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Hall of Fame coach and administrator C.M. Newton, 88, dies

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Officials at Alabama and Kentucky say that Hall of Fame former administrator and basketball coach C.M. Newton has died. He was 88.

The schools announced his death Monday night.

Newton was a member of Kentucky’s 1951 NCAA championship squad during a basketball career spanning more than 50 years as a player, coach and administrator.

He also influenced selection of the original U.S. Olympic “Dream Team” in 1992.

Newton was 509-375 as a coach at Transylvania College, Alabama and Vanderbilt and worked on several NCAA Division I basketball committees.

Inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2000, Newton was also a member of several halls of fame.

As Kentucky’s athletic director, Newton’s hiring of eventual Hall of Famer Rick Pitino as men’s basketball coach helped the Wildcats overcome NCAA sanctions to win the 1996 national title.

He integrated Alabama’s basketball program and later hired Kentucky’s first African-American women’s and men’s basketball coaches in Bernadette Mattox and Tubby Smith, respectively.

“Integrating the program was the thing,” Newton said in a 1999 media guide biography. “It had importance not only at Alabama, but also around the league. We took in-state talent and won nationally. That opened the door for a lot of African-American youngsters.”

Current Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said Newton was “a giant” at the school, with the SEC and throughout the sport.

“His coaching accomplishments and honors at Transylvania, Alabama and Vanderbilt speak for themselves,” Barnhart said in a release. “His contributions to the sport of basketball continue to this day.”

Born in Rockwood, Tennessee, Charles Martin Newton was a baseball pitcher at UK in addition to playing basketball from 1948-51, where he lettered on the ’51 Wildcats team that won their third national title under legendary coach Adolph Rupp.

Newton began his coaching career in Lexington at nearby Transylvania College before moving on to the Southeastern Conference at Alabama and Vanderbilt. The Crimson Tide won three consecutive SEC titles from 1974-76 under Newton and reached the postseason six times. He also was named The Associated Press’ SEC Coach of the Year in 1972 and 1976 while at Alabama and again in 1988 and 1989 while coaching Vanderbilt.

“Coach Newton was a true leader in intercollegiate athletics,” Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne said. “He took risks and was willing to do the right thing even when it was not the most popular thing.

“Thousands of student-athletes have been positively impacted because of his approach as an athletics director, a coach and an exemplary human being.”

Newton also served as an assistant SEC commissioner. Kentucky coach John Calipari said that Newton’s hiring of Smith motivated to learn more about SEC history, particularly with integration.

“I asked him how he was able to have the courage to go against the grain in Alabama at that time,” Calipari wrote in a blog last week. “He told me, ‘I saw people as people. And I wanted to win. I was trying to bring in the best players. I didn’t care if they were black, white, green or gold. I wanted to win.'”

Vanderbilt hired Newton in 1981, and he went 129-115 with the Commodores, notching his 500th career victory in 1989. He also coached Vanderbilt to the Sweet 16 in the 1988 NCAA Tournament with Barry Goheen knocking down not one, but two 3-pointers late in a dramatic overtime victory over Pittsburgh.

Former Vanderbilt and NBA player Will Perdue said Newton was more than a coach.

“He was my father away from home, a role model for me to look up to, a motivator and a truly patient individual,” Perdue said. “He taught me basketball, but he also taught me what’s expected of a man. The basketball community has lost its best friend.”

Newton returned to Kentucky as athletic director in 1989 to shepherd the men’s program’s recovery from NCAA sanctions that included a two-year postseason ban. His hiring of Pitino as coach was the key step in Kentucky’s difficult climb from the penalties.

“From a competitive standpoint, the key in my coming to Kentucky was to have men’s basketball succeed in a short period of time,” Newton said.

Kentucky’s journey included heartbreak, with a stunning 104-103 overtime loss to eventual champion Duke in the 1992 NCAA Tournament East Region final. A last-second jumper by the Blue Devils’ Christian Laettner won that game which has come to be called college basketball’s greatest contest. A year later Kentucky was in the Final Four before climbing back on top of college basketball as the 1996 champion. But Newton’s astute personnel decisions didn’t stop with Pitino.

In 1995 he made Mattox, a Pitino assistant, the Wildcats’ first African-American women’s coach. The program went 21-11 in 1988-89 and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament, its first 20-win effort and postseason berth in nearly a decade. After Pitino left Kentucky for the NBA in 1997, Newton hired Smith as his replacement.

The Wildcats earned the 1998 national title in Smith’s first season, and Newton handing the first-year coach the championship trophy while serving as chairman of the NCAA Tournament committee. Newton retired as AD in 1999. Newton also made his mark during the 1990s on the national level as director of USA Basketball from 1992-96, overseeing the U.S. Olympic Team’s roster transformation from college players to a collection of NBA superstars.

Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were the most famous of a powerhouse lineup of future Hall of Famers comprising that initial 1992 “Dream Team” that dominated the Summer Games in Barcelona and won the gold medal.

Newton was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000, three years after receiving the John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award. Newton had three daughters with his first wife Evelyn, who died in 1999. He is survived by wife Nancy, whom he married in 2002.

Washington lands second 2019 verbal commitment

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With three of its four seniors heading into the 2018-19 season being perimeter players, Washington has some holes to address in its 2019 recruiting class. Thus far Mike Hopkins and his staff have done just that, with both of the program’s commits to date being perimeter players.

The second verbal commitment was received Tuesday afternoon, as three-star combo guard Marcus Tsohonis announced that he will be a Husky. Tsohonis, a Jefferson HS (Portland, Oregon) product who played his grassroots basketball for Seattle Rotary Elite on the Nike EYBL circuit, joins four-star wing RaeQuan Battle in Washington’s 2019 class to date.

The 6-foot-4 Tsohonis, who can play on or off the ball, held offers from multiple Pac-12 programs but ultimately made the decision to make the trek north from Portland to Seattle for his collegiate career. His verbal commitment comes on the heels of an official visit to Washington that was taken this past weekend.

As noted above Washington will loose some key contributors on the perimeter after the upcoming season, with David Crisp, Mathysse Thybulle and Dominic Green all entering their final season of eligibility (big man Noah Dickerson is also a senior). The additions of Tsohonis and Battle should help Washington when it comes to filling those holes and continuing to build upon the foundation laid during Hopkins’ first season at the helm.

Four-star guard becomes LSU’s first 2019 commit

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Expected to be a factor both within the SEC and nationally this season, these are good times for the LSU men’s basketball program. Head coach Will Wade and his staff received more good news Tuesday, as 6-foot-2 combo guard James Bishop (Baltimore, Maryland/Mount St. Joseph HS) announced that he will be a Tiger next season.

Bishop, considered to be one of the top scoring guards in the class, is LSU’s first 2019 verbal commitment. Bishop’s pledge comes just over a week after his official visit to LSU, and just days after a visit to St. John’s. LSU beat out St. John’s, NC State, Marquette and VCU in the race for the Baltimore product, and given the Tigers’ current roster this is an important commitment.

LSU’s 2018 recruiting class is considered to be one of the nation’s best, with point guard Javonte Smart being one of the five-star prospects in that quintet (forwards Naz Reid and Emmitt Williams being the others). Add in sophomore Tremont Waters, who’s coming off of an outstanding freshman season, and LSU could be in a position next summer where its top two lead guards are at the very least testing the NBA draft waters.

Landing Bishop gives LSU another talented option, and some cover should the program lose either Waters or Smart — or both — in 2019.

Calhoun officially named head coach at DIII St. Joseph

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WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Jim Calhoun has officially been named the head coach at Division III University of Saint Joseph in Connecticut.

The Hall of Famer had already announced he would be taking the job and has been working for a year to establish a men’s basketball program at the small Catholic university, which was an all-women’s school until this school year.

Calhoun also has continued to serve in an advisory role at UConn, where he served as coach for 26 seasons and led the Huskies to three of their four national titles before retiring in 2012.

The 76-year-old will return to the sidelines with a career record of 873-380 when the Blue Jays open the season on Nov. 9 against William Paterson University.

That game will be played at Trinity College in Hartford, which has a gym that seats about 2,200 people, about 1,000 more than the gymnasium at Saint Joseph.

Oregon State announces addition of transfer Payton Dastrup

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Tuesday afternoon Oregon State announced that former BYU power forward Payton Dastrup has joined the program as a transfer. Dastrup, who averaged 3.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in just under eight minutes per game last season, has two seasons of eligibility remaining. Oregon State will file a waiver on his behalf in hopes that Dastrup will be granted immediate eligibility.

Should the waiver request be denied, Dastrup will not be eligible to play until the 2019-20 season. For Oregon State’s sake, even with Dastrup’s career numbers he would fill a need for a team that bid farewell to its best big man during the spring.

Drew Eubanks’ decision to turn pro left a noticeable hole in Oregon State’s interior rotation, with senior Gligorije Rakocevic and junior Ben Kone being the most experienced returnees. Those two combined to average 3.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in 2017-18, with Rakocevic averaging 10.6 minutes per game in 27 appearances off the bench.

In addition to those two the Beavers add three scholarship newcomers to the mix this season in junior college transfer Kylor Kelley and freshmen Warren Washington and Jack Wilson. Dastrup has the ability to step away from the basket, which would give Oregon State a little versatility in the interior to go along with a perimeter/wing rotation led by Tres Tinkle, Stephen Thompson Jr. and Ethan Thompson.

Oklahoma State lands third 2019 commitment

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Oklahoma State managed to add another verbal commitment in its 2019 class on Tuesday, as four-star combo guard Avery Anderson III announced via Twitter that he will play his college basketball for Mike Boynton. Anderson picked Oklahoma State over offers from Florida, LSU, TCU and Texas Tech.

Anderson is Oklahoma State’s third commitment in the class, as the Justin, Texas product joins twins Kalib and Keylan Boone. The Boone brothers made their pledge in mid-April, and all three took official visits to Stillwater this past weekend.

Anderson’s commitment is key for two reasons. First there’s the fact that he can be used at either guard spot, and that versatility will be valuable for Oklahoma State once he arrives on campus. Also, while Oklahoma State will be quite young in the front court this coming season that isn’t the case on the perimeter.

Of Oklahoma State’s current crop of guards/wings only two, freshman Isaac Likekele and redshirt sophomore Michael Weathers, are underclassmen. The Cowboys have just one senior in the group, Mike Cunningham, but getting a guard in the 2019 class was key for Boynton’s program.

At this point, all 13 of Oklahoma State’s scholarships for the 2019-20 season have been filled with Anderson’s commitment.