NCAA President Mark Emmert’s press conference opens him up to more criticism

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ATLANTA — Mark Emmert stepped in front of the media at the Final Four on Thursday afternoon, a proverbial State of the NCAA address and a chance to respond to a healthy dose of criticism that he has received over the way that his organization has handled recent investigations.

And instead of inspiring a sense of hope that change is in the works, Emmert put an even bigger target on his back.

After a rambling, 17-minute opening monologue — the transcript went on for 2,576 words when printed out — Emmert spent the remainder of his 45 minute appearance dodging questions and firing back at his biggest critics. When Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com asked Emmert a question about being a lightening rod for criticism of the NCAA, Emmert added in the middle of his response, “By the way, thanks for the career advice. Kept my job anyway.” Dodd has called for Emmert to be fired. As he walked off the podium after the presser, Emmert said to Dodd “I’m still here. I know you’re disappointed, but here I am.”

When Joe Nocera of the New York Times asked a question about student-athletes and the less-than-challenging majors that are popping up across the country, Emmert criticized facts and statistics that Nocera had used in previous stories on the topic and tossed in “I know you disagree with me, but please let me finish.” He laughed off questions about the lack of knowledge his enforcement staff had regarding the report about Auburn football from Roopstigo. He audibly sighed, giving off a serious “What the hell kind of question is that?” vibe, every time he was challenged with a question.

To be fair, some of the questions that Emmert was asked were unfair and impossible for him to answer.

But that’s not the story here.

Emmert had an agenda. He had a hit-list. It’s clear that he reads the criticism of the job that he has done and of his organization, and that it’s become to bother him. He was fed up with it, and he wasn’t going to let something as simple as national television coverage and a room full of his harshest critics and the most powerful voices in college sports media stop him.

The push for NCAA reform has never been stronger, both in the way that rules are enforced and what those rules actually are. The NCAA looks really bad in the wake of investigations of Cam Newton, Shabazz Muhammad, Miami and Penn State. Emmert needed to make a strong statement on Thursday. He needed to inspire confidence that change is coming.

Instead, he gave every media member their easiest column of the year.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson throws down a vicious putback

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Zion Williamson made another highlight-reel play on Saturday outside of Atlanta as he threw down a vicious putback dunk at the Best of the South.

The five-star prospect has returned from a minor knee injury this spring to look like his old self in July as he’s entertained packed gyms of fans and college coaches the last two weeks.

The Class of 2018 star is currently regarded as the No. 3 overall prospect in the latest Rivals.com national rankings.

(h/t: Courtside Films)

Five-star 2018 point guard Darius Garland cuts list to six schools

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Five-star Class of 2018 point guard Darius Garland revealed the final six schools that he’s considering on Friday.

The N0. 12 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, according to Rivals, the 6-foot-0 Garland is one of the top floor generals in the nation as he is still considering Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and Vanderbilt.

A native of Nashville, Garland is a potentially elite perimeter threat at the college level as he’s one of the more deadly three-point marksmen in the nation.

Garland spent this spring and summer playing with Bradley Beal Elite in the Nike EYBL as he averaged 16.8 points and 4.8 assists per game in the league this spring.

VIDEO: Kentucky’s John Calipari participates in the #DriveByDunkChallenge

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The #DriveByDunkChallenge is sweeping the nation on social media this summer.

Rules to participate are pretty simple:

  1. Drive around in your vehicle.
  2. Find a basketball hoop (or a basketball ring if you’re Ted Cruz) on a random driveway.
  3. Run out of your car and dunk on that random hoop while a friend films.
  4. Run back to your car and drive away.

Let Anthony Davis show you how it works:

Pretty simple, right?

The #DriveByDunkChallenge isn’t raising money or awareness for ALS like the #IceBucketChallenge did three years ago, but it’s something harmless and fun to do to pass the time during the dog days of summer.

Sensing an opportunity to join an Internet craze, while also following in the footsteps of his former player Kentucky star, Wildcats head coach John Calipari got involved with his own dunk late Friday night.

And his video is much funnier than I thought it would be.

While most #DriveByDunkChallenge videos are done by healthy and spry teenagers who are cruising neighborhoods during the day, Calipari, and his hip replacement, got in on the fun with a late-night dunk.

I love that Calipari ditched the ball behind his back while running back to the car after the dunk.

Most people who participate in the challenge usually have their own ball and keep it with them through completion. But Calipari either picked up a random ball in the driveway or just he lost the handle with his own ball and had a turnover.

The next time Calipari goes hard on one of his point guards for losing control and playing too fast, remember this moment.

Creighton’s Khyri Thomas posterizes defender

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Creighton rising junior wing Khyri Thomas, like several of his teammates, are taking part in the Omaha Summer League this offseason.

On Thursday night, the 6-foot-3, 205-lb. Thomas eviscerated a defender with a one-handed posterization.

Thomas is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign for the Bluejays. He started all 35 games, averaging 12.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Aside from the increase in offensive production, Thomas served as one of the top defenders in the Big East. He shared the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award with Villanova’s Josh Hart and Mikal Bridges.

Zion Williamson throws down 360 windmill dunk

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Zion Williamson added another jaw-dropping dunk in the layup lines on the first night of the second live evaluation period.

Williamson and his SC Supreme team took on Each 1 Teach 1 at the Hoopseen Best of the South at the LakePoint Sporting Community in greater Atlanta.

The 6-foot-7 power forward threw down a 360 windmill dunk during his pregame routines.

Each 1 Teach 1 would pick up a 70-67 victory over SC Supreme. Williamson would end with a monster stat line of 37 points and seven rebounds.