Oregon anxious to take floor after advancing without playing

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Oregon Ducks moved on in the West Region without the usual excitement that accompanies moving on.

Or with that momentum boost, either.

The Ducks earned a free pass to the second round after positive virus tests bounced VCU from the NCAA Tournament hours before Saturday’s scheduled tip-off. Waiting for Oregon on Monday will be No. 2 seed Iowa, which is now tournament-tested after an 86-74 win over Grand Canyon.

Meanwhile, the seventh-seeded Ducks straddle a fine line between rested and rusty. By the time Oregon takes the floor, it will have been 10 days since the Ducks played in the Pac-12 Conference Tournament.

“I don’t think there will be rust,” Oregon guard Will Richardson said. “We’ve been practicing every day, going hard, treating every day like game day. I think there will be a little nerves for some of us. But we’ll quickly get over that.”

Oregon coach Dana Altman is hoping the Ducks can weather the first 10 minutes, just to settle in and get back “in the flow of things after a 10-day layoff,” he said.

It certainly was a wild swing of emotions for the Ducks on Saturday. Altman said he was in the middle of a pregame meal when athletic director Rob Mullens summoned him out of the room.

“I knew something was wrong,” Altman said. “I got a little nervous. I was worried maybe it was our guys.”

It wasn’t. VCU had multiple players test positive for COVID-19. The Rams received the news of the cancellation – officially declared a “no contest” – after they had finished their pregame meal.

For the Ducks, it was off to the court for a late-night practice session.

The intensity was low at first, but then quickly “picked up, realizing we’ve got a game on Monday,” Altman explained. “It’s not the way you want to advance. You want to go out and play and win games and get some momentum going.”

Iowa big man Luka Garza knows the Ducks will be antsy to kick off their tournament.

“It’s unfortunate the game wasn’t able to happen for them,” Garza said. “They’ll be excited and pumped up to play us.”


Gonzaga coach Mark Few doesn’t have the warmest memories of Hinkle Fieldhouse, the place where the top-seeded Bulldogs face No. 8 seed Oklahoma on Monday in the second round.

In 2013, the Bulldogs played Butler at the historic arena in a midseason nonconference matchup. Butler escaped with a 64-63 victory when Roosevelt Jones stole an overthrown inbounds pass with 3.5 seconds left, drove from midcourt and hit a buzzer-beating floater.

“Fond memories for 39 minutes and 51 seconds until we screwed up an out-of-bounds play and gave them the win,” Few recalled on Sunday. “Brief fond memories of a good atmosphere.”


Ohio coach Jeff Boals played on the 1993-94 Bobcats team that won the Mid-American Conference championship and made it to the NCAA Tournament. He has a group chat with those teammates, who left many, many messages after his 13th-seeded team knocked off Virginia 62-58 in the first round.

Some of his Ohio teammates plan to make the trip to Indy for the Bobcats’ game Monday with No. 5 seed Creighton.

“It’s a bond like no other, when you’re part of a championship team,” Boals said of a team that included Gary Trent, a first-round NBA pick. “You’re doing reunions. You’re in each other’s weddings. With social media now, there’s not a day goes by when we don’t talk.”


Oklahoma guard De’Vion Harmon missed the Sooners’ win over Missouri after testing positive for COVID-19. But he joined in the postgame fun through FaceTime.

“There’s nothing better in sports than a spontaneous locker room celebration,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “You can’t practice them, you can’t express how they feel, the look of satisfaction on the players’ faces and they had De’Vion on FaceTime while that was going on, and he had the biggest smile.”

The sophomore Harmon was the team’s second-leading scorer and is expected to miss the Gonzaga game as well.


Forward Jalen Wilson is scheduled to join third-seeded Kansas for its second-round game against Southern California on Monday. Wilson missed the win over Eastern Washington due to COVID-19 protocols.

“He’s suiting up, and I anticipate him getting in the game,” Kansas coach Bill Self said, explaining Wilson is scheduled to arrive in Indianapolis in time for the team’s morning shoot-around.

Self said he would play it by ear how much action Wilson sees against the sixth-seeded Trojans.

David McCormack needed a half to find his rhythm in a 93-84 win against Eastern Washington on Saturday in his return from quarantine. He finished with 22 points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes.

The Jayhawks are still missing backup swingman Tristan Enaruna.

North Carolina transfer Caleb Love commits to Arizona

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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Caleb Love is now headed to Arizona.

The North Carolina transfer tweeted, less than a month after decommitting from Michigan, that he will play next season with the Wildcats.

“Caleb is a tremendously talented guard who has significant experience playing college basketball at a high level,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said in a statement. “We look forward to helping Caleb grow his game at Arizona. And as we near the completion of the roster for the upcoming season, we feel great about how everything has come together. Now it’s time for the real work to start.”

A 6-foot-4 guard, Love averaged 14.6 points and 3.3 assists in three seasons at North Carolina. He averaged 17.6 points in seven NCAA Tournament games, helping lead the Tar Heels to the 2022 national championship game.

Love entered the transfer portal after leading North Carolina with 73 3-pointers as a junior and initially committed to Michigan. He decommitted from the Wolverines earlier this month, reportedly due to an admissions issue involving academic credits.

Love narrowed his transfer targets to three schools before choosing to play at Arizona over Gonzaga and Texas.

Love will likely start on a team that will have dynamic perimeter players, including Pelle Larsson, Kylan Boswell and Alabama transfer Jaden Bradley.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

kansas mccullar
Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY Sports

Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”

Clemson leading scorer Hall withdraws from NBA draft, returns to Tigers

clemson pj hall
Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports

CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson leading scorer PJ Hall is returning to college after withdrawing from the NBA draft on Thursday.

The 6-foot-10 forward took part in the NBA combine and posted his decision to put off the pros on social media.

Hall led the Tigers with 15.3 points per game this past season. He also led the Tigers with 37 blocks, along with 5.7 rebounds. Hall helped Clemson finish third in the Atlantic Coast Conference while posting a program-record 14 league wins.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell said Hall gained experience from going through the NBA’s combine that will help the team next season. “I’m counting on him and others to help lead a very talented group,” he said.

Hall was named to the all-ACC third team last season as the Tigers went 23-10.