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.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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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

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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.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.