UNC’s Bacot leaves no suspense on his title game status

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

NEW ORLEANS – North Carolina front-court starter Armando Bacot didn’t so much down-play the severity of his right ankle injury as dismiss the notion that it would stop him from playing hard against Kansas in Monday night’s national championship game.

“I’m going to go all out,” the 6-foot-10 Bacot pledged on Sunday before the Tar Heels’ final practice at the NCAA Tournament. “It’s the championship game, so I’m going to play my best and I’m going to go out there and fight.”

Tar Heels coach Hubert Davis said Bacot, who twisted his ankle in a crowd of players near the baseline during the second half of Saturday night’s national semifinal victory over Duke, was slated to participate in a light practice later Sunday after X-rays came back negative.

“Obviously he’s a little sore. But he was walking around and feeling good and was very encouraged with the amount of swelling from his ankle sprain,” Davis said. “He’s ready to play tomorrow night.

At least mentally.

UNC guard Caleb Love said Bacot all but assured teammates after Saturday night’s game that he was playing and that there would be no “day-to-day” suspense or game-time decision.

“He told us he didn’t have a choice but to play,” Love said. “That goes to show you how tough he is. Armando’s one of the toughest dude’s I know. He’ll put his life on the line for this game. So, I feel like he’s ready and we’re going to pick him up.”

For Davis, Bacot’s insistence on playing is a welcome development. He averages 16.3 points, 13.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.

“It’s just plain and simple,” Davis said. “We’re a better team with him on the floor.”


Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot was almost 11 years old when he was ordered by his parents to go to bed at halftime of the Jayhawks’ last triumphant national title game against Memphis in 2008.

“That’s something that I still give them trouble for,” said Lightfoot, a sixth-year senior who was born in Kansas City and lived there until age 5 before moving to Arizona.

He joked that he’d be getting his revenge on Monday night, when Kansas seeks its fourth NCAA title in its matchup with North Carolina in the Superdome.

“They’re actually here for this one,” Lightfoot said of his parents. “So, I told them they have to go home at halftime.”

Jayhawks guard Christian Braun, a junior from Burlington, Kansas, also missed the second half of that 2008 title game. He was almost 7 years old and tried to watch the game, but fell asleep by halftime.


In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, authorities should be well prepared for wild street celebrations to break out – bonfire and all – should the Tar Heels knock of Kansas.

A semifinal victory over historical in-state rival Duke sent an estimated 40,000 jubilant North Carolina fans streaming into the streets on Saturday night following a tense, back-and-forth game that took on added significance because it ended the career of retiring Hall-of-Fame Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

“I kind of wished I was back at Chapel Hill,” Love said after seeing footage of celebrations near campus. “It was great to see … that we create memories for the students back at home.”

Many fans congregated outside a stretch of bars and restaurants at the intersection of Franklin and Columbia streets, along the edge of campus, where some of them built and ignited a bonfire.

Some of those revelers climbed lights poles and trees, while others shot off fireworks.

“I was kind of jealous because I got 20 or 30 Snapchats of people rushing Franklin and all the parties and stuff that was going on at school,” Bacot said, referring to videos posted on social media. “We play in these big games and obviously we’re a huge factor in what has happened, but I’m just happy for all the students and all my friends that get this experience. … Hopefully, we can get this win on Monday and it’ll be another party on Franklin Street.”

Town manager Maurice Jones told the Charlotte Observer that 10 people were treated for injuries and four were taken to a hospital to be treated for injuries that were not serious.


NBA Commissioner Adam Silver congratulated Krzyzewski on his long, illustrious coaching career in a statement released on Sunday.

“The NBA congratulates Mike Krzyzewski on his record-setting coaching career,” Silver said. “In 42 years as head coach at Duke and more than a decade as a head coach for USA Basketball, his leadership and mentoring have had a profound impact on countless NBA players, coaches and executives, including me. We thank Coach K for all that he has done for the game of basketball.”


CBS announced that the historic first matchup of arch in-state rivals Duke and North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament, buoyed further by the Krzyzewski storyline, was the most-viewed NCAA Men’s Final Four telecast on any network since North Carolina beat Oregon in the 2017 semifinals on its way to the national title.

The UNC-Duke game had an average of 16.3 million viewers, the network said.

CBS said the first semifinal game, in which Kansas beat Villanova, had an average audience of 10.3 million viewers.

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
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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.

George Washington adopts new name ‘Revolutionaries’ to replace ‘Colonials’

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WASHINGTON — George Washington University’s sports teams will now be known as the Revolutionaries, the school announced.

Revolutionaries replaces Colonials, which had been GW’s name since 1926. Officials made the decision last year to drop the old name after determining it no longer unified the community.

GW said 8,000 different names were suggested and 47,000 points of feedback made during the 12-month process. Revolutionaries won out over the other final choices of Ambassadors, Blue Fog and Sentinels.

“I am very grateful for the active engagement of our community throughout the development of the new moniker,” president Mark S. Wrighton said. “This process was truly driven by our students, faculty, staff and alumni, and the result is a moniker that broadly reflects our community – and our distinguished and distinguishable GW spirit.”

George the mascot will stay and a new logo developed soon for the Revolutionaries name that takes effect for the 2023-24 school year. The university is part of the Atlantic 10 Conference.