Jeff Eisenberg

  • Fifteen-year-old swimmer Reece Whitley set to chase an Olympic bid

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Turnstile 13 hrs ago

    Hanging on the wall above the 15-year-old swimmer's bed are two tattered sheets of paper displaying numbers he's targeting.

    One signifies the time it took to make the 2012 U.S. Olympic team in the 200-meter breaststroke. The other is the American record in the 100-meter breaststroke.

    "I definitely see it as motivation," Whitley said. "I truly believe I am going to pass those goals and that's why I have those on my wall. It's a pretty easy way to remind myself why I'm getting up at 5 in the morning or why I'm going to bed super tired and smelling like chlorine."

    Athletes so young seldom take aim at such grandiose milestones, but Whitley has long made a habit of defying conventional wisdom. He's an African-American thriving in a sport that traditionally lacks diversity. He's a 6-foot-8 teenager specializing in the stroke that typically rewards height the least. And he's the rare straight-A student who also happens to be a world-class athlete.

    In an era when the U.S. has produced dominant swimmers in almost every discipline, men's breaststroke has been one of the few exceptions.


  • Illinois has a point guard problem with Tracy Abrams out for the year

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    The bad luck that has haunted the Illinois basketball program during John Groce's tenure doesn't seem likely to subside anytime soon.

    The Illini will have to play without their starting point guard for a second straight season next year after Tracy Abrams tore an Achilles tendon during a workout on Monday.

    The injury to Abrams is especially galling because he had missed all of last season too as a result of a torn ACL suffered in early November. The fifth-year senior had been on the verge of playing at an all-conference level prior to the injuries, having averaged 10.6 points and 3.5 assists as a sophomore and 10.7 points and 3.2 assists as a junior. 

    Abrams' return had been expected to shore up the point guard position for Illinois, a problem area all of last season for an Illini program that faded late in Big Ten play and missed the NCAA tournament for a second straight year. Now Illinois will have to rely on unproven players or converted wings for a second consecutive season.

    Groce has dealt with plenty of adversity his first three seasons, from Abrams' season-ending injuries, to Rayvonte Rice and Aaron Cosby each goin down with ill-timed injuries last January.

  • Kansas, Indiana highlight this year's Maui Invitational bracket

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    It's no mystery what potential title game Maui Invitational organizers wanted to create when they designed this year's bracket.

    They were trying to set up a championship clash between Kansas and Indiana when they placed the two blue bloods on opposite sides of the draw.

    The Maui Invitational bracket released Tuesday has the reigning Big 12 champion Jayhawks pitted against host Chaminade in the opening round of the tournament. Assuming Kansas avoids an upset of monumental proportions, it would meet the winner of UCLA-UNLV in the semifinals.

    Indiana will open against Wake Forest on its side of the bracket. The winner of that game will likely meet a much-improved Vanderbilt team that finished last season on a hot streak unless the Commodores fail to get past rebuilding St. John's in the opening round.

    A Kansas-Indiana matchup would be an appealing one given that both teams will likely begin next season ranked in the top 15 in the nation.

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  • Ole Miss star guard Stefan Moody arrested for DUI

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    Six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left tibia, Ole Miss guard Stefan Moody's offseason got even worse this past weekend.

    The SEC's leading returning scorer was arrested early Saturday morning near campus for DUI. The Jackson Clarion-Ledger first reported the news on Monday. 

    The news is far from ideal for an Ole Miss program that is counting on Moody to be its leader next season.

    The 5-foot-10 senior guard started 33 of 34 games last season and averaged 16.6 points and 2.4 assists while leading the Rebels to a surprise NCAA tournament bid. He also led the SEC in free throw percentage and 3-point field goals made and finished third in steals. 

    Moody is expected to recover from his injury in time for the start of the season. Ole Miss has yet to make an announcement regarding whether he'll face punishment for his DUI arrest.

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  • Coveted Memphis transfer Austin Nichols picks Virginia

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 4 days ago

    Virginia's chances of remaining an ACC title contender beyond next season improved significantly on Sunday when the Cavaliers landed a transfer many of the top programs in the nation coveted.

    Austin Nichols, Memphis' leading scorer and shot blocker this past season, chose Virginia over a host of other suitors, a source confirmed Sunday afternoon to Yahoo Sports.The 6-foot-9 forward will have two years of eligibility left after he sits out next season. 

    It's no surprise Virginia secured Nichols since Tony Bennett's team has been considered the favorite since earlier this month when Memphis lifted transfer restrictions that would have prevented the Cavaliers staff from speaking with the forward.

    Virginia heavily recruited Nichols out of high school before the former top 50 prospect chose hometown Memphis instead. The Cavaliers also have a built-in advantage due to the connection between Nichols' ex-AAU coach Ernie Kuyper and the family of John Paul Jones, the man after whom Virginia's arena is named.

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  • Severity of violations show Tennessee was right to fire Donnie Tyndall

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 5 days ago

    When Southern Mississippi released the notice of allegations it received from the NCAA on Friday evening, the severity of the violations allegedly committed by former coach Donnie Tyndall proved two things.

    Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart did not do a good enough job vetting Tyndall before hiring him almost 16 months ago, but Vols officials made the correct decision acknowledging that mistake and firing him after just one season this past spring.

    The most severe allegation against Tyndall asserts that he arranged fraudulent academic credit for seven prospective student athletes during his two-year tenure at Southern Miss from 2012-2014. That allegedly includes one instance in which Tyndall paid for the online courses himself. 

    It will be Tyndall's ability to refute the most severe of the allegations that will probably determine whether he will work again in college basketball anytime soon.

    That checkered history will not be easy to overcome.

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  • Three Arkansas players arrested on suspicion of forgery

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 7 days ago

    Arkansas was already poised for a fall next season after stars Bobby Portis and Michael Qualls both opted to enter the NBA draft.

    What happened Wednesday won't help.

    Arkansas has indefinitely suspended guard Anton Beard and forwards Jacorey Williams and Dustin Thomas after they were arrested on suspicion of first-degree forgery.

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that surveillance cameras caught all three players using counterfeit bills at three different locations last Friday and Saturday. First-degree forgery is a Class B felony in Arkansas that can carry a prison sentence of five to 20 years.

    "We have become aware of a pending legal issue involving three men's basketball student-athletes," a statement from the Arkansas athletic department said. "The student-athletes have been suspended indefinitely from the men's basketball program. Our continued expectation is that our student-athletes conduct themselves in an appropriate manner at all times."

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  • Kentucky self-reports minor recruiting violation involving Drake

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 8 days ago

    The most memorable part of Drake's ill-fated appearance at last year's Big Blue Madness may no longer be him donning Kentucky warmups, participating in the pre-scrimmage layup line and missing a jump shot by an embarrassingly large margin.

    That has been surpassed by something that happened a couple hours later.

    A Freedom of Information Act request by revealed Wednesday that Kentucky has self-reported a minor NCAA rules violation stemming from impermissible communication between Drake and three prospective recruits who attended Big Blue Madness. Kentucky actually went so far as to send a cease-and-decist letter to Drake after he posed for photos with guard Charles Matthews, forward Carlton Bragg and center Stephen Zimmerman. 

    Me and Drake 😈😈

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  • Ex-North Carolina player: Women's basketball being made a 'scapegoat'

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 8 days ago

    Even though North Carolina likely won't respond to the NCAA's Notice of Allegations for another few weeks, one of the school's former women's basketball players fears she knows what's coming.

    Meghan Austin expects the Tar Heels athletic department to sacrifice its tradition-rich women's basketball program in hopes of avoiding serious punishment for its two biggest revenue producers, football and men's basketball. 

    Austin, a 2008 North Carolina graduate currently coaching at Montreat College, penned an editorial for the Raleigh News & Observer on Monday accusing the Tar Heels athletic department of already showing signs of making its women's basketball program "the scapegoat." Austin noted that men's coach Roy Williams got a contract extension earlier this summer but women's coach Sylvia Hatchell has thus far not received the same show of support.

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  • Why an AAU team chose to name itself the Motor City Muslims

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 9 days ago

    Only a few weeks before their debut tournament this past spring, members of the nation's only known all-Muslim AAU basketball team were still grappling with an important decision.

    Did they want to select a team name that would make it easier to blend in on the AAU circuit or one that would highlight the differences between themselves and their opponents?

    A brainstorming session among the players produced some tolerable yet unimaginative possibilities, from the Ballers, to the Warriors, to the Mustangs. Coach Clarence Archibald offered a more daring alternative when he suggested the team show pride in its faith and culture by opting for a name featuring either the word "Muslim" or "Islam."

    "Some of them were a little hesitant, but I pushed pretty hard," Archibald said. "We all know Islam often is unfortunately portrayed in a negative way in the media. I wanted to be sure we were easily identifiable as an all-Muslim team because it gave us an opportunity to change people's mindsets by showing them we're as American as home runs and apple pie."

    Video highlights of the Motor City Muslims:

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