Steph Curry joins Davidson HOF, has jersey retired, graduates

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DAVIDSON, N.C. — Stephen Curry knocked down another huge 3 – one that was 13 years in the making.

The Golden State Warriors point guard was inducted into the Davidson College Hall of Fame, had his No. 30 jersey retired and received his bachelor’s degree in sociology following an elaborate solo graduation ceremony on the school’s campus.

“This is an absolutely amazing day and an amazing moment for myself and my family,” Curry said during the 90-minute ceremony. “The best decision I ever made was to come to Davidson College and pursue an education, join an amazing community and, most importantly, play for an amazing man who has built this program for what it is in (former Davidson coach) coach (Bob) McKillop.”

There were signs scattered throughout Davidson’s campus, congratulating and welcoming Curry back to the school, which is located about 25 miles north of Charlotte where Curry grew up.

Curry walked into a packed house at Belk Arena – where he played from 2006 to 2009 – wearing a graduation cap and gown, exchanging fist bumps with family, friends, former teammates and current students.

The four-time NBA champion and two-time league MVP turned pro after his junior season at Davidson, and only recently finished his final classes remotely to earn his degree.

The school was purposely waiting for Curry to graduate before retiring his number.

Once he did, he became the first Davidson athlete in any sport to have his jersey number retired, meaning No. 30 will never be worn by another Wildcats basketball player.

“To earn this degree you showed determination and perseverance,” Davidson president Doug Hicks said during the ceremony. “It would have been so easy, so straightforward to not complete your college degree. Yet in response to that idea, you did what you did to 29 other NBA organizations – you said, `night, night!”‘

Curry held back tears as he accepted his degree and, at the urging of the crowd, threw his cap into the air.

His mother, Sonya Curry, spoke at the ceremony, calling it a “dream come true” to see her son graduate.

“Today you can breathe and say, `Check, it’s done,’ ” Sonya Curry said. “Today you helped coach McKillop maintain his 100% graduation rate. And you set an example for others, young and old, that it’s never too late to complete your education.”

Sonya Curry said she initially wanted her son to go to a larger Division I school farther from home but changed her mind after watching the Wildcats practice.

“I told him if this is what you want to do, I will support you,” she said.

McKillop talked about how Curry’s unselfishness, saying he mailed postcards to Davidson fans, alumni and supporters thanking them after he was drafted seventh overall by the Warriors in 2009.

“How many young people have the capacity to do that?” McKillop said.

Curry closed his speech by saying, “I’m a graduate, I’m a Davidson alum and I am in the Hall of Fame – and that’s pretty crazy.”

Davidson’s director of athletics Chris Clunie called Curry “Davidson’s most extraordinary scholar-athlete” while inducting him into the school’s Hall of Fame and retiring his jersey number, which was revealed in the rafters of the basketball court.

“Every father hopes their child makes their world a better place,” said Stephen’s father and former NBA player Dell Curry. “With that said, I’m a lucky dad because he’s doing all of that. … If you want to know how to treat people, look at that man right there.”

Dell Curry added: “And the next Hall of Fame, you know where that is going to be.”

Bob McKillop retires as Davidson coach after 33-season run

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Bob McKillop watched his former star player Stephen Curry closely as he celebrated winning another NBA championship with tears.

It felt like a timely bit of reassurance for the longtime Davidson men’s basketball coach as he prepared to announce his retirement.

“Everything happens for a reason,” McKillop said Friday as he choked up. “Did you see Steph after the game last night? He was crying, crying, tears. I thought that was a message to me: It’s OK to cry today.”

McKillop’s 33-year run at the small private school of fewer than 2,000 students north of Charlotte, North Carolina, included coaching the eventual NBA star with the Wildcats before Curry became a household name. It also included becoming one of the most respected voices in Division I men’s basketball on the way to 634 wins and 10 trips to the NCAA Tournament.

He announced his retirement in a campus news conference for the end of this month to make way for his son, associate head coach and former Wildcats player Matt McKillop, to take over as his successor.

The retirement announcement came shortly after athletic director Chris Clunie said Davidson would make Curry’s No. 30 the first number retired by the school after he earned his degree this year – 13 years after he left school early for the pros and one day after Curry won his fourth title with Golden State while being named NBA Finals MVP.

Bob McKillop, 71, became the latest notable coaching figure to exit the game in a little more than a year, a list that includes retired Hall of Famers Roy Williams at North Carolina in April 2021 followed by Mike Krzyzewski at Duke and Jay Wright at Villanova after last season. Those departures come at a time of massive change to the sport, with wide-open player movement through the transfer portal and college athletes more broadly able to cash in on their fame through endorsement deals.

“You might say, ‘Well, are you leaving because of the landscape of college basketball? Are you leaving because other guys have retired?”‘ McKillop said. “Let me tell you: They don’t make my decisions.

“There are three things that make my decisions: faith, family and Davidson College. And this is best for faith, this is best for family, and more importantly this is best for Davidson College.”

McKillop arrived on campus in 1989 out of the high school ranks and endured a four-win season in his debut year. But he eventually built a consistent winner with 17 seasons of at least 20 wins.

The highlight was a captivating run to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2008 behind Curry’s dazzling play that made him a national star before falling to eventual NCAA champion Kansas.

“Love you Coach!” Curry posted on Twitter. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, my family, Davidson and every person you’ve impacted along the way.”

The school named its court after McKillop in 2014. His final team won 27 games before losing a one-point game to Michigan State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in March.

“This program is in a bright place right now,” he said. “The current roster we have is exhilarated and energized and inspired to take the next step in our journey forward.”

As for Curry, Clunie said the school plans to pay tribute to the former All-American on Aug. 31 with a ceremony to honor his number retirement, induct Curry into the Davidson Athletics Hall of Fame and present him with his diploma in a “mini-graduation ceremony.”

“We are so blessed and graced to have had his presence here, and we still have his fingerprints all over us,” McKillop said of Curry. “We are very fortunate.”

Richmond steals NCAA bid, beats top-seeded Davidson in A-10

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WASHINGTON — Jacob Gilyard scored 26 points, Tyler Burton had 16 points and 12 rebounds and No. 6 seed Richmond beat top-seeded Davidson 64-62 on Sunday to clinch the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament and an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time in 11 years.

Richmond (23-12) was playing in the A-10 championship game – needing two 15-point comebacks in the early rounds – for the first time since winning in 2011. The Spiders are making their 10th trip to the NCAAs, the first since making the Sweet 16 in that 2011 season.

With Davidson’s 27-6 record and resume, Richmond’s win likely knocked out a bubble team.

The Spiders lost a home game to Davidson 87-84 on Jan. 14 when Michael Jones hit a game-winning 3-pointer with three seconds remaining. Jones had another chance to win this game, getting an inbounds pass with 1.7 seconds left, but his contested 3-pointer from the corner didn’t hit the rim as time expired.

Richmond went six-plus minutes without a field goal down the stretch until Burton completed three-point plays on back-to-back possession to get the Spiders within 62-60. Davidson dribbled down the clock and missed a 3-pointer and Burton missed a baseline jumper at the other end but his airball went off a Davidson player.

After a timeout, Matt Grace powered into the lane and completed another three-point play – his first points of the game – to give Richmond a 63-62 lead with 19.1 seconds left. Foster Loyer had a good look at a 3-pointer at the other end but it rolled out and Gilyard, an 85.7% free-throw shooter, was fouled before making 1 of 2 free throws at 2.9.

Davidson called a timeout at 2.5 and Richmond called another after seeing how the Wildcats set up. Davidson made a half-court pass and called another timeout with 1.7 left, but Jones’ shot was off.

Gilyard was 9 of 18 from the field, including a long jumper early in the second half to reach 2,000 career points, becoming just the fifth player in program history to do so.

Sam Mennenga scored 18 points and Jones finished with 17 for Davidson. Luka Brajkovic, the A-10 player of the year, had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Mennenga made his fourth straight 3-pointer to give Davidson a 49-42 lead with 10:03 remaining but the Wildcats didn’t make their next field goal until Brajkovic at 4:45. Richmond tied it on three different occasions during Davidson’s field-goal drought but couldn’t take the lead until the closing seconds.

Kentucky adds 2,000-point scorer Kellan Grady from Davidson

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky has added former Davidson guard Kellan Grady to its roster. The graduate transfer scored 2,002 career points with the Wildcats.

Grady is expected to graduate from Davidson in May and will be eligible to play next season for Kentucky under NCAA rules. He was the Atlantic 10 Conference school’s sixth player to score at least 2,000 career points and averaged more than 17.1 points per game in all four seasons. Grady shot 47% overall with 240 3-pointers at Davidson, making a career-best 38.2% from behind the arc last season.

Kentucky coach John Calipari praised Grady’s consistency in many areas and added, “His scoring, his ability to share the ball and his defense is part of what makes him special, and we are ecstatic to have him join a team that was close last season but needed what he gives us to get over to the top.”

The 6-foot-5 Grady was a four-time All-A10 selection and twice chosen to the first team. He averaged 17.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game last season.

Funderburk, Bates spark N.C. State in NIT opener

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DENTON, Texas – DJ Funderburk and Manny Bates combined for 35 points on 15-of-17 shooting and North Carolina State defeated Davidson 75-61 in a first round NIT game on Thursday night.

Funderburk matched his season high with 21 points, hitting 8 of 10 shots and grabbing seven rebounds. Bates went 7 for 7 for 14 points and had seven rebounds.

Jericole Hellems added 13 points for the Wolfpack (14-10), who improved to 11-2 in the first round of their 13 NIT appearances. They will face in the winner of Friday’s game between Buffalo and Colorado State in the second round next Thursday.

Luka Brajkovic scored 15 points for the Wildcats (13-9), who are now 3-9 in nine NITs. Hyunjung Lee added 13 points, Kellan Graby 12 to surpass 2,000 for his career, and Michael Jones 11.

N.C. State, which shot 36.2% in losing its last game in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, shot 58.8(asterisk) for the game and with seven 3-pointers – in 17 attempts – matched Davidson. However, Davidson put up 24 shots from distance.

The Wolfpack shot 67% (18 of 27) to lead 40-32 at the break.

The tournament, limited to 16 teams instead of 32 this season, is taking place in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area at the University of North Texas Coliseum in Denton and at the Comerica Center in Frisco.

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.