DMVelite 80 recap

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UPPER MARLBORO, MD. — The third annual DMVelite 80 took place on Saturday, Sept. 5, gathering the top high school sophomores, juniors and seniors in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia at Henry Wise High School.

Among those in attendance were several nationally-ranked players throughout the classes. Everyone at the one-day showcase was a college-caliber player in their own right, but here are a few of the standouts:

Chyree Walker, Bullis School (Md.) 2017 Wing

Walker put an exclamation point on what has been a huge summer by taking home the DMVelite 80’s Most Valuable Player Award. The 6-foot-5 wing showed off his freakish athleticism with numerous highlight reel dunks, including one to beat the buzzer and win his team the championship trophy. He was very efficient offensively, finishing second among all participants in points per game while shooting 72 percent from the field and going to the free throw line an event-high 19 times. But his dominating performance extended well beyond the offensive side of the ball. He was one of the event’s best defenders, tipping numerous passes and igniting the fast break for his team. It’s easy to see him being a standout in a pressure defense at the next level. Walker holds offers from Central Florida, Georgia Tech, James Madison, Old Dominion, St. Francis (Pa.), Towson, and VCU.

Immanuel Quickley, John Carroll (Md.) 2018 Point Guard

Standing at 6-foot-4 with the ability to play either guard spot, Quickley has some of the highest upside of any prospects at the event, and his feel for the game is incredible for someone heading into his sophomore year. He displayed the ability to get to the rim and create for teammates. Though he didn’t have a great statistical output over the weekend, Quickley’s combination of poise, size and skill showed why many think he will be one of the top lead guards in his class.

Daquan Bracey, St. Frances (Md.) 2016 Point Guard

A pure point guard, Bracey impressed with his ability to lead his team, despite playing with them for less than a day. He brought excitement every time he touched the ball, whether it was setting up teammates with pinpoint passes or getting by defenders with jaw-dropping crossovers. But while he brought the crowd to its feet, he did so while making all the right decisions.

Naji Marshall, Eleanor Roosevelt (Md.), 2017 Wing

Marshall was absolutely unstoppable when attacking the basket, where he initiated and finished through contact on his way to a team-leading 9.7 points per game. One of the most consistent sights of the weekend was Marshall getting by a defender and finishing above the rim, but he also showed nice touch on his midrange jumper. At 6-foot-5, very long with a motor that’s always running, Marshall was a menace defensively where he harassed the ball-handler and disrupted passing lanes. His performance Saturday was good enough to earn an offer from Virginia Tech, which joins a list that includes Manhattan, Rhode Island, Rutgers and Towson.

Noah Locke, McDonogh (Md.), 2018 Guard

Definitely the best looking sophomore at the event, Locke impressed with his ability to put the ball in the basket from anywhere on the floor. He finished fifth in points while shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc. Though he’s more of scorer at this point, Locke showed an ability and willingness to get his teammates involved. So far only UNC-Greensboro has pulled the trigger with an offer, but his performance Saturday and over the summer has Locke’s stock soaring.

Ejike Obinna, Virginia Academy 2017 Center

One of the summer’s fastest risers, Obinna defended his reputation as one of the area’s best big men, showing an improved offensive game from earlier this summer. Though he still doesn’t have much of an arsenal in the post, he showed more of a willingness to back down defenders and wasn’t afraid to power through for a dunk traffic. Where Obinna really impressed was on the defensive end, where he used his length well to contest nearly every shot in the paint and clean up the defensive glass. Though he’s still pretty raw and needs to add strength, it’s easy to see Obinna’s tremendous upside.

Luka Garza, Maret (DC) 2017 Center

Another of the area’s top bigs, Garza took total control of the paint in every game he was. He was the event’s best rebounder by far, pulling down nearly two more per game than anyone else there. Garza clogged up the post on the defensive end, finishing among the event leaders in blocks and not allowing opposing players easy access to the hoop. Offensively, he displayed a variety of moves down low and the ability to stretch the defense with his shooting ability. Though not an exceptional athlete, Garza already has the body of a college big man, plays smart and always competes with energy.

Brayden Gault, Battlefield (Va.) 2018 Wing

Another rising sophomore who stood out among older players, Gault was a bastion of efficiency on Saturday. He led the entire event in scoring with 15 points per game, shooting 72 percent from the field. He showed a quick first step when attacking the basket and was able to finish through contact or get to the free throw line. Gault was active and engaged defensively and not afraid to go up against bigger players for rebounds. He wasn’t someone that wowed with any one aspect, but did everything well and was consistent throughout, which you love to see in a young player.

Justin Gorham, Calvert Hall (Md.) 2016 Wing

Gorham, who committed to Towson in August, was a do-it-all player for his team on both ends of the floor. The long 6-foot-7 wing was among the event leaders in points and showcased an ability to score both inside and out with efficiency, shooting 64 percent from the field and 67 percent from three point range. Gorham was very active defensively, denying his man access to the paint and disrupting passing lanes.

Jahlil Jenkins, Virginia Academy 2017 Point Guard

A relatively unknown commodity coming into the summer, Jenkins continued his breakout with another strong performance. He was one of the best pure point guards at the event, showing great command, a tight handle and the ability to find open teammates, leading the event with 5.3 assists per game. Though his first instinct was to set up teammates, Jenkins also displayed a nice scoring touch from outside, shooting 57 percent from beyond the arc. He had a huge impact on the game defensively, where his quickness and athleticism helped him lead the event in steals. So far the 5-foot-10 Jenkins has picked up three offers (Howard, LIU-Brooklyn and St. Peters), but expect that number to increase significantly.

Dajour Dickens, Miller School (Va.) 2017 Center

A 6-foot-11 big with tremendous upside, Dickens was one of the best players there when he played with a mean streak. Sometimes he seemed to shy away from contact, but when he didn’t he showed a polished game down low with a variety of ways he could score around the basket. Also, he displayed nice touch on his midrange jumper for a player of his size. Because of his length, defense was where Dickens was at his best. He seemed to change every shot in the paint and when he went for a rebound he nearly always got it.

Qudus Wahab, Virginia Academy 2019 Center

The lone freshman at this year’s DMVelite 80, Wahab has the potential to be one of the area’s best bigs in 2019. Already standing at 6-foot-11, Wahab is very raw offensively, but that’s to be expected for a player of his age. At Virginia Academy he will play alongside Ejike Obinna (see above) which should toughen him up and help him learn from one of the top post players in the area. While he is definitely more potential than production at this point, Wahab contributed on defense, where his size and athleticism make him a natural, finishing among the event leaders in blocks and rebounds.

Quick Hits

  • 2018 wing Myles Dread of Gonzaga (DC) was one of the best sophomores at the event and should see his recruitment pick up significantly with more playing time at the varsity level.
  • 2016 forward AJ Wilson is a freak athlete who played stingy defense and had a few highlight-reel dunks. He transferred from Montrose Christian to Elev8 Academy (FL) this summer and is choosing between Nevada, Rhode Island and Central Florida, among others.
  • DeMatha (Md.) 2017 guard Ryan Allen is known mostly as a shooter but he showed he could do much more at DMVelite 80, distributing and impressing on the defensive end.
  • National Christian (Md.) 2016 forward Christian Matthews displayed creativity when attacking the rim, scoring in a variety of ways. He should give Georgia Tech immediate scoring relief next year.
  • 2016 Miller School (Va.) wing Ron Alston committed to NJIT at the DMVelite 80.

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has refuted NCAA allegations against its men’s basketball program in the wake of a federal corruption scandal, requesting that the highest-level violation be reclassified.

The university also is challenging that former coach Rick Pitino failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in his program.

Louisville filed a 104-page response last week to the Notice Of Allegations sent to the school in May. The document stated that college sports’ governing body seeks to ignore wire fraud convictions against several people involved in the scheme – including a former Adidas executive – by suggesting they were representing its athletic interests. Louisville’s contract with the apparel maker was a standard sponsorship agreement rather than a promotional deal, the response added.

“This argument is as novel as it is wrong,” the school wrote in its response. “Even if an institution has some responsibility for the conduct of its suppliers, that responsibility plainly does not extend to acts of fraud perpetrated against the institution itself.”

Louisville also seeks to have several second-tier violations reclassified even lower. The NCAA has until Nov. 15 to respond with the school responding 15 days after before a decision is made whether the case will proceed through the traditional Committee on Infractions or Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP).

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations states that Louisville committed a Level I violation, considered the most severe, with an improper recruiting offer and extra benefits along with several lesser violations. Those lesser violations also include Pitino failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The NCAA notice completed a two-year investigation following a federal corruption probe of college basketball announced in September 2017. Louisville acknowledged its involvement in the federal investigation related to the recruitment of former player Brian Bowen II. Pitino, who’s now coaching Iona, was not named in the federal complaint and has consistently denied authorizing or having knowledge of a payment to a recruit’s family.

Louisville has previously indicated it would accept responsibility for violations it committed but would contest allegations it believed were not supported by facts. The school also noted corrective measures taken in the scandal’s immediate aftermath, such as suspending and then firing Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.

Louisville also dismissed the NCAA’s contention that former Adidas executive James Gatto and amateur league director Merl Code represented the school while funneling illegal payments to recruits at several schools.

“The enforcement staff’s remaining allegations lack factual support and overread the relevant Bylaws,” the response stated, “and rest on the erroneous contention that the conspirators were representatives of the University’s athletics interests.

“For these reasons and others set forth, the panel should reject the enforcement staff’s dramatically overbroad theory, and classify this case as involving a Level II-Mitigated violation.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.