Dean Smith still looms large in Kansas-UNC connection


In case you didn’t know, Dean Smith grew up in Kansas and played for the Phog Allen’s Jayhawks when Kansas won its first NCAA tournament in 1952. He’s the reason Roy Williams came to Kansas in 1988 and one of the big reason the North Carolina native went back to UNC in 2003.

And he’ll undoubtedly be the focus of about 1,000 stories if North Carolina and Kansas play each other in Sunday’s Midwest Regional final.

But why wait? Either team could stumble in Friday’s games, and there’s always room for a little hoops history involving Smith.

With that, I offer Vahe Gregorian’s fun feature on the Smith as the tie that binds UNC and Kansas. Any story that opens with a guy buying Smith’s childhood home is worth a read.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

UConn commit tears ACL for second time

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UConn commit Juwan Durham, a four-star big man in the Class of 2016, has torn the ACL in his right knee for the second time in seven months. The Florida native committed to the Huskies and head coach Kevin Ollie back in September. The 6-foot-9 forward is regarded as the No. 31 overall prospect in the national Class of 2016, so he can really be a force when he’s healthy.

In a report from Tampabay.com’s Bob Putnam, UConn was notified of the injury immediately and there is no change in plans with the commitment. The Huskies also own commitments from four-star point guard Alterique Gilbert and three-star power forward Mamadou Diarra in the Class of 2016. Having Diarra, an active, rim-protecting presence, helps with Durham’s recovery, since he can provide some more front court depth.

If Durham rehabs back to full speed, UConn has a very talented power forward who was just hitting his stride in the Florida state playoffs last February. UConn has a nice class so far with this group, especially if Durham can recover, With a year to recover until next season, Durham can hopefully play during his freshman season in 2016.

VIDEO: Arizona State’s Torian Graham dunks over teammate

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Arizona State fans won’t get a chance to see Torian Graham take the floor this season, but he did sky over fellow teammates (and transfer) Shannon Evans on Friday night at the team’s Maroon and Gold Madness. The 6-foot-4 Graham is a former Buffalo commit — Evans also came from Buffalo — and both players will have to sit out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer regulations.

Graham hasn’t had a chance to get into a Division I game, but he’ll be able to play for the Sun Devils next season. For now, fans can look forward to Graham’s athleticism on the wing in pregame dunk routines.

A former top-100 prospect, Graham also pulled off this ridiculous move in the dunk contest.