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Jon Coffman, Fort Wayne’s head coach, is part of the most unlikely coaching tree

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Coaching trees are a popular topic of conversation in the college ranks, a way to measure the aptitude of a coach’s ability to develop his assistants, not just as a way to develop his players.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski probably has the most famous coaching tree in college basketball, as a number of his assistants have gone on to high-major head coaching gigs: Johnny Dawkins, Mike Brey, Steve Wojciechowski, Chris Collins, Tommy Amaker, Jeff Capel.

Thad Matta has sent Brad Stevens, John Groce and both Sean and Archie Miller to bigger and better coaching gigs. During Larry Brown’s five-year stint at Kansas in the 80s, he had John Calipari, Bill Self, Mark Turgeon and Gregg Popovich on his staff.

The biggest coaching tree is college basketball is unquestionably Rick Pitino’s, who count nine current Division I head coaches – Tubby Smith, Mick Cronin, Herb Sendek, Kevin Willard, Marvin Menzies, Kevin Keatts, Steve Masiello, Reggie Theus and one Richard Pitino – as former assistants, not to mention Billy Donovan, who has moved on to the NBA.

 

You probably knew about most of those already.

What you may not know about is Bob Johnson’s coaching tree. You probably don’t even know who Bob Johnson. A former Army Ranger and the son of a four-star general that was the Chief of Staff of the Army, Johnson spent 27 years as the head coach at Emory & Henry, a little Division III program in the middle of nowhere in southwestern Virginia. He passed away in 2009 after a long battle with cancer.

It’s not a big program – as someone that played Division III hoops, I follow it fairly closely and had never heard of Emory & Henry – and it didn’t have a drastic amount of success. In 27 years, Johnson reached the NCAA tournament just five times.

But the coaches that developed under him have gone on to have quite a bit of success in their careers. Currently, there are five Division I head coaches that spent time on Johnson’s staff: Jamion Christian (Mount St. Mary’s), Nathan Davis (Bucknell), Jimmy Allen (Army), Mike Young (Wofford) and the most popular head coach in mid-major basketball today, Fort Wayne’s Jon Coffman. Coffman led his Mastadon program to a win over No. 3 Indiana on Tuesday night and then proceeded to go viral in his postgame interview when he gave a heartfelt thanks to Tom Crean simply for deciding to play the game.

“We Emory guys are proud of our start,” Christian said, and they should be. Emory, Va. is a town of roughly 1,200 people that just about doubles in size when school is in session. It’s a basketball program in one of the best conferences in Division III basketball with no recruiting base, no budget and, frankly, no reason to be any good.

And yet, here we are, in 2016, and Bob Johnson, the guy that built that program into something, has produced as many current Division I head coaches as the man that coached Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony to a gold medal in the Olympics.

One of them just beat the No. 3 team in the country.

And when one of Johnson’s coaching tree wins a game like that, they all celebrate.

Report: North Carolina won’t attend White House

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After capturing a national championship earlier this year, the North Carolina men’s basketball team will not be visiting the White House, a North Carolina spokesman said to Andrew Carter of the The Charlotte Observer.

Although the Tar Heels were invited to go to the White House from the staff of President Donald Trump, the team couldn’t figure out a date that worked.

“We couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties,” North Carolina team spokesman Steve Kirschner said to Carter. “We tried about eight or nine dates and between they couldn’t work out that date, we couldn’t work out that date, so – we would have liked to have gone, but not going.”

According to Carter’s report, Kirschner also said that North Carolina players, “were fine with going.”

With Trump’s recent comments towards NFL players and the national anthem and his Saturday morning tweet at Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the President with regards to athletes over the past 24 hours.

Although the timing of this may seem like North Carolina is making some sort of political statement, the school is downplaying any sort of politics by focusing on the bad timing.

Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer

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Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer from the program to move closer to home, according to a release from the school.

The 6-foot-7 Ridder hails from Springfield, Missouri as he was regarded as a top-150 prospect by Rivals in the Class of 2017.

“After much consideration and talking with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to move home,” Ridder said in the release.

“Jared has indicated to the coaching staff that he has a desire to be closer to home,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. “While we are disappointed, we all want Jared to be happy moving forward. We wish him nothing but the best.”

A potent scorer and noted perimeter shooter at the high school level, Ridder helped MoKan win the Nike Peach Jam during the summer of 2016 playing alongside talented players like Missouri’s Michael and Jontay Porter and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. With a desire to move closer to home, could Ridder potentially land at a spot where one of his talented former teammates is playing?

Ridder averaged 24.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his senior season of high school ball at Kickapoo as he was a first-team, All-State selection in Missouri.

Four-star 2018 forward Ian Steere decommits from Creighton

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Creighton took a big hit to its recruiting efforts late this week as Class of 2018 forward Ian Steere is decommitting from the Bluejays, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Steere’s decommitment was first reported by Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.

The 6-foot-8 Steere is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals as he is coming off of a very solid spring and summer playing with Team Charlotte in the Under Armour Association. A plus athlete who isn’t afraid to bang on the interior, Steere showing an improving skill level throughout the spring and summer as he could see his recruiting soar after opening things up.

According to a report from Jon Nyatawa of the World-Herald, one of the reasons that Steere is opening up his recruitment is his desire to be closer to his native North Carolina. With so many top programs looking for quality help on the interior, it’ll be interesting to see which programs jump in and try to recruit Steere the second time around.

John Wall emotional in Kentucky Hall of Fame induction speech

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John Wall was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as he delivered an emotional speech while talking to his mother.

The first inductee into the Hall of Fame to play for current Wildcat head coach John Calipari, Wall only spent the 2009-10 season in Lexington but he became the first national player of the year to play at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Thanking his mother, Calipari, his family, friends and Big Blue Nation, the Washington Wizards guard gave a very moving speech, including an emotional part directed to his mother at around 4:35.

Ohio State snags third 2018 commitment in a week with four-star guard Luther Muhammad

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Ohio State continued a strong week on the recruiting trail on Friday night by landing a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Luther Muhammad.

Regarded as a four-star prospect, the 6-foot-4 Muhammad is a tough and rugged perimeter defender who can attack the basket. Also showing some ability to play on the ball as a secondary handler, Muhammad is a very solid addition to Ohio State’s recruiting class since they need to overhaul their roster under new head coach Chris Holtmann.

Muhammad is the third player to commit to the Buckeyes in the Class of 2018 this week as he joins four-star forward Jaedon LeDee and three-star guard Duane Washington in the current Ohio State recruiting class. Since Washington is a three-point threat and Muhammad is more of an off-the-bounce specialist, the two guards are a good start for Ohio State in this class as they will likely try to find a true floor leader to play with them on the perimeter.