Diallo claims another MVP at Jordan Brand Classic but Briscoe wins the crowd

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NEW YORK – The 14th annual Jordan Brand Classic marked the end of a hectic few weeks for the top talent across high school basketball, as the West team topped the East, 118-116.

In a night that combined an unwavering pace with an abundance of jaw-dropping athleticism, here were the top stories:

Cheick Diallo adds another MVP to his trophy case

The Jordan Brand Classic was the cherry on top of a monster month for Diallo. The 6-foot-9 power forward from Centereach, N.Y., was named MVP of the East squad, pouring in 26 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Diallo was able to once again put his full offensive arsenal on display, showing a great touch around the bucket, as well as the ability to get out in transition.

The latest piece of hardware will have a spot next to the McDonald’s MVP Diallo won earlier in the month, also accompanied by a win at the Nike Hoop Summit. Diallo was one of three remaining undeclared players in the Jordan game and is scheduled for an in-home visit with Chris Mullin and St. John’s on Saturday, who is competing with Kentucky, Kansas, Iowa State and Pittsburgh for the coveted big man’s signature.

Welcome to the Isaiah Briscoe Show

With about five minutes remaining in the game, Briscoe, a New York product who went to high school in New Jersey, banged a three that was like a shot of adrenaline to the Brooklyn crowd. From then on, each time the ball found its way into Briscoe’s hands – which it did basically every possession – the walls of the Barclays Center were hit with an ear-splitting roar.

“That’s New York basketball,” Briscoe said when asked about the atmosphere. “Everywhere you go, every gym you play in, that’s New York basketball. They want to see people go at it. They want to see people compete.”

Briscoe, who is headed to Kentucky next season, repeatedly put himself in isolation situations, as he and LSU commit Antonio Blakeney traded one-on-one punches on several consecutive possessions. After shaking Blakeney with a particularly silky spin move and touching it off the glass, fans were fully invested in the Briscoe pageantry. Ultimately the one-man wrecking crew fell short, but Briscoe finished with 22 points after a sub-par first half and won over the crowd with a gladiator-like effort.

“I’m no stranger to a big crowd,” Briscoe said. “I feed off all of that, as you can see.”

The exodus of Wildcats out of the Bluegrass and toward the bright lights of the NBA has left Kentucky rather thin on the perimeter. Briscoe will be counted on to provide an immediate impact and it will be interesting to see how he meshes alongside point guard Tyler Ulis. Either way, it should be a nice problem to have for John Calipari.

Allonzo Trier gets buckets, basically whenever he wants

Trier collected MVP honors for the West squad, dropping in 28 points on 8-10 shooting. The 6-foot-4 guard from Henderson, Nev., shoved himself behind the wheel for Kevin Boyle’s team in the second half, willing his way into the paint and either converting at the rim or earning a trip to the charity stripe. With his quickness and athleticism, Trier is a migraine-inducing offensive weapon that is near impossible to guard one-on-one.

Setting up camp in Tucson, Ariz., next season, Trier will need to help patch up the offensive holes left behind by a slew of departed Wildcats. With Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Brandon Ashley gone, and Stanley Johnson potentially joining them, Trier could easily become the focal point of Sean Miller’s offense in his inaugural campaign.

Brewster Academy sweeps Regional MVPs

Quickly finding the mold of a traditional all-star game, the Jordan Brand Classic Regional game turned into a 40-minute track meet that was played almost exclusively above the rim. Brewster Academy teammates Donovan Mitchell and Jalen Adams took center stage, reeling in MVPs for their respective teams.

“A lot of people don’t know Brewster Academy, so we were just talking about going out and putting Brewster on the map in a bigger way,” Mitchell said. “We just said to ourselves that we were going to go out and impact the game in different ways.”

The Louisville-bound Mitchell put together enough footage for his own Jordan Brand dunk highlight reel plus bonus features. The 6-foot-2 guard led all scorers with 30 points and nearly brought the house down in the first half after capping off a spin move with a thundering dunk.

Adams, an electric point guard who is committed to Kevin Ollie and UConn, put on a show of his own, scoring 27 points for the winning squad.

Louisville lands grad transfer Carlik Jones

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Louisville landed a commitment from Carlik Jones on Sunday night, one of the best grad transfers available this spring.

Jones, who spent the last three seasons at Radford, picked the Cardinals over Maryland, Michigan State and a handful of other programs.

A 6-foot-1 lead guard from Cincinnati, Jones averaged 20 points, 5.5 assists and 5.1 boards this past season, when he was named the Big South Player of the Year. He led Radford to the 2018 NCAA tournament and back-to-back Big South regular season titles in 2019 and 2020.

Jones should start immediately for Louisville, fitting alongside David Johnson, Samuell Williamson and Jay Scrubb, should he enroll at Louisville instead of going pro, on their perimeter. Louisville is losing Fresh Kimble, Ryan McMahon and Dwayne Sutton to graduation while Jordan Nwora is expected to turn pro.

Kentucky point guard Ashton Hagans will enter NBA draft

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Kentucky point guard Ashton Hagans will enter the NBA draft and forego his final two seasons of eligibility.

to pursue his dream of playing professionally.

The 6-foot-3 Hagans was named Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman and became one of the country’s best point guards this past season. However, his time at Kentucky ended in controversy as he argued with forward Nick Richards and coach John Calipari and reportedly refused to re-enter in the second half of a home loss to Tennessee. Calipari downplayed the incident afterward.

Hagans then requested time away from the team for personal reasons and did not travel to the season finale at Florida. He was

for the Wildcats at the SEC Tournament in Nashville, but that event and the NCAA Tournament were canceled last month because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hagans said in a statement Sunday he was disappointed not to be able to pursue a national title but added that he understands why.

“It’s time for me to live out my lifelong dream and declare for the NBA draft,” Hagans said. “It’s been my No. 1 goal since I first picked up a ball to take this step and I know my time is now.”

He also thanked coaches, teammates and fans and added, “the last two years have been some of the best of my life.”

Hagans was born and raised in Georgia. He had 351 assists at Kentucky – ranking 12th in school history – and 119 steals. He averaged 11.5 points, 6.4 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals last season.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Mike Tirico to host NBC Sports’ new daily sports talk show ‘Lunch Talk Live’

We’re excited to bring viewers fresh programming every day with unique, topical conversations from prominent individuals in all corners of sports. This will be a daily lunch date to share sports and stories we miss during these unique times.
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A new daily sports talk shot called Lunch Talk Live will debut on NBCSN at noon ET on Monday, April 6th.

The show will feature Mike Tirico joined like by special guests every single day, including a lineup of NBC Sports’ on-air personalities, current and former athletes and prominent people in sports media.

The show will focus on how the sports world is navigating the coronavirus pandemic, providing a platform for intelligent discussion on the state of sports and how we, as a society, are adapting to living in this challenging time. the goal is to detail personal stories of how different people from across the sports industry are functioning in the day-to-day.

“In these challenging times, we are all missing sports and the people who make sports memories,” said Tirico. “Hopefully, we can bring a midday connection with some of them to help fill the void.”

“We’re excited to bring viewers fresh programming every day with unique, topical conversations from prominent individuals in all corners of sports,” said Sam Flood, the Executive Producer & President of Production for NBC Sports. “This will be a daily lunch date to share sports and stories we miss during these unique times.”

The show will be an hour long. It will air on weekdays at Noon ET on NBCSN and will be streaming on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Additionally, content will also be provided on the NBC Sports’ YouTube channel as well as other social media platforms.

All episodes of the show will be hosted remotely.

Michigan State AD defends Tom Izzo after witness report

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EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State athletic director Bill Beekman defended basketball coach Tom Izzo on Thursday after Izzo was accused in

of contacting a witness who was part of a 2017 criminal sexual conduct investigation involving one of his players.

According to a police report obtained by ESPN, Michigan State student Brayden Smith was with basketball player Brock Washington on the night a female student said Washington forcibly groped her. When police interviewed Smith, he said he had already been contacted by Izzo and assistant coaches Dwayne Stephens and Mike Garland. They “asked (Smith) if he was OK and if there was anything that he had seen during the evening,” according to the report.

Beekman responded in a lengthy statement Thursday.

“Tom Izzo has been a beacon of integrity in his profession for nearly four decades, including a quarter century as head coach. Michigan State’s Office of Institutional Equity has gone on record to say that no policies were violated in regards to any actions taken by the men’s basketball staff during a Title IX investigation into a student,” Beekman said. “There’s nothing to support any claims that any member of the men’s basketball staff conducted their own investigation, or interfered with any ongoing investigation. Any insinuation to the contrary is nothing more than an attempt to smear a coach, a program, and an entire university.”

Smith, the son of former Michigan State player Steve Smith, has not played basketball for the Spartans. According to a Title IX report obtained by ESPN, Brayden Smith told investigators he considers the coaches his “godfathers” who check in on him occasionally.

According to ESPN, police said in their report that Brayden Smith’s perception of his conversation with the coaches about the night in question “was not to get information out of him, but rather to ensure that he was OK and remind him to be responsible.”

The school’s Title IX investigation determined that Washington was not responsible for having violated the university’s sexual misconduct policy, according to ESPN. The network

that in early 2018, Washington pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault under a provision allowing offenders to plead guilty without a court entering a judgment of conviction.

Earlier this week, ESPN reported that campus police told prosecutors they had probable cause that Brock Washington raped a woman Jan. 19 while she was too intoxicated to consent County prosecutors

because they didn’t feel they could prove their case to a jury.

Washington played a total of 19 minutes this season before he was suspended in late January.

NC State’s NCAA case recommended for independent process

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina State’s NCAA case involving recruiting violations tied to former Wolfpack one-and-done star Dennis Smith Jr. has been recommended to go through an independent investigation process created for complex cases.

In a statement Friday, athletics spokesman Fred Demarest said the school must respond by April 14 to the recommendation. Demarest said officials are “reviewing and evaluating our options.”

The NCAA created the Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP) last year, a product of proposals from the commission led by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2018 to reform college basketball amid a federal corruption investigation into the sport. The process includes independent investigators and decision-makers with no direct ties to NCAA member schools, and rulings cannot be appealed.

The NCAA announced last month that Memphis’ case involving star freshman basketball player James Wiseman would go that route, becoming the first to enter the process.

IARP spokeswoman Whitney Ertel declined to comment on the N.C. State case, but said involved parties have the chance to respond to any recommendation before a determination is made.

“A case can either be accepted into the independent process or it can be denied,” Ertel said. “If any case is going to be accepted, then we will make an announcement.”

N.C. State was charged last summer with four violations, including former head coach Mark Gottfried being charged individually under the provision of head-coach responsibility for violations within his program.

Specifically, the NCAA has alleged ex-assistant Orlando Early provided Smith and his associates approximately $46,700 in impermissible benefits – including $40,000 that a government witness testified he delivered to Early intended for Smith’s family in 2015.

N.C. State has argued the NCAA had not proven money was actually provided to Smith or his family, noting Smith – picked ninth in the 2017 NBA draft after one year in Raleigh – denied receiving money in a school interview in 2019.

Attorneys for Gottfried, now coach at Cal State Northridge, have questioned the fairness of the process and argued Gottfried fulfilled obligations to monitor the program.

The NCAA enforcement staff’s response in February held firm that violations had occurred.