Alani Moore, Markelle Fultz shine at DMVElite 80

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BOWIE, Md. — The second annual DMVelite 80 took place on Saturday, bringing the top college prospects from the DC/Maryland/Virginia area together under one roof to compete in a camp environment and offering a unique look at the top players in what is arguably the country’s most fertile recruiting ground, regardless of AAU or shoe brand affiliation.

Alani Moore, a 2016 point guard who recently transferred to Montrose Christian (Md.) from DeMatha Catholic (Md.), stole the show during game play and took home MVP honors. With offers from Penn State, Rhode Island, Towson and Vermont, Moore had a strong summer playing with DC Premier and impressing in the Reebok Classic Breakout, among other events.

Standing just 5-foot-9, Moore was locked in from deep, while also creating open looks for his teammates and penetrating the lane with ease. Moore follows in the footsteps of last year’s event MVP and Cincinnati-commit Justin Jenifer, another diminutive but electrifying point guard.

Another player who turned heads with his performance was fast-rising 2016 combo guard Markelle Fultz of DeMatha Catholic (Md.).

A prime example of how much a strong July performance can impact a prospect’s recruitment, the 6-foot-3 Fultz has been offered by Xavier, DePaul, Rhode Island Towson and High Point despite never playing a game at the varsity level for DeMatha.

Fultz played JV for DeMatha last year before starring throughout the AAU season with DC Blue Devils, finishing out his summer with DC Premier 17U and leading Premier in scoring at the adidas Super 64 in Las Vegas. The rising junior recently visited Xavier and spoke highly of the visit and campus, implying that the Musketeers could be an early favorite for his services.

One of the top high-academic prospects in the country, 2016 Boys’ Latin (Md.) wing Kodye Pugh was impressive, showing great development since last year’s event. Standing 6-foot-7 and carrying a 3.89 GPA, Pugh holds offers from Georgetown, Temple, Northwestern, Rice, Princeton, and George Mason while being actively recruited by more than a dozen other programs. The junior showed off solid ball handling skills and was extremely active on both ends of the floor. With some added strength, Pugh appears he could be next in the line of skilled forwards out of Baltimore.

Doubling as a leading receiver and kick returner for one of the area’s top football teams at Westfield (Va.), 2016 swingman Tyler Scanlon solidified his reputation as one of the most hard-nosed players in his class. The morning after leading his team to a win on the gridiron, Scanlon was going through intensive drill work and setting the tone, showing no signs of fatigue. With a 3.9 GPA, Scanlon could be a star at the Ivy League level and has already been offered by George Mason, Rice, Toledo and Fairfield.

A player whose recruitment has the potential to blow up soon, 2016 wing Christian Matthews of National Christian (Md.) currently holds offers from Cincinatti and Rhode Island and generated major buzz on Saturday with his athleticism and refined skill set at 6-foot-6. Maryland, Rutgers, Pitt, Okahoma, Miami, Xavier and West Virginia have recently begun to recruit Matthews, as well.

A strong 2017 group at DMVelite 80 was led by DeMatha (Md.) swingman D.J. Harvey, a top 10 player in the sophomore class with early offers from Memphis, Tennessee, Texas and Xavier, among others. Harvey was not dominant, but showed flashes of brilliance at various times throughout the day. Other 2017 standouts included versatile St. Frances (Md.) small forward Andre Rafus and point guard Jamir Moultrie of Bishop McNamara (Md.), while Good Counsel (Md.) sharpshooter Cameron Norman was one of the event’s biggest breakout performers.

QUICK HITS

  • 2015 wing Jordan Oakley of La Plata (Md.) took home the “Mr. Hustle” award for the day; he projects as a potential low-major Division I prospect who could make an impact with his versatility at the next level.
  • 2015 scoring guard Nico Clareth of Calvert Hall (Md.) currently holds 15 offers and will begin to take visits to campuses in the upcoming weeks.
  • Athletic 2015 Dulaney (Md.) wing Isaiah Lamb may be a mid-major sleeper. After tearing his ACL in his sophomore season, he has returned and become a hot commodity, being offered by Siena, High Point, Winthrop, Radford and UNC-Greensboro, along with attracting major attention from several local programs such as Loyola (Md.) and Towson.
  • One of the area’s top big men, 2016 Mount Carmel (Md.) power forward David Erebor said that Clemson is recruiting him heavily and plans to visit the campus soon.
  • Another 2016 big man, Justin Gorham is primed for a big season at Calvert Hall (Md.) after a strong summer. Miami, Iowa and Maryland have recently been in contact with Gorham, while Towson, Elon and James Madison have offered.
  • High-flying 2016 Montrose Christian (Md.) forward A.J. Wilson provided some electricity on Saturday with a few high-level dunks and blocked shots. VCU, Towson, Penn State and Monmouth have offered while Maryland, Oklahoma and Cincinatti are monitoring his progress closely.
  • Arguably the region’s most aggressive slasher, 2015 Oakland Mills (Md.) wing Will Robinson has an affinity for Temple and has visited frequently, but still has not received an offer from the Owls. Robinson claims a DePaul offer and is being targeted by several mid-major programs.

ACC coaches back idea of all D-I teams in 2021 NCAA tourney

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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RALEIGH, N.C. — Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball coaches are pushing the idea of having next year’s NCAA Tournament include all eligible teams in Division I.

Numerous league schools and coaches released statements Wednesday after the coaches held their weekly call to discuss the proposal, which was first reported by Stadium. There are 357 Division I programs in the country, with NCAA spokeswoman Meghan Durham saying 346 of those are eligible to play in next year’s tournament.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett said the ACC coaches are “united in strongly pursuing this” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that led to the cancellation of last year’s NCAA Tournament days before the field of 68 was set to be revealed. Multiple coaches said creating an everybody-gets-in format would be an incentive for schools as they create the safest conditions possible for returning to play.

“This is not a regular season,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. “It is clearly an irregular season that will require something different. Our sport needs to be agile and creative. Most importantly, an all-inclusive postseason tournament will allow a unique and unprecedented opportunity for every team and every student-athlete to compete for a national championship.”

Durham declined comment specifically on the proposal in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday. Last month, NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said the Division I oversight committees for men’s and women’s basketball planned to announce by mid-September plans for whether the season and preseason practice would start on time or require a delay due to the pandemic.

Louisville coach Chris Mack said the proposal would provide flexibility during the season without mandating a number of nonconference or conference games to be played. And the league has already experienced that scheduling challenge with football and other fall sports.

The ACC announced in July that it would have each football team play 10 league games – including the addition of Notre Dame as a football member this year – and one nonconference game to be played in the home state of the member school. Those schedules were released in early August, slightly more than a month before Thursday’s UAB-Miami game kicks off the season.

“This is a time to think differently,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said, adding: “After all these players have been through, what better way to reward them than the opportunity to compete in an unprecedented version of the most exciting event in sports.”

College basketball floats idea of bubbles for safe season

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The NBA bubble has held. So has the NHL’s double bubble. The WNBA and MLS, no leaks.

In this unprecedented landscape of sports in a pandemic world, one indisputable fact has emerged: bubbles work.

Thousands of tests, minimal to no positive COVID-19 test results.

So as the NCAA gets set announce its plans for the 2020-21 college basketball season, there are clear precedents and blueprints in place should it decide to go the bubble route.

“It’s certainly viable,” said Mark Starsiak, vice president of sports at Intersport, a Chicago-based sports marketing and media agency, “From a basketball standpoint, I think we can follow those models.”

The college football restart has been scattershot. The season has already started, yet 53 FBS schools have the pads and helmets hanging on hooks while waiting for better pandemic news.

A much more unified plan is in place for the college basketball season.

The NCAA is hoping to start the season in late November/early December, with a vote by the Division I council expected Sept. 16.

A partnership between the Pac-12 and Quidel Corp. to potentially do daily, rapid COVID-19 tests on athletes should help smooth a return to the court.

The question then becomes: What’s the best way to safely play basketball again?

Bubbles may be the answer.

While bubble football would be next to impossible logistically, basketball could fit nicely.

The travel parties are much smaller and college basketball already has plenty of multiple-team events, from holiday and conference tournaments to the NCAA Tournament. Add the effective safety measures of the pro leagues, find suitable sites and bubble basketball could work.

The NCAA is already looking at it, reportedly filing a trademark for the phrase “Battle in the Bubble.” Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont also said there have been preliminary talks for bubble basketball at the Mohegan Sun resort.

“The idea of a bubble would be a really good idea, just to isolate all the teams who want to play against each other in that bubble and keep things safe, keep away from the public and keep us in our own area where we’re able to play the game the right way and safely,” Duke sophomore forward Wendell Moore, Jr. said.

A big key will be finding the right places to bubble.

The NBA has the ideal setup at Disney World, but college basketball might be better suited to follow the NHL’s lead.

Hockey’s two bubbles – Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta – cordoned off areas enclosing the arena and several nearby hotels. All personnel entering are tested and strict protocols are in place for vendors delivering food and packages into the bubbles.

Similar bubbles for college basketball could be set up at smaller resorts, cities with arenas and hotels nearby, or Division II or III schools with arenas not being used during the pandemic.

The NCAA could set up pods of multiple nonconference teams, conference tournaments could be held in similar fashion and so could the NCAA Tournament.

In other words, basketball bubbles could pop up all over the country.

“Maybe do it for maybe a week or two at a time, playing a certain amount of games and getting retested after you come back or something like that,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said. “It’s possible, but it’s not going to be easy.”

Pulling off a college basketball bubble, however, comes with a caveat.

NCAA players are considered students, so academics would have to be part of the equation.

Division I players are already accustomed to doing school work on the road and the majority take primarily online classes. To make the bubbles work, socially distant space would have to be carved out for the players to take their classes and study.

The programs may also have to rethink the size of their traveling parties.

“Discussions about the right amount of tutors or academic staff would need to take place,” said Starsiak, who has operated high-level sports and entertainment events for 15 years. ”

You have to look at, do we need three managers this time around? No, probably not. Do you take two and have a tutor or an academic come with us? Yeah, I think you could. I think there’s a way to kind of combine both things to have some live, in-person resources.”

The NCAA is going to do everything possible to have a basketball season.

The pandemic wiped out the NCAA Tournament last spring and the NCAA collected $270 million in cancellation insurance instead of the $1 billion TV payout it normally gets. A second straight year without March Madness could be devastating.

Bubbles may be the way to go.

‘Father of the Final Four’ Tom Jernestedt dies at 75

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INDIANAPOLIS — Tom Jernstedt, a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame for his contributions to college basketball and the NCAA Tournament, has died. He was 75.

The NCAA said Sunday Jernstedt died this weekend.

Nicknamed “Father of the Final Four,” Jernstedt has widely been credited with transforming the NCAA Tournament into the billion-dollar March Madness it has become today.

“A decade after his departure from the NCAA, Tom Jernstedt’s fingertips remain visible during March Madness and the Final Four,” NCAA senior vice president Dan Gavitt said in a statement. “His innovation and superb ability to develop relationships turned a basketball tournament into a three-week phenomenon that became a global event.”

A former back-up quarterback, Jernstedt worked his first Final Four in 1973 and helped push the growth of the NCAA Tournament from 25 teams to the 68, anything-can-happen bonanza held every spring.

Jernstedt helped the NCAA increase its television contract from just over $1 million to more than $10 billion when he left in 2011. He served as president of USA Basketball, was a member of the College Football Selection committee and was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame as a contributor in 2017.

“Tom Jernstedt was a humble and unsung steward of the game,” John L. Doleva, president and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame, said in a statement. “Under his direction, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament grew into a phenomenon that brings college basketball fans together on a global scale. He will forever be remembered as the Father of the Final Four and one of the most respected leaders in basketball.”

Jernstedt established himself as a team leader despite being a backup quarterback at Oregon from 1964-66 and went on to serve as the Ducks’ events manager. He joined the NCAA in 1972 and spent 38 years with the organization.

“Tom served as a friend and mentor to countless people in and around collegiate athletics, and I’m proud to be among that vast group of people,” Gavitt said. “His legacy within the NCAA and its membership, and his impact on the sport of college basketball, is eternal. We extend our deepest condolences to Tom’s family.”

Aztecs extend Brian Dutcher’s contract 3 years through 2026

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SAN DIEGO — San Diego State basketball coach Brian Dutcher has signed a three-year contract extension through the 2025-26 season.

Dutcher signed the deal following one of the most successful seasons in school history. The Aztecs went 30-2, won the Mountain West regular-season title and were expected to be a No. 1 or 2 seed before the NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. They opened the season 26-0 and were the nation’s last undefeated team.

“Having spent more than 20 years at San Diego State University I understand what a special place this is,” Dutcher said in a statement Friday. “I am humbled and honored to continue to represent SDSU and Aztec Basketball as its head coach.”

Dutcher is 73-26 in three seasons, the most victories by an Aztecs coach in his first three seasons. He spent 18 seasons as Steve Fisher’s top assistant, including six as associate head coach/head coach in waiting. He took over as head coach after Fisher retired following the 2016-17 season. The Aztecs reached the NCAA Tournament in his first season.

Before that, he spent 10 seasons with Fisher at Michigan. In Dutcher’s first season with the Wolverines, Fisher was promoted to interim head coach on the eve of the NCAA Tournament and won the national championship.

Indiana halts all voluntary workouts

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Indiana has halted all voluntary workouts indefinitely for its men’s basketball, field hockey, men’s soccer and wrestling teams after 14 participants tested positive for the coronavirus this week.

The Hoosiers did not identify which teams recorded the positive tests. The football team, like other Big Ten programs, is not playing this fall. Indiana said 63 positives have been reported from more than 1,400 tests of athletes, coaches and staff since June 8.

“Our athletic program is following strict protocols during these unprecedented times and we strongly support our medical staff as we try and mitigate this issue,” men’s basketball coach Archie Miller said.