The Champions Classic is back, baby!!! On Wednesday, the four schools that participate in the event — Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and Michigan State — announced that they have signed deals to extend the life of the doubleheader for another three years. This is terrific news. The Champions Classic is always the best early-season event of the season, an annual double-header that always ends up putting together two of the best non-conference games in packed NBA arenas. This year, it features Duke, the consensus preseason No. 1 team in the country, squaring off with Kansas, who is a consensus top three team with the No. 1 freshman in the class, Josh Jackson, on their roster, in one game. The other game?
Kevin Ollie made himself one of the NBA’s hottest coaching prospects by leading UConn to the 2014 NCAA title. He has since resisted NBA overtures, including from the Lakers in 2014 and Thunder last year. But his peers don’t expect Ollie’s hesitance to last. Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander of CBSSPorts.com asked more than 110 college coaches, “Which active college coach is best suited and most likely to next jump to the NBA?” The results: Coach, college Percentage Kevin Ollie, UConn 20 percent Bill Self, Kansas 17 percent John Calipari, Kentucky 16 percent Jay Wright, Villanova 16 percent Shaka Smart, Texas 9 percent Tony Bennett, Virginia 8 percent Note: Other coaches who received at least three
Another talented graduate transfer has hit the market. Cleveland ‘Pancake’ Thomas — that’s a helluva name, isn’t it? — has been granted a release by Hartford and will be allowed to transfer to another program for his fifth season. “Our biggest priority for Cleveland was that he graduate from the University of Hartford with a valuable degree,” Hartford head coach John Gallagher said in a statement released to ESPN after some speculation that Thomas wasn’t going to be given a release. “That happened. Beyond wishing him the very best, we don’t comment on other program’s players. We are very excited about our group and the upcoming season.” The term “release” is needed here because Thomas, a 6-foot-3