Syracuse Tyler Ennis

Tyler Ennis downplays Jim Boeheim’s critical remarks on NBA Draft decision

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CHICAGO — Much has been made of Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim being critical of his own players after they make a decision to enter the NBA Draft early.

After a tremendous freshman season as the Orange’s starting point guard, Tyler Ennis became the latest former Syracuse player to leave for the NBA Draft after appearing in the lottery of multiple mock drafts.

Despite those promising projections for Ennis, Boeheim went on SportsCenter in April and made some critical remarks about his starting point guard and how he wasn’t fully prepared to join the professional ranks.

“I think he is a great college player, but I think physically he could have used another year,” Boeheim said on SportsCenter. “I think when you get to the NBA, you need to be as physically ready as you can be, so I think Tyler could have benefited from another year, but certainly he is a tremendous player and a very smart point guard.

“I think point guard is probably the hardest position to break into in the NBA … but he has the skill set to be able to do that … it’s just a question of landing in the right place.”

But during last week’s NBA Draft Combine at Quest Multisports in Chicago, Ennis downplayed his former head coach’s remarks and he told NBCSports.com that he viewed Boeheim’s take in a different way.

“That situation, I think the media and the outside people that really don’t know the situation kind of got a different angle than (the players) did,” Ennis told NBCSports.com. “Even through my decision to enter the draft, I sat down with coach a few times and talked to him. And even to this day we’re able to speak and be on the same page. We’re both loyal people, we have a good relationship and he just wants what is best for me.”

It’s not surprising to see Ennis downplay Boeheim’s remarks because he’s probably used to his former coach bringing a certain dose of truth into the equation. Ennis has probably heard plenty of critical remarks from Boeheim in practice, during games and in film sessions so this is likely nothing new for him.

Those kinds of remarks from Boeheim rub certain people the wrong way because it looks like he’s putting the Syracuse program’s interests above the interests of his individual players, but I’m sure his players don’t think much of it after playing for him and hearing it straight from him all season.

As for the NBA Draft process, Ennis is viewing the proceedings much like he did when he entered Syracuse last fall — as an underdog.

“It’s been great and it’s been a journey but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. As an underdog, I had a lot to work for and I had to impress a lot of people and that’s what I’ve had to do my whole career,” Ennis said. “That’s what kept me motivated (entering college) and going through this (NBA Draft) process, I’m going through the same thing. I’m just finding ways to keep myself motivated and I know going to the next level won’t be easy. So even after this process of being drafted, I have a lot of work ahead of me.”

Much has been made about Ennis playing in Syracuse’s 2-3 zone throughout the season, as many basketball analysts question the point guard’s ability to defend in the more man-to-man focused NBA. Ennis believes he’ll be fine on the defensive end at the next level.

“I think my defense is going to surprise a lot of people,” Ennis said. “At Syracuse people question the defensive end (because of the 2-3 zone). I think through workouts and when teams watch me defend I think I’ll surprise a lot of people on the defensive end.”

Ennis averaged 12.9 points, 5.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game during his freshman season at Syracuse.

D.J. Harvey cuts list to ten schools

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With the July Live Period coming to an end, it’s time for schools to starts deciding who they’re going to target, who they’re going to offer a scholarship to and who they’re going to cut bait with.

At the same time, we’re going to see a flurry of players starting whittling down the number of schools they’re actually considering.

D.J. Harvey was once considered a top ten prospect in the Class of 2017, and while the DeMatha product has seen his stock slide a bit in the last year, he’s still a top 50 player that has a number of power programs knocking on his door.

Over the weekend, he announced that he has cut his list to ten schools: Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Duke, Texas, Villanova, UConn, UCLA, Maryland, Arizona and Louisville.

Rick Pitino: ‘We’re going to press more than we’ve ever pressed’

Louisville coach Rick Pitino shouts instructions to his team during the first half of its NCAA college basketball game against Florida State, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley
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Rick Pitino hopped on the air with 93.9 in Louisville recently and discussed the stuff you expect to hear a coach discuss on the radio in July.

He talked about the players that are improving (Jaylen Johnson). He talked about how he’s worried about how his team is going to score next season. He talked about the glut of big men on his roster and how none of them have done much to separate themselves from the pack.

It was all fairly typical.

But this line did catch my eye:

“Defensively, we’re going to press more than we’ve ever pressed,” Pitino said. “We’ve pressed a lot in the past but this team is very long, very athletic. I’m very bullish on this basketball team.”

Pitino’s teams have always pressed but he hasn’t been mentioned with the likes of Shaka Smart (Havoc) or Bobby Huggins (Press Virginia) because it isn’t an all-out press. Typically, the Cards run a 2-2-1 zone press that drops back to a half-zone/half-man amalgam that’s designed, in part, to confuse opponents as much as it is to force turnovers.

Is that going to change this year?

It would make some sense. This team is as athletic, long and versatile as any that he’s coached in recent memory. Think about the kind of physical tools that Ray Spalding and Jaylen Johnson and Deng Adel have. Think about what Donovan Mitchell can do if he’s allowed to ball-hawk the way Peyton Siva and Russ Smith did in the past.

This group can cause a lot of problems if they’re allowed to fly around the floor, and it sounds like Pitino may let them do just that.

Malik Williams cuts his list to eight schools

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Yesterday, when we released our July Live Period Superlatives, we listed Malik Williams as being the biggest stock riser in the country.

He went from being a kid that wasn’t playing in a shoe-company affiliated league in the spring to a five-star lock that has a bright future and NBA potential.

And on Monday, he announced that he has trimmed his list to eight schools:

N.C. State, Georgetown, Louisville, UCLA, Michigan State, Purdue, Iowa and Indiana.

Former Southern Miss forward Jonathan Mills shot and killed

Southern Mississippi forward Jonathan Mills (24) reacts at the buzzer in Memphis' 60-58 win in an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Lance Murphey)
AP Photo/Lance Murphey
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In two seasons as a member of the Southern Miss basketball program from 2011-13, forward Jonathan Mills made an impression based on how hard he played the game. Monday afternoon it was reported that Mills was shot and killed in Chicago, not too far away from his alma mater of North Lawndale High School.

Before attending Eastern Utah CC and Southern Miss, Mills plied his trade at North Lawndale where he helped the school win a state title in 2008 and the Chicago Public League title as a senior in 2009. North Lawndale HS coach Lewis Thorpe told the Chicago Tribune that he and Mills had plans to work out at the school Monday afternoon, only for Thorpe to receive a phone call from his nephew informing him of Mills’ death.

Mills was going through workouts with his high school coach in preparation for a move overseas to play professionally.

The coach said he heard from witnesses at the scene that Mills had gone to a corner store with some friends and, when they came out, a car drove up and someone inside shot him.

“I’m so messed up. I am so shocked,” he said. “When I say he was well liked…everybody loved him.’’

Thorpe said Mills called him “Pops” when he coached him in high school.

After word of Mills’ death made the rounds many paid tribute to him via social media including Donnie Tyndall, who coached Mills at Southern Miss.

Richmond announces change to European trip itinerary

Chris Mooney - UR
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With the NCAA allowing college basketball programs to take one trip outside of the country every four years, some coaches look at it as an opportunity to get a head start on preparations for the upcoming season. Chris Mooney’s Richmond Spiders are one team taking a trip this summer, as they’re due to leave the United States for Europe on August 8 with three exhibitions scheduled for their 12-day tour.

The trip was originally scheduled to begin in France, with the Spiders spending their first week there before making stops in the Netherlands and Germany. Monday afternoon the program announced a change to the itinerary, with the Spiders now spending their first week in Ireland and not France.

“We continue to be excited about the opportunity to travel abroad this summer,” Mooney said in the release. “We were able to make some changes to our travel itinerary, and we believe that this new itinerary will give our team a great opportunity to grow together and see other parts of the world.”

It isn’t stated as the reason for the change in the release but this news comes just over a week after a man drove a truck into a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, claiming the lives of 84 people and leaving more than 200 others injured.

Richmond, which returns two of its top three scorers from a season ago in forward T.J. Cline and guard ShawnDre’ Jones, is schedule to return to the United States August 20. Per NCAA rules they’re also afforded the opportunity to practice for two weeks leading up to the trip, and heading to Europe can help the team build stronger connections in unfamiliar surroundings.