Wiseman has 28 and 11 in winning debut for No. 14 Memphis

Getty Images
0 Comments

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After missing the preseason exhibition games with annoying aches and pains, touted freshman James Wiseman finally made his debut for No. 14 Memphis.

It was worth the wait.

Wiseman, the nation’s top-rated recruit, had 28 points and 11 rebounds as the Tigers beat South Carolina State 97-64 on Tuesday night.

The difference for Memphis with Wiseman in the game was obvious from the opening play when he scored inside. From that point on there were dunks, alley-oop finishes and offensive rebounds followed by putbacks.

“Just the first few plays, you saw it,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said of Wiseman’s impact. “It was amazing. Just him running the floor and throwing it towards the rim and then him finishing. That’s such a huge luxury.”

Fellow freshman Precious Achiuwa added 14 points and eight rebounds for Memphis (1-0). Wiseman connected on 11 of 14 from the field and blocked three shots before checking out for good midway through the second half.

“The main priority is trusting my teammates,” Wiseman said of getting back into the flow of the game after injuries to his shoulder and ankle. “Just running the floor. That’s one of my strengths. When I did that, the floor opened up tremendously.”

Ian Kinard led South Carolina State (0-1) with 13 points, and Jahmari Etienne scored 11.

Memphis controlled all aspects of the game, from rebounding to defense. By the early minutes of the second half the Tigers’ lead had reached 21, and they continued to stretch the advantage while coasting the rest of the way.

In addition to outrebounding South Carolina State 42-25, the Tigers forced 18 turnovers that led to 24 points.

“Memphis is really good on capitalizing off turnovers,” Bulldogs coach Murray Garvin said. “That’s hard to compete with. Then, they also had 60 points in the paint.

“Wiseman is a heck of a basketball player. His best basketball is ahead of him, and we didn’t have the size or athleticism to match up with the big fella.”

BIG PICTURE

South Carolina State: It’s doubtful the Bulldogs will face as tough a challenge as they did in the season opener. No other teams on South Carolina State’s schedule are in the Top 25. The Bulldogs, a member of the MEAC, are picked fifth in the conference preseason poll.

Memphis: The game was the perfect opening act for a Memphis team that has plenty of promise because of the highly touted recruiting class. Hardaway started five freshmen and the Tigers worked the opening set to Wiseman and kept feeding him.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

South Carolina State was hardly a test for Memphis, so it’s hard to imagine the win will affect the Tigers’ No. 14 ranking. They have another game this week against the University of Illinois-Chicago before the next poll is released.

BLOCK PARTY

Memphis blocked 10 shots. In addition to three from Wiseman, DJ Jeffries, another freshman, had four. Lance Thomas had two and Achiuwa one.

LAST WORD

“They have great size, great athleticism, and great skilled guys. It’s a formula for success. . I think they are really, really underestimated. Being ranked 14th and having the No. 1 recruiting class, those guys should play with a chip on their shoulder for the rest of the year until they get that respect they probably deserve.” — Garvin on Memphis.

UP NEXT

South Carolina State: Hosts Bob Jones University on Friday.

Memphis: Hosts the University of Illinois-Chicago on Friday.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

Joe Rondone/USA TODAY NETWORK
1 Comment

SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

uconn
Michael Hickey/Getty Images
0 Comments

STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

Getty Images
0 Comments

TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.