Former Alabama forward Charles “Boonie” Russell was with his old teammates celebrating the 40th anniversary of their 1974 SEC championship during the Alabama-Auburn game earlier this year when Russell was approached by a woman from the stands.
The 6-foot-4 Russell helped Alabama to a 22-4 record in 1974 and it was the first of three consecutive SEC championships the Crimson Tide won under former head coach C.M. Newton.
But according to this story from Tommy Deas of the Tuscaloosa News, Russell didn’t know why 76-year-old Alabama fan Martha Ann Wyatt was approaching him.
“I have something that belongs to you,” Martha Ann Wyatt said.
Russell didn’t know what to say. He had no idea what she was talking about.
“I have your SEC championship ring,” she said. “I want you to have it back. I want to give it to you.”
Russell hadn’t seen that ring since the late 1970s, when he loaned it to a friend who needed money. The plan was that the friend would pawn it, then buy it back out of hock and return it.
Before that happened, Russell left the country to begin a 20-year career playing basketball in South and Central America. By the time he returned, the ring was long gone.
Russell soon made plans with Wyatt to get his SEC championship ring back. The ring hadn’t even been on Russell’s mind for many years.
“To be honest about it, I had just totally forgotten about it,” Russell said to Deas. “It was like it didn’t even exist anymore.”
Wyatt, a collector of Alabama sports memorabilia, acquired the ring for $50 when a friend spotted the ring at a pawn shop. She had displayed the ring in a case at her home since then and the ring included Russell’s number — 32 — and last name.
When Russell came back for the reunion, season-ticket holder Wyatt exchanged information with him so he could get his long-lost SEC championship ring.
Russell finally got the ring back last week from Wyatt’s home on his 61st birthday and the duo celebrated with cake and homemade vanilla ice cream to complete a really cool and unique story.
Missouri announced on Sunday evening that star forward Jontay Porter will miss the season after tearing the ACL and the MCL in his right knee.
The injury came during Missouri’s secret scrimmage against Southern Illinois.
As a freshman, Jontay averaged 9.9 points and 6.8 rebounds for the Tigers. He entered the NBA draft following the season but opted to return to school after if became clear he was not a lock to be picked in the first round of the draft. He would have entered this season as one of the best big men in the SEC, if not the country.
This is the second time in as many seasons that the Porter family has had to deal with a devastating injury. Last year, Michael Porter Jr. — Jontay’s older brother — missed essentially the entire season after undergoing surgery on his back. He was eventually picked 14th by the Denver Nuggets.
The eldest Porter, Bri, suffered five ACL tears during her playing career, while Cierra, another sister, retired from basketball due to chronic knee issues.
Four-star 2019 forward Tray Jackson flipped his verbal commitment from Minnesota to Missouri on Friday night.
The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decommitment from the Golden Gophers on Twitter and then announced a commitment to Missouri a little more than two hours later. Regarded as the No. 96 overall prospect in the Class of 2019, Jackson reclassified from the Class of 2018 and saw his recruitment blossom in the summer.
While decommitting happens in basketball recruiting semi-frequently, flipping a commitment to a new school within a matter of hours is a very uncommon practice. Typically associated with football recruiting, Jackson’s switch is a big deal for Missouri.
His pledge gives head coach Cuonzo Martin an athletic and versatile frontcourt player with upside as Jackson could play multiple positions. The Tigers missed on E.J. Liddell, but Jackson is a nice prize to land instead. Missouri now has two four-star prospects in the Class of 2019 as Jackson joins four-star guard Mario McKinney.
Minnesota needs to replenish its recruiting efforts as they are now without a commitment in the Class of 2019. With head coach Richard Pitino facing pressure to win this season, this isn’t good for the future of Golden Gopher basketball either.
West Virginia pulled in a major commitment on Saturday as five-star 2019 center Oscar Tshiebwe pledged to the Mountaineers.
A late-developing, high-motor big man who ascended into a national recruit this summer, the 6-foot-8, 230-pound Tshiebwe represents an important grab for West Virginia. Tshiebwe represents a potential replacement for Sagaba Konate in the middle as the Mountaineers beat some pretty impressive programs to land him. That includes Baylor and Kentucky.
Tshiebwe is quick off the floor and a good athlete, as he could be a very dangerous player in Bob Huggins’ system because of his brand of basketball. Regarded as the No. 21 overall prospect in the Rivals Class of 2019 national rankings, Tshiebwe also took official visits to Baylor, Illinois and Kentucky during the recruiting process.
Tshiebwe joins three-star guard Miles McBride in West Virginia’s 2019 recruiting haul.
Marshall freshman Taevion Kinsey put down one of the preseason’s best dunks on Friday night. With the Thundering Herd hosting Herd Madness, the 6-foot-5 Kinsey put down a ridiculous dunk that easily cleared three teammates.
Most dunkers use an arm on the shoulder during the dunk. Kinsey didn’t need any sort of help as he glided over his teammates.
Kinsey is going to be a dunker to keep an eye on in the future. His teammates certainly think highly of his dunking ability, as most of them projected Kinsey to win the dunk contest before the event even started.
Duke freshman Zion Williamson made some ridiculous dunks look effortless in his Cameron Indoor Stadium debut on Friday night. As part of Duke’s annual “Countdown to Craziness” event, Williamson took part in a scrimmage against his Blue Devil teammates.
That included Williamson going head-to-head with fellow freshman R.J. Barrett in a scrimmage. And more absurd dunks in the warm up line.
But besides for the on-court action, Williamson was also asked about his family’s link to the college basketball corruption trial. On Tuesday, a transcript of calls was read to the New York courtroom that allegedly included Williamson’s stepfather on FBI tapes asking for money and a job from Kansas men’s basketball coaches. The tapes were not admitted as evidence.
“Honestly, I’ve paid no attention to it,” Williamson said to reporters, including ESPN’s David M. Hale, about the trial. “I’m just a college kid, out here having fun with my classmates, looking forward to stuff like Countdown and our first game. You only get one chance at the college experience, and I want to enjoy it.”
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski also downplayed Williamson’s link to the trial, pointing to the NCAA eligibility center’s “exhaustive” process to vette incoming recruits.
“They have an eligibility center now that these kids and their parents go through — and they go through everything,” Krzyzewski said. “We feel very comfortable with him and all our freshmen.”
We’ll likely hear more about Williamson, Kansas and this trial, as time goes on. Williamson also might legitimately not know much about this if it was his stepfather on the call. For now, Williamson is making a huge impression with Duke fans every time he steps foot on the floor.
(H/t: Lawrence Davis III and Duke men’s basketball)