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Adam Zagoria and Josh Newman deliver a really big show this week on The 4 Quarters Podcast. 

First up, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim calls in to talk about the NBA Draft, Malachi Richardson, Tyus Battle, next year's Orange squad, and his latest thoughts on Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks. 

Then, former Manhattan and St. John's coach and current ESPN Analyst Fran Fraschilla returns to the show to talk about the NBA Draft Lottery results, and who is coming and going in the draft. 

Then, PSA Cardinals AAU Director Terrance "Munch" Williams calls in to discuss Mohamed Bamba, Brandon Randolph, and Quade Green. Adam and Josh then wrap the show with a full recruiting roundup.

Rundown:

1st Quarter: Jim Boeheim (01:00)
2nd Quarter: Fran Fraschilla (14:00)
3rd Quarter: Terrance "Munch" Williams (25:35)
4th Quarter: Recruiting (30:40)

Tags: 4 Quarters Podcast

Kentucky announced that junior forward Marcus Lee will remove his name from the 2016 NBA Draft but plans to transfer to complete his collegiate eligibility at another school.

Upon completing his paperwork to withdraw from the draft, Lee will be granted a full release with no restrictions.

"Marcus Lee informed us today that he is pulling his name out of the draft but has decided he is going to transfer to a school out west to be closer to his family," head coach John Calipari said. "We talked it through together and discussed the team next season, which he said had no bearing on his decision. I also told him he was a semester away from graduating. With that said, he was still adamant that, after the combine experience, a year off and regrouping would be the best thing. As always I support my players and their decisions."

Isaiah Briscoe earlier announced on Twitter he would return to Kentucky for his sophomore season.

Lee averaged career highs in points per game (6.4), rebounds per game (6.0), total blocks (59) and total assists (11), but he would be competing with a loaded frontcourt group that includes returners Tai Wynyard, Isaac Humphries and Derek Willis and newcomers Bam Adebayo, Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones.

"I want to thank the University of Kentucky, the basketball staff and the Big Blue Nation for supporting me over the years," Lee said. "I'm sorry it took me so long to come to this decision, but I'm trying to do what's right for me and my family. I'll always think fondly of my time at Kentucky."

Lee had said at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago that he believed Kentucky would go undefeated if he returned.

"Our team would be amazing," he said. "I honestly don't think we'll lose at all next year if I return."

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 (Jeffrey Becker)
(Jeffrey Becker)

Kentucky freshman guard Isaiah Briscoe has withdrawn from the NBA Draft and will return to campus for his sophomore season.

The 6-foot-3 former Roselle (N.J.) Catholic star was not invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago but worked out for several NBA teams, including San Antonio, the Clippers, the Lakers, Minnesota and Atlanta.

He was not projected to get drafted in 2016 by DraftExpress.com, and is listed at No. 44 in 2017.

Briscoe, who averaged 9.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists this past season at Kentucky, joins incoming guards De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk in Kentucky's backcourt. Charles Matthews announced he will transfer.

Fox has drawn comparisons to former Kentucky guard John Wall and could be the primary point guard under head coach John Calipari.

Meantime, Kentucky junior Marcus Lee had yet to announce his plans as of noon ET on Wednesday. The deadline to withdraw is 11:59 PM ET.

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Tags: Isaiah Briscoe , Kentucky , Adam Zagoria

 (Spruce Derden)
(Spruce Derden)

Malik Newman is withdrawing from the NBA Draft and plans to return to Mississippi State for his sophomore season, his father told SNY.tv Tuesday night.

"Yeah, he's going back to school," Horatio Webster said by phone. "He's going to pull his name out [Wednesday]. As far I know he's going back to Mississippi State. He still has a scholarshp at Mississippi State. I hope they didn't give it away."

Once projected as high as the No. 4 pick by DraftExpress.com, the 6-foot-3 1/2 Newman is currently slotted at No. 52. He has not hired an agent and had until Wednesday to decide about returning to campus.

Webster told SNY.tv earlier this week that his son would withdraw from the draft if he wasn't satisifed with his son's draft status.

In his lone season on campus, the preseason All-SEC Second Team honoree averaged 11.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists and the Bulldogs failed to make the NCAA Tournament.

ESPN's Fran Fraschilla thinks coming back for a sophomore year would be a good idea.

"Injuries slowed Malik down this year," he told SNY.tv. "He had a couple of moments of brilliance at the Combine but I think it's best to put together a solid sophomore season."

 

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Apr 2, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Villanova Wildcats guard Josh Hart (3) drives to the basket against Oklahoma Sooners guard Isaiah Cousins (11) during the first half in the 2016 NCAA Men's Division I Championship semi-final game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports (Bob Donnan)
Apr 2, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Villanova Wildcats guard Josh Hart (3) drives to the basket against Oklahoma Sooners guard Isaiah Cousins (11) during the first half in the 2016 NCAA Men's Division I Championship semi-final game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports (Bob Donnan)

Josh Hart has withdrawn from the NBA Draft and will return to Villanova for his senior season.

"I enjoyed the process and learned a lot," Hart said in a statement. "It was definitely worthwhile. I look forward to graduating next year and coming back to play with my teammates."

The return of Hart means the Wildcats will welcome back a trio of starters from their national championship unit as Hart lines up with classmate Kris Jenkins and guard Jalen Brunson. The Wildcats must replace senior captains Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu but have a number of other key parts of the lineup set to return in Phil Booth, Darryl Reynolds, and Mikal Bridges.

Hart and his Villanova teammates will meet with President Obama on May 31 at the White House and then get to the business of trying to reach another Final Four and possibly repeat as NCAA champions in 2017.

"Definitely, definitely," Hart told me at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. "I think if I come back we can be a great team. You have Donte DiVincenzo is coming off that medical redshirt year. Eric Paschall is going to be really good.. Tim Delaney is coming back off a redshirt year. Omari Spellman and Dylan Painter are coming in as talented humble freshmen. And then obviously the guys that are coming back.

"So I definitely think we have a chance to repeat, that's definitely going to factor into my decision. That's definitely something I'm flirting with."

The Big East will lose Seton Hall sophomore Isaiah Whitehead, Marquette freshmman forward Henry Ellenson and Providence sophomore forward Ben Bentil to the NBA Draft, while Hart and Xavier sophomore Trevon Bluiett are both returning to campus.

Hart led the 2016 NCAA national champion Wildcats in scoring as a junior with a 15.5 ppg average. He scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a 95-51 NCAA Final Four victory over Oklahoma and averaged 6.8 rebounds per outing, most among BIG EAST Conference perimeter players.

"Josh Hart did a great job in this process," said Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "I'm really proud of the way that he showed himself. I am really happy for him that he is returning to play with his classmates and that he will graduate on time."

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 (Vincent Carchietta)
(Vincent Carchietta)

The Isaiah Whitehead Era at Seton Hall is officially over.

The 6-foot-4 sophomore point guard will remain eligible for the NBA Draft and has signed with Andy Miller's agency.

Miller has now added both Whitehead and former Syracuse shooting guard Malachi Richardson to his list of clients.

"We are extremely excited to have Isaiah join our ASM family," Miller told SNY.tv. "He is very talented and has enormous upside potential. We look forward to a long successful partnership."

DraftExpress.com currently projects Whitehead as the No. 58 pick, while NBADraft.net has the former Lincoln High School star doing undrafted.

The 6-foot-4 point guard from Brooklyn has a workout scheduled for June 2 with the Indiana Pacers, as first reported by SNY.tv.

Whitehead has already worked out for Philadelphia, but cancelled workouts with Indiana, Boston and Chicago because of a hamstring injury.

He averaged 18.2 points and 5.1 assists this past season at Seton Hall, helping the Pirates win the Big East Tournament championship and reach the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Whitehead improved his stock with his play at the NBA Draft Combine. ESPN's Fran Fraschilla said on a recent episode of The 4 Quarters Podcast that Whitehead -- along with DeAndre' Bembry and Denzel Valentine -- might be the best passers in the Draft outside of potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons.

"Even if it takes him a little while to adjust, I think Isiah can be a solid combo guard in the NBA," Fraschilla said on Tuesday night. "He's big, strong creates his own shot and make shots. And, he is one of the best passers in the draft. Every Big East coach I talked to thinks he will play in the league."

The Big East will lose Whitehead, Marquette freshmman forward Henry Ellenson and Providence sophomore forward Ben Bentil to the NBA Draft, while Xavier sophomore Trevon Bluiett and Villanova junior Josh Hart are both returning to campus.

"He's helped our brand immensely in the fact from where he came in as a freshman and where he is now in just two short years," Pirates coach Kevin Willard told SNY.tv at the NBA Draft Combine. "Obviously, getting a guy in the NBA would be phenomenal for us. It shows what we do with individual instruction, what we do being in the metro area...I'm very proud of the work he's put in, I'm very proud of the situation he's put himself in."

Willard believes his team will still be strong without Whitehead.

""We have guys who are going to have to take a step up," Willard said. "We have some freshmen coming in who are going to have to be ready to play, and we have some guys that are sitting out [guard Jevon Thomas becomes eligible at mid-semester] who have to get ready and fill big shoes."

Whitehead said at the Combine he believes the Pirates will be fine after making the NCAA Tournament this year for the first time in 10 years.

"I mean, they're a great group, a whole bunch of sophomores," he said. "I was a key part last year but even when I played bad they carried me. I think they'll be a great group if I came back. I think they'll be maybe even better if I didn't just because they'll come together as one and they wouldn't lean on me as much so I think either way they're going to be a decent team."

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 (David Butler II)
(David Butler II)

UConn announced that both 7-foot center Amida Brimah and 6-4 guard Rodney Purvis have withdrawn from the 2016 NBA Draft and will return to UConn for their senior season in 2016-17.

The Purvis news had been previously reported, but the school announced it officially.

Neither Brimah nor Purvis hired an agent and both completed their removal paperwork by the May 25 deadline in order to retain their college eligibility.

Daniel Hamilton, the third member of the 2015-16 Huskies who submitted his name for the NBA Draft, has retained an agent and will remain draft eligible, ending his college basketball career.

UConn should be in contention for an AAC title and an NCAA Tournament bid next season with the return of Brimah and Purvis, along with rising sophomore guard Jalen Adams and VCU transfer Terry Larrier.

The Huskies also add a strong recruiting class, including McDonald's All-American point guard Alterique Gilbert, 6-8 forward Vance Jackson, 6-8 rebounder Mamadou Diarra; 6-9 power forward Juwan Durham, and New York shooting guard Christian Vital, who recently signed with UConn after decommitting from UNLV. The New Haven Register reported Durham may sit out the season with a medical redshirt.

"Besides being a great basketball player with a great basketball mind, Christian is just an outstanding leader," UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. "He has won wherever he's been. He's a great person who lifts your spirit when you're around him.

"Christian's ability to play both guard positions and his leadership qualities are what intrigued us. His combination of talent and character are what we're looking for in our student-athletes. We think he'll be a wonderful addition to the program."

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 (AP)
(AP)

Kris Jenkins and the reigning NCAA champion Villanova Wildcats are headed to the White House.

President Obama will host Jay Wright's team on May 31 as he continues the tradition of honoring sports team that have won championships.

On April 4, Jenkins hit the game-winning three-pointer to punctuate a 77-74 victory over North Carolina before 74,340 at NRG Stadium.

The event will be livestreamed at www.whitehouse.gov/live.

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NEW YORK -- Former Cincinnati wing Jermaine Sanders spent last season playing professional basketball in Veracruz, Mexico, where he had to eat burritos and tacos instead of the fried chicken and "American food" he prefers. He waited for his family to send him care packages, which included cereal, oodles of noodles and other snacks.

"It was a little tiny town in a Third World country," Sanders said. "There's nothing really to do so you're just playing ball and practicing and things like that."

Former Rutgers big man Kadeem Jack bounced around last season between the Indiana Pacers and NBA D-League teams the Fort Wayne Mad Ants and the Reno Bighorns.

"I would say the hardest part is just getting acclimated with the team," said Jack, Sanders' former Rice High School teammate. "You go, you learn one set of plays and you learn the system, you learn how to play with guys and then you move on to the next team."

And former Manhattan guard George Beamon split last season between the Texas Legends of the D-League and time in the Dominican Republic, where he said adjusting to the language was the biggest obstacle.

"I studied Spanish but it's just hard to speak it fluently and really communicate with people, but it was definitely a good experience," Beamon said.

All three New York natives were among the players on hand Tuesday afternoon at a workout set up by agent B.J. Bass at Basketball City in lower Manhattan. Recent former college players like UConn's Omar Calhoun and UMass' Jabarie Hinds were also there playing in front of several D-League decision-makers, including Billy Campbell of the D-League, Joel Abelson of the Westchester Knicks and Julian Applebome of the Reno Bighorns.

"I'm just hoping to get an NBA workout, get on with a D-League team, training camp and things like that," said Sanders, who hired Bass as his agent after firing his previous agent, Paige Hurley, because Sanders said things weren't working out.

Ironically, the workout at Basketball City occurred the same day that Excel held a Pro Day at Baruch College that featured likely lottery picks Brandon Ingram, Jamal Murray and Thon Maker, all of whom are virtually assured of hearing Adam Silver call their name at the NBA Draft on June 23rd.

For players like Jack, Sanders and Beamon, it's a different story.

"If you're not a lottery pick, this is how you have to get in," Bass said. "You gotta play in front of guys like Billy Campbell from the D-League and different NBA guys that may be looking at a D-League situation. But I think the [D-] league is a lot further along than these kids give credit for. You got NBA competition every night, you got NBA coaching, you're getting to a 30-for-30 system so you'll be playing in an NBA system and learning from it."

Still, the max salary in the D-League is only about $22,000 so some players prefer to play overseas instead.

"I think the money in the D-League will come up," said Bass, who said he's sent 50 players to the D-League. "They know they have to raise it."

Bass said some of the college players at his workout "maybe don't have a college resume that's going to command a huge European salary."

"But maybe if they went to the D-League and averaged 8 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds, all of a sudden now they're commanding a much different situation overseas," he added. "So it's about leveraging that blueprint."

Former St. John's forward Orlando Sanchez left the Westchester Knicks to play in the Dominican Republic to make more money.

"The average salary for a guy like Orlando in the Dominican Republic, he's probably getting anywhere from $14,000 - $16,000 a month," said Edgar De La Rosa, who mentors Sanchez and has coached in the D.R.

Meantime, for guys like Jack, Sanders and Beamon, they are hoping to get the attention of an NBA team for summer league, or an NBA D-League team for next season.

It's not how they envisioned things would work out coming out of college, but they are trying to make the most of it.

"I thought it would be a lot easier to get an NBA workout or [play] overseas [in] a top league but it didn't work out like that," Sanders said. "But things happen for a reason. You just gotta grind and appreciate what you do have and the work you have to do to get where you wanna go."

Added Jack, who hopes to catch on with a summer league team: "For me it's always about the steady incline, being able to move up, and get to the goal. I think the goal is real close. I just gotta keep working to get to it."

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After last year's overtime classic in Lawrence, Kan., Kansas and Kentucky will meet again in Rupp Arena during the 2016-17 season in the annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

The Jayhawks' return trip on Jan. 28 will mark the first time the two schools have met inside Rupp since Jan. 9, 2005.

This marks the fourth season of the annual challenge between the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 and the second straight season where all 10 games of the challenge will be played on the same day. A bye in the league schedule for participating teams was created to accommodate for the format.

Ten of the SEC's 14 teams will participate in this year's event against all 10 of the Big 12's institutions with each conference hosting five games apiece. Each of the 10 SEC teams participating in the 2017 games played in the 2016 event. The four SEC teams not participating will play each other in conference games the same day.

Seven of the 12 SEC/Big 12 Challenge games will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2, one game on ESPN2 or ESPNU, and two games will air on ESPNU.

The meeting between Kentucky and Kansas will be the third straight season the two winningest schools in NCAA Division I history will play, the fifth time in the last six seasons, and the second straight year in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Kansas won last season's meeting 90-84 in overtime, but the Wildcats' won the previous three meetings, all under head coach John Calipari, including the 2012 national championship.

Overall, UK leads the series 22-7, including a 7-1 mark in Lexington and a 4-1 record in Rupp Arena. Kansas won the last matchup in Rupp Arena in 2005, 65-59.

As they are every season, UK and Kansas are predicted to be among the nation's top teams during the 2016-17 season. With decisions on the future statuses of Isaiah Briscoe and Marcus Lee still looming, UK is expected to return the likes of Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins and Isaac Humphries to go along with the nation's top-ranked recruiting class (according to Rivals and ESPN).

Kansas, meantime, returns Frank Mason, Devonte' Graham and Landen Lucas while adding recruits Josh Jackson, Udoka Azubuike and Mitch Lightfoot to its team.

2017 SEC/Big 12 Challenge Matchups

Texas at Georgia

Baylor at Ole Miss

Kansas at Kentucky

Texas A&M at West Virginia

Florida at Oklahoma

Iowa State at Vanderbilt

Kansas State at Tennessee

Arkansas at Oklahoma State

Auburn at TCU

LSU at Texas Tech

Tags: Kansas , Kentucky , Adam Zagoria

 (Robert Deutsch)
(Robert Deutsch)

Duke, the projected No. 1 team in the nation, will host Michigan State while Indiana will host North Carolina in next year's ACC/Big Ten Challenge set for Nov. 28-30.

Both Duke and Michigan State have elite recruiting classes, with the Blue Devils bringing in Marques Bolden, Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Frank Jackson and Jack White, and Michigan State adding Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston, Josh Langford and Nick Ward.

Duke and Michigan State will also compete in the Champions Classic Nov. 15 at Madison Square Garden, with the Blue Devils meeting Kentucky and the Spartans facing Kansas. Meantime, Kansas visits Kentucky in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Jan. 28.

The field for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge includes 14 teams who earned berths in the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship:

  • NCAA runner-up North Carolina
  • Final Four participant Syracuse
  • Notre Dame and Virginia, each an Elite Eight team
  • Sweet 16 squads from Duke, Indiana, Maryland, Miami and Wisconsin
  • Early-round clubs Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Purdue.


The two conferences compete for the Commissioner's Cup, won the past two years by the Big Ten. The ACC had claimed the first 10 Challenges (1999-2008), the Big Ten then claimed three (2009-2011) and the league's split the results in 2012 and 2013. The ACC leads the all-time series, 10-5-2.

The 2016 ACC/Big Ten Challenge
 

Date Matchup
Monday, Nov. 28 Minnesota at Florida State
  Wake Forest at Northwestern
Tuesday, Nov. 29 Syracuse at Wisconsin
  Michigan State at Duke
  Pittsburgh at Maryland
  Iowa at Notre Dame
  Georgia Tech at Penn State
  NC State at Illinois
Wednesday, Nov. 30 Purdue at Louisville
  North Carolina at Indiana
  Ohio State at Virginia
  Virginia Tech at Michigan
  Rutgers at Miami
  Nebraska at Clemson
Tags: Duke University , Adam Zagoria

 (Matt Cashore)
(Matt Cashore)

Delaware has hired former Notre Dame assistant Martin Ingelsby as its new head men's basketball coach, multiple sources told SNY.tv on Tuesday.

Miami associate head coach Chris Caputo and Ohio State assistant Dave Dickerson were also in the mix.

A Philadelphia native with strong ties to that area, Ingelsby replaces Monte Ross, who was fired more than two months ago, March 18.

"He's the whole package," Brey told the Philadelphia Inquirer during the NCAA Tournament. "We've been known for our offensive efficiency and how we've played. He has as much input in what we do offensively as I do. We conspire on a lot of things."

Two Delaware players already transferred in Kory Holden (South Carolina) and Chivarsky Corbett (UTSA).

The Delaware players said they were in the dark about the coaching search.

"We had no clue what's going on," one player told SNY.tv.

Also at Notre Dame, assistant Anthony Solomon left the staff to join John Thompson III's staff at Georgetown.

ESPN's Jeff Borzello previously reported the Ingelsby news.

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 (Anthony Gruppuso)
(Anthony Gruppuso)

Seton Hall sophomore point guard Isaiah Whitehead has at least one NBA workout scheduled for early June and all signs point to him remaining in the NBA Draft.

The 6-foot-4 point guard from Brooklyn has a workout scheduled for June 2 with the Indiana Pacers, a source with direct knowledge told SNY.tv.

Whitehead has already worked out for Philadelphia, but cancelled workouts with Indiana, Boston and Chicago because of a hamstring injury.

Wednesday is the deadline for underclassmen without agents to withdraw from the draft. Whitehead has said he will make a formal announcement of his decision this week.

DraftExpress.com currently projects Whitehead as the No. 58 pick, while NBADraft.net has the former Lincoln High School star doing undrafted.

Still, Whitehead improved his stock with his play at the NBA Draft Combine. ESPN's Fran Fraschilla said on a recent episode of The 4 Quarters Podcast that Whitehead -- along with DeAndre' Bembry and Denzel Valentine -- might be the best passers in the Draft outside of potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons.

In the Big East, Providence sophomore Ben Bentil announced he will remain in the Draft, while Xavier sophomore Trevon Bluiett will return to school. Villanova junior guard Josh Hart is expected to announce sometime after a Tuesday workout with Atlanta.

SNY.tv originally reported that Whitehead would remain in the Draft, but sources later said he changed his mind and was expected to return to school.

One source said Whitehead went "back and forth" and there was a "tug of war" over his decision before he changed course again.

Whitehead told SNY.tv at the NBA Combine that he would declare for the draft "100 percent" if he was guaranteed to be a first-round pick. At the Sixers workout, the Brooklyn native softened his draft position.

"Late-first round, early-second," he said. "Just to solidify a spot. I don't want to go to the NBA and get lost. Definitely just come out here and get as much information as possible."

With the new rule that allows college basketball players to enter the draft and still remain school eligible if they choose to not sign with an agent, it provided players with the opportunity to get a legitimate gauge of their NBA value.

"I just ask them straight up, 'Do you think I'm ready to go to the NBA or not?'" he said. "That's basically what this route allows you to do and I'm going to take advantage of it."

Whitehead would be in the mix for Big East Player of the Year honors had he opted to stay at Seton Hall, and the Pirates would be in strong position to make a deep run in March after last year's first-round NCAA Tournament exit.

"That's potentially the best player in the Big East," one NBA source said. "He'll be one of the best players in the country."

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Tags: Isaiah Whitehead , Adam Zagoria

Former Kansas forward Cheick Diallo worked out for the Atlanta Hawks on Monday and a source said Diallo "impressed" the franchise.

Atlanta picks at No. 21 in the June 23rd NBA Draft.

DraftExpress.com currently has Diallo going No. 25 to the Clippers.

The 6-foot-9 Mali native impressed NBA officials at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, and then signed with agent Bill Duffy.

"I didn't get to show that much in college because of the NCAA thing but I show everybody I can run the floor, block shots and protect the rim," Diallo said at the Combine.

On Tuesday, the Hawks are slated to work out Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe, Villanova guard Josh Hart and former St. Joe's wing DeAndre' Bembry. Both underclassmen have not signed with agents and have until Wednesday's deadline to withdraw and return to campus.

 

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Tags: Cheick Diallo , Adam Zagoria

 (Jeff Curry)
(Jeff Curry)

Xavier sophomore Trevon Bluiett has withdrawn from the NBA Draft and will return to the Big East school for his junior season, his father told SNY.tv.

"Trevon will be returning to X for his junior year," Reynardo Bluiett said.

The 6-foot-6 Bluiett averaged 15.1 points and 6.1 rebounds last season, and should be one of the top players in the Big East as a junior.

He worked out for the Lakers and Celtics.

His return means that Xavier should once again be one one of the top teams in the Big East and the nation. Xavier also returns Edmond Sumner, Myles Davis, JP Macura, Ra'Shid Gaston, Kaiser Gates and Sean O'Mara and adds Eddie Ekiyor, Quentin Goodin and Tyrique Jones.

The Big East lost Providence sophomore Ben Bentil to the NBA draft, and Seton Hall's Isaiah Whitehead and Villanova's Josh Hart are expected to announce their decisions by Wednesday's deadline.

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PETER R. BARBER/DAILY GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER Andrew Platek of Guilderland tries to get a shot off while being blocked by Jordan Yearsley of Averil Park Friday, February 6, 2015.
PETER R. BARBER/DAILY GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER Andrew Platek of Guilderland tries to get a shot off while being blocked by Jordan Yearsley of Averil Park Friday, February 6, 2015.

Andrew Platek is one of the top shooting guards in the Class of 2017. The 6-foot-4 Platek will be contributing periodically to ZAGSBLOG going forward. Here is his first Player Blog.

 

A special thank you to Adam Zagoria for this opportunity to write my own player profile for ZAGSBLOG. This is Andrew Platek with my first Player Blog.

I attend Northfield Mount Hermon Prep School in Gill, MA. This past year was my first year there and an opportunity to play in the best basketball league in the country, the NEPSAC. I've had the honor of playing alongside and against the very top players in the country, all the while learning and growing from my head coach, John Carroll. Along with growing to be a better basketball player and a leader for my team, NMH is also one of the most prestigious academic prep schools anywhere in the United States. Northfield Mount Hermon is indeed the best combination of academics and basketball anywhere in the country. Eleven NMH alums are in the Ivy League. Only the state of California (12) and the state of Texas (13) have more players in the Ivy League. Now, this isn't an Ivy League factory, but the exposure to high level academics and the knowledge and desire for a top notch education sends some of the alumni of NMH in this direction. Not only do we produce great students and ball players, our culture of basketball breeds leaders. An NMH alum has or will captain Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale and Princeton in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. There are 6 players off of the 2012 NMH NEPSAC AAA championship team who went on to be captains in college. Spike Albrecht (2x at Michigan), Ethan O'Day (2x at Vermont), Tommy Carpenter at Dartmouth, Evan Cummins at Harvard, Anthony Dallier at Yale and Peter Miller at Princeton. I look to follow in the footsteps of these examples of great character. Our alumni always embody what NMH is truly about.

My family is the one aspect of my life that comes before anything else. All of the things that I am: student, friend, and basketball player, come after the responsibility and love I have for my family. Being the youngest of three I got to learn a lot of things from my older siblings. They taught me how to play video games cards, but never anything athletically. They played sports, but never to the extent that I wanted to go out and play. My family didn't know a thing about basketball until I came along and fell in love with it. My brother, now 27, attended Clarkson University, and my sister who is now 21, attended Boston University. My parents didn't see this life coming either. My dad always told me he loved sports, but was never very good at them. My mom, on the other hand, said that she wasn't half bad as an athlete in her youth, but never to the level of what I was doing. I love my parents for the support they gave me through the years of rec soccer, little league, lacrosse, and basketball, until I finally knew that it was basketball that had my heart, theirs too.

Not only are they amazing parents, they are smart as well. My mom attended the University of Buffalo as well as Albany Law School and is now an attorney. My dad attended the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park (the food at NMH doesn't come close to home cooking), but is now a purchasing agent for a mill-work company in Albany. As you can see, my family attended first-rate academic institutions, and the drive and desire to do well academically is something that was instilled into me at a young age by my parents. It has always been and will continue to be academics before basketball. My mom never hesitated to not let me play unless my grades were up to her standards or my homework wasn't finished. It was this value put on academics which led me to have the privilege of attending Northfield Mount Hermon. I will hopefully continue my basketball career at the school which is the best fit for me and has the best combination of academics and basketball. The ball doesn't bounce forever, but a degree is something no one can take away from you.

I've been blessed to have some of the greatest coaches and mentors to guide me to where I am today. None more influential, however, than my mentor Jeanna Cornetti, who passed away just over a year ago. Her son Jake and I were very close growing up, and she was the one who actually introduced me to basketball. Jake and I played seemingly every sport together, from soccer to lacrosse and finally basketball. Our relationship let my parents relationship with Jeanna blossom, as they were always together at sporting events, school meetings, and the like. Jeanna was the one who saw that I had an aptitude for basketball, and ran with it. She taught me how to dribble a ball, how to shoot (not very well) and pass at a young age. This introduction to the game grew into a passion and love for basketball as she had always had. While others doubted me growing up, her confidence and belief in me never wavered. We would break down film together, talk about scouting and what I could improve on. She was constantly telling me what I could get better at and how to do it. At the same time our families would celebrate holidays together, birthdays, and dinners. It was like she was a part of my family, and I am forever grateful for the love, determination, and drive she gave me. Of course I wish she was still here to see all of the craziness of my life today, but knowing she can always watch over me is all the I drive I need to make myself better. Jeanna showed me the ropes and taught me many important things, but I would certainly not be writing this profile if it wasn't for the City Rocks organization. Coach Jim Hart I met when I was 15, and he saw something in me that no one else did. At that time I didn't even comprehend the possibility of going to college for basketball, but he always told me to keep working hard, keep doing the little things and it will come. Through him and coach Patrick Neary's leadership and coaching, I grew from a boy of uncertainty to a man in control of his destiny. I'm sure I speak for all City Rock players, current and former, when I say that there is no better man that Jim Hart. He always puts others in front of himself and always has your best interest at heart. He's the person that would go to the ends of the earth for you and expect nothing in return, that's just the kind of guy he is. He is the true definition of a leader and I owe all my successes to him.

Because of my school, coaches, and family, I know hold scholarship offers from North Carolina, Stanford, Butler, Harvard, Davidson, George Washington, Yale, Princeton, Miami and Indiana, among others. I'm looking forward to session 4 of Nike EYBL and making a strong statement come July when Peach Jam comes around. Next year my team and I will look to repeat as New England champions and hopefully win the national title. Those are the goals. I will be a city rock and an NMH hogger for life.

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Providence sophomore forward Ben Bentil announced on Instagram Sunday that he will remain in the NBA Draft and forego his final two years of eligibilty at Providence.

Bentil, who measured 6-foot-8 1/4 at the NBA Draft Combine, is projected as the No. 45 pick by Draft Express.com. Kris Dunn, Bentil's Providence teammate, is projected as a top-five selection.

After workouts last week with the Clippers and Lakers, Bentil will work for Indiana on Monday and Orlando later this week.

Bentil said at the Combine that he would love a guarantee that someone will take him in the first round.

"A spot in the first round, knowing that I'm definitely going in the first round," Bentil said. "It only takes one team to like you so that's what I'm trying to do."

The leading scorer in the Big East last season, Bentil averaged 21.1 points and 7.7 rebounds.

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CHICAGO -- Like every other player here at the NBA Draft Combine who has yet to sign with an agent, Ben Bentil would love a guarantee that someone will take him in the first round.

"A spot in the first round, knowing that I'm definitely going in the first round," Bentil said here Thursday. "It only takes one team to like you so that's what I'm trying to do."

Bentil, who measured here at 6-foot-8 1/4, impressed on Thursday, going for 15 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists in a 109-69 rout along with teammates Isaiah Whitehead, De'Andre Bembry, Malcolm Brogdon and Marcus Paige.

"It's a small world so we all know each other," he said.

DraftExpress.com praised Bentil's play.

"Ben Bentil was as hot as you can get to start off the game, hitting his first four field goals just six minutes in, three of which came from beyond the arc. He slowed down quite a bit after that, but still ended up having a strong outing, rebounding better than expected, and playing solid defense.

"Bentil's shooting is a great place to start, as its one of the most important aspects of his NBA profile. He has gorgeous mechanics and excellent touch, with range well out to the NBA line and even some ability to create some separation off the dribble in the mid-range when closely contested or off a jab-step."

Bentil met here with Orlando, Golden State, Utah and Denver and said he has workouts coming up with the Clippers, the Lakers, Denver and Indiana.

"I just want to get positive feedback," he said.

Bentil is currently projected at No. 52 by DraftExpress.com, while his former teammate Kris Dunn -- who is not playing 5-on-5 here -- is at No. 4.

"I don't get overshadowed at all," Bentil said. "He's a great player, he's actually my best friend so we're cool. He actually pushed me to go."

Depending on whether Bentil returns to campus or not, Providence could be a top-tier team in the Big East next season. They are in the mix for 6-9 Canadian power forward Kalif Young, who decides next week between Providence and Marquette following an official to Providence this weekend.

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 (Jeffrey Becker)
(Jeffrey Becker)

With the deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the NBA Draft approaching on Wednesday, many college players have already declared their intentions to return to campus.

In recent days, Dedric Lawson (Memphis), Abdul Malik Abu and Beejay Anya (N.C. State), Justin Jackson (North Carolina) and Corey Sanders (Rutgers) have withdrawn from the draft after not signing with an agent.

But numerous high-profile college players are still weighing their decisions.

That group includes the Kentucky duo of Isaiah Briscoe and Marcus Lee, Maryland point guard Melo Trimble, Villanova guard Josh Hart, Providence forward Ben Bentil, Xavier wing Trevon Bluiett, Mississippi State guard Malik Newman, Seton Hall guard Isaiah Whitehead, Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes, Purdue forward Caleb Swanigan and Indiana forward Troy Williams.

**Briscoe's father, George, told me by phone on Friday that his son, the former Roselle (N.J.) Catholic star, has upcoming workouts with Minnesota (Monday) and Atlanta (Tuesday) and still hasn't made up his mind. Meantime, Lee cancelled several recent workouts but it remains unclear what he will do. Former Kentucky players Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie-Cauley Stein both offered words of wisdom for Briscoe and Lee at this week's NBA Draft Lottery.

 

**Maryland's Trimble worked out for Milwaukee on Thursday and told the team's official site, "[The NBA workouts] give me a chance to know where I'm at. I didn't have the second half that I wanted. At the beginning of the year, I was really good and I dropped a little bit. Just to put my name in the draft and see if I'm ready for the next level and if I'm not, I'll go back." Trimble told me at the NBA Draft Combine he also had workouts coming up with San Antonio, Atlanta and Philly

 

**Villanova's Hart told me Friday he also has not decided. "I haven't made my decision yet," he said. Hart still has workouts with San Antonio (Sunday) and Atlanta (Tuesday) before Wednesday's deadline. For more on his thoughts on possibly returning and trying to repeat with Villanova, read this from the Combine.

 

**Seton Hall's Whitehead has gone back and forth on his decision, and plans to announce before Wednesday's deadline. He worked out last week for Philadelphia before cancelling workouts with Indiana (Wednesday) and Boston (Friday) with a hamstring injury. If he returns to Seton Hall, he would be in contention for Big East Player of the Year honors.

 

**Providence's Bentil had workouts this week with the Clippers and the Lakers, while Xavier's Bluiett had the Celtics and the Lakers. Depending on the decisions of Hart, Whitehead, Bentil and Bluiett, they would be among the best players both in the Big East and nationally next season.

 

**Mississippi State's Newman had workouts scheduled with Milwaukee (Friday), the Nets (Sunday) and the Knicks (Tuesday). His father, Horatio Webster, told me on Thursday that if he wasn't satisfied with his son's draft status, Newman would return to campus.

 

**In the Big Ten, Purdue's Swanigan, Wisconsin's Hayes and Indiana's Williams also remain undecided. Hayes made headlines at a workout with the Celtics by saying he would shoot a ton of jump shots if Boston takes him in the lottery.

"We were just talking in the locker room about they (need) a wing player, someone who can really shoot the ball well," Hayes told MassLive.com Wednesday after working out for the Celtics. "And I told the guys, you take me (with the) third (overall pick), I'll shoot 5,000 shots a day for you."

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Mar 17, 2016; Providence, RI, USA; Baylor Bears forward Taurean Prince (21) controls the ball against the Yale Bulldogs during the first half of a first round game during the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Dunkin Donuts Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports (Mark L. Baer)
Mar 17, 2016; Providence, RI, USA; Baylor Bears forward Taurean Prince (21) controls the ball against the Yale Bulldogs during the first half of a first round game during the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Dunkin Donuts Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports (Mark L. Baer)

PHILADELPHIA -- On Friday morning at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Philadephia 76ers kicked off another six player pre-draft workout - their first since winning the NBA draft lottery to select first June 23.

Stepping on the court in Sixers practice gear was 6-foot-7 wing Jaron Blossomgame (Clemson), 6-foot-3 German guard Maodo Lo (Columbia), local prospect 6-foot-7 forward Isaiah Miles (St. Joseph's), another 6-foot-7 man in small forward Taurean Prince (Baylor), 6-foot-8 power forward Winston Shepard (San Diego State), and two-time Missouri Valley Conference player of the year, guard Fred VanVleet (Wichita State.)

Out of the six players, only one, Blossomgame, was not a senior.

With an upperclassmen group in the facility Director of Basketball Operations for the Sixers, Vince Rozman, expected to see some veteran presence in the workout.

"You think you know what you're getting a little bit more than a freshman," he said. "It's not always true but throughout their career there's just a lot more to go on. Hopefully they're a little more mature, this group is super mature, we've had a chance to sit with a lot of them so far."

Rozman continued by saying "a lot of these guys are fighting for jobs right now" after spending three or four years in college as they look to make the jump to the NBA.

Here are some notes from the Friday morning session:

Prince looks to add versatility to an NBA team

The Baylor small forward was the most notable prospect present on Friday, currently slated to be picked 16th in DraftExpress.com's last mock draft.

Working out for a team like Philadelphia, which so badly needs perimeter help, Prince was just looking to hit the floor and show the coaching staff he has the ability to do whatever they may need him to.

"My versatility, that I could handle the ball in pick and roll situations, play defense on different guys. I think I did pretty well," Prince said.

Rozman seemed to take notice of the work Prince put in not only on Friday, but over the duration of his career at Baylor.

"We've seen him a lot in four years, he's a big kid," Rozman said. "Coach (Brett Brown) likes big, physical two-way guys, and he can do that. He does a little bit more with the ball than people might have thought and he's a worker."

Along with displaying his versatility for the ball club Prince tried his best to just go out and enjoy himself during the workout - Philadelphia's choice to blast music during play time certainly helped.

"I love music first of all, and I love dancing," he said. "When you put the love of that and basketball together it just kind of gets me in that mood. Not every workout is like that, so it kind of surprised me. I was just enjoying myself and enjoying the atmosphere, enjoying the people around me."

Prince also had the chance to speak with Brown, who told him "overdue your sleep, drink a lot of water, don't worry about any other things but what you need to do to prepare for the following workout."

The small forward will work out for the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, already completing workouts with the San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls.

 

Local product Miles enjoying his opportunity

For the second time in the week, the Sixers brought in a St. Joseph's player. After hosting DeAndre' Bembry on Monday, forward Isaiah Miles was in attendance Friday.

The senior frontcourt player felt his workout with the local professional team was a positive showing.

"I think I shot the ball well, and showed the scouts and coaches I can shoot well and I can spread the floor," he said. "I think I showed that my conditioning is pretty good."

Brown called Miles a "good worker" while Rozman noted he's "gotten a lot better throughout his career."

Going through the draft process with his teammate, Bembry, Miles believes is a payoff to the work the two put in while at St. Joseph's.

"It's huge, he's my best friend he's my brother," Miles said of getting to be evaluated with Bembry. "Seeing someone you battled with through the season have such great success after the seasons over, as well as you, it's kind of a huge process. You'd like to see your brother do well, so I'm glad that me and him are able to go through the process and we're getting what we deserve from the season."

During the pre-draft process agents and teams can get into a players ear and feed them with certain potential draft positions and pieces of information.

For Miles, he doesn't want to get caught up in anything that can take his eye off the prize.

"My preference is I don't really want to know," Miles said in response to what he's heard about his draft position. "I don't want to have my head into that, I want to have my head into working hard every workout. You're going this spot, this team likes you, you know I feel like it's a distraction to me and I don't really want that distraction."

Miles noted that his potential union with the Sixers could provide them with "someone who could spread the floor and be a mismatch problem for a lot of fours and fives. From a shooting aspect I think they need one and I think I could fit there."

On his upcoming workouts Miles noted his busy schedule starting this weekend: "I'm leaving Sunday to go to Houston, I have Dallas and Houston. Then I fly back to Philly. I have the Knicks, Milwaukee, Utah and then I have San Antonio."

 

Ivy League graduate Lo ready to prove his worth

Lo, a German native and recent Columbia graduate, arrived to the Sixers practice facility with a little bit of a different flavor than the normal NBA prospect.

"It's really interesting if you talk to him and talk about his story," Rozman said of the Columbia guard. "His mother's from Germany and his dad is from Senegal. He's got an interesting story. He played with the German national team last year and preformed really, really well. It's good to get him in the gym, he showed some things that you don't necessarily see him do at college. It was a good day for him."

Lo seemed to echo Rozman's remarks about his performance on the court.

"I think it went well," Lo said of his Friday morning workout. "It was a really good workout, my second one. Just wanted to make sure to show my shooting abilities. Show shooting my three, shooting off the dribble, and just my understanding of the game."

With international experience to go along with his college game, Lo brings the aspect of understanding two types of ways basketball can be played. For himself, he believes the versatility provides an advantage on the court.

"I think in Europe at times it's a different game," he said. "It's less one-on-one and more of understanding the offense, reading the defense, making plays off of it and taking advantage of what you see. I think that's something I bring along as a player, understanding the game and creating for others - sharing the ball a lot and that type of skill."

While basketball has dominated Lo's life up until this point, the guard - who is originally from Berlin - made the decision to move to the United States for a reason that goes beyond the hardwood.

"Education," he said of his choice to play at Columbia, which won the CIT Invitational over UC Irvine. "It's very important to me, it always has been. I love basketball. Basketball is my life and my passion, but it ends at some point in your life. It's good to have something else. In Europe you can't combine both academics and athletics, universities don't have it. It was obvious for me to come to the United States."

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As far as his pre-draft workouts go, Lo only performed for the Minnesota Timberwolves before his Sixers experience. Noting he "just graduated two days ago .. and just came off finals." Moving forward for workouts Lo said there is "nothing definite, since my given situation those are being organized right now."

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SUWANEE, Ga.- Possibly the top player from this past weekend at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions was Zion Williamson.

The 6-foot-6 Class of 2018 wing from Spartanburg, S.C. has burst onto the scene this spring, adding countless offers, most recently from UNLV.

"So far, my summer has been amazing," Williamson said after a 117-65 win in which he scored 27 points. "I've picked up 15-plus offers, and my team has been playing really well."

Williamson says that he believes playing on the Adidas Circuit for Game Elite was a big boost to his recruitment, mainly because many high level schools have come out and seen him play.

"I feel like playing on the circuit has been a big difference for me," Williamson said. "Playing in front off all of these coaches has really helped me a lot. Some kids don't get this opportunity that I get to play at this level."

Growing up, Williamson says that he didn't have a specific dream school, or team that he wanted to go to.

"For me it was all about certain players," Williamson said. "I didn't have a certain school that was a dream school for me, but right now, Virginia and Clemson are working hardest."

Williamson says that he will be taking his visits carefully, but also that he won't be looking for anything in particular on those visits.

"Not really," Williamson said. "I'm just looking for a school that fits my style, and what I do well on the court."

Williamson has picked up offers from UNLV, Clemson, Virginia, Tennessee, UCLA, Maryland, LSU, South Carolina, UConn, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, NC State, Mississippi State, Miami, Texas A&M, Iowa State, Florida, Georgia and Tulane.

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TINTON FALLS, N.J. -- Team Rio was a few minutes into their showcase game against South Jersey Blitz last Sunday when Bryan Antoine, 6-foot-3 guard in the Class of 2019, poked the ball loose and ran a one-man fast break that resulted in a one-handed dunk. The packed gym at Ranney School yelled out in support.

On the other end of the court was Antoine's backcourt-mate and best friend, 6-foot-4 Scottie Lewis, clapping his hands.

When it comes to Antoine, Lewis is always in his corner, and vice versa.

The two Class of 2019 guards are being treated as a package deal at this point.

"We've pretty much been offered by the same teams, the same colleges because we play together and the way we play," Lewis told SNY.tv. "Right now we only have offers from Seton Hall, Rutgers, Villanova, Florida, VCU, Rutgers, Colgate, Temple, UConn. Kansas has interest.

"[Kansas] is calling our coach, not us yet. They want to see us play more."

Lewis and Antoine first met in Georgia at a NYBL tournament when they were in sixth grade. Back then, the two ultra-talented guards weren't teammates.

"I remember the first time I saw you," Antoine said, looking over at Lewis. "I dropped 40 on you, right?"

"Yeah, you did," Lewis confirmed.

Fast-forward a few years, Lewis and Antoine are in their ninth grade year playing together for both Ranney School and Team Rio. With college offers piling in for the both of them, talk of their future together is hard to get away from.

"That's a very, very, very common question." Antoine says when asked if he would want to play with Lewis at the next level.

"We have three years to make our decision," Lewis says. "First, what we're going to school for - majoring wise and minoring wise from the academic aspect of it. But from the athletic aspect of it, it would be pretty cool to go to the same school with Bryan just because that much chemistry that we have already going right in to college, with your best friend."

Finding Antoine in the corner for an attempt from behind the arc is the lethal chemistry the two guards possess. Lewis, who describes himself as driver, knows his best friend's strengths on the court.

"We've been playing together for a long time," Lewis said. "I know how much of a great player Bryan is. When he's doing his thing, he's a natural born bucket, that's just what he does. He goes and gets buckets."

Antoine may be a "natural born bucket" as Lewis calls him, but he also works hard on his shot.

"I'm in the gym four days a week," Antoine said. "All I pretty much do in the gym is shoot around. If you see me miss one or two three's, it's not really common, but it happens every once in a while."

On Team Rio, Lewis and Antoine are the de facto top players. The team goes as those two do, but the mindset of the best friends is that there is always enough of the ball to go around.

"When he's scoring, I'm going to go get the rebounds, dive on the floor, block every shot, his thing is scoring," Lewis said. "Defense, rebounding and highlight reels are my thing. He's more of a fundamentals, skill shooter. We complement each others games very much."

While Antoine is pegged as the scorer of the two, his favorite part of the game comes when he can get Lewis into free space.

"Not even kidding, on the fast break if I see him coming down the lane, I can throw to the top backboard and he'll still dunk it," Antoine said. "I know me and him are teammates and best friends, but no matter what that's pretty crazy."

The two guards who are the driving force behind both Ranney School and Team Rio share the court all year round. For the forseeable future, that doesn't look to change.

But to these two freshman, the bond is much more than basketball.

"It's all brotherhood." Antoine said.

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NEW YORK -- Kentucky may have missed out on Marques Bolden on Thursday, but there was plenty of other good news for Big Blue Nation.

Former Wildcats Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota) and Devin Booker (Phoenix) were both named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team, while Willie Cauley-Stein (Sacramento) made the Second Team.

Towns, the Piscataway, N.J., native, had already been unanimously named the NBA Rookie of the Year.

Duke had two players on the teams, with Jahlil Okafor (Philadelphia) on the First Team and Justise Winslow (Miami) on the second.

The awards capped an eventful week for Kentucky guys in the NBA. Towns, Booker and Cauley-Stein all represented their teams Tuesday night in the NBA Draft lottery, where the 76ers earned the No. 1 pick in the June 23rd NBA Draft. Of the five player-reps, Kentucky had three of them.

"It speaks more to our character than our talent," Towns said at the Lottery. "You just don't get up here by talent alone, you get up here by character. And it just speaks to people that Coach Cal recruits."

"It's just cool, especially since we all played together," Cauley-Stein added. "It wasn't like he played two years ago, I played a year ago, the other dude played five years ago. We were a team, so it's just cool seeing us up here and making our strides in the NBA."

Kentucky coach John Calipari is on record saying he would like to see half of the NBA All-Star Game comprised of former Kentucky guys.

"It could happen," Cauley-Stein said. "It could happen, there's that many Kentucky players, it could happen."

Projected lottery picks Jamal Murray and Skal Labissiere were both at the Draft Lottery and Cauley-Stein said he told both former Kentucky guys to enjoy it.

"This is nothing," he said. "Right here is nothing. The real nerves kick in when the Draft comes, so this is just fun."

As for Marcus Lee, who has until May 25 to withdraw from the NBA Draft but has already withdrawn from several workouts, Cauley-Stein also had some advice.

"I haven't spoken to him, but it's more if you're ready to go, go," Cauley-Stein said. "But if you're having second thoughts about it, don't gamble it."

As for Isaiah Briscoe, who also has until May 25 to decide, Towns said he's spoken to him.

"He's enjoying the process and that's the biggest thing," he said. "You gotta enjoy the process and use this time wisely."

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After months of buildup, waiting and speculation, Marques Bolden finally announced for Duke and not Kentucky on Thursday at DeSoto (TX) High School.

The 6-foot-10, 250-pound big man is ranked the No. 1 center in the Class of 2016 and joins a loaded recruiting class that already includes Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Javin DeLaurier, Frank Jackson and Jack White. Duke's class is now ranked No. 1 by Scout.com ahead of No. 2 Kentucky and No. 3 Arizona.

Duke already figured to be the preseason No. 1 team in the land and the addition of Bolden certainly should help. In addition to their loaded recruiting class, Coach Mike Krzyzewski's team returns a core of players, including bigs Amile Jefferson and Chase Jeter and guards, Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard and Matt Jones, Bolden's former DeSoto teammate.

"I think I fit in well being able to play multiple positions and I feel like I complement most of the guys that are already there and I feel like they complement me as well," Bolden told Scout.com about his selection of Duke

"It's just the chance to play for a special group of guys," he added. "I feel like we are going to have a lot of versatility with next years roster."

Giles believes he and Bolden will complement each other down low.

"I'm unselfish, I played with other good players before," Giles said last month. "I played with Diamond Stone, Ivan Raab, so I know how to play with good bigs. It works out for itself. Good players can play with each other, it's not that hard. People kind of blow it out of proportion. But we both unselfish, so it will be perfect.

"That's why I want him so bad because I know I can make him so much better and we can go at it in practice and make each other better. With Amile and Chase, that's a good four-big rotation. We go at it every day in practice, we can't help but get better."

As for Kentucky, nobody should shed a tear.

The Wildcats are loaded in the frontcourt with returning bigs Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard and incoming bigs Bam Adebayo, Sacha Killeya-Jones and Wenyen Gabriel.

Kentucky forward Marcus Lee cancelled several NBA workouts and if he and Isaiah Briscoe both return, Kentucky would have 12 scholarship players following the announcement that guard Charles Matthews will transfer.

Among the players still uncommitted in 2016 are big men Jarrett Allen and Taurean Thompson.

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CHICAGO -- Malik Newman will pull out of the NBA Draft and return to Mississippi State for his sophomore season if his father is not satisfied with his projected draft status.

Once projected as high as the No. 4 pick by DraftExpress.com, the 6-foot-3 1/2 Newman is currently slotted at No. 52. He has not hired an agent and has until May 25 to decide about returning to campus.

"Right now everyone is projecting him a second round pick and, to be quite honest with you, I don't know if we're going to take the chance on being a second-round pick," Horatio Webster, Newman's father and a former Mississippi State star, told SNY.tv by phone on Thursday. "Being that he's just a freshman, if he don't get a promise or something that's concrete, then we're not going to take the chance on being a second-round pick. He would pull his name out by the 25th."

Newman famously chose Mississippi State over Kentucky and Kansas and then did not live up to the hype due to series of nagging injuries including turf toe and a back injury.

In his lone season on campus, the preseason All-SEC Second Team honoree averaged 11.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists and the Bulldogs failed to make the NCAA Tournament.

"I just think it was the injuries," Newman told me last week at the NBA Draft Combine. "I mean nagging injury after nagging injury. I never could get 100 percent during the season. That's really the only thing I can think of."

At the Combine, he averaged 6.5 points and 1.0 assist in two games.

"I don't think he did enough to be a first-round [pick] but if it's a good situation in the second round then we would entertain it," Webster said. "If not then he will go back to school."

ESPN's Fran Fraschilla thinks coming back for a sophomore year would be a good idea.

"Injuries slowed Malik down this year," he told SNY.tv. "He had a couple of moments of brilliance at the Combine but I think it's best to put together a solid sophomore season."

Newman worked out with the Bulls while in Chicago and has upcoming workouts with Milwaukee (Friday), the Nets (May 22) and the Knicks (24). The Nets own the No. 55 pick and are trying to add a late-first or early-second round pick, while the Knicks don't own a pick and are trying to do the same.

"I haven't really been asking what's my range or where I might go but I've been getting some quality feedback," Newman said.

The failures of both Newman and Ben Simmons (a projected top-2 pick) to make the NCAA Tournament has fueled a belief by some that future McDonald's All-American-type players will choose bluebloods like Kentucky, Kansas and Duke over places like Mississippi State and LSU.

But Newman isn't buying it.

"Of course not because everything that I went through at Mississippi State made me the person that I am right now today," Newman said. "And so who says that I go to Kentucky or even [Simmons] goes to Kentucky and our seasons still don't turn out the same? So I mean just because it was a thing of it's Kentucky and Kentucky is a blueblood school...I feel like a school is a school and it's up to the team to prove how far that team goes."

Despite his perceiving declining stock, Newman says he has nothing to prove.

"I feel like the only thing I have to prove is that nothing has changed about Malik Newman," he said. "I feel like I'm healthy right now, I'm 100 percent and it's just all about going there showing that I can play with these elite guys and I am an elite guy."

If Newman returns to campus, he could showcase himself in 2016-17 and try to help his stock for the 2017 Draft.

Still, Webster said he wasn't sure his son was used properly under coach Ben Howland.

"I don't know if he was used the right way, either," Webster said. "Fifty percent of the time he was just sitting in the corner, which I think Ben is a phenomenal coach. Ben did whatever he could to make your team win so I'm not knocking him for that but I just think Malik is really good with the ball in his hand and he didn't get a chance to show that part of his game, either."

Asked if he was considering transferring, Webster said of Newman, "No."

 

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The Malachi Richardson Era at Syracuse lasted just one year and now it's time for other players to step up.

So says Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who's optimistic about his team as it comes off a Final Four appearance in 2016.

"We're probably in much better position heading into this year than we were last year and last year turned out prettty good," Boeheim said Wednesday on The 4 Quarters Podcast.

Syracuse loses Richardson and fellow guards Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije but adds incoming recruits Tyus Battle and Matthew Moyer, graduate transfer John Gillon and 7-foot-2 center Paschal Chukwu, who sat out last season after transferring from Providence.

"There's no question. In one sense I'm sure there are some players thinking, 'Well, we're going to get a lot more shots now next year [that Richardson is gone],'" Boeheim said. "And that would be true. We think our freshmen can come in and help us. We think Tyler Lydon is ready for a big role. We think that Frank Howard is ready for a big role in the backcourt. We picked up a great fifth-year transfer [Gillon] who averaged 14 points a game in college. We think he's going to be ready to help us. We got a 7-2 guy coming into the middle that we didn't have this year. We've got Tyler Roberson who averaged eight rebounds a game and who we think is a tremendous player, so we're in good position."

The 6-foot-6 Battle was the New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year out of St. Joe's-Metuchen, and he expects to have a bigger role now that Richardson, his former teammate on the Nike-sponsored Team Final AAU outfit, has signed with agent Andy Miller and is headed to the NBA Draft.

"I thought I would be playing with him this year," Battle told Syracuse.com, "but he had an amazing (NCAA) tournament and Syracuse made an amazing run. It's his career and he's been working for this forever so I'm really happy for him."

Battle added: "I really think I'm going to need to score a lot more now."

Moyer also told the site: "It's just more opportunity as freshmen to come in and impact the team. It's just more responsibility on us younger guys - even the sophomores - to be able to perform and get things done."

Boeheim is high on Battle, who is a very athletic wing but not the same shooter that Richardson proved to be.

"It's like Malachi," Boeheim said. "Malachi came in and averaged 14 points a game and was a huge factor....I think Tyus Battle, he's rated in the same area in terms of ability. He's not quite as good a shotoer, but he's a tremendous athlete. So we think Tyus Battle can come in and make a huge difference here particularly given our strong our front line should be with Tyler Roberson, Tyler Lydon, Dajuan Coleman and Paschal Chukwu, so we really like our team."

As for Richardson, Boeheim wished him well but reiterated comments he made Tuesday in Rochester by saying he thought Chad Ford's projection of Richardson at No. 13 was off base.

"I love Malachi, he had a great year for us," Boeheim said. "I think he's got great potential and the NBA is drafting on potential. I think he can shoot it, he's big, he's got good hands, he can get to the basket. I think he's got a chance to have a great career in the NBA. I just hope that he gets in an opportunity where you have that chance your first year. If you go late in the first round sometimes they send you to the D-League. I don't think the D-League helps anybody that much anymore.

"But again, when you project somebody at 13 in the draft, there's no reason for that. He hasn't had workouts yet. It reminds me when the same pundit had Jerami Grant in the Top 20 and he went 39. It's a very inexact science right now. NBA teams have not even talked about who they're going to range if they're in the 10-30 range. They haven't even started workouts. You're going to work guys out before you get to that kind of a place.

"I just think agents want players to come out and they'll tell them pretty much what they want to hear. That's just the way it works today. Nobody knows right now where anybody's going in the Draft, even including the first one and two picks.

"But Malachi had a great year for us. He's got tremendous potential to play in the NBA and we wish him well."

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 (Casey Sapio)
(Casey Sapio)

Charlie Moore, the 5-foot-10 point guard out of Chicago Morgan Park and former Memphis commit, has pledged to California coach Cuonzo Martin.

Moore decommited from Memphis following the coaching change. He also considered SMU, LSU and Georgia Tech, where former Memphis coach Josh Pastner now resides.

Morgan is rated the No. 16 point guard by 247Sports.com. He and incoming graduate transfer Grant Mullins from Columbia will help offset the losses of Tyrone Wallace (graduation) and Tyson Jolly, who decommitted and then pledged to Baylor.

"I have a great relationship with the coacing staff," Moore told SNY.tv. "They've been recruiting me since the first go-round and they never change."

 

LIVINGSTON TO TEXAS TECH

Anthony Livingston, a 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward, committed to Texas Tech, he told SNY.tv.

The graduate transfer from Arkansas State will be immediately eligible for coach Chris Beard.

"Texas Tech was just the best fit for me personally," Livingston said. "I was very comfortable with Coach Beard being as though he coached against me in the Sun Belt Conference."

A native of Washington, D.C., Livingston also considered St. John's, LSU, West Virginia and Boston College.

"He's a young guy but he has one of the smoothest strokes for a big man I've seen," said San Jacinto (TX) College coach head coach Scott Gerander, who coached Livingston in 2013-14 before the player went to Arkansas State. "He's a really good shooter from all over the floor, super soft touch with a good post and face-up game. It's crazy how he gets all that done and isn't very athletic and looks like the oldest man in the gym everywhere he goes.

Livingston averaged a double-double of 15.9 points and 10 rebounds as a sophomore. In 2015-16, he averaged 15.5 points and 9.4 boards, including a 29-point outing. He also went for 22 rebounds in a game against Arkansas-Little Rock where in he pulled in 22 rebounds.

"I bring an inside-out game, including mid-range scoring ability," he said. "Scoring, rebounding, leadership, passing and defending. Coach Beard wants me to come in and be able to contribute on all cylinders."

 

NEVADA LANDS PURDUE TRANSFER KENDALL STEPHENS

Nevada head coach Eric Musselman landed Purdue transfer Kendall Stephens, who also considered San Diego.

The 6-6 junior guard averaged 6.1 points and 1.3 rebounds last season. He will have to sit one season to play one.

"I think Nevada's style of play suits me better and I have a great connection with the coaching staff who showed me their version of the program and where I fit into it," Stephens told SNY.tv.

 

VITAL SIGNS NLI WITH UCONN

Christian Vital, a combination guard from Queens Village, N.Y., signed his NLI to UConn.

Vital, 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds, averaged 16.2 points per game last season at St. Thomas More (Oakdale, Conn.), helping the Chancellors to a 31-7 record and the National Prep Championship finals.

Vital is known as a high-energy athlete, who can play either guard position, with an outstanding long range jumper, and is a solid defender. But UConn coach Kevin Ollie feels that he brings to the program much more than his basketball skills.

"Besides being a great basketball player with a great basketball mind, Christian is just an outstanding leader," Ollie said. "He has won wherever he's been. He's a great person who lifts your spirit when you're around him.

"Christian's ability to play both guard positions and his leadership qualities are what intrigued us. His combination of talent and character are what we're looking for in our student-athletes. We think he'll be a wonderful addition to the program."

Vital was a New England Prep School Athletic Conference Class AAA All-New England First-Team selection. He scored 13 points, including three three-pointers, and handed out seven assists in the Jordan Brand Classic Regional Game, in which he played with fellow UConn incoming recruit Mamadou Diarra.<

"He may have improved more than any kid I've ever had here for two years," St.Thomas More coach Jere Quinn told the Norwich Bulletin. "He's such a hard worker. First to show up in the gym, last to leave --- that kind of kid."

Vital is also well-acquainted with more of his future UConn teammates. In 2014-15 at St. Thomas More, he was a teammate of UConn rising sophomore forward Steve Enoch, he played he played AAU ball with current UConn redshirt sophomore Terry Larrier, and knows UConn rising sophomore Jalen Adams from the AAU and NEPSAC circuits.

Vital joins UConn's highly-touted recruiting class which has been consistently rated among the top 10 in the country, including forward Diarra (Queens, N.Y.), guard Alterique Gilbert (Lithonia, Ga.), and forwards Vance Jackson (Altedena, Calif.), and Juwan Durham (Tampa, Fla.).      

 

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2018 G Zion Williamson picked up an offer from UNLV...2017 First Love Christian (PA) F Samson George has received an offer from Duquesne.

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 (Bob Donnan)
(Bob Donnan)

Canadian big man Kalif Young is headed to Providence.

The 6-foot-9, 250-pound left-handed Class of 2016 power forward from Ontario's Orangeville Prep chose Providence over Marquette after visiting Providence this past weekend. Young took an official visit to Marquette on May 4 with his mother.

Young's commitment comes at a time when Providence forward Ben Bentil is testing the NBA Draft waters and may opt to leave. He has until May 25 to decide.

"For me, I think it was the people and the family atmosphere and the way I felt in my gut and just knowing that that was the only place for me," he told me by phone. "The biggest thing for me was feeling comfortable and knowing that I can grow with them."

As for his skillset, Young said: "As I keep developing, I'm someone who can get a bucket down low and also spread the floor with my ability to dribble and my quick feet. Just builidng on what I have and adding new things to my game with my shot going forward."

Orangeville Prep coach Larry Blunt previously told SNY.tv: "Kalif is a very skilled lefty with college strength already. He has incredible feel for the game and can shoot the ball consistently from 17 feet in, and the pick-and-pop 3. You can throw the ball to Kalif on the block and not only can he score, but he is an exceptional passer. He can hedge on ball screens and even switch out on guards in late-shot clock situations. He's a great kid with a great family.

"Kalif will be a household name before the year is out."

Added Tony Young, Kalif's father: "He's quick on his feet for his size. He's a killer on the boards. He can post. He can handle the ball for a big man. Everyone tells me he has a great IQ on the court and he has great passing ability. One person says he passes the basketball like a football."

Young joins Maliek White, Emmitt Holt and Alpha Diallo in Providence's 2016 recruiting class.

"I'm just happy to be a Friar and joining the team," Kalif said.

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 (Jim Brown)
(Jim Brown)

Charles Matthews will transfer from Kentucky, the school announced Wednesday.

The 6-foot-6 freshman guard will be granted a full release with no restrictions. His high school coach, Gary DeCesare, told SNY.tv that Matthews has not list as of yet.

Kentucky has a loaded recruiting class coming in, including a potential starting backcourt in point guard De'Aaron Fox and two guard Malik Monk. Freshman guard Isaiah Briscoe is also testing the NBA Draft waters and has until May 25 to decide about entering the Draft or returning to school.

"The hardest thing as a coach is to lose a player that you really want to coach," head coach John Calipari said. "In Charles' case, I believe he is going to be a productive college player who has the ability to play at the next level. I know Charles' best basketball is ahead of him, and while I'm a saddened to see him go, I support his decision and will help in any way I can.

"It hasn't happened very often in my career, but transferring is a part of our game. It doesn't change who we are as a program. We will support every kid in whatever way we can to make sure they can pursue their dreams, because ultimately that's all I want for these young men."

Matthews was one of four Wildcats to play in all 36 games for UK during the 2015-16 season. He averaged 1.7 points and 1.6 rebounds in helping the Wildcats claim the Southeastern Conference regular-season and tournament championships.

"I want to thank the coaches, my teammates and the Big Blue Nation for all of their support this season," Matthews said. "I gained great experience during my freshman year at Kentucky. This was a difficult decision for me, but at the end of the day I felt like it was in my best interest to explore other options. I appreciate the support Coach Cal has given me in making this decision and the commitment the coaching staff made to me for this past season and beyond. Kentucky will always hold a special place in my heart."

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 (Anthony Gruppuso)
(Anthony Gruppuso)

Isaiah Whitehead didn't work out on Wednesday for the Indiana Pacers as originally planned, and pushed back his announcement plans until March 24.

Whitehead had initially Tweeted he would announce on Thursday whether he would remain in the NBA Draft or return to Seton Hall. He has until May 25 to decide.

It remains unclear if Whitehead sustained a minor injury that impacted the Pacers' workout.

The Pacers on Wednesday were scheduled to work out Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova), Wade Baldwin IV (Vanderbilt), Matt Costello (Michigan State), Max Landis (IPFW), Patrick McCaw (UNLV) and Kaleb Tarczewski (Arizona).

Among those who worked out for the Pacers on Tuesday were former Oklahoma point guard Isaiah Cousins, a native of Mount Vernon, N.Y. Sources said Cousins was impressive in the workout. The 6-4 guard is projected as a late-first/early-second round pick.

The 6-foot-4 Whitehead worked out for Philadelphia on Monday.

He is currently projected at No. 58 by DraftExpress.com, and Whitehead said Monday that he was hoping to be chosen in the first round or early-second.

"Late-first round, early-second," he said. "Just to solidify a spot. I don't want to go to the NBA and get lost. Definitely just come out here and get as much information as possible."

Whitehead also had workouts set up with Boston on Friday and Chicago on Monday.

"It's definitely up in the air," Whitehead said. "Based off my decision, if I stay in the draft, why not still go there? If I don't, then obviously they will be cancelled because I can't."

With Whitehead and the addition of guard Eron Gordon on Monday, Seton Hall is now at 13 scholarship players.

Should Whitehead return to Seton Hall he would be in the mix for Big East Player of the Year honors next season.

"That's potentially the best player in the Big East," one NBA source said. "He'll be one of the best players in the country."

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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

NEW YORK -- Could all the tanking finally pay off?

Patient fans of the Phialdelphia 76ers certainly hope so.

After years of tanking, the Sixers were rewarded Tuesday night with the No. 1 pick in next month's NBA Draft and will have their choice of former LSU point forward Ben Simmons and former Duke forward Brandon Ingram.

"'I'm thrilled for our city and the fans of Philadelphia," Sixers coach Brett Brown said at the New York Hilton Midtown after the Sixers edged the Lakers and Celtics, who will pick No. 2 and 3, respectively.

The Sixers had the best odds of winning the No. 1 pick at 26.9 percent. This is the franchise's first No. 1 selection since they selected Allen Iverson No. 1 in the 1996 draft.

Asked if he knew which player his team would select, Brown said, "No, we do not."

Brown said the team's top priority was to improve its point guard situation, but the franchise is expected to choose between the two long frontcourt players, Simmons and Ingram.

"When you look at the top of this draft, it's almost a position where you can't go wrong at 1 or 2 or 3 even," said Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo. "There's a very good player at No. 3 in this draft, so we feel comfortable that tonight is just another reinforcement in this process."

Simmons, an Australian who did not play in the NCAA Tournament in his lone season at LSU, is a lifelong Lakers fan and it's no secret that he would like to play in Los Angeles.

He's on record saying, "You can catch me on the Lakers next year."

Still, Brown is familiar with Simmons, having coached two Australian pro teams and the Aussie men's national team. He lived in Australia for 17 years.

"I coached Ben's father a long time ago, I've known Ben since he was born," Brown said. "I've known his family since the late 80s so just having that knowledge of where he was raised and understanding the culture...There are lots of different connections that I think make me better informed.

"He obviously is an extremely talented young man and I think that he comes from great stock with his family."

Simmons is considered a better rebounder and more of a facilitator than Ingram, who is the better shooter and better defender at this point.

"Everybody's looking for the elusive legitimate two-way players," Brown said. "We feel like we have a great stockpile of NBA bigs [Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor] and even some 4/3 men like Dario Saric or a Jerami Grant type."

Not 20 minutes after winning the No. 1 pick, Brown was asked if the Sixers might trade the pick.

"I have no idea what Bryan's going to do," Brown said. We will talk about it with owners, we will talk about it as a staff."

 

 

NBA DRAFT LOTTERY RESULTS

1. Philadelphia

2. Los Angeles Lakers

3. Boston (From Brooklyn)

4. Phoenix

5. Minnesota

6. New Orleans

7. Denver (From New York)

8. Sacramento

9. Toronto (From Denver via New York)

10. Milwaukee

11. Orlando

12. Utah

13. Phoenix (From Washington)

14. Chicago

 

The following is the order for the remainder of NBA Draft 2016 presented by State Farm:

 

15. Denver (From Houston)

16. Boston (From Dallas)

17. Memphis

18. Detroit

19. Denver (From Portland)

20. Indiana

21. Atlanta

22. Charlotte

23. Boston

24. Philadelphia (From Miami via Cleveland)

25. Los Angeles Clippers

26. Philadelphia (From Oklahoma City via Denver and Cleveland)

27. Toronto

28. Phoenix (From Cleveland via Boston)

29. San Antonio

30. Golden State

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 (Isaiah J. Downing)
(Isaiah J. Downing)

CHICAGO -- During his time at the NBA Draft Combine last week, former Iona guard A.J. English couldn't help but notice NBA decision-makers like Larry Bird, Danny Ainge and Jerry West sitting courtside.

"Of course I notice," English told me at the Combine. "It's great. I've been a fan of basketball for a long time, through my dad playing [in the NBA] and stuff like that. So I'm honored to be here, I just want to play as good as I can in front of those people."

The 6-foot-4 English, who turns 24 in July, hopes to continue to impress during workouts this week and beyond. He worked out for Cleveland on Tuesday, just as the organization was preparing for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against Toronto.

On Wednesday, English works out for Milwaukee and on Thursday he's in New Orleans. Next week he has workouts with the Clippers, the Lakers and Dallas.

Before the Combine, English worked out for Utah, San Antonio and Houston.

At the Combine, he met with the Nets, Washington and New Orleans.

"A.J. is one of those guys who needs to have good workouts versus higher-rated guards when he travels around the country the next four weeks," ESPN's Fran Fraschilla told SNY.tv. "Teams wish he was a tad more athletic, but he really knows how to play and score."

English played both the one and the two in Chicago, but several observers noted his more natural position is as a scoring two guard.

"Doesn't matter to me," English said, I just want to play and get on the team."

English earned an invitation to Chicago by being named the MVP of the Portsmouth Invitational, where he averaged 17.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and a team-high 6.7 assists while shooting 58.1 percent and 64.7 precent (11-for-17) from beyond the arc.

In his first game at the Combine, he went for 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and 6 turnovers in a 96-93 win.

"I had a decent amount of turnovers," he said. "Next game I gotta keep that at a minimum."

On Friday, he went for 9 points on 3-of-8 shooting, 6 assists and 3 turns.

Being from Iona, the MAAC tournament champion, English was hoping to show that a player from a smaller school can still play with the big boys.

"Yeah, of course," he said. "I'm a from a small state, too, Delaware. Everywhere I go I try to make a statement just that major players can play."

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Marques Bolden is finally set to announce his college choice on Thursday at 2:30 ET, one day after the NCAA late signing period ends on Wednesday.

Bolden is expected to choose between Duke and Kentucky, with multiple sources saying they don't know which school he will pick.

The 6-foot-10 DeSoto (TX) said last month at the Jordan Brand Classic that he's looking forward to getting the decision over with.

"Big time," he said. "I can't wait to make this decision. It's been a long time. I've been recruited since my junior year and now it's April. I'm about to be 18 and I still haven't picked a school yet, so I'm really looking forward to picking this."

Bolden had a home visit with the Duke staff just before the Jordan Game but head coach Mike Krzyzewski did not attend.

"Coach K couldn't make it but I talked to all four of the other assistants," he said. "They said really just to trust them. I've known them for a while. I talked to a couple of the current and former players. [They said] really just to trust them and believe that it will work."

As for Kentucky, he heard from Coach John Calipari then too.

Asked what Calipari said, Bolden said, "The same thing, we'd love to have you. And I've been talking to the commits out here, too."

Kentucky-bound point guard De'Aaron Fox has been particularly aggressive in a joking fashion.

"I've been threatened a couple times by Fox so that's pretty funny," Bolden said. "He was just like, 'You make that wrong decision I might have to just break your legs or something like that. It's funny, though.'"

What about the Duke guys?

"Nah, they ain't threatened to break my legs," Bolden said. "Just talking it over with me."

Bolden said he sees positives at both schools and isn't worried about who else is coming in.

"I see myself fitting in perfeclty with both teams," he said. "I try not to really look at the other guys [coming in]. There's going to be competition everywhere. You're not going to be the only guy there, so I try not to let other guys run me away. I look forward to the competition."

He added: "I know Im going to get better wherever I go but the way Kentucky develops their guys is unbelievable and then the way Duke guys have come out so successfull, they're both positive."

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CHICAGO -- Marcus Lee has cancelled at least three workouts with NBA teams, including one scheduled for Tuesday, a league source told SNY.tv.

It is unclear how many workouts the 6-foot-10 Lee had originally scheduled.

Lee said Friday he was still weighing his options regarding the NBA Draft and was unconcerned about a possible logjam in the Kentucky frontcourt should he return to campus.

"I'm definitely weighing my options, it's definitely a process," Lee said on Friday at the NBA Draft Combine. "Once I get back home I'll be able to talk it through with my family and we'll figure it out from there. We'll kind of weigh the options and go from there knowing that there is a risk there in not knowing what might happen."

Lee is not projected to be drafted by DraftExpress.com and is on record saying he'd be fine spending time in the NBA D-League.

"I see it as just another step and it's totally fine and normal," he told reporters.

Kentucky coach John Calipari recently said he expects Lee to remain in the Draft. Those comments came before the Combine, where Lee ranked statistically as the worst performer, according to DraftExpress.com.

If Lee does return to Kentucky, it will be to a crowded frontcourt where he will be fighting for playing time with returners Derek Willis, Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard and newcomers Bam Adebayo, Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones.

Kentucky remains in the mix for 6-10 uncommitted big man Marques Bolden, with Bolden now set to announce his college choice on Thursday between Kentucky, Duke and TCU.

"Then it's going to be a battle in practice," Lee said. "That's how it was my freshman and my sophomore year. We had a lot of bigs and we battled every day in practice and that's what happens."

If Lee returns to campus, he may also keep his Willie Cauley-Stein-flavored hairstyle.

"As long as you play well it doesn't matter what you do," he said. "You gotta back it up somehow. As long as you back it up it doesn't matter."

Lee also isn't backing off his claim that if he returns, Kentucky could go undefeated next season.

"I'm a confident person so I feel like I can do that every year and that's how all athletes go by," he said. "They don't think about the losses. They don't see the schedule and think. 'Oh, that's going to be a tough game.' You gotta go into it and be like, 'Oh, we're going to destroy them.'"

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Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe will work out for the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, his father told SNY.tv. Briscoe has had several other workouts, most recently with the Lakers. He has not hired an agent and has until May 25 to opt to return to campus or remain in the Draft.

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Seton Hall may be on the brink of losing one guard, but added another on Monday.

With Isaiah Whitehead set to announce his NBA Draft plans on Thursday, Seton Hall has signed Eron Gordon, a 6-foot-2 shooting guard from Indianapolis (IN) North Central. The No. 21-ranked shooting guard in the Class of 2016 according to 247Sports.com, Gordon also considered Missouri, Texas Tech and Maryland.

Gordon is the younger brother of New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Gordon.

"I choose Seton Hall and the reason is because I had such a great visit [in October] and I saw a great opportunity for me to grow as a person and player," Gordon told SNY.tv. "The coaches don't want me to fit in or gel, that's one thing that stuck out. They want me to grow and be special, not to fit in. And as a player I love that they haven't promised me anything besides a spot on the team and I love that as a player because the opportunity is there."

Gordon last month won MVP honors for the White Team - finishing with 29 points and 10 rebounds - to lead them to a 144-132 victory over the Maroon Team in the Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic at Freedom Hall in Louisville.

"The skillset I hope to bring is versatility because I know that I can do many great things as a guard," he said. "I just hope to develop and get better, that's my main focus."

Seton Hall lost Derrick Gordon to graduation while Whitehead has until May 25 to pull his name out of the Draft.

The Pirates return rising junior guard Khadeen Carrington and rising sophomore wing Veer Singh and bring in shooting guard Myles Powell.

Kansas State transfer Jevon Thomas becomes eligible at the semester break. Head coach Kevin Willard plans to play Thomas at the point and Carrington at the two once that happens.

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 (Anthony Gruppuso)
(Anthony Gruppuso)

PHILADELPHIA -- Right down the road from his college of St. Joseph's University, local prospect DeAndre' Bembry worked out for the Philadelphia 76ers Monday morning.

In his first pre-draft workout, the former Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick's star got the home court advantage to impress his potential future employer.

"I still have my apartment, my lease isn't up," Bembry said. "So I can go back to my apartment after this, see some of my roommates. Definitely a little more comfortable being in Philadelphia, rather than somewhere else."

After a strong performance at the NBA Draft Combine last week in Chicago, Bembry is now slated to go at No. 25 in the latest DraftExpress.com mock. The 6-foot-6 wing also has scheduled workouts with the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors later this week.

Along with a spike of interest for his services, Bembry has been hearing projections of where he may end up in next month's draft. Some promising, some not so much.

"Plenty of different things," Bembry said. "I've been hearing from 18 to out of the first round. I'm just trying to show everybody my all-around game and where I stand from here."

Instead of getting caught up in his increased popularity among NBA front offices, Bembry wanted to stress Monday that he could go out and play his game.

"I've been about the same," Bembry said. "I've always been pretty confident in my game. Try not to change anything. But if you've been around me you know how confident I am, or if you've seen me you know how confident I am. Pretty much the same I've been the past three or four years."

As far his shot, Bembry - who said "a lot of people feel like I can't shoot at all - seemed to perform well enough to a certain set of eyes.

"Bembry is a very smooth athlete, and shot it particularly well today, very impressed." Marc Eversley, the new Vice President of Player Personnel for the 76ers, said following the workout.

Playing high school ball at St. Patrick's and then transitioning to St. Joseph's right across the bridge in Philadelphia, the Charlotte, N.C., recognizes that staying in the City of Brothery Love could be big not just for himself, but those around him as well.

"I think it would mean more for the people in Philadelphia who got to watch me over the past three years," he said. "I got better since I was a freshman, but I got a lot of family in New York and New Jersey - and a lot of family and friends in Philadelphia as well. It would definitely be fun for Philadelphia I feel like."

The Sixers are a team that haven't produced much scoring from a wing position in recent seasons, so the addition of a player like Bembry could help aid in that category. The small forward likes the current pieces Philadelphia has in place and sees a complement in his game to those players.

"They got a lot of guys that like to get up and down the floor, including their bigs like Nerlens Noel," Bembry said of his potential fit on the Sixers. "I feel like that would definitely be an advantage to me because I can get the rebound and push the ball, finish for myself or make the right pass for someone else."

Rising stock, home town draw, and skill aside, there is one thing above all else Bembry wanted to get across to the Sixers Monday at his workout.

"I'm a team player," he said. "I can do just about everything a coach wants me to do, whether it's playing defense and being a role player that way or be a leader of the team and score or get others involved. I just like to show them my overall game and my overall personality."

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 (Anthony Gruppuso)
(Anthony Gruppuso)

PHILADELPHIA -- Seton Hall point guard Isaiah Whitehead performed in his first pre-draft NBA workout Monday morning for the Philadelphia 76ers at their practice facility at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Following last week's NBA Draft Combine, Whitehead had originally scheduled four pre-draft workouts: the Sixers, Wednesday with the Indiana Pacers, Friday with the Boston Celtics, and wrapping up with the Chicago Bulls on May 23.

As of now, only one of the remaining three workouts is set in stone.

"I have Indiana Wednesday," Whitehead said concerning the remaining workouts on his schedule.

On Sunday, the guard who has yet to formally sign with an agent, tweeted out that his decision to stay in the draft or return to school will come on Thursday - leaving two of his original four workouts in limbo.

"It's definitely up in the air," Whitehead said, referring to his Boston and Chicago workouts. "Based off my decision, if I stay in the draft, why not still go there? If I don't, then obviously they will be cancelled because I can't."

Whitehead told SNY.tv at the NBA Combine that he would declare for the draft "100 percent" if he was guaranteed to be a first-round pick. On Monday morning, the Brooklyn native seemed softer on his draft position.

"Late-first round, early-second," he said. "Just to solidify a spot. I don't want to go to the NBA and get lost. Definitely just come out here and get as much information as possible."

(Multiple sources told SNY.tv that Whitehead will end up declaring for the Draft on Thursday.)

With the new rule that allows college basketball players to enter the draft and still remain school eligible if they choose to not sign with an agent, it provides players with the opportunity to get a legitimate gauge of their NBA value.

Whitehead is planning to use these workouts - if nothing else - to do just that.

"I just ask them straight up, 'Do you think I'm ready to go to the NBA or not?'" he said. "That's basically what this route allows you to do and I'm going to take advantage of it."

Come Thursday, when South Orange will be holding its collective breath on Whitehead's decision, the guard and a few of those he trusts will sit down to figure out the next step in his career.

"Me and my mom, my college coach - Coach [Kevin] Willard," Whitehead said of those in his circle of decision-making. "He set up workouts, he does it all for me. He helps out a lot. We all gotta sit down, I believe it's Thursday, and make a decision."

As for his time spent in the 76ers practice facility, Whitehead said his drills "went well." Adding that scouts told him he needs to focus on cutting his turnovers down, so he went into the workout to show "decision making, not forcing things, and not turning the ball over."

The 76ers feature players are three centers: Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, and Nerlens Noel. On a team with young talent, but no real backcourt depth, Whitehead is open to whatever helps the team should he land in Philadelphia.

"They have a lot of great young players," he said. "If it's me coming in and waiting my turn, earning minutes, then you just gotta do what you gotta do. But if they want to come in and contribute right away, then I'll step up to the challenge."

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Syracuse freshman Malachi Richardson has signed with agent Stephen Pina of ASM Sports and will remain in the NBA Draft.

"We are proud to welcome Malachi to our ASM family," Andy Miller told SNY.tv. "We look forward to helping him in building a long successful career."

Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer first reported the news.

Projected at No. 13 on Chad Ford's Big Board and at No. 37 in the latest DraftExpress.com mock draft, Richardson was hoping for a first-round guarantee.

The 6-foot-6 native of Trenton, N.J., said that during the interviews at the NBA Draft Combine with teams like the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, he was looking for a guarantee of being drafted.

"If it was yes, then I would definitely come out," he said Thursday at the NBA Draft Combine. "But it's never going to be that answer so you never know."

He added: "I could be in the first round, I could be in the second round, I could even go undrafted, so anything could happen.

"I just wanted to make sure I made the best decision [by testing the waters]. I didn't want to jump the gun with just coming out and signing with an agent. And I didn't want to just stay in school because I didn't weigh my options.

"I'm just making sure I'm mentally and physically ready to go to the next level and just making sure I would get drafted."

One NBA executive told SNY.tv that Richardson interviewed very well and came across as very confident.

"This definitely helps out a lot, knowing that I was able to get invited here," Richardson said. "This whole process wouldn't be possible if this wasn't here."

Of the Sixers, which are close to his home in Trenton, he said: "I would love playing in Philly, [it's] close to home. Playing with some great bigs."

Syracuse associate head coach Mike Hopkins believes the way the NBA is trending now with the Golden State Warriors emphasizing spacing and shooting, Richardson fits that mold perfectly.

"He has a high IQ, he can shoot," Hopkins said. "Malachi has a 7-foot wingspan. He's got all the features of what that league is looking for. Perfect body, perfect length, he has all those features. Size, length, skill."

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Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell continued to rebuild his roster with the addition of 6-foot-9 forward Issa Thiam on Monday.

Thiam initially committed to former Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan and then re-opened his recruitment after Jordan was fired.

Greg "Shoes" Vetrone, an assistant under Jordan and now in charge of player development under Pikiell, was the point man on Thiam.

"He's committed to Rutgers," Arlington Country Day coach Shaun Wiseman said by phone. "Coach Vetrone was instrumental in keeping that relationship with the former staff moving on, and Coach Pikiell coming in and keeping Shoes on board was a huge part of Issa's commitment."

Wiseman said Florida was also involved.

"If it would've opened up, there was a ton of suitors," he said.

Thiam, who averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds in 10 game at Arlington Country Day, joins Roselle Catholic guard Matt Bullock and junior college forward Cândido Sá among the new players PIkiell's staff has landed as it looks to rebuild the roster. He projects to be a rotation player behind Jonathan Laurent with the Scarlet Knights.

"He's 6-9, he's long, he's athletic, he can defend three positions," Wiseman said. "He can shoot it, he's just gotta get stronger, man, but he has a huge upside."

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Turkish star Omer Yurtseven, a 7-footer projected as the No. 14 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.com, has signed a National Letter of Intent with N.C. State.

"They have had a Turkish player (Egin Atsur) before and I heard that it was all good for him," Yurtseven told Evan Daniels of Scout, who first reported the news. "They have a pretty good team. They are on the edge and above average and they need another guy to take them up. They needed another guy."

"It's not just about basketball," he added. "I'm interested in math and stuff and they have a pretty good computer science program."

Scout now has N.C. State ranked No. 6 nationally with it 2016 recruiting class.

"Omer is a tremendous addition and we're very excited to have him join our program," N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. " He's a very skilled and athletic player for his size, and will bring great versatility and another dimension in a position of need for us." 

Yurtseven recently visited Utah, Syracuse and N.C. State.

He and point guard Dennis Smith Jr. will be strong additions for a program that lost Cat Barber to the NBA Draft and twins Caleb and Cody Martin to transfer. Abdul Malik Abu's status is also up in the air.

Yurtseven recently said he was interested in leaving his Turkish club and joining an American college team for the 2016-17 season.

"Fenerbahçe is a really good club and they play at a high level," he told Daniels at the Basketball Without Borders camp in Toronto in February. "I haven't been playing that much, so I need to go some place that I can to play more and to improve. That's why I want to go to college.

ESPN's Fran Fraschilla recently saw Yurtseven and gave an update to Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard.

"I just saw him a couple weeks ago at the Basketball Without Borders,'' he said. "He's a very good player. He's definitely a high Division I player.

"The biggest question is 'Is he a pro or not?''

Yurtseven's coach at Fenerbahçe, Zeljko Obradovic, said that his club offered Yurtseven a five-year contract that he declined but said the player has already taken money from the team.

"We offered him a five-year contract, a very big contract," Obradovic said. "He said that he needed to think about it. He thought for two months and then said to us that he wasn't going to sign. We gave him a lot of trust, because we thought he was our future. Do you know any other 17yrs old kid that play so much minutes? Only Doncic with Real. I don't know what he's thinking about, does he wants to play in NCAA? He took the money in the last three years and now he wants to leave. That's him."

Yurtseven declined taking any money.

"I did not touch it," Yurtseven told Scout. 

Depending upon how much money, if any, he received, Yurtseven's eligibility could be an issue going forward.

Here is DraftExpress' scouting report on him:

"A near 7-footer with a promising frame, a polished skill-set and impressive fluidity, the young big man averaged 6 points and pulled down 6 rebounds over 13 minutes per game in NBA preseason games against the Brooklyn Nets and Oklahoma City Thunder, looking like a potential future lottery pick in the process. Putting up huge numbers in the 2015 Adidas Next Generation Tournament and averaging 9.8 rebounds per game and 8.7 rebounds per game playing a year up at the U18 European Championship, Yurtseven is considered one of the more intriguing young big men in all of Europe. He lacks great length and has shown inconsistent intensity and toughness at times, but he's widely considered one of the top-1998 born prospects in the world."

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 (Bob Donnan)
(Bob Donnan)

CHICAGO -- After playing in the NBA Draft Combine last week, former Oklahoma point guard Isaiah Cousins is hoping to impress during individual NBA workouts beginning this week.

The 6-foot-4 Mount Vernon, N.Y., native begins workouts on Tuesday with the Indiana Pacers. He was supposed to go against Maryland point guard Melo Trimble, but Trimble is no longer in the workout. Cousins will then work out this week for New Orleans and Denver before heading to San Antonio on Sunday. After that come workouts with Houston and Phoenix.

"I'm definitely looking forward to that," Cousins, who led the Sooners to the Final Four in Houston, told me at the Combine. "[I'm looking to show] that I can play at the position as a point guard and just make plays and just go hard.

"I just keep working hard and being humble."

In his first game at the Combine, Cousins matched up against another New York native, Brooklyn's Isaiah Whitehead, and Cousins finished with 7 points on 3-for-8 shooting with 3 assists and 5 turnovers in a 109-69 loss.

"It was a fun matchup, just going out there competing and just playing with each other since we both New York guys," Cousins said. "So it was good out there."

On Friday, Cousins went for 8 points on 3-for-9 shooting with 8 assists, 7 rebounds and 3 turns in a 91-83 victory over a team featuring Michael Gbinije and Cheick Diallo.

"After somewhat of an uneven first outing, Isaiah Cousins bounced back and had a strong final game, showcasing the versatility that has made him a fast riser in this pre-draft process," DraftExpress.com wrote. "The intrigue around him starts with the excellent size he brings to the guard position, measuring 6'3 ¼ without shoes with a 6'6 ¼ wingspan, and solid athletic ability. His tools, coupled with his toughness allows him to defend either guard spot."

Cousins, projected at No. 42 by NBADraft.net, may have helped himself with his performances at the Portsmouth Invitational and the NBA Combine.

"Few players have helped their draft stock more in the pre-draft process thus far as much as Isaiah Cousins, as solid outings at both the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament and NBA Combine have shown NBA teams why he was such an integral part of a Final Four Oklahoma team," DraftExpress.com wrote. "He ticks a number of boxes with his size, shooting ability, toughness and defense, and plays a role a number of NBA teams are looking to fill at the moment as a versatile backup guard."

For a kid from the tough streets of Mount Vernon, the chance to make an NBA roster is a chance to forever change his life.

"It's a great opporutnity and I'm just doing it for my community and my friends and the people that's coming up playing basketball," Cousins said.

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John Calipari says you can forget about him ever coaching in the NBA again.

Calipari, 57, will be at Kentucky for the rest of his coaching days.

"My plan is to coach here for the rest of my career," he wrote Monday on his Website. "I want this to be my final coaching position."

Calipari in recent years has been linked to numerous NBA franchises, including the Knicks, Nets, Lakers and Pelicans.

Many in the industry believe he wants to eventually return to the NBA to prove he can be a success there. Calipari went 72-112 in 2-plus seasons with the Nets in the late 1990s.

But now he says his new goal is for Kentucky, which has eight NCAA championships, to surpass UCLA's record of 11.

"I hope you understand that it's going to be very difficult," he wrote. "We've won eight titles since 1948, and now we're going to try to win four more. This could take more than a decade, but so what? Let's chase it. Can we do it? Sure, but it's going to be really tough. The tournament isn't a best-of-seven series and the best team doesn't always win the title. The trick is to always be one of those teams at the end of the season that's right there. That's the first step."

Calipari also reiterated his goal of having half the players in the NBA All-Star Game be Kentucky products.

"I want to one day go to the NBA All-Star game and have half the players in the game be from Kentucky," he wrote. "If we continue on the pace we're on we can do this. John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis are becoming perennial all-stars. Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles, Julius Randle and Enes Kanter are on the cusp. There's also Nerlens Noel, Terrence Jones, Patrick Patterson and I probably left off one or two. We could have three guys taken in the lottery this year and they'll each have a shot at the All-Star game down the road."

Calipari finished by following up with another salvo in his perceived week-long shot at Duke, and other programs that recruit by promising what their University can do for a player throughout his life, as opposed to Kentucky's pitch of helping players get to the NBA.

"There will be some who will attack me, attack the program, attack the approach, and some will even say, 'He only talks about the NBA,'" he wrote. "But I can only tell our fans it's similar to what Frank Sinatra once said: Our best response … is massive success."

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 (Justin Ford)
(Justin Ford)

The Minnesota Timberwolves' Karl-Anthony Towns, who set franchise rookie records in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots and field goal percentage, has unanimously won the 2015-16 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Award, the NBA announced Monday.

The 7-foot center who starred at Kentucky and St. Joe's-Metuchen High School becomes the fifth unanimous winner since 1984 and joins teammate Andrew Wiggins, the 2014-15 honoree, to make the Timberwolves the first team with back-to-back winners in 42 years. 

Towns received all 130 first-place votes (650 points) from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters in the United States and Canada, joining Damian Lillard (2012-13 season), Blake Griffin (2010-11), David Robinson (1989-90) and Ralph Sampson (1983-84) as unanimous winners in the last 32 years. The Knicks' Kristaps Porzingis finished second with 363 points, and the Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic was third with 59 points. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.

The No. 1 overall pick in NBA Draft 2015, Towns led all rookies in scoring (18.3 ppg) and rebounding (10.5 rpg, eighth in the NBA) and ranked second in blocks (1.68 bpg, 10th in the NBA) - making him the league's only player to reach those averages in the three categories. He also ranked third in the NBA in double-doubles (51) and eighth in field goal percentage (54.2). Towns was one of six players in the league to start all 82 games. 

From the night of the NBA draft all the way to the end of his first season, Towns stood head and shoulders above the rest of his rookie class.

Towns turned 20 early in the season, but showed the polish and poise of a veteran from the very early stages of his arrival. His ability to pass, rebound, block shots and score from the paint and 3-point line make him the quintessential big man for the modern era and give the Timberwolves hope that they have finally found the star players needed to carry them out of the abyss.

"He's going to be a Hall of Famer in this league," Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant said.

Towns is the second straight Timberwolves player to win the Rookie of the Year award after Wiggins had a similarly convincing debut. Add to those two young stars a promising supporting cast including Zach LaVine, Ricky Rubio, Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad that will be coached next season by Tom Thibodeau, and the Wolves believe they have the ingredients to finally end a 12-season playoff drought.

It didn't take Towns very long to make an impact. He had 28 points and 14 rebounds in the second game of the season, a victory over Denver. And while many rookies hit a wall in the middle of the long, grueling NBA regular season, Towns only got better as the season went on.

He averaged 21.3 points on 55 percent shooting and 11.7 rebounds over the final 31 games of the season.

Towns routinely greeted questions about his success with a shrug. The Timberwolves still only won 29 games this season and finished far out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference.

"People who know me know I'm never satisfied. I've never felt like I've had a good game," Towns said near the end of the season. "It's hard to get me to even say I played good. That's just in me. I'm just never satisfied. A lot of my friends get annoyed by it. I'm never happy about anything, playing-wise. I always think there's things I messed up on, things I should've done differently that could've A) made us win, or B) made the win easier."

And Towns would occasionally find one of his Rookie of the Month awards buried in his locker while he was looking for a pair of socks after a game.

"He's about winning," Towns' father, Karl, said. "He's not about no accolades. Karl doesn't take losing. He's never going to settle. That's the drive in him. That's what drives Karl. He has goals that he's set, and he's not going to be happy until he achieves them."

(The AP contributed reporting and first reported, via a source, that Towns had won the award.)

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 (Anthony Gruppuso)
(Anthony Gruppuso)

Seton Hall sophomore point guard Isaiah Whitehead will announce his future plans on Thursday, with sources telling SNY.tv he will remain in the NBA Draft.

The Brooklyn native is currently projected as the No. 58 pick in 2016 by DraftExpress.com, but he's hoping to go higher than that.

"Definitely, I definitely want to be a first-round pick," Whitehead, 21, told me at the NBA Draft Combine. "But it depends on how I play in these workouts, to tell you the truth. If I play bad, I can't expect anything. So I really gotta just keep grinding, keep getting better so when I get to these workouts, I can knock them out the park."

He currently has workouts scheduled with Philadelphia (Monday), Indiana (Wednesday), Boston (Friday) and Chicago (May 23).

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Daniel Giddens (4) is transferring from Ohio State to Alabama. (Mike Granse)
Daniel Giddens (4) is transferring from Ohio State to Alabama. (Mike Granse)

Former Ohio State center Daniel Giddens will be transferring to Alabama. The move was announced on Twitter Sunday.

"Daniel is a big strong high-energy frontcourt player," said Steve Smith, Giddens' high school coach at Oak Hill (Va.). "He's a great rebounder who can guard 4 and 5 men. He scores inside with either hand and can step out to 15 feet."

The 6-foot-10 Giddens reportedly wanted to move closer to his home in Mableton, Ga.

He played in all but two of Ohio State's 35 games last season as a true freshman. He averaging 3.8 points and 3.6 rebounds with seven starts.

Giddens will have to sit out next season and will have three years of eligiblity left starting with the 2017-18 season.

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CHICAGO -- Melo Trimble knows he didn't perform as well as he could have at the NBA Draft Combine, and will now try to impress during individual workouts beginning next week.

The 6-foot-2 1/2 Maryland point guard met at the Combine with the Knicks, Dallas, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Denver and the Lakers.

He has his first workout with the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, when he will go head-to-head with former Oklahoma floor general Isaiah Cousins. Trimble then works out for Milwaukee on Thursday. He has two finals at school and must schedule his workouts around them. He also has workouts scheduled with San Antonio, Atlanta and Philadelphia.

"I think going into these workouts I'm really going to have to show what I could do best, and once I get the feedback that I need then I'll decide what I'm going to do," Trimble said on Friday at the Combine.

Trimble, who is projected as the No. 38 pick by DraftExpress.com, said ideally he would get a guarantee that someone will take him in the first round, although that seems unlikely at this point. He has until May 25 to withdraw from the Draft and return to campus.

"Just somewhere in the first round," he said of his goal. "I would be happy to be early second. You look at players in the league like Isaiah Thomas and Draymond Green, they were in the second round. Isaiah was the last pick and you see what hard work gets you. And the other things don't matter, it's just how hard you keep working."

After his last workout, he plans to make a decision about his future right up against the May 25 deadline.

"I just want to feel the process out," Trimble said. "I don't want to think ahead. Anything could change within a week. LIke I said, [on Thursday] I didn't put on the best performance I could have put on. [Friday] was better and I'm going to do better every time we play and you can't base someone off just one week of performance."

Trimble did not play well on Thursday, going for just 5 points on 2-for-8 shooting with 2 assists and 2 turnovers in a 40-point loss. On Friday, he had 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting with 4 assists and 3 turns in a victory.

"[Friday] was a better outing on the court," he said. "I'm not just the type of player to just go out there and just randomly play with five different players for one or two games. Each day if I was sticking with the same guys I'll get better every game. Unfortunately, that can't happen but I went out and did the best I could and hopefully I put on a good show."

His performance prompted most of the NBA personnel and experts at the Combine to say he needed to go back to school.

"He may have no choice but to go back (to school)," ESPN's Fran Fraschilla said on air.

If nothing else, Trimble got a chance to interview with NBA teams and get experience for the future.

Of his meeting with the Knicks -- who are hoping to purchase a late-first or early-second round pick -- he said assistant GM Allan Houston ran the show since neither President Phil Jackson or GM Steve Mills were on hand.

"[Houston] ran that," Trimble said. "That was cool to see. When I was very young I saw Allan Houston play and he was a good player on the Knicks. Just to have him be there is always good. He reminds me of Juan Dixon being there for us at Maryland. It's always cool to see veteran players come back."

As for the Sixers, he said he told them: "I'm a score-first point gaurd but I'm not a selifsh point guard. I'm just all about winning. I told them I went to Maryland where there was five transfers before I got there and the year before I got there they were 15-17 and then when I got there we went to the [NCAA] Tournament which hadn't been done in a while so when I went there I pretty much changed the program around. So I think wherever I go I bring a winning culture."

Because the Terps are losing Diamond Stone, Robert Carter Jr. and Jake Layman, Trimble knows if he returns next season it will be to a totally different team.

"Yeah, it makes it a lot harder," he said. "You're not going to have any starters come back at all. For me to be the only starter coming back, it's going to be something difficult. But if I go back I also have people that's been there since I've been there, Monte [Dodd], Jared Nickens and Dion Wiley and also Cekof [Michel Cekofsky] and everyone's going to keep getting better. So it is tough to think about how they're not coming back."

Still, he believes they can be strong against next season if he returns.

"We could be really good," he said. "I think it's good that people will doubt us because we're not going to have all the returners back, but in my freshman year we had a lot of people doubting us and we turned it around and we made it to the tournament.

"With the hard work that they're going to do this summer, and if I'm there that we're going to do this summer and the fall, I mean anyting can happen."

Still, in the next two weeks, he hopes to get at least one team interested in drafting him.

"I'm a player that's going to keep getting better and hopefully I see more of this in the future as far as going into the workouts," he said, "and hopefully I lean towards keeping my name in the Draft."

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 (Winslow Townson)
(Winslow Townson)

Arizona has landed a commitment from Keanu Pinder, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound guard/forward from Hutchinson (KS) Community College.

Pinder is a native of Perth, Australia who recently took an official to campus.

Pinder averaged 10.2 points and 7.0 rebounds last season at Hutch, which went 32-5 and lost in the National Junior College Athletic Association national championship game.

"He's a 6-9 highly skilled 3 man that can also play the 4," Hutch assistant Jay Cyriac told SNY.tv. "He was the Jayhawk Defensive Player of the year. A two-year starter, he will thrive under Sean Miller as Kadeem Allen did. He's very athletic."

Arizona also landed a pledge last week from UNC Asheville transfer Dylan Smith.

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CHICAGO -- Depending who you talk to, Thon Maker could be the next Kevin Durant or the next Pavel Podkolzin.

Durant, of course, is about to begin playing in the Western Conference Finals with the Oklahoma City Thunder, while the 7-foot-4 Podkolzin became one of the biggest busts of all time after the Russian was chosen No. 21 by the Utah Jazz in 2004.

"[Maker] is Sidd Finch," one NBA executive told me at the NBA Draft Combine, referring to the fictional baseball player and subject of the famous Sports Illustrated article by George Plimpton.

For his part, the 7-foot, 216-pound Maker said he's a fan of Durant's but doesn't compare himself to him.

"Exactly, I like Durant as a player," Maker, who is originally from Sudan and has lived in Australia, the U.S. and Canada, said with a chuckle here Friday. "They [the media] say I think I think I'm Durant."

It remains to be seen where Maker gets drafted and what his future holds, but he is preparing to become the first player since 2005 to go directly from high school to the NBA.

He will work out next week for the Indiana Pacers (likely on Wednesday), while Atlanta, Boston, Orlando, Detroit and Minnesota are expected to bring him in for workouts, a source told SNY.tv. He met here with Minnesota, Boston, Charlotte, Portland, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Detroit, Orlando and the Lakers.

Maker is currently projected as the No. 39 pick by DraftExpress.com, but the source said he was hearing, "Now it's between 6-20."

"I feel confident," Maker told ESPN's Andy Katz on air. "I just know as soon as I get my foot in there I'm going to work my butt off and make sure I stay in the NBA."

A team like the Celtics -- with eight draft picks -- might be inclined to take a gamble on Maker.

"You just take a swing on this guy if you like what you hear when you interview him and you know you're getting a project, but with major upside," ESPN's Tom Penn said on air. "So that's a perfect thing for that mid-first round range you start thinking about it."

The NBA instituted the one-and-done rule in 2005 mandating that players must be 19 and one year removed from their high school graduating class to enter the draft. Maker turned 19 in February and argued that he had earned his high school diploma in 2015 while at Orangeville Prep in Ontario.

He originally planned to go to college and took an official visit to Kansas, and also considered Arizona State, Notre Dame, Indiana and St. John's. He said on Friday he opted for the NBA "After my coach [Ed Smith] told me I may be eligible to go into this year's draft."

"I was like, 'Let's go,'" Maker said.

Maker didn't play in 5-on-5 games at the Combine, so most NBA decision-makers haven't seen him since the Nike Hoop Summit and have their doubts.

Hence the Sidd Finch comparisons.

"I said Kevin Durant two, three years ago, I'm not sure he's that," ESPN's Fran Fraschilla said on air. "But he's agile, he's athletic, he's long. He's going to really impress people.You're going to take him in the later part of the first round with a big guy you cand develop. You know he's a great kid. He does have a great motor. He's a good gamble somewhere after the lottery, and who knows the next couple weeks he can prove us wrong and he goes up."

Added Jay Bilas: "I probably got him under-rated at 24. His talent suggests he should be higher, but you're dealing with the old potential thing. What do you do when he hasn't played in college, you haven't seen him play and he's only played in high school? But he's got a lot of tools, he's got a chance to be a really good player."

Maker offered his own analysis of his game.

"Thon Maker is a very, very intense, high-IQ player," he said. "He's a playmaker and he's a hard worker."

He added that he can play inside and out.

"You switch a guard or a small on me, then you gotta be able to go inside," he said. "You got a big, you gotta bring him outside. And then also being able to play both ends of the floor."

Though the trend is toward position-less basketball in the NBA, it remains unclear what position Maker will guard in the NBA.

"They definitely ask and I'm a power forward and I'm able to defend three, four and five," he said.

He added: "I definitely have to continue to gain strength and right now I'm really strong but I'm still working on getting stronger."

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CHICAGO -- After a strong showing at the NBA Draft Combine this week, former Kansas forward Cheick Diallo is expected to sign with an agent on Monday, a source close to Diallo told SNY.tv.

One NBA executive at the Combine told SNY.tv that of the 60+ players at the event, the 6-foot-9 Diallo probably helped his stock more than any other player.

The Mali native is currently projected at No. 32 by DraftExpress.com, but could move into the first round based on his play here.

Diallo met with multiple teams here on Friday, including the Knicks, Boston, Toronto and Utah.

"It was cool," Diallo said. "I never met [Knicks assistant GM Allan Houston] before. I saw him on TV, so that's kind of a big deal."

One league source said the Knicks and Nets are both trying to buy a late-first or early-second round pick. The Celtics have as many as eight picks.

"Basically they were all asking me how I can help the team," Diallo said. "I block shots and rebound and run the floor and protect the rim, so that's what I do best. Everybody wanna see what I can do."

Of the Celtics, he said: "It was pretty good because I never met the head coach [Brad Stevens] before so I was talking to him. I see him on TV but talking to him face-to-face that's kind of a big deal. I was excited."

He added: "Boston is a good program, so I think it's a good team."

Asked what he showed at the Combine, Diallo said: "I didn't get to show that much in college because of the NCAA thing but I show everybody I can run the floor, block shots and protect the rim. Even today, I missed some shots, I got some fouls, but it's not a big deal. I know I can do better."

 

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Canadian big man Kalif Young will choose between Big East schools Marquette and Providence next week, his father told SNY.tv on Friday.

"Kalif will be on an official to Providence [Saturday] and will be making his decision between Providence and Marquette next week," Tony Young said.

A 6-foot-9, 250-pound left-handed Class of 2016 power forward from Ontario's Orangeville Prep, Young took an official visit to Marquette on May 4 with his mother.

As for his skillset, Orangeville Prep coach Larry Blunt previously told SNY.tv: "Kalif is a very skilled lefty with college strength already. He has incredible feel for the game and can shoot the ball consistently from 17 feet in, and the pick-and-pop 3. You can throw the ball to Kalif on the block and not only can he score, but he is an exceptional passer. He can hedge on ball screens and even switch out on guards in late-shot clock situations. He's a great kid with a great family.

"Kalif will be a household name before the year is out."

Added Tony: "He's quick on his feet for his size. He's a killer on the boards. He can post. He can handle the ball for a big man. Everyone tells me he has a great IQ on the court and he has great passing ability. One person says he passes the basketball like a football."

 

TAUREAN THOMPSON STILL IN LIMBO

Taurean Thompson is focusing on Syracuse, Seton Hall and Michigan State, but has yet to decide.

Despite adding UNLV transfer Ben Carter, Michigan State still wants the uncommited 6-foot-10 power forward to visit, Brewster (N.H.) Academy coach Jason Smith recently told SNY.tv, but no visit has been set. The Spartans offered Thompson, who recently took a visit to Syracuse. The Orange remain the frontrunner, sources said.

Asked at the Jordan Brand Classic if he's excited to getting it over with, Thompson said, "Yeah, I'm really looking forward to it....When it feels right and I get all the pros and cons in."

 

ERON GORDON TO ANNOUNCE MONDAY

Eron Gordon, a 6-foot-2 shooting guard from Indianapolis (IN) North Central, will make his college announcement on Monday at 7:30 CT at Westlane Middle School.

He is down to Seton Hall, Maryland, Missouri and Texas Tech, with sources indicating Seton Hall is in good position. He took an official to the school in October.

"It went really good, I liked the visit," he told SNY.tv then. "Obviously it's a three-guard system, they definitely think I can be in many different spots. I'm a versatile player so that shouldn't be a big concern for me."

Seton Hall will lose guard Derrick Gordon to graduation and could lose sophomore Isaiah Whitehead to the NBA Draft and is thus in the market for guards.

Gordon averaged 19.0 points as a senior and was named to the IndyStar Indiana All-Star team.

 

D.J. HARVEY CUTS LIST TO NINE

D.J. Harvey told ESPN's Paul Biancardi he has cut his list to nine schools: Duke, Louisville, Maryland, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas, UCLA, UConn and Villanova.

The 6-foot-6 wing from DeMatha (Md.) Catholic spoke highly of Duke at the HoopHall Class in January.

"The campus was beautiful and the facilities are the best I've seen, and the players welcomed me with open arms," Harvey said.

 

BEATTY ADDING OFFERS

David Beatty, a 6-4 scoring guard from St. Benedict's Prep, has been piling up the offers in recent weeks.

Beatty has added offers from Virginia, Maryland, USC, Indiana, Xavier, Pitt, Florida, Florida State, Temple and Virginia Tech in the last month.

Beatty will bang out a new Player Blog for ZAGSBLOG.com soon.

 

NEVADA HOSTING TRANSFERS

Nevada has a big weekend of transfers visiting.

Eric Musselman and staff are hosting N.C. State transfers Cody and Caleb Martin, who have also visited ECU and Rutgers.

Nevada will also host Purdue transfer Kendall Stephens, and Iowa State transfer Hallice Cooke in the coming days.

 

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