WEEKLY AWARDS: Jaysean Paige is West Virginias hero, and Seton Hall is dancing

(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Jaysean Paige, West Virginia

Paige has been terrific for the Mountaineers this season, leading the team in scoring despite operating as their sixth-man. He was once again phenomenal this week, going for 34 points in a 97-87 win over No. 17 Iowa State in Morgantown earlier this week. He followed that up with 17 points in a win at Oklahoma State on Saturday.

The reason that Paige is such an important piece for WVU is due to the way that the Mountaineers play. They press and press and press largely due to the fact that they need to be able to get points in transition if they want to score. This is not exactly the Golden State Warriors offensively. But Paige is their most dangerous shooter and their best scorer, meaning he is the guy that allows them to be able to get into their press even when the press is not working all that well.


  • Davon Reed, Miami: In wins over No. 3 Virginia and No. 11 Louisville, Reed averaging 19.0 points while shooting 13-for-15 from the floor. Not bad for the fourth-best perimeter player that Jim Larrañaga has at his disposal.
  • Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall: Whitehead was sensational for the Pirates this week, averaging 23.5 points, 7.0 assists, 4.0 boards and 4.0 blocks in wins over Providence and No. 2 Xavier. He’s a guard, by the way.
  • Bronson Koenig, Wisconsin: Koenig was the best player on the floor for the Badgers in wins at No. 8 Iowa and over Michigan on Sunday. The Badgers all-but clinched their NCAA tournament at-large bid and are a 2-0 week away from winning a share of the Big Ten title.
  • Brandon Taylor, Utah: Taylor came up huge in Utah’s win over No. 9 Arizona on Saturday, scoring 15 of his 19 points in the second half, hitting the dagger with this filth.
  • AJ Hammons, Purdue: Hammons had one of his best games of the season on Saturday, helping the Boilermakers overpower No. 10 Maryland’s front line.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Seton Hall Pirates

The Pirates punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament this week with two dominating performances in Newark. It started on Wednesday, when they sent the Friars back to Providence with an 18-point loss and continued on Sunday as they pounded No. 5 Xavier, who was coming off of a win over then-No. 1 Villanova.

Think about where this team and this program was a year ago. They had players transferring in the middle of the year. They were reports that there was a complete fracture in the locker room. They had gone from a top 15 team in January to a team that missed the NCAA tournament. The assistant that was hired specifically to get Isaiah Whitehead onto campus was sent packing. They were picked seventh in the conference in the preseason.

And here they are, tournament bound and a borderline top 25 team.


  • Colorado: The Buffaloes will be dancing this season. They locked that up with wins over the Arizona schools this week.
  • Miami: The Hurricanes bounced back from a dreadful loss at UNC to beat both Virginia and Louisville in Coral Gables.
  • Wisconsin: After wins at Iowa and over Michigan, if the season ended today, the Badgers would be the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament.
  • Texas: The Longhorns avoided a loss at Kansas State and followed that up with a win over No. 3 Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry on Saturday.
  • Vanderbilt: The Commodores played their way onto the right side of the cut line (for now) by winning at Florida and knocking off No. 16 Kentucky in Nashville.


No. 2 Kansas at No. 25 Texas, Mon. 9:00 p.m.
No. 19 Baylor at No. 3 Oklahoma, Tue. 9:00 p.m.
No. 18 Indiana at No. 8 Iowa, Tue. 9:00 p.m.
Cal at No. 9 Arizona, Thu. 9:00 p.m.
No. 17 Iowa State at No. 2 Kansas, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
No. 7 North Carolina at No. 15 Duke, Sat. 6:30 p.m.
No. 11 Louisville at No. 3 Virginia, Sat. 8:30 p.m.
No. 10 Maryland at No. 18 Indiana, Sun. 4:30 p.m.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK

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

1 Comment

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

Michael Hickey/Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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

Getty Images
1 Comment

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.