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Ball State completes coaching staff with addition of Billy Wright

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New Ball State head coach James Whitford has completed the process of assembling a coaching staff, as it was announced on Friday that Billy Wright has joined the program as an assistant coach.

Wright was formerly the associate head coach on Jim Molinari’s staff at Western Illinois, helping to lead the Leathernecks to their first two postseason tournament appearances in their history as a Division I member.

A native of Richmond, Ind., Wright spent 12 years coaching at both Pike and Ben Davis high schools in Indianapolis before moving to the collegiate ranks.

So there’s a clear connection between Wright and not only to the state itself but also the talent that Whitford will need to attract in order to turn around the Ball State program.

“Billy comes very highly regarded from a lot of people in the state of Indiana,” Whitford said in the release. “He is well connected in the state. Billy was a great player at both Richmond High School and Bradley.

“He has worked for a person I respect a lot in Coach Molinari, who had great things to say about him. Billy has a great background as a person, as a player and as a successful coach.”

Wright joins associate head coach Brett Nelson and assistant Jason Grunkemeyer on the coaching staff.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Akron reveals special bobble heads for LeBron, high school teammates

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When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.

LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.

Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).

All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.

NEW PODCAST: Indiana, Cal, troublesome trends and a weekend preview

California's Jabari Bird celebrates a score against Oregon in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.

Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.