John Thompson III

Georgetown’s John Thompson admits to faking pregame speeches for TV

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It’s not a secret that Georgetown has one of the most strict policies in all of college basketball when it comes to media access to the team.

They don’t invite media members into practice. Reporters do not get to go into the locker room postgame. They are as cleansed and bland as anyone in the country when it comes to the answers that their players give to questions. A lot of that stems from the reign of “Big John” Thompson, when Hoya Paranoia was in full force. The patriarch of the Georgetown program and the father of current head coach John Thompson III still has quite a bit of influence over on the Hilltop.

On Tuesday, Thompson hopped on ESPN 980 in D.C. and gave a fairly enlightening view into why he keeps such a tight lid on his program while providing us with one of the best anecdotes that you will hear a head coach give this summer. He was asked about the NFL training camp reality show ‘Hard Knocks’ and whether or not he would want to deal with something like that as a coach (transcription via DC Sports Bog):

“Personally as a coach — and the world is changing — but I don’t want to be miked,” he said. “I don’t want people in the locker room, I don’t want people in training camp, I don’t want people in meetings, because I want to be able — sometimes — to talk in those tongues I learned growing up that you can’t do when the cameras are there.

“Now, the world is changing. I just rattled off I don’t want to do all that, but I had people come in our halftime room this year. I had people come in for a pregame speech. The world is changing, and as coaches you have to adapt. But you just asked me do I want that? Absolutely not. Absolutely not.”

He wasn’t done.

“I maybe shouldn’t say this, but I’m gonna say it,” Thompson said. “I’m miked for pre-game talk. So I tell the team, ‘Look fellas, the cameras are coming in.’ I said: ‘I’m gonna make up something to say, all right? We’re gonna sit here, let them stay with us for about five minutes, then we’re gonna kick ‘em out, then we’re gonna have our real talk. Don’t. Start. Laughing.’”

“So the people from Fox come in, and I’m going through my spiel. And we write a speech for this. I’m sitting there going through my spiel, and the team was just looking at me, snickering. At one point, I had to turn my back to the camera, because I was getting ready to break out laughing.”

There’s more.

“I’ll even break it down even further, even with letting people come into practice,” Thompson said. “I know I talk differently, I coach differently if I have a mic on. I know I talk differently, I coach differently if there are people sitting up in the stands in practice.”

“And so it’s not like everything is always ‘Oh, there are these secret walls up around Georgetown.’ There is some of that, don’t get me wrong. But to create the best learning environment for our kids, I think sometimes we don’t need to be miked. We don’t need to be putting on a show 24-7, 365 for the audience. We need to be helping this group that’s in front of us grow up, get better, and become young men.”

I’m sure he’s not the only coach that does that, but he also has a point. As a media member, I want access — I need access — to be able to do my job. But my job is to write and to talk about somebody else’s real life. Publicity is a good thing, and getting used to dealing with media every day is important for the players who have professional aspirations, but at the end of the day, the Georgetown players and coaches have a job to do. Sometimes, limiting media access is the best way to do it.

Either way, that’s one fantastic anecdote.

White decides to return to Nebraska

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Nebraska’s second-leading scorer from last season will return for his senior season as Andrew White III announced Wednesday he will withdraw his name from the NBA Draft.

“I felt good about the pre-draft process, White said in a statement released by Nebraska. “It was encouraging, and I gained as much ground as anyone throughout the process. I wanted one more year to fine tune my game and put myself in better position for the NBA next summer.  

“I want to thank the teams who invited me their in-house workouts, and Nebraska for supporting me during this process.  It has been very helpful in gathering information in preparation for my future Thank you to everyone who has been following my progress throughout the spring and being understanding and supportive, as I evaluated whether to turn pro or return for my senior year.”

White, a Kansas transfer, tallied 16.6 points per game last season while shooting 48.1 percent from the floor and 41.2 percent from 3-point range. He also pulled down 5.9 rebounds per game.

“We are excited to have Andrew remain with our program,” coach Tim Miles said. “This has been a valuable time for him, as he has tested his skills against some of the best competition and received very important insight from key NBA personnel.  

“We look forward to continuing to help Andrew’s development to improve his NBA profile even more than he already has done through this process.  I believe next year could be our most complete team with a great opportunity for success in the Big Ten and NCAA tournament, I’m happy Andrew will be with us to go out and prove it.”

The news is certainly welcome for the Cornhuskers and Miles, who will be under pressure to show improvement after back-to-back disappointing seasons following an NCAA tournament appearance in 2014. Shavon Shields, last year’s leading scorer, has exhausted his eligibility and the Huskers will need White to help fill the void.

Trimble coming back to Terps

Maryland guard Melo Trimble (AP Photo/Matt Hazlett)
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Melo Trimble is returning to Maryland.

The Terrapin guard will be back to for his junior season in College Park, according to multiple reports.

Trimble went from freshman first-rounder to question mark after a rough end to his sophomore season for Maryland in which his points per game, shooting percentage (both overall and from 3-point range) and rebounding dipped from his first season. Only his assists per game showed any sort of improvement. He waited until the last possible day to announce his intentions to return to school, but really his options were limited after seeing his production drop.

His decision to come back to school gives him a shot to restore his draft stock while Maryland gets its floor general back to help ease the transition from last year’s Sweet 16 squad that lost Diamond Stone, Rasheed Sulaimon and Jake Layman. The Terps might not be a sure-fire top-25 team with Trimble back, but their NCAA tournament chances are now significantly higher.

Nevada lands Martin twins

Caleb Martin, Jordan Roper
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Eric Musselman keeps adding reinforcements to his roster. For the 2017-18 season.

Musselman and Nevada received commitments from N.C. State transfers and twin brothers Caleb and Cody Martin, according to multiple reports.

That brings Nevada’s sit-out transfer count for this upcoming season to four with Hallice Cooke (Iowa State) and Kendall Stephens (Purdue) already in the fold. Under NCAA transfer rules, the quartet will have to sit out the upcoming season before being eligible in 2017-18.

Caleb averaged 11.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists while shooting 36 percent from deep while Cody put up 6.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists, shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc.

The timing of having four sit-out transfers works well for the Wolf Pack given that two of the team’s three leading scorers from last year, D.J. Fenner (a senior) and Cameron Oliver (a sophomore), return while senior transfers Marcus Marshall (Missouri State) becomes eligible. Having those four experienced transfers begin playing in 2017-18 while all but two players from this upcoming team slated to return makes Nevada an interesting team, a year from now.

Louisville big man heading to NBA Draft

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After a day of mixed messages, Louisville’s Chinanu Onuaku finally made it official.

He’s staying in the NBA Draft.

“After talking to my family and going through the NBA process,” Onuaku wrote in an Instagram post, “me and my family have decided that it would be best for me to keep my name in the draft.”

The day started out with Cardinals coach Rick Pitino telling multiple media outlets that the 6-foot-10 sophomore would remain in the draft after he declared last month without an agent and attended the draft combine. Onuaku, though, appeared to at least mildly refute that with an Instagram post that said his decision wouldn’t come until later Wednesday evening. Which it did, confirming Pitino’s words.

The confusion may have been frustrating for observers, but Onuaku’s social media presence no doubt has benefited from the bizarre day.

Onuaku averaged 9.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.6 assists in 24.6 minutes per game last season, making his per-40 numbers, a metric NBA teams like to take into consideration, nothing short of fantastic. He also shot a not-so-shabby 62.0 percent from the floor. His size, athleticism and ability to score around the basket (he’s taken one 3-pointer in two seasons) make him a potential first-round selection in next month’s draft.

The 19-year-old Onuaku underwent a procedure on his heart last week due to Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. It has been described as a minor procedure that will not affect his ability to play long-term or work out with teams leading up to the draft.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, should be able to absorb Onuaku’s loss seemlessly as they return the bulk of last year’s team that went 23-8 and was ranked 10th in KenPom, but was banned from the postseason as a result of the Katina Powell bombshell. Newcomers Tony Hicks (Penn transfer) and V.J. King (consensus top-30 recruit) will also make for solid additions.

Swanigan staying for sophomore season

Purdue's Vince Edwards (12), Purdue's Caleb Swanigan (50) and Purdue's A.J. Hammons (20) celebrate during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against the Illinois in the quarterfinals at the Big Ten Conference tournament, Friday, March 11, 2016, in Indianapolis. Purdue won 89-58. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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Purdue will once again be rolling out a formidable frontcourt in the 2016-17 season.

Boilermaker big man Caleb Swanigan is withdrawing from the NBA Draft to return to West Lafayette for his sophomore season, the school announced Wednesday.

The NBA is right there and always will be,” Swanigan said in the school’s press release, “but you always have to have patience and do what’s best for you.”

Purdue is losing 7-foot senior A.J. Hammons, but will be once again teaming Swanigan with Isaac Haas (7-2) and Vince Edwards (6-8) that will allow them to roll out a supersized lineup that is sure to be a difficult one to face off against.

The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Swanigan, who likely would have landed as a second-round pick, averaged 10.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists and was a finalist for the Wayman Tisdale Award for the country’s top freshman.

“We are excited that (Swanigan) has withdrawn from the NBA Draft and will return to Purdue,” head coach said Matt Painter in a statement released by the school. “He has the potential to make a huge jump from his freshman season and will be a big part of what we do next year. He received great experience going through this process and will use the feedback he received to make him a more diverse player.”

Purdue is probably a rung down from Michigan State and Wisconsin at the top of the league, but the return of Swanigan pulls them closer to competing at the top of the league next season.