Antonio Blakeney

LSU’s Jones doesn’t expect Louisville scandal to sideline freshman

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With former escort Katina Powell releasing her book “Breaking Cardinal Rules” earlier this month, one of the questions was what would happen to the current college basketball players whose names appear in the book. Among those named are Ohio State freshman JaQuan Lyle and LSU freshman Antonio Blakeney, and with the NCAA lacking subpoena power current players become likely interview subjects for the investigation.

LSU head coach Johnny Jones was asked about the status of his freshman guard at SEC Media Day in Charlotte on Wednesday, and Jones is confident that Blakeney won’t be sidelined as a result of the ongoing investigation according to ESPN.com.

“I’m not privy to all the information, and it’s an ongoing investigation, but to the best of my knowledge, I don’t think he felt as though he wasn’t aware of what was going on,” Jones said.

Asked if he thought he would have to hold Blakeney out of any games Jones said he did not.

Both Blakeney and Lyle have spoken to the NCAA regarding this case, and like Jones the people at Ohio State were confident that their freshman was in no danger of missing time as a result. While current players can be painted into a corner of sorts when it comes to situations such as this, avoiding punishment comes down to being forthright with information.

And while critics of the NCAA will argue about the fairness of dangling eligibility over the head of an athlete, that’s the way these things have and will be handled due to the organization’s lack of subpoena power over those who aren’t a part of collegiate athletics as a coach, player or administrator.

Video credit: ESPN

Ben Simmons records double-double in first game for LSU

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Ben Simmons, arguably the top player in the Class of 2015 and the potential No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, made his debut for LSU on Saturday in an 89-75 win over Newcastle All-Stars in the first game of LSU’s Australia trip.

Simmons led the Tigers with 22 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in 37 minutes. LSU’s other heralded freshman, Antonio Blakeney, finished with 16 points. Rising senior guard Keith Hornsby added 17.

LSU trailed by 10 early in the second quarter. But the Tigers wrestled away the lead for good when Simmons converted on an old-school 3-point play with over three minutes to go in the second quarter. LSU ended the first half on a 12-4 run.

For Simmons, who spent the majority of the last year atop the Rivals Class of 2015 rankings, Saturday was a homecoming, playing at the Newcastle Basketball Stadium where his father, Dave Simmons, played professionally for the Newcastle Falcons in the late 1990s.

“It was amazing,” Simmons said after the game. “The last time I was here (at Newcastle Stadium) I was real young and I couldn’t dunk and do the things I do now. It’s really fun and it was great seeing familiar faces here. The people watching me stretch was crazy to me. It was a great feeling. An unbelievable experience.”

LSU has four more games before returning to Baton Rouge. The Tigers face the Sydney Kings on Sunday night in Sydney. Following Tuesday night’s game against the Queensland All-Stars in Auchenflower, LSU finishes the tour with back-to-back games against Melbourne United on Thursday and Saturday.

Austin Rivers plays pick-up against LSU freshman Antonio Blakeney, Rutgers freshman Corey Sanders (VIDEO)

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Now that the season is over for Los Angeles Clippers guard Austin Rivers, he has a chance to play pick-up ball in his native Florida against some high-level incoming college freshman. Rivers, a former Duke guard, is a bit of a mixtape legend of his own in high school and he went against two talented future college players in LSU rising freshman Antonio Blakeney and Rutgers rising freshman Corey Sanders.

The pick-up game occurred in Winter Park, Florida and Home Team Hoops was there to film the highlights.

 

Diallo claims another MVP at Jordan Brand Classic but Briscoe wins the crowd

2015 Jordan Brand Classic
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NEW YORK – The 14th annual Jordan Brand Classic marked the end of a hectic few weeks for the top talent across high school basketball, as the West team topped the East, 118-116.

In a night that combined an unwavering pace with an abundance of jaw-dropping athleticism, here were the top stories:

Cheick Diallo adds another MVP to his trophy case

The Jordan Brand Classic was the cherry on top of a monster month for Diallo. The 6-foot-9 power forward from Centereach, N.Y., was named MVP of the East squad, pouring in 26 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Diallo was able to once again put his full offensive arsenal on display, showing a great touch around the bucket, as well as the ability to get out in transition.

The latest piece of hardware will have a spot next to the McDonald’s MVP Diallo won earlier in the month, also accompanied by a win at the Nike Hoop Summit. Diallo was one of three remaining undeclared players in the Jordan game and is scheduled for an in-home visit with Chris Mullin and St. John’s on Saturday, who is competing with Kentucky, Kansas, Iowa State and Pittsburgh for the coveted big man’s signature.

Welcome to the Isaiah Briscoe Show

With about five minutes remaining in the game, Briscoe, a New York product who went to high school in New Jersey, banged a three that was like a shot of adrenaline to the Brooklyn crowd. From then on, each time the ball found its way into Briscoe’s hands – which it did basically every possession – the walls of the Barclays Center were hit with an ear-splitting roar.

“That’s New York basketball,” Briscoe said when asked about the atmosphere. “Everywhere you go, every gym you play in, that’s New York basketball. They want to see people go at it. They want to see people compete.”

Briscoe, who is headed to Kentucky next season, repeatedly put himself in isolation situations, as he and LSU commit Antonio Blakeney traded one-on-one punches on several consecutive possessions. After shaking Blakeney with a particularly silky spin move and touching it off the glass, fans were fully invested in the Briscoe pageantry. Ultimately the one-man wrecking crew fell short, but Briscoe finished with 22 points after a sub-par first half and won over the crowd with a gladiator-like effort.

“I’m no stranger to a big crowd,” Briscoe said. “I feed off all of that, as you can see.”

The exodus of Wildcats out of the Bluegrass and toward the bright lights of the NBA has left Kentucky rather thin on the perimeter. Briscoe will be counted on to provide an immediate impact and it will be interesting to see how he meshes alongside point guard Tyler Ulis. Either way, it should be a nice problem to have for John Calipari.

Allonzo Trier gets buckets, basically whenever he wants

Trier collected MVP honors for the West squad, dropping in 28 points on 8-10 shooting. The 6-foot-4 guard from Henderson, Nev., shoved himself behind the wheel for Kevin Boyle’s team in the second half, willing his way into the paint and either converting at the rim or earning a trip to the charity stripe. With his quickness and athleticism, Trier is a migraine-inducing offensive weapon that is near impossible to guard one-on-one.

Setting up camp in Tucson, Ariz., next season, Trier will need to help patch up the offensive holes left behind by a slew of departed Wildcats. With Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Brandon Ashley gone, and Stanley Johnson potentially joining them, Trier could easily become the focal point of Sean Miller’s offense in his inaugural campaign.

Brewster Academy sweeps Regional MVPs

Quickly finding the mold of a traditional all-star game, the Jordan Brand Classic Regional game turned into a 40-minute track meet that was played almost exclusively above the rim. Brewster Academy teammates Donovan Mitchell and Jalen Adams took center stage, reeling in MVPs for their respective teams.

“A lot of people don’t know Brewster Academy, so we were just talking about going out and putting Brewster on the map in a bigger way,” Mitchell said. “We just said to ourselves that we were going to go out and impact the game in different ways.”

The Louisville-bound Mitchell put together enough footage for his own Jordan Brand dunk highlight reel plus bonus features. The 6-foot-2 guard led all scorers with 30 points and nearly brought the house down in the first half after capping off a spin move with a thundering dunk.

Adams, an electric point guard who is committed to Kevin Ollie and UConn, put on a show of his own, scoring 27 points for the winning squad.

Top plays from the Jordan Brand Classic practice

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The Jordan Brand Classic is Friday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Earlier this week, some of the top high school players in the nation took part in a practice session. Kentucky commits Isaiah Briscoe and Skal Labissiere had their share of highlights, as did uncommitted prospects Jaylen Brown, Malik Newman and Cheick Diallo.

Video courtesy of Home Town Hoops

Cheick Diallo leads East to McDonald’s All-American Game victory

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Twenty-four of the top players in the Class of 2015 took the United Center court in Chicago in the 38th annual McDonald’s All American Game, and one of the event’s eight uncommitted players took home MVP honors.

Cheick Diallo, who attends Our Savior New American in Centereach, New York and is still considering Kentucky, St. John’s, Iowa State, Pittsburgh and Kansas, accounted for 18 points and ten rebounds as the East won 111-91. The 6-foot-9 Diallo is one of the best defenders and rebounders in the class, and he has a high motor as well.

He was one of five double-digit scorers for the East, with Antonio Blakeney (LSU commit) and Diamond Stone (Maryland commit) scoring 14 apiece, Florida State commit Dwayne Bacon adding 12 and Kentucky commit Isaiah Briscoe 11. Diallo was one of two East players who grabbed ten rebounds, with LSU commit Ben Simmons being the other.

Allonzo Trier, who’s headed to Arizona next season, led four West players in double figures with 17 points. Also in double figures were Brandon Ingram (15 points; undecided), P.J. Dozier (14 points; South Carolina commit) and Ivan Rabb (ten points; undecided).