Introducing ’14 PG Lourawls Nairns Jr., the Bahamian ‘Tum Tum’?

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Lourawls Nairn Jr. may have the most interesting name in the country, but its origin is actually quite mundane: Sunrise Christian Academy’s point guard and the No. 61 player in the Class of 2014 was simply named after his father.

His grandparents named Lourawls Sr. after — you guessed it — Lou Rawls, a soul and R&B singer back in the ’60s and ’70s.

But Junior’s nickname is a pop culture reference that’s all his own, as he’s known to friends and family as “Tum Tum”, a reference that most children of the ’90s will recognize instantly. It’s the name of the youngest brother in ‘3 Ninjas’ movies, who was known more for his ability to eat than his skills as a ninja.

“When I was little I used to eat everything,” Nairn told NBCSports.com during a break in the action at last weekend’s Nike Global Challenge. “So they called me Tum Tum.”

While the nickname has managed to stick — those pesky family names always seem to, don’t they? — Nairn no longer looks like a “Tum Tum”. He’s a 5-foot-10, 170 lb rock of a point guard that lists offers from the likes of Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Arkansas, Memphis, Minnesota, and Creighton. He may be the fastest player in the country with the ball in his hands, a nightmare to try and keep out of the paint, particularly in transition.

Nairn has work to do on his perimeter shot, however, and he’s still learning the nuances of playing the point guard position, but that’s understandable. Six years ago, Nairn — who turns 19 in October — wasn’t a basketball player, he was a sprinter in the Bahamas, a nation where track and field is much more relevant that hoops.

“The Bahamas is a track nation, so everybody ran track,” Nairn said. “Ever since I touched a basketball, I knew it was me. I stopped running track immediately and just played.”

“I started playing basketball seriously at 12, almost 13. The first year I got serious with it, the next year I went to America.”

And that’s where Nairn’s journey started. He spent a couple years in Florida playing at South Florida Prep Christian Academy in Ft. Lauderdale before enrolling at Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, KS. Sunrise has become something of a pipeline for Bahamian basketball players. Buddy Hield, who Nairns calls his “best friend”, played at Sunrise last season before heading off to Oklahoma. Three other Bahamians — senior Andre Sands and juniors Travis Mullings and Nathan Bain — currently populate Sunrise’s roster.

The Bahamas is turning into a somewhat fertile recruiting ground for colleges and prep schools alike. Former LSU and Louisiana Tech big man Magnum Rolle, who was a second round NBA draft pick in 2010, is Bahamian. Houston’s ‘Chicken’ Knowles, Maryland’s Shaquille Cleare, UCLA signee Wanaah Bail, Wichita State’s Kadeem Coleby and former Texas Tech signee Michael Carey all hail from the islands most of us consider paradise.

“The thing is, we don’t have a lot of guys that’s really good, it’s just raw talent,” Nairn said. “The guys you see coming over from the Bahamas is guys that really have a chance to do something in the United States, because there’s way more opportunities here than there is back home.”

And the opportunities that Nairn is looking for aren’t just on the court.

“Free education is the most important thing. Basketball is basketball, but obviously, you gotta get the free education when you go to school,” Nairn said. His goal after basketball? To be a real estate agent. “I just think that’s me. I’m good with people, I can talk about anything.”

And it’s true. Nairn, who is quick to flash a smile and crack a joke with a voice that will remind you more of Marvin Gaye than Lou Rawls, says that there is only one thing he doesn’t like about moving from the tropics to the Midwest. “I hate the weather in Kansas,” he said. “Everything else is perfect. I go to a Christian school, people love basketball, give me opportunities to succeed.”

He also said he doesn’t miss home — No beaches? No problem. “I go to the pools.” — or the home-cooking, which is surprising considering the origins of his nickname. But it also makes sense, as his favorite meal back home consists of “barbecue chicken, peas and rice, coleslaw, potato salad, some mixed vegetables.” Sounds like something you can get in Wichita.

Nairn said he never ate much seafood back home, only on special occasions. He also said that, despite growing up on an island, he’s never been fishing.

“A lot of people ask me that, but I’ve never been fishing in my life. I never had the opportunity,” he said, which is one of the biggest reasons he came to the States.

“But I will. Once everything’s done here.”

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

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Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

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Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

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Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

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De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.

Vanderbilt the sixth Kentucky player declares for the NBA draft

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Jarred Vanderbilt is now the sixth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the NBA draft this spring, joining P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel in testing the waters without signing with an agent.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have all declared for the draft and signed with an agent.

Vanderbilt announced his decision on Friday afternoon.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said. “At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA.”

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school.”

Vanderbilt missed the first 17 games of his freshman season with a left foot injury, a foot that he had injured twice before during his high school career. He then missed all four of Kentucky’s postseason games with a left ankle injury, and there is a chance that he could end up needing surgery to correct this issue this offseason.

All told, the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt played in 14 games as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 boards in just 17 minutes a night. But issues with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and a lower left leg that has proven to be extremely problematic, there is a good chance that Vanderbilt would go undrafted should he decide to turn pro.