Rutgers basketball: Caleb McConnell, 2018 combo guard, commits – Asbury Park Press


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Josh Newman breaks down the quarterback situation after Rutgers’ Scarlet-White Game
Josh Newman

3 things to know about the 3-star senior from Ohio, plus a look at Rutgers’ projected depth chart for 2018-19.

Help is on the way for Rutgers basketball’s backcourt. Caleb McConnell, a Class of 2018 combo guard from Ohio, announced his commitment to the Scarlet Knights Sunday shortly after his official visit concluded.

How he ended up connecting with head coach Steve Pikiell is interesting and sheds light on Pikiell’s somewhat unconventional approach to recruiting. McConnell said it was Pikiell, not an assistant, who made first contact and took the lead in pursuing him. 

“It was a way different process,” McConnell said. “This is what I like: From day one Coach Pikiell was the one who called me. He said, ‘Hey Caleb, I  saw you play, I watched film on you, I like your game and I would love to come see you.’”

Then came a little wager. 

“When he said he was coming to see me, I told my dad, ‘I bet you $20 when Coach Pikiell gets here he’s going to say, Caleb, I could have been anywhere in the country today, but I chose to see you,'” McConnell said. “That’s what plenty of coaches have told me. When Coach got there, he never said that. He never told me anything I wanted to hear. He told me everything has to be earned, and I loved that.”

McConnell spent his official visit splitting time between hosts Geo Baker and Myles Johnson. He said Pikiell’s pitch to him remained steady throughout. 

“He never promised me anything except a great opportunity,'” McConnell said. “I was like, ‘Man, that’s what I’m looking for. I would love to play for a guy like that.’ Usually all coaches are the same. Coach Pikiell is a different guy. I’ve never met a coach like this.”

The 6-foot-5, 175-pound McConnell joins shooting guard Montez Mathis, wing Ron Harper Jr. and junior college forward Shaq Carter in Pikiell’s incoming recruiting class. The new-look Scarlet Knights also will activate two players who practiced with the team last season: transfer guard Peter Kiss and redshirt big man Myles Johnson.

They have two open scholarship for next season and likely will fill both. The spring signing period end May 16.

Here are three things to know about McConnell, followed by a look at Rutgers’ projected depth chart: 

1. He was the top available high school senior in Ohio, according to OHHoops.org, which ranked McConnell 11th in the Class of 2018. According to 247Sports.com, McConnell is a three-star prospect with offers from West Virginia, Wichita State, St. Bonaventure, Missouri State and UMass. This is an important addition to a backcourt that lost standout junior Corey Sanders and reliable senior Mike Williams.

2. McConnell is a bit more of a two guard than a point, but Rutgers likes his versatility. He rebounds well and can defend three positions — he played wing earlier in his high school career — and should contribute off the bench at either backcourt spot next winter. McConnell played well for talent-loaded Spire Academy this past season and stood out in November’s National Prep Showcase.

3. The Scarlet Knights remain in the market for a seasoned point guard. A postgrad ball-handler who could enable Baker and Mathis to shine off the ball would be ideal. If that doesn’t happen, Baker will run the offense next season. The Scarlet Knight also are open to the prospect of taking on a sit-out transfer at the position. McConnell’s commitment shouldn’t impact the recruitment of Gill St. Bernard’s star Paul Mulcahy, a pure playmaking point who is a primary focus for 2019.

Here is Rutgers’ projected depth chart for next season:

Guards: Geo Baker, Montez Mathis (freshman), Peter Kiss (transfer), Caleb McConnell (freshman).

Wings: Issa Thiam, Ron Harper Jr. (freshman).

Bigs: Eugene Omoruyi, Shaq Carter (transfer), Shaq Doorson, Mamadou Doucoure, Myles Johnson (redshirt).

Staff writer Jerry Carino: jcarino@gannettnj.com.



Rick Pitino interested in Siena basketball coaching job – Albany Times Union



Hall of Fame basketball coach Rick Pitino, who was fired by Louisville in October with the program under investigation in a federal corruption probe, denied he is interested in the Siena men’s basketball coaching vacancy, despite a friend of his indicating that he is.

Pitino wants to discuss the opening with Siena officials, said Loudonville thoroughbred owner Roddy Valente, a longtime friend who is a partner with Pitino in the Kentucky Oaks contender Coach Rocks.



“He basically said given the opportunity, he would love to sit down and explore coaching at Siena,’’ Valente said this morning.

Valente said Pitino wants to coach again, regardless of the level.

“He loves to coach,’’ Valente added. “He said Siena would be a good fit. He loves the area. He’s turned down two jobs because of where they were located. He loves the Capital Region.”

But Pitino, reached by a reporter for the Louisville Courier-Journal, texted “nope” when asked if he was interested in being the Saints’ next head coach.

Pitino has been a frequent visitor to Saratoga Race Course during the summer.

Siena is searching to replace Jimmy Patsos, who resigned Friday after five seasons following a school investigation into allegations that he verbally abused a team manager and shoved a player. The school also examined reports that per diem money was improperly withheld from team members.


The Saints went 8-24 this season, tying the most losses in program history.

Pitino, 65, has a record of 770-271 over 32 college seasons. He won national championships at Kentucky in 1996 and Louisville in 2013. He also coached the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks in the NBA.

Louisville was stripped of the 2013 title and 123 wins from 2012 to 2015 after an NCAA investigation found a member of the coaching staff had provided prostitutes and strippers to players and recruits.

Those sanctions weren’t connected to an FBI investigation last fall into a pay-for-play scheme.

Pitino has maintained his innocence.

“I’ve never offered any player $5,” Pitino told ESPN in March.

“He would want Siena very comfortable,’’ Valente said. “He would want them to speak to his attorneys.”

Siena athletic director John D’Argenio didn’t return a call seeking comment.

Pitino has hired agent Jordan Bazant, who also represents Patsos.

Valente said Pitino would be an ideal fit for Siena.

“I think he’d be great,’ he said. “He is probably the best unemployed coach in America. To have a man of his caliber come to Siena after they’ve been sputtering, it’d be the best fit in the world. He’s a great teacher. I know he’s getting a bad rap for a lot of things, but he is a gentleman. He is a tremendous teacher.”


Many are sure to question the possibly candidacy of Pitino after Siena went through a controversial parting with Patsos. But there’s little doubt Pitino would sell tickets.

Siena averaged a home attendance of 5,968 per game this season, its second straight year under 6,000 at TU Center.

Le Moyne head coach Patrick Beilein and Syracuse assistant coach Gerry McNamara have already been widely reported as candidates at Siena.

msingelais@timesunion.com ■ 518-454-5509 ■ @MarkSingelais



Top forward Taeshon Cherry signs with Arizona State basketball – AZCentral.com


Elite prospect Taeshon Cherry on Saturday signed with Arizona State, securing coach Bobby Hurley’s 2018 Top 25 recruiting class.

The 6-foot-8 Cherry is among the nation’s top small forwards. Some recruiting services consider him a five-star talent. 247 Sports gives him a composite four-star ranking. It lists him as the nation’s No. 7 small forward and its No. 29 overall prospect.

“It’s an exciting day for Arizona State basketball,” Hurley said in a statement. “We welcome Taeshon Cherry to the family. Taeshon will make an immediate impact with his versatile offensive skill set and relentless motor but most importantly winning is what he values most. Sun Devil Nation will enjoy watching one of the best frontcourt players in the 2018 class in Maroon and Gold next season.”

Cherry committed to ASU in January. Two months later, he was expelled from Foothills Christian High in El Cajon, Calif., for what a school official termed “serious violations of the team and school behavior policies.”

Cherry joins an incoming class that also includes guard Luguentz Dort of Montreal and wing Elias Valtonen of Finland. Both are four-star prospects. 247 Sports ranks this class 20th nationally. 

ASU still is trying to add to the class. The Sun Devils recently entertained top point guard Brandon Williams, a 247 Sports composite four-star prospect. They’re also pursuing Matt Mooney, a graduate transfer who last season averaged 18.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists at South Dakota.

ASU lost its top three scorers from last season’s team, which advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014. 

Assistant coach leaving

Assistant coach Levi Watkins is leaving ASU to join the staff of new coach Kermit Davis at Ole Miss. Watkins had worked with Hurley throughout Hurley’s head-coaching career, first at Buffalo, then following him to Tempe.

MORE: How ASU secured a commitment from Taeshon Cherry

MORE: Who is Luguentz Dort and why did he choose ASU?

Contact Doug Haller at 602-444-4949 or at doug.haller@arizonarepublic.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/DougHaller. 



Brother Rice seeks new basketball coach; Shaffer out with 'no regrets' – Hometownlife.com


Birmingham Brother Rice will have a new coach in charge of its basketball program starting next season.

School administrators informed players and parents via email late Wednesday that Ed Shaffer has been let go as the basketball head coach. Rice is in the process of setting up search plans to hire a new head coach. 

“The Brother Rice basketball program is taking a new direction,” Brother Rice Principal Ed Okuniewski said when contacted about the news. “We are working on a selection process and time line (to select a new head coach), which should be available shortly.”

In the email, Okuniewski wrote:

“Coach Shaffer’s commitment and dedication to the Brother Rice basketball program is to be commended with much appreciation. Mr. Shaffer, an esteemed member of the Brother Rice faculty, will continue to teach in our English Department.”

Following is a message Shaffer sent out to current players and alumni after he was informed of the decision:

“I hope to have the chance to talk to each of you individually, but I want you to know that I appreciate everything you’ve done for me and for our program. You and all the guys who have played for us in the past 11 years have given me some of the greatest memories of my life and I vow to always return that loyalty, anytime you need me.

“I said to you many times that, if you know you gave your all, you should have no regrets, regardless of the results. I have no regrets today. Thank you for everything.”

Rice’s second-winningest coach

Shaffer has been with the Brother Rice basketball program for 14 years, succeeding Brian Kalczynski as head coach to start the 2007-08 season.

More: Detroit Catholic Central ends Brother Rice’s mastery in boys lacrosse

More: Plenty of detours begin as Old Woodward construction continues

In those 11 seasons at the helm, Shaffer’s teams finished with a 111-123 record (.474 winning percentage) record and a 28-74 mark (.275) in the Catholic High School League. The 111 victories place him second in all-time wins at Brother Rice behind only the legendary Bill Norton, who compiled 323 victories in 17 seasons.

Shaffer’s Warriors captured two Catholic League Central Division titles (2008, 2010) and back-to-back MHSAA district titles in 2010 and 2011. Three of Shaffer’s players earned all-state honors — Austin Fowler (’09), Kevonte Martin-Manley (’10) and Kevin Hayes (’15). 

In addition, Shaffer was named the Catholic League and Oakland County Coach of the Year in 2010.

Brother Rice hired Shaffer in 2004 as director of advancement and an assistant basketball coach under Kalczynski. The 1987 Boston College graduate coached in the Chicago area prior to joining Rice.

Contact Marty Budner at mbudner@hometownlife.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MartyBudner.



Russia's Prokhorov sells 49% stake in Brooklyn Nets basketball team – CNBC


Majority Owner Mikhail Prokhorov of the Brooklyn Nets addresses the media during a press conference prior to a game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Brooklyn Nets on April 8, 2015 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.

Nathaniel S. Butler | NBAE via Getty Images

Majority Owner Mikhail Prokhorov of the Brooklyn Nets addresses the media during a press conference prior to a game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Brooklyn Nets on April 8, 2015 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has sold a 49-percent stake in the Brooklyn Nets basketball team to Joe Tsai, the executive vice chairman and co-founder of the Alibaba Group the NBA team said in a statement.

Prokhorov will continue to be the team’s controlling owner through Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holding, and the sale will not affect its day-to-day management or basketball operations, the statement added.



South Korean basketball league ousts foreign players for being too tall. Some attempt shrinking. – Washington Post


David Simon plays in a Korean Basketball League game during the 2017-2018 season. (YouTube/MBC Sports+/screen grab)

American basketball player David Simon recently received news that he is no longer allowed to play in the Korean Basketball League (KBL), and the reason would make any fans of the sport scratch their heads.

He’s too tall.

Simon, a 35-year-old center for Anyang KGC, stands at about 6 feet 7 inches, or 202 centimeters. Unfortunately for the Illinois native, who has played multiple seasons with the KBL and leads the league in scoring, he is two centimeters over a new height limit imposed on foreign players. (By comparison, the average height of a center or forward in the NBA is about 6 feet 9 inches, according to a 2016 analysis done by FiveThirtyEight.)

League officials announced last month that teams can only have two overseas players, one cannot be taller than 2 meters, or about 6 feet 6 inches, and the other must be below 6 feet 1 inch, the Korea Times reported. The rule will take effect next season, which begins in October, according to Business Insider.

The announcement has caused tall players, including Simon, to attempt something unheard of in the basketball world: make themselves shorter.

According to the Yonhap News Agency, some KBL teams have instructed players to hold heavy equipment or jog before measurements to decrease their height.

While the strategy may have worked for American Charles Rhodes, who was listed at 200.1 centimeters and managed to measure in at 199.2 centimeters, Simon wasn’t so lucky, according to the Korea Times.

On ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” Simon was asked if he tried slouching or hunching his shoulders during the measuring.

“I tried just to stand normal,” he said. “Playing basketball you always want to be taller, so when I got measured the first time, I was standing as tall as I could. This time I just wanted to stand normal and show that I really wasn’t over the height, or I was close enough to it.”

Despite initially registering at 203 centimeters and reducing his height to 202.1 centimeters, Simon was still barred from continuing to play in the KBL, the Yonhap news agency reported.

In an interview with the BBC, Simon said the decision “stinks.”

“I was a little upset obviously,” he said. “Just to be so close, if you think about two centimeters, I don’t know if you can really measure how small of a distance that really is.”

Simon added that he is not the tallest player in the KBL or even on his team. The league’s tallest player is Ha Seung-Jin of Jeonju KCC Egis, who is 7 feet 3 inches tall, according to Korea JoongAng Daily. But since he is Korean, fans can expect to see him on the court next season.

The height restriction that has upended Simon’s career stems from the KBL’s desire to boost its dwindling audiences by recruiting shorter foreign players who may be faster and more skilled, Yonhap reported.

“We set the limit at 200 cm because from our analysis, foreign players who played the best in the KBL were around that height,” KBL Secretary General Lee Sung-Han told Yonhap. “We believe this new height restriction will revive the popularity of pro basketball in the country.”

KBL Commissioner Kim Young-Il said the league’s games had become dull in recent years due to teams relying more on tall men. The number of spectators per game last season was about 2,796, declining from 4,372 in 2013-2014, the Korea Times reported.

Smith told the BBC he doesn’t understand the rationale behind the new rule.

“Most of the guys there aren’t super small, or there isn’t that much difference in the skills,” he said, noting that there were only two or three players over the limit.

KBL fans were predictably outraged that one of the league’s stars had been ousted and filed a petition to abolish the height restriction, Yonhap reported. In the 2017-2018 season, Simon was the league’s top scorer with an average 25.7 points per game.

According to the news site, the petition decried the situation as “an international shame.”

“It’s disgusting that a player like Simon is forced to retire in South Korea because of this ridiculous rule,” the petition said.

Other fans took to social media, posting photos of Simon and bidding the athlete farewell.

On Instagram, one user wrote that Simon was his “basketball role model.”

“Never felt heartbroken and shattered as much as now for an athlete that is leaving,” the post read. “You’ve been always a big inspiration of my life who gave me joy, pleasure and impression through your basketball skills and humanity.”

While returning to the KBL is unlikely, Simon told the BBC that if he’s presented with opportunities to continue playing basketball at a high level, he plans to take them.

“I still feel pretty good,” he said. “I don’t feel like the old guy even though some people say I am.”

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