Kobe Bryant was leaning toward North Carolina, not Duke

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Kobe Bryant never played college ball. He was able to go straight from Lower Merion High School (Pa.) to the NBA, and after 15 All-Star Game appearances, a league’s Most Valuable Player award, five NBA championships and hundreds of millions he’s made over his time in the pros, the decision to skip over his collegiate career seems to have paid off.

But what if Kobe had gone to college?

It’s long been thought that he would have been a Blue Devil at Duke University, though, this past Thursday night at “Kobe Up Close Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel” — an event put on by the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Foundation — the future Hall of Famer told the Nokia Theatre audience that he was more likely heading to the University of North Carolina, had he gone to college.

From Eric Pinus of the Los Angeles Times (and ProBasketballTalk)

Why North Carolina? Vince Carter, a Tar Heel, was one of the top guards in the country at the time. “I want to play against him, every single day,” Bryant said.

So there you have it. Kobe Bryant was leaning towards being a Tar Heel, like Michael Jordan, in order to go up against Vince Carter — who averaged 13.0 points per game in what would have been Bryant’s freshman season — and not Duke. If it’s any consolation to the Cameron Crazies, Bryant did said he loved Mike Krzyzewski, and in the end did play for Coach K during the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

Either way, this will be just the latest in a long line of things Duke and UNC fans can debate about.

Tom Izzo’s point is valid, but he’s wrong about the new fouling rules

Eron Harris, Tom Izzo
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
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On Sunday night, after No. 3 Michigan State knocked off No. 23 Providence in the final of the Wooden Legacy, Spartans head coach Tom Izzo made sure to make his feelings known about the new college basketball officiating mandates.

He doesn’t like them.

At all.

“I just think we’re taking the flow of the game away,” Izzo said. “Maybe it’ll change. We’ll play by the same rules everybody else does. But I think I can voice my opinion to say that I don’t agree with it.”

Part of what frustrated Izzo was that, in a matchup between the two best players in college basketball, both Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn were sent to the bench with foul trouble.

“I didn’t like it either way,” Izzo said. “I didn’t like having Denzel on the bench, and I didn’t even like watching Dunn on the bench.”

“Don’t tweet this now and leave out the officials,” he added, according to “It’s not their fault. Because that’s the way they’re mandated to call them. So I am really either blaming the rules committee, which ends up on the coaches somewhat. So I’m looking in the mirror and blaming myself because I should have argued it more maybe. I just don’t think it’s fun to have these guys sitting.”

This is nothing new for Izzo. This was calculated. He basically said the same thing after Michigan State, then No. 1 in the country, beat Oklahoma in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic two seasons ago, when the rules committee tried to implement these same rules. It was his pushback that started the campaign to get rid of the freedom of movement rules.

But here’s the thing: we all knew this was going to happen. We knew there was going to be an adjustment period, for coaches and players and referees alike. In the long run, freedom of movement is good for basketball. It’s part of the reason the NBA is so much fun to watch these days, as their emphasis on the freedom of movement got us out of the days where the Detroit Pistons were winning titles without scoring 80 points.

Physicality is ingrained in college basketball. Coaches teach defense a certain way. Players play defense a certain way. The guys in the NBA are stronger, but the style of play is much more physical in the college game than the pro game. That doesn’t change overnight.

It changes when those rules are enforced and those fouls are called, and, as a result, the players and coaches learn to adjust to them.

Kennesaw State blows eight-point lead in 16 seconds, loses to Elon

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Kennesaw State entered Monday night at 1-6 on the season, but with 19 seconds left, it looked like the Owls have their second of the season locked up. Kendrick Ray made a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left to put KSU up 89-81, and all they had to do was avoid a complete meltdown to get out with a win.

They couldn’t.

A Luke Eddy layup with 16 seconds left cut the lead to six, and after KSU’s Nigel Pruitt missed two free throws, Dainan Swoope his a three with seven seconds left to make the score 89-86.

On the ensuing inbounds, Kennesaw State threw the ball away … and then proceeded to foul Eddy when he was shooting a three. This is what that disaster looked like:

Eddy would hit all three threes before, shockingly, KSU turned the ball over again. Elon could not capitalize this time, sending the game to overtime, where the Phoenix outscored the Owls 14-4.

Elon won 104-94.

Here’s what the comeback looked like on the play-by-play:

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