New Orleans, Kentucky headline draft night winners

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On draft night there are winners and there are losers. While no championship title is given away based on who a team picks, the draft goes a long way towards determining whether or not a ring is possible.

Below are some franchises, college programs and draftees who did well for themselves on Thursday night.

Three NBA franchises

1. New Orleans
The Hornets knew who the face of their franchise would be on the night they won the lottery (Davis), but landing Rivers at 10 is a nice addition on the perimeter. He can learn under Jarrett Jack with the goal being to pair Rivers up with Eric Gordon down the line. And in Darius Miller at 46 the Hornets get a guy who is well-versed when it comes to doing the little things it takes to help a team win.

2. Sacramento
Thomas Robinson being on the board when the Kings came up at five was a definite win for Sacramento. DeMarcus Cousins is on the verge of making an all-star team (he’ll be taking part in Team USA’s Olympic training camp next month), and the Kings will make every effort to bring back restricted free agent Jason Thompson as well. Robinson will be able to compete immediately from a physical standpoint, and that tandem would allow him to progress at a reasonable rate.

3. Portland
Lillard definitely helps at the point, but the reason for Portland here is the fact that they were able to get Meyers Leonard at 11. With LaMarcus Aldridge returning to the floor there won’t be much pressure on Leonard to be a premier offensive threat. He can defend and rebound, and Leonard’s done a good job of improving his body since the college basketball season ended. And Will Barton, if under control, could prove to be a steal at 40.

Three college programs

1. Kentucky
John Calipari’s program had six players drafted, which is a record, as is the fact that two Kentucky players were taken with the top two picks. That makes 15 draftees (11 in the first round) in three seasons in Lexington. Think those numbers will come up in conversations with some of the nation’s top recruits?

2. North Carolina
If measuring programs based on the number of players selected in the top 20 picks of the draft then Roy Williams’ program has some bragging rights of its own. Four Tar Heels were taken in the first 17 picks of the draft, and while that was the end of their night that’s a nice haul for any program.

3. Weber State
Vanderbilt has an argument as the Commodores saw two players drafted in the first round for the first time in school history. But Randy Rahe saw the face of his program, Damian Lillard, go with the sixth pick in the draft to Portland. And for a program from a one-bid league like Weber State, that’s a nice line to add to the resume.

Three players

1. Dion Waiters (Cleveland)
Whether or not Waiters pans out in Cleveland isn’t the point here. Many who discussed the lottery guarantee that Waiters supposedly held in the weeks leading up to the draft thought it was coming on the back end (Phoenix). But fourth overall? That’s quite a jump financially for the Syracuse product, who was one of the best players in the Big East last season despite not starting a game.

2. Austin Rivers (New Orleans)
Anthony Davis will be the face of the franchise since he’s the top overall pick, but why can’t Rivers join him on the marquee? Rivers’ game seems to be better suited for the pro level, and when you’re the son of a successful NBA head coach it isn’t as if you’re walking into the league “blind” either. There will be an adjustment period (watching veteran Jarrett Jack should help some) for Rivers, but he’s more than capable of being a factor for the Hornets.

3. Perry Jones III (Oklahoma City)
Sure Jones III took a loss financially by returning to Baylor for his sophomore season, but from a basketball standpoint that decision paid off in a big way. He’ll join the reigning Western Conference champs under little (if any) pressure to produce right away, and his athleticism will fit in well on a team that needs some offensive help inside.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Preaching patience, new Pitt AD says hoops program “a complete rebuild”

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Things did not go particularly well for Kevin Stallings in his first year at Pitt. The program, which essentially pushed Jamie Dixon out the door for being consistently good but not often enough great, struggled, going 16-17 overall and 4-14 in the ACC, just two games out of the cellar.

On top of that, six players prematurely left the program this spring.

Not great, especially when you’ve got a new boss that didn’t hire you, as is the case for Stallings with new Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke, who came aboard in March. In her first meeting with Stallings, Lyke asked a rather blunt question.

“Do you want to be here?” according to the Beaver County Times.

Stallings answered that he did, and his new athletic director would appear to be willing to give her predecessor’s hire time to reclaim and rebuild the program.

“It’s a steep climb, if you will,” Lyke said. “It’s not something that’s going to come easy and it takes an incredible amount of work.”

Stallings’ personal reputation took a significant amount of damage this spring when he attempted to block Cameron Johnson from an intra-ACC transfer to North Carolina. NBC Sports’ Scott Phillips called him a “town-deaf clown” in his attempt to keep Johnson from being a Tar Heel, a position he later relinquished, allowing Johnson to head to Chapel Hill.

Losing Johnson certainly won’t help Stallings and the Panthers recover from the difficult first season. Pitt didn’t hit any grand-slams in recruiting but is adding four-star guard Marcus Carr in its 2017 class.

The immediate outlook doesn’t look particularly bright, but Pitt appears to be positioning itself to exhibit some patience.

“If you look at the team, it is a complete rebuild,” Lyke said. “So I do think that (Stallings) is going to need a little time to develop it.

“But, we’ve got to be headed in the right direction. There’s some things that have got to get better and noticeable improvements. I’ve already seen those things start to happen.”

 

Miller Time: Indiana coach cashes in with $24 million deal

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — New Indiana coach Archie Miller will make $24 million under his seven-year deal — and potentially even more in bonuses.

Miller accepted the job in March, but the athletic department didn’t announce details of the contract until Tuesday.

He will receive a base salary of $550,000 per year and $1 million in deferred income each season. Miller also will receive an additional $1.85 million in outside marketing and promotional income — and will get a $50,000 per year raise each year through March 2024.

Miller can earn a $250,000 bonus for winning a national championship. He can earn an additional $125,000 for a Big Ten regular-season title, reaching the Final Four and producing multiyear Academic Progress Rate scores over 950.

Utah, BYU rivalry back on after one-year hiatus

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The BYU-Utah annual rivalry series will be back on this season after taking a one-year hiatus last year.

For just the second time since 1909, the Utes and the Cougars did not play in 2016-17 after Utah head coach Larry Kyrstkowiak asked for a one-year cooling off period stemming from an intense and emotional game against BYU in 2015-16. In that game, then-freshman Nick Emery was ejected as a result of this punch that he threw:

The last time those two teams did not play was due to World War II.

The game will be played at BYU on Dec. 16th.

Utah will also play Utah State this season, the first time that they have played the Aggies since 2011.

 

California bans state-funded travel to eight states; does it affect college hoops?

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A new California law could end up causing a headache for the sports teams for public universities in the state.

Because of recently-added laws that are perceived as discriminatory against the LGBT community, California has now banned travel to eight states: Texas, Alabama, Kentucky and South Dakota join a list that already includes Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee.

The law states that contracts that were signed before Jan. 1st, 2017, are exempted and can be fulfilled, but there’s not guarantee that will be the case in the future.

“Moving forward, the athletic department will not schedule future games in states that fail to meet the standards established by the new law,” a UCLA spokesman told the Sacramento Bee. That said, the university does not use state funding for travel sports teams as it currently stands, and the goal of the law to avoid “spending taxpayer dollars in states that discriminate,” according to California’s Attorney General.

On the college basketball side of things, the biggest question mark here is whether or not this law will prevent teams from playing in the NCAA tournament if they are sent to a site in one of those eight states. Next season alone, there are first weekend sites in Kansas, Texas, North Carolina and Tennessee, not to mention the Final Four taking place in San Antonio. The location for many of those events were determined prior to January 1st.

“We are generally not going to deny student-athletes the opportunity to compete in the postseason,” a UCLA spokesman told NBC Sports.

The next question then becomes whether or not regular season travel will be allowed. Earlier this year, Cal dropped out of talks with Kansas about a potential home-and-home series due to this law, and if regular season travel is not allowed, it would mean that Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Louisville and Wichita State, along with Kansas, are not allowed to be visited by California public schools that need state funding to travel. A request for a clarification on the legality of college sports teams traveling to those states has been filed with the Attorney General by Fresno State, whose football team is headed to Alabama for a game this year.

Travel for recruiting is also a question that needs to be answered, but at the highest level of the sport, that is typically funded by boosters.

N.C. State adds grad transfer Sam Hunt

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N.C. State added its fourth transfer this offseason. Like ex-Baylor guard Al Freeman, the latest one is eligible to play next season.

Sam Hunt, a double-digit scorer the past two seasons at North Carolina A&T, officially enrolled at North Carolina State on Monday morning.

“Sam is a great young man and will bring much needed depth to our backcourt,” N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts said in a statement. “I want guys who are excited about being a part of our program and Sam really wants to be here.

“Sam is a combo guard that can space the floor with his ability to shoot the basketball. He is a good fit for the system and will bring a wealth of experience to our roster.”

Hunt, the 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 12.7 points per game last season, a dip from the 15.4 points per game he posted for the Aggies as a redshirt sophomore.

Hunt joins a roster that lost its three leading scorers from a season ago, one that ended 15-17 (4-14 ACC). Dennis Smith Jr. is a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Maverick Rowan also pursued a professional career and Terry Henderson was denied an additional year from the NCAA.

The Wolf Pack bring back forwards Abdul-Malik Abu and Omer Yurtseven as well as Torin Dorn.

Keatts, who took over the program after leading UNC Wilmington to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, has already built for the future. UNC Wilmington transfer C.J. Bryce, 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Seahawks, has followed him to Raleigh. Utah transfer Devon Daniels committed to the Wolf Pack the same day as Bryce. Both will have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules. Bryce will have two years of eligibility while Daniels will have three.