pac12

Bill Walton’s returning to broadcasting with the Pac-12 Networks

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After taking two years off to deal with serious back issues, Bill Walton will be back on television serving as a color analyst on both the Pac-12 Networks and ESPN.

The former UCLA great spent 20-plus years behind a microphone after his playing career ended with the Boston Celtics in 1987, covering the NBA, college basketball and Olympic basketball on various networks.

“We are extremely honored to have Bill Walton lend his knowledge of the game as an analyst for the Pac-12 Networks,” Pac-12 Enterprises president Bill Stevenson said in the network statement.

“Bill’s legendary playing career has made his name synonymous with UCLA and the Pac-12’s basketball tradition and his unique style and engaging personality has had the same effect in the sports broadcasting arena. We are excited to have him on board.”

The official announcement came on Thursday, which also featured the Pac-12 announcing that it’s new networks would broadcast 150 men’s basketball games this season.

And for the first time in league history all Pac-12 home games (that means non-conference games hosted by Pac-12 teams too) would be televised in some form.

The changes ushered in by Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has given the league unprecedented exposure across the board, and the addition of Walton to the announcing team should help matters from an entertainment standpoint.

“Commissioner Larry Scott is a vibrant, dynamic, visionary leader who stands alone at the top of our world,” said Walton in the statement. “He is a huge reason why I am here. I make my choices in life based on purpose and people — and that is why I am so excited about what we have at the Pac-12 Networks.

“Pride and loyalty are the driving emotions in my life and what could be better than what we have here. The West is The Best. Tradition. Environment. Demographics: We have it all!! Let’s go to college!!! Let’s play ball!!! Let’s chase our dreams!!! Here we go!!!”

To say the least the two-time national champion is excited about this new opportunity.

But my question is which Pac-12 player ends up being lavished with praise as then-Phoenix Sun Boris Diaw once was?

What should be an improved year in the Pac-12 became even more interesting with the addition of Walton.

Photo Credit: Pac-12 Networks

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

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.