Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Colson’s return lifts Irish over Pitt 73-56

Leave a comment

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — With Bonzie Colson back in his lineup and No. 1 Virginia awaiting his team Saturday, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey was having visions of a possible NCAA Tournament berth after Wednesday’s 73-56 victory over Pittsburgh on Senior Night.

A preseason Associated Press All-America pick, Colson, who missed two months with a broken bone in his left foot that had to be surgically repaired, played 21 minutes and almost had a double-double. He finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, as the Irish (18-12, 8-9 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their second straight and fifth in their last seven games.

“We’re 8-9 in this league,” Brey said after earning his 400th career victory at Notre Dame. “I’m proud of this group and what they have done. Saturday we have an unbelievable opportunity against a great team. Having him (Colson) back adds so much confidence and energy. Those guys missed him, they missed his edge and confidence.”

Matt Farrell, playing for the last time at Notre Dame, and T.J. Gibbs led the Irish with 14 points each, and senior Martinas Geben had nine points and 13 rebounds as the Irish won the rebound battle 51-35.

Colson played 21 minutes and scored his 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting. He also added three blocks and an assist as the crowd saluted him with chants of “Bonzie, Bonzie” during his last home game.

“I just wanted to play my game, to play with passion and to stay in character,” Colson said.

Jared Wilson-Frame had a game-high 20 points and Terrell Brown and Shamiel Stevenson had 10 each for Pittsburgh (8-23, 0-18), which concluded its regular season with its 18th straight defeat in ACC play.

“I admire them because they haven’t stopped battling and haven’t stopped trying,” Pittsburgh coach Kevin Stallings said. He also believes the Irish, who went 6-9 with seven straight losses without Colson, may be able to open some eyes on the NCAA selection committee if they can give Virginia a scare and make a nice run at next week’s ACC Tournament in Brooklyn, New York.

“They’re one of the best at-large teams in the country,” Stallings said. “I hope they have enough ball left in them and the committee can see the difference in them. Colson is one of the best players in our league when he is right and ready.”

Colson played the first 6:45 before taking a breather with the Irish ahead 12-11. Notre Dame opened a 27-13 lead with seven minutes remaining on back-to-back 3-pointers by Farrell and Gibbs before settling for a 39-23 halftime lead. Colson’s layup early in the second half made it 45-23 and the Irish cruised from there.

“We’ve been through more adversity than anybody in the country,” said Farrell, who missed some time after Colson’s injury with a sprained left ankle himself. “It’s going to be fun. We like being the road dogs.”

BIG PICTURE

Pittsburgh: The Panthers, who had clinched last place in the 15-school ACC and will play the No. 10 seed in next week’s tournament in Brooklyn, started four freshmen — Parker Stewart, Khameron Davis, Brown and Stevenson — with senior guard Jonathan Milligan. The Panthers have not won since beating Towson before Christmas. The coaching status of Stallings, in his second year at Pitt and with four years remaining on his contract, is rumored to be very tenuous. Davis, Stewart, Stevenson and Marcus Carr and junior Wilson-Frame were named to the ACC’s all-academic team.

“To have five guys (a league best) on the all-academic team is outstanding,” Stallings said.

Notre Dame: Colson started and played to the first media break 6:45 into the contest. He got the first rebound of the game and had the second rebound stripped from him before diving for the loose ball. He scored eight points on 4-of-6 shooting, had six rebounds, one assist and two blocks in playing 12 minutes in the first half. His presence could help the Irish in next week’s ACC Tournament and whatever tournament — NCAA or NIT — that takes the team.

“Our confidence is high right now,” Colson said. “We’ve just got to keep building.”

EMOTIONAL SENDOFF

In addition to Colson, Notre Dame said goodbye to three other seniors and other non-playing personnel. Geben was in tears and sang along to the national ballad of his native Lithuania before Colson’s sister, Syndi, performed the national anthem. When she was done, Colson broke ranks and ran to her for a lengthy, tearful hug. After the game, Farrell left with his parents to return to New Jersey for the burial of his grandfather, Robert, a 1958 Notre Dame graduate. The elder Farrell died from cancer early Sunday after watching his grandson score his 1,000th career point and hit a closing 3-pointer Saturday in a 76-71 victory at Wake Forest.

Ohio State grabs five-star 2019 point guard D.J. Carton

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ohio State landed one of the biggest commitments so far this summer on Saturday as five-star Class of 2019 point guard D.J. Carton pledged to the Buckeyes.

The 5-foot-11 Carton burst onto the national recruiting scene this spring as he went from a relative unknown into a five-star prospect. Although Carton doesn’t play on a major shoe-company circuit he impressed national scouts and college coaches with his play during the April live evaluation period with Quad Cities Elite — the same program that produced quality college players like Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ and Montana State’s Tyler Hall.

An explosive athlete who can play above the rim, Carton showed a high amount of upside during the USA Basketball U18 tryouts in June as he competed against many of the top players in his class.

Ohio State is landing a key piece at an opportune time as they now have a lead guard of the future to help build around. Carton is only the third five-star prospect to commit from the Class of 2019 so far, as he’s the No. 17 overall prospect in the Rivals national rankings. Carton joins in-state four-star wing Alonzo Gaffney in the Buckeyes’ 2019 recruiting class as Ohio State has the makings of a potential top 10 recruiting class.

With where Ohio State was last summer, with head coach Chris Holtmann taking the job in June and the roster lacking scholarship players, the Buckeyes have had a monster turnaround in the last 14 months. Ohio State now, once again, looks like a scary team when it comes to recruiting as they should be a major factor for some elite prospects.

Alabama lands four-star wing Juwan Gary

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Alabama added a quality wing to its Class of 2019 recruiting haul on Friday as four-star Juwan Gary pledged to the Crimson Tide.

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Gary has been a known national prospect since his freshman season as the South Carolina native is an athletic two-way wing who thrives in the open court. Although Gary still needs to polish up his jumper, he has the potential to be an impact player in the SEC, especially if Alabama gets him going in transition.

Gary joins four-star forward Diante Smith in the Crimson Tide recruiting class in 2019 as now head coach Avery Johnson and his staff can focus more of their efforts on adding to a potentially strong class. Pulling Gary out of South Carolina — especially in light of recent NCAA tournament success from in-state programs like South Carolina and Clemson — is an impressive recruiting win for Alabama.

Former UCLA guard Billy Knight was facing child molestation charges before suicide

Donald Miralle/Allsport
Leave a comment

Former UCLA guard Billy Knight, who took his own life earlier this week, was arrested in June for sexually abusing a nine-year old girl, according to court documents that were obtained by The Mercury News.

The alleged assaults occurred in April of 2017 and Knight was reportedly arrested in Arizona in June. He was being charged with two counts of sexual conduct with a minor, two counts of sexual abuse, and two counts of molestation of a child.

Knight posted a video to YouTube prior to his death saying that he had lived a life of “sin”.

Jalek Felton signs pro contract in Europe

Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jalek Felton’s college basketball career is over.

The former North Carolina point guard has signed a pro contract with Olimpija Lubiana, a club team in Slovenia, they announced.

“I’m happy to join a club like Petrol Olimpija,” Felton said in a statement. “This is a club with a rich tradition, where many NBA players have begun their careers. For me, this is a big step. I know that this will be a great challenge for me and I am ready to go there and work. My agent told me that Olimpija will play in various competitions and that makes me all the more pleased. Playing in such competitions with Olympia in Europe will prepare me for playing in the NBA. The city looks nice and I heard that basketball there is a religion, so this will be an interesting experience.”

Felton, the nephew of former UNC guard Ray Felton, was a five-star prospect that played in 22 games as a freshman with the Tar Heels. But he was suspended from the program in January and, in March, withdrew from school.

He averaged just 2.9 points in his one season in Chapel Hill.

Creighton lands local 2019 commit

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Omaha isn’t exactly thought of as a high school basketball hot bed, but Creighton has had success mining its hometown for talent in recent years, most notably in recent NBA draft picks Justin Patton and Khyri Thomas.

The Bluejays went back to the well Thursday by securing the commitment of Shereef Mitchell, a 6-foot guard from local Burke High School, he announced via social media.

“Being a kid from Omaha you dream of playing for Creighton and in front of the hotown fans,” Mitchell wrote. “That is something I want to do  and I don’t want to turn that opportunity down.

“I can’t wait to play in front of my family, friends and the best fans in the world!”

Burke was offered by Greg McDermott’s staff just earlier this week, adding to a list of offers that included Bradley, Loyola Chicago and South Dakota State.

Burke recently graduated from his Omaha high school, but will reclassify to 2019 after spending a season with Sunrise Christian in Wichita, Kan.

“I really feel like I will be a way better player than what I am right now after my year at Sunrise,” Mitchell told the Omaha World-Herald. “I think I could have a shot at being an impact player right away and possibly starting after a year there.”

Burke averaged 24.6 points and 3.8 assists per game as a high school senior, earning state player of the year honors in the process. He’s hoping to extend the line of Omaha products to thrive at Creighton.

“I’m a kid from Omaha, and getting an offer from Creighton is something kids dream of and it would be hard for me to pass up,” Mitchell told the World-Herald. “Seeing players like Khyri Thomas and Justin Patton, two kids from (Omaha public schools) that are in the NBA, it gives you hope that you can do the same thing.”