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Stop calling college basketball transfers an ‘epidemic’

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There is no such thing as a “transfer epidemic” in college basketball, there are only players doing what every American does: Trying to better their situation in life.

It’s that simple.

And Rodney Pryor is proof.

The Portsmouth Invitational is a four-day, eight-team event that features 64 of the best graduating seniors playing in front of NBA executives, trying to earn their way onto some type of roster, be it summer league, D-League, training camp, anything.

It’s a group of guys looking to get their shot.

Pryor is headed there this week, as one of 45 players that come from what we consider high-major, or multi-bid, conferences. A 6-foot-5 lefty that averaged 18.0 points and shot 41 percent from three at Georgetown this past season, Pryor will get his shot at the league. He’ll probably make a summer league roster. He could very well end up in an NBA training camp. He’ll have his chance to earn an NBA roster spot before, in all likelihood, heading to the D-League or overseas.

Those opportunities might have come along had Pryor stayed at Robert Morris for his final year of eligibility.

They might not have, either. There are 19 players headed to Portsmouth from the mid-major ranks. Would Pryor have gotten an invite had he not spent all winter lighting up Big East defenses?

“I wanted to play on a higher level and showcase my talents,” Pryor told FanRag Sports in a profile of Robert Morris head coach Andy Toole. “There’s no substitute for the ability to play games regularly on national television.”

I bring up that FanRag Sports story because it’s a terrific look at what the rise in up-transfers can do to a mid-major program. Robert Morris, where Pryor played before leaving for Georgetown as a grad transfer, has been a stalwart in the NEC for as long Toole has been the coach. In his first five years with the program, he never finished worse than third in the league standings, winning two regular season titles, making two NITs — including one where Bobby Mo upset Kentucky in 2013 — and winning a game in the 2015 NCAA tournament.

But after the 2015 season, Toole lost his best player, Marcquise Reed, to Clemson. After last season, Pryor transferred out of the program. This year, Isaiah Still told the staff of his intentions to transfer to a bigger school to try and get more exposure.

Toole was one of the hottest names in college coaching in 2015.

He’s now coming off two straight losing seasons.

It’s a tough business, man.

But blaming the kids here is flat-out wrong.

Because this is what everyone does. When a better job offer comes along, you take it. Lawyers leave small firms for big firms. I stopped freelancing for Sports Illustrated while running my own website when NBC offered me a full-time job. In that FanRag Sports story, Toole says that he turned down Fordham — a bottom-of-the-barrel Atlantic 10 job — because of his loyalty to the program and his players, but would he have been as loyal if he was the one getting chased by Clemson or Georgetown instead of those players?

(Hint: He would’ve been an idiot to say no to either of those schools, and he’s an Ivy League grad. He ain’t dumb.)

That’s no different than Pryor jumping at the chance to play at Georgetown or Reed making the move to play for Clemson in the ACC.

And, frankly, it’s no different than a star college player jumping at the chance to head to the NBA early after an unexpectedly great year in college. I don’t see anyone pitying Greg McDermott for losing Justin Patton or Danny Manning for losing John Collins. The same can be said for the coaching staffs that developed, and likely will lose, the likes of Luke Kennard, and Semi Ojeleye, and Tyler Dorsey, and Jordan Bell.

But in only one of those cases are we referring to unpaid, amateur student-athletes trying to better their lot in life by transferring to a bigger program as an “epidemic”.

It’s not an epidemic.

It’s business.

It’s life.

And these players are doing the same damn thing every single one of you do in your career.

High school basketball player collapses, dies at AAU event

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James Hampton, a member of Team United and a senior at Liberty Heights, a private high school in Charlotte, collapsed and died during a Nike Elite Youth Basketball League game on Saturday night.

Hampton was 17 years old.

In the second half of a game against Nike Phamily, a Phoenix-based program that is run by the father of Marvin Bagley III, Hampton collapsed to the floor unresponsive. Trainers at the event began CPR on and administered chest compressions. Parademics arrived within 10 minutes, but Hampton could not be revived.

The cause of death has not yet been released, but this is not the first time that Hampton had an issue. Last spring, at an event in the Washington D.C. area, Hampton collapsed on the court and had to be given CPR.

“He just fell down on the floor,” Team United director Jacoby Davis told the Charlotte Observer. “He had seizures a year ago and I remember (one of the Team United coaches) telling me that, ‘I saw his eyes rolling back in his head.’ I ran on the court thinking he was having a seizure. A trainer came over and said he didn’t know what was wrong. Another trainer checked his pulse. He said he didn’t have a pulse. It got crazy after that.”

RIP James Hampton.

Nevada’s Jordan Caroline pulls out of 2018 NBA Draft

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Jordan Caroline has opted to pull his name out of the 2018 NBA Draft as he will return to Nevada for his senior season, he announced on Saturday.

The 6-foot-7 Caroline put together a strong season for the Wolf Pack as he averaged 17.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game as Nevada made the Sweet 16 behind one of the most talented offenses in the country.

Caroline’s return is a huge boost for Nevada as they still await the NBA draft decisions of Caleb and Cody Martin.

Currently ranked No. 17 in the NBCSports.com Preseason Top 25 (without the Martin twins), the Wolf Pack will still have a ton of talent around Caroline next season. Five-star freshman center Jordan Brown recently committed to Nevada. The program also a number of talented transfers entering the mix, including Tre’Shawn Thomas, Nisre Zouzoua and Ehab Amin.

If the Martin twins return to school (and that is a big if) then Nevada could have a potentially elite offense next season. But even if the Martin twins go pro, Nevada should still be the favorite in the Mountain West and a threat to once again make the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

Dewan Huell returning to Miami for junior season

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Miami received some positive news on Saturday afternoon as the school announced the return of forward Dewan Huell for his junior season.

After testing the NBA draft waters without an agent, the 6-foot-11 Huell will be back for the Hurricanes. Starting all 32 games for the program last season, Huell averaged 11.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting 57 percent from the floor.

“After getting feedback from NBA teams and talking it over with my family and coaches, I would like to announce that I will be returning to Miami for my junior season,” Huell said in the release. “I’m really excited to get back to work with my brothers so we can accomplish more than ever during the 2018-19 season.”

A former McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school, Huell’s return gives the Hurricanes stability in the front court for next season as he’ll play with other returning players like Sam Waardenburg and Ebuka Izundu. With Miami losing both Lonnie Walker and Bruce Brown early to the 2018 NBA Draft, Huell could be expected to provide more offensive production as a junior.

Bruce Weber receives contract extension at Kansas State

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Kansas State and head coach Bruce Weber have agreed to a two-year contract extension, according to a release from the school.

After leading the Wildcats to a surprising Elite Eight appearance in March, Weber will be the head coach at Kansas State through the 2022-23 season, which gives him another five seasons to work with. Weber will be paid $2.5 million in 2018-19 and he’ll receive a $100,000 increase to his salary in each remaining contract year.

Weber had already signed a two-year extension in August 2017, but this move gives the veteran head coach more job security (and positive recruiting perception) for the next few seasons.

“We are very fortunate to have not only such an outstanding basketball coach but also a man in Coach Weber who conducts his program with integrity and class and is widely respected across the nation,” Kansas State Director of Athletics Gene Taylor said. “Certainly last season was one of the most memorable postseason runs in our program’s history, and we are excited for next season and the years ahead under Coach Weber’s leadership.”

With Kansas State returning most of its roster from last season, including the return of guard Barry Brown from the 2018 NBA Draft process, expectations are sky-high for Weber and the Wildcats this season. Currently ranked as the No. 8 team in the NBCSports.com Preseason Top 25, Kansas State’s veteran club could give Kansas a serious run for a Big 12 regular season title this season.

Northwestern loses incoming freshman point guard

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Northwestern and incoming freshman point guard Jordan Lathon are parting ways. The 6-foot-4 Lathon was viewed as a potential candidate to replace Bryant McIntosh at lead guard for the Wildcats this season, but Northwestern has reportedly revoked his offer of admission and basketball scholarship.

It is unclear why Lathon was unable to be admitted into Northwestern, but the school’s VP for University Relations, Alan Cubbage, gave a statement to Inside NU’s Davis Rich and Caleb Friedman.

“Northwestern University has revoked its offers of admission and an athletic scholarship for Jordan Lathon, a recruit for the Northwestern men’s basketball team,” the statement said. “Out of respect for the privacy of the student, the University will have no further public comment.”

Lathon later acknowledged the situation in a tweet explaining to fans that he will no longer be attending Northwestern.

While it is unclear why Lathon and Northwestern are parting ways, other high-major programs are already very interested in bringing in Lathon for next season. Oklahoma State immediately jumped in with a scholarship offer. There is also speculation that Lathon, a native of Grandview, Missouri, could also hear from the in-state Tigers as well.

It’ll be interesting to see where Lathon lands, and how this also affects Northwestern’s point guard situation. The loss of a four-year starter like McIntosh will be tough to fill, especially since Lathon was committed to Northwestern since last June. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Wildcats and head coach Chris Collins seek out a veteran point guard graduate transfer to try and get some immediate help.