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A college basketball request for Billy Hunter and David Stern

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Dear Mr. Billy Hunter and David Stern,

I don’t normally do this.

The whole faux letter to a prominent figure or inanimate object thing is completely exhausted, but I feel compelled to express my interest in an unresolved clause in the nearly finalized collective bargaining agreement. A small clause, sure; one that by no means should prolong labor negotiations any further, but needs a fair amount of attention.

I’m talking about pushing the NBA age limit from 19- 20; turning the current “One and Done” rule into the “Two and Through” rule.

Believe me, I know the two of you have far more pressing matters to sweat over this week to ensure the Celtics and Knicks are broadcast into 100 million American homes this Christmas day. Things like discussing tenths of a percentage point that would sway millions of dollars in the direction of players or owners, redefining the mid-level exception, and swiftly re-certifying the NBA Players Association. But I also know you and your stakeholders are cognizant of this rule and are considering increasing the age limit, despite the unlikelihood it would actually pass this week.

Its been overlooked how much an age limit impacts the NBA, and how drastically it changes the landscape (and promotes a level of parity among the power conferences) for the college game. I think it’s not getting nearly enough attention based on the effect it can have.

Sure, I realize that preventing talented individuals from making money off their superior skill-set goes against the capitalism mentality this country has been built on. The best high school baseball players in the country can go straight in to a minor league system if they choose, precocious young minds aren’t required to graduate from college if they’re sitting on the next big thing. Heck, half the LPGA can’t even buy cigarettes.

Perhaps it is incredibly selfish of me to want to keep the best young talent in college for more than one season, but there’s also a real benefit for your image-driven league.

Remember Brandan Wright? After an illustrious high school career, Wright fit the bill as a player allowed to do nothing more than kill time at the University of North Carolina for a few semesters while eagerly awaiting his opportunity to join The League. He was teeming with potential.

As the 8th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Wright earned more than $10 million to sit at the end of the Golden State Warrior bench for the next three seasons. Ostensibly, he hijacked that money from an experienced veteran role player. Not only did many NBA fans have little idea who Brandan Wright was, he disappointed those that had high expectations of him. Maybe he couldn’t make the right decision himself  to stay in Chapel Hill for one more season and hone his skills, so you can help make it for him. Let the next Brandan Wright get more comfortable with a competitive level of basketball, introduce him to the general public, and increase his marketing value upon becoming a member of your association.

With Wright in mind, I would like to discuss a current college player: sophomore Perry Jones III from Baylor.

An explosive athlete with great size and agility, Jones looked ripe as a young kid eager to skip college altogether and pray for a dismal NBA franchise to take a chance on a player with heaps of upside.  Thankfully, under your current age rule, Jones was required to wait a year, and it appeared to be a very important year for Jones, one of maturation.  “I think another year of development can only make things better for me,” he said when officially announcing he would return to Waco for a second season.

Now, Jones is in position to be a first-team All-American as a sophomore and create a real splash with the general public during the NCAA Tournament. He’ll surely turn pro shortly there after with two years of seasoning in a college environment, at which point be delivered to  you as a beautifully gift-wrapped commodity for your sport’s marketing gurus and official partners.

Other young players may not be so shrewd, however.

Allowing good players to make bad decisions is not a business I suspect you want to be running. Implement the Two and Through rule. It will help my game and yours.

Sincerely,

Nick Fasulo is the manager of Searching for Billy Edelin. Follow him on Twitter @billyedelinSBN.

Bubble Banter: Make-or-break games for Rhode Island, Clemson, TCU and Pitt

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 09: Jaron Blossomgame #5 of the Clemson Tigers celebrates a basket against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the first half in the second round of the 2016 ACC Basketball Tournament at Verizon Center on March 9, 2016 in Washington, DC.(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here. This is where the seeds you see listed below come from. This post will be updated throughout the day. 

STILL TO PLAY

No. 19 Florida State at Clemson (RPI: 61, KenPom: 37, next four out), 12:00 p.m.

No. 8 North Carolina at Pitt (RPI: 63, KenPom: 66, next four out), 12:00 p.m.

No. 25 Wichita State (RPI: 44, KenPom: 12, No. 10 seed) at Missouri State, 12:00 p.m.

No. 12 West Virginia at TCU (RPI: 53, KenPom: 43, first four out), 2:00 p.m.

Illinois State (RPI: 35, KenPom: 54, No. 12 seed) at Northern Iowa, 2:00 p.m.

VCU (RPI: 25, KenPom: 42, No. 9 seed) at Rhode Island (RPI: 47, KenPom: 55, next four out), 2:00 p.m.

Seton Hall (RPI: 48, KenPom: 57, play-in game) at DePaul, 2:00 p.m.

Mississippi State at Vanderbilt (RPI: 45, KenPom: 51, next four out), 4:00 p.m.

No. 14 Purdue at Michigan (RPI: 51, KenPom: 27, No. 9 seed), 4:00 p.m.

Marquette (RPI: 68, KenPom: 31, No. 10 seed) at Providence (RPI: 55, KenPom: 56, play-in game), 4:00 p.m.

Kansas State (RPI: 59, KenPom: 30, play-in game) at Oklahoma, 6:00 p.m.

Northwestern at Indiana (RPI: 100, KenPom: 46, bubble), 8:00 p.m.

Arkansas (RPI: 33, KenPom: 49, No. 9 seed) at Auburn, 8:30 p.m.

USF leaves two sleeping players behind at airport

HARTFORD, CT - JANUARY 25:  Troy Holston Jr. #25 of the South Florida Bulls reacts following a three-point shot in the first half against the Connecticut Huskies during the game at the XL Center on January 25, 2015 in Hartford, Connecticut.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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The University of South Florida’s men’s basketball season reached a new low late this week after the Bulls suffered a conference road loss at Tulsa.

USF fell to 7-20 overall and 1-15 in AAC conference play after Thursday’s loss. Somehow, the program made matters worse by leaving two players behind who fell asleep in the airport as the team waited for a connecting flight home.

According to a report from Collin Sherwin of the Daily Stampede, USF leading scorer Geno Thorpe and third-leading scorer Troy Holston were sleeping as the Bulls waited for a connecting flight at a Houston airport to help get them home to Tampa.

While the rest of the USF team and support staff boarded the connecting flight home, nobody woke up Thorpe and Holston until it was too late and they missed the flight. The school later made sure to get a new flight for the duo so they could make it back to campus.

USF is already facing an NCAA investigation for academic violations and head coach Orlando Antigua was fired from the program on Jan. 3.

Interim head coach Murry Bartow released a statement on USF leaving two players behind.

“Yesterday, as our team traveled back from Tulsa, two of our players were separated from the rest of our team when we boarded a connecting flight in Houston. This unfortunate circumstance, for which I apologize, was recognized by our staff as the plane was leaving the gate and not in time to get the players on the commercial flight. We immediately began to make arrangements to get the players on the very next flight to Tampa, and were in communication with them as soon as was possible. Both players arrived safely home in Tampa later that afternoon, at approximately 4:25 p.m., where a staff member met them at the airport. They are joining the rest of the team in a charity activity today.”

The mother of Troy Holston, Monique Holston-Greene, was not happy about USF leaving her son behind at the airport and made sure to express that on Twitter.

It’s hard to say what the fallout from this might be but don’t be surprised to see a massive amount of transfers from USF this offseason.

USF also might want to consider changing the headline and team photo from its game story from the Tulsa loss. The tweet of the story from the USF men’s basketball account shows a picture of Troy Holston inbounding to Geno Thorpe as the headline mentions that USF is “short-handed” during the loss.

VIDEO: Fairfield knocks off Canisius on Tyler Nelson buzzer-beating three

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Fairfield captured a buzzer-beating win over Canisius on Friday night as junior guard Tyler Nelson hit a pull-up three-pointer for the win.

With the game tied at 55 with under a minute left, Canisius worked the clock to try and get a shot close to the final horn. After a Jermaine Crumpton missed jumper, Fairfield’s Matija Milin corralled the rebound and got the outlet pass to Nelson, who pulled up and made the game-winning three.

Nelson led the Stags with 17 points as Fairfield improved to 15-13 (10-9 in the MAAC) with the road win.

 

VIDEO: Half-court buzzer-beater lifts DIII Ramapo College to conference title

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The Division III ranks had one of the best buzzer-beaters of the season on Friday night as Ramapo College clinched a conference championship in memorable fashion.

Ramapo College was facing New Jersey City University in the title game of the New Jersey Athletic Conference tournament on Friday night when the game became tied at 64 after a NJCU free throw with 3.1 seconds left.

On the ensuing inbounds play, Ramapo had to go the full length of the floor. Josh Ford caught the Ramapo inbounds pass near mid-court and found a trailing Thomas Bonacum, who launched a half-court shot and nailed it for the win.

Bonacum finished with 20 points and nine rebounds on the night as he was mobbed by fans for helping the Roadrunners clinch its sixth automatic NCAA tournament berth under head coach Chuck McBreen.

Here’s another angle of Bonacum’s ridiculous shot

 

De’Aaron Fox a ‘game-time decision’ for Saturday showdown

LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 23:  De'Aaron Fox #0 of the Kentucky Wildcats shoots the ball during the game against the Cleveland State Vikings at Rupp Arena on November 23, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Kentucky star guard De’Aaron Fox is a game-time decision when the No. 11 Wildcats take on No. 13 Florida on Saturday afternoon.

He didn’t practice on Thursday and was limited on Friday due to a knee contusion he suffered on Wednesday night against Missouri.

“He hit his knee,” head coach John Calipari said, according to SEC Country. “It’s not sprained or anything like that. It’s a bruise.”

Fox is averaging 15.5 points and 5.3 assists on the season. He missed one game earlier in the year due to an illness.

Kentucky’s game against the Gators in Rupp Arema will be for first place in the SEC and, in all likelihood, the SEC regular season title.