Randolph Childress’ son making his own name at Wake Forest

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Brandon Childress is trying to make a name for himself at Wake Forest.

That’s quite a challenge for the son of Randolph Childress – one of the best players in program history and a current assistant coach at the school.

Brandon Childress called it “a gift and a curse being my father’s son” in an interview with The Associated Press, but is embracing the tough task that comes with living up to the family name.

Randolph Childress made a school-record 329 3-pointers and scored 2,208 points – more than every other Wake Forest player in the past 60 years – from 1990-95 before becoming a first-round draft pick and beginning a 16-year pro career that included stints in the NBA and in Europe.

No one’s asking his son to duplicate those numbers, of course, though father and son do have some similarities in their game . Both are pure shooters, though it’ll be tough to match what Dad did in 1995.

Randolph scored an Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament-record 107 points over three days, hitting a memorable jumper over a fallen-down Jeff McInnis after a crossover move before hitting the go-ahead leaner in the final seconds of overtime to beat North Carolina for the title.

Randolph said Brandon earned the scholarship and hasn’t been given anything because of family ties. Scout.com rated Brandon as a three-star recruit out of Wesleyan Christian in nearby High Point.

“I wanted him to go through the (recruiting) process and know I’m not going to push you, and I’m not the one that’s bringing you here,” Randolph said. “You earned the right to be here.”

Instead, they’re asking more of him because of his familiarity with the university, the program and the system: Randolph has been on Wake Forest’s staff since 2012, and though he was born in Detroit, Brandon lists his hometown as Winston-Salem.

“The expectation for Brandon is that he comes in, he grasps the system and he’s got a head start on all of our freshmen because he’s been around the last two years,” coach Danny Manning said. “So his standard is probably a little bit higher than the other freshmen in that regard.”

From the outside, it might seem like the younger Childress was always headed to Wake Forest because he saw one of the key recruiters every day.

Not the case, both father and son insist.

Brandon said his dad “didn’t put a finger in my recruiting at all” and didn’t even accompany him on his official visits, but did offer advice on what to expect during the recruiting process. Randolph says that was because he knew his son had to come to a decision on his own.

Stanford, Clemson, East Carolina, Charlotte and UNC Greensboro were the main other schools that showed interest, Brandon said.

“A lot of people think it was simple, but it really wasn’t,” he said. “A lot of schools always wanted to say, `Ah, he’s going to play for his father,’ when I told several coaches that right now, I don’t want to play for my father – I just want to go on my own, and a lot of schools didn’t want to give me the opportunity.”

Turns out, the one school that offered him what he wanted most – a chance to play in the ACC – was the one where Dad works.

“There were always going to be people questioning or saying things – `Oh, you just went there because of your dad’ – and I wanted him to be able to say, your recruitment went through a coaching change (from Jeff Bzdelik to Manning) as well, so you earned that opportunity to come here,” Randolph said. “There were no strings to tie, there were no promises made or assumptions made that you’re going to be here. All I told him was, you’re going to work to get here, how difficult it was to get here and once you got here, you had to work even harder.”

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK
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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.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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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.