Jeff Eisenberg

  • Dating site exclusively for Kentucky fans launches

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 7 hrs ago

    Whether it's leading the nation in home attendance 10 straight years, camping out by the thousands for the right to attend a practice or helping John Calipari surpass 1.3 million Twitter followers, Kentucky supporters are a bit more obsessive than other fan bases.

    Now comes further proof the citizens of Big Blue Nation are different: They have their own matchmaking service.

    BBNMeetup.com launched on Thursday, billing itself as the dating site "with the goal of helping Kentucky fans find love with other Kentucky fans." Users will discover many familiar features other mainstream dating sites possess and one element unique to BBNMeetup: a metric that allows users to rate how passionate a Kentucky fan they are and seek out others who are equally fair weather or fanatical.

    BBNMeetup has generated nationwide publicity in the lead-up to its launch, so much so that a torrent of visitors apparently even crashed the site this morning.

    So break out your selfie sticks and your finest throwback Jeff Sheppard jerseys, all you single Kentucky fans, because it's time to snap a flattering profile picture.

  • DeAndre Ayton's long road from Bahamas project to No. 1 prospect

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Turnstile 13 hrs ago

    Tip-off was only minutes away, and DeAndre Ayton wasn't sure he'd make it in time.

    The tall, lanky 16-year-old burst through the gym doors, apologized to his coach for being late and threw on a jersey just in time to deliver one of last summer's most remarkable performances.

    In an exhibition game pitting a hastily assembled collection of Bahamas natives against a highly regarded University of North Carolina squad, it was Ayton who was most responsible for swinging the outcome in favor of the underdogs. The 7 footer embarrassed the older, stronger Tar Heels by outworking them on the glass and outmaneuvering them around the basket even though he was still three years away from even graduating high school.

    "That was one of the most fun games I've ever played in," Ayton said. "I was beating guys off the dribble, I was shooting jumpers and I was grabbing rebounds over everyone. Every time I scored a basket or got a rebound, I'd look at their head coach. He was red and he was mad."

    The story of how Ayton got to San Diego is very similar.

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  • Cincinnati lands three commitments in less than 24 hours

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    Already well positioned next season with its top six scorers returning from a 23-win NCAA tournament team, Cincinnati took a big step Wednesday toward securing its long-term future too.

    The Bearcats landed three commitments in less than 24 hours, a pair from promising recruits Nysier Brooks and Jarron Cumberland and the other from coveted transfer Kyle Washington.

    The most impactful addition might be Cumberland, a muscular 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Wilmington, Ohio, who is Rivals.com's No. 65 prospect in the Class of 2016. Cumberland had interest from the likes of Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia, Xavier and Butler, but a blue-collar, hard-nosed program like Cincinnati ought to be a good fit.

    A 6-foot-8 big man from New Jersey who thrives on doing the little things, Brooks is another good fit for the Bearcats even if he is less heralded than Cumberland. He seldom scores any other ways besides tip-ins and dump-off passes, but he is an effective interior defender and rebounder.

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  • Linebacker has 11 scholarship offers before starting high school

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Turnstile 2 days ago

    As he watched varsity football practice at one of the state of Georgia's most talent-rich high school programs a few months ago, Boston College running backs coach Al Washington kept receiving the same advice.

    To catch a glimpse of Grayson High's premier prospect, Washington would have to return later that evening when the school's eighth-grade team practiced.

    Owen Pappoe, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound menace of an outside linebacker, earned the nickname "The Freak" by terrorizing middle school quarterbacks and running backs the previous two years. The 14-year-old's strength and speed were so jaw-dropping for his age that he converted Washington into a believer in just one practice. 

    "When [Washington] saw how big and strong Owen was, he was like, 'Oh my God,'" said Kenyatta Watson, Grayson's recruiting coordinator. "Then when Owen started running around and making plays, he was like, 'Let Owen know he has his first offer.' "

    Indeed football came so easily to Pappoe that his coaches could hardly believe it sometimes.

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  • Louisville's Chinanu Onuaku experiments with underhand free throws

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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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