Legends Classic - UCLA v Georgia

Is Josh Smith turning the corner at Georgetown?

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There is no doubting the talent that Georgetown center Josh Smith possesses. The transfer from UCLA battled weight issues and a lack of work ethic in his two-plus seasons with the Bruins, but he appears to be turning it around as ESPN’s Andy Katz broke down his weight loss and new approach to working off the court.

Smith was around 350 pounds when he arrived at Georgetown and is now down to 310 pounds as he shoots for 290 as an ideal playing weight. Georgetown head coach John Thompson III said it isn’t about numbers for Smith, but just staying on the floor.

“I’ve taken the approach that let’s not talk about numbers,” Thompson III said to Katz. “I’ve told him, ‘Let’s get to a point where you can stay on the court for two minutes, then stretch it to five and then five to nine and then nine to 15.’ Some people can play at 200, some at 250, some above 3 and some can’t play above 150. He’s got to get to a point where he can stay on the court for an extended period of time.”

JT3 also told Katz, “A committed Josh Smith, I’m not sure there is a better big man in the country. He has the instincts and the physical tools to be better than any big man I’ve had.”

Since Thompson III has coached current NBA big men Roy Hibbert and Greg Monroe — who are both doing very well — that’s a strong statement.

The article also mentions how Smith fell into his weight issues in the first place, including some startling revelations about his diet.

“I had a bad rap at UCLA because I didn’t eat breakfast, I didn’t eat lunch. I would wait until after practice and workouts and then think I had to eat X amount of calories,” Smith said. “I was so hungry then. I thought it was the right way and it wasn’t. I’ve worked with a dietitian here since I got here in January. I’m dealing with portions, eating vegetables and fruit and drinking Powerade Zero with less calories. I wouldn’t eat all day and then try to eat 3000 calories at night. Now I’m eating them with small meals throughout the day.”
But Smith has hopefully turned a corner with the Hoyas and might finally get the chance to show his immense upside after showing plenty of flashes in his time at UCLA. Smith has also taken a mature approach to his weight loss and lifestyle changes and isn’t placing any blame on anybody for his past.

“I didn’t put the work in,” Smith said. “That was really it. People told me as a freshman. I didn’t put the work in. I thought I could turn it on and off.”

A healthy and active Smith could be a humongous difference inside for Georgetown, as they lost Greg Whittingham with a torn ACL and also Otto Porter to the NBA Draft. Although they’ll have Nate Lubick and Mikael Hopkins returning and Reggie Cameron as another freshman that can provide minutes inside, none of them possess the size and upside of Smith.

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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Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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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.