A Look at the PK80: Motion Bracket

In honor of Nike founder Phil Knight, ESPN will be airing the PK80 tournament over Thanksgiving weekend. Consisting of 16 teams and two brackets, this four day tournament will be must watch. NCAA Tournament teams, dazzling freshman and of course, fresh uniforms. Let’s take a look at the Motion Bracket now. Here’s what you need to know.

First Round Schedule:

Portland State vs Duke – Thursday, November 23rd 4:30 PM EST

Butler vs Texas – Thursday, November 23rd 7 PM EST

Florida vs Stanford – Thursday, November 23rd 10 PM EST

Ohio State vs Gonzaga – Thursday, November 23rd 12 AM EST

What to Look For:

Bagley vs Bamba

Assuming Duke doesn’t have an immaculate meltdown, and Texas can get past Butler, Duke vs Texas is a must watch for college basketball and NBA fans. This game would feature a match-up within a match-up, as Marvin Bagley and Mo Bamba would go head to head.  Both players are expected to be lottery picks next year, so this is a great chance for Hawks, Bulls and Mavs fans to get a glimpse of what the future could hold. Aside from these two headline stealers, both teams match up well across the board. Freshman point guards Trevon Duval and Matt Coleman would face off. As would Grayson Allen and Andrew Jones, each team’s best scorer. There are many things to like about this potential second round game.

Can Butler Represent the Big East

Butler will try to spoil the match-up I laid out above by beating Texas in the first round on Thursday. Butler is off to a nice start at 3-1. Their one loss was their only test of the early season so far, a 12 point loss to Maryland at Maryland. They will get their second chance for a resume win on Thanksgiving with Texas. A win against a team in the upper half of the Big 12 will help solidify that the “new” Big East is more than just Villanova. This is the chance for Kelan Martin and Kamar Baldwin to make themselves known on a national stage.

How Good is Gonzaga?  

Every year Mark Few and the Gonzaga Bulldogs post 25+ wins and every year they don’t get enough credit because they seemingly don’t play anyone. Well now the National Runner Ups have helped their cause, scheduling non-conference games against Villanova, Creighton and playing in the PK80. The Zags have the potential to play teams from the Big Ten, SEC and ACC if they make it to the championship game. Two of those teams are currently sitting in the Top 10. Not too shabby for a team that doesn’t play anyone good.

Bracket is Headlined with Talented Forwards

 If you’re a fan of forwards, this is the bracket to watch over Thanksgiving. Travis Reid (Stanford), Kelan Martin (Butler), Jonathan Williams (Gonzaga), Marvin Bagley (Duke) are first all-conference talents in their respective conferences. Based on the bracket, we may never see any of these guys go head to head, but their individual talents will be fun to watch. Reid and Martin are extremely talented scorers, Williams is the piece that makes Gonzaga go, and we’re learning something new about Bagley every day. Add Dylan Osetkowski (Texas) and Egor Koulechov (Florida) who have averaged near double doubles in the short season and this is a very deep field at the forward spot.

Ideal Championship Game: Duke vs Florida

No huge surprise here. this is the game we all should want. Duke and Florida are currently ranked 1 and 7, respectively in the AP Polls. Duke has a plethora of freshman talent, and college basketball’s most hateable/loveable human in Grayson Allen. Florida is a very talented and balanced bunch. In three games they are averaging 98 points a game and have six players averaging 7 points or more, led by Koulechov’s 20 per game. Meanwhile Duke’s starting five has been as good as advertised, combining for 76 points a game themselves.

The match-up here would be Duke’s Trevon Duval vs Florida’s Chris Chiozza. Duval has been spectacular for Duke, averaging nearly 8 assists a game. He’s Grayson Allen’s biggest fan, as Duval has helped free up Allen and get him wide open looks early on. If Florida can contain Duval, they can also help keep Allen from getting great shots in the process. This job would fall on the defensive minded senior, Chris Chiozza. This would be a great Sunday night game to cap off a great weekend of college basketball.

Baden Sports Joins the Hoop Group Family

Baden Sports joins the Hoop Group family as the exclusive ball of the world’s largest basketball exposure company.

RENTON, Wash. (Nov. 20, 2017) – Baden Sports and Hoop Group, the world’s leader of youth basketball instruction, announced a multiyear partnership establishing Baden as the official ball provider of Hoop Group.

Baden Sports and Hoop Group are results of pure passion for sports. In 1963, Bob Kennedy ran his first camp at Trenton’s CYO with the foresight of establishing a full summer sleep away basketball camp. His son, Rob Kennedy, leads Hoop Group with the same entrepreneurial spirit and devotion. Today, Hoop Group is the world’s leader in basketball instruction, competition, and exposure, with alumni including more than 120 players on current NBA rosters.

Sixteen years later, E.C. Schindler and his son, Michael Schindler founded Baden Sports (1979) when the two set out to provide high quality equipment for players to have the best experience. Baden Sport’s impact on basketball is unmatched by its competitors. It released the first women’s size basketball and continues to come as close to a perfect user experience as possible with innovative technologies.

“Hoop Group shares our passion for play and our love of basketball”

-said Jake Licht, COO of Baden Sports.


“We’re looking forward to working with them to promote the game, develop players, and provide the best possible playing experience for all Hoop Group participants for years to come.”

The partnership establishes Baden Sports and Hoop Group as leaders in the basketball industry. The two share strong family ties and are fully invested in creating the best experience and opportunities for players.

“Baden’s commitment to making a high-performing basketball for every type of player made them an ideal partner for us,” said Matthew Pooley, Vice President of Hoop Group. “We’re proud to be putting Baden basketballs in the hands of our participants and are excited to be working with Baden as we continue to grow the game and help players achieve their dreams.”

Baden Product Information:

Model numbers for Baden’s official balls, as selected by Hoop Group, include:

          Elite™ (BX7E for boys, BX6E for girls)

          Contender™ (B301 for boys, B285W for girls)

          Deluxe Rubber (B125 for boys, B115 for girls, and B110 for juniors)

All of Baden’s basketballs, as well as racks, bags, and accessories, can be viewed at www.badensports.com.



Hoop Group Contact:

For Hoop Group-related inquiries, and special Hoop Group affiliate pricing, please contact Jennifer Sorensen at jennifers@badensports.com.


Baden Sports, an independent, family-owned company with headquarters in Renton, Wash., designs and manufactures high-quality athletic balls for players of all ages, skills, and abilities. Baden’s relentless innovation and commitment to quality has led industry-wide adoption of its technologies and led conferences, programs, and coaches at all levels to choose Baden as their official ball. For more information, visit www.badensports.com, or join the conversation on Facebook (BadenSports), Instagram (badensports), and Twitter (@BadenSports).


Are You Hurting Your Child’s Recruitment?

-Megan Cunningham | Hoop Group Assistant Skills Director and Director of Girls’ Events

Are You Hurting Your Child’s Recruitment?

As a parent you always want the best for your kid, especially when it comes to the recruiting process and picking the right college. What many parents do not realize is what the college coaches are expecting is from their child, not the parent. To explain the recruiting process more, we have provided the parents with a few Do’s and Don’ts

Do encourage your student athlete to keep lines of communication open with coaches from schools of interest via phone call, text or email. The communication can be school related, how they played in a game, or even to talk about the college your student athlete is interested in.


Don’t be your student athlete’s voice. This is the time for your student athlete to begin to grow up and mature into a young adult.



Do encourage your student athlete to keep their grades up. No matter how good your student athlete is at basketball, if they cannot get into the school, they will not step foot on the court.


Don’t let your student athlete wait until the last minute to start contacting coaches. The longer they wait, the less of a chance that have being a recruited by that school and accepted into that school.


Do encourage your student athlete to take as many official and unofficial visits as they can. By doing this it allows your student athlete to get the college experience, ask as many questions as they can, and maybe even sit through a college class before they even enroll in that school.



Don’t be afraid to ask for help!


Do encourage your student athlete to pick a school that has the degree or field of study that they are interested in. For most, basketball will only continue as a hobby after college. Therefore, it is important that your student athlete attends a school that will help propel them towards their career goals.


Don’t worry about the process! This can be a long process and in the end, the chips will fall where they fall.


Do encourage your student athlete to pick a reach school and a safety school.

Breaking Down the PK80: Victory Bracket

In honor of Nike founder Phil Knight, ESPN will be airing the PK80 tournament over Thanksgiving weekend. Consisting of 16 teams and two brackets, this four day tournament will be must watch. NCAA Tournament teams, dazzling freshman and of course, fresh uniforms. Let’s take a look at both brackets. First, we’ll focus on the Victory Bracket. Here’s what you need to know.

First Round Match-Ups:

Portland vs UNC – Thursday, November 23rd 2:30 PM EST

Arkansas vs Oklahoma – Thursday, November 23rd 5 PM EST

UConn vs Oregon – Thursday, November 23rd 9 PM EST

DePaul vs Michigan State – Thursday, November 23rd 11:30 PM EST

What to Look For:

UConn’s First Real Test

Connecticut comes into this without a real test in the first week and a half into the season. The Huskies have won the games they were supposed to, but not in a convincing fashion. Their first test will be against an Oregon team that is not nearly the team they were last year, but still pose a challenge. For one, though it’s not officially a home game, it will be played in Portland. The match-up here will be UConn’s Jalen Brown versus Oregon’s Troy Brown. Jalen Brown was the leading scorer for the Huskies last season. He will need a big game for UConn to pull out a win.

Potential NCAA Tournament Rematch

Ask Roy Williams and North Carolina how tenacious Arkansas’ defense is. The Tar Heels got all they could handle from the Razorbacks last season in the second round of the NCAA tournament, and just barely survived. Luckily for UNC, they would have Joel Berry, who returned last week from a hand injury, to help handle some of this Arkansas pressure. You can’t overlook Oklahoma, but you can bet Arkansas is chomping at the bit for revenge.

Joel Berry’s Health

Going off the previous point, Joel Berry’s health will determine if UNC can advance, or win, the Victory Bracket. Berry is the nucleus for the Tar Heels. Whether UNC plays Arkansas or Oklahoma, Berry will need to at or at least near full health. We mentioned the problems Arkansas can cause, but the other option is a match up with Oklahoma’s star freshman, Trae Young. Averaging 18.5 points and 11.5 assists in two games, Young would be the type of match up a senior leader needs to take on.

Michigan State’s Bounce Back

The Spartans stock might have dropped some after the loss to Duke, but no one is writing them off as championship contenders yet. Nonetheless, Tom Izzo and company need a few strong non-conference wins to add to their resume and this is the time to do it. Michigan State has arguably the two best players in the entire Victory bracket in Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson. Three wins in the PK80 will go a long way to forgetting the loss to Duke.

Meet the Diaper Dandies

The Victory bracket has multiple one-and-done caliber players, as well as others who will have sustainable collegiate careers. Get to know the names Trae Young (Oklahoma), Jaren Jackson (Michigan State) and Troy Brown (Oregon). Young and Brown are the leading scorers for their teams on the young season, and Jackson solidified his status as a highly touted prospect by scoring 19 points in 24 minutes against Duke in the Champions Classic. Don’t be surprised to hear all three players’ names called in next Spring’s NBA Draft.


Best Championship Game: North Carolina vs Michigan State

The defending National Champs versus a popular pick to be this year’s National Champion. Michigan State is definitely the favorite in this bracket, but they showed weaknesses against Duke. They showed they can be turned over and their zone offense is suspect. Arkansas and their defense could cause the Spartans fits, but UNC is the best match up 1 through 5. Michigan State has the advantage inside and more depth than the Tar Heels, but UNC has the edge at point guard. Joel Berry is better than both Casius Winston and Tum Tum Nairn.

This game, along with the PK80 as a whole, will go a long way to telling us how good UNC can be this year. Will Joel Berry get any support? Is Luke Maye’s 23 PPG in two games legit or just stat padding against low level teams? This is a great early season test for Roy Williams and company.

NBA Rookie Power Rankings – Week 4

We are officially one month into the NBA season, and have a sizeable data sample to use to help put together the Week 4 Edition of HG Insider’s NBA Rookie Power Rankings. Players are beginning to separate themselves, weaknesses that need improving are becoming apparent and some guys are starting to see the game slow down enough for them to contribute at a more efficient rate. Let’s take a look at the Week 3 rankings before we look at how Week 4 stacks up.

1. Ben Simmons
2. Jayson Tatum
3. Dennis Smith Jr.
4. Kyle Kuzma
5. Lauri Markkanen
6. Donovan Mitchell
7. Lonzo Ball
8. John Collins
9. De’Aaron Fox
10. Mike James

Honorable Mention:

Malik Monk
Josh Jackson
Frank Ntilikina
Dillon Brooks

Without further ado, let’s dive into the Week 4 rankings:

1. Ben Simmons – 76ers

I am running out of superlatives to describe Simmons at this rate. He continues to hold the number one spot in a death grip. As of Monday he checks in with averages of 18.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8 assists per game, while shooting over 50% from the floor. As long as he stays healthy he has the award locked up, which is saying something for how good this rookie class is.

2. Kyle Kuzma – Lakers

Kuzma has solidified himself as the 2nd best rookie a month into the 2017-2018 campaign. He chipped in 24 points and 7 rebounds against Philadelphia and followed it up two nights later with 30 points and 10 rebounds against the Suns. Kuzma is averaging a solid 16.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, and has shown the ability to score bunches of points in a hurry. #1 steal of the draft, #2 in the HG insider NBA Rookie Power Rankings.

3. Lauri Markkanen – Bulls

It is becoming hard to ignore how good Markkanen has been so far, despite how far the Bulls have fallen in the record column. The marksmen from Finland is averaging 15.6 points and 8 rebounds a game. He’s shooting 45% from the floor and 37% from 3. He gave the Thunder and Hornets 16 points a piece, before exploding for 26 points and 13 rebounds against the Suns, his best performance to date in his career. Markkanen will square off against the Lakers on Tuesday night going against fellow rookies Kuzma and Lonzo Ball, in what should be an entertaining match-up.

4. Jayson Tatum – Celtics

While Tatum slips to number 4 in this weeks ranking, he has still been proving that he is a future force to be reckoned with in the Association. His averages remain solid at 13.9 points and 5.6 rebounds a game, while his shooting percentages border on historic for a rookie at 49.4% from the floor, 47.9% from 3 and 84.3% from the line. He gave the Celtics great minutes down the stretch during the win over the Warriors on Thursday night and continues to play his role well alongside the stacked Celtics lineup.

5. Donovan Mitchell – Jazz

If I am picking a favorite rookie, Donovan Mitchell tops this list, while his actual play on the court has garnered him a spot back among the top 5 in this week’s rookie rankings. The Louisville product is a walking highlight reel, who can stockpile a ton of points in a short amount of time. His 15 point, 8 assist, 7 rebound effort against the Nets shows the versatile potential he has down the line playing the point guard position for the Jazz, and his 24 points against Minnesota showed his elite scoring potential. The Jazz had a rough week in the W/L column, but Mitchell continued to show promise, and even bought his mom a car. Two out of three ain’t so bad.

6. Dennis Smith Jr. – Mavericks

Smith Jr. took a tumble in this weeks rankings due to some poor outings in the latter half of the week. Smith is a rookie, he won’t be immune to these stretches, and neither will anyone else besides maybe Simmons. Smith exploded early in the week for 27 against the Spurs and seemed like a lock to move into the 2nd spot behind Simmons. Unfortunately he  followed it up with two straight outings with point totals in the single digits. Smith looks to rebound from his growing pains this week starting with the Celtics Monday night.

7. John Collins – Hawks

Collins had a good week, bouncing back from his lackluster week 3, and moving himself up one spot in our rookie power rankings. Collins is averaging 11.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game while shooting 54.5% from the floor and 76.7% from the line for the Hawks. He capped off a strong week with an 18 point, 7 rebound effort against the leagues best team, the Boston Celtics. Collins has been a welcome addition for the Hawks and gives Atlanta fans something to look forward to in the future.

8. Lonzo Ball – Lakers

Ball struggled mightily in 3 of the 4 games in which he participated in during week 4, but bounced back with his second career triple-double on Sunday night. He contributed 11 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists in an 18 point win over the Denver Nuggets. The story remains the same for Ball. He impacts the game in a multitude of ways, but he still continues to struggle to make shots. Ball will continue to have ups and downs, but he does show significant promise at times, which makes him harder to ignore than other rookies enduring the same struggles to begin their NBA careers.

9. Dillon Brooks – Grizzlies

Brooks makes his first appearance on the list as he has fit in seamlessly to the Grizzlies culture in Memphis. During the month of November he has averaged 10 points and 5 rebounds per game, shot 44% from the floor. He has also made a countless number of plays that do not appear in the stat sheet to help the Grizzlies win games. Brooks may not possess the upside of other rookies in this class, but he has shown early that he is going to carve out a nice career for himself in the NBA. It will be interesting to see how his role expands as we get deeper into the season and he continues to adjust to life as an NBA player.

10. OG Anunoby – Raptors

Speaking of first timers who specialize in making winning plays for a good team, Anunoby has been a surprise for casual basketball fans. If an early December injury had not derailed OG’s season at Indiana last season he would have gone much higher in the NBA draft. Anunoby has been a very good defender by rookie standards, by evidence of his defense against James Harden. He is also showing offensive promise, 16 points and 3-4 from 3 point rang against the Rockets. Anunoby should continue to rise and has very good long term potential to be a difference maker in the league.

Honorable Mention:

De’Aaron Fox – Kings
Josh Jackson – Suns
Luke Kennard – Pistons
Mike James – Suns

Sidenote: The Sixers have announced that we may be less than a month from getting a healthy (fingers crossed) Markelle Fultz back in the fold. Not only would that be huge for Philly, and the HG and DeMatha alum Fultz, but also for basketball junkies everywhere.