Danny Ainge’s son, Crew, paving his own basketball career

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Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge has had a busy summer to say the least. After hiring Butler’s Brad Stevens, and acquiring multiple picks for future drafts, he is setting the foundation for a post-Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett era in Boston. As Ainge begins a new chapter in the franchise’s road to banner No. 18, his son Crew is starting to establish himself as a high school basketball prospect.

Crew, one of six children, has been a big stock riser in New England this summer. He entered the spring healthy — after dealing with a nagging wrist injury — and in shape, which has made him become a reliable part to the New England Playaz AAU team.

“Due to my wrist, I was out of shape,” Ainge told NBC Sports. “Now, I’m getting back; getting stronger.

“I just think my confidence is up a lot. I’ve been working really hard, and it’s starting to pay off.”

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Terrence Payne/NBC Sports

Being the son of an NBA executive obviously has its perks, such as access to the Celtics’ practice facility in Waltham, Mass. But don’t be fooled, Crew is drawing college interest through his own work ethic, not because of his last name. He’s gone from an energy guy to a player defenses need to account for. He can now make plays, as he can shots. He also possesses great instincts on the floor and still maintains that high motor, which in return makes him a better overall player.

“Crew has worked really, really hard to get in the best shape of his life,” Crew’s older brother Austin told NBC Sports. “His energy and toughness on the court, I think, is a direct result of his conditioning.”

Austin, the Celtics Director of Player Personnel, attributes the rise in Crew’s game to his season at prep school. This fall the 5-foot-11 Crew enrolled at Kimball Union (N.H.), playing alongside top-50 recruit Abdul-Malik Abu. But before he took to the hardwood with his new school, his basketball coach Michael Olson first made him hit the trails, running cross country in the fall.

“I give a lot of credit to his prep school coach,” Austin told NBC Sports. “He was a big difference.”

The hard work has paid off as Crew has heard from Marist, Brown, Columbia and Fairfield, in addition to Holy Cross and Northeastern — two schools he visited this spring.

“I have no offers yet, but I’m hearing from a lot of the local schools,” Ainge added. “I’m not really paying attention to it. It should take care of itself.”

Of course, his father, along with his siblings, attended BYU. Despite the family legacy, Crew isn’t solely focused on going to Provo, Utah for college … he’s keeping his options open at the moment. And his family is supportive of whatever school he decides to attend.

“Crew can go wherever he wants,” said Austin, who played at BYU. “We want the best spot for him.

“We’re letting him handle it on his own. We want him to experience this, and go through it. We’re always here to answer questions. But Crew pretty much has it figured out.”

The Ainges are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since Crew repeated his sophomore year when he entered Kimball Union, he will be eligible to go on his mission once he graduates from high school. Crew, who’s brother Cooper recently left for his two-year mission, told NBC Sports that he will likely begin his college career as a member of the Class of 2017, though, that is subject to change.

“The most likely scenario is me going after my senior year,” Ainge said. “That’s what it’s looking like right now.”

Whether it’s the fall of 2015 or 2017 when Crew starts college, he, like his father, will look back to the summer of 2013 as influential times in their respective basketball careers.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
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STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.