How concerned should North Carolina fans be that Brandon Ingram passed on the Tar Heels?

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On Monday night, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski added yet another elite recruit to his 2015-16 roster, as five-star wing Brandon Ingram committed to play for the Blue Devils.

Ingram’s tools are absurd. He’s a 6-foot-9 wing with length, athleticism and the ability to handle the ball and shoot on the perimeter. And while he’s always had loads of potential, this spring he’s seemingly put it all together, which is why he’s shot up from a top 30ish recruit to one of the top five prospects in the class.

It also means that for the second straight year, Duke has landed one of the nation’s best recruiting classes, a roster full of potential one-and-done talents that will make them one of the youngest — and best — teams in the country. Duke won the 2015 National Title on the back of a trio of freshmen, shipped them off to the NBA Draft’s lottery and have now reloaded by adding a pair of five-star recruits in April.

It’s a positively Calipari-an way of building a roster, and it’s the opposite of what Duke stood for as recently as their title in 2010. Duke was always the program that kept their best players in school for three and four years. And as of today, they’re currently beating Kentucky at their own game.

But that’s not the most interesting story line to come out of Ingram’s commitment.

That would be just how much the NCAA’s investigation into academic impropriety at North Carolina, and the sanctions that are looming over the head of the program, are currently affecting the Tar Heels.

UNC is currently the preseason No. 1 team in the country. The Tar Heels bring back essentially everyone from last year’s team. Marcus Paige will be healthy, Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks will once again be roaming the paint, and the play of Joel Berry, Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson will only get better after a full year on campus. But their 2015 recruiting class consists of a three-star forward whose father played quarterback on the football team, and it’s not for a lack of effort.

North Carolina went after Ingram hard, even before he turned into a top five prospect. They likely would have gotten him as well, as Ingram told reporters “I think I would have” committed to UNC had they not been facing this investigation.

From the News & Observor:

The questions about what might happen at UNC – and what penalties it might face – proved too difficult for Williams and his staff to overcome during Ingram’s recruitment. [Brandon’s father] Donald Ingram said the cloud of the NCAA investigation “played a big factor” in his son’s decision to turn down UNC.

“We wanted to see something on paper,” Donald Ingram said. “We wanted to hear it on television. We wanted to know that they’re not going to fall into the same situation like Jim Boeheim with Syracuse. So you don’t want to go into a (situation) that’s already hot. And it played a factor in it.”

The Syracuse situation that he is referring to is the eight-year investigation that was concluded earlier this year. The result? The university self-imposed a postseason ban for the 2014-15 season and will spend the next decade trying to work through a myriad of recruiting restrictions and a loss of 12 scholarships over a four-year period.

And the violations committed by Syracuse weren’t as bad as what North Carolina has been accused of doing, meaning that the Tar Heels could end up getting the book thrown at them.

Or maybe not. As Jerry Tarkanian once said, “the NCAA is so mad at Kentucky it’s going to give Cleveland State two more years of probation.” Would the NCAA really drop the hammer on one of their flagship basketball programs?

At this point, we don’t know, which is why UNC is getting killed on the recruiting trail. In a moment of honesty, some of the coaching staffs recruiting against the Tar Heels will admit that they don’t think UNC’s basketball program will get hit too hard, but that’s not the information that they’re going to be feeding recruits they’re trying to keep out of Chapel Hill.

And frankly, they don’t even need to.

Tyus Jones and Sam Dekker became potential lottery picks because of their play in the tournament. Grayson Allen went from a bench-warmer to a guy that had to announce he’s not declaring for the NBA Draft because of two games in the Final Four.

Brandon Ingram saw this.

He knows what a strong performance in the NCAA tournament can do to draft position.

If going to North Carolina means that there is a chance he won’t get that opportunity, is it really surprising that he passed on the Tar Heels?

Wouldn’t you?

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.