Jeff Eisenberg

  • Justin Jackson's return bolsters already loaded North Carolina

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 4 hrs ago

    At a time when numerous prospects unlikely to be selected in the first round are turning pro, one with first-round potential made a savvy choice to return to school.

    North Carolina's Justin Jackson announced his decision Wednesday, gambling that he can solidify himself as a first-round pick as a sophomore while also participating in what could be a memorable season for the talent-laden Tar Heels.

    Jackson's return gives North Carolina a chance to return every key player from this past season when the Tar Heels won 26 games and reached the Sweet 16. Second-leading scorer and leading rebounder Brice Johnson could conceivably still turn pro, but leading scorer Marcus Paige has already implied that he will return and nobody else is expected to leave.

    The North Carolina player in the best position to leave school early this spring was Jackson, a 6-foot-8 forward projected as a late first-round pick in some mock drafts.

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  • Final Four coaches release joint statement on controversial Indiana law

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 9 hrs ago

    In an effort to get in front of the issue before media availability begins in Indianapolis on Thursday, the four Final Four coaches released a joint statement supporting the NCAA in its stance on Indiana's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

    The statement released through the National Association of Basketball Coaches emphasizes condemns every form of discrimination.

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    “We are aware of the recent actions in Indiana and have made a point to talk about this sensitive and important issue among ourselves and with our teams," the statement read. "Each of us strongly supports the positions of the NCAA and our respective institutions on this matter – that discrimination of any kind should not be tolerated. As a part of America’s higher education system, college basketball plays an important role in diversity, equality, fairness and inclusion, and will continue to do so in the future.”

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  • Kelly Oubre enters NBA draft after one season at Kansas

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 9 hrs ago

    Even though Kelly Oubre's freshman season at Kansas was bumpier than anticipated, it still ended the way most expected.

    The 6-foot-7 forward helped the Jayhawks win another Big 12 championship before announcing Wednesday that he will enter the NBA draft.

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    "This is an opportunity to play against the best in the world and expand my game in hopes of someday becoming one of those great players," Oubre said. "It's been a great year. I've been blessed to be here at the University of Kansas. I was blessed to go through the things that I went through and I was blessed to play for coach [Bill Self]. He taught me a lot this year, the little things that will help out my game a lot."

    Oubre arrived at Kansas as one of the nation's most highly touted incoming freshmen, but it took a while for him to even crack the Jayhawks' rotation. In Kansas' first seven games, he logged an average of 8.2 minutes and scored an average of 2.2 points per game. 

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  • 1976 Hoosiers would welcome Kentucky into their exclusive club

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 11 hrs ago

    Every year, whenever the last unbeaten college basketball team falls for the first time, Tom Abernethy's three sons always take great pleasure in poking fun at their father.

    "They'll mockingly tell me, 'Oh, you survived another year, dad," Abernethy said. "It's all in jest, of course."

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    Abernethy and his 1976 Indiana Hoosiers teammates may not have much longer to lay claim to the title of the last team to capture the national title without losing a game. The 39-year wait for another undefeated team could end in less than a week if Kentucky defeats Wisconsin and either Duke or Michigan State at the Final Four in Indianapolis to become college basketball's first-ever 40-0 team.

    Perfection wasn't the goal for either the 1976 Hoosiers or the 2015 Wildcats at the start of the season, but it wasn't a topic their coaches shied away from either.

    The pressure on Kentucky entering Final Four weekend is one similarity between the two teams. The sacrifices the Wildcats have made to get to this point is another.

  • UConn coaches prohibited from attending the Final Four

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    Indiana's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act has disrupted the travel plans of UConn coach Kevin Ollie and his staff.

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    They're boycotting the Final Four in Indianapolis and the annual National Association of Basketball Coaches convention that coincides with it in compliance with Monday's order from Gov. Dannel Malloy's prohibiting all state of Connecticut employees from traveling to Indiana.

    "In support of Governor Malloy's travel ban to the state of Indiana, Kevin Ollie and other members of the UConn men's basketball staff will not travel to Indianapolis for the NCAA Final Four and events surrounding it," UConn president Susan Herbst said in a statement Tuesday night. "UConn is a community that values all of our members and treats each person with the same degree of respect, regardless of their background and beliefs and we will not tolerate any other behavior."

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  • Wisconsin nixed a T-shirt that may have violated NCAA rules

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    One of the Wisconsin campus bookstore's best-selling Final Four-themed shirts no longer is available for purchase.

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    School officials had to yank it off the bookstore's website earlier this week because the compliance department feared the shirt violated NCAA rules.

    The inspiration behind the shirt in question was the way Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes has tested NCAA tournament stenographers, whose job is to transcribe interviews, by intentionally mixing in hard-to-spell words during news conferences. The bookstore printed a shirt featuring seven of Hayes' words in block letters: "Cattywampus, Onomatopoeia, Antidisestablishmentarianism, Soliloquy, Quandary, Zephyr, Xylophone."

    "The UW compliance office took steps to have the shirts removed from the off-campus retailer in order to avoid any potential violations down the road," Herb said. "The bookstore willingly cooperated. We are just looking to protect our student-athletes."

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  • LSU's bright future dims a bit with Jordan Mickey's departure

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    LSU won't have nearly as much returning talent to pair with No. 1 overall recruit Ben Simmons as it might have hoped. 

    Sophomore forwards Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey both are forgoing their final two seasons of eligibility and entering the NBA draft.

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    Martin, who averaged 16.9 points and 9.2 rebounds this past season, announced his decision last week. Mickey, who averaged 15.4 points and 9.9 rebounds, revealed his decision on Tuesday in a text message statement to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. 

    "After discussing my options with my family, I believe this is the time to move on and accept new challenges at the next level," Mickey wrote.

    Whereas Martin has a chance to be a late first-round pick, Mickey is more likely to be taken in the second round if at all. DraftExpress.com currently ranks him No. 80 in its top 100 prospects list.

    Instead the Tigers will lose both and will enter the new season with plenty of question marks.

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  • Rick Barnes to Tennessee further bolsters the SEC's coaching ranks

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    When reporters asked Rick Barnes if he would coach again after Texas fired him on Sunday, he tellingly responded, "Yeah, probably quicker than you think."

    Turns out Barnes wasn't kidding.

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    Tennessee will introduce Rick Barnes as its next coach at a news conference Tuesday afternoon, according to multiple reports. Barnes will replace Donnie Tyndall, who was fired Friday after just one season in Knoxville amid an NCAA investigation into his previous two-year tenure at Southern Mississippi. 

    The hiring of Barnes is further proof that SEC schools are adhering to conference commissioner Mike Slive's pleas to place a greater emphasis on basketball. The league is unlikely to be Kentucky, Florida and everyone else for very much longer given some of the coaches recently brought in to compete with John Calipari and Billy Donovan.

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  • Chris Mullin is a high-risk, high-reward hire for St. John's

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    At a time when many other schools have pursued obvious choices for their coaching vacancies, St. John's is swinging for the fences.

    The New York Daily News reported Monday the school has reached an agreement with former NBA all-star and Johnnies alum Chris Mullin, a boom-or-bust hire if ever there was one. 

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    Mullin is a huge risk for St. John's simply because he has never coached at any level, nor does he have any experience recruiting. He has worked as an ESPN analyst and in the front offices of the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors since his playing career ended in 2001.

    The lack of coaching and recruiting experience makes it imperative that Mullin hires a staff that can bolster him in those two areas.

    The upside to hiring Mullin is his NBA ties and storied history at St. John's provide a built-in sales pitch both to alumni, donors and recruits.

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  • Arizona coach Sean Miller to dissatisfied fans: 'Go cheer for ASU'

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    Like the Buffalo Bills teams that made four straight Super Bowls without winning one or the Atlanta Braves teams that perennially reached the playoffs but captured only one championship, Arizona coach Sean Miller wishes all his fans could see the bigger picture.

    Miller has resurrected a program in transition post-Lute Olson by amassing a 283-99 record in Tucson and leading the Wildcats to three Elite Eights in the past five years, yet he still occasionally endures criticism for not ending Arizona's 14-year Final Four drought.

    The notion that Arizona's 2014-15 season wasn't a success is one Miller addressed on Twitter late Sunday night. The Wildcats won 34 games, swept the Pac-12 regular season and tournament titles and tallied three NCAA tournament wins, but again their season ended in Elite Eight heartbreak, this time at the hands of top-seeded Wisconsin on Saturday night.

    A picture that captures a lot for me. My wife and point guard saying good bye to a wonderful season #BearDown pic.twitter.com/KjaEFomvND

    Yup, "go cheer for ASU" apparently.

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