Missouri hires Kim Anderson to replace Frank Haith

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Missouri’s coaching search is finally over, as the Tigers announced on Monday afternoon that they had hired Kim Anderson to replace Frank Haith.

Anderson is a Missouri alum and spent the past 12 seasons as the head coach at Central Missouri, a Division II school that he led to three Final Fours and the 2014 national title.

“I’m honored and humbled to have the opportunity to return to Mizzou and lead a program that our family is so vested in,” Anderson said in a statement released by the university on Monday. “When we took over in Warrensburg 12 years ago, we faced an uphill battle. We had support, we had a winning history and great campus leadership, but the program had lost its identity. I see that same opportunity here at Missouri.”

Anderson has never been a head coach at the Division I level, but he has spent decades as an assistant at high-major programs, having worked on staff at Missouri for 11 years in two stints and spending seven years at Baylor under Gene Iba. He also worked for the Big 12 conference for two years.

Anderson is a son of Missouri, through and through. He holds two degrees from the University, played there, coached there and spent the last 12 seasons at another school in the state. He’s also, at 58, the oldest coach in the SEC despite being a Division I rookie. That doesn’t mean that this hire can’t be successful — all you need to do is look at Bo Ryan to realize that this method can turn a program into a consistent winner — but that doesn’t mean that the Tigers handled it all that well.

Haith left for Tulsa on April 18th. That’s a week and a half ago. Missouri could have made this hire on that day.

What did they do instead?

Waited until the day after a very important live period — the only one that coaches will get to go on the road to evaluate during the spring — to hire a guy that they could have had the second that Tulsa called Haith. Oh, and they spent a reported $42,500 to do it.

I get it. They paid the money and took the time to try and find a guy that would make a splash. They would have been dumb not to take a swing at Gregg Marshall or Mike White or any of those other young coaches that have been tagged with ‘hot’ label. But regardless of who they hired, Missouri was foolish to wait until the day after the live period to make this hire.

The key for Anderson is going to be hiring a staff that can land him players. The most important person to keep on staff is Tim Fuller, although there were rumors earlier during the Coaching Carousel that he was looking at leaving the program.

He’s also going to want to keep the young core of this team together. Wes Clark, Johnathan Williams III, Torren Jones, Shane Rector. Those are talented pieces that can be leaned on in the future. Keep them around.

But the bottom line is that he can coach. Just about every coach I’ve talked to about Anderson raves about him, and it’s not an unprecedented move to hire a guy that’s had success outside Division I. Ask Wisconsin about Bo Ryan. That’s worked pretty well. John Beilein had a stop at Canisius and Richmond, but he’s not a bad coach, is he?

He’ll need to get guys into the program — doesn’t matter how well you coach them if your guys are just overmatched from a talent perspective — but if he does, there are a lot of people that think this hire will be successful.

Myself included.

D-League salaries, two-way contracts increase NBA Draft early entries

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Yesterday, I wrote a piece about how it’s dumb to criticize players for entering the NBA Draft without costing themselves their collegiate eligibility when the NCAA’s new NBA Draft rules are specifically designed for said players to be able to do that.

In that column, I mentioned that D-League salaries are on the rise and that the NBA’s new CBA instituted something called “two-way contracts,” and I wanted a chance to elaborate and clarify a couple of the points that I made.

Let’s start with the “two-way contracts,” which NBA teams each get two of. They are essentially a retainer that those teams can place on younger players they want to be the 16th and 17th men on their roster, holding their rights as they bounce between the D-League — where they will likely spend the majority of the year — and the NBA. The catch is that those players have to have less than three years service as a professional, and the point of it is to provide a financial incentive for younger players with the potential to reach the NBA to remain stateside while allowing those NBA teams to develop them.

That financial incentive is fairly large, as well: Two-way players will make between $250,000-$275,000.

That means there are an extra 60 jobs this season that will pay players with less than three years of professional basketball experience a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

That’s not a bad starting salary.

The other point that I wanted to address is the rising D-League salaries which, technically, will not be rising. There are still going to be Tier A and Tier B players, who make $26,000 and $20,000 respectively. But the NBA has something called affiliate players, which each of the now-25 NBA teams with a D-League affiliate can pay up to $50,000 for training camp. NBA teams are allowed a maximum of four affiliate players, who will still make their $26,000 salary from their D-League team.

In other words, that’s 100 more jobs available in the United States where a professional basketball player can make $76,000, and that’s before you consider that the five NBA teams that do not yet have a D-League affiliate will still have to play players to get them into training camp.

That $76,000 is not a life-changing amount of money. Neither is the $250,000 that a two-way contract will pay. But it’s a pretty damn good paycheck to make for an entry-level job into the industry that you always dreamed of being in.

Athletes have an unbelievably small window where they can capitalize monetarily on their gifts.

If a 21-year old sophomore decides that he wants to continue to develop his game and chasing his NBA dream by making $76,000 as a D-League player, is that really all that crazy?

After all, 135 of the 450 players, or 30 percent of the roster spots, on NBA’s opening night were taken by guys that had spent time in the D-League.

There’s more than one way to make a dream come true.

A record $439 million was bet on basketball in March in Las Vegas

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The month of March was quite friendly to Las Vegas.

According to ESPN, more money was bet on basketball during the month of March than in any month in the state’s regulated sports betting history.

And while the numbers produced by Las Vegas books don’t separate college and professional basketball betting, the money coming in on college hoops is pretty clear: $439 million was bet on basketball in March, more than double the $213 million bet on the sport in February.

It was profitable, too.

Those Vegas books kept more than $40 million dollars of the money that was gambled on basketball, which shattered the previous record of roughly $28 million in winnings.

Gonzaga lands their first post-Final Four commitment

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Gonzaga capitalized on their run to the national title game by landing a commitment from French point guard Joel Ayayi, who announced the news on twitter.

Ayayi is an interesting long-term prospect, according to Draft Express. He has the size and the frame to eventually be a significant contributor in the college game, but he’s raw. His handle needs work, as does his ability to create off the dribble and find teammates off of the bounce.

That said, he’s 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-7 wingspan and the ability to shoot it from the perimeter, and if Gonzaga can do anything, it’s develop players that enter their program.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson, top three prospect in 2018, breaks defender’s ankles

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Zion Williamson, one of the most sought-after recruits in college basketball, had himself a highlight-worthy moment at the Adidas Gauntlet event in Dallas over the weekend, breaking a defender’s ankles before hitting a three.

Illinois lands important commitment from four-star Class of 2017 guard Mark Smith

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Illinois landed a very important Class of 2017 commitment on Wednesday as guard Mark Smith pledged to the Illini.

The 6-foot-4 Smith was previously a Missouri commit for baseball, but some issues with his arm caused him to look back into basketball last summer. A native of Edwardsville, in the St. Louis metro area, Smith came out of nowhere to win the Illinois Mr. Basketball award as a senior this season as he averaged 21.9 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds while becoming a consensus national top-100 prospect.

Rivals rates Smith as the No. 52 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 as he could come in and earn immediate minutes at Illinois next season at either guard spot.

This is a very important commitment for head coach Brad Underwood and the Illini as the new head coach was able to hold off some elite programs like Kentucky and Michigan State for Smith’s services.