Nasir Little’s Commitment Proves Change Coming in College Recruiting


Last evening, Nasir Little, a Top 15 recruit in the Class of 2018, committed to the University of North Carolina. A top recruit committing to a college basketball blue blood is nothing new. However, Little’s commitment holds a little more significance given the cloud hanging over the college basketball world. Little chose North Carolina over numerous schools. Included in this group was Miami and Arizona, two programs who recently grabbed headlines for roles in a NCAA corruption scandal.

By now most everyone knows that former Arizona assistant “Book” Richardson was one of 10 people arrested in the NCAA bribery scandal. Shortly after, Miami was informed they were under investigation for the same potential issues with a certain recruit. The recruit in question was said to be Nasir Little. A report filed stating that a “University-7,” was trying to give $150,000 to an unknown player in the Class of 2018. University-7 was described as a private research university in Florida with approximately 16,000 students and over 2,600 faculty members, The same report also mentioned that a “University-4, was already promising the recruit money. Little was the only player being recruited by both schools.

Nasir Little is not the first, nor the last to be involved in this scandal

Days after the reports surfaced, Little removed both Miami and Arizona from consideration, opening the door for the Tar Heels. While Little is not the only player to be brought up in these allegations, his swing in recruitment symbolizes a trend that is sure to happen in college hoops. Miami and Arizona were the favorites to land Little’s services, in part for the reason above. Amid controversy however, Little removed himself from the picture, hoping to avoid the same mess Brian Bowen finds himself in currently.

The question in recruiting has changed. Views on coaches and programs are going to change based on the reports that surface from this investigation. As more schools step into the limelight, the recruiting landscape broadens. Schools that once competed for the top recruits will now be in the mix for less and less. While Miami expects full exoneration, they already saw multiple recruits withdraw consideration just for association. Louisville has also lost their top recruits in 2018 because of the scandal. This opens the door for those schools dubbed “clean” to bring in top classes.

College basketball recruiting is going to be different. That’s the purpose of this investigation. The programs that lost out on McDonald’s All-Americans for playing by the rules now look like prestige institutions. And while every “dirty” program may not get caught, they will come off cleaner than those that get exposed. Thus far, Miami, Louisville and Arizona have been reported. Assistants from Oklahoma State, Auburn and USC were also arrested initially. Those schools have a little bit more to worry about at the moment than recrutiing, but last night’s commitment marked a change in tide.

Let’s root for basketball season to come sooner.

ACC Games To Watch for Upcoming 2017-18 Season

With the basketball season right around the corner, starting Nov. 10, let’s break down some highlighted games and match-ups in one of the most talented, lethal conferences – the ACC.

A few exhibition games here and there, we won’t see action as a collective until the 19th annual Big 10/ACC Challenge Nov. 27-30. The conference leads the Big Ten in the challenge, 11-5-2.

ACC conference play

The ACC starts conference play Dec. 9, when Duke travels to Boston College. Don’t expect a riveting contest between the Eagles and the Blue Devils. Boston College has finished dead last the past two season, and they had an infamous 0-18 conference play record during the 2015-16 season. The battle begins in a conference that has won eight of the last 17 NCAA Championship Tournaments and combined for 63 Final Four appearances.

Tough proving ground for the faint-hearted.

The following match ups are in chronological order as the season progresses and give fans some excitement to look forward to.

Virginia at Virginia Tech –  Wednesday, January 3rd

Why not highlight a showdown between the two in-state teams. Virginia is looking to find its identity again on the road. Last year Virginia Tech topped off Virginia in a double overtime game in Blacksburg. It may be a down year for Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers, which will make this rivalry all the more interesting during the 17-18 season. 

North Carolina at Notre Dame – Saturday, January 13th

Any game that pits two of the most talented players in the conference head-to-head. Joel Berry II is an all-around stud, when healthy. He is an early favorite to win ACC Player of the Year. But Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson, another favorite to win the PoY, is going to protect his house when the Tar Heels come to town.

Duke at Miami – Monday, January 15th

Miami is a contender in the ACC. This isn’t news. They won the ACC title in 2013, and they see no reason why this year isn’t their year. Highly touted freshman Lonnie Walker is recovering from a knee injury, but should be back by the start of the season and fully healthy by this game. The game is highlighted because Duke is favored to win the ACC with their talented group of incoming freshman, giving the Hurricanes the ultimate proving ground early in conference play. Duke will look to outplay with talent in order to overcome a more experienced, sized Miami team.

Louisville at Miami – Wednesday, January 24th

Miami could have momentum coming into this contest if they manage a win at home against Duke. Louisville’s season is going to start with distraction, as Rick Pitino will be suspended the first five games for an off the court scandal. In early season polls, Miami sits atop of the Cardinals, who while was a No. 2 seed in last year’s tournament lost a key piece in Donovan Mitchell.

Duke at UNC – Thursday, February 8th

It’s the rivalry game we as basketball fans wait all season for. It’s part one of the epic saga between two powerhouse programs, separated by the 10-mile stretch on Tobacco Road. This game will be a perfect gauge of talent among the two programs. For obvious reasons, this game is going to draw the attention of the entire NCAA, not just the ACC. 

Last season’s results: Duke topped UNC, 86-78, at Cameron while the Tar Heels had the final say at home, closing out the season with a 90-83 win.

Louisville at Duke – Wednesday, February 21st

This is a big test for Louisville. The Cardinals look for a pair of wins in thee days against UNC and Duke. Two wins would give Louisville a boost up in polls and nods for better seeding in the tournament. While back to back games against UNC and Duke is never easy, the Cards have a veteran team capable of handling this tough test. It won’t be an easy year for the Cardinals. Hopefully they have talent to back up the team.

UNC at Duke – Saturday, March 3rd

The battle on Tobacco Road part two is a hands-down, no-brainer hyped game. Why not save the best for last. UNC not only has to take on a prolific Blue Devils team, but they have to keep their focus in one of the most legendary gyms in Cameron Indoor. At this point in the season, you can expect the two teams to be vying for the best eye bid. It will be a challenge to take on the Crazies at home. Not to mention it’s senior night for Grayson Allen. Talk about your momentum. 

Player watch list:

  • Joel Berry II, UNC

  • Deng Adel, Louisville

  • Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame

  • Grayson Allen, Duke

  • Bruce Brown, Miami

  • Marvin Bagley, Duke

Kentucky’s Alumni Game May Come With a Twist

Anthony Davis, Kentucky

Kentucky’s 2017 Alumni Game May Come With A Twist

First, Kentucky played each other. Then, they played North Carolina. Now, Kentucky is looking to play an NBA team in their yearly alumni game.

It has been the classic Calipari question for nearly eight years running: could a team of all Kentucky alumni  really beat an NBA team? Well, according to Kentucky Athletic Director DeWayne Peevy, “I don’t care if they combine themselves, they’re not taking down Big Blue Nation.” However, whether or not Peevy will be able to pull off this seemingly difficult feat before the scheduled date of August 25th is another question entirely.

Say Peevy pulls it off.; he gets all the NBA talent he hopes to bring in, on both sides. Say millions of Americans across the country tune in to watch. How does the game go? The success of the game largely hinges upon one factor: whether or not Peevy’s “Big Blue Dream Team” faces up against an established NBA super team–we’ll use the Warriors as an example–or a combination of five of the league’s best players, barring Kentucky graduates. Why does this fact matter? It’s simple.

Could Kentucky Win?

Let’s line up Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Zaza Pachulia on the court, face to face with what would likely be John Wall, Devin Booker, Anthony Davis, Karl Anthony Towns, and DeMarcus Cousins (sub in MKG for a big man if you want). Would Kentucky win? It’s unlikely; Golden State are NBA champions two of the past three years, they practice and play together on a daily basis, and know each other back to front. They have grit and determination, and after all, that’s what it takes to win championships. While the players cannot realistically be expected to give 110% for 48 minutes with the risk of injuries, there is no reason a roster of Big Blue talent like said team would go down without a fight. The game would be intense and interesting, nationally loved, no matter the outcome, so much so that the only sporting event that could possibly follow it up would be a boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor (set to take place on pay-per-view the following day).

Now, take those same five Kentucky alumni, and place them on a court with LeBron James, Russel Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Marc Gasol (or any combination of five NBA All-Stars you can imagine), and the dream game that DeWayne Peevy so greatly desires turns into a glorified All-Star game, with scores that toe the line of 200-200, as in the year’s past. Two teams of hand picked All-Stars pitted against each other see the game as nothing more than what it is: an All-Star game. The intensity and interest from the players drop exponentially, and the flashy and showy dunks with no opposition continue to flow; if you think defense is a dying art in league play, this game would put it in a mental coffin for you.

Though at the end of the day, no matter who steps on the court to face the Big Blue alumni, the game can only help the NBA. With each passing year, basketball becomes harder and harder to watch. Fans are tired of seeing the same small handful of teams provide the only real competition in the league; the past three championships have pitted the same two teams against each other each year, and the three prior to 2015 saw only one contest that was not between the Spurs and the Heat, and even that one included the Heat as well. The truth remains that the National Basketball Association doesn’t offer the fights and power plays of the NHL, or the relegation factor and cutthroat Champions League race of European soccer. A small yet necessary step in the right direction, games like the one Athletic Director Peevy has in mind have the possibility to peak fans’ interest and attract new viewers to one of sports’ most dynamic games.

 

Follow Andrew more on Twitter: @andrew_mck11