Danny Ainge’s son, Crew, paving his own basketball career

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Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge has had a busy summer to say the least. After hiring Butler’s Brad Stevens, and acquiring multiple picks for future drafts, he is setting the foundation for a post-Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett era in Boston. As Ainge begins a new chapter in the franchise’s road to banner No. 18, his son Crew is starting to establish himself as a high school basketball prospect.

Crew, one of six children, has been a big stock riser in New England this summer. He entered the spring healthy — after dealing with a nagging wrist injury — and in shape, which has made him become a reliable part to the New England Playaz AAU team.

“Due to my wrist, I was out of shape,” Ainge told NBC Sports. “Now, I’m getting back; getting stronger.

“I just think my confidence is up a lot. I’ve been working really hard, and it’s starting to pay off.”

source:
Terrence Payne/NBC Sports

Being the son of an NBA executive obviously has its perks, such as access to the Celtics’ practice facility in Waltham, Mass. But don’t be fooled, Crew is drawing college interest through his own work ethic, not because of his last name. He’s gone from an energy guy to a player defenses need to account for. He can now make plays, as he can shots. He also possesses great instincts on the floor and still maintains that high motor, which in return makes him a better overall player.

“Crew has worked really, really hard to get in the best shape of his life,” Crew’s older brother Austin told NBC Sports. “His energy and toughness on the court, I think, is a direct result of his conditioning.”

Austin, the Celtics Director of Player Personnel, attributes the rise in Crew’s game to his season at prep school. This fall the 5-foot-11 Crew enrolled at Kimball Union (N.H.), playing alongside top-50 recruit Abdul-Malik Abu. But before he took to the hardwood with his new school, his basketball coach Michael Olson first made him hit the trails, running cross country in the fall.

“I give a lot of credit to his prep school coach,” Austin told NBC Sports. “He was a big difference.”

The hard work has paid off as Crew has heard from Marist, Brown, Columbia and Fairfield, in addition to Holy Cross and Northeastern — two schools he visited this spring.

“I have no offers yet, but I’m hearing from a lot of the local schools,” Ainge added. “I’m not really paying attention to it. It should take care of itself.”

Of course, his father, along with his siblings, attended BYU. Despite the family legacy, Crew isn’t solely focused on going to Provo, Utah for college … he’s keeping his options open at the moment. And his family is supportive of whatever school he decides to attend.

“Crew can go wherever he wants,” said Austin, who played at BYU. “We want the best spot for him.

“We’re letting him handle it on his own. We want him to experience this, and go through it. We’re always here to answer questions. But Crew pretty much has it figured out.”

The Ainges are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since Crew repeated his sophomore year when he entered Kimball Union, he will be eligible to go on his mission once he graduates from high school. Crew, who’s brother Cooper recently left for his two-year mission, told NBC Sports that he will likely begin his college career as a member of the Class of 2017, though, that is subject to change.

“The most likely scenario is me going after my senior year,” Ainge said. “That’s what it’s looking like right now.”

Whether it’s the fall of 2015 or 2017 when Crew starts college, he, like his father, will look back to the summer of 2013 as influential times in their respective basketball careers.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

N.C. State adds grad transfer Sam Hunt

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N.C. State added its fourth transfer this offseason. Like ex-Baylor guard Al Freeman, the latest one is eligible to play next season.

Sam Hunt, a double-digit scorer the past two seasons at North Carolina A&T, officially enrolled at North Carolina State on Monday morning.

“Sam is a great young man and will bring much needed depth to our backcourt,” N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts said in a statement. “I want guys who are excited about being a part of our program and Sam really wants to be here.

“Sam is a combo guard that can space the floor with his ability to shoot the basketball. He is a good fit for the system and will bring a wealth of experience to our roster.”

Hunt, the 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 12.7 points per game last season, a dip from the 15.4 points per game he posted for the Aggies as a redshirt sophomore.

Hunt joins a roster that lost its three leading scorers from a season ago, one that ended 15-17 (4-14 ACC). Dennis Smith Jr. is a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Maverick Rowan also pursued a professional career and Terry Henderson was denied an additional year from the NCAA.

The Wolf Pack bring back forwards Abdul-Malik Abu and Omer Yurtseven as well as Torin Dorn.

Keatts, who took over the program after leading UNC Wilmington to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, has already built for the future. UNC Wilmington transfer C.J. Bryce, 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Seahawks, has followed him to Raleigh. Utah transfer Devon Daniels committed to the Wolf Pack the same day as Bryce. Both will have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules. Bryce will have two years of eligibility while Daniels will have three.

LaVar Ball stars in an uncomfortably entertaining segment on WWE’s Raw

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LaVar Ball’s statements and antics over this past year always seemed better suited a professional wrestling ring.

It was only natural that the patriarch of the Ball family — and the head of the Big Baller Brand — made an appearance on WWE’s Monday Night Raw at the Staples Center for an awkwardly entertaining segment with WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz.

With sons, Lonzo — in his first appearance in the Staples Center as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers — and LaMelo looking on, LaVar was the center of attention. When The Miz mentioned something about a partnership between the two, the scripted interview went south. It resulted in LaVar saying nonsensical things like, “There’s only two dudes better than me, and I’m both of ’em!” before later taking off his shirt. When Dean Ambrose, a WWE superstar feuding with The Miz came out on to the ramp, LaVar didn’t quite grasp the concept that that was his cue to stop talking.

This segment was somehow entertaining and cringeworthy at the same time.

Now that Lonzo is beginning his NBA career, maybe it’s time LaVar try something different. A manager in the WWE may just be his true calling. He’s certainly had plenty of practice.

Maryland lands commitment from five-star 2018 forward

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Maryland added to its 2018 recruiting class with its second commit, the newest addition being a five-star in-state product.

Jalen Smith, a 6-foot-9 forward from Baltimore powerhouse Mount St. Joseph, committed to the Terrapins, making the announcement on Twitter.

“I believe that I can academically and athletically achieve my goals at home through my commitment to the University of Maryland … Go Terps,” he tweeted as part of a long passage.

Smith is listed as the No. 13 overall recruit in the Class of 2013 by Rivals. He joins four-star swingman Aaron Wiggins in Mark Turgeon’s current recruiting class.

Playing for Team Takeover on the Nike EYBL circuit, Smith is averaging 10.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game.

Recent grad’s joyride reportedly did $100,000 of damages to Mizzou Arena

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A recent graduate and temporary employee of the University of Missouri took an early morning joy ride that reportedly could rack up around $100,000 to Mizzou Arena.

According to Dave Mater of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nathaniel J. Contant, 23, who graduated from the school in December 2016, drove his Volkswagen Passat through a gate and eventually on to the floor of the 15,000-seat on-campus arena.

At 7:15 a.m. Sunday, MU police were dispatched to Mizzou Arena for a report of property damage. Officers determined that around 4 a.m., the suspect drove his vehicle through a closed gate on the south side of the arena. He ran through a garage door and drove into a dock area where he damaged several golf carts that were stored in the area. He also drove his car onto the basketball court. The man couldn’t leave through the area he used to enter the building, so he drove through the arena’s press gate.

Contant, unsurprisingly, is no longer an employee of the university. He’s being charged with second-degree burglary and first-degree property damage, both of which are felonies. He was released on a $4,500 bond.

The motive for this early-morning joyride remains unclear.

Despite the hype surrounding the upcoming Mizzou season — one that includes the debut of new head coach Cuonzo Martin and the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft Michael Porter, Jr. — Twitter users couldn’t help but poke fun at the dismal recent history the Tigers have had.

(h/t Kansas City Star)

Vance Jackson transfers to New Mexico

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With more than a handful of departures this offseason, New Mexico is set to have a new-look roster for the 2017-18 season. On Monday, Paul Weir, now at the helm of the program, landed a player who should make an impact in the three remaining seasons of eligibility he has left.

Vance Jackson, who spent this past season at UConn, decided to make the move from Storrs to Albuquerque, picking the Lobos over Rutgers, San Diego State, TCU, and Washington.

The 6-foot-8 rising sophomore will have to sit out next year due to NCAA transfer rules before resuming his collegiate career in the fall of 2018.

“The coaches — they trust in me,” Jackson told Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal last month during his official campus visit. “We’re on the same page. They see a vision.”

Weir, who led New Mexico State this past season to a NCAA Tournament appearance in his one and only season as head coach, succeeded Craig Neal in April.

This offseason has been headlined by transfers, though, those mostly were about players leaving the program. Jackson is the second transfer to land at UNM with Akron’s Antino Jackson electing to use his final season of eligibility with the Lobos. Antino Jackson is a graduate transfer, allowing him to play immediately next season.

Vance Jackson, who was rated as the No. 80 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals, averaged 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game while shooting just under 40 percent from three for the Huskies as a freshman.