Sister Jean: The Most Popular Nun and Bobblehead

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By now if you’re living and breathing, you’ve heard of Sister Jean. But, did you know the 98-year-old Loyola of Chicago basketball team chaplain is the best-selling bobblehead of all time?

That’s right, EVER.

The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum started selling the Sister Jean bobblehead on Friday, April 23. One week later, on Good Friday, they had sold over 13,000.

It gets better…a Sister Jean bobblehead had been sold to people in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Canada just 48 hours after hitting the market.

And, 65% of the sales have come from outside of Illinois, where the team is located.

The museum’s Co-Founder and CEO Phil Sklar said, “Most bobbleheads we’re happy to sell 500 or a 1000. This one’s really captured the imagination and the excitement of people across the country.”

Sister Jean knocked out the Clemson Tiger 2016 Football National Championship bobblehead for the top spot, selling four times it in just a week.

Unfortunately, the bobbleheads won’t be ready until June. That’s due to production time as well as “making sure the scarf and the little details are perfect,” according to Sklar.

So, if you’re looking for one for your Final Four watch party you’ll probably have to turn to eBay, as the Sister Jean bobblehead first originated as a promotional give-away at a Loyola Chicago basketball game by the athletic department in 2011 (Those are currently selling for upwards of $450!).

After the success of the Ramblers in this year’s NCAA tournament, people wanted a Sister Jean bobblehead (because, why wouldn’t they?) but couldn’t find them, so the Loyola Athletic Department told the Chicago Tribune they were looking to make a new version.

Sklar said, “We caught wind of that and the rest is history.”

The bobbleheads have sold at an average rate of 1.5 per minute over the first week and Sklar expects to see a spike this weekend with the Final Four.

A portion of the proceeds benefits the Loyola Athletic Fund and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The bobbleheads kicked off a Sister Jean merchandise explosion across the Internet that now includes, socks, scarves, “Air Jean” t-shirts and more.

The team that has never stopped believing embodies the perfect Cinderella story and could become the first no. 11 seed to ever win the National Championship.

The team not only has talent and grit but two players that have played together since third grade in Clayton Custer and Ben Richardson and Missouri Valley Coach of the Year, Porter Moser.

But, the Ramblers have the ultimate x factor in Sister Jean and she’s transcending the game of basketball of which she thinks God is probably a fan (NCAA over NBA to be exact).

She’s been the team chaplain since 1994 and leads the team in a pre-game prayer before each game, always making sure to pray for the other team as well.

Friday, she held a packed press conference prior to Loyola’s Final Four game. Sklar said he spoke to a member of the Loyola Athletic Department who mentioned the NCAA estimated that about 2x more people showed up than any other press conference in Final Four history.

As for Sister Jean’s thoughts on the bobblehead, she said in Friday’s press conference, “I think the company could retire when they’re finished making my bobbleheads.”

She added, “This is the most fun I’ve had in my life.”

And it’s looking like there’s a future for the Sister Jean bobblehead, Sklar thinks there’s a good chance she goes platinum, “similar to the record.”

He said they will most likely make a special one for her and for the museum that would be solid platinum and hinted it could also be available to the public. So, bobblehead fans stay tuned!

Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

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Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

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Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

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Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

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De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.

Vanderbilt the sixth Kentucky player declares for the NBA draft

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Jarred Vanderbilt is now the sixth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the NBA draft this spring, joining P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel in testing the waters without signing with an agent.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have all declared for the draft and signed with an agent.

Vanderbilt announced his decision on Friday afternoon.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said. “At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA.”

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school.”

Vanderbilt missed the first 17 games of his freshman season with a left foot injury, a foot that he had injured twice before during his high school career. He then missed all four of Kentucky’s postseason games with a left ankle injury, and there is a chance that he could end up needing surgery to correct this issue this offseason.

All told, the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt played in 14 games as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 boards in just 17 minutes a night. But issues with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and a lower left leg that has proven to be extremely problematic, there is a good chance that Vanderbilt would go undrafted should he decide to turn pro.