Wednesday’s slate and what to watch

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A couple of high-profile guards figure to hi-jack the college hoops headlines Wednesday night. Don’t let ‘em overshadow a solid slate.

A bum toe will probably keep Duke freshman Kyrie Irving out against Bradley. The poing guard’s been stellar thus far, averaging 17.4 points and 5.1 assists a game, but is wearing a protective boot over a toe on his right foot. It won’t derail the Devils, though. Nolan Smith will simply run the show.

Also, Jimmer Fredette and BYU trek across country to play Vermont in Fredette’s hometown of Glen Falls, N.Y. Doesn’t sound like a big deal? Tell that to the Glens Falls area. Expect a Cougars rout.

That leaves …

An up-tempo delight: Vanderbilt’s at No. 15 Missouri, which promises to be one for fans of offense. The Commodores (7-1) can shoot it, particularly Jeff Taylor and John Jenkins. But that’s if they get the ball over halfcourt. The Tigers (6-1) rely on their presses (full-court, half-court, you name it) to create easy shots, but when teams solve that press, things can get ugly. This one’s going to be fun.

Mid-major questions out west: Gonzaga’s rough non-conference schedule is getting the better of the Zags. It won’t get any easier with a trip south to Pullman against Washington State, which has the talent to drop Gonzaga to 4-4. That’s never happened during Mark Few’s tenure.

Meanwhile, No. 14 San Diego State (8-0) staked its claim as the region’s top team with wins against Gonzaga and St. Mary’s. Another W vs. Cal would cement that status. (Because UCLA doesn’t want a piece of the Aztecs.)

Will youth be served? No. 17 Kentucky plays No. 23 Notre Dame in the night’s lone ranked matchup, and it’s the Irish who are unbeaten. As usual, Mike Brey’s team is superb on offense (Tim Abromaitis, Ben Hansbrough and Tyrone Nash all can score), suspect on defense. That’s good for Kentucky, which is still smarting after Saturday’s loss to North Carolina. Expect Terrence Jones to come back with a vengeance.

Man among boys: No. 16 Illinois should handle Oakland (Mich.), but I don’t envy the Illini’s big men. Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis are soft, which is great for Grizzlies big man Keith Benson, a 6-11, 225-pound senior who hits the boards, blocks shots and feasts on lesser foes. But he’ll only be able to do so much.

A Big Five matchup:  No. 12 Villanova is going to crush Penn. But it’s the Big Five. Always worth noting.

(All times ET)

EAST
Hofstra at Binghamton, 7 p.m.
Providence at Boston College, 7 p.m.
Yale at Bryant, 7 p.m.
Niagara at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Manhattan at Fordham, 7 p.m.
Towson at George Washington, 7 p.m.
N.J. Tech at Lafayette, 7 p.m.
Maine at Massachusetts, 7 p.m.
Princeton at Monmouth, N.J., 7 p.m.
Rhode Island at Northeastern, 7 p.m.
Villanova at Penn, 7 p.m.
Delaware St. at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
Hartford at Sacred Heart, 7 p.m.
Minnesota at Saint Joseph’s, 7 p.m.
BYU vs. Vermont at Glens Falls (N.Y.) Civic Center, 7 p.m.
Fairleigh Dickinson at Connecticut, 7:30 p.m.
UMBC at Rider, 7:30 p.m.
Iona at Long Island U., 8 p.m.

SOUTH
Seton Hall vs. Arkansas at Freedom Hall, Louisville, Ky., 7 p.m.
Kentucky Christian at E. Kentucky, 7 p.m.
Loyola, Md. at George Mason, 7 p.m.
Delaware at Hampton, 7 p.m.
San Francisco at Louisville, 7 p.m.
UNC Greensboro at Maryland, 7:30 p.m.
Loyola, N.O. at Nicholls St., 7:30 p.m.
Voorhees at S. Carolina St., 7:30 p.m.
VMI at Va. Commonwealth, 7:30 p.m.
High Point at Tennessee Tech, 8 p.m.
Bradley at Duke, 9 p.m.
Notre Dame at Kentucky, 9:30 p.m.

MIDWEST
Toledo at IPFW, 6 p.m.
W. Kentucky at Bowling Green, 7 p.m.
Detroit at W. Michigan, 7 p.m.
Air Force at Wright St., 7 p.m.
North Carolina at Evansville, 7:05 p.m.
Ball St. at E. Illinois, 8 p.m.
Drake at E. Michigan, 8 p.m.
Oakland, Mich. at Illinois, 8 p.m.
SIU-Edwardsville at Loyola of Chicago, 8 p.m.
Alcorn St. at Nebraska, 8 p.m.
Mayville St. at S. Dakota St., 8 p.m.
Culver-Stockton at W. Illinois, 8 p.m.
Duquesne at Wis.-Green Bay, 8 p.m.
Ohio at Illinois St., 8:05 p.m.
DePaul at Indiana St., 8:05 p.m.
SE Missouri at S. Illinois, 8:05 p.m.
Utah Valley at UMKC, 8:05 p.m.
Wis.-Milwaukee at Wisconsin, 8:30 p.m.
Vanderbilt at Missouri, 9 p.m.

SOUTHWEST
Tenn.-Martin at Cent. Arkansas, 8 p.m.
North Texas at Sam Houston St., 8 p.m.
Prairie View at Texas A&M, 8 p.m.
TCU at Texas Tech, 8 p.m.
Oklahoma St. at Tulsa, 9 p.m.

FAR WEST
Cal St.-Fullerton at Arizona, 8:30 p.m.
Texas-Pan American at N. Arizona, 8:35 p.m.
Colorado St. at Colorado, 10 p.m.
Denver at Saint Mary’s, Calif., 10 p.m.
Boise St. vs. UNLV at Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, 10 p.m.
San Diego St. at California, 10:30 p.m.
Gonzaga vs. Washington St. at Spokane (Wash.) Arena, 11 p.m.

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK
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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

Joe Rondone/USA TODAY NETWORK
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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.