(Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

PHOTO: Martellus Bennett buys, designs high school team’s state championship rings

4 Comments

Green Bay Packers tight end Martellus Bennett made a huge impact on a Chicago high school basketball program this month.

Morgan Park High School won the Illinois Class 3A boys basketball state championship for the third time in five seasons in March, but the Mustangs couldn’t afford state championship rings with budget cuts and funding issues with Chicago Public Schools.

Head coach Nick Irvin and athletics director Michael Berger started asking for donations towards rings on social media and that’s when Bennett and others started to step in. Parents and faculty from Fenwick High School–the team Morgan Park defeated in overtime in the state title game–wrote emails about helping while comedian Hannibal Buress, a Chicago native, also reached out.

Then Bennett got involved and made a sizable impact on the project by footing a lot of bill for the rings while also designing them for Morgan Park. According to a story from Michael O’Brien of the Chicago Sun-Times, Bennett spoke to Morgan Park via FaceTime to give them the news.

“I put him up on the big screen and let him tell the kids,” Irvin said to O’Brien. “They knew who he was right away and got really excited. They were so happy, it was great to see their reaction. That is a blessing right there.”

Bennett finally unveiled his design for the rings on Instagram on Saturday morning as it means that the rings should be finished pretty soon.

There is no connection between Bennett and Morgan Park besides the tight end formerly playing for the Chicago Bears for three seasons but it was a great gesture by him, and everyone else involved, to donate and make this happen. It’s nice to see that Morgan Park will be getting its state championship rings.

A couple weeks ago my wife @siggib sent me an article about a school in Chicago that won the state championship but couldn't afford their championship rings. The community came together to raise money to purchase the rings but still needed help so I stepped in and gave them what was needed and I even designed the rings for them. @hannibalburess chipped in as well, that's greatly appreciated bro. 🙌🏾🙌🏾 I'm proud to say that 2017 Morgan Park High School Basketball team will be receiving their championship rings. This was my first time designing jewelry but I gave it my best shot. @jostensinc has been awesome in the process. Thank you! Thank you to everyone who gave to the boys. Congratulations Coach Irvin, Team, community and city of Chicago. Y'all are the Champs!!! #martyland #theimaginationagency #createdbymarty

A post shared by Martellus Bennett (@martellusb) on

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

Leave a comment

Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

Baylor Athletics
Leave a comment

Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.

Report: Nike, Adidas and Under Armour all pass on sponsoring Lonzo Ball

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
20 Comments

Lonzo Ball will enter his rookie season in the NBA without a sponsorship deal from Nike, Adidas or Under Armour, only his family’s Big Baller Brand apparel.

That, according to a report from ESPN, is due to his father LaVar’s insistence that Lonzo not sign with one of the three major apparel companies unless they opted to sign a licensing deal for Big Baller Brand merchandise instead of outfitting Lonzo with their own gear.

“We’ve said from the beginning, we aren’t looking for an endorsement deal,” LaVar told ESPN. “We’re looking for co-branding, a true partner. But they’re not ready for that because they’re not used to that model. But hey, the taxi industry wasn’t ready for Uber, either.”

LaVar had been representing his son in the negotiations, and is now expected to reach out to other shoe brands, including Chinese apparel companies like Li-Nang.

Big Baller Brand is a startup apparel company launched by LaVar Ball. They sell t-shirts, sweatshirts and hats, with most of their products costing at least $50.

Lonzo declared for the NBA Draft after an all-american season that saw him and the UCLA Bruins flame out of the NCAA tournament in the Sweet 16. UCLA lost to Kentucky in that game, and Lonzo had a quiet night while his point guard counterpart, De’Aaron Fox, went off for 39 points.

Lonzo is a likely top three pick in the NBA Draft and, potentially, could still end up going No. 1. He has two younger brothers as well. LiAngelo will be a freshman with the Bruins next season while LaMelo just finished his sophomore season in high school. Both will attend UCLA.