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Sunday, July 21, 2019

College Basketball

Shareef Abdur-Rahim’s son Jabri commits to Virginia

Virginia Cavaliers

The defending national champions have picked up a big recruit.

Jabri Abdur-Rahim, the son of former NBA player Shareef Abdur-Rahim, announced on Twitter Wednesday that he had committed to Virginia.

Abdur-Rahim is a 6-foot-7 forward from Blair Academy in New Jersey. 247 Sports’ composite rankings list him as the No. 1 player in New Jersey and the No. 44 recruit nationally.

Abdur-Rahim has been involved with USA Basketball since 2016 and attended the Men’s Junior National Team July minicamp.

Jabri is a member of the class of 2020. He chose Virginia over numerous other top programs.

John Calipari: Indiana-Kentucky series not coming back any time soon

John Calipari

Kentucky and Indiana used to match up in an annual rivalry game in college basketball, but the series stopped after 2011 (they have met twice in the NCAA Tournament since). John Calipari says don’t count on it coming back any time soon.

SEC basketball coaches spoke with the media on Thursday for the SEC Basketball Teleconference. Calipari said on the call that he didn’t foresee the rivalry series with Indiana returning soon.

“Our schedule is so locked in, I’m not sure, here in the next four to five years, if even talking about it does anything,” Calipari said, via Kentucky Sports Radio. “We’re hoping to do something in London next year, we’ve got this challenge that we put together, the [Champions Classic] and then the [CBS Sports Classic]. We have a game that we have to play with Louisville. We have our big challenge with the Big 12. Our stuff is pretty well loaded so I don’t see it happening any time in the near future.”

Calipari preferred to do neutral site games rather than home games at Rupp Arena and Assembly Hall. He says he offered to play games at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and was turned down. Why won’t he return to Bloomington? He seems to still hold something against Indiana fans after the way the 2011 game went down.

Kentucky still plays a very competitive schedule with games against North Carolina and Louisville non-conference, while Indiana has fallen off in level of play lately. They probably don’t see the need to add that game back.

Brad Calipari announces he is down to two schools in transfer decision

Brad Calipari

Brad Calipari announced on Twitter Wednesday that he is down to two schools regarding his transfer decision.

Brad, who is the son of Kentucky coach John Calipari, indicated his interest in playing at another program by entering the transfer portal, we learned in May. On Wednesday, he announced he was choosing between Hampton and Detroit Mercy.

Brad played two seasons at Kentucky under his father before redshirting last season. He decided to transfer in search of more playing time.

Brad appeared in 27 games over his first two seasons, playing 73 minutes. He scored 11 points in his Kentucky career, mostly as a 3-point shooter.

Top transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. expected to pick Florida

Florida Gators

Kerry Blackshear Jr. is leaving Virginia Tech as a graduate transfer and headed to the SEC.

Multiple reporters said on Wednesday that Blackshear is transferring to Florida.

Blackshear averaged 14.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game for the Hokies last season, while shooting 50.8 percent from the field. He announced he was entering the draft in April but withdrew his name and decided to transfer as a graduate instead so he could be eligible immediately.

Transferring made sense for Blackshear after Buzz Williams left Virginia Tech to take the Texas A&M job.

Florida went 20-16 last season, which was Mike White’s fourth on the job. Though they’re losing top scorer KeVaughn Allen, they are gaining Blackshear and will add him to a team that also features Noah Locke and Keyontae Johnson.

Jim Boeheim hails UConn’s reported return to Big East

Jim Boeheim

Count one of UConn’s old basketball rivals as excited to see the school return to the Big East.

Reports emerged Saturday morning that the Huskies would be leaving the AAC to return to the Big East, and Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim was pleased with the news.

“Well, it’s great for the school,” Boeheim told Forbes’ Adam Zagoria on Saturday. “It’s a strong league and all their traditional rivals [are in the league]. It’s a great move, couldn’t be better.”

Big East coaches will welcome the competition. It has remained a strong conference with UConn’s absence, but as a traditional conference power with a lot of natural rivals, Boeheim is correct that their return will ultimately be good for the league. Just don’t ask the school’s football coach about things.

Rick Pitino wants to land NBA role, will not return to Greece next season

Rick Pitino

Rick Pitino recently said he was planning to return to Greece to coach Panathinaikos next season if his children were on board with it, and the Hall of Fame coach has decided not to go that route.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Pitino has turned down an offer to return as president and head coach of Panathinaikos, as he is hoping to earn a full-time role with an NBA team. He said he is open to coaching or working in a player personnel or advisory role.

Panathinaikos was 7-0 when Pitino was named head coach, and he led the team to a perfect 15-0 record and a Greek Cup title. The 66-year-old said earlier this month that he is prepared to give up college basketball forever if he returns to Greece to coach next season and that he would make a decision after speaking with his kids. He previously insisted he was not interested in leaving Europe for a college job, and that still appears to be the case.

Pitino is one of the best college coaches of all time. He has won two national championships — one in 1996 and Kentucky and another in 2013 with Louisville, which was vacated. He was fired by Louisville in Oct. 2017 after being involved in a scandal involving the payment to a recruit who ended up at the school. He previously got into trouble with the NCAA and had a championship and Final Four appearance vacated over a sex scandal.

Pitino, 66, had two separate coaching stints in the NBA. He coached the Knicks for two seasons from 1987-1989 and then coached the Celtics from 1997-2001 before resigning in the middle of his fourth season. It’s unclear if there will be any interest in him from NBA teams, though he was linked to one head coaching vacancy last month.

Rick Pitino prepared to give up college basketball ‘forever’ to stay in Greece

Rick Pitino is ready for another year in Greece if his children are on board, even if it means the end of his college basketball career.

Pitino said he will travel to New York this week to speak with his kids and if they agree, he will sign on for another season with Greek club Panathinaikos. He warned, however, that it would mean the end of his college coaching career.

“You have to understand is that if I come back, I give up college basketball forever,” Pitino told Kostas Katevas of Cosmote TV, via EuroHoops. “It could never happen because I couldn’t leave Panathinaikos for a college in March or April. If I come back, it’s Panathinaikos and then death.”

Pitino has previously claimed he won’t leave Europe for a college job. It’s obvious that he still has the itch to coach in college if the timing is right despite that comment. The reality is that college basketball has likely moved on from him after the Louisville scandal. He won both the league and the Greek Cup this season, and Panathinaikos seems like a pretty good gig for him — perhaps the best he’ll get at this stage of his career.