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DeShone Kizer staying level headed through struggles

Published: Thursday, October 05, 2017 @ 10:03 AM

FILE - In this Sept. 10, 2017, file photo, Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson talks with quarterback DeShone Kizer
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FILE - In this Sept. 10, 2017, file photo, Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson talks with quarterback DeShone Kizer(7)

Rookie DeShone Kizer, statistically and via the eye test, might be the worst quarterback in the league. He’s trying to stay optimistic while his team has slumped to a winless first month.

When you are 0-4 and statistically one of the worst quarterbacks out there right now, you have to figure out where you are headed,” Kizer said. “What is the path right now? What is the message? For me, it is about doing whatever I can to grow in whatever Coach [Hue Jackson] decides needs to be the right room for growth for that week.

“In the last couple weeks, we were talking about trying not to hold onto the ball and make sure that we are throwing the ball away and not taking sacks. We made progress in that. This week, it is about putting the ball in playmakers hands and trying to go score points so we can go win a game. Now, it is up to me to do whatever I can this week to grow in that. Obviously, this is going to be a process.”

Kizer is right in that he’s holding the ball too long. But an expensive Cleveland offensive line hasn’t come together either and Kizer’s weapons are anything but dangerous.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I am looking forward to attacking this consistently and taking on those small projects until it becomes something that we really want it to be,” he said.

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Back-to-back homers lift Reds to 5th straight vs. Tigers

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 3:43 PM
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 3:57 PM

Suarez homers off former team to lead Reds win

What at first appeared to be a premature detonation turned out to be the appropriate celebration when the umpires changed Eugenio Suarez’s double into a go-ahead home run Wednesday afternoon.

The Suarez blast, which prompted the fireworks to be set off while he was standing on second base, came one pitch after Scooter Gennett hit a game-tying, two-run homer off Detroit starter Michael Fulmer, enabling the Cincinnati Reds to post a 5-3 victory before a crowd of 19,177 at Great American Ball Park.

“I knew that was a homer,” said Suarez said, who had struck out on three consecutive fastballs in his previous at-bat. “I knew he'd come in with a breaking ball, and he hung it and I got it.”

The win was the Reds’ sixth in seven games against the American League this year and their fifth in a row against Detroit dating back to 2015, marking their longest active streak against any team.

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Fulmer (3-6) was one strike away from setting a season-high with 10 strikeouts while taking a 2-0 lead into the seventh, but Gennett crushed a 1-2 fastball into the seats in right field to tie the game with his 13th home run of the season.

Then Suarez hit the next pitch off what appeared to be the yellow padding in left field. But after a crew chief review it was determined the ball cleared the padding for Suarez’s team-leading 15th home run of the season.

The back-to-back blasts – the third of the season for the Reds – made a winner of Cincinnati starter Tyler Mahle, who allowed two runs in six innings with eight strikeouts and four walks.

›› RELATED: Reds notes on Peralta’s struggles, Hamilton’s surge, Votto’s climb

“Tyler did a great job,” Reds manager Jim Riggleman said. “Getting six or eight innings out of your starters gives you a chance to win and use your bullpen the way you want to use them.”

Mahle (6-6) gave up solo home runs to Jeimer Candalario in the first and Niko Goodrum in the fourth before stranding a pair of runners in the fifth and, after a visit from Riggleman, getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth with a strikeout of Fulmer.

“That was huge,” Mahle said of Riggleman’s decision to leave him in the game. “Sometimes we get pulled before we want to, but today when he went out there I expected to get pulled. Two outs and I walk a guy and give up a double. In a situation like that you expect to get pulled, or at least I do."

But after Riggleman ordered an intentional walk of Dixon Machado to load the bases, Mahle punched out Fulmer for season high-tying eighth strikeout.

Scott Schebler, who went 2-for-5, rode the momentum of that punchout and got the game-winning rally started with a leadoff double in the sixth. After Tucker Barnhart flew out and Joey Votto struck out, Gennett tied the game with his homer, just the fourth hit of the day for the Reds.

And Fulmer never recovered. After giving up the go-ahead homer to Suarez, he walked Jesse Winker to end his day. Fulmer went 5.2 innings, giving up three runs on five hits with nine strikeouts and two walks.

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The Reds got an insurance run in the seventh when Barnhart’s second single of the game scored Billy Hamilton.

Votto followed with a walk to load the bases with no outs. But the Reds failed to blow open the game when Gennett and Suarez each hit shallow fly outs and Alex Blandino struck out.

“We were holding out breath a little bit because we had bases loaded and didn't any any more,” Riggleman said. 

The Tigers got within 4-3 in the eighth on a pair of two-out infield singles. Jacoby Jones hit a high bouncer between Suarez at third and reliever Jared Hughes. Jones stole second and came across an unattended home plate when Machado beat out a 10-foot chopper that pulled Barnhart out of position.

Adam Duvall, who stayed in the game after pinch-hitting in the sixth, got the run back with a solo home run, his 12th homer of the season, with one out in the bottom of the eighth.

›› MORE: Votto does bird a favor with grand slam

Billy Hamilton followed with a ground-rule double for his second hit of the game, giving him three consecutive multi-hit games. That last time that happened was July 2016.

Raisel Igelsias pitched the ninth and worked around a two-out single to record his 11th save.

The Reds win was their sixth in eight games.

“The way we’re playing right now is how we expected to play all year,” Gennett said. “If our pitching can keep us in the game, it’s only a matter of time before we get a few runs across.”

The homestand continues Thursday night when they open a four-game series against the Chicago Cubs.

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Middletown’s Vincent Edwards among NBA draft hopefuls

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 3:33 PM

Middletown's Vincent Edwards (12) fakes out Elder's Joey Sabato (23) during Friday night's Division I sectional boys basketball game Feb. 28, 2014, at Xavier University's Cintas Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. Middletown defeated Elder 54-47. NICK DAGGY / STAFF
Nick Daggy
Middletown's Vincent Edwards (12) fakes out Elder's Joey Sabato (23) during Friday night's Division I sectional boys basketball game Feb. 28, 2014, at Xavier University's Cintas Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. Middletown defeated Elder 54-47. NICK DAGGY / STAFF(Nick Daggy)

Middletown native Vincent Edwards will be among the many former college basketball stars hoping to hear his name called during the NBA draft on Thursday night. 

He is projected as a second-round pick by tankathon.com and TheRinger.com

The former projects him going to the San Antonio Spurs with the 49th pick while the latter sees him going 58th overall to the Denver Nuggets

After four years at Purdue, Edwards could arrive at the next level as a ready-made rotation member, but that is not what NBA teams are generally looking for in the draft

Since there are only two rounds, upside is almost always the focus, meaning players with production such as Edwards have to wait until younger players with more perceived potential go first. 

RELATED: Who are the top 5 NBA players from the Dayton/Springfield/Middletown area?

The son of Wright State Hall of Famer Bill Edwards, he was a second-team All-Big Ten pick as a senior when he averaged 14.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He shot 47.6 percent from the field and made 39.8 percent of his 3-pointers. 

The younger Edwards is the only Purdue player to score 1,500 points with 700 rebounds and 300 assists in his career. 

According to Basketball-Reference.com, four men born in Middletown have played in the NBA or ABA: Bill Edwards Sr., Bill Hanzlik (Beloit Memorial High School in Wisconsin), Luke Kennard (Franklin High School) and Jerry Lucas. 

The elder Edwards played three games for the Phoenix Suns in the 1993-94 season. 

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Looking back: Negele Knight last Dayton Flyer to be drafted in 1990

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 1:48 PM

Dayton Flyers in NBA: Top 10 career scorers

Twenty eight years ago this month, the Phoenix Suns drafted Dayton Flyers guard Negele Knight with the fourth pick in the second round. He was the 31st overall pick.

» RELATED: Departing assistant coach says Flyers are on a mission

Knight was the 47th player in Dayton history be drafted and the 11th to go in the first or second rounds. Although four undrafted Flyers (Chris Wright, Chris Johnson, Brian Roberts and Charles Cooke) have played in the NBA since Knight’s career ended in 1999, he remains the last Flyer to be drafted.

The drought could end Thursday. Kostas Antetokounmpo, who played one season with Dayton and left the program in March, is projected as a possible second-round pick.

Here’s a look back at the Dayton Daily News coverage of Knight on June 28, 1990 (story by Bucky Albers):

SUNS SHINE ON DAYTON'S KNIGHT

It came as a complete surprise to Negele Knight Wednesday night when the Phoenix Suns selected him in the second round of the National Basketball Association player draft.

"I never sat down and talked to them and I never heard from them," said Knight, who led the University of Dayton Flyers to a 22-10 record last season. "It's a surprise to me, but it's a good surprise."

Watching the draft on television in Detroit at the home of his brother, Oscar, Knight had to wait almost three hours until his name was called at 10:25 p.m.

He was the fourth player selected in the second round and the 31st overall.

"I'm doing fine . . . now that I don't have to play against K.J.," Knight said moments after he got the news.

K.J. is Kevin Johnson, the starting point guard for the Suns.

"I played against him in our Christmas tournament my freshman year," said Knight, referring to Johnson's appearance in the Merrill Lynch Classic with the California Golden Bears. "People ask me who was the best guard I've ever played against, and that's him."

Guard Negele Knight of the Phoenix Suns moves the ball during a 1993 game. Layne Murdoch /Allsport (Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)
 

The Suns, who selected 6-foot-8 power forward Jason Williams of St. John's with the 21st pick in the first round, took Knight in hopes that his presence will enable Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons to give Johnson more rest than he got during the past season.

"Kevin Johnson needs some rest," Fitzsimmons said. "You can ride a good horse to death if you use him too much."

Last year, Phoenix drafted 5-7 guard Greg Grant, the NCAA Division III scoring leader from Trenton (N.J.) State College, in the second round for the same reason, but he didn't get the job done.

The Suns had to press 6-4 shooting guard Jeff Hornacek into duty as a point guard.

Fitzsimmons thinks Knight could be the answer. He was particularly impressed with the numbers the 6-1 senior posted late in the season.

During the last five weeks of the season, Knight sparked UD to an 11-game winning string with a phenomenal scoring spree. He averaged 29.7 points per game. He shot .615 (72-117) from the field, .703 (19-27) from 3-point range and .820 (50-61) from the free throw line.

"He's quick and he's a tough guy," Fitzsimmons said. "You figure the last few games of the season were the toughest, and that's when he was the toughest."

 

Phoenix apparently was debating between choosing Knight and Brian Oliver of Georgia Tech. The Suns decided that Knight had better all-around playmaking skills.

Knight was the fifth true point guard selected. Chosen ahead of him were Gary Payton of Oregon State (2nd by Seattle), Rumeal Robinson of Michigan (10th by Atlanta), Dee Brown of Jacksonville (19th by Boston) and Lance Blanks of Texas (26th by Detroit).

Four other MCC players were selected in the draft. They are: Tyrone Hill of Xavier (11th by Golden State), Anthony Bonner of St. Louis (23rd by Sacramento), Derek Strong of Xavier (47th by Philadelphia) and Tony Smith of Marquette (51st by the Los Angeles Lakers).

Knight, who flew to Portland at the Trail Blazers' request two weeks ago, thought he might be selected by Portland late in the first round, but they picked 6-10 Alaa Abdelnaby of Duke.

Sacramento, which had four first round choices, also had an interest but backed off after landing shooting guard Travis Mays of Texas with the 14th pick.

Knight was mildly disappointed that he wasn't picked in the first round, but no Flyer has been drafted in the first round since 1979 when Jim Paxson was selected by Portland.

"It's Phoenix, they need a point guard and I'm ready," Knight said. "It's a good situation, and it will take some pressure off me. Now I have some kind of focus."

The Suns called Knight's agent, Fred Slaughter, in Los Angeles to inform him of their pick.

"Fred just called me," Knight said, indicating that he got no information about the dates of rookie camp or any other details. "All that will be discussed tomorrow. I'll talk with him again tomorrow night."

Knight, 23, averaged 22.8 points for the Flyers, who won the Midwestern Collegiate Conference tournament championship and played two games in the NCAA tournament.

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What to know about the Dayton area’s best basketball prospects

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 12:18 PM

Xenia junior Samari Curtis talks about how it felt to score 50 points for the Buccaneers in a loss at Tippecanoe on Jan. 5.

To find out what most of the area’s best basketball players are up to this spring and summer, one needn’t make many phone calls. 

Quincy Simpson has the scoop. 

Fans in northwest Ohio know Simpson as the head coach at Lima Senior, but he’s pulling double duty as the director of the C2K Elite AAU program. 

That roster happens to include a handful of the top senior-to-be prospects from schools in the Cox Media Group Ohio coverage area, so we gave Simpson a call to get an update on their progress. 

Here’s what he had to say: 

Samari Curtis, Xenia guard 

“Samari is kind of like a bully, but in a good way,” Simpson said of the GWOC’s two-time leading scorer. “He’s a guy you need on a team that is going to challenge the other team’s best player. He’s gonna challenge anybody on the team verbally He’s gonna do all those things.” 

Curtis is a four-star prospect and the top-rated player in the area per the 247Sports Composite rankings.  

"Samari can score at all three levels — he can get right to the basket, he’s got a nice mid-range and he can shoot the 3-ball. There’s a lot to his game,” Simpson said. 

RELATED: High-scoring Curtis wants to be program-changer for Xenia

Curtis committed to Xavier during his junior season but re-opened his recruitment in May

“He’s gonna have a lot of interest coming in July,” Simpson said. 

Simpson identified Dayton, Ohio State, Florida and Virginia Tech as schools who have shown interest recently. 

“I’ve taken a lot of calls on him,” Simpson said. “Those teams haven’t watch him a lot because he was already committed, so now they’re looking forward to seeing him in July. I think if he plays well, which I believe he will, he’s gonna have something very special for himself.” 

Before committing, Curtis had offers from Akron, Toledo, Kent State and Cincinnati along with XU. 

Xenia jr. Samari Curtis addresses a 67-60 defeat of Olentangy Liberty in the 16th Annual Premier Health Flyin to the Hoop at Trent Arena in Kettering on Sat., Jan. 13, 2018. MARC PENDLETON /

Amari Davis, Trotwood-Madison guard 

“He is a left-handed kid that can finish really, really well in transition,” Simpson said. 

“I like coaching all the guys, but he’s very coachable. Extremely coachable. That’s just kind of what he brings to the table for our group. Left-handed, transition guy, can finish well around guys bigger than him.” 

Davis has already displayed a strong midrange game, but he is working on adding the 3-pointer to his arsenal before his senior season for the Rams. 

In May, Davis told CMGO he had offers from Miami University, Cleveland State, Akron, Toledo and IUPUI while receiving interest from Ohio State, Cincinnati and Xavier

Trotwood junior Amari Davis addresses a 60-51 loss to Akron SVSM in a boys high school basketball D-II state final at OSU’s Schottenstein Center on Sat., March 24, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Andre Gordon, Sidney guard (transferring to Huntington Prep) 

“He constantly amazes people with what he can do at his size,” Simpson said of the 6-foot-2 combo guard. “He can shoot the ball, he’s tough, he’s athletic and he can score at all three levels.” 

Simpson also praised Gordon’s ability to handle the ball, his shooting and his competitiveness and coach-ability. 

Next season Gordon will suit up for Huntington Prep, a school in West Virginia that attracts some of the country’s best players and faces squads made up of the same. 

RELATED: Flyers offer Sidney standout

“Huntington Prep will do wonders for him just from a competition standpoint,” Simpson said. “That school is going to have some of the best players there, so you’re playing against those guys every day. That means you have no choice but to get better. 

“Not taking anything away from Sidney, but he needed to go where he could improve as fast as he can.” 

Dayton and Wright State are among schools who have offered Gordon

Sidney jr. Andre Gordon addresses a 56-45 defeat of Beavercreek in a boys D-I high school basketball sectional semi on Tue., Feb. 27, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

RaHeim Moss, Springfield guard 

“He’s kind of another Samari when it comes to toughness and an edge,” Simpson said.

He compared Moss to former high school teammate Danny Davis, a four-year starter for the Wildcats who is a receiver at Wisconsin. 

Although Moss led the Wildcats in scoring last season (14.9 points per game), his ceiling is likely higher in football, where Cincinnati, Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky and Bowling Green have already offered

He has dual offers (football and basketball) from Cincinnati. 

“Whatever he chooses, he’s gonna be fine,” Simpson said. 

Springfield jr. Raheim Moss addresses a 77-60 defeat of Springboro in a boys D-I high school basketball sectional semifinal at Centerville on Tue., Feb. 27, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Sam Towns, Springfield forward 

Towns wasn’t a primary option for a loaded Wildcats team last season, but he’s an intriguing prospect at 6-foot-7. 

“He’s very skilled,” Simpson said. "He shoots the ball well. He’s long and agile — wiry.” 

The coach praised him for being willing to attack the glass and noted he will have to play on the perimeter at the next level. 

“Strength is his No. 1 factor,” Simpson said. “If he gets stronger, he’s gonna be a hell of a player at the collegiate level. 

Aside from those five, there’s one more player on Simpson’s roster who might be of some interest to local basketball fans. 

Jeremiah Davenport signed a letter of intent to play at Wright State, but requested and was granted his release after helping lead Cincinnati Moeller to the state championship in March. 

With his stock on the rise, he decided to reclassify as a member of the class of 2019 and spend a year in prep school. 

“He was probably by far the kid that improved the most during the season. He made a big jump and people got an opportunity to see what he could do,” Simpson said. "I think he kind of wanted to play at a higher level. It was nothing at all against Wright State. They’re a tremendous school, but he’s young age-wise, and he felt another year of developing, another year of getting better could only enhance his chances to play at that higher level.” 

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