Which prospects impressed at Hoop Group Showcase?


WEST ORANGE, N.J.- On Saturday at West Orange High School, Hoop Group hosted the Tip Off Showcase, bringing together programs from across the state of New Jersey for a two-day event.

New Jersey has produced NBA-level talent in the past, most recently Kyrie Irving, the number one overall pick in the 2011 draft, by way of Duke and St. Patrick’s (N.J.) before that.

Some nationally-recognized prospects whose names will appear on college rosters in the next few years showed up on day one of the Hoop Group Tip Off Classic. NBCSports.com evaluates below.

Another installment will be released for prospects from day two.

Melvin Johnson | 6-3, 175 lbs. G | St. Benedict’s (N.J.) | Class of 2012

Johnson (pictured) signed to play for Jim Larranaga and Miami next season. Originally playing for Rice (Ny.) before it was shut down, Johnson is a multi-talented and crafty shooting guard with an old school feel to his game.

He posted an impressive 29 points in a win over Plainfield (N.J.) on Saturday night, including a few big baskets down the stretch that kept St. Benedict’s in it, while they were struggling to score. In addition to his raw skill on the floor, he is vocal and plays with a controlled passion and confidence that will translate well to the college level.

Before signing with Miami, he was considering Virginia Tech and South Florida.

Quadri Moore | 6-8, 270 lbs. C | Linden (N.J.) | Class of 2014

At 6-8, 270 pounds and only a sophomore, Moore’s physical size is what makes him most appealing.

Moore had 13 points in Linden’s comeback win over Christian Brothers Academy (N.J.), showing his versatility on the inside and the outside.

The main thing to consider with Moore is that he is young. With his size, he has good touch with extended range, but needs to make his living more inside the paint, rather than drifting out to the perimeter. Physically, he must drop fat and add muscle as he gets older.

He has an offer on the table from Providence, as well as interest from Cincinnati, Seton Hall, Temple, Georgetown, Ohio State, and others.

Tyler Ennis | 6-2, 180 lbs. G | St. Benedict’s (N.J.) | Class of 2013

Ennis is not an ultra-athletic guard in the mold of Derrick Rose or John Wall. Instead, he uses all of his different tools, his craftiness, and his passing skills to be effective.

In a win over Plainfield on Saturday night, he had six points and seven rebounds, but his awareness was what made him a hero, grabbing a rebound off a missed free throw with six seconds remaining and laying it back up for two, which ended up being the deciding points in a 67-65 win.

Canadian-born, Ennis is not an electric shooter, but can still be solid within range.

He is already rated in the top 60 of his class, with high-major interest across the board. Schools who have offered include Kansas, N.C. State, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Villanova, West Virginia, and more.

Dallas Anglin | 6-1, 165 lbs. G | Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) | Class of 2012

Anglin is signed to play for head coach Mo Cassara and Hofstra next season and will fit well into the CAA.

He posted 10 points and five steals against Columbia on Saturday night and has a good understanding of his role as a scorer, whether attacking the basket or working in the mid-range. He is not a knock-down shooter, but has the shot in his repertoire. Against Columbia, working the ball inside, he drifted out to the three-point line and hit two shots that spurred a second-half run.

Before signing with Hofstra, he was being recruited by Penn State, Manhattan, Richmond, Siena, and St. Joseph’s.

Isaiah Briscoe | 6-2, 185 lbs. G | St. Benedict’s (N.J.) | Class of 2015

Briscoe is the most intriguing prospect of the bunch because, though he is skilled already, he’s only a freshman. It’s scary to think how good this kid could be by the time he is a senior.

Every time I see him play, it seems he has added muscle, both to his upper and lower body. He is an impressive athlete with a strong handle, solid jumpshot, and ability to finish at the rim through contact. He had 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting in St. Benedict’s win over Plainfield.

Clichés aside, the sky is really the limit for Briscoe, as he’ll continue to grow, both physically and mentally.

He already has high-major offers from schools that include St. John’s, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Cincinnati, and others.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

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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

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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

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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.