Bidens to host UConn, LSU at White House

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, plan to welcome the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball champions to the White House later this month.

The University of Connecticut Huskies men’s team beat San Diego State 76-59 in April to secure its fifth national title. The Louisiana State University Tigers women’s team won its first championship by beating the University of Iowa 102-85.

The invite to LSU became a source of controversy this year after the first lady said in a speech that the defeated Iowa women’s team should also come to the White House “because they played such a good game.” In recent decades, the White House has usually hosted only champions.

LSU star Angel Reese tweeted a link to a story about Jill Biden’s remarks. “ A JOKE,” she wrote, along with three rolling-on-floor-laughing emojis. On a podcast shortly after, Reese said her team should instead celebrate their title with former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama.

Reese later said during an interview that she would go to the White House because she wants to do “what’s best for the team.”

The team visits are scheduled for May 26.

Jackson, Hurley celebrate UConn’s title at Citi Field

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NEW YORK — Four weeks after winning UConn’s fifth NCAA men’s basketball championship, coach Dan Hurley and Andre Jackson Jr. got to celebrate the experience at Citi Field.

Jackson, one of the starters on the Huskies and a native of upstate Amsterdam, threw out the ceremonial first pitch while his head coach, Hurley, and members of the UConn staff watched prior to the first game of the New York Mets’ doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves.

Before Jackson threw his pitch to Mets third baseman Eduardo Escobar, a montage of highlights – set to Aerosmith’s “Dream On” – from UConn’s 76-59 championship game win over San Diego State on April 3 aired on the scoreboard.

“It’s pretty cool, especially for a kid like Andrew who’s from New York,” said Hurley, a native of Jersey City. “And to see on the Jumbotron, the video, and kind of relive some of that – you don’t get a chance to enjoy it a whole lot because he’s been running around with the (NBA) draft process (and) finishing exams and we’re running around with recruiting. So it’s nice to be able to have some days like this.”

Hurley, who is a Kansas City Royals fan and said Hall of Famer George Brett is his favorite athlete of all time, said there’s a possibility a pair of Huskies, Donovan Clingan and Alex Karaban, could throw out the first pitch prior to a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park, located about 90 minutes from the UConn campus in Storrs, Connecticut.

Jackson, who declared for the NBA draft while maintaining his college eligibility, said he was “a little nervous” before tossing a slightly high pitch from the mound to Escobar, who was crouched at the edge of the dirt in front of home plate.

The 21-year-old, who grew up a Yankees fan, casually tossed the ball in his right hand as he stood inside the Clover home plate club following his pitch.

“I was thinking about throwing it to a kid,” Jackson said. “But maybe I will keep it.”

Memphis signee Mikey Williams pleads not guilty to gun charges

mikey williams case
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SAN DIEGO — Due to security concerns cited by his attorney, high school basketball star and Memphis signee Mikey Williams appeared via video conference for his arraignment on six felony charges of assault with a firearm. His attorney entered pleas of not guilty on Williams’ behalf.

Williams faces five charges of assault with a weapon and one count of firing into an occupied vehicle. He could get up to 28 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

Williams spoke only a few times, answering, “Yes, sir,” when asked by Superior Court Judge Louis R. Hanoian if he understood his rights and when he was told he couldn’t possess guns or ammunition as a condition of remaining free on a $50,000 bond.

The March 27 shooting happened at the $1.2 million home Williams purchased in unincorporated Jamul in eastern San Diego County. An argument just before midnight ended with gunshots being fired at a car that was leaving the house with five passengers inside it, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release. Bullets hit the car, but nobody inside was injured, authorities said.

The shooting was reported to authorities the next day. Officers executed a search warrant at the home and arrested Williams on April 13.

Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said Wednesday in his first media availability since Williams’ arrest that he wouldn’t speak about the case “out of respect for the ongoing process of what’s happening.”

“I mean, I’m gonna continue to recruit. As of right now, Mikey is still with us. That’s how I have to keep it until otherwise,” Hardaway added. “That’s why I say, I can’t really speak on the case. Nothing has happened thus far.”

At the prosecution’s request, the court issued protective orders Thursday for the five individuals, including three minors, who were in the car that Williams is accused of firing into on March 27. Williams must stay at least 100 yards from the individuals and not contact or threaten them.

Williams’ attorney, Troy P. Owens, said after the brief hearing that he requested for Williams to appear via video conference because of threats “that are public and online.” He declined to give further details.

“We did not want him showing up in person,” Owens said.

Williams will be represented by Owens at a readiness hearing on June 15 but he was ordered to be personally present for the preliminary hearing scheduled for June 29.

Williams is one of the name, image and likeness era’s earliest stars, securing a multiyear deal with shoe and athletic apparel maker Puma for an undisclosed amount in 2021. He has millions of followers across his social media platforms. once estimated his NIL valuation at $3.6 million, but Williams’ name no longer appears in the rankings.

Williams played his senior year at San Ysidro High School in San Diego and signed with Memphis in November.

UConn guard Nahiem Alleyne transfers to St. John’s

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn guard Nahiem Alleyne became the third player to leave the program this month after helping the Huskies win the NCAA Tournament.

The 6-foot-4 senior announced on social media that he is transferring to St. John’s, posting a rendering of himself in a Red Storm uniform along with images of the Statue of Liberty, a New York cab, a sign for the school and coach Rick Pitino.

The post on Instagram received a “like” from UConn coach Dan Hurley.

The 3-point shooter and defensive specialist spent just one season at UConn, playing an average of just under 18 minutes a game and averaging 5.2 points. He averaged 7.2 points in UConn’s six NCAA Tournament games.

He spent his first three seasons at Virginia Tech and has one more year of eligibility remaining.

Alleyne joins guard Jordan Hawkins and center Adama Sanogo in leaving UConn this spring before exhausting their college eligibility. Both Sanogo and Hawkins have announced plays to enter the NBA draft.

Alleyne becomes the fourth transfer to join Pitino’s rebuilding effort at St. John’s, along with guards Daniss Jenkins and Cruz Davis, who followed their coach from Iona and VMI wing Sean Conway.

UConn guard Jordan Hawkins declares for NBA draft

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

STORRS, Conn. – UConn guard Jordan Hawkins announced Friday that he will leave college and enter the NBA draft.

The 6-foot-5 sophomore from Gaithersburg, Maryland averaged 16.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists this past season, helping lead the Huskies to the program’s fifth NCAA Tournament title.

Hawkins also averaged 16.3 points in the Huskies’ six games in the NCAA Tournament and shot 50% from 3-point range (21 of 42). He scored 16 points in the Huskies win over San Diego State in the title game on Monday night.

Hawkins made the announcement Friday while appearing with coach Dan Hurley on ESPN’s NBA Today show.

Hawkins is known for his ability to come off a screen and quickly release a 3-point attempt. He shot 38.8% from beyond the arc this season.

His 109 3-pointers this year are second behind Ray Allen’s 115 on UConn’s single-season list.

Hawkins could be the first UConn player taken in the first-round of the draft since James Bouknight was selected at No. 11 by Charlotte in 2021.

President Joe Biden to host UConn, LSU; doesn’t mention Iowa

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said that he looks forward to hosting the NCAA men’s and women’s championship basketball teams, the University of Connecticut and Louisiana State University, at the White House, appearing to shut the door on a suggestion a day earlier by his wife, Jill, that the defeated Iowa women’s team be invited, too.

President Biden tweeted that LSU and Connecticut “showed us the best of what this country can be.”

“We can all learn a lot from watching these champions compete,” the president said, “and I look forward to welcoming them at each of their White House visits.” He did not announce dates, and the comment suggests that Iowa will not be invited.

Following LSU’s victory, coach Kim Mulkey said she would go to the White House if the team, the Tigers, was invited. There was no immediate comment from Connecticut, but the team has made the trip to the White House after winning the NCAA title game in prior years.

The first lady, who is a big sports fan, had watched LSU’s 102-85 victory over Iowa from the stands in the Dallas arena alongside tennis great Billie Jean King and several college athletes.

During an appearance in Denver with Colorado lawmakers, Jill Biden followed up by praising Iowa’s sportsmanship and congratulated both teams on their performance. She noted the long-standing White House tradition of celebrating championship sports teams – and added a twist.

“I know we’ll have the champions come to the White House, we always do. So, we hope LSU will come,” she said. “But, you know, I’m going to tell Joe I think Iowa should come, too, because they played such a good game.”

The suggestion didn’t go over well. LSU star Angel Reese, who was honored as Most Outstanding Player, tweeted a link to a story on Jill Biden’s remarks. “A JOKE,” Reese wrote, along with three rolling-on-floor-laughing emojis.

Others commenting on social media said only winners should be rewarded with a White House visit and that also inviting Iowa would detract from LSU’s achievement. The LSU team is predominantly Black and Iowa is largely white.

Vanessa Valdivia, a spokesperson for Jill Biden, said the first lady was excited by watching the women’s game and meant no disrespect to LSU by suggesting a White House invite for Iowa.

“Her comments in Colorado were intended to applaud the historic game and all women athletes,” Valdivia tweeted. “She looks forward to celebrating the LSU Tigers on their championship win at the White House.”

During her remarks in Colorado, the first lady also talked about how U.S. women have excelled in athletics since Title IX in 1972 gave women equal rights in sports at schools that receive federal funding.

“It was so exciting, wasn’t it?” she asked. “It was such a great game. I’m old enough that I remember when we got Title IX. We fought so hard, right? We fought so hard. And look at where women’s sports have come today.”

The pushback over the first lady’s NCAA comments recalled an episode last year when she apologized for saying Latinos are “as unique” as the breakfast tacos served in San Antonio. She had made the comment during a speech to nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization.

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists and others registered their offense on social media, with the journalists’ organization tweeting that, “We are not tacos.”