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Trevon Duval answered Duke’s point guard conundrum at the Champions Classic

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CHICAGO — Trevon Duval was easily the biggest question mark among Duke’s five-star freshmen entering the 2017-18 season.

Could Duval effectively run an offense? Would Duval’s lack of a consistent jumper hurt a Blue Devil team that badly needed floor spacing? Was Duval’s style of play too wild for Coach K?

Duval passed his first real test with flying colors against Michigan State on Tuesday night as he was all over the floor, getting in passing lanes and soaring for above-the-rim finishes.

It was only a small part of an eye-opening performance for Duval at the Champions Classic as his 17 points, 10 assists, six steals and three rebounds were a huge part of No. 1 Duke’s 88-81 win over the No. 2 Spartans. Playing 37 minutes, and only turning the ball over three times, Duval was the steady presence with the ball that the Blue Devils needed in an early-season game of this magnitude.

In a game featuring the top two teams in the country, Duval was the second best player on the floor. And for a program that has struggled to find a consistent option at point guard the past few seasons, Duval looked like the floor leader that the Blue Devils have sorely lacked.

While much of the national recognition was justifiably geared towards teammate Grayson Allen’s red-hot shooting and Marvin Bagley III’s poked right eye, Duval was a menace on both ends of the floor. Whether it was playing in constant attack mode with the ball in his hands on offense or deflecting a high number of passes at the top of Duke’s surprisingly active 2-3 zone on defense, Duval’s imprint was all over Tuesday’s game.

“It was crazy. It was exciting; really exciting,” Duval said to NBCSports.com. “I was a little bit nervous. But after I started to get rolling a little bit it was just regular basketball.

“I usually get butterflies before every game but I got a little bit more butterflies before this game. But it was more of an anxious type of butterfly. I was ready to go and ready to play and ready to win.”

The metamorphosis of Duval emerging into a potential two-way force is a vital part of Duke’s national championship aspirations. Already the No. 1 team in the nation with a potential ceiling that is unrivaled in college basketball this season, the Blue Devils needed Duval to step up in a big way against Michigan State with Bagley only playing 10 minutes and fellow freshman Gary Trent Jr. struggling with a 3-for-14 shooting night.

It was expected that a player known from his high school mixtapes as “Tricky Tre” could make things happen off the dribble on the offensive end. Duval’s constant activity on defense is something that surprised a lot of people.

“I don’t really know what people really said [about me in the preseason] but I think I play defense a lot better [than people think],” Duval said. “Now that I’m in college I feel as though I gotta cut the head off the opposing team. And that’s the point guard. So, whenever I do that, it makes it harder for the other team to run their stuff.”

Duke’s 2-3 zone has been an interesting subplot at the start of the regular season as head coach Mike Krzyzewski hasn’t relied this much on that type of defensive look in recent years. Duval’s 6-foot-9 wingspan and activity in passing lanes could mean that the Blue Devils rely more on the zone than previously believed. The 2-3 zone definitely helps Duke’s lack of consistent depth off the bench. Duval’s pressure also turned a potentially passive look into a turnover-producing force.  Michigan State had serious trouble working the ball into the middle of Duke’s 2-3 zone as Duval applied a lot of ball pressure.

“2-3 is something that we really didn’t play in the first couple games. But in practice, we really go through it so we can run it against certain teams,” Duval said. “We’re really comfortable with it and we know we have really long arms throughout the whole team. So I feel as though we’re comfortable playing that 2-3.”

For as good as Duval was at the Champions Classic, his jumper is still very much a work-in-progress. Finishing 7-for-20 from the field, and going 0-for-4 from three-point range, Duval has to knock down some looks outside of the paint if he wants to keep opposing defenses honest as the season progresses. But also credit Duval with understanding that Allen had the hot hand and that he could play off of the senior’s dominant performance. Still one of the toughest covers in college hoops off of ball-screen scenarios, Duval found a comfort level attacking the basket with downhill drives once Bagley was out and Allen started to get rolling.

“I tried to find Grayson and Gary and the big guys. Try to get them involved, try to get them going. Definitely Grayson when he started to get hot. Tried to find him as much as possible,” Duval said.

“As soon as Grayson started to get hot I had to tell everybody, ‘Find Grayson, he’s gonna knock it down no matter what.’ Once he gets like that, he’s unstoppable.”

It’ll be interesting to see how Duval’s aggressiveness hunting his own offense changes once Bagley returns to the lineup. It didn’t seem like Duval was fully comfortable in the Duke offense until Bagley went down midway through the first half and Duke had to make adjustments. Bagley is going to command a lot of touches on offense and Duval is still developing a chemistry with the Blue Devils’ late-summer addition.

But Tuesday also gave us a glimpse of what Duval can bring on both ends of the floor when he’s confident and rolling. Duke’s ceiling remains completely terrifying if Duval can continue to play like this. In a star-studded Champions Classic that was filled with freshmen talent, Duval was arguably the best among his classmates when it came to making winning plays.

Former Mizzou tutor plans to reveal ‘full list’ of participants in academic fraud case

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A former Missouri tutor that admitted in 2016 to providing improper academic benefits to multiple Tiger athletes on Monday said that she has been named in a new Notice of Allegations and intends to expose more people attached to the investigation.

Yolanda Kumar tweeted that she is planning on releasing “the full list of students, classes and coordinators on twitter” at 6:39 p.m. on Wednesday, adding that she was dropped from the original NOA but was added back into the latest version after she refused to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Missouri responded on Monday by acknowledging they had met with the Committee on Infractions and that the result of the investigation will prove that they acted with “integrity.”

“On June 13, 2018, the University appeared before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions to review its investigative findings, and the Committee has since added a previously unnamed involved party and given notice of the Committee’s allegation to that individual,” a statement Missouri released to ESPN said. “While the University may not disclose the names of any involved student due to FERPA, we remain confident that this review will reveal that the University, as well as its student-athletes and staff, have shown great integrity in responding to the allegations raised. In order to protect the investigation’s integrity and in accordance with NCAA rules relative to ongoing investigations, we are unable to comment further any part of the process until it is completed.”

In 2016, Kumar told the Kansas City Star that she had been asked to offer special assistance to football and men’s basketball players, and confirmed to compliance officials that she had acquiesced, helping a dozen athletes. That led to the NCAA’s investigation, and as a result, a defensive tackle named A.J. Logan was suspended for six games.

Kumar also tweeted in 2017 that she was willing to sell the information she had involving the case for the $3,000 fee she needed to pay Missouri to get her transcripts from the school. On Monday, she tweeted that her debt was cleared by a couple from Kansas City.

All of this allegedly occurred during the tenure of former Missouri head coach Kim Anderson.

Michigan, John Beilien ink five-year extension

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Michigan announced on Wednesday that head coach John Beilein has signed a five-year contract extension with the school that will keep him in Ann Arbor through the 2023 season, at least.

“I am grateful for the opportunity the University of Michigan has given to me over the past 11 years,” said Beilein. “Kathleen and I love Ann Arbor, our University, our fans and the state of Michigan. We will continue to work very hard in the future to have our basketball team reflect the greatness of this University. I thank Mark Schlissel and Warde Manuel for their faith and commitment to our coaching staff and basketball program. The future of men’s basketball is bright and I am excited to be a part of it.”

The deal that Beilein signed is a rollover deal, which means that the contract will renew every year. In other words, as long as Beilein and Michigan want the option picked up each April, he will have a five-year contract with Michigan regardless of how long he coaches at the school.

This is Beilein’s 12th year with the Wolverines. Last season, they won a program-record 33 games and reached the Final Four, losing in the national title game for the second time in six seasons.

He is already Michigan’s all-time leader in wins with 248, and, through 41 seasons as a college coach, has amassed a career record of 799-461. In 11 seasons in Ann Arbor, Michigan has made eight NCAA Tournament appearances with four Sweet 16s and three Elite Eights in addition to the two trips to the Final Four. He was named the he 2013 Big Ten Coach of the Year and has won two Big Ten regular-season titles as well as the last two Big Ten Tournament titles.

There was some speculation earlier this month that Beilein would be leaving Michigan after he had an interview with the Detroit Pistons, but he withdrew from that search after the news became public and it seemed likely that Dwayne Casey would be hired.

Former Michigan athletes Austin Hatch, Abby Cole tie the knot

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The life of former Michigan basketball player Austin Hatch has not been without its challenges, as during his pre-college years he survived two separate plane crashes that took the lives of his parents, a stepmother and two siblings.

Hatch’s scholarship offer to Michigan was honored by head coach John Beilein despite the impact that the crashes had on Hatch physically, and Hatch would go on to earn his degree and land a job at the corporate office for Domino’s. This past spring, Hatch was honored during the team’s Senior Day festivities.

By that point Hatch was already engaged to Abby Cole, who played volleyball at Michigan from 2013 to 2016. And over the weekend, the two tied the knot in what was a highly emotional day for all involved. Below is a video of their wedding day, which was chronicled by Derek Postma.

Congratulations and best wishes to Abby and Austin on their marriage.

Arizona lands Cornell forward Stone Gettings for 2019-20 season

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Arizona landed its first addition for the 2019-20 season on Monday, as an Ivy League power forward revealed his intention to join Sean Miller’s program as a graduate student.

6-foot-9 forward Stone Gettings, who averaged 16.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game at Cornell last season, picked Arizona over Stanford and Vanderbilt according to Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com. A second team All-Ivy selection, Gettings is on course to graduate from Cornell in December. Instead of using his final season of eligibility at Cornell, Gettings will sit out this season before playing at Arizona.

Gettings does have a connection to the Arizona program, as one of his high school teammates was former point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright. The addition of Gettings will give Arizona a front court player who can score around the basket and from the perimeter, as he shot nearly 37 percent from beyond the arc last season.

Gettings isn’t the first Ivy League player to make his decision regarding a new school well in advance of his being able to move as a grad transfer, as former Yale point guard Makai Mason took a similar approach. Mason, who missed the entire 2016-17 season with a torn ACL, announced prior to last season that he be joining the Baylor program as a grad transfer for the 2018-19 campaign.

Not counting Gettings, Arizona has four scholarship front court players on its current roster who will have eligibility remaining in 2019-20, in current junior Chase Jeter, sophomores Emmanuel Akot and Ira Lee and freshman Omar Thielemans.

Bill Self: Silvio De Sousa’s eligibility not in jeopardy ‘at this stage’

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One of the biggest question marks heading into the 2018-19 season for the Kansas Jayhawks is the eligibility status of Silvio De Sousa.

If you’ve forgotten, a player that is believed to be De Sousa was referenced in a second round of indictments handed by the FBI. In those documents, De Sousa’s guardian is alleged to have asked an Adidas rep for at least $20,000 to repay a rival apparel company for a payment that was made to secure De Sousa’s commitment to another school. Prior to a surprise commitment to Kansas, De Sousa was long considered a Maryland lean. His AAU program and high school team were both sponsored by Under Armour, whose flagship program is Maryland.

According to Kansas head coach Bill Self, at this point De Sousa is still eligible.

“Nobody at this stage has given us any information that he could be in jeopardy at this stage,” Self said.

This is not surprising.

The way that I would expect this to play out is similar to the way it played out for players that were referenced in the indictments that came down last fall. Kansas is going to string this thing along until we get to a point in time close to the start of the season, when they will announce that De Sousa is being held out of competition. It is better for Kansas to bite the bullet and play without De Sousa than it would be for them to risk knowingly suiting up a player that can be retroactively ruled ineligible.

That sucks for De Sousa.

The good news for Kansas, however, is that Udoka Azubuike is back, as is Mitch Lightfoot, while both Dedric and K.J. Lawson will be eligible as they add freshman David McCormack. There is more than enough frontcourt depth to withstand the loss of De Sousa.