Rising Son: Cole Anthony remains grounded as he follows his father’s footsteps

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It’s 10 a.m. on a muggy summer Sunday, the steam from last night’s rainstorm seeping in through the doors of an unair-conditioned fieldhouse at The Westtown School, and Cole Anthony’s ratty gray undershirt is already soaked through with sweat.

The 6-foot-3 Anthony, high school basketball’s version of Russell Westbrook and arguably the top prospect in the Class of 2019, is there for the PSA Cardinals’ combine, a one-day camp held on the final day of July’s second live period that college coaches can scout. He isn’t supposed to be playing. This was going to be his time off, a break between the grind that led up to Peach Jam and the insanity of a schedule that will take him from New York to Las Vegas to North Carolina to two different stops in California over the course of the next three weeks. He’ll be on the road for 18 out of 20 days, including 13 straight as he bounces from CP3’s camp to Steph Curry’s camp to the Nike Skills Academy.

But here he is, running through shooting drills, busting his ass defensively 1-on-1 and putting on a clinic in how to run ball-screens against players that are being recruited by high-major programs across the country and, at the same time, look out of place on a basketball court with Anthony.

This wasn’t a show put on for the coaches in attendance.

This is who Anthony is, who he has always been.

“His work ethic is on a level that’s unmatched for his age,” Terrance “Munch” Williams, who runs the PSA Cardinals program, said. “His mom could be Celie from The Color Purple and his dad could be Prop Joe from The Wire, it wouldn’t matter. He is who he is.”


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You don’t have to run in scouting circles that long to hear a player diagnosed with ‘four-car garage syndrome’.

The definition is self-explanatory: Kids that come from money tend to play a certain way that differs from kids that don’t. For many, basketball is a way out of whatever situation they are living in, and when you don’t need the sport to better your station in life, success may not be as important. That shows up on the court.

Cole Anthony has never wanted for anything. His father, Greg, played a decade in the NBA and has been a mainstay on basketball broadcasts for Turner and CBS since his retirement. His mother, Crystal McCrary-McGuire, is an author and a filmmaker with a law degree. His step-father, Ray McGuire, is a former basketball player at Harvard that has gone on to become the Global Head of Corporate and Investment Banking for Citigroup. His step-mother is a Duke-educated doctor with a dermatology practice.

It would have been easy for Cole to fall in with New York City’s elite, living a life that could be featured on an episode of ‘Gossip Girl.’

He didn’t.

His parents won’t even give him a credit card.

“The greatest compliment that I ever got about him,” Greg said, “people would tell me, ‘He plays like he’s hungry. He plays like he’s poor.'”

It’s a mentality that his family has worked hard to instill in him. Just because he’s lived in a household with means, just because he’s been exposed to a lifestyle that few people in the world get to see did not mean that he was going to be handed anything. Everything that he gets, he works for, from clothes and cell phones to on-court hours spent with a trainer.

There were no free rides.

“Everybody around Cole has worked for what they have,” McCrary-McGuire said. “Not that you have that many black people that are trust fund kids anyway, but whatever success we have achieved, we earned.”

“My parents raised me right,” Cole said. “They don’t hand any thing to me in life. What they do hand to me is knowledge.”

What has made that process easier as Cole’s profile has risen over the last couple of years is that there is no jockeying for influence over him and his future. Every adult in Cole’s life — be it his father, his mother, his high school coach, Munch — has a role to play and a job to do, and they do it. When I reached out about writing this story, I was told to call McCrary-McGuire. When Cole is asked about his recruitment or the timeline for a decision on where he will go to college, he says to talk to his dad. And while his dad is an NBA veteran that is paid handsomely to be a basketball expert on television, he doesn’t interfere with the way that Munch coaches or the way that Cole was deployed at Archbishop Molloy this season.

The best basketball teams are the ones where every player on the roster knows and buys into their role, a fitting analogy for the support system that Cole has behind him.

“We really do have a village around Cole, around our family, who are level-headed, sensible people who value the basics: kindness, family and education,” McCrary-McGuire said. And it’s rubbed off on Cole, who is the oldest of five siblings. His 15-year old sister is his best friend.  You’re more likely to see Leo, Cole’s five-year old brother from McCrary-McGuire’s second marriage, at one of his New York City workouts than not.

“When he’s with his younger siblings, he’s about their world,” Greg, who has two young children from his second marriage, said. “Video games, playing in the pool, if they want to go out and dribble, toss a football, do a puzzle. He genuinely enjoys their company, and that’s awesome to see.”

On Sunday, before he took his break to eat lunch, Cole spent 15 minutes talking with the 7th and 8th graders from the PSA Cardinal program. The group of six boys had spent the morning running water to the coaches sitting courtside or cleaning up the discarded bottles that are found in any gym where players are working out. He wanted to make sure they knew he cared, that he was there to help them if they needed it. He knows that his situation is not common, and he wants to help.

“Basically,” he said, “I just don’t want to be an asshole. That’s the only thing I’ve never wanted to do.”



Cole Anthony is a fascinating story in his own right.

He’s the son of a former NBA player and current broadcaster that has developed into one of the best high school basketball players in the country. He’s the Russell Westbrook of the EYBL, an uber-athletic 6-foot-3 guard that was named EYBL Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 and EYBL MVP this past season. He’s a big-time scorer with a 43-inch vertical that rebounds the ball and competes on every possession. There’s a reason that every school in the country is going to try and recruit him, but it’s that recruitment that has taken the intrigue into New York City’s latest Point God to the next level.

Because, to date, Cole has provided next-to-nothing when it comes to hints about where he will be playing his college ball.

In June, he told reporters at a USA Basketball training camp that he will “obviously” be considering Kentucky. He told reporters at Peach Jam that he’s spoken to Bill Self a few times. As far as I can tell, that’s all that he’s said publicly about schools that are currently pursuing him.

“I don’t want to single anyone out,” he said.

The plan is to wait as long as possible, likely into the spring of his senior year, to ensure that the coach he ends up committing to will still be at the program when he enrolls. At one point in time, Anthony said, he was hung up on his recruitment, on where the offers were coming in from, what schools were recruiting him, what coaches watched him play, and he remembers his father telling him that it was pointless to worry that early in the process. The turnover in the college ranks is too much, a point, Cole says, that was exacerbated by the scandal that enveloped college basketball last season. Rick Pitino was fired by Louisville. There were doubts about whether Sean Miller would keep his job at Arizona throughout the season. Bill Self is under scrutiny at Kansas over the Jayhawks’ presence in the second round of charging documents the FBI released in April.

“There’s still a year left before I even have to go to college,” Cole said. “There’s a whole bunch that can happen.”

To figure out who is actively recruiting him, you have to read the tea leaves. Roy Williams (North Carolina) and Dana Altman (Oregon) were mainstays at his games at Peach Jam. Williams and an assistant coach were at The Westtown School on Sunday, as was Mike Brey (Notre Dame), Patrick Ewing (Georgetown) and John Beilein (Michigan), who were front row for Cole’s first workout of the day. St. John’s, Villanova and Pittsburgh all had assistant coaches at the event as well.

The most detail that Cole provided on a timeline to his recruitment was that he’s planning to sit down with his dad in mid-August to talk it through, but at this point, Anthony has yet to announce where he’s planning on playing his senior season in high school. He’ll be leaving Molloy for a prep school — sources told NBC Sports that he’s expected to end up at Oak Hill Academy — and the uncertainty has only heightened the interest.

“Right now, I don’t need the attention,” he said. “I get enough attention as it is, and honestly, it brings me more attention the less I say about it. People get more curious.”

“The limelight and all that comes with it has never been a priority or a concern for him,” Greg added. “He loves to play, he loves his friends, he loves to compete.”

“The thing about this game at the highest level, sometimes guys fall in love with the life. He’s in love with the game.”


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Before Anthony was a high school basketball sensation, before there was any talk of the NBA or one-and-done or even college hoops, he was the gap-toothed, chubby-cheeked 11-year old star of ‘Little Ballers’, a documentary about AAU basketball on Nickelodean.

“I’m happiest in the world,” he said, his navy blue polo shirt buttoned all the way up, hugging a giraffe pillow pet, “when I’m playing basketball, and I want to go to the NBA and do it for the rest of my life.”

That was the first his mother, who produced the film, heard him say that.

“I had never had that conversation with him,” she said.

Right around that same time, after a little league baseball game, Cole told father he was done playing other sports. He just wanted to play basketball, which, in a way, Greg had always expected — Cole is, after all, the son of an NBA player — but the decision still surprised him. At the time, Cole just wasn’t all that good at the sport.

But that quickly changed.

Cole had always been intense and competitive. When he was young, he used to count the number of cheerios that were in his bowl to make sure his sister didn’t get more than him. When he was three, he lost his first race — to a nine-year old — and was inconsolable. He would get mad and aggressive playing youth sports. He didn’t understand the concept of a referee, or why that man with a whistle was able to call a foul and stop the game.

He just wanted to win, and that wasn’t always easy for his parents to deal with.

“Cole is this alpha male dude,” McCrary-McGuire said. “He was a lot. I joke about it now, but at the time it wasn’t all that funny.”

“I used to joke,” Greg said, “all those things that are a pain in the ass for us right now, they are really going to serve him well later in life.”

They have.

Basketball became the outlet, his competitiveness being all the motivation he needed.

“Cole is his own worst critic,” McCrary-McGuire said.

“It’s personal for him,” Greg said.

And as much as his parents would like to take credit for that, this is something that Cole was born with. They challenge him. When Cole says he wants to be the best, they ask him if he’s done everything in his power that day — that week, that month, that year — to reach that goal. When he says he wants to workout with Chris Brickley, trainer to many of the NBA’s biggest stars, he’s the one that has to make the call and schedule the appointment and get there on time.

But the truth is that it probably wouldn’t matter.

“You try to teach your kids good values and work ethic, but I think the individual has to take the ownership,” Greg said. “I give him a lot of credit. That’s who he is. If he has a goal, he really works towards it. Basketball is something he’s passionate about.”

“I think you’re always proud when your child has a passion for something and they have the opportunity to excel at it. So that part is really rewarding.”

But it also may have backfired.

Far as I can tell, the biggest point of contention between Greg and Cole has to do with a game that was played three or four years ago. It was the last time that the two played 1-on-1, and to hear Greg tell it, the game was tied at point when his hamstrings flared up and his Achilles’ were swollen and he had to leave the court.

“I was in pain,” he said, a smirk peaking out from under the black Nike hat pulled down over his face as he made sure to note that the last time the pair played, Cole did not win. “I could have finished, but I’m a big golfer, and I was thinking to myself, ‘If I get a significant injury, I’m off the course for a while.'”

Cole?

He’s not buying it.

“I beat him,” he said. “The game was not tied. I was winning. It was a couple games we played, and those games I won. He copped out.”

Because he was hurt or because he knew he was about to lose?

“He knew. Did he say I lost?”

No.

“Just that I didn’t win?”

Yup.

“There you go.”

That game was four years ago.

And Cole will be talking about it for the next 40.

Report: Michigan to ‘host’ Rutgers at Madison Square Garden

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The Big Ten has long coveted New York and Madison Square Garden. The league brought in Rutgers in expansion largely to access the New York market, and it rearranged its entire schedule to get its conference tournament at MSG in 2018.

Now Michigan is apparently willing to give up a home date to play that “New York” school in order to return to one of the crown jewels of the sport.

The Wolverines are expected to be the home team this winter at Madison Square Garden when they play Rutgers, according to a report from NJ Advance Media, which cited four unnamed sources with knowledge of the situation.

The game will be part of a doubleheader with a Michigan-Rutgers wrestling dual, according to the report.

Aside from however this effects the bottom line for Michigan – which certainly isn’t hurting in the revenue department – this would appear to be a great move for both schools and the Big Ten at large. Normally, I’m against moving games off-campus to sterile and identity-less NBA arenas, but obviously Madison Square Garden is a unique venue and opportunity for all parties.

If you can get a conference game at MSG, you do it, even if you’ve got to give up a date at Crisler Center. It’s weird that it’s not just a Rutgers home date, but with the B1G’s wonky scheduling with 20-league games in a 14-team league, weird stuff is going to happen, especially when outside-the-box opportunities like this arise.

American Athletic Conference Offseason Reset: What does all the turnover mean for the league?

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The grad transfer market is still in full swing, but for the most part, we know what the meaningful parts for the majority of the teams around the country will be.

That means that it is time to start talking about what is coming instead of what was.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at key personnel changes, the impact of the coaching carousel and the most important storylines heading into the 2019-20 season for each of college basketball’s top seven conferences.

Today, we are talking the American.

KEY OFFSEASON STORYLINES

SO UCONN IS LEAVING. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR THE CONFERENCE?: This is not only the biggest storyline in the American, it is one of the biggest and most intriguing storylines in all of college basketball. UConn is a storied program. It has won four of the last 20 national titles. It is a national brand that has churned out as many pros as any school in the country. It has fallen on hard times as Kevin Ollie drove the program straight into the ground. They are leaving the American and returning to the Big East, the conference that they helped launch 40 years ago.

This is a great thing for UConn, but this isn’t really about UConn. It’s about the American and what it means for a league that has been trying to prove they belong in the same conversation as the rest of the high-majors since it split from the Big East six years ago. And the truth is that they’ll be just fine. The Huskies have finished under .500 the last three years. They’ve missed four of the last five NCAA tournaments. The year they did go dancing, it was as the American’s automatic bid, a run that required a four-OT win over Cincinnati – which included this miracle 60-footer – in the quarters of the AAC tournament to avoid spending Selection Sunday on the bubble.

UConn is thought to be a borderline NCAA tournament team this season, which means that the Huskies will leave the league next summer having been more or less irrelevant for the better part of a decade. The American has still sent at least two teams to the Big Dance in each of their six seasons, with four teams earning a bid in three of those six years. Penny Hardaway has Memphis rolling. Kelvin Sampson has Houston rolling. Mick Cronin left Cincinnati, but John Brannen is a good coach and the Bearcats have talent. Wichita State will, eventually, be back in the thick of the NCAA tournament race.

Losing UConn is a blow for what the American’s ceiling can be. But with UCF, Temple, Tulsa and SMU all having proven capable of playing their way into an at-large bid, the conference will effectively be what it was with UConn there – a safe-bet to get three bids with four programs at the top that are annually in the at-large mix.

It’s not the ACC and it will never be, but it’s not the Mountain West, either.

(Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

CAN PENNY WIN WITH ALL THE TALENT HE HAS IN MEMPHIS?: When it comes to the conversation on the court, just how good Memphis will be is the most interesting question that we are going to have answered this year. There is no question that they are talented. James Wiseman is the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2019 and a potential No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft. Precious Achiuwa is top ten and top ten. The Memphis recruiting class is ranked as the No. 1 recruiting class in college basketball, higher than Duke and Kentucky and Kansas and everyone else.

But there is also plenty of reason to be skeptical of them. For starters, we’ve seen Penny coach one season of college basketball. They probably exceeded expectations during that one season, but one year is not exactly a large sample size. I actually think Penny is going to be a good college coach. My biggest concern with this group is that they are going to be very young. Seven of their top ten players are going to be freshmen, and only two of those seven freshmen are five-star, instant impact, potential first round picks. And two of their returnees are tiny lead guards that are going to be playing behind one of those freshman – Boogie Ellis – at the point.

I understand why Memphis fans are going to go nuts and why Memphis will be a preseason top ten team. Personally, I have them ranked at No. 20 entering the season.

WHAT WILL CINCINNATI BE POST-CRONIN?: Mick Cronin spent 13 seasons as the head coach fo the Bearcats, and in each of the last nine seasons that he was in Cincinnati, he led the program to the NCAA tournament. There are only five other schools that can make that claim – Kansas, Duke, Michigan State, Gonzaga and North Carolina – and only three other programs that can say they’ve been to six straight NCAA tournaments – Villanova, Kentucky and Virginia.

Think about that for a second.

Those are massive shoes for John Brannen to be stepping in. He’s had success at Northern Kentucky, he’s a local guy with local ties and the return of Jarron Cumberland should make his life just that much easier. But don’t gloss over what Cronin did at Cincinnati. The level of consistency that he reached at that school was remarkable.

CAN HOUSTON FIND A WAY TO GET QUENTIN GRIMES ELIGIBLE?: Houston got hit with a dagger on the last day that underclassmen could return to school without losing eligibility – Armoni Brooks opted to stay in the draft instead of coming back for his senior year. The Cougars were already losing Galen Robinson and Corey Davis. They needed Brooks back to offset that loss, particularly once Kansas transfer Quentin Grimes committed to the program. Now, Houston has to try to find a way to get Grimes, a Houston native, eligible for this season. The former five-star prospect would likely be the most talented guard in the American – and the difference between being a borderline top 25 team and a borderline tournament team – if he’s eligible to play.

HOW LONG WILL IT BE BEFORE WICHITA STATE IS BACK?: Gregg Marshall is one of the best coaches in all of college basketball, and the fact that he took last year’s roster and got them to 10-8 in the AAC and into the NIT should be proof of that. But the Shockers are losing Markis McDuffie and Samajae Haynes-Jones, their two leading scorers from last season, and dismissed Teddy Allen, who was supposed to be the leading scorer this year, last month.

Wichita State went 14-4 in the final two months of the 2018-19 season, including a stretch where they won 11 of 13 games against AAC opponents. They’ll win because Marshall is really good at his job. But as more time passes, it gets harder and harder to ignore the fact that in his last five years in the Missouri Valley, Marshall coached four NBA players – Cleanthony Early, Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet and Landry Shamet.

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WHO’S GONE

  • MICK CRONIN, Cincinnati: This is a massive blow to the Cincinnati program, as Cronin had become one of the most consistently successful coaches in college basketball.
  • COREY DAVIS, ARMONI BROOKS and GALEN ROBINSON, Houston: The Cougars are going to have to totally rebuild their perimeter attack, and while there are some pieces there – DeJon Jarreau, Nate Hinton, Quentin Grimes – it is not going to be easy to replicate what they lost.
  • TEDDY ALLEN, Wichita State: For my money, Allen getting dismissed is a bigger loss either McDuffie or Haynes-Jones. Marshall planned to lose his seniors, and part of that plan was having Allen’s scoring pop to replace them.
  • EVERYONE, UCF: The Knights came within one bucket of beating Duke to get to the Sweet 16 last season, but they are going to have their work cut out for them this season with Tacko Fall, B.J. Taylor and Aubrey Dawkins all gone.
  • SHIZZ ALSTON, Temple: Alston was one of the best guards in the conference, and he will be following Fran Dunphy out the door.

WHO’S BACK

  • JARRON CUMBERLAND, Cincinnati: James Wiseman is the best prospect in the conference, but for my money, Cumberland is going to be the best player in the AAC this season. There is a new coaching regime, and Cumberland’s presence should help ease the transition period.
  • EVERYONE, South Florida: South Florida is South Florida, so I’m hardly the only one that is going to need to see it to fully believe it, but the Bulls bring back everyone from a team that won 24 games last year. They have a really, really good backcourt. We’ll see.
  • KELVIN SAMPSON, Houston: Keeping Sampson despite overtures coming from a handful of schools, namely Arkansas, was the most important thing Houston could do this offseason. I fully believe that he is one of the 10-15 best pure basketball coaches in college hoops right now.
  • ALTERIQUE GILBERT, UConn: UConn loses Jalen Adams, but it shouldn’t matter if Gilbert can find a way to be healthy for four months this winter. That, however, is never a guarantee.

WHO’S COMING

  • JAMES WISEMAN and PRECIOUS ACHIUWA, Memphis: These two are the reason that the Tigers are going to enter the season in the top ten of both polls. We more or less know what they are going to be. The big question with Memphis, the key to the Tigers reaching their ceiling, centers on the rest of their newcomers.
  • QUENTIN GRIMES, Houston?: If Grimes, a former top ten recruit and Kansas transfer, can find a way to get eligible for this season the Cougars won’t have to worry all that much about losing Armoni Brooks.
  • AKOK AKOK, UConn: Everyone knows about the guards that UConn is bringing in, but the key to the Huskies getting to the NCAA tournament this season is going to be Akok’s impact in his first season as a Husky. Once considered a five-star prospect, Akok enrolled at UConn at the semester break and will play the 2019-20 season as a redshirt freshman.

WAY-TOO-EARLY ALL-AAC TEAM

JARRON CUMBERLAND, Cincinnati (Preseason Player of the Year)
DEJON JARREAU, Houston
QUINTON ROSE, Temple
PRECIOUS ACHIUWA, Memphis
JAMES WISEMAN, Memphis

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

WAY-TOO-EARLY POWER RANKINGS

1. MEMPHIS: We talked more in-depth about the Tigers earlier, but I will say this: They are far and away the most talented team in the league, and they are also far and away the youngest relevant team in the league. How that translates into wins in a conference where the rest of their title competition have more experience and/or are built on toughness and physicality is going to be interesting to watch.

2. HOUSTON: I trust Kelvin Sampson as much as I trust any coach in college basketball to be able to find a way to make his pieces work. Losing Armoni Brooks hurts, but with Nate Hinton and DeJon Jarreau in the backcourt, there is some talent. There’s a possibility Quentin Grimes may find his way into playing this season, too. Throw in some size and depth in the frontcourt, and the Cougars look like they are going to be heading back to the tournament.

3. CINCINNATI: The Bearcats have the guy that very well could end up being the best player in the league on their roster in Jarron Cumberland. He looks like a linebacker, but he managed to put up 18.8 points, 4.4 boards and 3.6 assists while shooting 39 percent from three last season. He can hoop. Cincinnati also returns Keith Williams and Tre Scott while adding Jaevin Cumberland, Jarron’s cousin, a grad transfer from Oakland. The big question with this group is going to be how the adjust to new head coach John Brannen. With Mick Cronin back, I would probably slot Cincinnati second.

4. WICHITA STATE: For my money, the Shockers are the most interesting team in this conference. Yes, they lost their top two scorers from last season – not to mention the guy they thought was going to be their top scorer this season – but this was a deep team last season that really came on strong down the stretch. They won 11 out of 13 down the stretch of the AAC season, and then proceeded to beat Furman, Clemson and Indiana on the road in the NIT to get to that tournament’s Final Four. Jaime Echenique is one of the best bigs in the league while Dexter Dennis and Erik Stevenson look ready for big sophomore seasons. They’re tough, they’re battle-tested and they have arguably the best coach in the league. We’ll see.

5. TEMPLE: The Aaron McKie era at Temple will begin with a team capable of getting back to the NCAA tournament if things break right. Shizz Alston is gone, and that hurts, but the Owls will bring back both Quinton Rose and Nate Pierre-Louis. That will be enough to keep them in the top half of the league.

6. UCONN: Losing Jalen Adams is going to hurt, but beyond that, the Huskies bring back a lot of important pieces from last season. They should have plenty of perimeter depth even if Alterique Gilbert’s health struggles continue, as they add James Bouknight and Jalen Gaffney to a rotation that already includes Christian Vital. Josh Carlton and Tyler Polley will provide some continuity in the frontcourt, but I think Danny Hurley’s second season in Storrs is going to come down to how well Sidney Wilson and Akok Akok perform in their second year on campus.

7. UCF: The Knights are a tough team to project this season. On the one hand, they lost all of their dudes – B.J. Taylor and Tacko Fall graduated while Aubrey Dawkins turned pro. On the other hand, they have a number of really good transfers getting eligible this year (Dazon Ingram, Matt Milon, Yuat Alok, Ibrahim Doumbia) while Collin Smith looks like he’ll be ready for a big year. They’ve got a chance to sneak up on some people.

8. SOUTH FLORIDA: The Bulls are the sleeper in the American, and they have a chance to be really, really good. David Collins and LaQuincy Rideau give them one of the best backcourts in the league, and they return basically everyone from last season, when they finished 24-14 overall and 8-10 in the league. I’m not sure they have the ceiling to crack the top three in the league, but if you were to tell me that they can finish above Wichita State, Temple, UConn and UCF, I wouldn’t call you crazy.

9. TULSA: Losing DaQuan Jeffries, Sterling Taplin and Curran Scott will hurt, but Frank Haith will have some bodies coming back. Martins Igabnu and Jeriah Horne. The young Tulsa guards are going to need to step up.

10. SMU: The Larry Brown era seems so long ago. The Mustangs are now losing their two best guards off of a team that went just 3-15 in the AAC last season.

11. EAST CAROLINA: The good news is that ECU brings back Jayden Gardner, who averaged 16.3 points and 8.5 boards as a freshman. The bad news is that he is the only one of their top seven scorers to return.

12. TULANE: Tulane won four games last season and lost their top three players. new head coach Ron Hunter has some talent and transfers coming into the program, but they have a long way to go.

Auburn lands 2019 commitment from three-star wing

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Auburn landed a late commitment for the 2019-20 season on Wednesday night as three-star athletic wing Devan Cambridge pledged to the Tigers.

A 6-foot-6, 215-pound wing, Cambridge had a very strong showing at the Nike Peach Jam last week as he averaged 16.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game during pool play at the event. A big-time athlete who easily gets off the floor, Cambridge fits Auburn’s athletic, up-and-down style as he’s accustomed to playing fast and making plays with his game-changing athleticism.

Cambridge joins a seven-man mega class for the Tigers as he’s a versatile athlete who should play a number of different spots. Cambridge is still working to become more of a consistent perimeter shooting presence, but Auburn has landed a solid late commitment because there aren’t many better pure athletes in the class. If the Tigers can develop Cambridge and take their time with his development then he could turn into a very useful player.

Person avoids prison in college bribery sentencing

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NEW YORK — Former Auburn assistant basketball coach Chuck Person has avoided prison in a bribery scandal that has touched some of the biggest schools in college basketball.

Person was sentenced on Wednesday to 200 hours of community service during the two years the Probation Department will supervise him. Judge Loretta A. Preska said “no purpose would be served by incarceration.”

Sentencing guidelines called for two years in prison, though three other coaches who pleaded guilty to the same charge also received lenient sentences.

Person, who was in financial trouble at the time, accepted $91,500 in bribes to parlay his relationships with top players to steer them to a financial adviser, federal prosecutors said. The adviser, however, was working as a government cooperator.

Preska defended her decision by saying she disagreed “vehemently” with the prosecution’s claim that Person was motivated by “insatiable greed.”

“He is charitable literally to a fault,” the judge said.

She noted that after signing his first NBA contract, he sent most of the money to family members and bought his mother a house. She described how he bought homes and cars for family and friends and made continuous donations. Then, he turned down lucrative jobs in the NBA to make less money as a college coach.

Person wiped tears from his face several times during the sentencing.

Of his crime, he said: “I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyway.”

Person’s guilty plea in March to a bribery conspiracy charge came nearly two decades after he was a regular presence on NBA courts, where he played for five NBA teams over 13 seasons after being drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 1986. In 2010, he earned a championship ring as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Lawyers wrote that Person’s previous financial troubles intensified almost as soon as his NBA career ended, when he was paying $30,000 monthly to his ex-wife while he was earning $18,000 annually in his first non-playing role with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“Chuck’s singular focus on basketball, his failure to plan for his financial future, and his unbounded generosity ultimately had catastrophic consequences,” they wrote.

The lawyers said he knew he was violating NCAA rules and was betraying his players and their families and Auburn University.

By 2016, when he was an assistant coach at Auburn, where he had set a record as the school’s all-time leading scorer in the 1980s, he was deeply in debt with bank loans, including one to finance a community center in his hometown, and several private loans, the lawyers wrote. One financial institution had obtained a default judgment that garnished 25% of his wages at Auburn, they added.

“Creditors were growing impatient, and Chuck was becoming desperate. Chuck could have turned to his many friends for help, but he was embarrassed and ashamed,” they wrote.

Instead, the man who overcame racism and extreme poverty growing up in rural Alabama got swept up in the college basketball scandal when his search for a new loan earned him an introduction to the government cooperator, the lawyers said.

His lawyers’ submission included letters from Charles Sonny Smith, who coached at Auburn for 11 seasons through the 1980s, and Sam Perkins, another former NBA player who met Person when both competed to be on the U.S. Olympic team in 1984.

Smith called Person “my favorite player ever.” Perkins said Person was “still a good friend.”

Kansas lands 2019 guard Dajuan Harris

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Kansas landed another piece for the upcoming season on Tuesday night as guard Dajuan Harris pledged to the Jayhawks on Twitter.

Previously a member of the Class of 2020, Harris will reclassify and join Kansas for next season. The 6-foot-1 point guard is coming off of a strong Nike Peach Jam in which he helped MoKan Elite to the event’s title with a big week. A recent Kansas offer right before the July Live Evaluation Period, Harris averaged 7.1 assists per game while playing great defense throughout the event.

The Jayhawks adding Harris to the Class of 2019 means they have five members in the group — headlined by four-star prospects Jalen Wilson and Tristan Enaruna while three-star recruits Christian Braun and Isaac McBride are also involved. While Kansas struggled to land its usual five-star talents in this recruiting class, they’ve rebounded nicely with three commitments this spring to help fill out a veteran roster that is hoping to recapture Big 12 glory.

Kansas has plenty young players to build with the next few seasons as it’ll be interesting to see how this new five-man class shapes up. Wilson and Enaruna are expected to contribute, but the rest of the group, including Harris, is a bit of a wild card in terms of producing right away.