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Five Takeaways from the Under Armour Association Indianapolis

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FISHERS, In. — The Indianapolis area was the main hub of college basketball recruiting for the second April evaluation period as both Nike and Under Armour had events in the same vicinity.

This year’s Under Armour Association features a number of different talented players across multiple classes, but we’ll focus on the storylines that will mainly have an impact on the Class of 2018.

Here are five main takeaways from the weekend at the Under Armour Association.

1. Jahvon Quinerly, Devon Dotson add their names in top point guard discussion

I noted yesterday that there were a number of quality point guards in the discussion for top dog and in the Under Armour Association, Jahvon Quinerly and Devon Dotson both had great weekends in Indianapolis.

The 6-foot Quinerly has some similar traits to former North Carolina point guard Marcus Paige as he’s leading the UAA in assists at 6.0 per game. Also capable of scoring from all over the floor (fourth in the UAA at 19.0 points per game). Quinerly can knock down three-pointers, and he’s a nearly 90-percent free-throw shooter.

At 6-foot-1, Dotson plays in constant attack mode as he is ultra-aggressive attacking the paint. Showing growth as a distributor and floor leader since last year, Dotson can still be turnover prone, but he’s one of the best playmaking guards in the class with his quickness and ability to get in the lane.

Both of these guards are already regarded in the top 40 in most rankings and could push for five-star status if they continue to elevate their play on a national level.

2. Silvio De Sousa is still a monster

It seems like Silvio De Sousa has been on the scene for a long time since he has been playing 17U ball for three years, but the five-star big man deserves a ton of credit for always playing hard.

The high-motor 6-foot-8 forward is leading the UAA in scoring at 21.3 points per game while also coming in third in rebounding at 9.0 per contest. Besides the double-double production, De Sousa is shooting a ridiculous 69 percent from the field. A man among boys against most of the UAA, De Sousa has been very strong so far this spring as he’s lived up to his five-star status.

It’s still early in the recruiting process for De Sousa as he wants to play out the spring and summer before making any kind of serious moves. If he continues to play like this, he might become a priority recruit since he’s so active on the interior.

3. Eric Ayala has an interesting dilemma with his potential reclassification

On Monday I talked a little bit about the decision that Jontay Porter is facing with potentially reclassifying and playing next season. Four-star guard Eric Ayala is facing a similar decision, as he confirmed to reporters this weekend that he has enough credits to enroll in college this season.

Syracuse seems to be getting the most play with Ayala potentially playing for them next season, but Ayala is going to play out this summer and see where things stand before making a decision. I think this is a smart choice for the 6-foot-3 guard because he isn’t as ready for the college game as Porter is.

Ayala has played well on WeR1’s 7-1 team so far this spring but he’s also been only a modest 44 percent from the floor and 33 percent from three-point range. The combo guard definitely needs to improve his shooting before reaching the next level but he’s also one of the few high-major guard options available that can play next season.

If Ayala feels that high school basketball isn’t going to push him to get better, then he should make the jump to college next season. But Ayala also might not be ready to handle a heavy minutes load right away if a program wants him to start as a freshman.

4. Nazreon Reid is still a top-flight talent

Class of 2018 big man Nazreon Reid was one of the more productive interior players of the last two weekends as he averaged 15.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game playing with Sports U.

Teamed up with an elite lead guard in Quinerly, Reid gets plenty of opportunities down low while also looking like a force on the glass and as a shot blocker. At 6-foot-10, Reid is the type of athletic interior presence who can make a huge impact on the college level if he remains consistent with his game.

One of the big knocks on Reid in the past has been how he can be ineffective during certain stretches of play, but he’s been a force throughout the spring and looked like one of the best players in the country.

5. Under Armour keeps doing innovative things in grassroots basketball

One of the nice things about the Under Armour Association has been its willingness to adapt to changes in modern basketball. As the years have gone along, the league has often been a trendsetter with some minor tweaks that help improve the overall quality.

Going to four quarters, and resetting team fouls at the end of each quarter (five fouls for bonus and seven fouls for double bonus each quarter), is a great addition to the UAA this spring as it helped game flow and gave each team a natural timeout to rest between quarters.

The UAA has also provided some new and interesting things away from the court, most notably combine measurements for each player. Showing measurements like wingspan, vertical, hand length and standing reach are valuable recruiting tools for college coaches and it also gives pro scouts a growth chart over the years as some of these players move on to the NBA Draft Combine.

Among websites in the shoe company leagues, the UAA’s is also superior in many ways, especially with regards to mobile navigation and easily finding things like box scores and sortable player stats.

These are all minor things in the grand scheme of things, but they’re the types of little changes that could lead to things like this becoming the norm across grassroots basketball. It’ll be interesting to see if others look to follow suit.

 

Iowa’s McCaffery says, “I’ve turned programs in” for cheating

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There aren’t a lot of unwritten rules in basketball. One of them, though, is that if a coach breaks a real rule, other coaches don’t speak up. Coaches would seemingly rather lose out on a recruit or transfer rather than turning in one of their own for suspected malfeasance.

Not for Fran McCaffery, though.

The Iowa coach was asked Monday about the FBI investigation into corruption into college hoops, and freely volunteered that he has previously turned other programs in for violations – and that he’ll do it again, if need be.

“I’ve turned programs in and I’ll continue to do that when I know that there’s something going on,” McCaffery said at the program’s media day, according to the Des Moines Register. “But a lot of times you don’t know what’s going on. So can you police yourselves? Only if you know something’s going on. But even then it’s hard for the NCAA to do something.”

Turning in another program for violations is really one of the biggest taboos in the coaching profession. That’s why you get coaches look silly in blocking schools for transfers when tampering is suspected, rather than a coach just reporting tampering.

McCaffery’s tactic, while probably frowned upon by many of his colleagues, is probably the best weapon the NCAA has in combating cheating. If coaches make it clear they won’t tolerate cheating – or that if it occurs, it won’t go unremarked upon – that will go along way in changing a culture and system that the FBI is going to potentially uncover with its wide-ranging investigation that already has resulted in 10 people’s arrest and a Hall of Fame coach’s firing.

“Any time the game is cleaned up,” McCaffery said, “it’s better for all of us.”

Report: Louisville offered $1.5 million settlement to Pitino

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When it became clear that Louisville and Rick Pitino were going to part ways, much of the discussion instantly turned to the more than $40 million left on the coach’s contract.

The school reportedly tried to avoid that whole ordeal Monday, but Pitino apparently wasn’t interested.

Louisville offered to pay $1.5 million to a charity started by Pitino in exchange for his resignation, according to WDRB-TV Louisville. Pitino did not accept and was then fired for cause by the Louisville board.

It’s little surprise to see Pitino reject such an offer with so many more millions on the table should he (almost certainly) begin legal proceedings trying to recoup the cash that Louisville says it doesn’t owe him by firing for cause.

I vehemently reject (the school’s) right to do so ‘for cause,’” Pitino said in an affidavit sent to the school. “I have given no ’cause’ for termination of my contract.”

The firing came on the heels of the latest controversy  to hit Louisville under Pitino’s watch. First came the escort scandal that rocked the program, but now the school is part of the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball. Ten people were arrested as part of the probe, including an adidas executive who is alleged to have orchestrated getting $100,000 to the family of a recruit in order to facilitate his commitment to the Cardinals program.

Pitino may be out at Louisville, but with more than $40 million at stake, the school surely hasn’t seen the last of him.

Louisville officially fires Rick Pitino

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Louisville’s Athletic Association has officially fired head coach Rick Pitino nearly three weeks after an FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball linked the Hall of Fame head coach and his program to a $100,000 payment from Adidas to a recruit that enrolled at Louisville.

The association, made up of trustees, faculty, student and administrators, oversees Louisville athletics. They voted unanimously to fire Pitino.

Pitino has $44 million in salary remaining on his contract, which extends through the 2026 season. He was with Louisville for 16 seasons.

Pitino had been ‘effectively fired‘ by the university on September 27th, the day after the scandal first broke.

Earlier this summer, Louisville had received their sanctions from the NCAA in a different scandal that enveloped Pitino’s program. In October of 2015, a book was published by an escort named Katina Powell who alleged that a member of Pitino’s staff had paid for strippers and prostitutes for recruits and members of the Louisville team, some of whom were underage. The NCAA’s sanctions, which included vacating the 2012 Final Four and 2013 National Title in addition to Louisville’s self-imposed 2016 postseason ban, were handed down in June, two weeks after a Louisville coach had allegedly helped facilitate a $100,000 payment from Adidas to Brian Bowen’s family and six weeks before another coach would allegedly attempt to do the same for a 2019 prospect.

Kansas’ Self: Adidas case a “dark cloud on our profession’

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas coach Bill Self had come to know James Gatto well over the years, along with just about everyone else involved with the college basketball side of the athletic apparel giant Adidas.

It comes with the territory as one of the company’s flagship schools.

But when Self first heard that Gatto had been swept up in a wide-ranging FBI investigation, centered on Louisville but uncovering corruption elsewhere in college basketball, the Jayhawks’ coach admitted being “very disappointed and disheartened” and likened it to a “dark cloud for our profession.”

Prosecutors have accused the 47-year-old Gatto of conspiring with coaches and others to funnel payments to top prospects and their families to win commitments to play at schools sponsored by Adidas. The idea was that their relationship with Adidas would continue whenever they reached the professional level.

The family of one prospect was allegedly paid $100,000 to commit, according to court documents, and the school was later revealed to be Louisville. The school has since placed coach Rick Pitino on administrative leave while the federal investigation is being resolved. Nine others, including former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans, have been charged in the case.

Self said during a lengthy interview Friday that the cash payments from Adidas surprised him, but “what is not surprising is third parties’ involvement in recruiting. Everyone should know that.”

“That’s prevalent everywhere,” he said. “There’s nothing illegal about agents talking to kids and their families in ninth and 10th grade. There’s nothing illegal about shoe companies funding AAU programs. That is what’s been encouraged and done, so it shouldn’t be a surprise you could have influence from third parties.”

Kansas officials insist they have not been contacted by the FBI, and the school is not under any sort of investigation. It

Kansas recently reached a 12-year contract extension with Adidas that will ultimately provide the school with $191 million in sponsorship money and apparel. Self suggested the affiliation is being used by rivals on the recruiting trail.

“Whenever in recruiting there is something out there that has been reported, whether it’s reliable or unreliable, total myth, whatever, there’s usually competitors that make sure that information gets to people. Unfortunately, that’s how it works,” Self said. “You can say that’s negative recruiting … but a lot of times the things that are reported are so inaccurate it puts you on the defense.”

The Jayhawks already have commitments from two top-100 prospects in 6-foot-9 forward Silvio de Sousa from Florida’s IMG Academy and 6-10 center David McCormack from Virginia’s Oak Hill Academy.

They are also in the mix for several more top-50 prospects in what could be a crucial class for them.

“I’d be lying,” Self said, “if I told you we hadn’t discussed these issues with kids. And has it hurt us to date? I don’t think it has. But it’s not signing day, either.”

Attorney makes case for Louisville to retain Pitino as coach

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Rick Pitino’s attorney has told the Louisville Athletic Association that it should not fire the coach of the men’s basketball program because his client “could not have known” about activities alleged in a national federal investigation of the sport.

Steve Pence made his case Monday while the ULAA was meeting to discuss whether to fire Pitino nearly three weeks after the school acknowledged the program’s involvement in the investigation. The association board is still meeting and has not announced its decision.

Association, a separate body that oversees Louisville’s sports programs and comprised of trustees, faculty, students and administrators, on Oct. 2 authorized university interim President Greg Postel to begin the process of firing Pitino for cause after Postel placed him on unpaid administrative leave Sept. 27.

Pitino, 65, is not named in court complaints in the federal probe but Postel said in a disciplinary letter that the allegations violated his contract.

Pence has contended that Louisville rushed to judgment and made his case before the board for 45 minutes on Monday.

He said Pitino should be retained and noted, “The coach did not engage in any of this activity, he didn’t know about the activity. I think we made a very compelling case to the board, I think they listened attentively and we’ll just have to wait and see what they say.”

Pitino has coached 16 years with the program, a run that included winning the 2013 NCAA championship but was tarnished by several embarrassing off-court incidents.