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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

College Basketball

10 early favorites to win the 2019 college basketball championship

Coach K

The 2018 college basketball season is in the past, which means it’s not too early to look ahead to 2018-19. We have a pretty good idea of what recruiting classes will look like, and though some NBA decisions remain in the balance, we can make fairly educated guesses as to what everyone’s roster will look like when the season kicks off in November.

We can also tell who we can expect to contend for a national title, if only based on talent. Here are ten teams who should have enough on their roster to mount a charge for a national championship if everything clicks.

1) Duke Blue Devils

You may look at this and scoff, given the fact that the Blue Devils are losing basically their entire freshman class as well as Grayson Allen. That, however, ignores the fact that Duke is bringing in the three best recruits in the nation. They will have phenoms Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish on their side. That combined with the returning base of talent should ensure that Mike Krzyzewski’s squad contend for another national title.

2) Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas is another beneficiary of a fantastic recruiting class, with top guard recruits Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes on their way in. Three major transfers, including Memphis’ Dedric Lawson and K.J. Lawson, should help shield the Jayhawks from the loss of Devonte’ Graham and Malik Newman. They’ll be even better if Lagerald Vick and Udoka Azubuike ultimately decide to return to school.

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Dennis Smith Jr, Josh Jackson implicated in college basketball scandal

The federal investigation into corruption in the college basketball world is continuing, and now more schools and players have been implicated.

Prosecutors have filed counts against former Adidas representative Jim Gatto that alleges he made payments to former players at Louisville, Miami, Kansas and NC State. Here’s the release from the New York District Attorney’s office on the matter:

Dan Wetzel reports that Dennis Smith Jr. and Josh Jackson Jr. are among the former players accused of receiving payments.

Gatto and Adidas are accused of bribing players/families of the players to persuade them to attend schools that had athletic apparel deals with Adidas. Louisville had already been accused of paying $100,000 to secure a commitment from recruit Brian Bowen, who did not end up playing for the school.

Lawsuit accuses Michigan State of covering up rape accusation against basketball players

Michigan State

A Michigan State student was raped by three basketball players in 2015 and coerced by the university into not reporting it, according to a new lawsuit.

According to Chris Solari of the Detroit Free Press, the suit accuses three unnamed basketball players of raping a student in April 2015, one week after the Spartans lost to Duke in the Final Four. The woman’s attorney, Karen Truszkowski, said the victim reported the assault to the university’s counseling center.

The woman said she met the team at a bar and one offered to buy her a drink. She was invited to a party with the team and began to feel “discombobulated,” leading her to believe she may have been drugged. She said she was taken into another room, forced down on a bed, and raped by three basketball players.

When the woman reported the rape to the Michigan State University Counseling Center on April 20, 2015, the female counselor helping her shifted upon learning that the alleged rapists were basketball players. She was then told that “if she chose to notify the police, she faced an uphill battle that would create anxiety and unwanted media attention and publicity as had happened with many other female students who were sexually assaulted by well-known athletes” and was advised to “just get yourself better” instead of pursuing legal action. At no point was she informed of her Title IX rights, protections, and accommodations.

The woman did not go to police and the lawsuit states she eventually sought “intense psychiatric treatment” stemming from the rape and remains on prescribed medication.

It is unclear if Tom Izzo or anyone at the Michigan State athletic department was ever informed of the allegations.

The lawsuit comes at a time when the athletic department and university as a whole are under heavy criticism for allegedly covering up assaults by basketball and football players. An incident such as this one would most certainly constitute further evidence that those allegations are true.

Avery Johnson rejects ridiculous claim about Collin Sexton

Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson rejected a claim from a writer who said that Alabama would be better off without Collin Sexton.

Sexton was phenomenal as a freshman for the Crimson Tide, averaging 19.2 points per game while taking the team to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to eventual national champion Villanova. Sexton has already declared for the NBA Draft, where he is expected to be a top-10 pick.

Knowing that he would be a one-and-done player, AL.com’s Joseph Goodman wrote last month that Bama would be better without Sexton. That article appears to have made its way back to Johnson, who had a harsh response on Friday.

“I don’t even know how someone can be a sports writer and write something like that,” Johnson said, via WVTM’s Kyle Burger. “The reason why we’re going to be better next year is because of Collin Sexton’s year here at Alabama. The reason why we’re going to be better next year is because he helped catapult us into the tournament, which have given the players that are returning some real NCAA experience.”

Sometimes teams can be better despite losing a superstar if the remaining players and incoming ones work together better, but that article seemed unnecessary. Either way, Johnson’s defense of his player will probably sit well with recruits, unlike what another notable coach did recently.

UMBC hollers at Alabama football in funny tweet

The UMBC Retrievers are still feeling confident three weeks after their historic upset of No. 1-seeded Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

In a tweet posted on Friday, UMBC hilariously hollered at Alabama’s football program, the reigning national champions and one of the biggest powerhouses in all of sports. When Bama asked what was up, UMBC replied that they were just saying hello as they had been “having some fun with No. 1 teams lately.”

While UMBC fell in the very next round to Kansas State, their unprecedented upset victory won’t be forgotten any time soon. They may be barking up the wrong tree by calling out the Crimson Tide though, but at least the Retrievers were able to provide some inspiration elsewhere in the college football world.

Siena coach Jimmy Patsos under investigation for allegedly verbally abusing manager

Siena Saints logo

Siena Saints head men’s basketball coach Jimmy Patsos is under investigation for allegedly verbally abusing a student manager of the team, according to a report.

The Albany Times Union shares news of the investigation Patsos is facing. The student manager filed a complaint with the school’s president, alleging that he has been the target of taunts and verbal abuse from the coach. The student, who has obsessive compulsive disorder, says he was teased by the coach.

“The complaint included allegations that Patsos called the student manager “insane” and teased him about his medications and other personal issues, including in front of players and others, that person said,” the Times Union reported.

A school spokesperson says the matter arose during an end-of-season review of the program.

Patsos, 51, went 8-24 this season — his fifth and worst at Siena. The team has gone 77-92 under his leadership.

Kansas’ Malik Newman to enter NBA Draft, hire agent

Malik Newman

Malik Newman announced on Wednesday that he will be leaving Kansas to enter the NBA Draft. He also said he would hire an agent.

“I want to thank Coach Self and the coaching staff for giving me this opportunity to come to Kansas,” Newman said in a video about his decision. “I definitely want to thank my teammates. The journey with these guys has been nothing short of amazing. My two years here was everything that I asked for. My redshirt year, I had a chance to develop and Coach Self took me under his wing and really prepared me. This year I had a chance to come out and play and this was the plan, to try to put myself in position to chase my dream. I sat down and talked with Coach Self and my family and this is the best time to do it. With that being said, I’ll forego my junior year at Kansas and I will put my name in the NBA Draft and plan on signing with an agent.”

Newman began his college career at Mississippi State, averaging 11.3 points per game as a freshman. He then transferred to Kansas where he sat out a season. As a sophomore, he averaged 14.2 points and five rebounds per game on 46.3 percent shooting.

Newman was named Big 12 Championship Most Outstanding Player for his play in the conference tournament, as well as Most Outstanding Player in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament. He shot incredibly well down the stretch and probably feels it’s a good time to take advantage of his elevated draft stock.

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