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#pounditFriday, December 4, 2020

College Basketball

Scottie Pippen Jr. seems annoyed with drama involving mother Larsa

Scottie Pippen Jr

Scottie Pippen Jr. has seen and heard plenty about the latest drama involving his mother Larsa, but the Vanderbilt star insists he is doing everything he can to tune it out.

Pippen Jr., the son of Larsa and Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen, sent a somewhat cryptic tweet this week after rumors surfaced that his mother is dating Minnesota Timberwolves star Malik Beasley.

“Focused on myself and my goals. I’m not responsible for nobody’s actions. All good over here,” Pippen Jr. wrote.

Photos of Beasley and Larsa holding hands were published in late November. TMZ Sports reported on Tuesday that Beasley’s wife Montana Lao was “blindsided” by the photos and was expecting Beasley to be home for his birthday on Nov. 26. She said she was disappointed when he did not show up. Beasley tweeted an ambiguous message the day after the story came out.

Pippen Jr. is in his sophomore season at Vanderbilt. He scored 25 points in the Commodores’ win over Valparaiso on Friday night. The 20-year-old averaged 12.0 points per game as a freshman last season.

Larsa and Scottie got divorced in 2018, which was two years after Scottie filed and reportedly had concern about Larsa’s relationship with rapper Future. The two have three children together.

Lakers fans, show everyone who runs LA with this great T-shirt. It makes a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

John Calipari: Kentucky got ‘punked’ by Kansas

John Calipari

John Calipari did not hold back after his Kentucky Wildcats lost 65-62 to the Kansas Jayhawks at the State Farm Champions Classic in Indianapolis on Tuesday night.

Kentucky led 35-29 at halftime before being outscored in the second half and losing the game. The Wildcats scored just 27 points in the second half on 8/30 shooting, including 2/14 on threes. Jalen Wilson alone scored 21 points on 7/12 shooting for Kansas in the second half.

“If I was Bill Self, I’d be so happy, because my team was held to 29 percent from the floor and 23 percent from the three and WE WIN,” Calipari said of the Jayhawks. “I love those games, just to slog it out. Let me tell you what they did in the second half: they punked us.”

Both coaches lamented the quality of play in the game. Kansas coach Bill Self said the contest felt more like a scrimmage between the teams due to their errors. Kentucky turned the ball over 16 times and Kansas 11. Kansas shot 29.9 percent from the field, compared to 36.1 percent for Kentucky.

The quality of play to begin the season will likely be low due to the interruptions for programs because of COVID-19 issues. Both coaches seemed to feel that was the case on Tuesday night.

Video: Bill Walton was hilarious talking about his high bicycle ride

Bill Walton

Bill Walton was assigned to call Tuesday’s North Carolina-Stanford game but talked about everything other than the game. He had many viewers in tears when he hilariously talked during the first half about a bicycle ride he loves.

Walton talked about biking through the San Gabriel Mountains behind Pasadena, Calif.

“Oh my gosh, it’s spectacular. Start at mountain high, where I always like to be …,” Walton began.

He then gave a beautiful and passionate description of his ride, which then puts him back home in Pasadena where he is “home, home at last. Free, free at last.”

That is classic Bill Walton. If you think Walton is there to talk basketball, you are wrong. He’s there to be Bill Walton. Any basketball that comes up is a bonus. All stunts he pulls on air are part of the fun.

Photo: JAYZWELLING/Wikimedia via CC-BY 3.0

Isaiah Livers explains heated exchange with Juwan Howard

Isaiah Livers

Things got a bit testy on the Michigan sideline Sunday when coach Juwan Howard clashed with star player Isaiah Livers.

The Wolverines were struggling in the first half against Oakland when Howard said something that clearly upset Livers. The senior forward began jawing with Howard, and the coach simply walked away to calm the situation down.

Livers downplayed the confrontation after the game, saying Howard was simply challenging him and it was typical of how the pair communicate.

“He was holding me accountable,” Livers said, via Andrew Kahn of MLive. “He was just challenging me. Weirdly enough, that’s how we communicate. We argue in practice, we go at it during games, we go at it during scrimmages. It doesn’t matter because he just wants me to be a great player and I respect him for that.”

Livers ended up scoring a game-high 22 points in Michigan’s overtime win.

Frank Martin shaved his head and looks totally different

Frank Martin shaved head

Frank Martin has undergone a huge change and now looks almost unrecognizable.

The South Carolina Gamecocks basketball coach shaved his head and looked totally different when his team took the floor for their season opener on Saturday.

According to reporter Michael Lananna, Martin says he started losing his hair after a positive COVID-19 test in May, so he decided to shave it. This is not necessarily a permanent look, as Martin is open to growing his hair back out if it returns.

For context, the 54-year-old used to have a pretty decent head of hair.

Martin is in his ninth season as South Carolina’s head coach. His Gamecocks lost their opener to Liberty 78-62. Martin is giving off some Tark vibes with his new look.

Mike Brey is trying to find opponents for Notre Dame on Twitter

Mike Brey

College basketball scheduling has proven to be a unique challenge in 2020. If you need evidence of that, just check Mike Brey’s Twitter feed.

Notre Dame was originally set to face Tennessee in a non-conference matchup on Dec. 4. However, that game will no longer be played, with the Volunteers pausing all team activities for at least a week due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the program.

That left the Fighting Irish with a hole in their non-conference schedule, and little time to fill it. So Brey did the only thing he presumably could: he got on Twitter and advertised in search of an opponent.

We’ll see what Brey can come up with. If there’s good news, it’s that the Irish are scheduled to play on both Nov. 28 and Dec. 2. That means even if they can’t find an opponent, they won’t be as rusty as this coach’s team was.

Jim Boeheim complains at halftime that Syracuse game should have been canceled

Jim Boeheim

Jim Boeheim had some complaints during halftime of Syracuse’s game against Bryant on Friday.

The Orange trailed the Bulldogs 51-44 at halftime. Boeheim said that the game should have been canceled because his team was not ready to play.

Syracuse’s basketball activities have been paused since Nov. 15, when Boeheim and one Orange player were announced as having tested positive for COVID-19. They still kept the home opener as scheduled for Friday.

COVID-19 has presented a number of challenges throughout all aspects of society across the world. Trying to play organized sports during the time period has been difficult, but many are working to overcome the challenges.

Photo: DoD photo by Army Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp via CC-BY 2.0

Ex-Wichita State player opens up on times when Gregg Marshall ‘crossed the line’

Gregg Marshall

Former Wichita State standout Ron Baker went public on Wednesday for his first interview about the Gregg Marshall situation. In an interview with “All Ball with Doug Gottlieb,” Baker shared his thoughts on Marshall and what his experience was like playing for the former Shockers head coach.

“He is a hard coach. Do I respect him? Absolutely. He’s been great to me and my family. That’s from my opinion,” Baker said.

Wichita State and Marshall parted ways amid an investigation into allegations of misconduct by the coach. Marshall was accused of punching a player and choking a coach.

Bakeracknowledged that Marshall is “intense,” and his style can cause players to struggle.

“Super intense. Has his ways of coaching basketball, and has his system in play. He wants you to buy into his system. Play defense and rebound. Pretty simple concepts,” Baker told Gottlieb. “Were there days where I thought Coach crossed the line? For sure, that happens.”

Baker, who played from 2013-2016 at Wichita State and was a big part of their success, recalled the incident where Marshall punched Morris in a 2015 practice.

“Marshall just like flips a switch,” Baker recalled. “Obviously really upset. Kind of just goes in on Shaq. I’m sitting there just super uncomfortable. You can hear a needle drop in the gym. Super uncomfortable, like you don’t feel like playing basketball the rest of the day. Marshall kicks him out of practice.”

Baker said that only a few players witnessed Shaq being hit. He says that Morris and Marshall had a lot of tension in their relationship and it got “bad.”

Baker says at the time he didn’t know how to handle things and that he didn’t want to bring down the program.

“Didn’t know as a 21-year-old how to handle the situation. We’re a good basketball team. We don’t want the spotlight and resume to turn into ‘Coach Marshall hit a player.’ That’s why Shaq, I think, waited all these years to now circle back on the situation.”

Baker had trouble reconciling things because he feels Marshall’s style and the staff were helpful with his development as a player. He went from being a walk-on player to seeing brief stints in the NBA before going on to play internationally in Russia.

You can hear some of the interview clips below.

Did Chino Hills have the most talented high school basketball team ever?

Lonzo Ball

Say what you will about the Ball family, but there is no denying they produce some tremendous basketball players. Two of the three Ball brothers are now in the NBA with another playing in the G League, and it turns out Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo may have played on the most talented high school basketball team of all time.

The three Ball players played on the same Chino Hills High School team as former USC star Onyeka Okongwu, who was the No. 6 overall pick in the NBA Draft on Wednesday night, and Loyola Marymount standout Eli Scott. Have a look at this starting five from the Chino Hills team that went 35-0 four years ago:

There have been some great high school teams over the years that featured multiple players who went on the enjoy NBA careers. One that comes to mind in recent history was the 2013-14 Montverde Academy (Fla.) team, which had D’Angelo Russell and Ben Simmons. We’d still take the Chino Hills team.

Of course, those Chino Hills teams paid a price for greatness. Their coaches had to put up with LaVar Ball, which sounds like it was never an easy task. At least they have arguably the greatest high school team of all time to show for it.

College basketball blue bloods have unusually weak NBA Draft

John Calipari

The 2020 NBA Draft was an unusual one, so it probably shouldn’t be too surprising that it produced some unusual results.

One notable oddity was how little of a factor the “blue blood” programs from college basketball were in the draft.

For the first time since 2000, no players from Duke, Kansas, Kentucky or North Carolina were lottery picks in the NBA Draft. The first player drafted from one of those schools was the Tar Heels’ Cole Anthony, who was selected No. 15 overall.

Ultimately, four players from those schools were taken in the first round:

– Cole Anthony (North Carolina) No. 15
– Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky) No. 21
– Immanuel Quickley (Kentucky) No. 25
– Udoka Azubuike (Kansas) No. 27

Four more went in the second round:
– Vernon Carey Jr. (Duke) No. 32
– Tre Jones (Duke) No. 41
– Nick Richards (Kentucky) No. 42
– Cassius Stanley (Duke) No. 54

So what accounts for the lack of dominance by these programs at the top of the draft? Let’s start with North Carolina: they were 14-19 last season and just did not have much talent. They were just bad.

Kentucky had some good players, but Maxey was a freshman, and we didn’t get too many looks from him because of the shortened season. Duke had some good players but no stars. Kansas only had one top prospect, while Devon Dotson went undrafted.

This result is somewhat indicative of changing trends in college basketball. James Wiseman barely played in college, and when he did, it was with Memphis. Some players, like Kenyon Martin Jr. are skipping college and going to schools like IMG Academy to train. And you had players like R.J. Hampton and LaMelo Ball, who played professionally in other countries. Plus, there was a strong crop of international players.

College basketball isn’t “done.” It’s nothing close to that. But as more options for players emerge, including some signing to play straight in the G League, the days of seeing top college programs monopolize the top talent are slowing down.