Kansas coach Self: Josh Jackson will play in NCAA tourney

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Kansas coach Bill Self had a two-word response when asked Monday whether star freshman Josh Jackson would miss NCAA Tournament games for a lingering off-the-court issue involving a member of the women’s basketball team.

The first word began with the letter H. The second word was “No.”

“That answered your question,” Self said.

Self suspended Jackson for the quarterfinal game in the Big 12 Tournament – which Kansas promptly lost to TCU – as punishment of an accumulation of embarrassing incidents. The most recent case was Jackson hitting a parked car and fleeing the scene, but the one that continues to cause the most frustration for the Jayhawks is one involving basketball player McKenzie Calvert.

The incident occurred in early December, when Calvert allegedly threw a drink at men’s basketball player Lagerald Vick at a Lawrence bar. The encounter escalated and Jackson followed her to the parking lot, where he is accused of kicking her car and causing hundreds of dollars in damages.

Jackson was charged with misdemeanor criminal damage to property and is scheduled to be arraigned next month. In an interview with The Kansas City Star, the woman’s father, Tim Calvert, accused Jackson’s attorney of bribery by saying they “wanted to pay to make it all go away.” Calvert said his family refused the offer.

Jackson has not commented on the allegation, though his attorney issued a brief statement last week in which he accused Tim Calvert of “single-handedly creating a narrative that is not accurate.”

“It is clear that he is frustrated with several parties and with matters unrelated to Josh, yet he continues to manipulate the facts as it relates to a good faith offer of restitution,” attorney Scott Boatman said in the statement. “Mr. Calvert specifically requested that we discuss restitution with his attorney and we complied with his request.”

Boatman said he could not comment further because it is a pending legal case, but that “it is our hope that any further reporting will authenticate statements with fact and not emotion.”

The Jayhawks (28-4) were in position to earn the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament before their collapse against TCU last Thursday. They still wound up with top seed in the Midwest Region and will face the winner of the First Four game between North Carolina Central and UC Davis. Self made it clear Jackson will be on the floor for that game Friday in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“There is absolutely nothing that I would be remotely concerned about as far as the one thing I heard, as far as unethical things taking place,” he said. “I don’t believe that to be the case. Having read Josh’s attorney statement, I certainly feel stronger about that now than ever.”

Self indicated he knows more about the case than can be discussed in public. He did acknowledge its potential to be a distraction to the team.

“To be real candid with you, I’m mad at the situation, but I’m not necessarily pointing fingers and saying that I’m mad at an individual or a parent or anything like that,” he said, “because here’s the reality of it: You don’t know, I don’t know, (Tim Calvert) doesn’t know what transpired.

“I can’t talk to him, nor would I ever attempt to do so,” Self said. “Nor would I ever talk about a student-athlete from another program – never. We would never do that.”

The Calvert family has accused the school of treating McKenzie Calvert unfairly after the incident, claiming she was barred from Allen Fieldhouse for two days and had her playing time cut. The school has declined to discuss any punishments that may have been handled internally.

“I don’t know what the women’s basketball program has told those parties or educated them to the different things that were going on,” Self said, “If I’m a parent and I haven’t been educated, I can see being very upset. Totally. … Now, if it has been shared and all of the facts are out there and some things are being said, you know, to me that’s disappointing.”

Report: Texas’ Jones to test NBA possibility

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Both of Texas’ McDonald’s All-Americans from its 2016 class will test the NBA waters.

Andrew Jones will declare for the draft, but will not hire an agent, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The 6-foot-4 guard joins Jarrett Allen, the Longhorns’ star center, in utilizing the rule change that became available to players last year in which they can declare, workout for teams, attend the NBA combine and still return to school.

Jones averaged 11.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a freshman. He shot 42.5 percent from the field overall and 32.8 percent from 3-point range.

Allen seems the likelier candidate to remain in the draft as a potential lottery pick, but Jones came to Austin with similar one-and-done possibilities given his status as one of the class’ top recruits.

Texas, of course, is hoping both return, not just because they’re both big talents, but because incoming and highly-touted recruit Matt Coleman fills the major hole in last year’s lineup – point guard. If the three of them can share the floor together, Year 3 of the Shaka Smart era will be much more interesting.

Morrow announces transfer from Nebraska

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Nebraska was once again hit with a surprising and damaging transfer.

Ed Morrow, Jr., who led the Huskers in rebounding last year, announced his intention to transfer, the school announced Wednesday.

“I support Ed in his decision to transfer schools and wish him well,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said in a statement. “We appreciate his hard work over the last two years. Although I am disappointed, we will continue to recruit young men who are committed to our mission of building Nebraska Basketball with a culture of success in all areas…life, school and winning basketball at its highest level.”

The 6-foot-7 sophomore’s departure is a major hit to the Huskers, who are coming off a 12-19 year in which Miles’ job security was called into question. It almost assuredly will be again this year as Nebraska hasn’t been able to build on its 2014 NCAA tournament appearance, instead putting together three-straight losing seasons.

Morrow’s decision is surprising not only given he’d been a productive member of the team – averaging 9.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game – but because he was born in Nebraska before attending high school in Chicago and both his parents were Nebraska student-athletes his father winning a national title on the football team in 1994 and his mother an all-Big Eight performer on the basketball team.

“I want to say thank you to my teammates, coaches, the fans and the University of Nebraska athletics department for giving me the opportunity to play Division I basketball,” Morrow said in a statement. “It is hard to leave home, and Nebraska is my home. I was born and raised here, it is my parents’ alma mater, and I have a lot of friends here. But sometimes you have to venture out to pursue dreams and aspirations in a career. This is a sacrifice I have to make to better myself.”

Morrow’s transfer comes a year after Andrew White surprised Nebraska with his decision to graduate and transfer to Syracuse, which no doubt impacted the Huskers’ poor 2016-17 record.

Miles was on the hot seat at the end of last season and will assuredly begin this season there as well. A roster hit like Morrow won’t do much to help him improve the situation. Nebraska does, however, have three starters returning while Georgetown transfer Isaac Copeland is eligible, as is Miami (Fla.) transfer James Palmer, Jr.

Lonzo Ball says “I’m better than” Markelle Fultz

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Usually, it’s LaVar Ball that makes news for what he says.

His eldest son is now getting in on the business of generating headlines with something other than his play.

The UCLA star, who said he’ll enter the draft after just one season with the Bruins, claimed he’s the better prospect than Washington freshman Markelle Fultz, who many have pegged as the No. 1 pick in June’s draft.

“Markelle’s a great player,” Ball said, according to ESPN, “but I feel I’m better than him,” “I think I can lead a team better than him. Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

Not exactly inflammatory stuff – like saying you could have beaten Michael Jordan, that you want a $1 billion apparel deal or a number of things his father has said – bu Ball is certainly projecting confidence. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s quite a bit of money – and pride – at stake with the draft, and Ball put up a season worthy of comparison to Fultz, who had great numbers but played for an abysmal Washington team. Ball, on the other had, had strong numbers while leading UCLA to the Sweet 16.

Both are going to go at the top of a draft that’s stocked full of promising point guards. Which player goes before the other remains to be seen, but it’s likely public pronouncements aren’t going to affect the draft order.

 

UMass hires McCall away from Chattanooga

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UMass has found, once more, the man to take over its basketball program.

The Minutemen have reached an agreement with Chattanooga coach Matt McCall, the school announce Wednesday

“The tradition and resources that are in place not only make this one of the best basketball jobs in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” McCall said in a statement released by the school, “but one of the best jobs in the country. We couldn’t be more excited about becoming part of the UMass family and look forward to building upon the rich tradition that has been established here in the past.”

In McCall’s two years at Chattanooga, the Mocs to the NCAA tournament in 2016 and a 19-12 record this year that featured five-straight losses to end the season.

The move will take McCall out of the southeast for the first time in his career as he previously served as at Florida and Florida Atlantic before getting his first head coaching job at Chattanooga.

McCall wasn’t the Minutemen’s first choice to replace Derek Kellogg after three-straight lackluster seasons. Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey had agreed to take the job before a last-minute about-face that saw him return to the Eagles program just before his introductory press conference was scheduled to begin.

“Matt is a rising star in college basketball coaching who has been a key piece of three successful programs in his career,” UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “He has earned a reputation as a relentless worker, a great teammate and colleague and a confident leader of young men.

“Matt has worked with some of the most respected coaches and administrators in the country, who loudly sing his praises. Coach McCall’s appointment begins an exciting new chapter for our tradition-rich men’s basketball program at UMass.”

Despite being the second choice, McCall’s reputation in the coaching industry makes him a strong hire, having worked under Mike Jarvis and Billy Donovan. He took over at Chattanooga for Will Wade, and brought the Mocs to a 29-6 record and a  12-seed in the NCAA tournament in 2016.

UMass went to just one NCAA tournament under Kellogg (in 2014) during his nine seasons leading the Minutemen.

VIDEO: Frank Martin’s sideline demeanor as a high school coach

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South Carolina coach Frank Martin has the reputation of being rather, shall we say, intense on the sidelines during games.

The coach has a stare that seemingly could bore a hole through his players when they do something that doesn’t reach his level of expectation. Martin’s demeanor, though, didn’t just come into form once he hit the college ranks.

He was plenty intense on high school sidelines as well.

Martin won three titles while at Miami Senior in the mid-1990s, coaching the likes of future pros Steve Blake and Udonis Haslem. Now having reached his first career Final Four, that sideline persona has put him on the precipice of winning yet another championship, this time at the collegiate level.