Joe Harris

The Secondary Break: Friday’s Links

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Former Virginia teammates miles apart, but still close (USA Today)
No. 5 Virginia wrapped up first place in the ACC last week, and one of their leaders for the last four seasons has been guard Joe Harris. He was part of a large recruiting class that dwindled down to three players thanks to transfers, one of whom was guard Billy Baron. And although the two players are performing at different schools, they remain close friends.

DePaul star freshman Billy Garrett Jr. thrives in defiance of his disease (Sports Illustrated)
DePaul’s had another tough season but one of the bright spots has been freshman guard Billy Garrett Jr. And Garrett Jr. has been one of the Big East’s best freshmen despite having sickle cell disease, which has led to medical issues in the past. Doctors questioned whether or not he should continue to play at a high level, but Garrett Jr. continues to persevere.

Higher Education: How basketball coach Tommy Amaker has transformed Harvard (SB Nation)
When Tommy Amaker arrived to take over the basketball program at Harvard, the program had experienced little success in the Ivy League. That’s obviously changed, with the Crimson one win away from their third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. There have been bumps in the road, but Amaker’s built a program that will be an Ivy contender for years to come.

UCF guard Isaiah Sykes’ rise to NBA prospect fueled by family (Orlando Sentinel)
UCF senior guard Isaiah Sykes hasn’t had the experience he envisioned prior to the start of this season, with the Knights struggling in their first season in the American. But he’s worked throughout his career to become an NBA prospect, and his family has served as motivation.

Seniors have given Jays three years of Kodak moments (Omaha World-Herald)
Saturday is Senior Day at Creighton, and it’s bound to be an emotional one as four players will be honored. Doug McDermott, Grant Gibbs, Jahenns Manigat and Ethan Wragge have all provided fans with great memories during their time in Omaha, helping lead the program from contender status in the Missouri Valley to the Big East.

Butler, DePaul are close in standings but not in promise (Fort Wayne News-Sentinel)
The two teams at the bottom of the Big East standings met Thursday night at Allstate Arena and the outcome was not good for the home team, as Butler throttled DePaul 79-46. And while Blue Demon fans are lamenting the lack of progress under Oliver Purnell, Brandon Miller’s team continues to compete and this may bode well for the Bulldogs in the future.

Wildcats must get on board with rebounding after posting surprising stats against Oregon State (Arizona Daily Star)
No. 3 Arizona was able to hold off Oregon State on Wednesday night, but one reason why the game was so close was the Wildcats’ performance on the boards. Oregon State grabbed 16 offensive rebounds on the night, and rebounding tends to tell the story of how well Arizona’s playing. With this being the case the Wildcats need to get back to basics ahead of their game at Oregon.

Trusting instincts, Monte Ross steers Blue Hens’ turnaround (Wilmington News Journal)
Thursday night Delaware head coach Monte Ross was named CAA Coach of the Year, with his Blue Hens winning the league’s regular season title. And in making the key decisions that determine winning and losing, Ross has trusted his instincts with a team that has improved on its 19 wins over a season ago.

VIDEO: University of New Orleans aids area flood victims

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 7.21.45 PM
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After over 20 inches of rain fell over three days and over 60,000 homes were damaged in southeastern Louisiana, New Orleans coach Mark Slessinger called his acquaintance, John Derenbecker, in the area to check in. Derenbecker and his family were fine, Slessinger learned, but many in the area were not.

I told (Derenbecker) to figure out who needed the help the most,” Slessinger told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “that I had my whole crew who could come help out on Saturday and Sunday.”

That led Slessinger and his team to the home of an elderly couple, Elbert and Ione Norred, whose house was ravaged by over four feet of flood water. The Privateers helped slog out debris, cut away wet insulation and whatever else needed removing from the soaked home.

“I appreciate everything you have done,” Ione Elbert told the Privateers. “Nobody knows how long it would have taken us to have done this.”

The Red Cross estimates that the relief effort for the flooding could cost upwards of $30 million in the region. To make a donation to the organization call 1-800-RED CROSS.

UNO’s baseball team also got in on the aid effort, heading to Baton Rouge over the weekend.

“We are proud to see our student-athletes, coaches and staff serve our fellow Louisianians in their time of need,” UNO Director of Athletics Derek Morel said in a statement. “The men and women of our program understand the importance of serving others and using our resources to help those in less-fortunate situations. We will continue to play for neighbors.”

Rutgers land 7-foot grad transfer from UNC Wilmington

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Brandon Ingram #14 of the Duke Blue Devils drives to the basket as he is defended by C.J. Gettys #23 of the North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks in the second half of their game during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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Rutgers landed a commitment from seven-footer C.J. Gettys on Monday night.

Gettys is a graduate transfer from UNC-Wilmington, where he averaged 5.3 points, 5.1 boards and 1.4 blocks for a team that reached the NCAA tournament. Gettys is a slow-footed back-to-the-basket player, however, and that didn’t exactly fit with the way that UNCW head coach Kevin Keatts likes to play; think Shaka Smart’s VCU teams.

So Gettys opted for Rutgers, picking the Scarlet Knights over Dayton, Purdue and Chattanooga.

He is the fifth member of new head coach Steve Pikiell’s first recruiting class.

VIDEO: Seventh Woods dunks on UNC student

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Some poor UNC student decided that he was going to try and block Seventh Woods, a freshman point guard for the Tar Heels, on a dunk attempt.

What ended up happening was that he got windmilled on.

To quote Samuel L. Jackson, as portrayed the great philosopher Dave Chappelle, “You ain’t never seen my movies?” Woods was doing this as a freshman … in HIGH SCHOOL.

Former National Player of the Year Michael Brooks dies at 58

Brooks for All-American Brochure
Courtesy La Salle Athletics
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A Philadelphia basketball legend and a former National Player of the Year passed away on Monday night.

Michael Brooks, a 6-foot-7 forward who was named the NABC National Player of the Year in 1980, died in Switzerland on Monday night due to a massive stroke, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

He was just 58 years old.

Brooks finished his career with 2,628 points and 1,372 rebounds. He never averaged less than 20 points in his four seasons in college. (Think about that for a second.) He was the No. 9 pick in the 1980 NBA Draft and averaged double-figures for four years before season-ending knee injuries sent him to Europe to play. Brooks was also named the captain of the 1980 Olympic team that missed out on the Moscow games due to the USA’s boycott.

Brooks, according to the Inquirer, had aplastic anemia, which required him to receive a bone marrow transplant last week. His body rejected the marrow, which resulted in the strokes that ended his life.

UCLA cruises in opener on Australian tour

UCLA head coach Steve Alford, second from right, watches action against Cal Poly with his assistant coaches in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Baker)
AP Photo/Michael Baker
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UCLA, who will be the most interesting team in all of college basketball this season, played their first game of an Australian tour on Tuesday morning, and they won in pretty impressive fashion.

The Bruins had triple digits on the board early in the fourth quarter, eventually beating a club in Sydney by the score of 123-76. For comparison’s sake, Washington and potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz beat the same team 101-80 a couple of weeks ago, so the win and the margin of victory is somewhat impressive.

Also worth noting: None of UCLA’s freshmen started. Steve Alford rolled with Aaron Holiday, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton on the perimeter — Holiday and Hamilton combined for 27 points, 18 assists and 11 boards while Alford had 17 points on just 10 shots — with G.G. Golomon and Thomas Welsh up front.

But the noteworthy performances here were from the McDonald’s All-Americans that Steve Alford brought into the program. In his first game in the blue and gold, Lonzo Ball, a potential top ten pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, was just OK. He finished with nine points and four assists while shooting 3-for-9 from the floor. Leaf, however, was terrific, as he led the team with 21 points to go along with nine boards and three assists.

The first exhibition game is hardly a great way to predict how a season is going to play out, but given the pressure and expectations currently surrounding the program, everything the Bruins do this season is going to be scrutinized.

This isn’t a bad way to start.