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Sunday, August 20, 2017

College Basketball

Top-ranked prospect RJ Barrett reclassifies to 2018, reveals list of schools in pursuit

RJ Barrett’s arrival on the college basketball scene is coming a year early.

In a blog post for USA TODAY on Monday, Barrett, the No. 1 prospect for the class of 2019, announced that he has decided to reclassify to 2018. He also listed Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Oregon, Texas and UCLA as the schools “showing the most interest” and mentioned Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, USC, UConn and UNLV as others that have “reached out.”

The 17-year-old Barrett, a 6-foot-7 small forward, made headlines this summer with an impressive showing at the FIBA U19 World Cup in Egypt. Barrett led all tournament scorers with 21.6 points per game and guided his native Canada to a gold-medal finish, including an upset victory over the heavily-favored United States team in the semifinal round.

Reclassifications seem to be all the rage lately, but it will be hard to complain about getting to watch Barrett’s skills at the NCAA level earlier than expected.

Image via D1 Sports Engine on YouTube

Top recruit Marvin Bagley III to visit UCLA, Arizona

Marvin Bagley III may be blessing the Pac-12 with his talents.

Bagley, the top-ranked recruit for the class of 2018, has added official visits to UCLA and Arizona for the month of August, his father told ESPN’s Paul Giangardi on Friday. Giangardi also adds that Bagley, who has already visited Duke and USC, is considering reclassifying for 2017.

Bagley, 18, is a five-star power forward listed at 6-foot-11, 220 pounds. The Bruins and the Wildcats both already boast top-five 2017 recruiting classes. But a Bagley reclassification and commitment could conceivably lift either of them into the national title conversation (as well as give this fellow top prospect some competition to be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft). And it’s definitely easy to see why:

Image via Rivals.com on YouTube

Video via Overtime

Woman who tried to extort Rick Pitino to be released from prison

Rick Pitino

Karen Sypher, the woman who tried to extort Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino, is set to be released from prison, according to a report.

WDRB says Sypher will be freed on Friday. She reportedly has seen family in her hometown of Middleton the past few weeks.

Sypher will still have to complete two years of probation, but she will no longer be in lockup.

The 57-year-old was found guilty in 2010 of extortion and lying to the FBI. She and Pitino had sex in a Louisville restaurant in 2003, and she later made many financial demands of him, including asking for $10 million.

Pitino went public in 2009 about the extortion attempt.

Sypher had served her sentence in Alabama and Florida, according to WDRB.

Kanye West was ‘super-friendly’ with UCLA basketball team in visit

Kanye West

UCLA’s basketball players had a pair of surprise visitors to their summer basketball workout.

Kanye West and 2 Chainz made an appearance at the workout, and West, at the very least, was happy to greet the players.

A UCLA spokesperson told CBS Sports’s Gary Parrish that West had been playing in the gym before UCLA’s players arrived, and greeted them when they did.

“A lot of our guys listen to his music, so it was a cool thing for them,” the spokesperson said. “We sometimes get celebrities on our campus, and you never know how they’re going to be. But, honestly, Kanye was super-friendly with our guys. I was impressed.”

It’s no secret that Kanye loves his basketball. He does have a reputation for being a bit surly sometimes, though, so it’s good that the UCLA players got a cool experience out of it.

Jim Boeheim rips ‘idiot’ Tom Crean over draft criticism

Jim Boeheim

Jim Boeheim on Thursday ripped former Indiana coach Tom Crean for his draft-night criticism of one of Boeheim’s former Syracuse players.

Orange forward Tyler Lydon was taken in the first round by the Denver Nuggets, No. 24 overall. Crean, who was fired by Indiana, served as a draft analyst on The Vertical’s draft night show. He didn’t think much of the Lydon pick.

“I don’t think he’s that good,” Crean said on the show, via Syracuse.com. “I think he plays hard, I think he tries hard, I don’t think he’s soft. But I don’t think the shot is there. I don’t think the mobility. Guys like him, who are they going to guard? And who are they going to separate from?”

Despite his criticism of Lydon, Crean did praise Boeheim and the job he does with grooming players in his program. That didn’t matter much to Boeheim, who called Crean an “idiot” in response Thursday.

“He’s an idiot,” Boeheim said from the SU Athletics’ No-Huddle Tour, via Syracuse.com. “He said he’s not a good shooter. Freshman, sophomore year he shoots 40 percent from 3. That’s pretty good for a young player. I think he had the best shooting statistics at the combine, I think, of all the big guys. He shoots it. That’s what he does. It just shows the ignorance and not doing the work, the research, the background check. He’s athletic and can do a lot of other things but he can really shoot.”

This is the exact reason why draft analysts don’t go out on a limb very often. You’re critical of a player and you get this kind of backlash. And then of course Crean is an easy target since he was fired by Indiana.

Time will tell who was right about Lydon.

John Calipari vehemently denies Knicks rumors

John Calipari

John Calipari may be halfway across the planet, but it still didn’t take him long to respond to the rumors linking him to the New York Knicks.

Thursday afternoon, ESPN’s Ian Begley reported that a Calipari rep expressed interest in the Knicks’ presidency job on behalf of the coach.

Kentucky was asked to comment on the report and said Calipari was in Egypt for the FIBA World Cup and unavailable to comment.

Two hours later, Calipari woke up to the rumors and shot them down via Twitter:

This game is all too familiar for the successful Kentucky coach. His name gets linked to an opening and he quickly denies interest. Back in February, the rumors tied him to the Pelicans and his former player, Anthony Davis. This time it’s the Knicks.

Report: John Calipari expressed interest in Knicks presidency

John Calipari

Maybe the itch to compete in the NBA still hasn’t escaped John Calipari.

ESPN New York’s Ian Begley reported on Thursday that Calipari’s people reached out to the Knicks to express interest in their presidency.

Begley says the Knicks do not have interest in Calipari at the moment. Though it is unconfirmed, Begley presumes Calipari would be interested in a dual-job of coaching the Knicks in addition to leading the team’s front office.

The Knicks have a vacancy after firing Phil Jackson on Wednesday following three years under his leadership. GM Steve Mills is currently leading the team. Isiah Thomas has already shot down rumors about a potential return to the Knicks, while Begley has mentioned the team is interested in Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti for the job.

Calipari is one of the best coaches in college basketball and has been at Kentucky since 2009. He still may have an urge to return to the NBA and reshape his legacy after a largely unsuccessful tenure as head coach of the Nets from 1996-1999.

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