JUCO guard Corey Spence takes 30-hour ride to showcase, makes all-star game

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The final open evaluation period of the summer has come and gone, with many fatigued coaches, players, parents and scouts likely happy to have some time for rest and relaxation.

But this weekend brought about one of the more remarkable stories on the circuit, one that involved a 30-hour trip to a junior college showcase via Greyhound.

Casper (WY) College point guard Corey Spence, who played his high school basketball at Dunbar High in Baltimore, embarked on a trip to the JucoRecruiting.com All-American JUCO Showcase in Las Vegas that few people would be willing to take.

“A lot,” said Spence in a quick Twitter exchange with NBCSports.com when asked about the number of stops. “Different small cities and a few long layovers.”

It’s one thing to take a long trip, but to ride on a bus for as long as Spence did and then make the showcase’s Top 20 all-star game has to say something about the man.

But Spence’s heart and willingness to do whatever it takes has already been on display, as he came back from a horrific car crash in 2010 to help lead his high school team to it’s 12th Maryland state title.

Here’s what Corey Spence remembers about that late-November night: leaving a party, hopping into the passenger’s seat of his friend’s car, waking up in the hospital.

Spence, Dunbar’s senior point guard, had fallen asleep on the drive from Baltimore County back into the city. Sometime after that, near the county line on Pulaski Highway, the car crashed into a utility pole. Spence said he woke up for a second, then blacked out almost immediately.

“When I got to the hospital, when I first arrived, my father asked the doctor [about my condition],” Spence said. “And he was like, ‘It’s a 50-50 chance.’ If I made it through the first night, I’d be good.”

Spence lost 45 pounds as a result of the crash, but thanks to his hard work and the assistance of Dunbar football coach Lawrence Smith he was able to return as the Poets’ starting point guard nearly a month after being released from the hospital.

From Dunbar Spence went to Bridgton Academy for prep school and then to South Plains College, where he helped lead the Texans to a 36-0 record and a national title before deciding to transfer to Casper.

Given the car crash and Spence’s road back to full strength and a return to the court he’s come a long way, so what’s a 30-hour trip from Casper to Las Vegas?

“It was hard but everything happens for a reason,” said Spence.

h/t to @Screwlack for passing on Spence’s high school story

Photo credit: Zach Long/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

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

LaSalle parts ways with longtime head coach Dr. John Giannini

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La Salle announced on Friday that they are parting ways with head coach John Giannini.

Giannini had been the head coach of the program for 14 seasons, amassing a record of 212-226. Before taking over at La Salle, he spent seven seasons as the head coach at Rowan and eight seasons coaching at Maine.

“Today Bill Bradshaw and I mutually agreed that La Salle University could benefit from a new voice in leading the program,” said Dr. Giannini. “It is difficult to admit this but I have given every effort possible for success and I have received nothing but support and encouragement from Bill and President Hanycz. Greater things may be accomplished for this storied program and great university with the approach of a new coach. I am forever grateful, especially to my loyal staff and dedicated student-athletes. I look forward to my next challenge and La Salle’s future success.”

Kentucky clarifies ‘false reports’ they did not shake Kansas State hands after loss

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After Kansas State knocked off Kentucky in the Sweet 16, the purple Wildcats alleged that the blue Wildcats did not shake their hands after the game.

“They didn’t shake our hands,” Kansas State junior guard Amaad Wainright told ESPN last night. “It’s sorry.”

“They know what they did.”

Kentucky bristled at the allegations.

“They were turned and celebrating, so I walked off,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. “There was no disrespect for anything. It’s just that they were celebrating, and I was happy for them.”

“My team’s not like that. There’s no disrespect in any way. They beat us. They deserved to win the game.”

NCAA amends rule to allow Isaac Haas to play

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BOSTON — The NCAA has changed their interpretation of the rule that kept Isaac Haas out of the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Haas broke his elbow in Purdue’s first round win over Cal St.-Fullerton, but he was not allowed to play in a second round game against Butler because his brace did not meet NCAA standards.

So they changed those standards.

“With ample time this week to review the intent of the playing rule, the committee decided to provide a more contemporary interpretation, while keeping health and safety for all players the highest priority,” said Gavitt. “Technology has improved materials used in braces, so now there will be more flexibility in applying the rule as long as the brace is fully covered and padded. Isaac and other players in similar circumstances should be able to play, as long as the brace is safe for all.”

Sources have told NBC Sports that, despite Haas’ lobbying to get onto the court, he is not expected to play on Friday night. If he does, it will be in a very limited capacity.

“He didn’t practice the last two days,” Painter said on Thursday, “and when you don’t practice, you don’t play.”

“I don’t see him playing until he can practice and show me he can shoot a right-handed free throw and get a rebound with two hands.”

USC’s Chimezie Metu declares for NBA draft

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USC junior forward Chimezie Metu announced on Thursday evening that he will be declaring for the NBA draft:

This decision is not surprising. Metu finished his degree — Law History and Culture —  in three seasons. He held himself out of USC’s NIT games in an effort to keep himself from getting injured with NBA workouts on the horizon.

Metu averaged 15.7 points, 7.4 boards and 1.6 blocks for the Trojans this season. He is considered a borderline first round pick.

VIDEO: Kansas State legend celebrates revenge on Kentucky 67 years in the making

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In 1951, Kansas State lost to Kentucky in the National Championship game.

Ernie Barrett, who eventually became the school’s athletic director and is known as “Mr. K-State“, played on that team.

He’s wanted to get revenge on Big Blue ever since.

On Thursday night, Kansas State did.

Ernie was there, and here was his reaction in the locker room: