Malik Newman (Getty Images)

Diamond Stone, Malik Newman and package deals

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The most interesting story line in the Class of 2014 involved Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and the way they marketed themselves as a package deal to the teams that were recruiting them.

The story has been told hundreds of times by now. Okafor, who was the top recruit in the country, and Jones, a top five recruit nationally, played together for Team USA in the U16 World Championships and, as a result, developed a bond on and off the court that they wanted to build on in college.

The way that it played out, both players ended up committing to Duke, automatically giving Coach K one of the best recruiting classes in the country and a top five ranking heading into the 2014-2015 season.

That’s why Malik Newman and Diamond Stone have immediately become the most intriguing prospects in the Class of 2015.

In case you missed it over the weekend, Stone confirmed to Scout.com that he and Newman are seriously considering playing their college ball together. The pairing is a bit odd — Newman is a 6-foot-3 combo-guard from Mississippi and Stone is a 6-foot-10 center from Wisconsin — but the weight of what they are saying isn’t. Newman, according to Rivals.com, is the No. 1 recruit in the class while Stone checks in at No. 3.

The Class of 2015 is not considered strong by many in the industry, but even with that disclaimer, landing two of the top three players in the class will be enough to push any of the schools pursuing the two prospects into a position where they are an immediate threat to win their league and reach the Final Four.

If Newman and Stone truly are going to play their college basketball together, than that makes them both by far the most important recruits in the country.

That’s a big ‘if’, however.

No one would blame you if you had ‘package deal fatigue’. Once prospects saw the kind of press that Jones and Okafor were getting for talking package deal, other recruits began to do the same. Whether it was a calculated ploy by the athletes to up their profile and bring in some bigger programs into their recruitment, an overreaction by the media that covers these things or simply a couple of kids saying they wouldn’t mind attending college with a friend, too many stories about ‘package deals’ that were never deals in the first place made the rounds.

In other words, there is no guarantee that Newman and Stone will actually end up at the same school.

But given their talent level relative to the rest of the class, any coach pursuing either player would be foolish not to try to bring them in together.

VIDEO: Arizona commit Terrance Ferguson throws down under-the-legs dunk after making 3-pointer

"CHARLOTTE, NC - JULY 9: Terrance Ferguson during the 2015 Under Armour All-America Basketball Camp on July 9, 2015 at Queens College in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)"
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Arizona commit Terrance Ferguson has been known as one of the best dunkers in the country for the last few years. So you knew the 6-foot-6 wing was going to attempt the latest internet dunk craze that’s been going around.

Some call it the, “5-point play” in which the dunker makes a 3-pointer and immediately sprints following the shot release to catch the make for an under-the-legs dunk.

It’s as tough as it sounds and Ferguson makes it look easy.

VIDEO: Manute Bol’s 6’11” son Bol Bol throws down in-game under-the-legs dunk

McPherson's Jacob Loecker attempts to steal the ball form Shawnee Mission-Bishop Miege's Bol Bol during the first quarter of the boys' Class 4A Division I state championship basketball game Saturday, March 12, 2016, in Salina, Kan. (Travis Morrise/The Hutchinson News via AP)
(Travis Morrise/The Hutchinson News via AP)
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Bol Bol is the son of former NBA center Manute Bol, and the younger Bol is earning quite a bit of attention himself as a five-star prospect in the Class of 2018.

The 6-foot-11 Bol showed off some of his freakish coordination and athleticism on Friday night, by ripping a steal and taking it coast-to-coast for an under-the-legs dunk in the middle of a game at the Jayhawk Invitational.

Bol will be one of the players to watch this spring as he plays with KC Run GMC.

Iowa State guard Naz Mitrou-Long gets hardship waiver to play additional year

Iowa State guard Nazareth Mitrou-Long defends Buffalo guard Jarryn Skeete during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Dec. 7, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 84-63. (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)
(AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)
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Iowa State got a boost to its roster for next season as senior guard Naz Mitrou-Long has been granted a hardship waiver by the Big 12 conference.

“Everything happens for a reason and although it hurt to not be able to play for a group of guys I loved last year, my body needed time to recover and that time off allowed me to feel the best I’ve felt since my freshman year,” Mitrou-Long said in the release. “I’m glad I’ll be able to play for the best fans in the country and represent the name on the front of my jersey, Iowa State, one more year. Words can’t describe this feeling. Cyclone Nation, be ready for a special year.”

The 6-foot-4 Long played in eight games last season for Iowa State as he averaged 12 points per game. He missed the rest of the season to deal with pain in his surgically repaired hips. Mitrou-Long has been a very effective three-point shooter during his career at Iowa State and he should be a nice option to have for next season if he’s healthy.

CIAA will stay in North Carolina despite state’s LGBT law

Protesters rally against House Bill 2 in Raleigh, N.C.,  Monday, April 25, 2016. While demonstrations circled North Carolina's statehouse on Monday, for and against a Republican-backed law curtailing protections for LGBT people and limiting public bathroom access for transgender people, House Democrats filed a repeal bill that stands little chance of passing. (Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
(Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer via AP)
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association says it won’t move its headquarters, its basketball tournament or other conference championships from North Carolina, despite the state’s controversial new LGBT law.

The CIAA said in a statement Thursday that it will instead partner with the NCAA to educate its members on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues as it does on other issues, like graduation rates and concussion management.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the CIAA, the oldest African-American sports conference in the U.S., has hosted its annual basketball tournament in Charlotte since 2006 and announced it was moving its headquarters to Charlotte from Virginia in 2015.

The CIAA said Thursday that it will continue to “monitor the issues,” as it has since House Bill 2 passed.

 

VIDEOS: Stephen Curry personally invites athletes to his select camp

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, left, holds the championship trophy and Andre Iguodala holds the series MVP trophy as they celebrate winning the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Cleveland, Wednesday, June 17, 2015. The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers 105-97 to win the best-of-seven game series 4-2. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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As he did last year, the NBA’s MVP is sending out personal invites to Under Armour’s SC30 Select Camp for some of the best high school and college point guards in the country.

It’s a pretty cool thing for the kids. Can you imagine how you would feel as a high school junior getting a personalized invitation to a camp from Stephen Curry himself?