Southern University will honor one of the program’s greatest players on Saturday, renaming the F.G. Clark Activity Center court in honor of Avery Johnson during a ceremony at halftime of their game against Grambling State.
Johnson, most recently head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, played two seasons at the SWAC school and won conference Player of the Year honors in both 1987 and 1988. Johnson dished out 20 assists or more in a game four times during his two seasons at Southern after transferring in from Cameron University (an NAIA school located in Lawton, Oklahoma).
A native of New Orleans, the “Little General” would go on to play 16 seasons in the NBA with his most noteworthy years coming with the San Antonio Spurs. Johnson’s baseline jumper in Game 5 of the 1999 NBA Finals clinched the franchise’s first NBA title.
But even with his achievements at the professional level, Johnson remains grateful for his time at Southern and looks forward to Saturday’s ceremony.
“We (he and his wife Cassandra) are just really honored to be a part of what we’re looking at as a celebration of hard work,” Johnson said in the release. “We’ll be able to share in that celebration with a lot of friends and family.”
In some cases there’s a concern that the visiting team can spoil the fun on a day like this one, but with all due respect to Grambling State that won’t be an issue Saturday. Grambling State (0-18) is the lone Division I team yet to win a game this season, with inexperience and roster issues proving to been too much for a team that didn’t play its first home game until January 6.
On that day Southern beat Grambling State 82-43, with the Tigers scoring just 12 points in the first half. Averaging just over 20 turnovers per game, the 2012-13 campaign has been one those associated with the program will want to forget as soon as its over.
With that in mind, Saturday sets up to be a good day for Southern to welcome back one of its greatest players.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.
The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.
Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.
That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.
Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.
The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.
The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.
“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.
Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.
The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.
Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.
An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has drawn attention for some recent comments about former Orange star Carmelo Anthony.
After Anthony captured his record third gold medal with USA Basketball, his former college coach told Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard that Anthony didn’t have a great chance at winning an NBA title.
“He’s unlikely to win an NBA title,” Boeheim said of Anthony. “He’s never been on a team that even had a remote chance of winning an NBA title.”
Boeheim maintains that he was speaking of Melo’s legacy being about more than an NBA title and that he’s one of the game’s greats thanks to other accomplishments like the Syracuse title and gold medals. On SportsCenter, Boeheim made sure to stress where those comments were coming from, while also making sure his kids would stop being mad at him.
It’s much easier to understand where Boeheim is coming from in this instance and it clears up something that will probably go away now.
The Big Ten released its 2016-17 conference schedule on Thursday as the conference season begins on Dec. 27 with a four-game set.
Conference play will conclude on March 5th before the 20th annual Big Ten Tournament is played at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. from March 8-12.
Some notable games include Penn State hosting Michigan State at the Palestra on Jan. 7.
You can view the full Big Ten schedule here.