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NCAA Basketball

Is former five-star recruit Thon Maker starting a new trend?



7’0″ center Thon Maker couldn’t have drawn it up any better.

The Milwaukee Bucks were so enamored with the former five-star recruit that a smokescreen was sent out less than 12 hours before the start of the draft.

And the rest was history.

Maker, who was being heavily recruited by Indiana, Notre Dame, St. John’s and Kentucky before he found a loophole in the NBA Draft rules, was picked by the Bucks at number 10 overall. The selection sent shock waves throughout the NBA, college basketball and high school basketball landscape, as Maker hasn’t proven anything more than that he can look really, really talented on a mixtape.

But Maker played this one off nicely. He played at three different high schools and competed on the AAU circuit, but opted not to attend college (possibly because of eligibility issues), did not play in the Nike Hoop Summit this season and didn’t participate in the 5-on-5 portion of the NBA Combine.

The Sudan native was basically hiding from NBA scouts and executives, while former Kentucky Wildcat Skal Labissiere exposed himself at the college level. Labissiere, a prospect from Haiti, completely out-played Maker at the Nike Hoop Summit in 2015, but had a brutal season at Kentucky, where he lost confidence, couldn’t get off the bench and showed a lack of toughness.

Labissiere wasn’t selected until pick number 28 to the Sacramento Kings.

So the questions are, would Labissiere have been picked in the top-five if he didn’t attend college? And will other high school prospects decide not to play college basketball because of this situation?

CBS Sports and The Vertical were the first two outlets to mention this possible trend, and both sources believe that there is certainly a chance more players opt to make this decision.

But it is highly doubtful that the majority of prospects skip college basketball altogether. Regardless of the Maker situation, not playing college basketball is a true risk as it opens up issues about desire and attitude.

In Maker’s case, he has a unique skill set that sets him apart from other pro prospects. He has a combination of size, mobility, shooting touch, ball handling skills and guard-like skills. Very few athletes at his size can play on the perimeter and impact the game on all three levels.

Maker is not Kevin Durant (as high school basketball bloggers once predicted due to his unbelievable mixtape in 2014) and never will be, but there’s no question his upside and potential is there – especially if he gets stronger.

Was it a smart decision for Maker to hold out his services until now? Absolutely. He’s going to receive a four-year guaranteed contract with the opportunity to begin his career at the NBA level (instead of starting in the D-League).

That doesn’t mean others can do the same though. Each prospect and recruit is unique.

Maker would have had his fair share of questions at the college level (questions about his guardian, Ed Smith). Instead, he hid for months and is now ready to take his game to the next level.

I am a college basketball fanatic and a current St. John's University student. I also write for Rumble in the Garden and I am the editor of Busting Brackets FanSided.

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NCAA Basketball

Video Surfaces Showing Agent Christian Dawkins Promoting Connections to Top Coaches



Another layer has unraveled in the college basketball corruption trial on Wednesday when a video recording of a conversation about paying college coaches and athletes was played on Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Paula Lavigne.

In the video dated June 6th 2017, aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins brags about his connections to top NCAA basketball coaches, including Arizona head coach Seam Miller.

When referring to incoming (at the time) Arizona player Deandre Ayton (who currently plays for the Phoenix Suns) Dawkins says Miller told him, “I’m taking care of everything myself. I wanna bring you in. I’ll turn everything over to you.”

Dawkins is currently on trial for allegedly bribing college coaches.

Marty Blazer, a former financial advisor who was being questioned by prosecutors and who was present for the conversation, said the reference was about Miller “taking care” of payments for Ayton.

“Sean Miller has to know everything that’s going on. I can call Sean and have a conversation … like this is what is needing to be done,” Dawkins said on the video. He said that Miller is, “talking on the phone about stuff he shouldn’t be talking on the phone about.”

Unites States District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled back on Friday that defense attorneys could not subpoena Miller and LSU’s Will Wade to testify during the federal bribery trial.

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NCAA Basketball

Rick Barnes Says He Would Have Left Tennessee if UCLA Paid Buyout



Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes could have been the next head coach for UCLA, instead of Mick Cronin, if only the Bruins were willing to open up their wallets.

Barnes says that if UCLA would have promised to pay Barnes’ $5 million buyout, he would have left Tennessee to take the job at UCLA.

“I think I would’ve been the coach at UCLA,” Barnes said (h/t ESPN). “I’ve said that to people before. I really felt at that time that’s what would happen.”

Barnes was honest and open with his decision process during the news conference, saying that he struggled with making a final decision due to financial matters.

Barnes has since agreed to a new deal with Tennessee that will pay him $4 million per year before increasing to a $6 million annual sum by the end of the contract and provide more cash for his assistants.

“I’m supposed to be at Tennessee,” Barnes said. “And it’s really above and beyond the basketball program. I’m in love with this community. I’m in love with this state. I just think we got a lot of great things going on in this town.”

“A lot of praying went into it, I can tell you that,” Barnes said. “There was a lot going on. When you get down to a situation like that, it has to make sense from a financial standpoint. Bottom line is we couldn’t work it out with the buyout.”

Barnes also informed UCLA that he would not depart Knoxville without talking to athletic director Phillip Fulmer and others in the community.

I told them point blank, ‘I’m not going to walk out of here and not meet with my team,'” Barnes said. “‘I’m not going to walk out of here and not meet with people here that have been really good to me.’ … I said, ‘You just can’t say send a plane tomorrow and we’re leaving. I’m going to make sure this is done the right way.'”

“There was one time in my mind I truly felt that’s what would happen,” Barnes said about potentially taking the UCLA offer. “It got to that point where I felt like my prayers had been answered.”

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NCAA Basketball

The Madness is Underway




As we inch closer to selection Sunday, many conference tournaments are underway finding teams who will automatically make the NCAA Men’s basketball. Here are the teams that currently in the tournament:

Atlantic Sun: Liberty

Big South: Gardner–Webb

Colonial: Northwestern

Horizon: Northern Kentucky

MAAC: Iona

Missouri Valley: Bradley

MEC: Fairleigh Dickinson

Ohio Valley: Murray State

Patriot: Colgate

Southern: Wofford

Summit League: North Dakota State

Summit League: Saint Marry’s

Out of the 32 conferences with automatic bids in the tournament, 12 of them have been clinched. All the until selection Sunday the remaining 20 conferences will have their tickets punched. Who will that be? Stay tuned!

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