Joey Mullaney

Lawrence Academy manager Joey Mullaney dunks to start the game (VIDEO)

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Saturday afternoon, Lawrence Academy (Mass.) dropped its final game of the season to Buckingham Browne and Nichols (Mass.) 65-63 on Senior Day. However, the game’s first basket, greatly outweighed the final score.

Earlier in the week, Lawrence head coach Kevin Wiercinski approached senior manager Joey Mullaney, who suffers from a rare neurological disorder called Friedreich’s ataxia, and asked about whether he wanted to suit up for the final game of the season, in the hopes of getting him on the floor.

“He was like ‘let me think about it,'” said Wiercinski. “Then he came in after the next class and he was like, ‘I’ll do it under one condition.’”

“If I can dunk,” said Mullaney, who retold the conversation in a phone interview on Monday afternoon.

“He laughed it off,” added Mullaney. “I was like, ‘I’m not lying. I’m dunking it.’ I’ve seen these kind of shots before where kids do layups or threes. I just really wanted to go out with a bang.”

After giving a quick call to BB&N, as well as requesting the referees neglect the rules for about 30 seconds, the Spartans spent Friday practicing the staged dunk.

The play began with teammate Darrien Myers winning the tip, with the help of Myers and Jalen Myrie, Mullaney got on top of the shoulders of 6-foot-7 Daquan Sampson. And the most important part of all, Mullaney’s twin brother, Sean, was able to give Joey the assist on his biggest athletic accomplishment.

“I would say it’s probably the greatest athletic achievement of my life, as well,” said Sean in a phone interview on Tuesday. “He had to give up so much of his life, so quickly, because of his disease, and to see him on the floor right in front of me, doing something we thought he never could, it was awesome.”

Being on the floor and even dunking wasn’t enough for Joey, who had to add some flare to the special moment.

“I did a little pull up like Dwyane Wade would do,” joked Mullaney. “I had to add emphasis to the dunk.”

Mullaney, who’s 22-year old sister Kaela also suffers from FA, hasn’t played a game of organized basketball since he was in eighth grade due the progression of the disease. It affects his walking, speech and hand-eye coordination. He needs help walking to and from class, although, he is typically being assisted by a female student as his coach points out.

“What it does is it kills the iron in your legs, so you can’t control your muscles,” explained Mullaney. “It starts from the legs and works its way up. Freshman year wasn’t that bad, now I’m much worse and I really need help walking anywhere.”

Joey continues to fight the disease, refusing to use a wheelchair while working out with the school’s trainer consistently. He will enroll in Quinnipiac this fall and hopes to be involved in the men’s basketball program. His twin brother, Sean, will play baseball at Bowdoin College. After years of being sidelined and months away from being separated by a four-hour drive, the Mullaneys were able to share the hardwood together once again.

“It was awesome,” said Joey. “I truly thought it would never happen again. It meant the world to me to play on the court with my brother one last time.”

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

South Dakota State gets two commits

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Tuesday was a busy and productive one for South Dakota State on the recruiting trail.

The Jackrabbits secured two 2017 commitments from the state of Wisconsin in Ryan Krueger and Alex Arians, a source tells NBCSports.com.

Krueger is a 6-foot-5 wing player from New London, Wisc. while Arians is a 6-foot-4 guard from Madison, Wisc., who also held an offer from Wright State, which is coached by former SDSU coach Scott Nagy. Both players spend their summers playing for the Wisconsin Swing grassroots program.

The pair make it a trio of commits for the Jackrabbits in 2017 with another Wisconsinite, Alou Dillon, pledging to first-year Jackrabbits coach T.J. Otzelberger, himself a Wisconsin native, earlier this summer.

South Dakota State went 26-8 last year and the bulk of the team that made the NCAA tournament last year, including sophomore Mike Daum, who led the team in scoring and rebounding as a freshman.

Incoming Gator freshman ineligible for upcoming season

Mike White
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Florida will need to wait a year before seeing 6-foot-11 recruit Gorjok Gak playing games for the Gators.

The NCAA ruled that the incoming freshman will be able to enroll at Florida this year and practice with the team, but will be ineligible for games this season, the school announced Tuesday.

Should he meet all his progress marks during his freshman year, he’ll have three seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2017-18.

Gak’s eligibility issue centered on his playing games during his postgraduate year at Victory Rock Prep, according to his coach there.

“Following his graduate year from Australia, he was supposed to play from December to December,” Loren Jackson told the Gainesville Sun, “but instead played from December until the following May.”

Gak originally signed with Oklahoma State, but de-committed following Travis Ford’s firing in Stillwater this past spring. Gak averaged 13.8 points and 9.3 rebounds last season at Victory Rock in Bradenton, Fla.

Florida went 21-15 last season under first-year coach Mike White.

Video: Coach K talks Team USA with Dan Patrick

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Team USA has blown through its competition in its first two exhibition games ahead of next month’s Olympics in Rio De Janeiro with wins over Argentina and China by a combined a combined 96 points.

Tonight, they’ll have a rematch against China, which they defeated 106-57 on Sunday, but it will also serve as the unofficial debut of Kevin Durant in front of his new hometown fans with the game taking place at the home of the Golden State Warriors, Oracle Arena, in Oakland.

“Excited for Kevin tonight to make his debut in front of the Golden State fans,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said Tuesday on the Dan Patrick Show. “He got a great reception (Monday) at a function. He was, as he should be, warmly welcomed.”

The team has been together since July 18 in the run-up to its first Olympic contest on Aug. 6 against China. For Krzyzewski, a couple of players have made an impression already.

“You see these guys on TV,” the Duke coach said, “but I don’t get a chance to see them in person. (Clipper) DeAndre Jordan is such a good player. A great athlete, a great guy. To see him run, defend, holy mackerel. He’ s really good.

“I haven’t seen Paul George in two years when he had that horrific (leg) injury in Las Vegas at one of our camps, and he’s so darn good. On defense, tremendous.”

It’s on the defensive side of the floor that Coach K believes his team can really make its mark even with the incredible collection of offensive talent the roster has.

“We’re very athletic so defensively we could be a very good defensive team,” he said. “We’ve shown a willingness to want to do that in the first two games.”

As usual, Team USA is the prohibitive favorite to bring back gold for the third consecutive Olympics, which will be Coach K’s last at the helm after taking over after the 2004 bronze medal debacle.

“I’m excited about the team,” he said. “It’s a short time. to see our guys working so hard and they get along so well, I’m excited about the team we might be in Rio. We’ll use tonight to get a little bit better.

“I kind of have the blinders on. You only have a short time. It’s a little over a month, and we want to win the gold medal in Rio.”

Rose’s transfer to BYU becomes official

Ge'Lawn Guyn, L.J. Rose
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His commitment came more than a month ago, but L.J. Rose’s transfer to BYU became official Tuesday.

The former Houston guard was officially announced as an immediately-eligible graduate transfer by BYU on Tuesday. He’ll bring much needed help to a Cougars backcourt that lost Kyle Collinsworth and Chase Fischer to graduation and Jordan Chatman and Jack Toolson to transfers.

“L.J. will add great experience and talent to our guard line,” BYU coach Dave Rose said in a statement released by BYU. “We’re excited about the leadership he will bring on the court and in the locker room. He will make us a deeper and more versatile team.”

As a junior, L.J. Rose averaged 9.8 points and 5.3 assists, but a foot injury limited him to just two games last season and allowed him to receive a medical redshirt and the opportunity to be a graduate transfer for his final collegiate season. He’ll be a big part of BYU’s attempt to build on last year’s 26-11 season as a former top-100 recruit, who began his career at Baylor, on a team in need of an infusion of talent after absorbing the losses from last year’s roster.

His father, Lynden, Sr., was a teammate of BYU coach Dave Rose at Houston during the program’s Phi Slama Jama era.

UCLA loses key forward to professional ranks

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 02:  Dillon Brooks #24 of the Oregon Ducks steals the ball from Jonah Bolden #43 of the UCLA Bruins during a 76-68 Ducks win at Pauley Pavilion on March 2, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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UCLA announced on Tuesday afternoon that Jonah Bolden will be forgoing his college eligibility to turn professional.

“Jonah Bolden has informed the coaching staff that he has opted to play professionally this season,” the release said.

Bolden is a versatile, 6-foot-10 forward with some NBA potential. In his only season playing with the Bruins, he averaged 4.6 points and 4.8 boards while starting 11 games. His ability on the defensive end of the floor was something the UCLA staff was counting on this season.

A sophomore this past season, Bolden was ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA as a freshman, meaning that he was allowed to be on scholarship and in class but could not play during the 2014-15 season.

He had two seasons of eligibility remaining. Without Bolden, T.J Leaf will likely be counted on to play more minutes at the four.