Stay Or Go: The 13 NBA Draft decisions that we’re waiting to hear

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The deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft is this Wednesday. There are still 13 players whose decisions could have a major impact on college basketball next season.

Here they are:

Josh Hart, Villanova: Hart could be a first-team all-american next season on a Villanova team that will be in the preseason top five as they look to become the first team in a decade to repeat as National Champions. He’s also good enough that there is a shot that he could end up being a first round pick, or, at the very least, be a second rounder that earns a guaranteed contract. That’s not an easy decision to make.

Melo Trimble, Maryland: Trimble was a potential first round pick after his freshman season. A dreadful close to his sophomore year has him as a question mark to even get picked. He needs to go back to school for his junior year and prove that he can shoot and wants to put in the effort on the defensive end.

Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey, Oregon: Oregon is coming off a terrific year and looks to be a top five team heading into next season. Brooks and Dorsey are arguably their two best scorers heading into next year, and neither of them were invited to the NBA Combine. In an ideal world, both would make the trek back to Eugene to try and improve their draft stock, but it wouldn’t be that surprising to see either one of them ditch school to pursue the professional route, even if that is overseas.

Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin: Hayes did not have a good junior year. He really struggled shooting the ball down the stretch and did not adjust to life on the perimeter as well as many hoped. But if he returns to school, he could end up being the third-best player on Wisconsin. It’s not an easy decision, but if Hayes truly wants to be a draft pick, he needs to go back to school.

Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall: Whitehead was unbelievable down the stretch of his sophomore season, but he’s a volume scorer that is inefficient with the basketball and a bit undersized to be a two-guard in the NBA. He’s a second round pick, but he may be a second round pick next season given the glut of point guards projected to be in that draft. I’d bet that he’s gone.

Troy Williams and James Blackmon Jr., Indiana: Blackmon should absolutely return to school. He’s coming off of an injury, he’s undersized and he’s not a guy that will be able to defend at the next level, but there’s questions about just how well he fits with what Tom Crean is looking to do with the Hoosiers next season. Williams is more of a question mark. He’s undoubtedly an NBA athlete and, at times, he looks like a guy that could be a starter in the NBA. But he’s so inconsistent that there are times that he looks like he should never set foot on a basketball court again. Decision-making and shooting are the keys for Williams, and those are things that can be taught in the NBA. I think he’s gone.

Caleb Swanigan, Purdue: Swanigan is more versatile than people realize, but he’s still a Land Warrior, a strong and stocky power forward that averaged 10.3 points and 8.2 boards. His guardian is an agent, so he’ll have the best information possible, the question is whether or not he’s OK heading to the next level as a likely second round pick.

Isaiah Briscoe and Marcus Lee, Kentucky: Lee seems to want to head to the professional ranks, but the problem is that he’s just not quite good enough to get to the NBA. That’s at least what NBA minds believe, so the question is whether or not Lee will kickstart his pro career or return and try to improve enough to get picked next season. Briscoe is a more interesting case. He was a terrible shooter as a freshman and likely wouldn’t get picked this season. But he’ll play behind both De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk if he returns to Kentucky, so his chances to showcase his improvement will be limited. Is he OK with potentially being a three-year player for the Wildcats?

Malik Newman, Mississippi State: Newman looked to be a surefire one-and-done player for Ben Howland. Then he got to college and he wasn’t even the best freshman guard on his own team. He’s a second round pick at best if he opts to remain in the draft, and the safe bet is that is what he’ll end up doing.

Chinanu Onuaku, Louisville: The standard belief is that Onuaku would head to the NBA this season. He’s got a chance to be a first round pick this year, but the process is drawing out. There’s still a shot, but if I’m a Louisville fan, I wouldn’t expect to see him in the Yum! Center anytime soon.

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


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.