Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Introducing Cinderella: The NC Central Eagles are headed to the NCAA tournament

Leave a comment

Conference: Mid-Eastern Athletic

Coach: LeVelle Moton

Record: 25-8 (13-3 1st)

Ratings and Rankings:

Kenpom: 153
RPI: 208
AP/USA Today: N/A

Seeding: With an RPI outside the top-200, NC Central is likely headed to a 16 seed and the play-in round at Dayton.

Names you need to know: Almost everything the Eagles do flows through Patrick Cole. The 6-foot-5 senior leads them in scoring (19.5 ppg) and assists (5.7 apg) while also grabbing seven rebounds per game. Dajuan Graf, who shoots 37.5 percent from 3-point range, is the only other player scoring in double figures at 14.2 per game.

Stats you need to know: NC Central hangs its hat on the defensive end, where opponents shoot just 28.7 percent from 3-point range. In one of the more curious stats, the Eagles actually have the best “free-throw defense” in the country, with opponents converting at a 62.7 percent clip. They’re also the most experienced team in the country, according to KenPom.

Big wins, bad losses: The highest-rated KenPom win for the Eagles this season against Northern Kentucky, which is ranked 145th. The Eagles themselves were the only MEAC team rated in the KenPom top 295. A home loss to Delaware State, ranked 339, was the only true red flag on their resume before back-to-back losses to Savannah State (314) and North Carolina A&T (349) to end the regular season.

How’d they get here?: Despite the stumble to the finish line, NC Central had little trouble in the MEAC tournament. The Eagles defeated Bethune Cookman by 35 and Maryland Eastern Shore by 30 before besting Norfolk State by eight to claim the conference title.

Outlook: With a team as dependent as it is on one player like NC Central is on Patrick Cole, there’s a bit of a double-edged sword at play. On one hand, if the opposition can bottle that one player up, it totally disrupts an offense. But, should that one player get hot, he can do a lot of damage. NC Central won’t be the first 16 seed to top a 1, but Cole could make it interesting if he can find a groove.

How do I know you?: LeVelle Moton is one of the more up-and-coming coaches in the industry, having taken NC Central from Division II to now its second NCAA tournament in four years. You could see his name attached to a number of openings this spring.

Kansas lands second commitment in the Class of 2018

Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kansas landed their second big man in the Class of 2018 on Sunday, as David McCormack, a top 50 prospect, announced that he will be a Jayhawk when he plays his college ball.

The 6-foot-10 center picked Kansas over Xavier, NC State, Oklahoma State and Duke.

A product of the famed Oak Hill Academy, McCormack averaged 15 points and 10 boards on the Adidas Gauntlet circuit this spring. He joins fellow four-star big man Silvio de Sousa in the 2018 class for Bill Self, although the Jayhawks will get three players eligible after they sit out the 2017-18 season as transfers: Dedric and K.J. Lawson, who transferred in from Memphis, as well as Charlie Moore, a point guard from California.

Report: North Carolina won’t attend White House

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
5 Comments

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

Jon Lopez/Nike
1 Comment

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

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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.