Ben McLemore denies former AAU coach’s allegations

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While in Chicago taking part in this week’s NBA Draft Combine, former Kansas shooting guard had to answer some questions regarding the allegations levied by his former AAU coach, Darius Cobb, a couple weeks ago.

In a story done by USA Today in early May, Cobb stated that he accepted $10,000 from a runner in an attempt to have him steer McLemore towards a particular agent when the time came for the freshman to choose his representation.

On Thursday, McLemore stated that he felt “shock and betrayal” upon hearing the allegations and denied any wrongdoing.

During an exclusive interview Thursday with SI.com and Campusinsiders.com, McLemore said he felt both shock and betrayal when he heard that Cobb had gone public with these allegations. “My reaction was like, ‘Wow,’ ” he said. “That was someone that I could trust, and I put a person in my circle that I felt comfortable with and I know a long time that I wanted to help me through this process [of selecting an agent]. And for him to say the things he did and put that out there like that, I wish it wasn’t true … [Cobb] put me in jeopardy and my family in jeopardy.”

McLemore said that he has not spoken with Cobb since the article was published — “I’ve pushed him out of my circle,” he said — and that the story was the first he had heard about payments from Blackstock to Cobb. “I didn’t see no money going around. My mom hasn’t seen no money going around. We don’t know nothing about it,” he said. “So it was kind of new to me.”

Also of note in the story done by Seth Davis of SI.com is the fact that McLemore stated that he would cooperate with NCAA investigators if they were to ask to interview him about the allegations.

That certainly sounds good, but here’s the thing: McLemore wouldn’t be obligated to speak with the NCAA. As a former student-athlete there really isn’t anything the NCAA can do to force McLemore to speak.

And refusing to speak is something that more than a few former student-athletes have chosen to do when under investigation (former Duke forward Lance Thomas was in a similar situation regarding an investigation into purchased jewelry earlier this year).

The question now is whether or not the NCAA will look to investigate these claims, and with Cobb being cut out of McLemore’s circle the former coach could be seen as someone with an axe to grind more than anything.

But if they do choose to do so and request a conversation with McLemore, outside of his hope to keep Kansas out of hot water there really isn’t a lot of motivation for the projected lottery pick to speak.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Reports: Duke’s Frank Jackson to declare for draft

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Frank Jackson will declare for the draft but will not be signing with an agent, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Previous reports had indicated that Jackson “planned” to return to school, and that still may end up proving true. But the combination of Trevon Duval potentially enrolling at Duke combined with the fact that there is zero downside to going through the draft process, it makes sense for Jackson to declare.

Jackson averaged 10.9 points and shot 39.5 percent from three. He’s projected as a mid-first round pick in 2018 by Draft Express, but at 6-foot-3, he’s too small to play the two in the NBA and has yet to prove he can be a point guard.

Jackson is the fourth Duke player to declare, following Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles III and Luke Kennard. All three signed with an agent. Grayson Allen and Marques Bolden are both returning to school.

VIDEO: Top 2018 recruits Zion Williamson and Romeo Langford go head-to-head at adidas

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This weekend is the first live evaluation period of the spring recruiting calendar as college coaches from all over the country are scouting (and babysitting) the top recruits in the Class of 2018 and 2019.

Friday night the adidas Gauntlet in Dallas opened with a marquee matchup of two star players as five-star forward Zion Williamson and five-star guard Romeo Langford went head-to-head in what should be one of the best games of the spring.

Most scouting services have Williamson and Langford as the No. 2 and No. 3 overall prospects in the Class of 2018 as the duo didn’t disappoint in front of the huge crowd in Fort Worth.

Williamson helped his team to a win with 26 points and seven rebounds while Langford had 28 points, four rebounds and four assists. You’ll be hearing plenty about both of these guys over the next few months as both are still wide open in the recruting process.

(H/t: Ball is Life)

Report: Coppin State hires Juan Dixon as new head coach

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Coppin State has hired former Maryland star guard Juan Dixon to be its next head coach, according to a report from Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun.

The 38-year-old Dixon is best known for leading Maryland to the 2002 national championship as he was the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four that year. Now Dixon will have a chance to lead a Division I program for the first time.

Dixon spent seven years in the NBA and also played professionally in Europe before joining the Maryland coaching staff in 2013 as a special assistant to head coach Mark Turgeon. Not retained by Maryland after the 2015-16 season, Dixon took the head coaching job for the women’s team at the University of the District of Columbia last season as the Division II program finished only  3-25.

Coppin State finished last season with an 8-24 record after losing its first 12 games of the season. While Dixon will generate some positive local buzz given his background, he’s going to have an uphill battle trying to rebuild that program.

Nebraska scores important Class of 2017 commitment from four-star guard Thomas Allen

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Nebraska landed an important commitment from the Class of 2017 on Friday as four-star guard Thomas Allen is heading to Lincoln next season.

The 6-foot-1 guard is considered the No. 99 overall prospect by Rivals in the national Class of 2017 rankings as Allen was previously committed to N.C. State before head coach Mark Gottfried was fired.

A scorer with a good amount of skill, Allen has a chance to come in and make an immediate impact at Nebraska as he can play a bit on or off the ball. Allen should help offset the loss of senior Tai Webster in the Husker backcourt.

Allen joins wing Nana Akenten in Nebraska’s Class of 2017 recruiting efforts.

North Carolina lands four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks

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North Carolina pulled in a late Class of 2017 commitment to begin the weekend as the Tar Heels secured a pledge from four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks.

The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Brooks was previously committed to Mississippi State, but he was granted his release this spring to explore other opportunities.

The Tar Heels pounced as they’re getting a low-post threat who could develop into a potential double-double threat. A solid rebounder who isn’t afraid to play with physicality, Brooks has a chance to earn some immediate rotation minutes with seniors like Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks exhausting their eligibility.

Brooks is regarded as the No. 120 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, according to Rivals, as he is a four-star prospect. The native of Auburn, Alabama joins a North Carolina recruiting class that includes point guard Jalek Felton, shooting guard Andrew Platek and big men Brandon Huffman and Sterling Manley.