Fred Van Vleet speaks at his high school’s graduation (VIDEO)

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Fred Van Vleet just finished up his sophomore year in college at Wichita State, leading them on a memorable, 35-0 start a year after he played a role on a team that made the Final Four. He may be young, he may be just two years removed from high school, but he is lauded and praised as one of the most mature players and best leaders in the country.

That was evident at the end of May, when Van Vleet was asked to return to Auburn HS in Rockford, Ill., to give a commencement speech to the graduating seniors, kids that are old enough that they went to high school for two years with Van Vleet.

And that speech?

It was very, very good.

Van Vleet told the graduates to work hard to pursue whatever dreams they have, whether it is going to college or getting a job and starting a family. He told them to be proud of where they’re from but to work to change the stereotype and the stigma that is associated with their hometown.

“I want you to go out and use this as a platform,” he said. “They’re always telling us Rockford is a miserable place to live, not a lot of talent coming out of Rockford. You can live up to it and make it worse, or you can change it and make it better. The power of change starts with choices.”

Most importantly, he told the students that graduating high school should not be the best day of their lives.

“I want to challenge everybody in here, parents, teachers, administration, students, to not let this day be the peak of your life,” he said. “When you look back on your life, don’t let this graduation day be the high-water mark of your life. I want you to go out after this and use this as a platform to continue doing bigger things.”

“Go to college, get a job, do whatever you want to do. But this should not be the high mark of your life.”

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Thanksgiving Day Edition!

Kevin Ollie
(AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.

For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.

The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.


1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.

2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.

3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.

4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.

5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?


  • No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
  • No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
  • No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.

VIDEOS: Rhode Island, Maryland exchange heated words in Cancun

Dan Hurley

No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.

Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.

But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.

It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:

After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”: