Len Bias

June 19 marks 26th anniversary of the death of Maryland star Len Bias


His death shook not only the Maryland community, but the college basketball world and the nation. It reached beyond basketball and asked questions about race, class, and drug laws.

June 19 marks the 26th anniversary of the death of Maryland star Len Bias, the 6-8 forward who was drafted No. 2 overall by the Boston Celtics in 1986 and died tragically of a cocaine overdose two days later.

He was 22 years old.

Much of what has become of Len Bias’ story in the 26 years since his death has been a mix of a cautionary tale and a saddening reflection on what could have been for the league, the Boston Celtics, and the man himself, so full of potential in his time at Maryland.

He was the subject of a recent documentary “Without Bias,” that recounted the incident and the aftermath and received widespread critical acclaim.

Bias averaged 23.2 points and 7.0 rebounds in his senior season with Maryland and, when he was drafted, many thought he could be the infusion of youth and talent that could carry the Celtics franchise into the next decade.

Having come from the ACC, he was many times compared to Michael Jordan at North Carolina, with some saying he had the potential to rival Jordan in the NBA, as well.

Were he alive today, he would have been 48 years of age.

His death has become one of the rare “Do you remember where you were?” moments of the last three decades. Bill Simmons of ESPN, a New England native, wrote a piece about what he remembers from that day. Click here to read it, written in 2006.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.