Rob Dauster

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Bruce Pearl shares heartfelt comments on former Tennessee colleague Pat Summitt


As news of Pat Summitt’s declining health continues to travel around the country, her peers in the college coaching community are beginning to speak out on the legacy that she created.

On Monday morning, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl discussed his former colleague.

“She created a brand called the Lady Vols,” Pearl said during Monday’s SEC coaches teleconference. “Enough said. You say ‘Lady Vol,’ and Pat created a brand that said it all.”

Pearl knows Summitt’s role in building Tennessee well. He spent six seasons as the head coach of Tennessee’s men’s basketball program, with his tenure coming to an end just a year before Summitt’s career came to an end.

The most famous picture of Pearl features him covered in orange body paint attending a Lady Vols game.

“Pat Summitt saw things in people that they did not see in themselves,” Pearl added. “Pat Summitt never apologized to any one of her players for expecting the most out of them, demanding it and getting it.”

“She was a great friend. She was as loyal as they came. If you were a friend of Pat Summitt’s, she was always there for you. She’s a great mother, and she had the ability to get the most out of her ladies. As much as anybody. She was the most accomplished person in her field and the humblest woman I know. She was the best at what she did, but she was always reading, writing, asking questions, watching tape, watching the Olympics, watching European basketball. She wanted to be on the cutting edge and was always trying to get better.

Nation’s No. 2 prospect transfers to Seattle-area high school

Father Tolton Catholic's Michael Porter, Jr. (1) celebrates after sinking a basket and drawing a foul during the first half of the Missouri Class 3 boys high school championship basketball game against the Barstow Saturday, March 12, 2016, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Michael Porter Jr., the No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2017, and his younger brother Jontay, a four-star prospect in the Class of 2018, announced over the weekend that they will be playing the remainder of their respective high school careers at Nathan Hale HS in Seattle.

The Porters were previously at Father Tilton in Columbia, Missouri. They’re transferring to the Pacific Northwest because their father, Michael Porter Sr., accepted a job as an assistant coach on Lorenzo Romar’s staff at Washington. Porter Sr. was previously an assistant on Missouri’s women’s team.

Why is this relevant?

Well, Nathan Hale isn’t exactly known for being a basketball powerhouse. The team went 3-18 last season. But the program also hired a new head coach for next season — former UW star Brandon Roy. The expectation, ever since Romar hired Porter Sr., has been that Michael would end up enrolling with the Huskies for his one-and-done season; Jontay is already committed to Washington.

And if the familial connection wasn’t enough, the Porters have moved to a city with a strong basketball tradition and, instead of playing for Garfield HS (Roy, Tony Wroten) or Rainier Beach (Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, Terrence Williams), they wound up at the school being coached by a former UW superstar.

Michael’s top five includes Washington, Missouri, Indiana, Oklahoma and Virginia.

Geno Auriemma and other Huskies pulling for Summitt

Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma listens to a question during a news conference at the women's Final Four in the NCAA college basketball tournament Monday, April 4, 2016, in Indianapolis. Connecticut will play Syracuse in the championship game on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
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NEW YORK (AP) The update on Pat Summitt’s health caught Geno Auriemma by surprise. It’s simply the news nobody wanted to hear, especially her former rival who built UConn trying to model off her success coaching Tennessee.

Summitt’s family said Sunday that the last few days have been difficult for the former Tennessee women’s basketball coach as her Alzheimer’s disease progresses. Auriemma, who had been traveling all day back from Europe, heard the update at the Phoenix Mercury-New York Liberty game.

“It’s sad to see her family go through this,” Auriemma told The Associated Press. “It’s really difficult.”

Auriemma credited Summitt for raising the bar for himself and countless other coaches.

“She was the one that everyone tried to emulate. That was the program everyone tried to be,” he said.

He remembered when they first played in 1995 when Summitt agreed to come up and play the Huskies on national television.

“I don’t think anyone was surprised she wanted to play in that game,” Auriemma said. “That’s what she did. We try to do that. Play everybody anytime, anywhere. That’s how she built her program to where it is.”

Amid reports of Summitt’s failing health over the weekend, her family issued a statement asking for prayers and saying that the 64-year-old Summitt is surrounded by the people who mean the most to her. It also asked for privacy.

The statement was posted on the Pat Summitt Foundation’s website and was issued by Erin Freeman, a spokeswoman for the Summitt family.

“She’s meant so much to the game and the sport. I’ve always had wonderful interactions with her when I was a broadcaster,” Rebecca Lobo said. “I was completely unaware until I saw the stuff this morning. It made me really sad.”

For all the talk of the rivalry that UConn and Tennessee had from that first game in 1995 to the last in 2007, the Huskies all respected Summitt.

“You can’t say enough about her,” Diana Taurasi said after the Mercury’s OT win. “If it wasn’t for her, we probably wouldn’t be playing in Madison Square Garden. Connecticut never would have been Connecticut. She made people take notice of the sport at a time when it probably wasn’t easy. She forced the hand. She was the one.

“It’s really sad for her family and her friends, her ex-teammates. Her basketball family is hurting right now. Everyone is.”

Swin Cash was emotional after Sunday’s game talking about the legendary coach who recruited her in high school. Cash said her college choice came down to Connecticut and Tennessee. She chose the Huskies.

“Out of my class, I was the only one that had that decision,” Cash said choking up at times. “It was probably one of the hardest things I ever had to do was call her up and tell her I wasn’t coming. I respected what she stood for so much.”

Cash recalled that every time after turning down Tennessee whenever she saw Summitt, the coach would ask how her mother and grandmother were doing.

“I continue to pray for her. It doesn’t matter how many times we beat Tennessee or they beat us, my level of respect for coach Summitt was right up there,” Cash said. “She was one of the best ever to do it, being the trail blazer that she was.”

Cash smiled remembering a story how Summitt came and spoke at Cash’s athletic awards banquet when she was in 10th grade.

“She walked in, and everyone was like that’s Pat Summitt,” Cash said. “I was like I know, she’s been recruiting me. It was just the presence she had when she walked into a room.”

Taurasi echoed that sentiment recalling the first time she saw Summitt in person.

“I was playing in an AAU tournament in Coco Beach, and she walked in the gym,” she said. “I grew up watching SEC basketball as it was the only thing on CBS. To see her walk in a gym, you truly understand it was serious.”

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Nebraska to lose Andrew White to grad transfer

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A month after Andrew White announced his intention to return to school after declaring for the NBA Draft, Nebraska’s leading returning scorer has requested a release and intends to transfer out of Tim Miles’ program.

White will be a fifth-year senior and a graduate transfer, eligible immediately at whatever program takes him.

“I spoke with Andrew [Saturday] evening in which he asked me how he can proceed with a release from Nebraska,” Miles said in a statement. “There have been discussions with Andrew and his father about Andrew’s place in our program for months, and this is his decision. Even though I am extremely disappointed, he will be given a complete release as the logistics are handled this week. We will move on. I am truly excited about our team and next season.”

Nebraska went 16-18 last season and is already losing leading scorer Shavon Shields. White, a 6-foot-6 wing and former top 50 recruit who began his career at Kansas, averaged 16.6 points last season. A 2016 honorable mention all-Big Ten member, he’ll immediately become one of the most sought-after transfers on the market.

Family of former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt ‘preparing for the worst’

Pat Summitt (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)
AP Photo

Legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt is “struggling”, according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, and the family is “preparing for the worst”.

Summitt has been battling early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type, since 2011, retiring after the 2011-12 season. She coached at Tennessee for 38 years, winning 1,098 games and eight national titles. The court at Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena is named “The Summitt”.

Summitt’s family released a statement on Sunday:

“We acknowledge the past few days have been difficult for Pat as her early onset dementia, ‘Alzheimer’s Type,’ progresses. She is surrounded by those who mean the most to her and, during this time, we ask for prayers for Pat and her family and friends, as well as your utmost respect and privacy. Thank you.”

Here are the college players to track for the 2017 NBA Draft

Josh Jackson, from Napa, Calif.,, dunks over Nancy Mulkey, from Cypress, Texas, as he competes in the slam dunk contest during the McDonald's All-American Jam Fest, Monday, March 28, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
(AP Photo/Matt Marton)

Here’s a quick look at 26 college players that NBA Draft fans will want to keep tabs on while eyeing the loaded 2017 draft.

1. Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas: Jackson is exactly what you want to see out of an NBA wing. He’s big, he’s insanely athletic, he can hit threes and put the ball on the floor, he’s incredibly tough and competitive. Think Andrew Wiggins, only with some dog in him. How does he perform when he’s used as a small-ball four at Kansas, and just how developed is he offensively? Those are the questions that will determine whether or not he’s the No. 1 pick.

2. Harry Giles, PF, Duke: How are his knees? He shredded his left knee before his sophomore season in high school and tore his ACL in his right knee before his senior season. If healthy, he’ll be in the conversation to be the No. 1 pick.

3. Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington: In a year where the point guard crop is absolutely loaded, Fultz has emerged as the best of the bunch. He’s not just a crazy-athletic, Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose type. He’s a heady, change-of-pace lead guard that stands 6-foot-5 … and just so happens to have elite NBA point guard athleticism, too. There are people that would put Fultz No. 1 on a list like this.

4. Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA: Ball will be the most intriguing prospect to watch this year. During his high school and AAU career he looked like he could be the next Jason Kidd, if not better. He’s got the size, the passing ability, the range. The problem? He’s yet to play basketball in a system that A) wasn’t tailor-made for his skill-set by his father and B) doesn’t feature his two brothers on the floor with him. Just how well will his game translate to the next levels?

5. Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke: At 6-foot-9, Tatum is such a smooth scorer at the small forward spot. But there are two things about his game that are red flags for me: 1. He thrives in the mid-range, and if the analytics revolution has taught us anything, it’s that the mid-range is the most inefficient place to try and earn a living in the NBA. 2. He’s really ball-dominant. He needs to have the ball in his hands to be effective. If he can work on those issues, he could have a lot of value in a league where versatility and big wings have value.

6. Thomas Bryant, C, Indiana: Bryant had a good freshman season with Indiana, one where he consistently improved throughout the year. But that was inevitable considering just how bad he was when he got onto campus, especially defensively. He’s 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-6 wingspan and he plays the game hard and emotionally. Seeing just how much the rest of his game develops — defending pick and rolls, low post offensive, shooting stroke — will determine if he’s a first rounder or a lottery pick.

7. O.G. Anunoby, SF, Indiana: He has elite physical tools. He already is a terrific defensive player; ask Jamal Murray. He’s been compared to Victor Oladipo, although he’s about four inches taller than Victor. If he can make the same kind of jump offensively that Oladipo made, the rising sophomore could be a lottery pick.

8. Grayson Allen, Duke: A conversation that I had with an NBA scout during the ACC tournament has always stuck out to me: What makes Buddy Hield and Jamal Murray markedly better pro prospects over Allen? He’s the same size, he just as — if not more — athletic, he shot 41.6 percent from three, he’s a more versatile offensive threat. He’s predictable offensively, yes, and that performance he had against Kentucky in the Champions Classic is going to stick in the mind of a lot of people. But there’s a lot to like with this kid. Can it shine through on a roster loaded with lottery picks?

9. Dennis Smith Jr., PG N.C. State: Smith was considered by many to be the best point guard in the 2016 class before he tore his ACL his senior season. He was good enough that Cat Barber went pro to avoid risking playing behind him. So how healthy is he?

10. Jonathan Isaac, Florida State: He’s a 6-foot-11 wing that has guard skills. He’s also about as strong as a pipe cleaner. How assertive will he be at Florida State? How strong will he get? Can he defend? Isaac has a ton of upside but is a long way from reaching that upside.

California's Ivan Rabb encourages the crowd to cheer in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Saint Mary's Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
California’s Ivan Rabb (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Here are 16 more names to keep an eye on

  • 11. Ivan Rabb, PF, Cal: Rabb had a chance to be a mid-to-late first round pick had he gone pro this season. Given the talent in the 2016 recruiting class, Rabb could end up improving significantly and still just be a late lottery pick.
  • 12. De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky: Dynamic playmaker. Elite defender. But can he shoot it well enough?
  • 13. Svi Mykhailiuk, SF, Kansas: Mykhailiuk has been in college for two years and is still four months younger than Jackson. A prized prospect when he enrolled, is this the Ukranian’s breakout season?
  • 14. Tyler Lydon, PF, Syracuse: He blocks shots and he hits threes. That’s enough to get you considered for the first round. But will he add the strength and mobility needed to avoid being the next Jarrod Uthoff?
  • 15. Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State: Bridges is a super-athletic wing playing for Tom Izzo. He’s going to shine in college.
  • 16. Bam Adebayo, PF, Kentucky: He’s big, he’s powerful, he’s athletic. But he’s also a bit undersized. He’s not Cliff Alexander, but is his ceiling more than Montrezl Harrell or J.J. Hickson?
  • 17. Chimezie Metu, PF, USC: Metu’s athleticism and mobility is terrific. His production hasn’t caught up just yet.
  • 18. Nigel Hayes, SF, Wisconsin: He’s got the physical tools to be a really good combo-forward in the NBA … if he can improve on his 36 percent shooting and 29 percent three-point shooting.
  • 19. Dedric Lawson, CF, Memphis: He averaged 16 and nine last season. He could average 21 and 12 next year. But can Tubby coach away his issues with inefficiency?
  • 20. Marques Bolden, C, Duke: Bolden is a 7-footer with a 7-foot-6 wingspan that checks in at 250 pounds. Just how much will his offensive game translate as he moves up a level?
  • 21. Omer Yurtseven, C, N.C. State: He’s a skilled and polished post player, but the Turk doesn’t have ideal physical tools for a center. He had 91 points and 28 boards in a U-18 game this spring.
  • 22. Jawun Evans, PG, Oklahoma State: Evans had his season cut short by injury and OSU’s struggles kept him off the radar. But he showed flashes of being a star in league play.
  • 23. Shake Milton, PG, SMU: A 6-foot-5 point guard with a 6-foot-11 wingspan that shoots 43 percent from three? It will be interesting to see what he can do with Nic Moore gone.
  • 24. Malik Monk, CG, Kentucky: He can be so entertaining and so inconsistent. Can he prove he’s not just a scorer, that he can be A) a playmaker or B) an elite shooter?
  • 25. Jarrett Allen, PF, Texas: He’s big, he’s long, he’s athletic and he plays with a motor. Think Steven Adams or Tristan Thompson.
  • 26. Jaron Blossomgame, SF, Clemson: He could have been a second round pick this season. If he continues to improve as a shooter, the lottery isn’t out of the question.