Jeff Eisenberg

  • Louisville's Chinanu Onuaku experiments with underhand free throws

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 7 hrs ago

    Most cold-shooting big men won't deign to dabble with attempting free throws underhand because they're fearful of being ridiculed for it.

    Credit Louisville's Chinanu Onuaku for daring to be different.

    Onuaku, a 46.7 percent free throw shooter this past season, is experimenting with the Rick Barry-esque granny stroke this summer at the suggestion of Louisville coach Rick Pitino. The 6-foot-10 sophomore showed off his new approach in the U-19 World Championships over the weekend, sinking 2 of 4 foul shots in the U.S. team's opening victory over Iran.

    Onuaku logged 17.8 minutes per game for Louisville as a freshman, averaging 3.0 points and 4.6 rebounds and making an impact defensively with his ability to block shots. He is expected to play a greater role for the Cardinals next season with Montrezl Harrell off to the NBA.

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  • Cliff Alexander goes from top-five recruit to undrafted in one year

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    In the first 11 NBA drafts since Rivals.com began ranking high school basketball prospects, ex-Tennessee wing Scotty Hopson had been the only top-five recruit to go unselected.

    Hopson finally has company on that not-so-illustrious list.

    Sixty prospects heard their names called during Thursday night's NBA draft, however, former Kansas big man Cliff Alexander wasn't one of them. The consensus top-five recruit ranked ahead of Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell only a year ago will now have to try to latch on with an NBA franchise as an undrafted free agent and win a roster spot in training camp.

    Alexander's draft night tumble comes on the heels of an underwhelming freshman season at Kansas.

    Hailed as an elite power forward capable of overpowering defenders in the paint and dominating the glass, Alexander flashed only occasional glimpses of that potential. A foot injury last summer and a chest ailment during the season hampered Alexander, as did the playing time he lost with his inconsistent production and effort. 

    1. Cliff Alexander, F, Kansas

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  • Syracuse names Mike Hopkins as Jim Boeheim's eventual successor

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 4 days ago

    Three months after Jim Boeheim revealed his intent to retire in three years, Syracuse also clarified its succession plan.

    Chancellor Kent Syverud announced Thursday that assistant coach Mike Hopkins has been formally named Syracuse's head coach-designate and will replace Boeheim following the 2017-18 men's basketball season.

    "For more than 25 years, Mike Hopkins has demonstrated the true meaning of Orange pride and loyalty," Syverud said in a statement. "He has contributed so much to the success of the Syracuse basketball program. I know Mike is ready to lead the program into the future and carry forward the success that has occurred under Coach Boeheim."

    The timing of the decision is significant because Syracuse just introduced a new athletic director on Monday. Even though the announcement technically came from Svyerud, it's safe to assume Hopkins also has Mark Croyle's support as the right choice to oversee the transition into the post-Boeheim era. 

    A prominent candidate from outside the program might not want to step into that mess. Hopkins, however, apparently has no such fear.

  • The last available five-star recruit selects Kentucky over Oregon

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 4 days ago

    When Oregon forward Elgin Cook tweeted Jamal Murray last week congratulating him on his commitment and welcoming him to the Ducks, it raised an obvious question.

    Did Cook have inside information that the last uncommitted five-star recruit in the class of 2015 was going to choose Oregon?

    Turns out Cook's since-deleted tweet was erroneous since Murray did not choose the Ducks. The highly touted Canadian point guard instead announced Wednesday evening that he is headed to Kentucky, a huge coup for a program that must replace seven members of its rotation from this past season's 38-1 Final Four team.

    The addition of Murray alleviates much of that concern.

    Alas, it was not to be for Oregon, which knows the pain of finishing second in the pursuit of a five-star prospect all too well. The Ducks have been the runner-ups in the recruitment of Anthony Bennett, Brandon Ashley and Aaron Gordon, among others.

     

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  • Teenager Kaylin Whitney hailed as America's next great sprinter

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Turnstile 6 days ago

    Kaylin Whitney may be the only teenage girl in America to have begged her parents to let her work on Christmas.

    When Whitney's coaches insisted she train with them for four hours on Christmas morning instead of taking the day off, the sprinting phenom's mother initially wasn't pleased. Whitney's mom didn't want to break the family's holiday tradition of eating breakfast together and unwrapping gifts under the tree, but her daughter argued the workout presented a chance to gain an edge on her competitors.

    "To me, training on Christmas is a confidence boost," Whitney said. "When I'm out there on the track with all these great sprinters, I can think to myself, 'How many of them were out there on Christmas morning getting work in like I was?' I know my coaches prepared me better than anyone and all I have to do is execute my race."

    A talented athlete whose father ran track at Arkansas and whose mother played several sports in high school, Whitney showcased natural ability as a runner at a young age.

    Not being present for those milestones isn't easy, yet you'll never hear Whitney complain.

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  • Wofford basketball player drowns in a South Carolina lake

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 7 days ago

    A reserve guard on the Wofford basketball team drowned early Monday morning after apparently diving off a bridge into a South Carolina lake.

    Nineteen-year-old Jeremiah Tate and a fellow counselor at Camp Thunderbird reportedly jumped off the Buster Boyd Bridge into Lake Wylie at around 2 a.m. The other counselor survived the 30-foot plunge. Tate did not resurface until divers pulled his body from the water about two hours later. 

    Tate was a rising junior at Wofford who was majoring in accounting and was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Pre-Law Society. He played sparingly his first two seasons for Wofford, appearing in 10 games as a freshman and three as a sophomore and averaging less than a point per game.

    "The entire Wofford College family is devastated and saddened today by the loss of Jeremiah Tate," Wofford athletic director Richard Johnson said in a statement from the school.

    Tate's Wofford teammates also reflected on his death via Twitter.

    Still in shock that I lost a brother #RipTate

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  • Michigan State replenishes backcourt by landing five-star wing

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 7 days ago

    The Spartans are hoping their latest commitment yields a better outcome. 

    Josh Langford, a 6-foot-6 guard from Madison, Ala., committed to Michigan State on Monday after  taking an official visit to the school over the weekend. Langord, Rivals.com's No. 17 prospect in the class of 2016, chose the Spartans over the likes of Kentucky, Arizona and Duke, among others. 

    The addition of Langford will help Michigan State replenish a perimeter corps that lost leading scorer Travis Trice this spring and will lose seniors-to-be Denzel Valentine and Bryn Forbes next year. Langford could play alongside promising West Virginia transfer Eron Harris, pass-first point guard LouRawls Nairn and deadly shooter Matt McQuaid if all three opt to remain in East Lansing beyond the 2015-16 season.

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  • Michigan State replenishes perimeter corps by landing five-star wing

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Turnstile 7 days ago

    The Spartans are hoping their latest commitment yields a better outcome. 

    Josh Langford, a 6-foot-6 guard from Madison, Ala., committed to Michigan State on Monday after  taking an official visit to the school over the weekend. Langord, Rivals.com's No. 17 prospect in the class of 2016, chose the Spartans over the likes of Kentucky, Arizona and Duke, among others. 

    The addition of Langford will help Michigan State replenish a perimeter corps that lost leading scorer Travis Trice this spring and will lose seniors-to-be Denzel Valentine and Bryn Forbes next year. Langford could play alongside promising West Virginia transfer Eron Harris, pass-first point guard LouRawls Nairn and deadly shooter Matt McQuaid if all three opt to remain in East Lansing beyond the 2015-16 season.

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  • Parents of world-class athletes reveal secrets to raising a superstar

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Turnstile 7 days ago

    At the height of his pursuit of a spot on the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, the boy who would one day become the world's most decorated swimmer approached his mom with an impractical idea.

    Michael Phelps wanted to take a sabbatical from swimming to try out for his high school's football team.

    Chasing swimming glory sometimes became a lonely quest for Phelps in those days because it required sacrifices other teenagers didn't have to make. Seldom could Phelps carve out much time for his friends because his coach insisted he spend six or seven afternoons a week in the pool grinding through grueling training sessions.

    Phelps' desire to play high school football was an attempt to reclaim some semblance of normalcy since many of his buddies were on the team, but his mother helped him recognize dedicating himself to a second sport made little sense when he had a chance to be world-class in the first one. By the time Phelps was a freshman in high school, he was already smashing national age-group records and outperforming older competitors.

    Some spent tens of thousands of dollars per year funding their child's dream. Others found no need to dig so deep into their savings. 

  • Bronson Koenig's creative new haircut honors Native American heritage

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 12 days ago

    One of college basketball's most creative haircuts belongs to one of the sport's better point guards.

    Bronson Koenig, a key player on the past two Wisconsin teams that have reached the Final Four, posted a photo of himself Tuesday night with a fresh haircut honoring his Native American heritage. The signature element of the haircut is a feather deftly carved into the side of his head.

    The only instructions Koenig apparently gave his barber was to give him a haircut that would reflect his Native American pride. Koenig has spoken previously about his desire to learn more about his heritage and become a source of inspiration to young Native Americans.

    "I'm always curious because I didn't know all that much, and in history classes we'd only talk about it a little bit," he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in February. "But I would be really interested because that is my people and we don't learn much about them."

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