Rob Dauster

FILE - In this April 5, 1983, file photo, North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano embraces sophomore forward Lorenzo Charles moments after Charles had dunked a shot to give North Carolina State the win over Houston in the national championship game at the Final Four of the NCAA college basketball tournament in Albuquerque, N.M. (AP Photo/Leonard Ignelzi, File)
(AP Photo/Leonard Ignelzi, File)

Jim Valvano’s title-winning N.C. State team to finally get White House visit

4 Comments

The N.C. State men’s basketball team never got invited to the White House after they won the 1983 National Title.

It wasn’t a tradition in those days. They spoke with President Ronald Reagan, but they did so from the confines of a television studio in Raleigh. It’s commonplace now to see title winners from all sports making their way to the Oval Office to shake hands with our nation’s leader, but back then, the funding and invitation weren’t always available.

And that never say right with the guys on that team. Since Lorenzo Charles, whose memorable dunk was the title-winning bucket, passed away in 2011, that team has had a reunion every spring, and the topic of going to the White House to celebrate the win always came up. That inspired Thurl Bailey, who was the No. 7 pick of the 1983 NBA Draft, and his friend, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, to write letters to President Obama requesting that the ’83 iteration of the Wolfpack get their White House visit.

“As definitive as a National Championship sounds, as an athlete there always seems to be unfinished business,” Bailey told N.C. State’s website. “You’re always looking for the next challenge, the next opportunity. This was it for me.  If I could get this done, it would be yet another story for me and the other members of that team to be able to pass along to our kids, grandkids and generations after that.”

Bailey’s efforts proved successful.

On Thursday, N.C. State announced that President Obama had not only received the letters, but he has issued a May 9th invitation for that 1983 team to visit him in Washington, D.C., meaning that Bailey, Dereck Whittenburg and the rest of that 1983 title-winning team will finally get to meet the Commander-in-Chief.

“The joy and the euphoria of winning a national title against all odds, as well as the pain and devastation of losing members of that family, are important parts of who I am,” Bailey said. “Contacting President Obama was one piece of our incredible journey that had eluded us for far too long.”

Los Angeles to host new college basketball doubleheader

Arizona coach Sean Miller reacts to a foul call during the first half of Arizona's NCAA college basketball game against UCLA, Friday, Feb 12, 2016, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES (AP) A new men’s basketball doubleheader will be played in Los Angeles featuring Arizona, BYU, Gonzaga and Southern California.

The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Wednesday announced the one-day event, to be played at Staples Center on Dec. 3.

The Wildcats will play the Zags and the Cougars will face the Trojans.

Tickets will go on sale May 4. Game times and television broadcast information will be announced later.

Purdue-Arizona State and Florida-Duke in Jimmy V Classic

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski gestures during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Florida State in Durham, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
(AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
1 Comment

NEW YORK (AP) Purdue will face Arizona State and Florida will meet Duke in the 2016 Jimmy V Classic.

The 22nd annual doubleheader will be played Dec. 6 at Madison Square Garden.

The early season event will be part of the 10th annual Jimmy V Week to help raise funds for cancer research. ESPN’s 2015 Jimmy V Week for Cancer Research raised a record-setting $3.2 million for The V Foundation for Cancer Research – one million more than the previous fundraising record of $2.2 million in 2014. In nine years, Jimmy V Week has raised $13.7 million for cancer research.

No. 6 Maryland beat Connecticut 76-66 and No. 10 Virginia beat No. 14 West Virginia 70-54 in last year’s doubleheader.

Columbia transfer Grant Mullins commits to Cal

Columbia guard Grant Mullins, right, drives as Northwestern guard Bryant McIntosh, left guards during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Evanston, Ill.  (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Leave a comment

Cal has landed a commitment from Columbia graduate transfer Grant Mullins. He will be eligible immediately.

“Excited to announce my commitment to Cal for my last year of eligibility,” Mullins wrote in a statement he posted on Instagram.

Mullins averaged 13.3 points and 3.3 assists while shooting 43.9 percent from three as a redshirt junior for the Lions this past season after earning a medical redshirt for the 2014-15 season. He had to transfer out of the program because of an Ivy League rule that does not allow athletes to redshirt.

This is the second big pickup of the week for Cuonzo Martin. On Sunday night, Ivan Rabb, a potential lottery pick center, announced that he would not be entering his name in the NBA Draft. Mullins will join a perimeter attack that includes Jabari Bird, Jordan Mathews and Sam Singer.

29-year old Canadian basketball star claims he didn’t know his age

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 11.37.53 AM
Leave a comment

Last week, Jonathan Nicola, a star high school basketball player in Canada, was exposed as a 29-year old man posing as an 11th grader.

Nicola is a refugee from South Sudan. The student visa application that he filed with Canada claimed that he was born in 1998, but it was not until he tried to enter the United States with a U.S. visitor’s visa that it was discovered that his fingerprints matched that of a refugee that had applied for asylum in the States.

The application filed with the United States had the same name, but his date of birth was listed as 1986.

According to the Windsor Star, Nicola tried to explain his way out of it by saying that he didn’t know when he was actually born.

“I aways keep asking what is the specific age that I was born, and she has told me that she could not remember,” he said in a detention review on April 19th that was obtained by the paper. “Over (in South Sudan) . . . not every year we study . . . we always keep moving to different schools, and over there, they do not ask your age. They do not ask you nothing.”

Nicola also added that he didn’t file any of the paperwork, that a man named “Coach Steyn” did.

“I told [Coach Steyn], no, I was not born in 1998. I told him that I am too young for 1998,” Nicola said in the hearing. “I’m not in 1998. Then he told me, ‘No, you go back ask my mother, ask my mother how old am I.’ And my mother she do not even remember. She told me 1993, 1990,” Nicola said at the earlier hearing. So I went back and this guy he just do me the paper . . . he did the whole papers. He did everything.”

On the surface, I can see why people find this situation funny. There are times where I wish I could go back and re-do my high school days. I think we all understand that.

But this isn’t a situation where Nicola is trying to relive anything. It’s just incredibly sad.

Let’s assume, for a second, that he’s telling the truth, that he legitimately believed that he was 17 years old. He’s 29! Can you imagine living in a country where it’s possible for a 29 year old man to believe that he’s of high school age? Like most people, however, I don’t think Nicola is telling the truth here, which may actually be more depressing.

Read this passage from a Yahoo Sports story on this situation last week:

The scene D’Awol found at Nicola’s house was tragic yet typical for South Sudan.

D’Awol estimated that Nicola and as many as 30 relatives lived in one house with just four or five bedrooms. One of the few members of the family with a full-time job was Nicola’s father, a petroleum engineer who works primarily in the Middle East and sends home as much money as he can.

“He comes from a poor family,” D’Awol told Yahoo Sports. “They all stay in one house including uncles, aunts, their children and their children’s children. And the whole household is supported by an individual or two. That’s basically the reality for about 85 percent of people in South Sudan.”

Nicola’s living situation in South Sudan was bad enough that he thought the best way for him to try and provide for his family was to lie about his age to get into Canada, where he could receive a free high school education and, if all went according to plan, a college education as well.

South Sudan is a war-torn country facing what a United Nations report last month called “one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world”. (You can find the details here. They’re awful.)

Can you imagine a life where living a lie is the only way you can save your family from that?

Former Wichita State stars featured in new commercial

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 11.49.39 AM
3 Comments

It’s been a month since Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet and Evan Wessel finished their careers at Wichita State, but the trio of Shocker legends are already finding a way to profit off of their popularity.

This week, a commercial featuring those three promoting Carlos O’Kelly’s — a chain of Mexican restaurants in the midwest — popped up online. It’s about what you would expect from a commercial like this: It’s kind of corny and it’s pretty clear these guys aren’t actors (although this is as animated as I’ve ever seen Baker), but overall it’s harmless publicity for a restaurant chain that counts four of their 20 establishments in the city of Wichita:

Where does this tie-in to current college basketball players?

Earlier this month, Big East commissioner Val Ackerman made a comment about the NCAA considering the idea of allowing student-athletes to endorse products or companies without endangering their eligibility. The fear of those that are dumb enough to think amateurism is a good thing is that this will turn their favorite college players into primadonna, quasi-professional athletes before they’re “allowed” to be; that Nike or Gatorade or McDonalds will make them rich at a time when they should be learning how to be broke and focusing on getting that all-important education.

Or something like that.

To that point, there would be some athletes that major corporations would throw money at. I’m sure Nike would have invested pretty heavily in Ben Simmons — who, as an amateur, was such a conscientious student — prior to his freshman season.

But for the most part, the endorsement deals that these athletes would get would be something like the ad you see above. A local restaurant chain. A car dealership. Some injury lawyer whose commercials pop-up during daytime cable TV. Even with 20 different locations, four of which are in Wichita, Carlos O’Kelly’s isn’t making Baker, VanVleet or Wessel rich. Those guys probably got paid somewhere between a down payment on a car and a down payment on a house, enough to help their families travel to games and buy some nice new clothes but no where near enough to make them forget their dream of getting to the NBA or the NFL.

How is that such a bad thing?