Aki Thomas drops interim tag, gets UMBC job permanently

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Well, there’s now one team that doesn’t have to worry about who will be coaching their program next year.

After taking over just two days before practice started for the 2012-13 season, Aki Thomas led Maryland-Baltimore County to a 7-22 record and a 5-11 mark in the America East Conference as interim head coach. That was good enough for Athletic Director Dr. Charles Brown, who officially removed the interim tag and gave Thomas the full-time gig on Monday.

“I have been impressed with Coach Thomas’ basketball acumen, as well as his positive approach with our student-athletes,” Dr. Brown said in a statement on the team’s website. “He has all the tools to be an outstanding head coach.”

Both the seven overall wins and five conference wins were the most for the Retrievers since the program went 15-17 overall and 7-9 in conference during the 2008-09 season. The program made its one and only trip to the NCAA Tournament the season before in 2007-08, winning the America East Conference tournament.

Thomas had spent the past three seasons as an assistant for UMBC before being named the interim coach. He spend three previous seasons as an assistant at Howard from 2004-07.

It’s a good thing for the program to have stability. It’ll help in recruiting, fund-raising and various other aspects over the off-season, whenever that comes for UMBC.

The Retrievers, who earned the no. 6 seed in the America East tournament, will play no. 3 seed Hartford in the first round at 2 p.m. Saturday in Albany, N.Y.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

VIDEO: Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball highlights

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It was the most anticipated matchup of the summer.

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball.

People were turned away at the door – and LeBron James reportedly came and went – as the gym reached capacity for SC Supreme’s 104-92 victory over the Big Ballers. That’s Williamson over Ball (LaMelo and LaVar).

The game was mostly spectacle, and you can see it’s top moments right here.

 

VIDEO: Zion Williamson’s coach is holding a sleeping baby

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LaMelo Ball vs. Zion Williamson was insane, but it wasn’t quite crazy enough to wake up the sleeping toddler that Williamson’s coach is holding in his arms:

This is peak AAU basketball.

It will never be more AAU than that.

PHOTOS: Zion Williamson, LaMelo Ball showdown was, of course, insane

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In a showcase game in the adidas Uprising event in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, LaMelo Ball — the youngest member of the Big Baller Brand — faced off with Zion Williamson, who is a force on youtube and a highlight machine.

The crowd was insane for the game:

According to a report from ESPN, there were even concerns about whether or not the game would actually be allowed to be played; the police and fire marshall considered shutting the event down.

Williamson, of course, put on a show in warmups:

At the time of this posting, there were more than 60,000 people watching a livestream of the game on BallIsLife’s facebook page:

(UPDATE: It’s now over 70,000)

Puerto Rico Tip Off bracket revealed

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The bracket of the 2017 Puerto Rico Tip off was revealed Wednesday, setting up a showdown between a 2016 Final Four participant and the 2016 Big 12 tournament champion.

South Carolina and Iowa State headline the event, which will be played Nov. 16-19, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

The Gamecocks are on the top half of the bracket, opening against Illinois State while the Cyclones are on the bottom half, squaring off against Appalachian State.

Boise State vs. UTEP is the other top-half quarterfinal while Tulsa vs. Western Michigan is the other.

The championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip Off on Sunday, Nov. 19.

VIDEO: Michigan State’s Miles Bridges is dunking again

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Just what you wanted to see, a video of former Michigan State star Denzel Valentine throwing an alley-oop off the glass to current Michigan State star Miles Bridges in a Pro-Am in Michigan: