The Secondary Break: Thursday’s Links

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Karvel Anderson finds a home (ESPN)
Robert Morris senior guard Karvel Anderson’s path to college was anything but smooth. With his mother being incarcerated, life eventually dealt Anderson the hand of being homeless as a teenager. But he refused to give up, working hard to eventually realize his dream of becoming a Division I basketball player. And on Monday he was named Northeast Conference Player of the Year.

Which college basketball programs made a mistake going to Division I? (Land Grant Holy Land)
The number of Division I programs this season is up to 351, with a few provisional programs going through the transition process to the game’s highest level. And with that many teams it’s natural to wonder if any have made the mistake of moving up. This story looks at all aspects of the moves being made to Division I and even picks out a few winners and losers.

Chris Perez: Tenacious player is a fan favorite (Albuquerque Journal)
New Mexico honored its senior class on Wednesday night following the Lobos’ 80-52 win over Air Force, and while Cameron Bairstow and Kendall Williams receive plenty of attention there’s a third player who was honored. Walk-on Chris Perez has been a part of the program for four years, and he became a fan favorite of many of the UNM faithful during his time in Albuquerque.

DePaul senior Brandon Young has shown leadership in tough times (Chicago Sun-Times)
It’s no secret that the DePaul Blue Demons have struggled mightily in recent years, with the downturn occurring within a couple years of their move into the Big East in the mid-2000s. One player who’s been present for the last four seasons in guard Brandon Young, who has worked to remain positive despite the lack of success.

Zach LaVine shaking off slump just in time for homecoming trip (Los Angeles Times)
UCLA freshman guard Zach LaVine found himself mired in a shooting slump prior to last week’s games against the Oregon schools. At one point an explosive scorer off the bench for the Bruins, LaVine was not producing at that level. Luckily for he and the Bruins the freshman turned things around last week, just in time for the team’s trip to his native Washington for games against Washington and Washington State this week.

Coaching is a path Virginia’s Tony Bennett once resisted and now embraces (Yahoo Sports)
After a professional career spent in the NBA, Australia and New Zealand, Tony Bennett needed to figure out what his next step would be. One profession he had no desire of entering: coaching, as he’d seen the impact of the game on his father. But an experience coaching overseas lit the fire, leading Bennett on a career path that would ultimately wind up in Charlottesville.

Andrew Wiggins experiences mixed emotions in home finale (Lawrence Journal-World)
It was “Senior Night” in Lawrence on Wednesday, with No. 8 Kansas closing the home portion of its season with a win over Texas Tech. But there was also the prospect of it being the final home game for Andrew Wiggins, who had mixed emotions regarding the experience and lamented that the season went by too fast.

Keith Appling, Adreian Payne don’t want to break Final Four streak (Detroit Free-Press)
Michigan State’s hit a rough stretch of late, with health and rust issues being two of the contributing factors. On Thursday night their seniors will be honored when the Spartans host Iowa, and Keith Appling and Adreian Payne are hungry for their first Final Four appearance. On the line is an impressive streak, with every senior class under Tom Izzo having reached at least one Final Four.

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.