s a look at five players who are making a mistake by leaving school early.

1. Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga

Players can often misinterpret a run through March Madness as a rise in their draft stock. Williams-Goss may be doing just that.

He was excellent for the Zags this season, earning first-team All-American honors. The point guard showed himself to be a lockdown defender, floor general, and capable shooter after transferring from Washington.

Projecting those skills to the next level, however, can be tough. Williams-Goss’ defense could diminish, since he doesn’t have true NBA size or speed. He shot 36 percent from the college three-point line, but rarely showed NBA range.

Williams-Goss will likely hear his name called during the second round of June draft. Had he returned to Spokane, bulked up his body and refined his shot, we may have seen him as a first-round pick in 2018.

2. Dillon Brooks, Oregon


Elijah Stewart blasts false draft report as trash

Elijah Stewart

Elijah Stewart blasted a reporter for sharing false information about why he did not enter the NBA Draft.

Stewart, who averaged 12.3 points per game as a junior this season for USC, was weighing his draft options. He ultimately decided not to test the waters and chose to return to school.

There were some questions about what happened with Stewart, whom many were expecting to test the draft. Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony reported on Tuesday that Stewart simply “forgot” to submit his paperwork to the NBA.

Stewart saw that tweet, responded to Givony, and dismissed the report as trash.

That report was very difficult to buy. When it comes to a decision that big, very few people would simply forget such an important step.

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