Michigan v Kansas

Untangling the allegations levied by Ben McLemore’s AAU coach

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Here’s what we know about the allegations surrounding Ben McLemore’s AAU coach Darius Cobb: he accepted $10,000 and a couple of trips to LA from a runner named Rodney Blackstock to try and persuade McLemore in a specific direction when deciding on his agent and his financial advisor. We also know that a cousin of McLemore, named Richard Boyd, was a long for the ride on those trips to LA. Cobb also alleges that Blackstock paid for a birthday party at a bowling alley for McLemore back in February and says the he helped out the family paying their bills from time-to-time.

That much we can pretty much state as fact if we assume that what was written in Eric Prisbell’s story from USA Today on Saturday night.

What we don’t know, however, far outweighs what we do know. How much did Kansas or Bill Self know about this deal? How much did McLemore, or his mother Sonya Reid, know about Cobb’s association with Blackstock? Did that money ever make it into McLemore’s hands, or was this simply a coach — who admitted to being an aspiring agent and who has spent two years in prison — trying to use his association with the potential No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft to better himself?

Because until there is proof that Cobb was working at the behest of McLemore and his family, he’s just another hanger-on looking to cash in on a payday for having a potentially-exploitable relationship with a soon-to-be profitable athlete.

That kind of deal happens all the time, and it makes me wonder about Cobb’s motivation here. Why is he talking to USA Today? What happened that made him go public with this? Without Cobb talking on the record and working with Prisbell in exposing this story, there wouldn’t be all that much to it. What happened that made him decide to come forward? Was he cut out of the deal and this is his way of getting back at the player and the family? Or was this a calculated move, a premeditated effort for the people in the McLemore camp to preemptively strike down a story that they had heard was in the pipeline?

If Cobb was the conduit on a cash pipeline from Blackstock to the McLemore’s, it looks a lot better for Ben and the Kansas program if it’s some renegade AAU coach trying to get his while he still is able to leech off of his former player.

Because if that’s the case, than the NCAA won’t have much of a case to speak of.

It would be hard to penalize Kansas for using an ineligible player when neither the school nor the player was aware that when Cobb began peddling his influence, McLemore technically became in eligible. And McLemore is much more marketable when he’s not the reason that Kansas had a full-season of games wiped out of the NCAA’s history books.

That may not be true, not when Blackstock is paying for birthday parties and the money that he is giving Cobb is eventually paying for McLemore’s bills.

But that’s also not the most important argument here. Does it really matter? None of this influenced McLemore’s decision to enroll at Kansas. And none of it played a roll in his decision to head to the NBA; he was all-but out the door since the first time he went for 25 points in a game.

The only effect that the $10,000 that found itself in Cobb’s back account will have on the Jayhawk program is that, by retroactively making McLemore ineligible, it could become the only thing to keep Kansas from winning at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title in almost a decade.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)

POSTERIZED: Class of 2016 forward Chris Seeley has a massive dunk on defender

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The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.

At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.

The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.

 

 

 

Five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt cuts list to nine

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Five-star Class of 2017 forward Jarred Vanderbilt has been one of the most sought-after recruits in the country since he was a freshman in high school.

The 6-foot-8 native of Houston is beginning to wind things down in the recruiting process as he cut his list to nine schools on Friday. Vanderbilt’s list includes some of the most storied programs in college basketball and plenty of schools from his home state of Texas.

“I just followed my heart. Went with the schools I liked the most and who I have the best relationships with. Thear were the schools I could see myself playing for,” Vanderbilt told NBCSports.com.

Regarded as the No. 13 overall prospect in the Rivals.com national rankings, Vanderbilt is currently recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

Vanderbilt will see a doctor in three-to-four weeks as he’s currently in a boot to help his foot heal.

Report: Michigan State and Penn State will play at the Palestra

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Head coach Patrick Chambers of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has previously expressed a desire to coach a game at the legendary Palestra in Philadelphia and it appears he’ll get his chance in a Big Ten game this season.

According to a report from Brendan F. Quinn of MLive, Penn State will use the Palestra as its home gym for the Jan. 7, 2017 Big Ten game against Michigan State. It is the only time the two teams are scheduled to play during Big Ten season and Penn’s home gym will offer a unique setting for the game.

Since the capacity of the Palestra is 8,722, it should make for a fun atmosphere for both programs since this will be a game both fan bases will likely want to attend.

With Nittany Lions head coach Pat Chambers making Philadelphia a major recruiting priority for his program, a game like this in Philadelphia makes sense while Michigan State has always been open to playing games in unique settings such as aircraft carriers.

The Palestra has been a college basketball mainstay since it was built in 1927 as it hosts all Penn home games and, in the past, hosted a lot of Big 5 Philadelphia college games between La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova.

Overall, a fun idea that should make for an interesting experience for both programs. It’s not often that a team will change its home venue for a conference game, but it could be the start of something we see other schools look to do.