Markelle Fultz, via UW Athletics

What if USA Basketball’s Olympic team was all college kids?


Some people may not realize this, but the reason that the Dream Team was called the Dream Team was because it was the first time that that much basketball talent was amassed on the same roster.

Before 1992, professional basketball players were not sent to the Olympics. It was the college kids that went. But that all changed in 1992, after a team led by David Robinson, Mitch Richmond and Danny Manning took home the 1988 bronze medal. And outside of a blip more than a decade ago, the U.S. has taken back control of international basketball regardless of what the ill-informed want to tell you after the 2016 NBA Draft.

But what happens if we went back to college players? Would that team be able to compete?

Here’s the roster that we came up with to send to Rio if pros were not allowed in the Olympics. What changes would you make? And is there any chance that this team would medal?

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: Head coach Mike Krzyzewski hugs Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils after he fouled out against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during their 84-79 overtime loss during the quarterfinals of the 2016 ACC Basketball Tournament Verizon Center on March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Mike Krzyzewski and Grayson Allen (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

HEAD COACH: Mike Krzyzewski, Duke: Coach K is the guy that’s turned around the USA Basketball program in the last decade. Why wouldn’t we leave him in charge, especially when the roster that he brings with him to the Olympics is going to feature a handful of his players?

Markelle Fultz, Washington: Fultz is an amazing story. The 6-foot-4 point guard went from being on DeMatha’s junior varsity as a sophomore to the potential No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He’s got size, athleticism and three-point range, but he also has a tremendous understanding of how to change speeds to get to the rim. Starting a freshman at the point guard spot is super-risky in an event like this, but if Fultz really is that dude — as many bright minds in the basketball community believe that he is — then he should be just fine.

Grayson Allen, Duke: As hard as it would be for some Americans to wrap their head around rooting for Allen, he’s probably the most qualified player in the country to find a spot on this roster. A potential first round pick last season, Allen averaged 21.6 points, 4.6 boards and 3.5 assists while shooting 41.7 percent from three for the Blue Devils as a sophomore. He can spread the floor with his ability to shoot, he can attack defenders off the dribble and he’s athletic and strong enough that he won’t be totally overpowered by older opponents.

Josh Hart, Villanova: Hart is in line for a monster senior season. He averaged 22 points as the Wildcats went 3-0 against Spanish competition on their foreign tour just weeks after he was one of the best players on the floor at the Nike Skills Academy. His jumper is ugly but it goes in enough that it has to be respected, and he’s as tough and as physical as any small forward you’ll find. He’ll let K play smaller because of his ability to compete on the glass. I’m not sure he’ll end up being a great pro, but I do think he’d be a perfect fit on this team.

Josh Jackson, Kansas: Jackson is Andrew Wiggins, only with a little more dog in him. Wiggins, as a rookie in the NBA, averaged 16.9 points. Jackson should be just fine in this setting. What will be interesting, however, is how effective he could be playing at the four. The thing that makes Jackson so dangerous in this role is that he’ll compete hard and he happens to be an excellent rebounder for his size. With him and Hart at the forward spots, Team USA would become hard to guard while still being able to hold their own on the defensive glass.

Thomas Bryant, Indiana: Where as it was difficult for us to make decisions on which guards and wings to cut, deciding which front court players to pick was by far the most difficult. None of the big men in college are going to be good enough to hold their own against the grown men that have played professionally for a decade populating the other rosters. Bryant gets the start for three reasons: He can block shots, he can make FIBA threes and he’ll play his tail off, even if he still is very much a work in progress when it comes to learning how to play.

TCU guard Michael Williams (2) defends as Iowa State guard Monte Morris (11) leaps to the basket for a shot in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in Fort Worth, Texas. Morris had 18 points and six assists and No. 19 Iowa State followed a win over top-ranked Oklahoma with a 73-60 victory over TCU on Saturday. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Monte Morris (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)


  • Monte’ Morris, Iowa State: Veteran leadership off the bench. Morris is not going to make mistakes but he’s talented enough to have a positive impact on a game. Made it over Frank Mason.
  • Dennis Smith Jr., N.C. State: After Smith’s performance at Adidas Nations earlier this month, our fears about his ACL recovery have been assuaged. He’s a big, dynamic point guard with the chance to be a terrific defender. He was long considered the best point guard in a 2016 recruiting class that is loaded at that position, and if it wasn’t for an ACL tear and Fultz becoming a sensation, he probably still would be.
  • Jayson Tatum, Duke: Tatum is a smooth 6-foot-9 wing that has experience in international competitions already. He can basically fill the same position as a Josh Hart or a Josh Jackson, but he’s better than either of them on the offensive end of the floor at this point.
  • V.J. Beachem, Notre Dame: Beachem’s name may look weird on this list, but it’ll make more sense as the season progresses and we see what he can do with opportunity. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-8 senior wing that is a sniper from distance.
  • Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson: Blossomgame made the cut for us over Nigel Hayes and Malcolm Hill as a combo-forward off the bench. He’s the best athlete and defender of the three and he shot it the best from three last season. He’ll gladly play a role as well.
  • Harry Giles III, Duke: At full health, Giles would probably be a starter for this team. But coming off of surgery for a torn ACL, something he needed in both knees as a high schooler, it’s hard to know just how ready he’d be at this point. His versatility allows this group to play big by putting him at the four or to go with a small-ball lineup with him at the five.
  • Austin Nichols, Virginia: I think Nichols is in line for an all-american season. A former five-star recruit, he averaged 13.3 points, 6.7 boards and 3.4 blocks as a sophomore for Memphis before spending a year redshirting at Virginia, where Tony Bennett drilled into his head how to be fundamentally elite. He boards, he blocks shots, he scores in the post and he’s old. He’s a great rotation big for this situation.
Josh Jackson, from Napa, Calif.,, dunks over Nancy Mulkey, from Cypress, Texas, as he competes in the slam dunk contest during the McDonald's All-American Jam Fest, Monday, March 28, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
Josh Jackson (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has refuted NCAA allegations against its men’s basketball program in the wake of a federal corruption scandal, requesting that the highest-level violation be reclassified.

The university also is challenging that former coach Rick Pitino failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in his program.

Louisville filed a 104-page response last week to the Notice Of Allegations sent to the school in May. The document stated that college sports’ governing body seeks to ignore wire fraud convictions against several people involved in the scheme – including a former Adidas executive – by suggesting they were representing its athletic interests. Louisville’s contract with the apparel maker was a standard sponsorship agreement rather than a promotional deal, the response added.

“This argument is as novel as it is wrong,” the school wrote in its response. “Even if an institution has some responsibility for the conduct of its suppliers, that responsibility plainly does not extend to acts of fraud perpetrated against the institution itself.”

Louisville also seeks to have several second-tier violations reclassified even lower. The NCAA has until Nov. 15 to respond with the school responding 15 days after before a decision is made whether the case will proceed through the traditional Committee on Infractions or Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP).

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations states that Louisville committed a Level I violation, considered the most severe, with an improper recruiting offer and extra benefits along with several lesser violations. Those lesser violations also include Pitino failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The NCAA notice completed a two-year investigation following a federal corruption probe of college basketball announced in September 2017. Louisville acknowledged its involvement in the federal investigation related to the recruitment of former player Brian Bowen II. Pitino, who’s now coaching Iona, was not named in the federal complaint and has consistently denied authorizing or having knowledge of a payment to a recruit’s family.

Louisville has previously indicated it would accept responsibility for violations it committed but would contest allegations it believed were not supported by facts. The school also noted corrective measures taken in the scandal’s immediate aftermath, such as suspending and then firing Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.

Louisville also dismissed the NCAA’s contention that former Adidas executive James Gatto and amateur league director Merl Code represented the school while funneling illegal payments to recruits at several schools.

“The enforcement staff’s remaining allegations lack factual support and overread the relevant Bylaws,” the response stated, “and rest on the erroneous contention that the conspirators were representatives of the University’s athletics interests.

“For these reasons and others set forth, the panel should reject the enforcement staff’s dramatically overbroad theory, and classify this case as involving a Level II-Mitigated violation.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.