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Introducing Cinderella: The Jacksonville State Gamecocks are headed to the NCAA tournament

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Conference: Ohio Valley

Coach: Ray Harper

Record: 20-14, 9-7 (t-4th)

Ratings and Rankings:

Kenpom: 168
RPI: 169
AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding: A lot of this will depend on just how many upsets there are in the conference tournaments this week, but I can’t see Jacksonville State climbing higher than a No. 15 seed. That said, they do have wins over Belmont and Tulsa, so that matters.

Names you need to know: The strength of this team is in the back court, where Malcolm Drumwright and Greg Tucker carry the load. Those two combined for 39 points in the upset win over No. 1 seed Belmont in the semifinals of the OVC tournament, and combined, they averaged 23.7 points and 6.4 assists.

Stats you need to know: Four. That’s how many national titles that Ray Harper has won in his career, two at the Division II level with Kentucky Wesleyan and two at the NAIA level with Oklahoma City. All told, during his time at those two jobs, he made it to a national title game nine times in 11 seasons. He also has now made the NCAA tournament three times in six seasons as a Division I head coach, all three of which came as an upset-winner of a league tournament. Long story short: the man knows how to win in tournament play.

Big wins, bad losses: Jacksonville State’s best win of the season came against Belmont, who won the OVC regular season title by five games, in impressive fashion. They also own a win at Tulsa, who finished .500 in the AAC this year.

How’d they get here?: After getting picked last in their division in the OVC, the Gamecocks finished 9-7 in the league and were the No. 4 seed in the tournament, but they upset Belmont and then smacked around UT Martin in the league title game.

Outlook: There are two things to like about this team: Ray Harper is coaching them and they have talented guards that have proven they can make plays in big games. But they’re very likely going to end up playing a top 10 team in the first round of the NCAA tournament. I can’t see them pulling off the upset.

How do I know you?: You probably don’t. The school has sent a few football players to the NFL, but this is the first time, since their move to the Division I level, that the Gamecocks have been relevant.

So congrats for that.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson throws down a vicious putback

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Zion Williamson made another highlight-reel play on Saturday outside of Atlanta as he threw down a vicious putback dunk at the Best of the South.

The five-star prospect has returned from a minor knee injury this spring to look like his old self in July as he’s entertained packed gyms of fans and college coaches the last two weeks.

The Class of 2018 star is currently regarded as the No. 3 overall prospect in the latest Rivals.com national rankings.

(h/t: Courtside Films)

Five-star 2018 point guard Darius Garland cuts list to six schools

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Five-star Class of 2018 point guard Darius Garland revealed the final six schools that he’s considering on Friday.

The N0. 12 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, according to Rivals, the 6-foot-0 Garland is one of the top floor generals in the nation as he is still considering Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and Vanderbilt.

A native of Nashville, Garland is a potentially elite perimeter threat at the college level as he’s one of the more deadly three-point marksmen in the nation.

Garland spent this spring and summer playing with Bradley Beal Elite in the Nike EYBL as he averaged 16.8 points and 4.8 assists per game in the league this spring.

VIDEO: Kentucky’s John Calipari participates in the #DriveByDunkChallenge

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The #DriveByDunkChallenge is sweeping the nation on social media this summer.

Rules to participate are pretty simple:

  1. Drive around in your vehicle.
  2. Find a basketball hoop (or a basketball ring if you’re Ted Cruz) on a random driveway.
  3. Run out of your car and dunk on that random hoop while a friend films.
  4. Run back to your car and drive away.

Let Anthony Davis show you how it works:

Pretty simple, right?

The #DriveByDunkChallenge isn’t raising money or awareness for ALS like the #IceBucketChallenge did three years ago, but it’s something harmless and fun to do to pass the time during the dog days of summer.

Sensing an opportunity to join an Internet craze, while also following in the footsteps of his former player Kentucky star, Wildcats head coach John Calipari got involved with his own dunk late Friday night.

And his video is much funnier than I thought it would be.

While most #DriveByDunkChallenge videos are done by healthy and spry teenagers who are cruising neighborhoods during the day, Calipari, and his hip replacement, got in on the fun with a late-night dunk.

I love that Calipari ditched the ball behind his back while running back to the car after the dunk.

Most people who participate in the challenge usually have their own ball and keep it with them through completion. But Calipari either picked up a random ball in the driveway or just he lost the handle with his own ball and had a turnover.

The next time Calipari goes hard on one of his point guards for losing control and playing too fast, remember this moment.

Creighton’s Khyri Thomas posterizes defender

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Creighton rising junior wing Khyri Thomas, like several of his teammates, are taking part in the Omaha Summer League this offseason.

On Thursday night, the 6-foot-3, 205-lb. Thomas eviscerated a defender with a one-handed posterization.

Thomas is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign for the Bluejays. He started all 35 games, averaging 12.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Aside from the increase in offensive production, Thomas served as one of the top defenders in the Big East. He shared the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award with Villanova’s Josh Hart and Mikal Bridges.

Zion Williamson throws down 360 windmill dunk

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Zion Williamson added another jaw-dropping dunk in the layup lines on the first night of the second live evaluation period.

Williamson and his SC Supreme team took on Each 1 Teach 1 at the Hoopseen Best of the South at the LakePoint Sporting Community in greater Atlanta.

The 6-foot-7 power forward threw down a 360 windmill dunk during his pregame routines.

Each 1 Teach 1 would pick up a 70-67 victory over SC Supreme. Williamson would end with a monster stat line of 37 points and seven rebounds.