Georgetown’s role players shine again as they land win over Wisconsin

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NEW YORK — We’re three games into the season and the two biggest stars on Georgetown’s team are two kids that some Georgetown fans may not have heard of before.

That’s why the 71-61 win the Hoyas notched over Wisconsin on Friday afternoon in Madison Square Garden was Georgetown’s first of the season.

But it’s also why fans on the Hilltop should feel confident moving forward, and why they can go to sleep tonight knowing they’re going to compete at the top of the Big East this season.

Prior to the trip to to the City That Doesn’t Sleep, Georgetown’s best player was a senior center named Bradley Hayes. He scored 16 points last season, half of which came in an opening NCAA tournament win over Eastern Washington last season. He scored 14 points as a sophomore. He didn’t score as a freshman. Hayes, who averaged 17.5 points and 10.0 boards in season-opening losses to Radford at home and at Maryland, scored more in his first two games this season than he did in the first three years of his career combined.

Yeah.

Seriously.

Hayes struggled on Friday — he finished with just four points, which matched his four turnovers — but another seldom-used upperclassman stepped up. As a sophomore last season, Reggie Cameron scored six points total in Big East play. On Friday, he scored a career-high 14, all of which came in the first half as Georgetown jumped out to a 20-10 lead, never looking back.

“Reggie made shots in the first half because that’s what Reggie Cameron does,” Georgetown head coach John Thompson III said. “I thought he was very good on defense, and so a lot of the plays that we made when we need stops — deflections, getting on the ball, charges — I thought Reggie’s defensive effort was just as important as him making shots.”

Freshman Jessie Govan had 13 points, six boards and three assists off the bench on Friday, helping fill the void in the paint with Hayes struggling. Another freshman, Marcus Derrickson, scored 11 critical points that helped Georgetown come a possession or two away from upsetting No. 3 Maryland. A third freshman, the unherald Kaleb Johnson, entered Friday yet to take a shot at the collegiate level and left having been part of the lineup that Georgetown used to pull away from Wisconsin in the second half, playing extended minutes one that stretched the lead to as much as 14 points.

The rest of that lineup?

Govan, Cameron and sophomores L.J. Peak and Isaac Copeland.

Copeland was supposed to be one of college basketball’s breakout stars this season. Peak deserved consideration for that list as well. I’m only just now mentioning them, and I still haven’t brought up first-team all-Big East guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera.

Smith-Rivera had 12 points, five boards and four assists, but that’s not really representative of how he played on Friday. The 2-for-9 shooting, however, is; frankly, DSR has not played well yet this year.

“I’m not worried about him,” Thompson said. “D’Vauntes will be fine.”

Copeland finished with 15 points and eight boards, but the big shots he made late were negated by a mind-numbing turnover and the inability to hold onto late rebounds in traffic. He’s actually had a solid start to the season, his potential still outweighs his performance.

I say all that to say this: Georgetown’s stars have played nowhere near their potential through the season’s first week.

That will change eventually.

But what has happened is that, in the past four days, the Hoyas nearly picked off the No. 3 team in the country in their own building and handled Wisconsin fairly easily at the Garden. And they did all that without the benefit of their three best players playing like their three best players.

And then there’s the home loss to Radford. That cannot be overlooked — that’ll probably be enough to drop Georgetown a seed line come March — but as ugly as that performance was, it doesn’t really impact the way that I view this group moving forward.

That loss wasn’t due to any lack of ability on the Georgetown roster.

That was because they didn’t show up to play. They weren’t focused. There wasn’t the same intensity that you saw from them the last two games.

Was that a result of the Hoyas looking forward to a week that included trips to College Park and New York? Only they can answer that question, and it’s pretty easy to read between the lines when Thompson says things like this: “Our schedule this year, I’ve said it before, it may not have been wise how we put this together. The last week has been hell.”

It’s easy to overlook an under-manned opponent when there are three massive games on the horizon. That’s why the term “trap game” is a thing.

But as long as that performance was the anomaly, and not a constant theme moving forward, the Hoyas will be fine.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

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.