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#pounditSaturday, June 25, 2022

College Basketball

Bruce Pearl takes swipe at top NBA draft prospect

Bruce Pearl coaching Auburn

Feb 8, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Auburn Tigers head coach Bruce Pearl during the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas won 80-76. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to his take on this year’s NBA Draft, Bruce Pearl is saying it with his chest.

The Auburn head basketball coach made some headlines this week with his comments about ex-Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren, who is projected to be one of the top picks. Appearing on “McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning,” Pearl gave a very harsh opinion about the seven-footer Holmgren.

“Chet’s intriguing, but so was Shawn Bradley,” said Pearl, referencing the 7-foot-6 former NBA center who went No. 2 overall in 1993 but fell short of expectations. “The NBA stands for ‘No Boys Allowed.’ And that body [of Holmgren’s] scares me. It just does.

“He goes knee-to-knee with the wrong guy, and he could get broken in half,” Pearl added about Holmgren. “Therefore, at the very top of the draft, I think I got to go with what I know, not what could potentially … someday be.”

Pearl is not an entirely objective observer since one of his former players, All-SEC forward Jabari Smith Jr., is competing with Holmgren to go No. 1 overall. But Pearl’s comments actually came when he was asked whom he would select No. 2 overall after Smith. Pearl then proceeded to share his take on Holmgren before saying that he would draft ex-Duke star Paolo Banchero with the second pick instead.

Granted, Pearl is probably right that Holmgren’s slender 190-pound frame is concerning for NBA teams. But having just turned 20, Holmgren still has plenty of time to bulk up and is certainly not lacking in confidence either.

Former Purdue basketball star Caleb Swanigan dies at 25

Caleb Swanigan during an NBA game

Sep 29, 2018; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Portland Trail Blazers forward Caleb Swanigan (50) awaits the start of play against the Toronto Raptors during the first half at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Former Purdue basketball star and first-round NBA draft pick Caleb Swanigan has died, according to the school.

Purdue basketball announced on Tuesday that Swanigan has died at age 25.

Swanigan died in Fort Wayne, Ind., on Monday. The Allen County Coroner’s Office confirmed to local news outlet WANE 15 that Swanigan died of natural causes.

Swanigan declared for the NBA Draft after setting records as a sophomore at Purdue in 2017. His 436 rebounds during the 2016-17 season still stand as a record for the Boilermakers. He also holds the school’s single-season record for double-doubles. The 6-foot-9 Swanigan had four games in his breakout sophomore season with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds.

Swanigan was named Big Ten Player of the Year in 2017 and a consensus first-team All American. He was drafted 26th overall by the Portland Trail Blazers and bounced back and forth between the NBA and G-League. Swanigan opted out of playing in the NBA bubble in 2020 for personal reasons and did not play professionally after that.

Many were concerned last year after a photo of Swanigan surfaced that showed he had gained a significant amount of weight. He responded on Instagram by criticizing the media and saying he is a “full time father figure.”

Swanigan had issues with his weight as a teenager and weighed more than 350 pounds when he was 13. His father, who was 6-foot-8 and weighed nearly 500 pounds, died from complications with diabetes in 2014. He was 50 at the time, which is why Swanigan chose to wear No. 50 at Purdue.

College basketball star Darius Lee shot and killed

Darius Lee goes in for a layup

Nov 29, 2020; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Houston Baptist Huskies guard Darius Lee (23) puts up a layup against Arizona State Sun Devils guard Remy Martin (1) during the first half at Desert Financial Arena (Tempe). Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Baptist basketball star Darius Lee was shot and killed in New York early Monday morning.

Houston Baptist issued a statement on Monday sharing the tragic news that Lee died of a gunshot wound in his hometown of Harlem, New York. According to the NYPD, the incident took place at a gathering in Harlem at around 12:40 a.m. Monday. Seven males and two females suffered gunshot wounds.

Lee was shot in the chest and transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. A firearm was recovered at the scene. No arrests had been made as of Monday afternoon with the investigation ongoing.

Lee led Houston Baptist in all major categories last season with 18.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.4 steals per game. The steals ranked sixth in the nation for Division I.

Houston Baptist coach Ron Cottrell said the Huskies are “devastated.”

“As great of a basketball player as he was, he was an even better person,” Cottrell said in a statement. “I can’t even think of basketball right now. I can only think of what a light Darius was during his short time on earth. He was a joy to coach and we loved him so much.”

Lee was recently named HBU Robbie Robertson Male Student-Athlete of the Year. He was on track to graduate in December, according to the school.

North Carolina lands brother of current NBA player as transfer

Hubert Davis

Apr 4, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Hubert Davis looks on during the first half of the game against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2022 NCAA men’s basketball tournament Final Four championship game at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Puff Johnson will no longer be North Carolina’s only player with a famous older brother.

Pete Nance, the younger brother of New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr., announced on Saturday that he will be transferring from Northwestern to UNC.

Nance, who is also the son of retired former NBA All-Star Larry Nance Sr., averaged 14.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest for Northwestern last season. He also connected on 45.2 percent of his three-point attempts, which makes Nance a valuable asset as a 6-foot-10 forward.

The Tar Heels are looking to build on their success from 2021-22, as they made it all the way to the national title game before losing to Kansas. But they will have to do so without Brady Manek, whose eligibility has expired. Fortunately, North Carolina still has some big guns who are coming back plus a standout transfer in Nance who is now set to arrive as well.

Steph Curry has nice Twitter tribute to former coach

Stephen Curry during a playoff game

Jun 13, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) gestures after defeating the Boston Celtics in game five of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Curry further established himself as one of the best players in NBA history by capturing his fourth championship on Thursday night. One of the men who helped him get there is now calling it a career.

Longtime Davidson basketball coach Bob McKillop announced his retirement on Friday. The 71-year-old coached the Wildcats for 33 seasons. He will be succeeded by his son Matt McKillop, who has been an assistant for Davidson for the past 14 seasons.

Curry reacted to the news by thanking his former coach on Twitter.

Curry played at Davidson from 2006 to 2009. He became a household name in his freshman season when he was second in the nation in scoring behind only Kevin Durant. He led the NCAA in scoring as a junior in 2009 with 28.6 points per game before entering the NBA Draft.

Gonzaga lands top college basketball transfer

Malachi Smith speaking

Mar 17, 2022; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chattanooga Mocs guard Malachi Smith speaks with the media at a press conference prior to practice for the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Less than one day after Drew Timme announced his decision to return to Gonzaga, the Bulldogs landed a top transfer.

Former Chattanooga guard Malachi Smith announced his commitment to Gonzaga on Thursday in an Instagram post.

“I first want to thank GOD for always ordering my steps,” Smith wrote. “I am grateful for my time at UTC and their support. It’s time to spin back one more time…Zag Nation let’s work!”

Smith told ESPN that one of the reasons he chose Gonzaga was because he wanted to be a part of a winning culture.

He recently decided to leave the 2022 NBA Draft to explore his transfer options.

Smith led the Mocs with 19.9 points per game last season, good for the 19th-highest total in NCAA Division I basketball. He also averaged 6.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 35 games.

In the Mocs’ first-round NCAA Tournament loss to Illinois, Smith had a team-high 12 points. He also won the Lou Henson National Player of the Year Award this past season, which is presented annually to the top mid-major player in NCAA Division I basketball.

With the addition of Smith, Gonzaga should have one of the deeper lineups in the sport.

Timme averaged 18.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game during the 2021-2022 season and was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year.

Along with Timme, Julian Strawther and Rasir Bolton also opted to return to Gonzaga after declaring for the draft. Strawther was tied for third on the team in points per game last season (11.8), while Bolton finished with 11.2.

Gonzaga star makes decision on NBA Draft

Drew Timme pumping his first

Mar 19, 2022; Portland, OR, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Drew Timme (2) reacts to a play against Memphis Tigers during the second half in the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Timme is ready to run it back.

The Gonzaga forward confirmed on Wednesday that he is returning to the school for his junior season. Timme had originally declared for the 2022 NBA Draft in April.

Timme averaged 18.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game during the 2021-2022 season. He was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year.

The Bulldogs coasted to a 28-4 record and No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, but were eliminated by the fourth-seeded Arkansas Razorbacks in the Sweet 16. In the first round, Timme scored 32 points in Gonzaga’s win over Georgia State. He scored 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in Gonzaga’s win against Memphis in the following round. Timme even went viral for his postgame interview.

Timme, an All-American, was projected to be a mid-to-late round pick.

He joins North Carolina’s Armando Bacot, Purdue’s Zach Edey and Kentucky’s OScar Tshiebwe as notable front-court players returning to college basketball for next season.

Along with Timme, Julian Strawther and Rasir Bolton are also returning to Gonzaga. Strawther was tied for third on the team in points per game last season (11.8), while Bolton finished just behind him at 11.2. Strawther also finished the season with the Bulldogs’ third-most rebounds per game (5.4).

With Timme and company set to return, Gonzaga has a great chance to get back to the NCAA Tournament and make a deeper run.

Report: Notable coach turned down Lakers interview

Rob Pelinka at a press conference

Sep 27, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka answers a question during the Lakers media day at the UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo, CA. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have conducted a wide search for their next head coach, but at least one candidate opted against being a part of it.

Michigan head coach Juwan Howard turned down a request to be interviewed for the Lakers job, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. While Howard played with LeBron James on the Miami Heat and with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka in college, he is content coaching the Wolverines.

As Wojnarowski mentioned, Howard’s son Jace plays at Michigan. His other son, Jett, has committed to the Wolverines as part of the Class of 2022.

Howard was linked to the Lakers early on in the offseason. One rumor even suggested he could land in L.A. as part of a package deal. Nothing ever came of that, and now we know why. Howard is not interested in the job at this time.

Howard is entering his fourth season as the head coach at Michigan. He was named AP Coach of the Year two seasons ago when he led the Wolverines to the Elite Eight. Michigan reached the Sweet Sixteen this past season.

A surprising candidate may be in the lead for the Lakers’ job.

Adreian Payne was shot and killed in alleged dispute

Adreian Payne with the Timberwolves

Jul 18, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Adreian Payne (33) looks on during a free throw attempt during the NBA Summer League final against the Chicago Bulls at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Former Michigan State basketball star Adreian Payne died this week, and police have released information about what led to the tragedy.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Florida says Payne was shot and killed outside a home in Orlando early Monday morning. According to police documents obtained by TMZ, Payne was shot by a man named Lawrence Dority. A witness told police Payne went to Dority’s house to possibly play “mediator” after Dority and his girlfriend got into an argument. The witness said Dority and the woman “have a relationship where they argue often.”

Witnesses said Dority confronted Payne outside his home and told the former NBA player he “had no business being at his residence this late at night.” Dority said he took Payne’s presence as a threat. He told police that Payne made “movements with his right hand in the right side of his waist band” and threatened to “smoke you bra.”

Dority said he went into his house to retrieve a firearm after he felt Payne was threatening him. He fired one shot at Payne and then went back inside his house.

Payne was transported to a local hospital and died from his injuries. He was 31.

Dority said his actions were justified and that he was “protecting his family and protecting his home.” After investigating the incident, police say they do not believe him. They used witness accounts and surveillance footage to determine that Payne was not threatening Dority and that Payne did no have a weapon on him. Investigators have called the act a “premeditated killing.”

Dority was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty in court on Tuesday.

Payne played for Tom Izzo at Michigan State from 2010-2014. He was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks with the 15th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Many will remember how Payne became close friends with 8-year-old Lacey Holsworth during his senior season when Holsworth was battling cancer. Holsworth died a week after she was Payne’s escort during Senior Night. Payne honored her with his outfit at the NBA Draft.

Former Michigan State star Adreian Payne dies — dead at 31

Adreian Payne with the Timberwolves

Jul 18, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Adreian Payne (33) looks on during a free throw attempt during the NBA Summer League final against the Chicago Bulls at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Former Michigan State basketball star Adreian Payne has died.

Jared Sullinger, who was a star in the Big Ten at Ohio State when Payne played in the conference, sent a tweet on Monday saying the sad news of Payne’s death had been shared with him.

Chris Solari of The Detroit Free Press confirmed that Payne has died. He was 31.

Payne played for Tom Izzo at Michigan State from 2010-2014. He averaged 16.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in his senior season and helped lead the Spartans to the Elite Eight, where they lost to eventual national champion UConn.

Payne was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks with the 15th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. He played just one season with the team before spending time with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic and several G-League teams. Payne then went overseas to play for Panathinaikos in Greece and helped them win a Greek League Baseball championship in 2018.

The last team Payne played for was Juventus in the Lithuania Basketball League this past season.

One of the best stories from Payne’s career had nothing to do with basketball. He became close friends with 8-year-old Lacey Holsworth during his senior season when Holsworth was battling cancer. Holsworth died a week after she was Payne’s escort during Senior Night. Payne honored her with his outfit at the NBA Draft.