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National Signing Day: Local football stars making final recruiting plans

Published: Monday, February 05, 2018 @ 11:45 AM
Updated: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 @ 9:21 AM

Springfield sr. Leonard Taylor addresses a 65-62 OT boys high school basketball

A trio of the best senior football players in the area have announced their finalists heading into the traditional National Signing Day. 

Springfield tight end/defensive linemen Leonard Taylor is set to choose from a final four of Cincinnati, Louisville, Kentucky and Texas A&M. 

Dunbar running back Tavion Thomas, who recently de-committed from Oklahoma, has listed a final four of Tennessee, Cincinnati, Ohio State and the Sooners. 

Trotwood-Madison running back Ra’veion Hargrove has a final three of Bowling Green, Ohio University and Eastern Kentucky. The 3,000-yard rusher was committed to BGSU until mid-fall when he announced he would re-examine his options. 

Taylor is the top-rated Ohio prospect in the 247Sports Composite rankings who is not committed. 

The recruiting cycle has undergone a big change this year with an early signing period having been held in December. 

Most of the area’s prospects put pen to paper at that time, but those who did not will be able to sign Wednesday. 

RELATED: Ohio’s No. 1 player picks ClemsonSW District DPOY signs with Cincinnati

Aside from the three mentioned above, two more four-star prospects plan to sign this week. 

Dunbar receiver Joseph Scates is headed to Iowa State after verbally committing last week

Lakota West linebacker Xavier Peters, a long-time Kentucky verbal, announced Saturday he is heading to Florida State instead. 

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Analysis: ‘Desperate,’ poised Kentucky finish vs. Alabama was even bigger than the win

Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 2:10 PM

LEXINGTON, Ky. — To hear the relieved roar of the Rupp Arena crowd, as if 23,000 people just exorcised a demon together on a rainy Saturday afternoon in Lexington, was to know just how much went right in Kentucky’s 81-71 win over Alabama.

The end of a four-game losing streak, unprecedented under coach John Calipari. Leading for 31 minutes after weeks of playing from behind. Clobbering the Crimson Tide 44-27 on the glass. Neutralizing Alabama star Collin Sexton while five Wildcats scored in double figures.

Oh, and pumping the brakes on all that NIT talk and bolstering their NCAA Tournament resume with a fifth victory over an RPI top-50 team. That was all good stuff for Kentucky (18-9, 7-7 SEC), but this was the best stuff:

Leading by two points with five minutes to go, the Cats did not collapse. They swarmed instead. They grabbed eight rebounds — four offensive — swiped four steals, had zero turnovers and outscored Alabama 14-6 to close the game.

For once, nobody had to hold their breath, which meant you could hear the collective exhale Saturday.

“We needed this very bad,” said point guard Quade Green, who had 12 points, 4 assists, 1 steal and 0 turnovers off the bench, “so we can start our winning streak.”

Kentucky had never ever lost three straight in Calipari’s first eight seasons, yet here it was trying to fend off the coach’s first five-game skid since his UMass days in the early 1990s. He tried to dismiss the significance of that, but it had been hanging over this team like a storm cloud since the Cats shriveled in the final minutes at 10 th-ranked Auburn on Wednesday night.

“We had a losing streak?” a grinning Calipari said after it was finally over. “These guys, they are all freshmen [and] they were a little bit scattered now, a little bit rattled. If they looked at me and I was like, ‘Oh, it’s going to be five and [imitating crying] …’ how would they have played today?”

RELATED: Everything Calipari said after Bama win

Kevin Knox probably wouldn’t have cut loose and scored all 13 of his points after halftime — 11 in a 5-minute span that steadied the Cats when they fell behind with 13:58 remaining. PJ Washington likely wouldn’t have shaken off a 4-turnover first half and scored 10 in the second half.

Had Kentucky played tight, there’s almost no chance it manages to go the final 11:31 without a turnover.

“They played desperate,” Calipari said. “We gave away some games this year [and] we have to start taking games from people, which means desperation. We gave some away and now we’ve got to take some back. Gotta go get some, and this was a good one.”

Alabama coach Avery Johnson used the word desperate, too, as he noted an energy and effort level in the Wildcats that he did not see from his own very fine team. The Crimson Tide (17-10, 8-6) entered the day with five RPI top-25 wins, three in the last month.

“We just went out there and fought like we had nothing to lose,” said Jarred Vanderbilt, who delivered 11 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks in just 19 minutes off the bench. “We played with desperation, but we didn’t put the pressure on ourselves. Honestly, I feel like we needed [the losing streak] — I’m not saying that many losses, but it kind of helped us come back together as a team, trust each other more and play together as a team.”

RELATED: Calipari wants Vanderbilt to ‘be Dennis Rodman’

In each of the four consecutive losses before Saturday, there was a moment when Kentucky looked like it might win. Then came a defensive lapse, an offensive drought — or both — and it all fell apart.

Against Alabama, when that moment arrived, the Cats were ready. Freshman guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander used every bit of his 7-foot wingspan to snatch three give-me-that steals in the span of 2 minutes, the last coming with 49 seconds to go, to effectively finish off the Tide.

“I was like, ‘We need to get these loose balls, because these are the plays that we lost these last couple games,’ ” said Vanderbilt, who had a dunk, layup and tip-in in the final 3:15. “So we buckled down, locked up on defense, got steals, made plays and we executed.”

And as it was winding down, a joyful noise filled the arena. It was the long-lost sound of having not left the outcome to chance — of finally taking a victory rather than giving one.

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WATCH: Matt Farrell ties Notre Dame single-game record for 3-pointers

Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 2:12 PM

As Notre Dame claws its way towards impressing the selection committee, Matt Farrell etched his name into program lore.

The Notre Dame senior guard put on a shooting display for the ages in a 84-67 victory at Boston College.

Farrell finished with a career-high 37 points and drained an absurd 10 of his 12 attempts from 3-point range.

Farrell, who started out a ridiculous 9-of-9 from downtown, tied a Notre Dame record initially set by Kyle McAlanary in 2008 with his 10th 3-pointer late in the second half.

Farrell’s torrid stroke left him only only 3-pointer short of tying the all-time ACC record.

Farrell shot 12-of-17 overall and went 3-of-4 from the free throw line. Farrell also added a game-high seven assists.

Notre Dame improves to 16-11 overall and 6-8 in ACC play.

Next up for Notre Dame is a Big Monday home contest against Miami on Feb. 19 that will be televised at 7 p.m. (EST) on ESPN.

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Kory Holden leaves South Carolina basketball team

Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 9:21 AM

South Carolina basketball

According to a release from the school, redshirt junior guard Kory Holden, a Delaware transfer, has left the South Carolina basketball team.

Holden, who appeared in 14 games this season, missed 11 games with a hamstring injury. He transferred to South Carolina after spending his freshman and sophomore seasons at Delaware.

“He’s in a frustrated place as an athlete, good place as a human being, frustrated place as an athlete, because he can’t get his body to respond,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said, after the win over Auburn.

“He’s catching his breath right now is what he’s doing. Whenever we find out what his next step is, we’ll let you guys know.”

Before arriving to South Carolina, Holden was a prolific scorer, totaling 892 points for the Fightin’ Blue Hens, but he scored just 47 during his time with the Gamecocks.

As a sophomore, Holden averaged 17.7 points and 4.2 assists during and earned second-team All-Colonial Athletic Conference honors.

Holden, who’s originally from Salisbury, Md., has one season of eligibility remaining. When he transferred to South Carolina, ESPN rated him as the No. 2 overall prospect on the transfer market. He was on the bench for the Gamecocks during last season’s run to the Final Four.

The post Kory Holden leaves South Carolina basketball team appeared first on SEC Country.

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WATCH: Kansas men’s basketball honors 2008 national championship team during West Virginia game

Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 2:05 PM

Kansas Mens Basketball-2008-National Champions-Kansas Jayhawks-Mens Basketball-Ceremony-Allen

It’s been an entire decade since the 2007-2008 Kansas men’s basketball team won it all.

On Saturday, members from that Jayhawks team were back on the court at Allen Fieldhouse to be recognized in a special ceremony.

Ten players from the team were on hand to be recognized. Kansas defeated North Carolina in the Final Four that season before downing Memphis in the National Championship Game.

The Jayhawks are looking to record their 14th consecutive Big 12 regular season title in a row this season. That streak is in jeopardy, however, as No. 7 Texas Tech currently owns a one-game lead over Kansas in the conference standings.

A win over the Mountaineers on Saturday night can keep Kansas’ hopes of maintaining the incredible streak alive — at least for now. The Jayhawks have four games left on the regular season schedule after tonight, including a road game at Texas Tech on Feb. 24.

The post WATCH: Kansas men’s basketball honors 2008 national championship team during West Virginia game appeared first on Diehards.

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