Cal Athletics

Cal promotes assistant Wyking Jones to head coach

Leave a comment

Cal will promote interim head coach and former assistant coach Wyking Jones to head coach, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The story was first reported by Jon Rothstein of FanRagSports.com

A native of Inglewood, California, Jones has been an assistant coach for the Golden Bears for the past two seasons as he replaces former head coach Cuonzo Martin, who departed to take the Missouri job. This promotion comes as a bit of a surprise for some since Jones has never been a head coach at the Division I level.

Jones has spent 15 years as an assistant coach at the Division I level at places like Cal, Louisville, New Mexico, Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount — where Jones spent his playing career.

Helping Louisville to the Final Four in 2013, Jones is a respected coach and recruiter who gets a great opportunity for his first head coaching job at the Division I level with Cal.

The Golden Bears made the NCAA tournament last year but finished 21-13 this season as they missed making the field of 68. Sophomore big man Ivan Rabb has already declared for the NBA Draft and it will be interesting to see what kind of roster Jones gets to work with right away.

One of the reasons Jones might have been retained is to help Cal keep its solid five-man recruiting class from bolting. While the Golden Bears don’t have any five-star talents coming in, it is a solid foundation for the program’s future led by a four-star guard in Jemarl Baker.

LaVar Ball claims he could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one; reveals son Lonzo faced NCAA investigation

21 Comments

LaVar Ball is back at it again.

The father of UCLA star freshman Lonzo Ball, and younger brothers LaMelo and LiAngelo Ball of Chino Hills High School, has been known to make some outlandish statements regarding his kids before.

But LaVar’s latest interview with Josh Peter of USA Today Sports might take the cake.

In the profile, Ball states that he could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one in his prime with some ridiculous quotes.

“Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one,’’ Ball said to Peter in the profile.

“I would just back (Jordan) in and lift him off the ground and call a foul every time he fouls me when I do a jump hook to the right or the left,” Ball said. “He cannot stop me one-on-one. He better make every shot ’cause he can’t go around me. He’s not fast enough. And he can only make so many shots outside before I make every bucket under the rim.”

Maybe the most enlightening bit to come from Ball’s interview is the revelation that the NCAA investigated Lonzo Ball and the Big Baller Brand, the Ball family’s clothing line.

LaVar said that last February, UCLA asked him to take down a photo of Lonzo from the Big Ballers Brand website because he might face eligibility issues. It turns out it was a rival school that called about the potential violation.

“I was going to tell them, Big Ballers style, see if you can go win this (NCAA) tournament without my son,” Ball said to Peter. “I said, ‘Let me tell you guys something right now, If I come down there, it ain’t going to be about no complaints. I’m coming down to get my son.’ And that’s when they was like, ‘LaVar, it wasn’t us. It was USC.’ ”

The Trojans are the ones who notified UCLA of Lonzo’s photo on the website, according to Peter’s report. USC sports information director Tim Tessalone acknowledged that the Trojans were also involved as they notified UCLA of the photo. Lonzo’s photo has since been taken off the website.

The NCAA even released a statement on Saturday saying that Lonzo Ball won’t face any sanctions, which carries some significance since LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball are both verbally committed to the Bruins in future years.

Lonzo Ball is an expected top-five pick in the upcoming 2017 NBA Draft as he was the nation’s leader in assists per game this season. UCLA is a No. 3 seed in the South Region as they open with No. 14 Kent State.

Oregon’s Dillon Brooks has a sprained foot

(Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Oregon junior Dillon Brooks was diagnosed with a sprained left foot on Saturday after the star forward left Thursday’s win over Cal.

There is no timetable for when Brooks will return but a sprain is good news compared to what the injury could have been for Brooks.

The 6-foot-7 Brooks is averaging 13.4 points per game this season as the Ducks look like a much better team with him in the lineup. Brooks missed the first three games of this season with a left foot injury, so that is why there was major concern when Brooks left the Cal game.

Oregon’s faces Stanford at home on Saturday.

Ristic, No. 19 Arizona holds off Texas A&M

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

HOUSTON — Playing with a seven-man rotation, Arizona coach Sean Miller admitted his team wore down late against Texas A&M.

The Wildcats had just enough left to fight off the Aggies on Saturday.

Dusan Ristic tied a season-high with 18 points as No. 19 Arizona had to hold off a furious rally by Texas A&M for its fourth straight victory, 67-63.

“We have seven scholarship players, and we hit around that 10-minute, 8-minute mark and guys start missing shots and defense is not that easy as it once was,” Miller said. “That is why depth is so critical. . When they sensed we were running out of gas, they put it into overdrive.”

Ristic scored 14 of Arizona’s first 24 points and finished 8 of 12 from the field for the Wildcats (10-2), who shot 40 percent from the field, including 48 percent in the first half.

Lauri Markkanen added 17 points and seven rebounds, and Kobi Simmons chipped in 14 points for the Wildcats.

“We were fortunate to hold on, but I also think we deserved to win,” Miller said.

Tyler Davis had 23 points and 10 rebounds, Robert Williams added 15 points and Admon Gilder had 13 points for the Aggies, who shot 45 percent from the field, including 53 percent in the second half.

Texas A&M (7-3) had its three-game winning streak snapped.

The Aggies mounted a rally over the final 5 minutes, using an 18-0 run to close within 65-63 with 22 seconds left on a 3-pointer by DJ Hogg.

“It demonstrates that we have the ability if we show effort on both ends of the court to win games against really good teams,” Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. “Arizona was better than us for the majority of the game.”

But Rawle Alkins hit two free throws with 15 seconds left to put the Wildcats up by four.

“After the first one, I felt comfortable,” Alkins said. “Coach trusted me and Lauri to make the play happen.”

Tonny Trocha-Morelos missed a 3-pointer, and Davis missed the ensuing putback, allowing Simmons to grab the rebound and dribble out the clock.

Arizona ended the first half with a 9-0 run led by Alkins’ five points to take a 41-28 lead and carried that momentum into the second half, pushing the lead to as many as 22 points with a 17-8 spurt over the first 10 minutes of the second half.

Texas A&M didn’t hit a field goal over the last 5:17 of the first half and shot 3 of 10 with eight turnovers to start the second half.

“For a large portion of the game, that was our best effort because we were playing against a really good team as well,” Miller said.

BIG PICTURE

Arizona: The Wildcats have continued to play well since losing to No. 8 Gonzaga on Dec. 3. Arizona defended well, forcing 14 turnovers and converting them into 18 points. The Wildcats were aggressive and attacked the paint, scoring 32 points.

Texas A&M: The Aggies are still looking for a marquee win after falling to 0-3 against the Pac-12 this season. The Aggies allowed Arizona’s post players to control down low until the final 10 minutes and couldn’t take advantage of 15 offensive rebounds, scoring 13 second-chance points.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Arizona: The Wildcats could move up a couple spots after their fourth straight win.

Texas A&M: The Aggies, who were receiving votes to start the season, will likely remain without votes.

JACKSON-CARTWRIGHT UPDATE

Arizona junior guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, who missed his fifth straight game Saturday with a high ankle sprain, is closer to returning, Miller said.

“We are anxious to get him back,” Miller said. “He is moving in the direction of coming back. If we can have a couple good weeks, we might get him back a little more to the beginning of the conference season.”

UP NEXT

Arizona: Hosts New Mexico on Tuesday before taking 10 days off ahead of Pac-12 play, which starts Dec. 30 at California.

Texas A&M: Hosts Saint Francis (Pa.) on Wednesday before an eight-day break ahead the start of SEC play Dec. 29 against Tennessee.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Former top-50 recruit transferring out of Arizona State

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
1 Comment

Arizona State is losing a key freshman to transfer as former top-50 prospect Sam Cunliffe plans to transfer.

The 6-foot-6 Cunliffe started all 10 games and averaged 9.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game for the Sun Devils as the freshman was playing 25.4 minutes per game. Cunliffe showed some flashes of being a talented scorer this season but he was only shooting 34 percent from the field. The last four games Cunliffe struggled to find his shot even more as he was 11-for-44 over that span.

Cunliffe will have to sit out due to NCAA transfer rules, but he’s talented enough to be a major priority for teams looking for a wing for next season. The Seattle native is a big loss for Arizona State as he was the program’s signature recruit in a solid class for head coach Bobby Hurley.

Report: Cal big man Rooks to miss 4-to-6 weeks with knee injury

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Cal will be without big man Kameron Rooks for the next 4-to-6 weeks as he will have knee surgery, according to multiple reports.

The 7-foot-2 junior was a key rotation player for the Golden Bears last year and has appeared in four games this season before the injury. Rooks was putting up 6.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in 21.8 minutes, so he was productive playing only about half of every game.

Rooks left Friday’s win over Wyoming and didn’t return. He previously had a torn ACL that cost Rooks the 2014-15 season. Cal is also missing senior wing Jabari Bird right now as he’s been dealing with back spasms.

The Golden Bears are dealing with injuries early in the season but freshman point guard Charlie Moore is playing well and sophomore Ivan Rabb has looked like one of the Pac 12’s best players by averaging over 16 points and 10 rebounds.