Archive for June, 2018

The Celtics were clearly one of the best teams in the NBA this past season, and despite falling short, came close to eliminating LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Finals. They did this in the regular season without the services of Gordon Hayward, and then then played excellent basketball in the postseason without Kyrie Irving. Hayward missed the entire season, but says he should be good to go for the start of 2018-19. Here’s ESPN.com reporting:

Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward detailed the reasons for his May surgery to remove hardware from his ankle and said he plans to be full-go for the start of the 2018-19 season in a post to his personal blog on Monday.

In an entry entitled, “Won’t Be Long Now,” Hayward detailed how lingering pain in his surgically-repaired left ankle spurred a decision to have the follow-up surgery but stressed how he plans to be playing full-court, 5-on-5 basketball again by the end of July.

“[The follow-up surgery was] not something we were expecting to be a part of this recovery process but I’m happy to report that I’ll be back out there resuming rehab soon, with my sights set firmly on being back to my usual self for the start of next season,” wrote Hayward, who admitted the procedure was deemed “very rare” by his doctors.

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Free agency is approaching. Many players and teams have major decisions to make. One is a team responsibility — deciding whether to extend qualifying offers to players or letting them enter unrestricted free agency. Here’s the Mercury News reporting on the Warriors:

The Warriors took an expected step in providing clarity to their bench, extending reserve guard/forward Patrick McCaw with a $1.641 million qualifying offer that will make him a restricted free agent.

By making McCaw a restricted free agent, the Warriors have the right to match any offer he receives from other teams. Although McCaw would love to maximize his earnings, he also has said he would love to remain with the Warriors because of their recent championship success and how they have developed him.

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Magic Johnson is more than ready to put pressure on himself in regard to his Lakers front office role. But reminds everybody that it’s not all about this summer, but the next one as well. Here’s the LA Times with more on what Magic said to the media today:

Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson said Tuesday he will step down from his role if the Lakers fail to attract marquee players in the free-agency periods of 2018 and 2019.

“Next summer if nobody comes and I’m still sitting here like this, then it’s a failure,” Johnson said. “But if you judge us on one summer that’s ridiculous. Then a lot of dudes shouldn’t be in their roles. Because if we’re banking on one summer for the Lakers we’re in trouble, we’re in trouble. You have to give us time. This class, like I told you before I took the job and when I took the job, it’s going to be a two-summer thing for the Lakers. This summer and next summer. That’s it.

“If I can’t deliver I’m going to step down myself, she won’t have to fire me,” he said of controlling owner Jeanie Buss. “I’ll step away from it, because I can’t do this job.”

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Timberwolves rookies ready to work

Tons of attention goes towards big-name rookies, but each year plenty of less heralded players emerge, and tracking them, from draft through summer league through the season, is always lots of fun. Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting on some new Timberwolves:

New Timberwolves Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop met the Twin Cities media on Tuesday outside the team offices and were set to start their new jobs quickly.

“We’ll begin tonight — their first workout is tonight,” said Wolves coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau.

The players, taken in the NBA Draft on Thursday night, said they were ready to make the big step.

“I think the biggest piece of advice I’ve received is that I’m in charge of my day-to-day, my decisions,” said Okogie, a 6-4 shooting guard who was the team’s first round pick (20th overall) out of Georgia Tech. “I have to be well-suited on and off the court.”

Bates-Diop was taken in the second round (48th) after winning Big Ten player of the year honors as a guard/forward at Ohio State. He was pegged as a first rounder in many mock drafts, but if his fall to the second round hurt him, he didn’t show it.

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It’s the offseason. Which means focusing on basketball things like the draft, free agency, summer league and more, but also fun stuff like… food trucks that NBA players enjoy. Here’s the SF Chronicle reporting on Warriors star Stephen Curry and one place he likes to grab a bite from:

Ayesha Curry may be known for her sit-down San Francisco restaurant, but when the Curry family eats out, they certainly love a food truck.

In his new YouTube series “Five Minutes From Home,” Stephen Curry took YouTube star Rudy Mancuso — you might recognize him as the guy in Curry’s Brita commercial — to “one of the best food trucks in Oakland.” The pair hopped in a Sprinter van to Scotch Bonnet, a Jamaican food truck that makes stops all around the Bay Area.

Of course, the pair ordered the curry shrimp, with Curry adding an order of their popular beef patties.

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There have been lots of jokes over the years about some of JaVale McGee’s decision-making on the court. But the fact is, he did some huge things in a supporting role for the Warriors, especially when it mattered most — in the Finals. Here’s ESPN.com reporting that McGee hopes to continue his low-cost winning ways with Golden State:

Free-agent center JaVale McGee told ESPN he wishes to return to the Golden State Warriors and has no desire to relocate.

“I haven’t thought about [another team] mainly because, hopefully, in my mind, I’m a Warrior for the rest of my career,” he said to ESPN on Monday, six days before the free-agency period begins on July 1. “If that happens, it would be a blessing.”

The first half of the 2017-18 season saw the 7-footer receive minimal playing time, including 16 DNPs. But after the All-Star break, head coach Steve Kerr inserted McGee into the starting lineup in place of Zaza Pachulia to try to spark the Warriors, who were struggling by their own standards.

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Orlando Magic waive Shelvin Mack

The Orlando Magic have waived guard Shelvin Mack.

Mack played in 69 games (three starts) last season with the Magic, and averaged 6.9 ppg., 3.9 apg. and 2.4 rpg. in 19.8 minutes per outing. His assists-to-turnover ratio of 3.06 (272/89) ranked 11th in the NBA.

Originally drafted in the second round (34th overall) of the 2011 NBA Draft by Washington, Mack has appeared in 399 regular season games (53 starts) during his NBA career with Washington, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Utah and Orlando, averaging 6.4 ppg., 3.1 apg. and 2.0 rpg. in 17.9 minpg.

Grizzlies waive Omari Johnson

The Memphis Grizzlies have waived forward Omari Johnson.

Johnson (6-9, 220) came off the bench in four games with the Grizzlies as a rookie last season and averaged 5.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 18.8 minutes after signing with the team on April 6. The 28-year-old Kingston, Jamaica native started the season with the Grizzlies’ NBA G League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle, where he appeared in 44 games (38 starts) and averaged 16.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 27.9 minutes.

Glance at 2018 Knicks free agency

Here’s NY Newsday with some insight on what 2018 Knicks free agency this July may look like:

Their plan is to not sign anyone to long-term deals and to shed contracts that have more than one-year remaining on it. That means Courtney Lee and Joakim Noah might not be Knicks for much longer.

Enes Kanter has an $18.6 million option that he needs to make a decision on by the end of the month. The Knicks are not expected to give him a multiyear deal if he opts out, so odds are Kanter, who loves New York, will pick up his option. The Knicks would be fine with that.

The Knicks’ resources will be limited this summer. Their goal is to have the money in 2019 when the likes of Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker and Kevin Love are free agents. There already are rumblings about Irving’s desire to join the Knicks. He listed them among his preferred destinations when he asked out of Cleveland.

The Knicks want to make New York a desirable location again for free agents.

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Spurs draft Lonnie Walker with 18th pick

The San Antonio Spurs selected Lonnie Walker IV with the 18th overall pick in the first round and Chimezie Metu with the 49th overall selection in the second round of the 2018 NBA Draft, which took place last night in Brooklyn, NY.

Walker, 6-5/205, played last season at Miami University, leading the Hurricanes in scoring by averaging 11.5 points to go along with 2.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 27.8 minutes in his 32 appearances. The Reading, Pa. native was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team in his lone season at Miami. Walker also became the first freshman in school history to earn all-league honors, receiving Honorable Mention All-ACC, while helping the Hurricanes finish 22-10.

Metu, 6-11/225, spent last year at the University of Southern California earning All-Pac-12 First Team honors. The Lawndale, Calif. native averaged 15.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.74 blocks in 31.0 minutes in 34 appearances last year during his junior season for the Trojans. Metu played in a total of 104 games and averaged 12.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.62 blocks in his three seasons at USC, finishing his career third in school history with 168 blocks.

The Milwaukee Bucks selected Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo with the 17th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

A 6-foot-5, 205-pound sophomore, DiVincenzo was named the 2017-18 BIG EAST Sixth Man of the Year after he averaged 13.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from 3-point range. DiVincenzo was selected as the 2018 Final Four Most Outstanding Player after he averaged 23.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game in the Final Four, including scoring 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting in the Wildcats’ win over Michigan in the national championship game.

DiVincenzo emerged as a redshirt freshman in 2016-17 as he was named to the BIG EAST All-Freshman team after averaging 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game while shooting 46.6 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from 3-point range. The Newark, Delaware, native appeared in 84 games over three seasons (2015-18) with Villanova, and holds career averages of 10.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 25.8 minutes per game. He finished his career as a 46.9 percent shooter with a 37.8 shooting percentage from 3-point range.

The Philadelphia 76ers acquired the draft rights to the 16th overall pick, guard-forward Zhaire Smith from Texas Tech, and the Miami Heat’s unprotected 2021 first-round pick via the Phoenix Suns in exchange for the draft rights to the 10th overall pick, guard-forward Mikal Bridges from Villanova. Then, with the 26th overall pick, the 76ers drafted guard Landry Shamet from Wichita State.

In his lone collegiate season at Texas Tech, Smith averaged 11.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.1 steals in 28.4 minutes per game. The 6-foot-5 guard-forward helped lead the Red Raiders to the school’s first Elite Eight appearance in program history, averaging 12.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in four NCAA tournament games.

Over the course of the 2017-18 season, Smith totaled 417 points, a Texas Tech single-season freshman record. He also led the team in rebounds (185) and blocks (42), which ranked top 10 in Big 12 play.

The Garland, Texas native became the first freshman in program history to secure All-Big 12 Honorable Mention. Smith also received All-Big 12 Defensive Team and All-Big 12 Newcomer Team selections.

Shamet, a product of Kansas City, Missouri, averaged 14.9 points, 5.2 assists and 3.2 rebounds in 31.7 minutes per game in his junior season at Wichita State. The 6-foot-4 guard led the American Athletic Conference (AAC) in both three-point percentage (.442) and assists (166), while his .825 free-throw percentage ranked third in the conference.

Philadelphia traded the draft rights to the 38th overall pick, Khryi Thomas from Creighton, to Detroit in exchange for two future second-round picks. In addition, the team drafted Isaac Bonga from Skyliners Frankfurt with the 39th overall pick.

The 76ers acquired the draft rights to the 54th overall pick, Shake Milton from SMU, via Dallas in exchange for the draft rights to the 56th overall pick, Ray Spalding from Louisville, and the 60th overall pick, Kostas Antetokounmpo from Dayton.

Milton, a 6-foot-5 guard, averaged 18.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists in his junior season at SMU.

The Washington Wizards selected Troy Brown Jr. out of Oregon and Issuf Sanon out of Slovenia in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Brown Jr., a 6-7, 215-pound swingman, was selected with the 15th overall pick. In his lone season at Oregon, he averaged 11.3 points, a team-high 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists. In addition, he recorded a team-best 55 steals and finished just one assist shy of a triple double against Portland State on Dec. 13 when he recorded 10 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high nine assists.

“Troy is a very versatile player with a high basketball IQ, great work ethic and outstanding character,” said Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld. “He will be able to play and defend three positions and his playmaking abilities will allow him to create opportunities for himself and his teammates.”

A native of Las Vegas, NV, Brown was selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game, Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit in 2017 at Centennial High School. He was also a member of the gold medal-winning 2016 USA Basketball Men’s U17 World Championship team.

“I was impressed with Troy both on and off the court throughout the draft process and I’m excited to have him work with our coaches throughout the summer,” said Wizards Head Coach Scott Brooks. “His size, toughness and all-around game make him a good fit for our roster and will give him the opportunity to earn minutes as a young player.”

Sanon, a 6-4, 177-pound guard, was selected 44th overall by the Wizards. He averaged 22.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists over the last two seasons in Ukraine’s 2nd Division before moving to Olimpija in Slovenia in January.

“Issuf is a young player who will be able to continue to play at a high level overseas and develop his game as we monitor him, much like we did with Tomas Satoransky,” said Grunfeld. “His athleticism, size and competitive nature were all very intriguing and we feel he can be a player who will help us in the future after gaining more experience.”

A native of Ukraine, Sanon averaged 19.3 points (second in the division), 6.1 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 2.7 assists with Ukraine’s U18 National Team at the 2017 U18 Euros.

The Denver Nuggets selected forward Michael Porter Jr. with the 14th overall pick in tonight’s 2018 NBA Draft. Denver also acquired the draft rights to forward Jarred Vanderbilt at 41st overall from Orlando in exchange for the 43rd pick and a future second round pick and also selected center Thomas Welsh with the 58th pick.

Porter Jr., 6-10, 215, signed with the University of Missouri as the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit as a high school senior out of Nathan Hale High School in Seattle, Washington. Porter Jr. averaged 36.2 points and 13.6 rebounds per game as a senior while leading Nathan Hale to a perfect 29-0 record en route to the Washington Class 3A State Championship, the first-ever state title for the school.

The 19-year-old native of Indianapolis was named the MVP of the McDonald’s High School All-American Game as well as winning both the Naismith and Gatorade National Player of the Year awards, joining Dwight Howard (2004), LeBron James (2003), Chris Webber (1991) and Alonzo Mourning (1988) as the only players to ever accomplish the feat. Porter Jr. was named a 2017-18 consensus preseason All-American, the 2017-18 preseason ESPN National Freshman of the Year and the 2017-18 preseason SEC Co-Player of the Year before a back injury limited him to just three games during his debut campaign.

Vanderbilt, 6-9, 214, appeared in 14 games as a freshman for Kentucky, averaging 5.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 17.0 minutes per game. The 19-year-old from Houston averaged 28.5 points, 13.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists as a senior at Victory Prep School. Vanderbilt played for the USA Junior National Select Team at the 2017 Nike Hoop Summit and was also a member of the U.S. U16 National Team that won Gold at the 2015 FIBA U16 Americas.

Welsh, 7-0, 255, played four seasons at UCLA where he averaged 9.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks while shooting 53.7% from the field. He was one of five finalists for the 2017-18 Kareem Abdul-Jabar award, given to the nation’s top center, and finished his Bruins career ranked third in career rebounds (1,035), third in blocks (143) and sixth in career double-doubles (37). As a senior the California native posted averages of 12.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists while shooting 40.7% from three (45-of-112 3FG) and 82.8% from the free throw line. His 10.8 rebounds per game was UCLA’s highest per game average since David Greenwood in 1977-78.

The L.A. Clippers have selected Boston College guard Jerome Robinson with the 13th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, held last night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

“Jerome is someone that we targeted early on in this process. [He’s] one of the more gifted guys in this draft,” said President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank. “If you study the DNA, he just grinds and he works harder than most. He is very impressive as a young man and he is now a Clipper”

“Going to the Clippers is a dream come true,” said Robinson. “It’s exciting to be in L.A., being drafted by the Clippers, and having the chance to learn from a coach like Doc Rivers.”

Robinson, 21, played three collegiate seasons at Boston College, where he appeared in 90 career games (all starts), averaging 17.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.3 steals in 34.6 minutes. The 6’5”, 188-pound guard shot 45.0 percent from the field and 37.6 percent from three-point range in his Boston College career. A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Robinson was named All-ACC First Team as a Junior.

The Charlotte Hornets have acquired the draft rights to forward Miles Bridges (12th overall pick) from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for the draft rights to guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (11th overall pick) and two future second-round draft picks during tonight’s 2018 NBA Draft.

Bridges, a 6-7 forward from Michigan State, was a unanimous 2017-18 All-Big Ten First Team selection and he also earned 2017-18 consensus Second Team All-American honors. He led Michigan State in scoring in scoring (17.0 ppg), ranked second in rebounding (7.0 rpg) and third in assists (2.7 apg) during the 2017-18 campaign. Following his sophomore campaign, he was a finalist for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award, given to the top men’s collegiate small forward, and a top-10 finalist for the Naismith National Player of the Year. He was the first Michigan State freshman or sophomore player to average at least 17.0 points per game since Shawn Respert in 1992-93.

As a freshman in 2016-17, the Flint, Mich. native was the Big Ten Freshman of the year after averaging 16.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 28 contests. He was the only Division-I freshman in the nation in the last 25 years to average at least 16.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists and return for his sophomore season.

The L.A. Clippers have acquired the draft rights to University of Kentucky guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the 11th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, from the Charlotte Hornets, in exchange for the draft rights to Michigan State forward Miles Bridges and two future second round picks. The Clippers selected Bridges with the 12th overall pick in the draft.

“We have been tracking Shai all year and grew more and more impressed with him. He quickly became a priority for us,” said President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank. “What you will see right away is his character, competitiveness and toughness. We have guys like that here, and that’s who we want to attract.”

“I’m a play-making guard, pass-first point guard, who likes to get teammates involved,” said Gilgeous-Alexander. “I’m really just willing to do whatever the team needs me to do to win and cannot wait to get started with the Clippers.”

Gilgeous-Alexander, 19, played one collegiate season at Kentucky, where he appeared in 37 games (24 starts), averaging 14.4 points, 5.1 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 33.7 minutes. The 6’6”, 180-pound guard shot 48.5 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from three-point range as a Wildcat. A native of Hamilton, Ontario (Canada), Gilgeous-Alexander was named to the Second-team All-SEC and the SEC All-Freshman Team, and was named the MVP of the SEC Tournament.

After selecting Arizona center Deandre Ayton with the first No. 1 overall pick in franchise history, the Phoenix Suns added Villanova forward Mikal Bridges (Mick-L), the No. 10 overall pick, in a trade with Philadelphia and also selected French guard Élie Okobo (EL-ee oh-KO-bo) with the No. 31 pick and Colorado forward George King with the No. 59 pick.

Bridges, a versatile defender and knockdown three-point shooter, won the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award in 2017-18 while helping Villanova win their second NCAA Championship in his three seasons at the school. A 6-7, 210-pound wing, he averaged 17.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals for the champs, while shooting 51.4 percent from the field, 43.5 percent from three-point range (18th best in the nation) and 85.1 percent from the free throw line. The 21-year-old earned Third Team All-America honors and was named to the All-Final Four Team after averaging 17.2 points in the NCAA tournament including 19 in the title game victory over Michigan.

Expanding his role in each of his three seasons at Villanova, Bridges averaged 11.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 116 total games, shooting 52.5 percent from the field, 40.0 percent from long range and 84.5 percent from the stripe. After redshirting the 2014-15 season, his length created havoc defensively on the Wildcats’ 2015-16 NCAA Championship team before he was a co-winner of the Big East Defensive Player of the Year award in 2016-17. A native of Philadelphia, Bridges starred at Great Valley High School in Malvern, Pennsylvania.

The Suns acquired the rights to Bridges from the 76ers in exchange for the rights to the 16th overall pick (Zhaire Smith) and Miami’s 2021 first-round pick.

Okobo, a natural scorer who has made strides running the point, had a breakout season playing for Pau-Lacq-Orthez of France’s top league, LNB Pro A. In 34 games this past season, the 20-year-old led his team with 12.9 points, 4.8 assists and 2.7 steals, shooting 47.5 percent from the field, 39.4 percent from three-point range and 81.9 percent from the free throw line. The 6-2, 180-pound guard scored a career-high 44 points including eight three-pointers on May 23 against top-seeded Monaco in the first round of playoffs. A contender for Pro A’s Most Improved Player Award, he was a 2017-18 All-Star selection, recording 17 points and a game-high 17 assists in the All-Star Game.

A native of Bordeaux, France, Okobo began playing for Espoirs Pau-Lacq-Orthez, the training center for the senior team in the Pro A league, at age 16 in 2014. He made his LNB Pro A debut in 2015, playing eight games in France’s top league in 2015-16 and 22 games in 2016-17 before his breakthrough 2017-18 season. Okobo has also represented France in international competition, leading the French to a bronze medal at the 2017 FIBA U20 European Championship in Greece, and ranking third in scoring at the 2016 FIBA U20 European Championship in Finland with 18.9 points per game.

King, an active defender and tough rebounder, ranks second in Colorado history with a career three-point percentage of 40.1 percent. The 6-6, 225-pound wing averaged 12.5 points and 6.4 rebounds over his final three seasons in Boulder, named to the 2017-18 All-Pac-12 Second Team as a senior and winning the 2015-16 Pac-12 Conference Most Improved Player of the Year award as a sophomore. After playing as a freshman in 2013-14 then redshirting in 2014-15, King was one of the Pac-12’s most versatile players the past three seasons, able to defend multiple positions, rebound from the wing and make three-pointers.

The 24-year-old’s draft stock soared following his senior season when he was the East MVP at the 2018 NABC College All-Star Game, finishing with 21 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. He then stood out at the 2018 Portsmouth Invitational, named to the All-Tournament Team after averaging 18.0 points and 7.7 rebounds while shooting 57.9 percent from the field. Raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, before attending high school at Brennan in San Antonio, Texas, his mother is a 25-year veteran of the Air Force.

The Suns added Bridges, Okobo and King after making Ayton the first No. 1 overall pick in franchise history earlier in the evening. Ayton, who played collegiately at Arizona and in high school at Phoenix’s Hillcrest Prep, is the first No. 1 pick in NBA history to be selected by a team in the same state where he played in both college and high school.

A rare combination of size and skill, the 7-1, 250-pounder possesses uncommon athleticism, footwork and shooting touch for a player with his length and strength. During his one season in Tucson, the 19-year-old was a Consensus First Team All-America selection and won the 2018 Karl Malone Award given to the nation’s best power forward. Ayton averaged 20.1 points on 61.2 percent shooting, 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks for Arizona, becoming the first to win Pac-12 Player of the Year, Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors in the same season.

He set a Wildcats record and Pac-12 freshman record with 24 double-doubles, and became just the sixth freshman nationally in the past 25 years to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds (two of the others were Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony). Ayton set Arizona freshman season records in points (704), rebounds (405), blocks (66) and field goal percentage (.612) while also being named to the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team.

Ayton played the final two seasons of his high school career at Phoenix’s Hillcrest Prep. As a senior in 2016-17, he led the Bruins to a 33-6 record and The Grind Session National Championship, averaging 26 points, 15 rebounds and 3.5 blocks. Among his many honors, he was a McDonald’s All-American, Naismith Trophy High School All-American, USA TODAY ALL-USA First Team selection, and played in the Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit.

Born and raised in Nassau, Bahamas, Ayton began seriously pursing basketball at age 12 after attending the Jeff Rodgers Basketball Camp, the Bahamas’ premier summer basketball program. Ayton flashed his immense potential and later that summer moved to San Diego to attend Balboa City School. He would later transfer to Hillcrest Prep and move to Phoenix to live with his family.

Here’s the New York Post reporting on Kevin Knox, selected 9th in the first round of the 2018 Draft last night by the New York Knicks:

Go ahead, Knicks fans. Dream about Kevin Knox’s upside. John Calipari thinks the Knicks hit a home run with his former player.

“It’s a futures league. He’s 18 years old. You’re trying to project who of these guys can be special, and when you look at what they were having at that pick, if that kid is a year or two older, he’s the one, two or three pick,” the Kentucky coach said shortly after the Knicks took the 6-foot-9 wing in the first round (ninth overall) in Thursday’s NBA draft at Barclays Center. “Physically, he’ll come into his own quicker than everybody thinks he will, and the league is moving to 6-foot-9 shooters, [being] able to play multiple positions, and he can do that.”

The former McDonald’s All-American from Florida with a 7-foot wingspan averaged 15.6 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 34.1 percent from 3-point range, and led Kentucky to the Sweet 16. Calipari has compared him to Celtics phenom Jayson Tatum, a comparison the Kentucky coach didn’t back down from on Thursday. As a rookie, Tatum did things with Boston that Calipari didn’t see from him in college, as a long defender capable of scoring on the perimeter and in the paint.

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And per Knicks.com: Knox, 6-9, 215-pounds spent one season at Kentucky with averages of 15.6 points and 32.4 minutes over 37 games (37 starts). He led the Wildcats in scoring, 3-pointers made and recorded the eighth-most points (576) in school history as a freshman. Knox was a 2017-18 AP Honorable Mention All-America selection, 2017-18 SEC co-Freshman of the Year and named to the 2017-18 All-SEC First Team. As a freshman, he scored in double figures in all but seven games, including a team-high 10 games with 20 or more. He erupted for a game-high 34 points in a 17-point comeback victory at No. 7 West Virginia on January 27, 2018. In a victory over Davidson, he posted 25 points and six rebounds in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Cavs draft Collin Sexton 8th overall

The Cleveland Cavaliers selected guard Collin Sexton from the University of Alabama with the eighth overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Sexton (6-3, 190) played one year collegiately at Alabama, averaging 19.2 points (second-most in SEC), 3.8 rebounds and a team-high 3.6 assists in 33 games (32 starts) during 2017-18. His 632 total points were the third-most for any player in a single season in school history as well as the most ever by an Alabama freshman. Sexton scored 10 points or more on 29 occasions, 20 points or more 16 times and 30 points or more in three contests. He set an Alabama freshman scoring record with 40 points, including 31 in the second half, on Nov. 25 against Minnesota, while also becoming the first Tide player to score 40 points in a game since 1979. Sexton also helped lead Alabama to its first NCAA tournament win since 2006 with a victory over Virginia Tech on March 15.

Following his freshman campaign, Sexton was named 2017-18 SEC Newcomer of the Year and Co-Freshman of the Year, becoming just the second Alabama player to ever earn the Freshman honor (Mo Williams, 2002). He also earned All-SEC First Team honors as voted by media, and was tabbed All-SEC Second Team and All-Freshman Team by SEC coaches. A 2017-18 AP Honorable Mention All-America selection, Sexton was additionally named to the SEC All-Tournament team after scoring a school-record 79 points over the Tide’s three games.

The Marietta, Ga. native played at Pebblebrook High School (Mableton, Ga.), where he was a 2016-17 Naismith High School All-American Second Team selection. He won a gold medal with USA Basketball at the 2016 FIBA Under-17 World Championship in Zaragoza, Spain, and was named MVP of the tournament after leading Team USA in both scoring and assists.

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