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John Calipari explains true value of college basketball, how the NBA might screw it up

Published: Thursday, March 08, 2018 @ 4:47 PM

LEXINGTON, KY - JANUARY 30:  Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the second half at Rupp Arena on January 30, 2018 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images
LEXINGTON, KY - JANUARY 30: Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the second half at Rupp Arena on January 30, 2018 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The NBA leaked to ESPN some potential changes for how it deals with players at the high school level this week. 

They are mostly terrible and unnecessary if you have any concept of the way things currently work. 

Just ask John Calipari, who seemed pretty fired up about the whole thing during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show this week. 

“Whatever we do, Kentucky is eating first. I'd rather coach guys for four years, but I'm saying, what are we doing for these kids? Do we really trust the NBA to be all about these kids? Or are they going to be about the NBA? Maybe they can come up and give them all signing bonuses when they're coming out of high school and guarantee their education. You know what? I'm for that. Let's go. Sign me up." 

The Kentucky coach said less than that is not enough. 

Why? Because he doesn’t want to put at risk the educations numerous players who won’t make it in the NBA but don’t realize it yet are getting while they pursue that dream. 

(He said Kentucky offers players the chance to continue their education for free throughout their lives and guessed other programs do as well. I know Ohio State has sponsored a degree completion program for at least a decade now for athletes from all of its sports.)

Therefore, he seemed to be against the NBA grooming high schoolers and potentially paying some a little more to play in its developmental “G League” instead of going to college because most would probably not end up better off if they chose that route. 

More likely they would be worse unless the hit rate was a lot higher than when so many players went straight to the pros prior to the league’s setting an age limit a decade ago. 

"Why would we devalue education when that's the one hope to get people to the other side of the tracks? That's the hope, not the dream of (being an NBA player)." 

He asked this question after acknowledging teenagers are inevitably going to focus on the NBA rather than education because teenagers generally have poor perspective on life. 

We were all once dumb 14- and 15-year-olds with an inflated sense of ourselves, right? 

But there’s a difference between a teenager who plans to turn pro at 18 and one who knows he or she has to be eligible for college in order to keep a professional career in their future plans. 

That’s to say nothing of those who might grudgingly go to college then find out how to get the good out of their time there as reality hits from a basketball perspective. 

It wasn’t really clear if Calipari wants to eliminate “one and dones” or not. I think he was more worried about what happens to everyone else anyway. 

“I'm not here to say I want one and done. I'm here to tell you what's best for these kids. Going right out of high school for 15 — do we upset this whole system for 15, 12, seven kids, nine kids? Even if it's 20 kids? We have this thing when you start talking these graduation rates and things that are happening with high schools preparing these kids for college better than they ever have because they have to be eligible to play in college..." 

To further his point, Calipari cited his experience coaching players in the Dominican Republic, where baseball is beloved and youngsters often see that as a ticket to a better life. 

But unlike baseball players who go pro as teenagers then spend years toiling in obscurity in the minors (a far cry from the glitz and glamour of college basketball or football), potential pro basketball players have to be able to get into college in the United States. 

As it turns out, that has a positive side effect. While most great high school prospects don’t make it to the NBA, the ones who got college degrees return to their homes and become leaders in their communities. 

This also applies to the United States, where no one ever points out free college is a much better deal than getting paid little to play in the minor leagues for a while before finding out you aren’t cut out for The Show. 

Of course, there are problems in the current system that need to be worked out.  

Calipari joined the chorus of those who are calling for players to be able to profit off their likenesses while they are in school. 

RELATED: What should the NCAA do about its transfer rules?

He also suggested the NBAPA get involved helping prospects with financial needs by supplying them with loans. 

Those sound like good ideas to me, and I suspect something like this will happen.

More encouraging is hearing someone with an influential voice — and someone who has benefited greatly from the status quo — explain the value of the current system for the overwhelming majority of players rather than calling for the whole thing to be blown up to better serve a few. 

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NBA Draft: Middletown’s Edwards selected in second round

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 11:48 PM

Purdue's Vincent Edwards shoots  during the first half against the Butler Bulldogs in the second round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Little Caesars Arena on March 18, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Purdue's Vincent Edwards shoots during the first half against the Butler Bulldogs in the second round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Little Caesars Arena on March 18, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Middletown High School graduate Vincent Edwards was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 22nd pick in the second round of the NBA Draft on Thursday. He was the 52nd overall pick. The Utah Jazz traded the pick to the Rockets.

 

According to reports, in the weeks leading up to the draft, Edwards worked out for the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets. 

Edwards, a 6-foot-7 forward, scored 1,638 points in four seasons at Purdue. He made the All-Big Ten second team as a senior, averaging 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.

Edwards is the son of Bill Edwards Sr., a Carlisle High School graduate who is the all-time leading scorer at Wright State (2,303 points). Edwards Sr. was undrafted but played in three games for the Philadelphia 76ers in 1994.

According to Basketball-Reference.com, four men born in Middletown have played in the NBA or ABA: 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. 

Along with Lucas, a member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary team, Middletown High School also produced Butch Carter, who played in the NBA for six seasons and was head coach of the Toronto Raptors. 

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Landon Donovan's support for Mexico sparks pitched battle off the pitch

Published: Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 2:03 PM

Landon Donovan Causes Controversy With Mexico Fandom

Landon Donovan’s support for Mexico at the World Cup has sparked a pitched battle between the most recognizable name in American soccer and his peers, ESPN reported Sunday.

>> Read more trending news 

Donovan has been part of an advertising campaign for Wells Fargo to support Mexico, which opened its World Cup play in Russia with a stunning 1-0 victory against defending champion Germany on Sunday. Critics of the promotion have criticized Landon, calling his cheerleading inappropriate.

Donovan posted a photo on Twitter on Saturday holding a scarf that read “My other team is Mexico.”

Donovan played this spring for León, which is part of Mexico’s Primera Division. Still, some questioned Donovan’s motives.

“Watering it down for beer/banks won’t enrich the rivalry,” ESPN announcer Sebastian Salazar tweeted.

Carlos Bocanegra, the former captain of the U.S. national team, tweeted “Really?” 

Donovan tweeted back that Bocanegra should “remember where you came from.”

“Look around our country, are you happy with how we are treating Mexicans?” Donovan answered. “Open your mind, stand for something and remember where you came from.”

Donovan’s former teammate, Herculez Gomez, an ESPN analyst, criticized that exchange, ESPN reported, tweeting that it was “an incredibly terrible take.”

The History of the FIFA World Cup

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Middletown’s Kayla Harrison on winning MMA debut: ‘What a rush!’

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 1:33 PM

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28: Olympic gold medal Judoka Kayla Harrison is introduced before throwing out a ceremonial first pitch before a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Kansas City Royals on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28: Olympic gold medal Judoka Kayla Harrison is introduced before throwing out a ceremonial first pitch before a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Kansas City Royals on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Middletown native Kayla Harrison was understandably exhuberant after winning her professional mixed-martial arts debut Thursday night.

“Yeah, man what a rush, huh? Crazy,” she said in a post-fight press conference.

Harrison, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo, submitted Brittney Elkin in a Professional Fighters League 155-pound lightweight bout in Chicago.

She got Elkin on the ground early and dominated the fight, finishing it off with an armbar 3 minutes, 18 seconds into round one.

>>MORE: Kayla Harrison shares inspiring message with Middletown crowd | Middletown cheers Harrison to another Olympic gold

“Have you ever stepped in the cage and let them lock the door behind you?” she asked a reporter, who replied he has not.

“I highly suggest it,” she said with a huge smile and a laugh.

Although she made fairly quick work of the more experienced Elkin (3-5), Harrison said she was far from being in a comfort zone in her first competition since she won her second Olympic gold medal almost two years ago.

“Obviously my judo and my instincts from years of doing the same thing over and over again took over, but I don’t want to just be a judo player who gets in the cage,” she said. “I want to be the best MMA fighter in the world. I have a lot to work on. I already told my boxing coach, ‘We’re working every day. That’s it.’ I don’t care if he’s got plans. Forget about ‘em!

“It was a lot of fun. I”m just grateful to my team and everyone who has supported me along the way.”

She was also happy to have supporters in the Windy City from Middletown.

“I grew up in Ohio, so there were a lot of people here from my hometown,” Harrison said. “They like rented a bus or something from Middletown and drove over so this is awesome to fight here.”

As for when she might fight again, she replied, “The sooner the better.”

The Professional Fighters League is a new MMA promotion that held its first event earlier this month.

While a full season of competition is scheduled for men in the PFL, the promotion is still accumulating female fighters and Harrison is their marquee name.

“I think it’s in my contract to fight every four months so maybe October?” she said. “I’m ready. I don’t have time to mess around. I think the more I fight, the more experience I get the more comfortable I’m going to get inside that cage.”

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NBA Draft: Where 3 locals landed and what’s next for them

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 10:19 AM

Who is Kostas Antetokounmpo? Facts about the former Dayton forward

Following the NBA draft live doesn’t appeal to me much because so much changes from moment to moment. 

Of course there’s a great drama factor involved, but these days i don’t have much trouble finding that anywhere so I spent more time watching the Reds beat the Cubs and Kayla Harrison win her first MMA fight

Even if you watched the NBA draft for a while last night, there’s a decent chance some things changed after you went to bed. 

Here’s a look at what went down for Kostas Antetokounmpo (University of Dayton), Vincent Edwards (Middletown High School) and Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State), all of whom were taken in the second round. 

Kostas Antetokounmpo, forward, Dayton 

The former Flyers reserve was the last pick in the draft, taken 60th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers, who traded his rights to the Dallas Mavericks. 

Dallas has fallen on hard times in the Late Nowitzkian Period, missing the playoffs the last two seasons and failing to win a playoff series since upsetting LeBron James’ Miami Heat in the 2011 Finals. 

The Mavs got their point guard of the future last year in Dennis Smith Jr., acquired European star wing Luka Doncic on Thursday night (and picked another heady lead guard in Villanova’s Jalen Brunson) so athletic big guys like Antetokounmpo would seem to be a need. 

Conclusion: Anyone who watch UD last season knows Antetokounmpo has potential but is far from being ready to contribute to an NBA team. 

However, this is probably as good a situation as he could have landed in because the Mavs are considered an up-and-coming team with a winning coach (Rick Carlisle). 

Keita Bates-Diop, guard/forward, Ohio State 

The Big Ten Player of the Year was taken 48th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

After years of struggling following the Kevin Garnett era, the T-Wolves made the playoffs last season with a roster built around young stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins and stalwart Jimmy Butler. 

NBA.com noted before the draft Minnesota badly needed to upgrade its bench, even suggesting Bates-Diop could be a good fit. 

He can back up both Butler and Wiggins as a “3 and D” wing now coveted throughout the league. 

Conclusion: This looks like a very good situation for KDB, who has an NBA-ready game and joins a good team in need of what he can do. He should not have too much put on his plate too soon, but there figure to be plenty of opportunities for him to do his thing. 

Vincent Edwards, forward, Purdue (Middletown High School) 

The second-team All-Big Ten pick was taken by the Utah Jazz with the No. 52 pick but traded to the Houston Rockets. 

Houston had the best record in the league last season and had the Warriors on the ropes in the Western Conference finals but couldn’t finish the job. With All-Star Chris Paul sidelined by injury, the Rockets saw Golden State rally to win the series before taking down Cleveland in the finals. 

They play a unique style that relies heavily on putting James Harden and Paul in pick-and-rolls that let them drive the basket, find a big guy for a lob or dish it out for 3-pointers. 

Conclusion: Edwards has a good face-up game and was a 39.2-percent 3-point shooter in college. If he can continue to stroke it from behind the pro line, he could be a valuable bench player right away for Houston, which needs depth to maintain a high pace of play. 

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