Magic Johnson

Did Magic Johnson originally commit to Michigan?

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Shannon Smith is a 5-foot-7 junior that plays for Michigan’s women’s team.

She took a roundabout way getting into the program, originally enrolling at North Carolina before spending a JuCo year down in Texas, but she’s there now, which puts the Smith family in an awkward position.

Her father, Kevin, played at Michigan State.

He’s a Spartan.

Whose daughter is now a Wolverine.

That’s a tough thing for a college sports fan to reconcile, but the elder Smith has a soft spot in his heart for Michigan. A local kid that once hit a halfcourt prayer to force overtime in a high school state title game against Magic Johnson, Smith originally committed to play for Michigan. He did so on a visit to the school with Magic. And Magic committed then, too. From Mike McCabe:

“I didn’t know if anyone knew that,” [Shannon] Smith said in a whisper. “Him and Magic committed to come here.”

Yes, they did, but it never became public knowledge.

“We were sitting in the stands next to Rick Leach,” Kevin said of the former U-M quarterback. “We looked at each other and we said: ‘We’re coming here. Roommates.’ ”

The plan never came to fruition, as Kevin ended up at Detroit for a year playing for Dick Vitale before transferring to Michigan State. And Magic? Well, he became a Spartan and led them to a national title win in one of the greatest college basketball games ever played, a battle with Larry Bird’s Indiana State team that launched a rivalry that ended up lasting a decade in the NBA.

And to think, it all could have been for naught.

If only Magic had ended up where he originally committed.

Creighton lands 2016 combo guard

Greg McDermott
Associated Press
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Sunday evening Creighton got on the board in the Class of 2016, as 6-foor-4 combo guard Davion Mintz made his pledge to Greg McDermott’s program. Mintz made the decision on the tail end of his official visit to Creighton, picking the Bluejays over Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Tulsa and Wichita State.

News of Mintz’s commitment was first reported by Rick Lewis of the Phenom Hoop Report, with Mintz confirming the news via Twitter shortly thereafter.

Creighton has just two seniors on its current roster in guard Jams Milliken and forward Geoffrey Groselle, but that doesn’t mean they lack for experience. Among the guards on the roster who will be around when Mintz arrives on campus are redshirt juniors Maurice Watson Jr., Malik Albert, and Isaiah Zierden, and Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster will be eligible in 2016-17.

Mintz, who attends North Mecklenberg HS just outside of Charlotte, can play either on or off the basketball. Creighton’s veteran guards should help Mintz with his transition to the college game when he arrives in Omaha in 2016. Mintz played for the Charlotte Nets grassroots program this summer.

Three-star power forward commits to WVU

Bob Huggins
Associated Press
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Three days after landing one power forward in Sagaba Konate, West Virginia received a verbal commitment from another big man Sunday evening.

6-foot-11 Mountain Mission School (Gurndy, Virginia) power forward Maciej Bender became the Mountaineers’ fourth commitment in the Class of 2016 on Sunday, with the Mountain Mission program announcing the news via Twitter. Bender is a native of Poland, and in addition to Konate he joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class.

West Virginia will lose two forwards in TyQuane Goard and Jonathan Holton at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the additions of Konate and Bender will help the Mountaineers account for those departures from a depth standpoint. Bender can score around the basket, but he’s also capable of facing up and scoring in pick-and-pop situations out beyond the three-point line.

Bender officially visited West Virginia last weekend, and he was a player the WVU coaching staff wanted to get in the fold. Other programs to offer Bender included Arizona State (teammate Jethro Tshisumpa is an ASU commit), Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Providence. Bender played his grassroots basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats program this summer.