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#pounditSaturday, January 22, 2022

College Basketball

Dick Vitale announces he has been diagnosed with cancer again

Dick Vitale

Dick Vitale revealed back in August that he was cancer-free after previously being diagnosed with melanoma, but unfortunately the college basketball legend is battling another health issue.

Vitale, 82, announced in a statement through ESPN on Monday that he has been diagnosed with lymphoma. He said his doctors believe the diagnosis is unrelated to the melanoma, which was removed from above his nose and “totally cleared.” Vitale said the treatment for lymphoma will be much more difficult but that he is optimistic it will be managed thanks to early detection.

“The plan is to treat my lymphoma with steroids and six months of chemotherapy,” Vitale said. “The medical experts tell me it has a 90-percent cure rate. They say I can continue to work so I will have to manage my work schedule around my chemo schedule as they will monitor my test results along the way.”

Vitale said he draws motivation from children he has met and spent time with over the years who have battled cancer.

“In my battle, I think of all the Courageous kids that I have gotten to know and I want all of them to know (after watching their battles with their cancers and handling the chemo/radiation) they inspire and motivate me to take on this biggest fight I have ever faced. I WILL DO EVERY THING IN MY POWER TO WIN THIS BATTLE!” he said.

After he spent several years as a high school and college coach, Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons for one season in 1978-79. He then went to work at ESPN and called the network’s first college basketball game in 1979.

Vitale is an incredible ambassador for college basketball and remains as enthusiastic about the sport as ever. He signed his most recent contract extension with ESPN earlier this year. Hopefully his treatments won’t keep him from doing what he loves all that often.

Eric Musselman oozes swag in great airplane video

Eric Musselman airplane

Eric Musselman was a home run hire for Arkansas. The Razorbacks coach seems to know it.

Musselman shared this video on his Twitter account Wednesday. The video shows him exiting a private plane in sunglasses, white shoes, and a red suit. Musselman oozes swag as he struts down the stairs and onto the ground.

So what was he feeling so smooth about?

Arkansas on Wednesday landed a commitment from 5-star guard Nick Smith Jr. Smith is from the class of 2022 and expected to eventually be a first-round pick in the NBA. He’s a big-time commitment for Arkansas.

Musselman is entering his third season at Arkansas. The team has gone 45-19 in his two seasons, including a run to the Elite Eight last season. Musselman got a contract extension in April and appears to be just getting going with the Razorbacks.

Donovan McNabb’s daughter announces college commitment decision

Donovan McNabb

Donovan McNabb’s daughter Lexi inherited her mother’s and father’s athletic genes, and the University of Buffalo is set to reap the benefits.

Lexi McNabb, a guard at Seton Catholic High School in Chandler, Ariz., announced on Monday that she has accepted a scholarship offer to play basketball at Buffalo. She made an official visit to the school over the weekend with her family, according to Rachel Lenzi of The Buffalo News.

Donovan also shared the news on social media:

“Happy to announce that my baby girl @lex.m5 has committed to @ubathletics. Proud father and great staff. We’re back in Upstate NY. Let’s Go,” McNabb wrote.

Raquel Nurse McNabb, Lexi’s mother and McNabb’s wife, was also a star athlete. She played point guard at Syracuse from 1994-1998, which was around the same time Donovan was the quarterback for the Orange.

Lexi averaged 13.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 2.8 assists in 21 games during the 2020-21 season. She helped Seton Catholic win back-to-back Class 4A championships in Arizona.

Fab Five to be reunited at Chris Webber’s Hall of Fame induction

Chris Webber

Chris Webber is preparing to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, and it appears the honor has served as a catalyst for the Fab Five to put their differences aside.

In an interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic this week, Webber said the Fab Five is “back together” and revealed that his former Michigan teammates will be in attendance in Springfield, Mass., on Saturday.

“You’re going to see us together a lot. I’m very happy that those guys are coming to the Hall of Fame to be with me. … I am Michigan, they are Michigan, any alumni, they are Michigan,” Webber said. “You’re going to see a lot of us, starting with the football game in a couple weeks. It’s definitely a process, a healing process and I’m looking forward to what the future holds.”

Webber said he feels he is part of the Michigan basketball program because Juwan Howard, another member of the Fab Five, is the head coach. He said Howard being successful with the Wolverines is the priority for the Fab Five and that “everything else will fall into line.”

A Michigan official told Charania that Webber is welcome back with the program and that the school wants to formally honor the Fab Five at some point. Webber said he would love that but emphasized that the focus should be on Howard and the current Wolverines team.

“I would love for us to have everything, from retirement banners to all of that great stuff. But I feel good right now that they have a hell of a leader (in Howard),” Webber said. “I think all those things come in due time, but I’m sure he’s got work to do getting his guys ready because he’s going to get that championship that we didn’t. Oh, wait, did I say that? Did I put that pressure on him? Oh, well, he can handle it.”

Webber hinted in a separate interview this week that his issues with Jalen Rose are not totally resolved. It appears the two have come a long way, however. They shared an awesome moment on live TV earlier this year when Webber was announced as a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame class.

It took Webber several years to make the Hall of Fame, and many believe he was snubbed for so long because of his involvement in the NCAA scandal with Ed Martin at Michigan. Webber was estranged from Michigan and his former teammates for quite some time, and Rose spoke out in favor of him reconciling with the school back in 2018.

There may still be some issues for Webber, Rose and other members of the Fab Five to work through, but it is clear Michigan wants to acknowledge the team as an important part of the school’s history. It is only a matter of time before that happens.

Chris Webber hints his issues with Michigan may be ending

Chris Webber

Chris Webber’s lengthy estrangement from the University of Michigan may be coming to an end based on comments he made in a new interview.

Webber spoke to ESPN’s Myron Medcalf about his life and career as he prepares for his upcoming induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Among the issues he touched on was his estrangement from the University of Michigan. Webber was the most notable member of the Fab Five, but infamously became involved in a booster scandal that led to the school banning him for ten years and erasing him from the history books.

Webber did hint, however, that he is preparing to move on, especially after receiving an apology from current Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel.

“I was told [that] by the University of Michigan. I was told by the athletic director at the University of Michigan [Warde Manuel], that he was sorry,” Webber said. “And he wasn’t even there at the time [I was playing]. He told me that he did his research and that he needs to apologize. His exact words [were], he needs ‘to apologize to the 18-year-old Chris Webber because we didn’t protect him.’

“I was the lowest-hanging fruit. I had the biggest name. I knew that then, so hopefully some of the things in [my upcoming book] will reveal what happened, how things happened and hopefully just life can go [on] or it can just get back to normal in that way. Hopefully, once we address all this good stuff, we’ll get back to it.”

Webber said he’s already planning to return to Michigan to observe practice under coach Juwan Howard, another member of the Fab Five. Webber added that the biggest thing yet to deal with before a proper Fab Five reunion can happen is his rift with Jalen Rose, but suggested that it could be easily solved in private.

“I’m going to see Michigan practice. Me and Juwan [have been] on the phone,” Webber said. “But there has been that rift because Jalen has decided to talk and I’ve said we should handle everything behind the scenes. It was just, it’s an honor system. It’s a code. And he knows what that is because that’s what we built the Fab Five on and he did not adhere to that code multiple times. His family told him multiple times and that is what happened. And I still love him. That’s my boy. … All it takes is a 30-second conversation.”

Webber has watched Michigan basketball from afar, and has actually seen relations thaw with the school in another surprising way. While it sounds like relations with Rose are still strained, there are indications that work has been done on that, too.

Mark Few facing DUI charge after blowing more than legal limit

Mark Few

Gonzaga coach Mark Few is facing a DUI charge following an incident on Monday night.

Few was pulled over by the Coeur d’Alene Police Department in Dalton Gardensa, Idaho. Police received a report about someone speeding and driving erratically on the road.

According to the Spokesman-Review, Few showed signs of being drunk upon being pulled over. He refused to comply with field sobriety tests but did take a breathalyzer test.

Few blew a .119 and .120, which are more than the legal limit of 0.08.

Few, 58, has been the head basketball coach at Gonzaga since 1999. He has turned them into a powerhouse and has been named the Naismith Coach of the Year twice (2017, 2021). In both of those years, he took his teams to the championship game of the NCAA Tournament, where they lost.

Greg Oden taking on coaching role at Ohio State

Greg Oden

Former Ohio State standout Greg Oden is looking to launch a coaching career, and he’ll be doing it at his alma mater.

After spending time with the Buckeyes as a student manager two seasons ago, Oden will be joining Ohio State as a graduate assistant under coach Chris Holtmann with an eye on a full-time coaching role in the future.

“I’m thankful, honestly, for coach Holt and his staff who have welcomed me in and given me this opportunity because that’s literally what I want to do is get into coaching,” Oden told Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch. “One of the toughest things to do is get your foot in the door, so for them to give me this opportunity while I’m able to actually get a Master’s degree in sports coaching from The Ohio State University, which I would love, is something that’s just amazing. I couldn’t ask for anything better. I’m just so thankful and ready to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Oden has already gathered some modest coaching experience in addition to his previous stint at Ohio State. It’s clearly a long-term goal of his and something he’s passionate about.

The former No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Oden’s career was derailed by knee injuries, and he played just 105 career NBA games.

Brad Calipari joining father John’s staff at Kentucky

Brad Calipari

Brad Calipari has big ambitions for his basketball coaching career, and he’s diving in at the deep end on his father’s staff.

Calipari, the son of Kentucky coach John Calipari, revealed Thursday that he will be joining the Wildcats’ staff as a graduate assistant. The younger Calipari said his dream was to ultimately become a head coach himself, and jokingly shaded his dad to conclude his statement.

Brad Calipari spent two seasons playing for Kentucky as a rarely-used reserve, though still a wildly popular figure with fans. He later transferred to Detroit where he played two further seasons. In 2019-20, he averaged 20.1 minutes per game, primarily in a reserve role.

Not everyone gets to start their coaching career at a school like Kentucky, but Calipari will know the people and the environment well. It will be intriguing to see how far the 24-year-old can climb in the coaching profession.

Emoni Bates announces commitment to Memphis as expected

Emoni Bates

Emoni Bates is headed to Memphis.

The Michigan native shared a photo of himself on Instagram Wednesday in Memphis basketball gear. His caption for the post was: “Memphis what’s da word!!!!!”

Bates also shared a video clip on his Instagram Story of himself in a Memphis hat.

Bates was expected to announce a decision on his future Wednesday. As we said on Tuesday, he was expected to head to Memphis, which is the case.

Bates was also considering Oregon. He made visits to both schools prior to making his announcement this week. Bates was also considering going to the G League.

The 6-foot-8 forward is a top recruit who reclassified from 2022 to the class of 2021. He will join Jalen Duren to form a promising freshman class at Memphis.

Emoni Bates expected to commit to Memphis?

Memphis Tigers

The Memphis Tigers already landed a commitment from Jalen Duren, and they could be adding another top prospect soon.

Emoni Bates, a top-5 recruit in the country, is expected to announce his decision on Wednesday. Bates recently reclassified from 2022 to 2021 and is deciding between going to the G League, Memphis, Oregon or Michigan State.

Dan Wetzel is among those who believe Bates will commit to Memphis.

247 Sports’ Travis Branham has also been expecting Bates to commit to Memphis. August 26 is the last day to register for school for Memphis, which could explain the timing of the announcement. Bates also already has a school email address.

Bates is a 6-foot-8 forward from Ypsi Prep Academy in Michigan. He was previously committed to Michigan State but decommitted in 2020.