Kevin Garnett

Duke’s Tyus Jones helps Kevin Garnett with first pitch at Minnesota Twins home opener (VIDEO)

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Duke freshman point guard Tyus Jones is still riding high off of his national championship and Most Outstanding Player award from the 2015 NCAA tournament.

On Monday, the native of Apple Valley, Minnesota helped deliver the ball for the ceremonial first pitch out to Minnesota Timberwolves veteran Kevin Garnett before the Twins’ home opener against the Kansas City Royals.

Jones is still weighing his options for next season as he decides whether to enter the NBA Draft or stay in school. Regardless of his future, this is a cool moment for Jones in his home state.

(H/T: The Cauldron)

Is Florida commit Chris Walker really ‘a sick mix of Kevin Garnett and Perry Jones III’?

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Let’s make a quick list of the things 2013 Florida commit Chris Walker has going for him:

1) Size and athleticism

At 6-10, Walker is long, lanky, and athletic player who can block shots and run the floor. Need proof? Check out this video.

2) The sidekick

Walker, in choosing Florida, pairs up with the teammate he has played with on the AAU circuit with the Florida Rams, Kasey Hill. Hill, one of the best point guards in the Class of 2013, has the chemistry with Walker to make for a high-level inside-outside combination in the SEC.

3) Sky-high self-confidence

This is the attribute that the general public is getting a taste of as he moves from the more isolated high school scene and prepares for college. Take a look below:

Chris Walker committed to Florida this July via a video online, along the way promising that the Gators would win a national championship. Is it far-fetched? No, considering the talent that will be coming to Gainesville to play for Billy Donovan, but rather forward, certainly.

Then came the article published in the Gainesville Sun where he, among other things, made it known that he is considering being a one-and-done, outlined his skills, and passed along the things, he says, scouts are saying about him.

“NBA draft people have said I’m like a sick mix of Kevin Garnett and Perry Jones III,” Walker told the paper.

“I can shoot 3s now,” Walker went on to say. “I can finesse you. I can dunk on you. I can guard anything, and I’m rebounding better. When I block shots I catch the ball. I can post you up with my back to the basket and hit you with a post move. Or I can face you up and use my quickness to blow by you.”

He continues.

“Me now, I’m a high motor for my team. I can lead a team now. With my skill set, I can play outside or inside, I can post up. I can defend and guard (all five positions), and that’s because of the athleticism I have.”

Is there anything, in his own mind, he can’t do? But where did all that confidence come from?

“I really built up my confidence two months ago,” he said. “That was my first look at how good I can really be.”

“Coach (Donovan) said where my skill level is, if that’s what I want I should go for it,” Walker told the paper.

If it turns out that he can do all the things he claims at the college level, there’s no doubt he will be. If.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Why are we focused on Fab Melo’s academics?

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It’s far from a secret for college basketball fans that Fab Melo had a tough time academically during his sophomore season at Syracuse.

In January, he was suspended for three games — including the Orange’s first loss of the season to Notre Dame — for an academic issue, one that reared its ugly head again in March, which is why Melo sat out the NCAA tournament.

And, as you might expect, the rookie has been hearing it from seemingly everyone in Boston. According to this report from ESPN Boston, Celtic GM Danny Ainge asked Melo if his business advisor Rodrigo was also his academic advisor. Head coach Doc Rivers said on ESPN Radio interview with Mike Lupica that “We have no tests” and that “we’re going to introduce you tomorrow and we’re going to do a Read to Achieve thing (with young students). Are you OK with that?”

Hilarious if you ask me.

I can’t wait to hear what Kevin Garnett has to say to Melo if he shows up late for practice or forget what he’s supposed to do on a specific play.

To his credit, Melo seems to be taking the ribbing in stride.

“It’s not a concern at all,” Melo said of his academic record. “I did what I had to do on the basketball court, my responsibilities, stuff like that. I did. I struggled with the school. And I don’t have to go to class now, so that’s something coach or the coaching staff won’t have to worry about.”

At this point, you have to hope that Melo’s career pans out. As Orange Fizz put it, “dumb and proud of it is no way to go through life.”

The irony here is that Melo’s academic record would be the second biggest concern I have about him as a prospect. No one seems particularly concerned about the fact that Melo had a “volatile relationship” with his girlfriend in college, one in which he was “physically violent four or five times” and resulted in his getting arrested. The episode seems quite disturbing:

About 9 a.m. on May 30, she and Melo got into an argument over a phone call she received from a male friend. Melo demanded she call back the male and tell him that she did not want to talk with him anymore because she was dating Melo.

She said she called and told the man she couldn’t hang out with him anymore. Melo became mad, she said, because she didn’t make it sound like she was voluntarily calling off the communication.

Later in the day, she told police it appeared that Melo had calmed down. About 1:40 p.m., in Melo’s apartment, he was showing her pictures using his MacBook computer. He asked her if he could see her Facebook wall. She said she agreed providing that Melo not get angry at what he reads.

Melo became angry after reading two comments from two different men on the Facebook wall, she said. Melo threw down his computer on the floor, damaging it. As soon as he realized he had damaged it, he began throwing it against the walls.

She went to the apartment’s bathroom and shut the door. She soon left the bathroom, grabbed her belongings and left the apartment. She was in her car when Melo came out of the apartment, picked up some dirt and threw it on her. Melo walked behind the car and demanded she open the trunk.

She refused.

Melo approached the driver’s side, reached in the window and snapped off the turn signal control arm, which also controlled the car’s wipers and high beams.

She noticed Melo was bleeding from the hand.

“Here, you want my blood,” she quoted Melo as saying as he smeared blood on her shirt.

But you’re right. Bad grades are a much bigger issue.

 

May 20 marks 12th anniversary of death of former St. John’s star Malik Sealy

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Former St. John’s star and NBA forward Malik Sealy died in a car accident 12 years ago today, May 20.

Sealy was driving home in Minnesota from a birthday party for friend and teammate Kevin Garnett, when he was struck by a drunk driver who was traveling the wrong way down the highway. Sealy’s SUV reportedly did not have an airbag and he was not wearing his seatbelt.

Sealy averaged 18.9 points per game over his four seasons at St. John’s, and was an All-American in 1991-92. He was drafted 14th overall by the Indiana Pacers in the 1992 NBA draft.

He was a New York-born prospect who stayed in the city to play his college ball, something that traditionally helped St. John’s to build a strong program.

His best collegiate season came when he was a senior, averaging 22.6 points and 6.8 rebounds. In the NBA, he just over 10 points per game in his career.

Since his death, the Minnesota Timberwolves have retired his jersey number. Garnett, who was close with Sealy, has a tattoo honoring him.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

How fair is criticism of Perry Jones III, Baylor?

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Nothing epitomizes Perry Jones III like his performance against No. 1 Kentucky as the third-seeded Bears were eliminated from the NCAA tournament with an 82-70 loss just one win away from the Final Four.

Jones had just two first half points, as he struggled to establish himself during a 37-12 surge by the Wildcats to take a 42-22 lead heading into halftime. At that point, the game was, for all intents and purposes, all-but over. Beating Kentucky is difficult enough. Doing so while digging out of a 20 point hole is nearly impossible.

But in the second half, Jones looked like a different player. He was more aggressive and assertive on both ends of the floor, finishing the game with 17 points and eight rebounds. If you at the box score, you would think that Jones had played pretty well.

And he did. In the second half. As Baylor trimmed a 20 point lead down to ten.

That right there is the issue with PJ3. Consistency. The kid has all the talent in the world, and he showcased it for 15 minutes in the second half before he fouled out of the game. He’s good enough to be some combination of Blake Griffin, Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki, yet there are elongated stretches of time where he is nonexistent. For every play that leaves you in awe, there is a point where you say to yourself, “wait, Jones is on the floor right now?”

It is a frustrating thing to watch. But is it fair to hold that against him?

PJ3 is a good kid. He’s overcome a lot in his life. He goes to class and he gets good grades and he’s proud of the fact that he gets good grades the same way he’s proud of the fact that he played on a team that made the Elite Eight. Isn’t that what we are always looking for at this level? Would we embrace the fact that Jones is a true “student-athlete” more if he was having more success on the “athlete” side?

For that matter, can’t we say the same about the Baylor program as a whole? For all the criticism that Scott Drew gets, he just took Baylor — Baylor! — to their second Elite Eight in three years. He’s coached a senior class that not only second a record for career wins, but they set a record for career GPA.

Did Baylor underachieve this season? Probably. Has PJ3 played up to his ability this year? Not on a consistent basis.

But did they deserve the amount of heat they got this season?

I’ll put it like this: and you wonder why big time college coaches put on-court success over academics.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

White’s triple-double earns him a KG plaudit (and a barf bag)

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Royce White dominated during Iowa State’s 74-50 win against Texas A&M.

He scored (10 points), rebounded (18), passes (10 assists) and essentially controlled the game from the post while playing 35 minutes. His triple-double? Just the fourth in school history.

Then he threw up.

“When I got subbed out at end, I was dizzy, I guess I’m still battling the flu,” White told the Des Moines Register. “Before the game, I was feeling sick. I really didn’t have any feel out there. I was sucking wind the whole game.”

If White, a 6-7 sophomore, can do all that while fighting off the flu, just imagine what he can do when healthy. Or perhaps he should just stay sick. Why mess with a good thing?

And it was a good thing. The Cyclones (12-3 overall, 2-0 in the Big 12) snapped an eight-game skid to A&M, a 12-game losing streak to Texas schools and won its first two conference games for the first time since 2006-07.

White, to his credit, doled out the love to his teammates, terming the triple-double as “a testament to guys making shots.”

A&M coach Billy Kennedy wasn’t buying that (he was impressed) and neither was Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, who dropped a massive compliment on his sophomore star.

“I was fortunate to play with Kevin Garnett for a couple seasons,” Hoiberg told the paper. “Royce has that vision — he has the mentality of a point guard.

“He hits guys with no-look passes. He’s a step ahead.”

White isn’t KG, but Hoiberg’s point is clear – White is the type of player who can elevate everyone else’s game. How else would he have logged a triple-double?

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