P12 Oregon UCLA Basketball

Can UCLA win big without Jordan Adams?

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The UCLA Bruins showed a crack in the armor tonight, losing 78-69 to the Oregon Ducks in the Pac-12 final. They’ll be going to the Big Dance with or without that auto-bid, but a team with something to prove doesn’t want to show weakness in a big game when so few big games are left on the schedule.

This year’s UCLA Bruins are a somewhat motley collection of freshmen and former North Carolina players. Whatever they were to start the season, they became more than that as March approached, winning the regular-season Pac-12 title and making it to the final game of the league tourney as well.

Near the end of a semifinal win over Arizona, however, the delicate balance forged by Ben Howland took a hit, as freshman phenom Jordan Adams went down with a foot injury that turned out to be a bad break that would end his season.

Shabazz Muhammad got most of the press for the Bruins this season, in what may be his only collegiate campaign, but Adams was a solid rock for UCLA as well. He was second to Muhammad in scoring, putting up 15.3 points per game, but he was second to none in defensive impact, knocking away 2.2 steals per contest. It’s that high-energy stopping power that the Bruins are likely to miss most of all as they sojourn into late March.

Still, it may be too soon to believe that the Bruins are fatally flawed. Muhammad has the elite scoring touch, and Larry Drew II has turned out to be the right point guard for Howland’s system. Travis Wear is a marksman, shooting over 50 percent on the year, and 6’9″ Kyle Anderson can do a little bit of everything very well. Anderson’s skill set includes a little thievery – he’s right behind Adams with 1.8 steals per game.

Ben Howland tried Norman Powell in Adams’ place against Oregon, and results were inconclusive. Powell had ten points in 37 minutes of play, and was reasonably efficient when he managed to get a shot off. With no other options waiting around on the bench, Powell’s “not bad” may have to do down the stretch.

The Bruins didn’t look bad against Oregon, but neither did they look like a team that would make a long run in the NCAA Tournament. With Jordan confined to the bench in a walking boot, UCLA’s postseason hopes may be hobbled as well.

Iowa State lands three-star SG Jakolby Long

Steve Prohm
Associated Press
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Iowa State received its fourth verbal commitment in the Class of 2016 Friday morning, as 6-foot-4 shooting guard Jakolby Long made his pledge to Steve Prohm’s program. A native of Mustang, Oklahoma, Long attends Mustang HS and played for the Athletes First grassroots program this summer.

In Nike EYBL play for Athletes First, Long averaged 16.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

According to Cyclone Fanatic, Long was also considering Georgia, Texas and Utah before deciding that he’ll play his college basketball at Iowa State.¬†Long will join junior Matt Thomas, sophomore Hallice Cooke and transfer Nick Babb in the competition for minutes off the ball when he arrives on campus next year. According to Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune, Long could be a in a position where he sees solid playing time immediately.

Long joins junior college products Donovan Jackson and Emmanuel Malou, and 2016 forward Solomon Young in Iowa State’s 2016 class to date. And the Cyclones, who won’t use all 13 scholarships this season, still have room for a couple more additions for next season.

Iowa State has four seniors (Naz Long, Abdel Nader, Georges Niang and Jameel McKay), and junior point guard Monte’ Morris is considered by some to be a candidate to enter the 2016 NBA Draft.

UofL foundation hires firm to review escort allegations

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An independent Louisville affiliate has hired a law firm to review an escort’s allegations that former men’s basketball staffer Andre McGee hired dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players.

The University of Louisville Foundation announced the hiring Thursday of the Stites & Harbison law firm. The foundation does fundraising for the university.

Louisville President James Ramsey also said Thursday he “fully” supports athletic director Tom Jurich “as we work to identify the facts in this situation.” Ramsey reiterated the school has hired former NCAA enforcement official Chuck Smrt to lead the athletic department’s investigation.

Men’s basketball spokesman Kenny Klein had no comment on a CBS Sports report that former Cardinals recruit JaQuan Lyle, now an Ohio State freshman, confirmed the “gist of allegations” detailed in Katina Powell’s book during a meeting Tuesday with the NCAA.

Lyle originally signed with Louisville before de-committing and eventually landing with the Buckeyes. OSU spokesman Dan Wallenberg confirmed the NCAA meeting via email on Wednesday but said there were no issues with Ohio State. He did not mention Louisville.

Powell’s book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen” was released online last weekend by a publishing affiliate of the Indianapolis Business Journal. A hardcover version of the 104-page book is scheduled for release on Monday.

The book states that McGee hired Powell and other dancers, including three of her daughters, for 22 shows allegedly performed from 2010 to 2014 at the players’ Billy Minardi Hall dormitory.

McGee left Louisville in 2014 for Missouri-Kansas City, which placed him on paid leave Friday. A message left Thursday with his Louisville attorney, Scott C. Cox, was not immediately returned. A spokeswoman for IBJ’s publishing arm could not be reached either.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino has said McGee denied Powell’s allegations. In a radio interview Tuesday he denied knowledge of what took place and said last week that others he talked to didn’t know about the activities described in the book.

“I’m going through 15 people who worked here, and not one person even had a premonition of something wrong,” Pitino said Friday. “Not one person living in the dorm had even the slightest premonition. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

The Hall of Fame coach wasn’t mentioned in Ramsey’s statement in which the chancellor praised Jurich’s athletic program as “exemplary” at the school.

“It is important that the university – all of us – stay focused on our day-to-day work of providing our outstanding students with a world-class education,” Ramsey said. “The investigation of the allegations may take time and we must, as one university, continue doing the work we do to move our university and our community forward.”