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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

College Basketball

Bobby Hurley dismisses Louisville rumors

Bobby Hurley

Bobby Hurley is not going anywhere, or so he says.

Hurley is one of the hottest names in coaching after getting Arizona State off to a 9-0 start. Following a road win at Kansas, the Sun Devils are even receiving some votes for No. 1.

The former Duke point guard is clearly an up-and-coming coach, so his name has come up in connection with a prominent vacancy — Louisville. But he says he is not interested in leaving Tempe.

“I know this is where I want to be. I have no issues saying that, 100 percent,” Hurley told hosts Dan Bickley and Arizona Sports’ Vince Marotta on the “Bickley and Marotta” show on 98.7 FM Tuesday.

Hurley, 46, only went 30-35 in his first two seasons at ASU, but now he really seems to have the Sun Devils humming thanks to some seniors stepping up and the addition of a few key recruits. Expect his name to continue surfacing for big coaching jobs as long as he continues to do well.

Top 10 Player of the Year candidates

Miles Bridges

College football’s best players were just in New York and Atlanta to receiver their honors, while their basketball counterparts are just getting started the race to be the nation’s best. With about a quarter of the season done, and barely any conference games having been played, some players have already showcased the kinds of performances worthy of end of season awards. The college basketball landscape is littered with freshmen off to a hot start to their careers and upperclassmen establishing their dominance early on.

Through about one month of play, this group of players has jumped out as possible winners of National Player of the Year.

10. Ethan Happ, Wisconsin

Though the season has not started perfectly for the Badgers, Happ has not been the issue so far. As Wisconsin has stumbled to a 4-7 record, the junior center has averaged 16.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 3.1 assists, while playing some of the most impressive and versatile defense in the nation. He’s led the Big Ten in steals back-to-back seasons, plus topped the conference in 2-point field goals and offensive rebounds last year. Though known for his work on the block and around the basket, Happ has attempted to add a jump shot to his repertoire this season. Last season, just 18 percent of his shots were jumpers, and he only made 34 percent of those jump shots. This season, more than a quarter of his attempts are jump shots, and he’s making half of them. If defenders need to respect him from outside of ten feet, his inside game and fleet footwork becomes even more effective.

9. Kyle Guy, Virginia

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Michigan fans troll UCLA at FT line with LaVar Ball cutout

LaVar Ball

The Ball family may have effectively broken up with UCLA, but their presence is still being felt in some unexpected places.

During Saturday’s game against the Bruins in Ann Arbor, Michigan fans trolled UCLA with a LaVar Ball cutout that was clearly visible behind the basket when they were shooting free throws in the second half.

UCLA would lose to Michigan in overtime by the final of 78-69 after blowing a 15-point lead. Bruins forward Gyorgy Goloman missed a crucial free throw late in the second half to help send the game into the extra period, so maybe the distraction worked. I see Michigan is taking a page out of UTSA’s book.

LaVar Ball says son LaMelo will not play college basketball, has signed with agent

LaMelo Ball

LaMelo Ball does not have to worry about whether or not having his own signature sneaker will impact his NCAA eligibility, because the youngest Ball brother has no intention of playing college basketball.

LaVar Ball told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman on Thursday that his sons LaMelo and LiAngelo have signed with Harrison Gaines, who is the agent currently representing Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball. The elder Ball says the plan is for both of his sons to sign with the same team overseas.

“I don’t care about the money,” Ball said. “I want them to go somewhere where they will play them together on the court at the same time. The priority is for the boys to play on the same team.”

LaVar pulled LaMelo, who is 16, out of Chino Hills (Calif.) High School recently in favor of homeschooling and private basketball training. LaMelo had verbally committed to play at UCLA like his two older brothers, but LaVar says his youngest son will not be enrolling in college.

“He’s not going to play college basketball,” Ball said.

Sources told Goodman that several teams in Europe and Asia have expressed interest in LaMelo and LiAngelo.

“I don’t know the deals and who is offering what,” LaVar Ball said. “I’m letting Harrison handle all that, but I know there are a few teams interested. I just need to get them playing again.”

Ball decided to pull LiAngelo out of UCLA earlier in the week, noting that the 19-year-old’s suspension stemming from his shoplifting incident in China has dragged out too long.

While LaMelo had done some great things at the high school level and is considered a potential NBA prospect, NBA teams do not anticipate having interest in LiAngelo. There were already rumors that a team in Lithuania was interested in the Ball brothers, but the coach of that team appeared to deny that with a humorous tweet.

Bill Self has funny quote about Kansas fans leaving early during upset loss

Kansas lost its first game of the season on Wednesday night in a stunner against unranked Washington, and the lack of effort from the Jayhawks inspired many fans to hit the exits early. Had Bill Self been watching the game from the stands, he probably would have done the same.

Following the 74-65 loss, Self said his No. 2-ranked team “got what they deserved.” When he was asked about fans leaving the Sprint Center early, he said he doesn’t blame them for needing a drink.

For those who don’t get the reference, the Sprint Center is located in a dining, shopping and nightlife area known as the Power & Light District in Kansas City.

No one wants to see their team lose, so you can’t blame some Jayhawks fans for calling it an early night on a Wednesday. We know how badly leaving early has worked out for some fans in the past, but it’s tough to watch a poor effort in the eighth game of the college basketball season. Give Self credit for being down to earth about that.

NCAA president criticizes LaVar Ball for pulling son LiAngelo out of UCLA

If some comments he made on Wednesday about the Ball family are any indication, NCAA president Mark Emmert may not have the best understanding of where his bread is buttered.

While speaking at the 2017 SportsBusiness Journal Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, Emmert was asked about LaVar Ball’s decision to pull his middle son LiAngelo out of UCLA this week. Ball said he made that choice because LiAngelo’s suspension from his shoplifting incident in China was dragging out too long, and the main reason his son was at UCLA was to play basketball. According to Emmert, that is not a good enough reason to attend college.

Emmert has spoken out on numerous occasions over the years against the NBA’s age limit, which requires players to either be 19 years old when they declare for the NBA Draft or have played at least one season of college ball. The NCAA president wants the NBA to eliminate that rule so students stop “using” colleges to play one year of basketball, so his issue with the Ball family likely has more to do with that.

Still, the idea of college is to prepare students to be successful at a profession. If that means having to attend one year of college so you can be qualified to begin your professional career, so be it. You could argue that LiAngelo Ball not wanting to attend college for anything other than basketball is no different from another student who has his heart set on a certain career.

Of course, there has been some indication that LiAngelo could have trouble finding a job playing basketball. Still, Emmert’s comments came off as hypocritical.

Lithuanian coach throws shade at LiAngelo, LaMelo Ball

LiAngelo Ball

LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball are reportedly considering playing professional basketball overseas, and some rumors surfaced Tuesday indicating they have been offered contracts to play for a team in Lithuania. But when you hear what the coach of said team had to say about that, it’s hard to believe it’s true.

Arturs Stalberg, who coaches Lithuanian team Lietkabelis Panevezys, took a shot at the Ball family on Twitter in response to a report indicating LiAngelo and LaMelo could join his team.

It would appear that even teams overseas don’t want to deal with the headaches the Ball family creates. Between LiAngelo’s recent shoplifting incident in China and the way LaVar Ball has been going after the Los Angeles Lakers coaching staff, you can understand why.

LiAngelo is not considered much of an NBA prospect, so playing overseas may be his only option. LaMelo, only a high school junior, is viewed as having more potential, but LaVar recently pulled the 16-year-old out of high school and is homeschooling him. LaMelo also already has his own signature shoe, so it’s unclear if that would impact his NCAA eligibility.

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