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Young Duke team gets response they needed from Grayson Allen, Derryck Thornton

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NEW YORK — Grayson Allen got benched.

Three days after he was held to 2-for-11 shooting, three days after he finished with six points and four turnovers as Duke was run out of the Champions Classic by Kentucky, Allen was relegated to reserve duty by Coach K.

And he responded by, once again, being the best player on the floor.

“The response that Grayson had from Kentucky was huge,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “I think it’s spectacular. A lot of kids would question themselves. He never did.”

Allen scored a career-high 30 points on Friday night, adding six boards and three assists as as the No. 5 Blue Devils came-from-behind to knock off VCU, 79-71, in the semifinals of the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden.

It was the second time in the first eight days of the season that Allen has set a career-high and the third time that he’s finished with more than 26 points. The one outlier? That horrid performance against Kentucky, when Isaiah Briscoe hounded him into a 0-for-9 shooting performance in the first half.

Allen may not have questioned himself after learning that he would be watching the opening tip while sitting down, but the reason he was on the pine was because he spent the 28 minutes that he managed to play doing just that: questioning himself.

“I thought he was driving to score, not just to get a shot off,” Coach K said. “Unless you’re playing against that [kind of talent] every day … he’s a good player, but he’s not as experienced as he’s getting. He wasn’t able to make an adjustment during the Kentucky game, but since then he’s made that adjustment.”

The difference on Friday — from Tuesday, from the rest of the season, really — wasn’t just Allen’s mindset, it was that he was no longer a one-dimensional player. The first two games of the season, Allen essentially did one thing when he got the ball in his hands: he drove right, he drove hard and he drove straight to the rim. That worked great against Bryant and Siena. Not so much against Kentucky’s athleticism.

“We have a thing on our team, a standard that we tell each other the truth,” Coach K said. “He didn’t play well against Kentucky. He didn’t have a good look and he didn’t adjust. That was his first big time start. It’s not like he’s this combat veteran.”

“That was a rough film sensation after Kentucky,” Allen said.

“I was hard on him,” Coach K added, “but honest. I said, ‘We gotta look at something else,’ and it gave us a chance to look at Derryck.”

That Derryck that Coach K is referring to is Derryck Thornton, Duke’s freshman point guard who started in place of Allen, but I’ll get to him in a minute.

On Friday, Allen showed off the versatile offensive repertoire that assistant coach Nate James raved about this summer. He went left. He hit floaters. He drilled pull-ups going left and right. He drove right and spun back to his left. He broke Doug Brooks’ ankles with an in-and-out dribble that belonged at Rucker Park, not the Garden.

“I learned that from Tyus,” Allen said with a laugh after the game. “He got me a lot with that in practice.”

It was all there for Allen on Friday night, and the result was that he was a much more dangerous offensive weapon, one that VCU had scouted correctly and still could not find a way to slow down.

“The first half we were giving him the shots we wanted him to take, he was just knocking them down,” VCU senior center Mo Alie-Cox said.

But enough about Allen, because he wasn’t the only guard that thrived for the Blue Devils on Friday. Thornton, a freshman who is supposed to he a senior in high school right now, wasn’t phased by the moment. He wasn’t phased by starting in Madison Square Garden or by squaring off against the kind of pressure that VCU is always — Havoc! — going to put on opposing ball-handlers.

He finished with 19 points and four assists, shooting 7-for-11 from the floor and committing just three turnovers in 31 minutes.

“For Derryck to take of the ball and do that was sensational,” Coach K said.

He wasn’t perfect. He made mistakes. He did commit three turnovers, but he also missed some defensive rotations, whiffed on a box out here and there, threw a couple of lazy passes that didn’t get charted as a turnover but cost Duke an open look. Freshmen do that. Freshmen point guards in their first start do that.

It was Thornton’s presence that made as much of a difference as anything.

“Derrick brought a personality,” Coach K said. “His talk, he looked strong, played that way. If there was a mistake, it never rattled him. What he’s doing, he’s earning the respect and confidence of his teammates. He brings something different to our team, and it’s not just being a point guard.”

“It’s not being afraid.”

College basketball teams generate hype because of the new pieces that they bring in. That’s just the way it works these days, and Duke is as much to blame as anyone. They won a national title with three one-and-done players and then went out and snagged a recruiting class that was among the best in the country.

But the dirty little secret that’s coming to light now that games have begun is that this freshman class really isn’t all that good. It’s not on the same level as the Class of 2013 or 2014. It’s no where near as good as the Class of 2016. Some analysts say it’s the worst class since Gerald Green and Josh McRoberts were pegged as the best high school hoopers in the country.

For Duke, this manifests as their top three recruit, Brandon Ingram, struggling to find any kind of a rhythm against collegiate competition. It manifests as sharp-shooter Luke Kennard opening the season by going 2-for-15 from beyond the arc. The bottom line is that this is a team that returned just four players that saw playing time in last year’s Final Four: Grayson Allen, Matt Jones, Marshall Plumlee and Amile Jefferson.

They are young.

They are inexperienced.

They are learning.

They aren’t a top five team right now.

“We have to develop into a team,” Coach K said. “We are not a team yet. All these situations help us. When we got down by six and had a turnover, it could have gone south quickly.”

“It wasn’t coaching, it was them. They have that in them.”

Duke’s Justin Robinson discusses lost season, becoming a leader

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Justin Robinson was starting to figure things out.

The Duke senior forward saw his role increase as the postseason approached. Against rival North Carolina, Robinson made key plays on both ends of the floor. Robinson finished with 13 points, six rebounds, four blocks and three assists in 25 minutes. The ACC tournament was next on the schedule for Duke.

Then, the college basketball season was cut short. Robinson and his Duke teammates were among a large group of teams with seasons that would never get completed.

Robinson sat down with his brother Corey to discuss how he and his teammates handled season being canceled, his favorite tournament memories and how he grew into his role with the Blue Devils.

Report: MSU basketball player accused of sexual assault

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) A woman who said she was sexually assaulted by a Michigan State basketball player is asking the Michigan attorney general’s office to investigate, according to a published report.

ESPN, citing a police report and emails obtained through a public records request, reported that Michigan State University police told prosecutors they had probable cause that sophomore guard Brock Washington raped the woman on Jan. 19 while she was too intoxicated to consent. Police referred the case to county prosecutors, who declined to file charges this month.

An MSU police spokesman said that the attorney general’s office requested the case file and the department was cooperating.

After a loss at Indiana on Jan. 23, coach Tom Izzo told reporters that Washington had been suspended. He did not elaborate.

Washington did not play again this season. He played a total of 19 minutes this season before the suspension.

A team spokesman did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press seeking comment Monday. The AP also left messages with the MSU police.

ESPN said it attempted to reach Washington and his current attorney. A previous attorney, Peter Samouris, said he wasn’t familiar with this case but that he spoke with Washington and Washington’s father last week.

“It’s my understanding he’s not going to be charged, and he doesn’t wish to speak,” Samouris told ESPN. “He’s maintained his innocence 100% of the time.”

Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon said in a statement to ESPN that she did not charge Washington because the case “does not meet the burden of proof that we must present to a jury.”

The woman told ESPN she met with an assistant prosecutor earlier this month and was told that she had been “too intoxicated to prove that it (sexual contact) was forced.”

“That was the whole point of the charge, that I was too drunk to consent to what happened,” the woman said. “The prosecutor failed me completely.”

The woman told ESPN she requested that the AG’s office investigate her case.

ESPN, citing police records and an unidentified source, said Washington pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in 2018 – under a provision allowing offenders to plead guilty without a court entering a judgment of conviction. A female student reported that Washington forcibly groped her on Aug. 29, 2017, according to ESPN.

Michigan State has been at the center of several high-profile sexual assault claims in recent years. The school was rocked by the sexual abuse scandal involving sports doctor Larry Nassar, and several basketball and football players have been accused of misconduct as well.

More AP college basketball:

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NBA draft process remains uncertain for college stars

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Uncertainty in the NBA draft process means a chaotic next few months for college basketball’s stars.

The COVID-19 outbreak stalled the NBA season. The future of the regular season hasn’t been determined. The postseason with it. The 2020 NBA Draft still remains a complete mystery.

Through it all, college basketball’s best players have deadlines for pro decisions coming up. Changing times have made for a more difficult NBA draft process than normal. It also might have ramifications for future college eligibility for certain players.

Before the 2019 NBA Draft process, the NCAA revised its former policy. Student-athletes could sign agents and retain college eligibility last summer. That process helped players like Kansas’ Devon Dotson and Louisville’s Jordan Nwora test the 2019 NBA Draft waters before returning to school this season.

The sport’s top agents largely ignored the new NCAA certification process for 2020. Only 23 agents have even been certified so far. As noted by Stadium’s Jeff Goodman, that list of NCAA-approved agents don’t come from bigger firms. So college players have been given a small group of agents to help them navigate the process. At least if they wish to keep college open as an option.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony also noted that many agents are more focused on their current NBA players and the surrounding chaos in the NBA than they are 2020 draft prospects.

Of course, prospects can also risk navigating the NBA draft process alone. An agent, even from a “smaller” firm, has NBA connections. Agents help give feedback to potential clients who test the waters. A player going through the process alone doesn’t get that benefit. With limited NCAA-approved agents, some players could opt to do things themselves the next several months.

Top players who intend to stay in the draft will still sign with the sport’s top agents. That part will stay the same. But during a unique draft process, players being limited to only 23 agents to retain eligibility is not what the NCAA should be looking for. Workouts have practically been eliminated. The draft might be pushed back. And the NCAA isn’t helping its own student-athletes by placing so many restrictions that limit returning eligibility.

Tarleton State’s decision to hire Billy Gillispie is shameful

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Billy Gillispie is the new head coach at Tarleton State.

But the truth is that Billy Gillispie, the former UTEP, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Kentucky coach, should never again be allowed to coach basketball at any level, which is what makes Tarleton State’s decision to hire him to lead the program into the Division I ranks next season all the more shameful.

He’s abusive, he’s manipulative, he treats the people in his program horrifically and you can never be quite sure when his next drunk driving arrest is going to happen. He’s had at least three since his coaching career began. When he was the head coach at the University of Kentucky, he had a driver because the school could not trust that he would not get behind the wheel while hammered. Case in point: exactly five months after Kentucky fired him — when he no longer had a driver supplied to him by the school — he was pulled over at 2:47 a.m. in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, for DUI. He plead guilty two months later despite refusing a breathalyzer.

Every stop that he has been along the way, there are stories about the way that he treats players, his assistant coaches and the people he interacts with around the program every day. There was the time at Kentucky he made Josh Harrellson sit in a bathroom stall during halftime because he was “playing like s***,” or the time he made Harrellson ride home from a road game in a van with the team managers. There was the time at Texas A&M that he made a player break up with the girl he was dating — a booster’s daughter — on the charter flight home from a game, in front of the girl’s family.

Then there was Texas Tech.

As Jeff Goodman, then of CBS Sports, reported at the time, Gillispie’s treatment of the players was just horrific. He had his team practicing for four hours a day — including one day where they went for eight hours — just obliterating the NCAA’s limit of 20 hours per week. It left one player on the team with stress fractures in both legs that he was forced to play through. He lied to players about scholarship offers, stringing them along until he had someone better to give the scholarship to. He did the same thing with coaches trying to get a spot on his coaching staff. According to Goodman’s reporting at the time, former Indiana guard Tom Coverdale quit his job as a Junior College coach to be an assistant on Gillispie’s staff only to get to Lubbock and be told that he was going to be an assistant strength coach that paid half as much. He would force everyone with the program — including radio and TV broadcasters — participate in layup lines at the start of practice. Anyone that missed a shot at to run the stadium stairs.

“It was mental warfare,” said a source that has worked with Gillispie in the past. “Everyone had to have a clear understanding. He was the ruler. He has a major complex with making sure everyone knows he’s in charge. For no reason, just to flex. Meeting at all times of the night, meeting on Christmas Eve, just to see if anyone says, ‘can’t coach, wife said no.’ Then he’d overcompensate with gifts for the family, for the kids.”

Like any abusive relationship, he breaks down people he has control over, builds them back up by showering them with compliments and promises that it will never happen again only to repeat the process all over.

And then there was the incident with Chris Beard.

Fed up with the way that he treated people in the program — as many as 30 people left Texas Tech, from players to secretaries, in the 18 months that Gillispie was in charge — Beard confronted Gillispie about it in a meeting with Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt. Things got heated. The two had to be physically separated. Beard was paid a hefty chunk of money to be quiet about it, and he was sent on his way, taking a job in the ABA before ending up back in Lubbock.

Those are just the stories that I feel comfortable enough to publish.

Tarleton State knows exactly what they’re doing in hiring Billy Gillispie. None of his issues are a secret. Things haven’t changed since he took over at Ranger College, a JuCo in Texas, three years ago. But the new president at the University wanted to make a splash. He wanted to transition to Division I, and he wanted to win as soon as he got there. The WAC is hardly a powerhouse, and if there is one thing that Billy Clyde Gillispie can do, it’s win basketball games.

He did so at UTEP and he did so at Texas A&M. Odds are good Billy Gillispie will also win at Tarleton State.

And in the process, he’ll treat everyone that he deems beneath him — student-athletes, staff members, whoever — terribly.

Is that really worth it?

2020 NBA Draft Early Entry Tracker

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Here is CBT’s full 2020 NBA Draft early entry tracker. You’ll find a full breakdown of what players are deciding. We’ll track signing with agents, testing the waters and returning to school here. 

Underclassmen have until Sunday, April 26th at 11:59 p.m. EST to declare for the 2020 NBA Draft.

A deadline of Monday, June 15th at 5 p.m. EST is set for underclassmen to withdraw and retain college eligibility.

Of course, these dates are subject to change given the fluidity of the COVID-19 situation.

Here is the full list of the underclassmen who have declared for the 2020 NBA Draft. You can also find a list of the biggest names we’re waiting on.

NBA DRAFT EARLY ENTRY

Preseason Top 25 | Mock Draft | Early Entry Tracker

NBA DRAFT TESTING THE WATERS

  • SADDIQ BEY, Villanova
  • TYLER BEY, Colorado
  • JERMAINE BISHOP, Norfolk State
  • JORDAN BRUNER, Yale
  • MARCUS CARR, Minnesota
  • JALEN CRUTCHER, Dayton
  • RYAN DALY, St. Joseph’s
  • DEVON DANIELS, N.C. State
  • KENDRIC DAVIS, SMU
  • L.J. FIGUEROA, St. John’s
  • D.J. FUNDERBURK, N.C. State
  • ALONZO GAFFNEY, Ohio State
  • JIMMA GATWECH, Huntington Prep (WV)
  • JAYVON GRAVES, Buffalo
  • RAYSHAUN HAMMONDS, Georgia
  • ELIJAH HUGHES, Syracuse
  • FERON HUNT, SMU
  • HERB JONES, Alabama
  • MASON JONES, Arkansas
  • KAMERON LANGLEY, North Carolina A&T
  • SABEN LEE, Vanderbilt
  • KIRA LEWIS, Alabama
  • ISAIAH LIVERS, Michigan
  • CAM MACK, Nebraska
  • SANDRO MAMUKELASHVILI, Seton Hall
  • NAJI MARSHALL, Xavier
  • KENYON MARTIN JR., IMG Academy (FL)
  • REMY MARTIN, Arizona State
  • MAC MCCLUNG, Georgetown
  • ELIJAH OLANIYI, Stony Brook
  • JOHN PETTY JR., Alabama
  • NATE PIERRE-LOUIS, Temple
  • JEREMIAH ROBINSON-EARL, Villanova
  • JAY SCRUBB, Louisville
  • PARKER STEWART, UT Martin
  • MACIO TEAGUE, Baylor
  • XAVIER TILLMAN, Michigan State
  • JORDAN TUCKER, Butler
  • KEITH WILLIAMS, Cincinnati
  • MCKINLEY WRIGHT, Colorado

NOTABLES RETURNING TO SCHOOL

  • DEREK CULVER, West Virginia
  • OSCAR TSHIEBWE, West Virginia

NOTABLES YET TO ANNOUNCE

PRECIOUS ACHIUWA, Memphis
DERRICK ALSTON, Boise State
COLE ANTHONY, North Carolina
BRYAN ANTOINE, Villanova
JOEL AYAYI, Gonzaga
JARED BUTLER, Baylor
VERNON CAREY, Duke
AYO DOSUNMU, Illinois
DEVON DOTSON, Kansas
MALACHI FLYNN, San Diego State
LUKA GARZA, Iowa
JOSH GREEN, Arizona
ASHTON HAGANS, Kentucky
AARON HENRY, Michigan State
MATTHEW HURT, Duke
TRAYCE JACKSON-DAVIS, Indiana
ISAIAH JOE, Arkansas
DAVID JOHNSON, Louisville
A.J. LAWSON, South Carolina
SCOTTIE LEWIS, Florida
TYRESE MAXEY, Kentucky
JADEN MCDANIELS, Washington
WENDELL MOORE, Duke
JORDAN NWORA, Louisville
FILIP PETRUSEV, Gonzaga
YVES PONS, Tennessee
NEEMIAS QUETA, Utah State
IMMANUEL QUICKLEY, Kentucky
JAHMI’US RAMSEY, Texas Tech
NICK RICHARDS, Kentucky
JALEN SMITH, Maryland
CASSIUS STANLEY, Duke
ISAIAH STEWART, Washington
TYRELL TERRY, Stanford
TRENDON WATFORD, LSU
ROMEO WEEMS, DePaul
KALEB WESSON, Ohio State
KAHLIL WHITNEY, Kentucky
ROBERT WOODWARD, Mississippi State

Preseason Top 25 | Coaching Carousel | NBA Draft Early Entry (link)

WHEN IS THE 2020 NBA DRAFT?

The 2020 NBA Draft is currently scheduled to take place on June 25th, 2020, but that date is up in the air due to the spread of COVID-19. At the very least, the league is preparing as if the pre-draft process is going to be drastically different than it has been in past seasons.

WHEN IS THE DEADLINE FOR AN EARLY ENTRY TO DECLARE FOR THE 2020 NBA DRAFT?

Underclassmen have under April 26th to declare for the draft. Those that don’t sign with an agent have until June 15th to pull their name out of the draft and return to school.

WHERE CAN I FIND A 2020 MOCK DRAFT?

Right here, thanks for asking.