Iowa State junior guard K.J. Bluford leaves program

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After averaging 17.8 points as a sophomore at Northeast Nebraska Community College, shooting guard K.J. Bluford had hopes of being a contributor for an Iowa State team that lost four of its top five scorers from a season ago. Unfortunately things didn’t work out that way for Bluford, whose desire for more playing time has resulted in his decision to leave the program.

Iowa State announced the news on Sunday afternoon.

“I appreciate the time and effort that K.J. gave to our program,” Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg said in the release. “He has elected to transfer to find a program that will allow him more playing time. I wish him the best in the future and will assist him in any way I can.”

Bluford averaged 2.7 points per game for Iowa State, with his highest scoring output being a six-point outing in a 110-51 win over Kansas City on November 25. Bluford scored five points in season-opening wins over UNCW and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, only to not see any action in Iowa State’s win over Michigan and minimal playing time against BYU.

In the six games after his 14-minute outing against Kansas City, Bluford played a total of five minutes with four coming in an Iowa State win over Auburn.

Given the lack of playing time that Bluford saw, this won’t be a crushing blow for the Cyclones. But if Iowa State were to be hit by a rash of injuries, then maybe there would be some concern regarding their backcourt depth.

Four conferences sign on to basketball officiating alliance

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Four more Division I conferences will join a men’s basketball officiating alliance formed last year by the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East, the Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association.

The Big South, the Ivy League, the Northeast and the Patriot League are joining ahead of the 2017-18 season, according to announcements from the leagues Thursday. The alliance launched last summer for conferences to work together on officiating matters and enhance training, development, recruitment, retention and feedback for officials.

John Cahill, the Big East’s supervisor of officials, and Bryan Kersey, the ACC’s coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, will continue to lead the alliance operations.

ACC commissioner John Swofford says the new additions to the alliance “provide an even greater opportunity to build chemistry and quality” across the officiating ranks.

North Carolina to unveil national championship banner in October

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The latest addition to the rafters of the Dean Dome will be unveiled this fall.

North Carolina will raise the banner for its 2017 national championship on Oct. 13, according to a report from Inside Carolina.

The event will coincide with the Tar Heels’ “Late Night With Roy” event that marks the public start to the season for the program and also serves, like many other top programs, as a recruiting tool.

North Carolina won its sixth NCAA national championship in April by defeating Gonzaga, 71-65, in Phoenix to avenge its last-second loss in the title game to Villanova the year prior. It was the Tar Heels’ first championship since 2009.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball highlights

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It was the most anticipated matchup of the summer.

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball.

People were turned away at the door – and LeBron James reportedly came and went – as the gym reached capacity for SC Supreme’s 104-92 victory over the Big Ballers. That’s Williamson over Ball (LaMelo and LaVar).

The game was mostly spectacle, and you can see it’s top moments right here.

 

VIDEO: Zion Williamson’s coach is holding a sleeping baby

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LaMelo Ball vs. Zion Williamson was insane, but it wasn’t quite crazy enough to wake up the sleeping toddler that Williamson’s coach is holding in his arms:

This is peak AAU basketball.

It will never be more AAU than that.

PHOTOS: Zion Williamson, LaMelo Ball showdown was, of course, insane

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In a showcase game in the adidas Uprising event in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, LaMelo Ball — the youngest member of the Big Baller Brand — faced off with Zion Williamson, who is a force on youtube and a highlight machine.

The crowd was insane for the game:

According to a report from ESPN, there were even concerns about whether or not the game would actually be allowed to be played; the police and fire marshall considered shutting the event down.

Williamson, of course, put on a show in warmups:

At the time of this posting, there were more than 60,000 people watching a livestream of the game on BallIsLife’s facebook page:

(UPDATE: It’s now over 70,000)