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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

LSU set to play Memphis in Tupelo, Mississippi, November 21st


LSU set to play Memphis in Tupelo, Miss.
Game to be played in BancorpSouth Arena

LSU Daily Reveille
By Chris Branch
Sports Writer
Published: Wednesday, March 31, 2010


The LSU men’s basketball team has a marquee opponent for next season.

LSU will play Memphis in Tupelo, Miss., at BancorpSouth Arena on Nov. 21. Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson first announced the agreement on Memphis radio station Sports 56 WHBQ.

Kent Lowe, LSU senior associate sports information director, confirmed the game Wednesday.

“It’s something that’s been in the works for a while now,” Lowe said. “The contract was just signed today, though.”

LSU coach Trent Johnson did mention a game with Memphis in a press conference Monday but did not specify a date or location.

Memphis is coming off a 24-10 season under first-year head coach John Pastner. Pastner’s squad reached the second round of the NIT, losing to Ole Miss, 90-81.

Memphis finished second in Conference USA behind UTEP, marking the first time in five years the conference crown did not reside in Memphis. Memphis’ 13-3 conference record also marked the first time in three seasons the program hasn’t finished its conference slate undefeated.

LSU wasn’t so successful. The Tigers drudged through an 11-20 season, finishing just 2-14 in Southeastern Conference play.

Contact Chris Branch at cbranch@lsureveille.com

Memphis Tigers signee Joe Jackson may be as unknowable as he is unstoppable


The Commercial Appeal
By Scott Cacciola
Posted March 31, 2010

He waded through the masses, and the buzz radiated in concentric circles.

"Baby Jesus! Baby Jesus!" one hysterical woman screamed as soon as she spotted Joe Jackson, an NBA Players Association backpack slung over his shoulder.

Putting up numbers.4 — Shelby-Metro players named first-team Parade All-American (Jackson, Penny Hardaway, Richard Madison, Johnny Neumann)

12 — Jackson's ranking on rivals.com's Top 150 players list for class of 2010.

96 — Jackson's Scout's Inc. grade, meaning he "demonstrates rare abilities and has the potential to start as a freshman for a national, top-25 program."

3,451 — Career points, second on all-time Shelby-Metro list.
Joe Jackson's high school career. See all
16 photos
at full sizePrevious 1 of 16
Next.He had done the unthinkable against Melrose on Feb. 2, a cold night when school officials sealed the doors on a sellout crowd over an hour before the tip. Those who were locked out staged a near-riot, but that drama provided a mere prelude.

Melrose had led visiting White Station by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter before Jackson went berserk. He scored 14 straight at one point, a stirring display of speed and strength and savvy, then dished to teammate Julian Burton for the game-winning layup in the closing seconds.

"He was so wide open, I couldn't force a shot up," Jackson said, "even though I probably would've made it."

A night that began with Jackson barking "My Mound! My Mound!" after his first basket closed with a congratulatory handshake from University of Memphis coach Josh Pastner ("Joe's just a winner," Pastner said) and a business card from former NBA star Greg Anthony ("That's my home number," Anthony told him).

It was the sort of performance that secured the living legend of the self-described "King of Memphis" — the elaborate tattoo on his chest says so — though it also proved too much for him to handle. Jackson left school the following morning and went home. He apparently wanted some time to himself.

"He does that sometimes," White Station coach Jesus Patino said. "He gets so emotional. He wears himself out."

Jackson, an 18-year-old point guard prodigy, plays basketball in a minor key, all fire and angst. He wrapped up his high school career this month as the fourth-highest scorer in state history, with 3,451 career points. A U of M signee, Jackson approaches the game the way he approaches life — basketball as bare-knuckles survivalism — and he will showcase his talents tonight during the McDonald's All-American Game at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

"He'd always tell the parents on my summer team, 'One day, I'm going to be the best point guard in the country,'" said Eric "Cowboy" Robinson, Jackson's AAU coach with the Memphis Magic. "He just kept working, working, working. He always wanted to be the best."

His effect on Memphis transcends his young age (18) and slight stature (5-11). In early March, he made an announcement on his well-viewed Facebook page. "Joe KingofMemphis Jackson has over 100 friend requests and cant add any cause Facebook wont let you have over 5,000 friends. :-(." And then he provided a link to his new 'Fan' page, created as a means of accommodating more followers. But the old page is still public, which means anyone can view his occasional musings.

His status updates range from the mundane ("Grind hard 24/8") to the morose ("I let the team down") to the quasi-inspirational ("My life wouldn't be complete without them, so haters keep on hatin' as I continue my journey to success. King.")

But if these posts provide flashes of insight, they create a thin portrait. Few people know Jackson — really know him — and he even has gone to lengths to protect his past from members of his self-described inner circle. That includes his White Station coach, who said he sees no reason to pry.

"What he told you," Patino said, "is about as much as he's ever told me."

He was referring to Jackson opening up about his maternal grandmother, Lillie Cox, who long has been a rare source of stability in his life.

"She's just the best person I ever met in my life," Jackson said. "There's no one like her right now. And I don't know where I'd be without her."

Based on insight provided by those close to him, his childhood featured unimaginable struggle born of urban blight. Jackson has never been particularly forthcoming with details. He acknowledges shuffling from home to home, wondering where he would find his next meal, missing school for weeks at a time.

"You go through obstacles in your life," Jackson said. "I don't regret them because if I didn't go through them, I wouldn't be as tough as I am on the court. But there was just a lot of stuff going on. Financial stuff. But I had to take it."

When he was in the seventh grade, Jackson and his two younger sisters moved into his grandmother's home in Orange Mound. She provided stability that his parents, dealing with their own challenges, could not.

"They're around, but they're not around," Robinson said, "know what I'm saying?"

Jackson keeps his inner circle "tight" by design. Along with his grandmother, Patino and Robinson, there's Leonard Draper — a mentor to Jackson and also a confidant to another Memphis basketball legend, Larry Finch — and a couple of friends. Anyone who wants to join that club is out of luck. Feel free to check him out on Facebook, but that is where access to Jackson begins and ends.

"I don't really got a whole lot of friends," he said, "people I can trust and been trusting. I'm not going to let anyone new come into my circle, because I know they just want to be my friend because of who I am."

His is a public life that he shelters — from the notorious "haters" who he claims want to destroy him, from familiar faces in his neighborhood who want to use him.

"People that I used to talk to," Jackson said, "but I had to let them go. There are going to be people that try to latch on to you and try to be your friend, try to give you things and all that. But you have to make good decisions. It's just a feeling you get. And it's just ... you don't mess with that."

U of M assistant coach Jack Murphy led Jackson down a quiet hallway at FedExForum last fall after Memphis Madness, and they found their man just in time. Allen Iverson, then the Grizzlies' prized offseason acquisition, had judged the dunk contest and was about to leave. Murphy introduced the two.

"We shook hands," Jackson said. "And we kind of looked at each other. And I said, 'I didn't know there were any short people in the NBA like you!' Because he had to be 5-9 or 5-10. And he was just like, 'Height never matters.' That was a big-time quote for me."

Iverson must have seen a younger version of himself in Jackson — Who was this brash kid talking this big talk? — because Iverson, a man who guards his time, kept offering unsolicited advice: Work hard. There are no limits. Drown out the static.

"Then I told him, 'I'm sizing you up right now!'" Jackson recalled. "He kind of took me serious because I wasn't laughing. He threw a little smirk and walked off."

Jackson does not lack confidence. There were times this season — OK, many times — when he grew visibly upset with teammates who missed shots or threw bad passes or simply forgot that they were playing with The King. He conducted his business with the sort of self-assurance that bled into arrogance. But he makes no apologies — and neither does Patino, who maintained separate rules for Jackson. Some might have seen this as coddling. Patino was uninterested in semantics.

"We're treating him like an NBA player," Patino said this month. "It's the first time I've ever done this, but it's to his benefit."

During the latter half of the season, Jackson barely participated in practices. He would shoot free throws and go through game-planning, but then Patino would send him to the side while his teammates worked through drills. It was all designed to prevent fatigue — a constant battle throughout Jackson's high school career. His summers were consumed by hundreds of games on the AAU and elite-camp circuits.

"That little body can only do so much," Patino said.

And Jackson has never done himself many favors with his diet, which — when he does eat — consists of fast food. He also burns through calories like a match thrown on gasoline. So Patino relished taking Jackson on road trips because he could monitor his diet. There was no question that Jackson appeared almost malnourished at times this season, all sharp-angled limbs and shrink-wrapped muscle, an anatomical sketch in sneakers.

"So that's why I tell people that it'll be unbelievable to see what happens when he gets to college and they balance his meals and do proper training," Patino said. "I want to see how he's going to change. Because we had to force him to eat."

Even if his caloric intake is questionable, Jackson has gained premature access to loftier social strata. He befriended Atlanta Hawks forward Maurice Evans at a summer basketball camp, where the two engaged in a little shooting contest — for $500 per shot, according to Jackson.

"Well, we weren't gambling because I didn't have no money to put up against him," Jackson said. "He was trying to make me win some money. And I got up on him pretty good. But he was like, 'Don't quit on me, don't quit on me. But if you do, we can go to the bank right now and I'll get your money.' So I was like, 'No, I'm going to give you a shot.' He shot me out the gym. He was up $2,000 on me. But he didn't make me pay up or nothing."

It was one of the few occasions he found himself on the losing end. Jackson, the Class AAA Mr. Basketball, averaged 32.3 points, six rebounds and three assists for White Station, which lost to Melrose last month in the state championship game.

But there also was the sense that Jackson was anxious to move on. A few hours after the game, he logged onto Facebook: "Memphis here I come..." In that ellipses was his future, The King ready to rule his empire. Is Memphis ready for him?

Memphis Tigers' recruits see limited play in McDonald's All-American Game


The Commercial Appeal
By Dan Wolken
Posted March 31, 2010 at 9:10 p.m.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Joe Jackson has been a star player at every level, but for more than eight minutes in Wednesday’s McDonald’s All-American Game, he was sitting on the bench, waiting his turn.

For Jackson and fellow University of Memphis signee Jelan Kendrick, it’s probably the last time they’ll have to blend in for quite awhile.

Though it was a relatively quiet event for Jackson and Kendrick, who combined to score just seven points for the East team, which lost 107-104 to the West, it was a proud night for the Tigers’ program. For just the second time in school history, Memphis had multiple representatives at the McDonald’s Game, considered the most prestigious of all the high school all-star games.

It took awhile for the Memphis contingent to get on the court at Value City Arena on Wednesday, but Jackson, the former White Station point guard, nearly started with a bang. Coming out of the timeout at the under-12 mark, Jackson was supposed to be on the receiving end of an alley-oop from Tennessee signee Tobias Harris, but it was intercepted on the way to the rim.

Jackson finished the first half strong, getting fouled with 2:20 left on a drive and making both free throws, which turned out to be his only points. He also had two assists late in the half, including a slick feed through the lane to Harris for a dunk.

Kendrick, who missed Tuesday’s practice with a stomach ailment, did not get on the court until less than eight minutes remained in the half but drained a long two-point jumper on a kick-out by North Carolina signee Kendall Marshall.

Kendrick started the second half in place of Harris, who broke a toe. His highlight was a dunk with 8:49 remaining, passing up an open 3-pointer in the corner and driving baseline for the easier score. He finished with five points but three turnovers in 12 minutes. Jackson played 12 minutes and scored just two points.

Future point guards run deep at McDonald's All-American Game


The Commercial Appeal
By Dan Wolken
Posted March 31, 2010 at midnight

favorites all season for national player of the year, but Kentucky was upset in the Elite Eight. Kansas, led by senior Sherron Collins, got knocked out by Northern Iowa before the Sweet 16.

It leaves us with a Final Four including Michigan State, whose starting point guard Kalin Lucas tore his Achilles in the second round, and West Virginia, whose point guard Truck Bryant broke his foot earlier in the tournament.

Butler's point guard, Ronald Nored, is a virtual unknown nationally, and Duke's Jon Scheyer is really a shooting guard who converted last season.

The teams that make deep runs in March, however, typically have top-level point guards, and it would not be a surprise to see one or more of this year's crop playing in next year's Final Four in Houston.

That's the goal for Jackson, who figures to have the ball from Day 1 at Memphis with the responsibility of facilitating offense for the litany of scorers like Will Barton, Wesley Witherspoon, Angel Garcia and possibly .

"The way I feel, I can score at any time," Jackson said. "If our team needs a bucket, I can go get it. If my man is wide open, I've got to make that pass. I just play basketball. You can't try to put pressure on yourself to be something you're not. If you're a scorer, you have to score. Like Allen Iverson; he got to the league off being a scorer and creating. You have to just attack. You can't worry about what all these people want to say about what you can do good. You know what you can do good.

"Will Barton knows I can score; he knows I can pass it. Whoever's hot, I'm going to feed the hot man. I'm not trying to out-shine anyone."

In a recruiting class with so many exciting and athletic guards, Jackson said he believes he and Duke signee Kyrie Irving are the only pure point guards at the McDonald's Game. But the rest of the crop each offers something different.

"Brandon Knight is probably an NBA point and a college (shooting guard)," Telep said. "You have the best passer in Kendall Marshall, the guy who can attack the rim whenever he wants in Josh Selby and Cory Joseph who probably is the best mix and balance of all of those, and Ray McCallum is right there with him. A lot of these guys are proven winners.

"When you look at college basketball next year, look at the winning resumes these guys bring with them to college. Not just talent and potential but winning. It's a big-time group of guys."

It's unlikely the country will actually get to see the point guard skills in this class until next season; tonight, after all, is an all-star game. But as a showcase for the kind of talent that will enter college basketball this fall -- and, with the exception of Knight and Selby, probably stay for more than a year -- it doesn't get any better.

"Some approach it with a mentality to get in the paint every single time," Knight said. "Some approach it with the thought that, 'I'm going to shoot it coming off a screen every time.' We have some slashers, jumpers. It depends on how each point guard approaches how they do what they do."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

ESPN: Two famous coaches, two strange turns


March 30, 2010
By Eamonn Brennan

Tim Floyd is going to be UTEP's next coach. It appears Steve Lavin is going to be doing something similar at St. John's. Two coaches, two jobs, two situations that take a decent amount of noodling before they begin to make sense.

It's easier to wrap one's head around Lavin, but it's still surprising. Lavin's name has appeared as a fringe coaching candidate for job after job since the former UCLA coach ceded his gig to Ben Howland in 2003, but the ESPN TV analyst has always cited his cushy broadcast gig and its built-in low expectations -- at least compared to coaching; irritated bloggers have nothing on irritated boosters -- as a reason to forgo a return to the sidelines. But every coach has that itch, and in St. John's, Lavin has found a place where the expectations won't remotely resemble what he faced at UCLA. He'll have a clean slate.

St. John's, meanwhile, can boast landing a "name" coach with a huge national profile. The downside: That coach doesn't have many ties to the New York City or its myriad recruiting connections. No matter. Lavin would be a buzzworthy hire, the kind of coach and personality that will immediately boost a basketball program that has turned into a Big East also-ran in the last 10 years.

Still, Lavin to St. John's. Huh. I did not see that coming.

More surprising is UTEP's decision to take a chance on hiring former USC coach Tim Floyd, who left that program amid allegations he had committed a recruiting violation in giving cash to Rodney Guillory, O.J. Mayo's handler during the star's short college career. The coach denies the allegations; Floyd and USC are still awaiting the NCAA's ruling on the matter. So why would UTEP take a chance on hiring a guy that might have a show-case penalty around his neck as soon as this summer? Andy Katz's story on the matter has the answer:

Multiple sources told ESPN.com that UTEP was assured before hiring Floyd that he would not be individually penalized in connection with the USC allegations. UTEP would not be prohibited from hiring Floyd, even if he were to receive a show-cause penalty from the NCAA -- in which any school hiring him would have to make its case for hiring him to the NCAA. But UTEP would only have to appear before the Committee on Infractions to see if any other sanctions will be placed upon him.

The question is, assured by who? By the NCAA? Is that even legal? And if not the NCAA, then who? Tim Floyd? Let's say the NCAA does find USC guilty of the charges it's currently considering. How would Tim Floyd -- who, again, allegedly handed O.J. Mayo's handler $1,000 in cash -- not be individually penalized in connection with the situation? How does that work? So Floyd would be able to skate away scot-free, take another job at another school, and coach again like nothing happened? What?

And before those of you starting bringing up the John Calipari-Memphis-Kentucky thing, remember that Calipari was never individually named or implicated in any of the Derrick Rose SAT stuff from last offseason. To the NCAA's lights, Calipari had nothing to do with that, and his move to Kentucky was treated accordingly. Floyd's situation seems far more specific.

In any case, we have time to see how all of this shakes out. Which is good, because I'd be lying if I said I understood either hiring completely, Floyd especially. In the meantime, those of us that will miss Lavin's unique brand of good-natured college hoops analysis can begin our funereal mourning. That era, it seems, is nearly over.

USA Today: Is UTEP making a good move by hiring Tim Floyd?


Texas-El Paso, which lost coach Tony Barbee when he was hired at the Auburn University, has turned to a former Miners assistant coach to take over the program.

That former assistant is Tim Floyd, who served under Don Haskins on the Miners staff from 1978-1986.

But Floyd doesn't head to El Paso without some baggage.

The coach stepped down from his post at Southern California following the 2009 season amid allegations he committed recruiting violations. Reports said that Floyd gave $1,000 to Rodney Guillory, a handler for star player O.J. Mayo. Floyd has denied it.

ESPN.com's Andy Katz reports that UTEP was assured before hiring Floyd that he would not be punished in connection with the allegations at Soutern California.

So what do you think? Is this a good move for UTEP? Do you think they will continue to contend in Conference USA? (We think yes.) Or do you think that, in the long run, they might regret bringing in a coach with a, let's say, checkered past? (We think it's a strong posssibility.)

Pete Carroll, the former Southern California football coach, thinks it's a good move, saying via Twitter:

Sending out congrats to good friend tim floyd for getting the utep hoops job... Great coach & what an awesome hire for them

-- Tim Gardner

Houston Cougars to Name James Dickey as Coach


Fort Worth Star-Telegram
By MIKE JONES
jjones@star-telegram.com

James Dickey will be announced Thursday as the new men’s basketball coach at the University of Houston, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Dickey brings experience and a solid reputation as a skilled coach, if not the impact of some of the other candidates interviewed during the past 10 days — including former UTEP, Texas A&M and Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie, and Tim Floyd, who was hired at UT-El Paso this week.

Dickey led Texas Tech to two NCAA Tournament appearances from 1991-2001, including the 1996 team that featured Tony Battie and Cory Carr.

That team won the Southwest Conference crown with a 14-0 record and finished 30-2 after losing in a Sweet 16 matchup with Georgetown.

Dickey’s program was eventually undermined by an academic scandal that touched several Tech teams and broke during a Red Raiders’ game in the initial Big 12 tournament.

Dickey was not personally found culpable, but the NCAA took nine scholarships away from Tech over the next four years. After four losing seasons, Dickey was fired and Tech hired Bob Knight.

AP - Tim Floyd Hired at UTEP (this one I got right, ed.)



Beware the Triangle and Two!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tim Floyd, the former Southern California and Chicago Bulls coach, was hired as the coach at Texas-El Paso, where he was once an assistant to Don Haskins.

Floyd, 56, who most recently was an assistant for the New Orleans Hornets, left U.S.C. after the 2008-9 season amid allegations of recruiting violations involving O. J. Mayo. Floyd has denied any wrongdoing and says he expects to be cleared in the continuing N.C.A.A. investigation.

Floyd replaces Tony Barbee, who left to become Auburn’s coach. Barbee led UTEP to the N.C.A.A. tournament, where it lost in the first round to Butler.

In four years at U.S.C., Floyd went 85-50, with three N.C.A.A. tournament appearances. He was an assistant to Haskins from 1978 to 1986. (AP)

Steve Lavin In at St. John's; Al Skinner Out at Boston College; Fran McCaffrey In at Iowa; Kevin Willard in at Seton Hall

Josh Pastner on the Chris Vernon Radio Show, Tuesday 3/30


http://chrisvernon.blogspot.com/2010/03/pastner-talks-about-elliot-williams.html

University of Memphis signee Kendrick ill, may miss McDonald’s game


The Commercial Appeal
By Dan Wolken
Posted March 30, 2010 at 3:22 p.m.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The University of Memphis is supposed to have two representatives in Wednesday’s McDonald’s All-American Game, but one of them might be sidelined by an illness.

Jelan Kendrick, a 6-6 guard from Atlanta, missed today’s practice and media day while being treated at the hotel for a stomach problem. Whether he was suffering from food poisoning or the flu wasn’t initially determined.

Joe Jackson, a former White Station guard who will team with Kendrick next season at Memphis, said he was moved to a different hotel room as a precaution.

“He woke up at 3 (a.m.), 3:30, throwing up and then woke up again at 6,” Jackson said. “He woke me up.”

Despite a disappointing performance in Monday night’s dunk contest -- Jackson went 0-for-5 on his attempts -- he rebounded with a nice showing in today’s practice and played well in his matchup against Josh Selby, who is still considering several schools including Kansas, Kentucky and Tennessee.

After Wednesday’s game, Jackson will play in the Capital Classic All-Star Game on April 15 in Washington, D.C. and then take a few weeks off to recuperate from injuries suffered during his high school season, which ended with a runner-up finish to Melrose in the Class AAA championship game.

Jackson played the last part of the season with two sprained ankles and said he needs two or three weeks to heal. The main focus of his summer preparation will be improving his strength with the Tigers’ director of performance enhancement, Richard Hogans.

“I know I can get anywhere I want on the court,“ Jackson said. “My speed allows that, but at times playing against stronger guards, they kind of bang me up. They aren’t going to call as many fouls as they call in high school so if I’m stronger to take the contact that will help a lot.”

Jackson has been invited to try out for the U.S. team that will play in the FIBA Americas championships this summer, but he said he was unsure of his plans since it will take place during a summer school session in June.

“Coach (Josh) Pastner wants me to start summer school, and I do too, but I don’t just want to give away the opportunity to try out for the USA (team),” Jackson said. “But people have their own picks, so I don’t want to go wasting my time with the political thing and miss two or three weeks.”

Jones' departure adds twist to UCF rivalry


Jones' departure adds twist to UCF rivalry
With Central Florida's luring of Marshall basketball coach Donnie Jones, a pecking order has been established in Conference USA.

The Charleston Gazette
By Doug Smock
Staff writer

The Associated Press

With Central Florida's luring of Marshall basketball coach Donnie Jones, a pecking order has been established in Conference USA.

The Knights are at or near the top of it, and the Thundering Herd's athletic program is lagging behind.

That seems to be the message coming out of Orlando, where UCF has lured Jones, who this season guided the Herd to its first postseason appearance in 22 years. UCF named Jones as its new coach Monday, adding to one of Marshall's budding new rivalries a twist thought unimaginable even a few weeks ago.

Jones returns to the Sunshine State, where he helped ex-Marshall coach Billy Donovan lead Florida to two national championships. On the other hand, the Point Pleasant native is leaving his home state and even his wife's home county.

And that isn't all the departures, either. Seven-foot freshman Hassan Whiteside is expected to hire an agent, ending his college career. He was strongly considering entering the NBA draft as he rewrote Marshall record books for blocking shots.

In his first head coaching job, Jones was 55-41 in three seasons with the Herd. His 2007-08 team, pieced together with eight returning players and a few last-minute recruits, was 17-15, the first winning season in seven years.

His latest edition went 24-10, 11-5 in C-USA, sparking renewed excitement in the basketball program and drawing crowds up to 8,000 at Cam Henderson Center. Whiteside and Tyler Wilkerson became the first Herd players to reach second-team All-Conference USA status in the Herd's five-season membership in the league.

Jones even owns a 4-2 edge over UCF, with three consecutive victories - and it probably hastened the exit of coach Kirk Speraw. Speraw was fired by athletic director Keith Tribble after a 17-year career which spanned UCF's rise from the Atlantic Sun to C-USA, but ended with a 15-17 season, 6-10 in the league and a grisly tournament exit in C-USA.

When Speraw was fired, Jones remarked in passing how attractive the job was. For starters, he stands to receive a handsome pay raise. Jones' 2009 base salary is listed as $226,600 and he made $380,487.07 that year in total compensation. Media-related income and incentives tend to make up that difference for football and men's basketball head coaches.

He had signed a five-year contract extension prior to this season - while his career record was still .500 - that was worth $450,000, with incentives that could have earned him up to an additional $250,000. He'll get a reported $800,000 a year at UCF, which pays football coach George O'Leary at least $1 million, plus up to $500,000 in incentives.

Jones will take up residence in the 10,000-seat UCF Arena, which opened in the fall of 2007 with a price tag of $107 million. Jones has called it the second-best venue in C-USA, behind the NBA-caliber arena FedEx Forum at Memphis.

With an enrollment climbing past the 50,000 mark, UCF also stands to enjoy a rapidly increasing alumni base.

With Central Florida's luring of Marshall basketball coach Donnie Jones, a pecking order has been established in Conference USA.

The Knights are at or near the top of it, and the Thundering Herd's athletic program is lagging behind.

That seems to be the message coming out of Orlando, where UCF has lured Jones, who this season guided the Herd to its first postseason appearance in 22 years. UCF named Jones as its new coach Monday, adding to one of Marshall's budding new rivalries a twist thought unimaginable even a few weeks ago.

Jones returns to the Sunshine State, where he helped ex-Marshall coach Billy Donovan lead Florida to two national championships. On the other hand, the Point Pleasant native is leaving his home state and even his wife's home county.

And that isn't all the departures, either. Seven-foot freshman Hassan Whiteside is expected to hire an agent, ending his college career. He was strongly considering entering the NBA draft as he rewrote Marshall record books for blocking shots.

In his first head coaching job, Jones was 55-41 in three seasons with the Herd. His 2007-08 team, pieced together with eight returning players and a few last-minute recruits, was 17-15, the first winning season in seven years.

His latest edition went 24-10, 11-5 in C-USA, sparking renewed excitement in the basketball program and drawing crowds up to 8,000 at Cam Henderson Center. Whiteside and Tyler Wilkerson became the first Herd players to reach second-team All-Conference USA status in the Herd's five-season membership in the league.

Jones even owns a 4-2 edge over UCF, with three consecutive victories - and it probably hastened the exit of coach Kirk Speraw. Speraw was fired by athletic director Keith Tribble after a 17-year career which spanned UCF's rise from the Atlantic Sun to C-USA, but ended with a 15-17 season, 6-10 in the league and a grisly tournament exit in C-USA.

When Speraw was fired, Jones remarked in passing how attractive the job was. For starters, he stands to receive a handsome pay raise. Jones' 2009 base salary is listed as $226,600 and he made $380,487.07 that year in total compensation. Media-related income and incentives tend to make up that difference for football and men's basketball head coaches.

He had signed a five-year contract extension prior to this season - while his career record was still .500 - that was worth $450,000, with incentives that could have earned him up to an additional $250,000. He'll get a reported $800,000 a year at UCF, which pays football coach George O'Leary at least $1 million, plus up to $500,000 in incentives.

Jones will take up residence in the 10,000-seat UCF Arena, which opened in the fall of 2007 with a price tag of $107 million. Jones has called it the second-best venue in C-USA, behind the NBA-caliber arena FedEx Forum at Memphis.

With an enrollment climbing past the 50,000 mark, UCF also stands to enjoy a rapidly increasing alumni base.

Tribble reportedly was selling coaching candidates on UCF's expectation to join the Big East - a holy grail of sorts for several C-USA schools - in three to five years. Before joining Conference USA in the recent realignment, UCF held out to join the Big East as a ninth football school, even if that were the only sport to make the jump.

South Florida has long been suspected as being an impediment to UCF joining the Big East, even ending the Interstate 4 football rivalry. Then again, the Big East may need to restock on the football side if the Big Ten triggers another round of realignment.

UCF operated in 2008 on an athletic budget just under $30 million, according to Equity in Athletics reports, compared to Marshall's $22 million. The Knights averaged 5,411 per home basketball game, just under Marshall's 5,680, and that included a loud crowd of 9,460 that saw an 81-75 loss to the Herd.

Marshall's average was the best at the Henderson Center since 2000-01. The Herd also enjoyed a new locker room that was part of a $1.7 million renovation project, and more than $1 million in other improvements to the arena have been announced.

The Herd enjoyed its best conference record in any league since the final year of its Southern Conference days, 1996-97, and even earned a first-round bye in the C-USA tournament. But it floundered in the postseason, losing 80-64 to Tulsa in the C-USA quarterfinals and losing to Appalachian State in the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com tourney.

Jones' exit may have given Herd fans a feeling that he left with unfinished business, going 0-3 in C-USA tournament play. That was much the same as when he left with mentor Donovan to Florida. Donovan stayed at Marshall two seasons, leading it to the Southern Conference quarterfinals and semis in a 35-20 stint.

Marshall players were hit with the news on their first day back from spring break and there was some shock. Athletic director Mike Hamrick addressed the team, and vowed to monitor the program closely, i.e., make sure players go to class, follow through with tutoring and the offseason program, etc.

By several accounts, that wasn't quite the case when Marshall fired coach Ron Jirsa after the 2006-07 season. In the four weeks between Jirsa's departure and Jones' hiring, players drifted off and one player, Darryl Merthie, lost a semester's eligibility because of it. (Merthie has recovered and will graduate this semester.)

Jones' buyout is $500,000. Hamrick, who hired football coach Doc Holliday in December, will try his hand at hiring a basketball coach. The timing favors a quick process. Not only does the season end for everybody by Monday night, but every coach in America attends the Final Four - and those interested can find Hamrick in Indianapolis.

"Our search will begin immediately. There will be no public comment during the search in order to protect the integrity of the process," Hamrick said. "We have invested a great deal in our basketball program and we will find the right person to lead our program."

Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com.

PARADE names White Station's Joe Jackson first-team All-American


PARADE names White Station's Joe Jackson first-team All-American

The Commercial Appeal
By Jason Smith
Posted March 29, 2010 at midnight

Already highly decorated, White Station senior guard Joe Jackson became just the fourth player in Memphis high school hoops history today to be named to PARADE's All-America High School Boys Basketball first team.

Jackson, a 5-11 University of Memphis signee, is the first area player in 20 years named to PARADE's first team, joining former Treadwell High star Penny Hardaway (1990), former Northside great Richard "Master Blaster" Madison (1984) and former Overton standout Johnny Neumann (1969) as PARADE first-team players.

Earlier this month, Jackson was named the 2009-10 Gatorade Tennessee Player of the Year as well as Tennessee's Class AAA Mr. Basketball. This week, he's participating in McDonald's All-American Game festivities in Columbus, Ohio, where Jackson will be joined by fellow Memphis signee and PARADE third-team player Jelan Kendrick of Marietta, Ga.

Jackson and Kendrick will play for the East squad in Wednesday's McDonald's Game. He's also been invited to attend the 2010 USA Basketball Men's U18 National Team training camp in June in San Antonio, where Jackson will be one of 21 standouts vying for a spot on the 12-man U.S. U18 National Team roster.

As a senior this year, Jackson averaged 32.3 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals during the regular season. He finished his career ranked second on Shelby County's all-time scoring list with 3,451 points.

He led White Station to a 28-9 record this season and its third straight Class AAA state-title game, where his Spartans fell, 75-70, to nationally ranked Melrose.

The entire 54th annual PARADE team will be published in the Sunday edition of PARADE Magazine, which is included in The Commercial Appeal.

-- Jason Smith: 529-5804

FIRST-TEAM PARADE ALL-AMERICANS

Boys basketball players from Shelby-Metro schools who have been named first-team PARADE All-Americans:

2010: Joe Jackson, White Station

1990: Penny Hardaway, Treadwell

1984: Richard Madison, Northside

1969: Johnny Neumann, Overton

Marshall begins search for new basketball coach


Marshall begins search for new basketball coach

Charleston Daily Mail
by Chuck McGill
Daily Mail sports writer
Wednesday March 31, 2010

HUNTINGTON -- Flanked by UCF President John C. Hitt and the school's Athletic Director Keith Tribble, new Knights Coach Donnie Jones held up a basketball uniform at his introductory news conference in Orlando on Tuesday.

The jersey, with "JONES" and the number "1" on the back, was gold. So was Jones' tie and pocket square.

He then cleared his throat and gave glory to God for his new opportunity, called Marshall a "special place," then started a "Why not us? Why not now" rallying cry on his first day on the job.

The green was gone and the gold was in. Jones had moved on.

Now, Marshall must do the same.

MU Athletic Director Mike Hamrick has already compiled a lengthy list of head coaches and top-level assistants that have expressed interest in replacing Jones, who interviewed with UCF on Sunday and then accepted the school's offer Monday.

"The candidates are already starting to pile up," said Hamrick, who will not discuss potential coaches as to not compromise the integrity of the search process.

Jones informed the Herd players of his decision to leave on Monday afternoon, then left for Orlando so he could begin his new gig in a state where he spent 11 seasons as an assistant at the University of Florida.

Jones went 55-41 in three seasons at Marshall, going 24-10 this season and leading the Herd to its first postseason in 22 years.

"I thank Donnie Jones for everything he did here," Hamrick said. "He's a good person and I'm happy he's happy. But now we have to move our program forward without him."

Hamrick has already put the wheels in motion to do that. Every AD, he said, keeps a mental list of names for situations like this, but he'll conduct a private, thorough search that may continue at this weekend's Final Four in Indianapolis.

Hamrick plans to attend the event, and most college basketball coaches will descend upon the city for several days.

Here are names of interest as the search progresses, although this list should not be considered a comprehensive one because of Hamrick's stealth search.

Indications are, however, that Marshall will first look to established head coaches, but will also consider high-level assistants.

Jones' top three assistants - Shawn Finney, Darren Tillis and Brett Nelson - have all expressed interest, sources said, but aren't believed to be under serious consideration at this time.

* Jeff Battle - The Wake Forest assistant played four seasons at Marshall and cut his teeth in college coaching as a graduate assistant there. He then coached his way up from high school to Xavier and Wake Forest, where he worked under the late Skip Prosser.

* John Brannen - The former Herd basketball star is now an assistant at Alabama under Anthony Grant, who worked alongside Donnie Jones at Florida. Brannen also coached at Virginia Commonwealth, St. Bonaventure and Eastern Kentucky, spending three years at each of those stops.

* Mark Cline - The Williamson native was a two-time W.Va. State Player of the Year in basketball. The Oklahoma assistant has also worked at Virginia Commonwealth, Virginia Tech and Old Dominion. He has been linked to the Marshall job during past searches and his mother resides in Scott Depot.

* Pete Gillen - At 62 years old, Gillen has been out of the coaching business since 2005 when he resigned from his post at Virginia. He also spent time with Providence and Xavier, but has worked as an analyst for CBS College Sports most recently.

* Billy Kennedy - The 46-year-old just led Murray State to the NCAA Tournament second round as a 13-seed after the Racers beat Vanderbilt in the first round. Kennedy has compiled an 84-44 record in four seasons at Murray State, including a 31-5 mark this year.

* Bobby Lutz - Lutz has been actively shopping his services since being fired by Charlotte on March 15. At 51, Lutz, a North Carolina native, spent 12 seasons at Charlotte, where he won 215 games overall and went to five NCAA Tournaments when the 49ers competed in C-USA.

* Steve McClain - Although he has no ties east of the Mississippi River, McClain is a former head coach who took Wyoming to four postseasons in nine years before losing his job after the 2006 season. McClain is the associate head coach at Colorado.

* Jeff Neubauer - A 39-year-old former assistant at West Virginia, Neubauer has five years of experience facing the same recruiting challenges as Marshall. Neubauer has won 85 games and reached one NCAA Tournament at Eastern Kentucky, which is located in Richmond, Ky., about 120 miles from Huntington.

* Buzz Peterson - At 45 years old, Appalachian State's Buzz Peterson is well traveled. He's sandwiched stints at Appy State around two years at Coastal Carolina, four at Tennessee and two at Tulsa. Peterson's Mountaineers beat the Herd in the CIT quarterfinals on March 22. That ended up being Jones' final game at Marshall.

Contact sportswriter Chuck McGill at chuck.mcg...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at http://blogs.dailymail.com/marshall

Donnie Jones introduced as new UCF men’s basketball coach (I never saw this one, ed.)


Donnie Jones introduced as new UCF men’s basketball coach

Central Florida Future
By William Perry
Published: Tuesday, March 30, 2010

http://www.centralfloridafuture.com/donnie-jones-introduced-as-new-ucf-men-s-basketball-coach-1.2206223


Behind his slicked back hair and confident and composed demeanor, Donnie Jones is a man with a vision.

UCF’s new men’s basketball coach assures no longer will it be a matter of if the program reaches its potential, but when.

UCF, deemed by some as a sleeping giant, won’t be sleeping much longer with Jones in the room. He plans on waking the giant up.

Jones was formally introduced as the school’s new men’s basketball coach today just a day after the 43-year-old West Virginia native was hired away from in-conference foe Marshall.

The announcement comes two weeks after UCF decided not to retain the long-tenured Kirk Speraw, who led the Knights for 17 seasons. The swift turnaround was made easy when UCF Director of Athletics Keith Tribble became quickly convinced that he had found the next coach to lead the men’s basketball program.

“He has the core values of what we believe in with academics first and the opportunity to win championships and he had a blueprint for success in not only his years at UF, but also what he had done at Marshall,” Tribble said. “So, looking at that and knowing where we want to go with the program, I just knew that he would be the right guy.”

Jones was coming off a 2009-2010 campaign where he led Marshall to one of its best seasons in school history with a mark of 24-10 and despite being the head coach of the Thundering Herd for just three seasons, decided to leave behind his successes to be a part of something much bigger in Orlando.

“It was a hard decision,” said Jones who compiled a 55-41 record with the Herd. “I had great relationships there [at Marshall], love those people there but I was real excited about the vision of where they’re going here, …the commitment was something that really excited me. I think that there are untapped resources in the state for recruiting. I just think there are a lot of abilities here in this job.”

Prior to taking the helm at Marshall in 2007, Jones spent 11 seasons as an assistant coach under Billy Donovan at Florida where he helped lead the Gators to three Final Four appearances and two national championships.

The recruiting ties that Jones built up as a Florida assistant made him an attractive hire for UCF, but not only did he have ties in-state, he also had them all across the country.

“Anytime you have ties in your recruiting area that’s a plus, …but having recruiting ties across the country is probably more impressive and I found out he had that,” Tribble said.

But what impressed Tribble was Jones’s his plan for success with stepping up the recruitment of top-level talent, his short and long term goals for the program and the amount of people that knew what type of person he was.

And though it was a surprise to see Jones come from within C-USA, junior guard A.J. Rompza sees the move as a plus for the Knights.

“He’s someone who knows the players already in the conference and he knows the coaches already,” Rompza said. “I’m just really excited to play for him. I can’t wait.

“I just want to get started already.”

Though some players aren’t sure of what is in store, forward A.J. Tyler is already familiar with Jones. Jones scouted Tyler and also coached Tyler’s brother when he as an assistant at Florida.

“He makes you feel comfortable and he’s someone you can easily talk to,” Tyler said. “He really recruits hard and shows you the passion that makes you want to play for that program but it also shows that he’s a good guy. He’s the type of guy you want to be around and the type of guy you want to play for.”

But heading into his senior season, Tyler isn’t worried about having to transition into a new style of play. He’s ready to do what Jones wants and is looking forward to it.

Jones will employ an up-tempo style that emphasizes pressure on both ends of the floor, a style Rompza is rather used to.

“I’ve been playing that way my whole life, the way Jones will want us to play” Rompza said. “Being small, I used to go up and down [the floor] in high school. It’s something that I’m used to and I think it will be an easy transition, if anything.”

Though only time will tell as to how quickly Jones can build something at UCF, one thing is for certain, he sure has an idea of how to do it.

Tourney’s Top 10 Biggest Final Four Blunders

Lostletterman.com
http://www.lostlettermen.com/2010/03/top-10-top-10-biggest-final-four-blunders/

SB Nation - Joey Dorsey Cut By Sacramento Kings - Character Issues the Issue


by Scott Schroeder on Mar 30, 2010 12:00 PM EDT

The Sacramento Kings decided they'd had enough of Joey Dorsey, as they cut the Dwight Howard of the D-League with eight games left to go in their lottery-bound season.

The internet was aghast with such news, but then Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski summed it up rather succinctly:

Kings cut Joey Dorsey largely for clownish behavior, source says. They don't consider him bad guy, but coaches feared his act rubbing off.

Artestify from Sactown Royalty expounds a bit in the comments of the StR story, saying Kings play-by-play man Grant Napear apparently mentioned on his talk show that Dorsey "said something to the effect of 'why am i practicing if i'm not gonna play' and then something that Grant couldn't even repeat...."

For a player that is already 26 and in just his second professional basketball season, off-the-court issues are probably the last thing the already undersized (6-foot-6 without shoes) power forward needs.

Unfortunately for Dorsey, this isn't the first time his mouth has got him into trouble.

In the 2008 Summer League, Joey Dorsey was ejected from a game for jawing with Dee Brown, even though Dorsey was a DNP! The NBA has done an excellent job of hiding the evidence (there isn't a youtube clip available), but Odenized has us covered. http://www.odenized.com/2008/07/joey-dorsey-is-bonehead.html

What's next for Dorsey?

He could sign with the D-League, I guess, but that's a bit futile at this stage in the game. Next season is always a possibility, though.

He could try to latch on with an NBA team looking for an inside defensive presence, though he'd be ineligible for the playoffs and the Bucks have already added Darnell Jackson - leaving one less possible suitor.

He could just sit at home and wait for a Summer League invite. They'll be there.

Last, and possibly the best option, he could head overseas to make some money where he can talk as much as he wants as long as he goes to a team where nobody else understands him.

Sacramento Bee - Tyreke Evans will use mouthpiece in return to Kings


By Jason Jones, Sacramento Bee
jejones@sacbee.com

INDIANAPOLIS – True, Tyreke Evans needed some dental work recently.

But his teeth aren't Internet savvy.

That distinction belongs to teammate Carl Landry's teeth, which had a Twitter account dedicated to the choppers that were once lodged in the forearm of Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki.

"There's probably going to be a Twitter account for Tyreke Evans' teeth, too," said Landry, still in disbelief that someone would Tweet on behalf of his teeth. "People just don't have anything to do."

While still with the Houston Rockets earlier this season, Landry was struck in the mouth by Nowitzki's elbow while the Mavericks' superstar was driving to the basket. Landry, despite wearing a rubber mouthpiece, lost three teeth – two of them lodging under Nowitzki's elbow.

Landry was called for the blocking foul and Nowitzki, with Landry's teeth in his arm, shot free throws before leaving the game.

Landry has since upgraded to a thicker mouthpiece – "almost like a football/boxing mouthguard" – the same type Evans will wear tonight when he's expected to return to play against the Indiana Pacers.

Evans hasn't played since sustaining a concussion along with needing some dental work for chipped teeth following an accidental elbow from Milwaukee forward Ersan Ilyasova on March 19.

Evans has missed five games, more so because of the concussion than any problems with his teeth or bruised jaw.

After Monday's practice at Conseco Fieldhouse, Evans admitted that getting used to his custom mouthpiece hasn't been a seamless process.

"I was feeling good until I started throwing up from that mouthpiece," Evans said. "Other than that, I did good."

That bit of sickness had to do with Evans getting used to breathing with the mouthpiece.

Landry knows something about that.

He began wearing a mouthpiece two years ago after dealing with elbows from Houston teammate Dikembe Mutombo.

Besides protecting his teeth, Landry noted the mouthpiece can help prevent a fractured jaw (an injury it was feared Evans had initially) and concussions.

But that doesn't mean it's easy to play with one.

"It feels different," Landry said of getting acclimated to the mouthguard. "When you're playing, it feels like the breathing isn't the same."

Unfortunately, Evans learned just how difficult that adjustment can be. He said he didn't wear it for drills but wore it for 3-on-3 competition and found himself gasping for air.

"Instead of breathing through my mouth, I've got to breathe through my nose," Evans said. "I've just got to get used to it, and I think I will."

Besides the breathing, there's the fact Evans hasn't played in 11 days. When he tried to practice Thursday in Boston, Evans was pulled out when he felt dizzy.

Because of his inactivity, Evans wasn't sharp Monday, which was to be expected.

"Tyreke looked a little rusty, but he made it through the practice," said Kings coach Paul Westphal. "We'll see how he feels (today)."

Evans didn't act as if being winded coupled with learning how to breathe differently hadn't impacted him.

"I was tired," he said. "I fought through it though. I just have to fight through it."

The first time Landry saw Evans try out his mouthguard was in Boston. He understood what Evans was dealing with.

"I don't think he's that comfortable with it yet," Landry said. "It gets easier after a while."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Kings waive Joey Dorsey


The Sacramento Kings today waived forward Joey Dorsey. Dorsey was acquired from the Houston Rockets as part of a three-team trade on February 18, 2010, and averaged 1.5 ppg (.444 FGs, .400 FTs) and 2.3 rpg in eight contests off the bench with Sacramento.

The 24-50 Kings are currently 13th in the Western conference standings.

The Kings roster now stands at 13 players.

Earl Barron and the Iowa Energy Tie D-League Win Record


Energy Tie D-League Win Record

Des Moines, IA, Mar. 26, 2010 – Point guard Curtis Stinson finished with a triple-double and Cartier Martin scored 30 points to lead the Iowa Energy to a 112-108 overtime victory against the Dakota Wizards Friday night in Des Moines. The win is the 36 th of the season for Iowa, which moves them into a tie with the 2007-2008 Idaho Stampede for the most wins ever in a D-League season. The Energy have three regular season games remaining to try to break the league record.

Martin fueled the Energy in the first half as he poured in 17 points to give the Energy at 48-41 lead a the break. Renaldo Major’s three-point play near the end of the 3 rd quarter brought Dakota to within two points. Stinson responded as he drilled a three-pointer as the 3 rd quarter buzzer sounded to stretch Iowa’s lead back to five points.

Iowa held a four point lead with only 1:12 remaining in the game when Dakota’s Lester Hudson, on assignment from the Memphis Grizzlies, made a three-pointer to cut the lead to one. After Stinson went one of two from the free throw line, Hudson made a short jumper in the lane to tie the game. Stinson was unable to get a shot off at the end of regulation and the teams headed for overtime at 102 a piece.

Iowa’s Earl Barron scored the first four points of the overtime session to put the Energy in front. Hudson responded by scoring four straight points of his own to knot the score at 108. The teams traded misses before Iowa’s Pat Carroll made a layup with 1:10 left to give the Energy a two point lead. The teams again traded misses, giving Dakota the ball with 0:03 left. The Wizards in-bounds pass from under their basket went between Darren Cooper’s legs and rolled out of bounds to give Iowa the ball. Energy center Earl Barron calmly hit two free throws to ice the game.

Stinson’s triple-double included 20 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists. Stinson also set the record for the most assists in any D-League regular season as he now has 516 on the year. Earl Barron added 25 points and 14 rebounds in the victory.

Dakota was led by Renaldo Major’s 14 points and 12 rebounds while Hudson added 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Wizards fall to 27-20 on the year.

The Energy host Dakota again on Sunday, March 28 th at 4pm. For tickets, visit www.iowanba.com or call 515-564-8550.

Comment on Robert Dozier from the South Florida Sun Sentinel


March 26, 2010|By Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun Sentinel

The Heat could be stacked with prospects this summer, with the Heat still holding the draft rights to 2009 second-round picks Patrick Beverley and Robert Dozier, with those two currently playing in Greece. In addition, the Heat could have two first-round picks this June, its own plus Toronto's, if the Raptors do not fall into the lottery.

Sacramento's Tyreke Evans favorite as rookie; Ex-Tiger has the stats over Curry and Jennings


The Commercial Appeal
By Ronald Tillery
Posted March 28, 2010 at midnight

The 2009 NBA draft produced a number of talented combo guards, underscoring just how much the league has shifted to a heavy reliance on dynamic backcourt scorers who set up teammates with similar ease.

So it's no wonder that the Rookie of the Year campaign is largely considered a three-player race with only versatile guards in the conversation.

Sacramento guard Tyreke Evans' status as the frontrunner seemingly hasn't changed among voters -- print and broadcast media that regularly follows the league -- but the emergence of Golden State's Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings' contribution to Milwaukee's playoff run has made the award far from an open-and-shut case.

Either way, all three players have provided jaw-dropping moments this season.

"Curry is a player. Evans is a player. Jennings got a lot of pub when he scored the 55 points," said Griz coach Lionel Hollins, who will see Jennings up close this afternoon in a road game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

"Now, Jennings is playing more like how (Bucks coach) Scott Skiles wants him to play. He's penetrating and creating for other people. Their team is better because of it, and it may cost him Rookie of the Year. But if (Jennings) was on one of those other teams, he might have had a few more 40- or 50-point games."

There is some thought that the seemingly large gap between Evans and the field might have closed when the former University of Memphis guard suffered an injury last week that was first believed to be a broken jaw. Evans hasn't played since and could be done for the season, giving more of the stage to Curry and Jennings.

The Rookie of the Year award hasn't been traditionally based on how a player affects his team. More credence is usually given to individual numbers.

Statistically is where Evans and Curry have amazed.

If Evans' averages of 20.3 points, 5.6 assists and 5.2 rebounds hold up, he'll join LeBron James, Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan as the only players to average at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists as a rookie.

"They have to give it to somebody, and I think this year it's clear it's going to be Tyreke," Kings coach Paul Westphal said before his star was injured. "If people want to act like it's a race or not, I don't think it is. At the same time, there's great reason for pride and enthusiasm for all those players."

Curry, for example, found a way to put himself in the same sentence as Jordan without Evans or Jennings.

Curry's 30-point, 11-assist performance against the Grizzlies on Wednesday was his fifth this season. He's the first rookie since Jordan to have five games with at least 30 points and 10 assists. Evans and Jennings don't have any 30-point, 10-assist games this season. James (eight) and Miami's Dwyane Wade (six) are the only other players who have accomplished the feat this season.

After a slow start, Curry exploded when the calendar turned January.

"Some guys peak early and then they're down the rest of the year," Curry said. "Some guys have a roller-coaster year. I try to constantly get better each time I go out."

Evans told the Sacramento Bee that it's been difficult to avoid keeping track of his main competitor for the award.

"People call me and text me to tell me how Steph is doing," Evans said. "Steph is a good player. He's been playing good. They've got a good offense. They run and gun and he gets a lot of shots up."

Curry and Evans average more points per game than Jennings and shoot for a higher percentage from the field. But Jennings is the only one who can boast that he's played a significant role in his team securing a playoff spot.

"Like I've said, all those guys scoring all of those points are on bad teams," Hollins said, advocating that team success should factor more into the voting. "They're all talented kids and can score. If (Sacramento) had 45 wins, (Evans) would definitely be my Rookie of the Year."

Hollins' suggestion that team success should be a factor in the voting might be a shared view.

Just the other day, members of the Grizzlies' media relations department asked every player for their Rookie of the Year selection.

Center Hasheem Thabeet, the No. 2 overall pick, paused for a moment.

He smiled, and then said "Jennings." Thabeet wasn't the only Griz player who uttered Jennings although it's more likely that he'll finish third.

Jennings began his NBA career with 17 points, nine rebounds and nine assists on Oct. 31, just missing on being the second NBA player (Oscar Robertson in 1960) to record a triple-double in his debut. Jennings, though, was the first player since 1974 to lead his team in points, rebounds and assists in his debut.

His claim to fame so far is a Nov. 14 performance in which Jennings amassed 55 points, the most by an NBA rookie since Earl Monroe had 56 in 1968.

So how should the field be viewed?

Evans has been the most consistent producer for the season.

Curry put on a shooting clinic in the second half.

Jennings did what was asked of him in order to win.

"The media will give it to the guy who scores the most points," Hollins said. "It'll probably be Tyreke Evans. Is he deserving? I don't know. He's a very talented player, though. They all are."

NBA'S ROOKIE PHENOMS

The NBA's Rookie of the Year Award still is a three-man race to most observers. What's certain is that Sacramento's Tyreke Evans, Golden State's Stephen Curry and Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings will be the top three vote-getters.

Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings

By the numbers: Averages 20.3 points, 5.6 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 46-percent shooting and 1.4 steals.

By the way: Evans leads rookies in scoring, and could become the second straight guard from the University of Memphis to win the Rookie of the Year as Derrick Rose won last year. Evans stands to join LeBron James, Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan as the only ones to average at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in a rookie season.

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

By the numbers: Averages 16.5 points and 5.6 assists. He's shooting 46 percent overall and making 3-pointers at a 43 percent clip.

By the way: Curry laid to rest concerns about whether he could run an NBA team and effectively play alongside Monta Ellis. Against the Grizzlies on Wednesday, he had his fifth 30-point, 11-assist performance. He is the first rookie since Michael Jordan in 1984-85 to have five games with at least 30 points and 10 assists.

Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks

By the numbers: Averages 15.6 points and 5.9 assists.

By the way: Jennings' first season includes a 55-point game, a Bucks rookie record and the most by an NBA rookie since Earl Monroe had 56 in 1968. Jennings is shooting 36.9 percent for the season but he turns the ball over less than Evans and Curry.

-- Ronald Tillery: 529-2353

Former-Tiger Earl Barron Leading D-League's Iowa Energy


In 47 games played for Eastern Conference leader Iowa, Earl is averaging 16.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg while shooting 48.9% from the floor.

Rivals.com Memphis Team Report

Yahoo! Sports
March 31, 2010

GETTING INSIDE

The Tigers’ dominance of C-USA ended this season and it was apparent this was inevitable the moment John Calipari packed up his prize recruits and left for the bluegrass of Kentucky.

Not only was Memphis not picked to defend its conference title, it was pegged to slide toward the middle of the pack and perhaps be left sitting home this postseason.

Ole Miss stopped the season with a 90-81 victory in the second round of the NIT. But the Tigers surprised many by winning 24 games and going 13-3, good for second-place in C-USA.

“I’m very proud of our team,” first-year coach Josh Pastner told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “I told our guys in the locker room it was so important to stabilize the program because anytime there’s transition, programs can take a nosedive.

“For this year, with all the different things, these guys maintained the program at a very high level and, with the recruiting class coming in, it gave us momentum.”

A recruiting class ranked first in the nation.

And we presume, out of Calipari’s reach.

NOTES, QUOTES

Final Record: 24-10, 13-3, second in C-USA.

What Went Right: Duke transfer Elliot Williams came home to Memphis and promptly led the Tigers with a 17.9 scoring average and gave them a legit go-to guy opponents had to game plan to disrupt.

Although the Tigers had some ugly losses this season, they rebounded from them and played on. Wesley Witherspoon emerged as a scorer, averaging 13.2 points in conference games. And big man Will Coleman, who struggled mightily early on, showed improvement and closed the season with 15 points and 14 rebounds against Ole Miss.

Forward Angel Garcia, who missed most of the season with a knee injury, showed very promising offensive flashes late and scored 17 points off the bench against the Rebels.

What Went Wrong: A lot of what went wrong against Ole Miss went wrong throughout the season. The Tigers were outrebounded.

Faced with a more talented and quicker team they couldn’t defend straight-up, they tried one gimmick zone defense after another and still Ole Miss shot 50 percent from the floor.

“We have about nine different defenses we played,” Coach Josh Pastner said. “They’re all the same thing and we just shift formations.”

Pastner made some in-game mistakes here and there, but you’re only a first-year coach once. The Tigers never learned to play a solid half-court game on offense, but with better talent next year Pastner will have more options.

Quote To Note: “This year was perseverance year.”—Senior guard Doneal Mack to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Good News: What could have been a disastrous year for the program instead became a year of rallying the troops both on and off the court.

“Eleven, 12 months ago, there were three people in the gym and we didn’t know where the program was headed,” senior Doneal Mack told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “So for Pastner to come in, all these new guys, all these new coaches … and take us on a journey like this … we represented the city well.”

In fact, after the loss to Ole Miss, there were no bad vibes. Rather, Elliot Williams told the newspaper the goal for next season was to win the national championship. Will Coleman agreed, saying, “We’re taking everything.”

And no, they weren’t talking about the NIT.

The Bad News: Considering the tumult of the last year, the worst is behind the Tigers.

They did remain a poor free-throw shooting team, and only hit 13 of 23 (56.5 percent) in the loss to Ole Miss. Everyone’s optimistic the rebounding will be better, but it almost can’t be worse. They had a minus-2.4 rebounding margin and many nights were flat-out abused on the offensive glass.

And although the Tigers are talking a good game, there is still some wounded pride here. The program didn’t fall as far as it might have, but fall it did.

Will Coleman told the newspaper the Tigers know some people are “laughing” at them. “But they’ll be crying later,” Coleman continued, “I can guarantee you that.”

Key Returnees: “I plan to stay in school.”

So said Elliot Williams after the season. But will he? He likely would go in the NBA’s first round, if he comes out.

“I’m a student-athlete right now,” Wesley Witherspoon told the Commercial Appeal, sounding like he was reading from a script prepared by the NCAA. He’s coming back, which is the right choice for everyone.

Will Coleman and Angel Garcia return, too. So there’s a good nucleus to put with a great recruiting class that includes guards Joe Jackson, Will Barton and Jelan Kendrick, and frontcourt players Tarik Black and Hippolyte Tsafack.

Roster Report:

• Doneal Mack and Willie Kemp ended their Tiger careers with 128 wins, second-most in school history.

• Mack’s 239 career 3-pointers rank third in Memphis history.

• Guard Roburt Sallie, bothered by a hand injury, scored just 21 points in the last three games of the season. Sallie, a junior, likely will be faced with drastically reduced playing time next season and has to be considered a candidate to transfer.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Search for Toledo coach continues; Sources: Memphis' Wilson to interview


By ZACH SILKA
Toledo BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The listing for the University of Toledo men's basketball coaching position was officially posted Tuesday, but the search for the Rockets' next coach is already in high gear.

Memphis assistant Willis Wilson is scheduled to interview for the position in the next few days, according to several people with knowledge of the situation.

Wilson could not be reached for comment. A secretary in the Memphis basketball office said Wilson was unavailable yesterday.

Bob Beaudine, the head of a Dallas search firm that is working with UT, declined to comment.

Prior to being hired at Memphis, Wilson was the head coach at Rice from 1992-2008, amassing a 219-246 record in his 16-season tenure - the longest of any coach in the Houston university's annals.

Wilson guided Rice to 60 wins from 2002-05, marking the second-most victories in a three-year span in school history. But he was not retained after the 2007-08 season, which saw the Owls fail to win a Conference USA game, endure a 20-game losing streak, and compile a 3-27 record that matched their worst single-season win total.
Wilson previously played and was an assistant at Rice, where he was a part of four NIT appearances in his coaching career.


He also served one year as an assistant under Mike Montgomery at Stanford during the 1991-92 season.

Former Iowa coach Todd Lickliter also has been in contact with UT officials regarding the coaching job, according to another person familiar with the search.

When reached by The Blade last week, Lickliter expressed interest in the position, but he could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Other candidates reportedly in the mix are Western Carolina head coach Larry Hunter, Wisconsin-Green Bay head coach Tod Kowalczyk, and Alabama associate head coach Dan Hipsher.

Hunter previously was the head coach at Ohio from 1989-2001 and led the Bobcats to the NCAA tournament in 1994.

Kowalczyk completed his eighth season in Green Bay and has put together a 136-112 record at the school. Under Kowalczyk, the Phoenix have placed in the top four of the Horizon League for seven consecutive seasons.

A former Fostoria and Bowling Green State University standout, Hipsher made coaching stops at Wittenberg, Akron, Dayton, and Miami (Ohio) before joining the Crimson Tide this season.

Although UT athletic director Mike O'Brien has not made such comments publicly, it is believed head-coaching experience is a must-have quality.

Contradicting an earlier report, a representative for Gonzaga assistant Ray Giacoletti said yesterday that his client is not a candidate for the UT job.

Brad Williams, an attorney based in Spokane, said Giacoletti has not had any contact with UT officials and is not interested in the position.

The UT coaching job has been vacant since Gene Cross submitted his resignation March 11 after posting an 11-53 record in two seasons.

A UT official told The Blade last week that O'Brien would likely follow the same timeline he used after firing Stan Joplin following the 2007-08 season.

O'Brien began interviewing candidates 10-14 days after Joplin's dismissal. It has been 14 days since Cross quit.

Contact Zach Silka at:
zsilka@theblade.com
419-724-6084

CBS Sports - Gary Parrish: Minnesota 'can't pay' Tubby Smith what Oregon could


Minnesota 'can't pay' Smith what Oregon could
Posted on: March 27, 2010 11:21 am

HOUSTON -- It's been 11 days since Oregon fired Ernie Kent, and there's still no coach in place.

But that could change soon if the school moves away from its top candidates.

It's no secret that Oregon -- backed by the money of Nike founder Phil Knight -- would love to make a big hire like Mark Few, Jamie Dixon or Billy Donovan, but that seems unlikely at this point because Few and Dixon have little interest in leaving Gonzaga and Pittsburgh -- remember, either could've had the Arizona job last year -- and anything west of the Mississippi River is unfamiliar territory (and probably too far from home) for Donovan, a New York native who has won two national titles at Florida.

That leaves the next tier of candidates headlined by Texas A&M's Mark Turgeon and Minnesota's Tubby Smith.

Prediction: Oregon will land one of those two.

It's worth noting only Texas A&M seems willing to fight for its coach.

"We will make every effort to make sure Mark Turgeon remains our coach," Texas A&M athletics director Bill Byrne, coincidentally also a former Oregon athletics director, told The Register-Guard. "And Ducks who remember me will know how hard I'll work to do that. … My [job] is to keep Mark Turgeon as the coach of the Aggies."

Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi isn't as enthusiastic about trying to keep Smith.

"Somebody will offer him $3 million," Maturi told the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. "We can't pay him $3 million."

Bottom line, Oregon probably won't get Few, Dixon or Donovan, but Turgeon and Smith are realistic options.

One of the latter two will likely be offered and accept the position in the next week.

Just depends on which coach Oregon officials want to purchase.

Iona's Willard hired by Seton Hall


Iona's Willard hired by Seton Hall

SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. (AP) -- Kevin Willard is leaving Iona to become Seton Hall's new coach.

A person familiar the hiring told The Associated Press on Sunday that the 34-year-old Willard has agreed to replace Bobby Gonzalez, who was fired on March 17 after a 19-win season that was beset by problems off the court.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the university isn't expected to announce the agreement until Monday.

Willard took over an Iona program that was in the bottom 10 among Division I teams in RPI three years ago and led it to a 21-10 record this season, earning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference coach of the year award.

A message was left seeking comment from Patrick Hobbs, the law school dean who has been overseeing the Pirates' athletic department since July.

The hiring was first reported by the Daily News of New York and MyCentralJersey.com.

Willard interviewed for Seton Hall's opening on Thursday, two days after school officials talked to Siena's Fran McCaffery about the job, and a day after they met with Mike Rice of Robert Morris.

McCaffery, who led Siena to three straight MAAC championships, appeared to be the front-runner before he agreed to fill Iowa's opening over the weekend.

A former Pittsburgh guard, Willard was mentored by Rick Pitino. He spent four years as a Boston Celtics assistant and followed Pitino to Louisville for another six years before going to Iona.

During his first year, the Gaels finished with 10 more victories than the previous year, one of the top turnarounds in NCAA Division I in 2007-08. They won two games the previous year.

Like Gonzalez, Willard favors an uptempo, aggressive game featuring a pressure defense.

Willard's hiring could lead to the return of one of Seton Hall's top former players. Ex-Pirates point guard Shaheen Holloway is Willard's No. 1 assistant and recruiter.

Willard comes from a basketball pedigree. His father, Ralph, was a head coach at Western Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Holy Cross, and currently is the associate head coach at Louisville under Pitino.

Gonzalez was fired a day after Seton Hall lost in the opening round of the NIT, a game in which Pirates forward Herb Pope was ejected for hitting a Texas Tech player below the belt. Gonzalez also picked up his seventh technical foul of the season.

Forward Robert Mitchell, who was kicked off the team days before the NIT game, was charged the same week with robbing eight people at gunpoint in South Orange. He pleaded not guilty.

A week before this season started, transfer guard Keon Lawrence was involved in a traffic accident on the Garden State Parkway in which he was driving in the wrong direction, seriously injuring the driver of the other vehicle.

Lawrence was charged with assault by auto and driving with a suspended license, and was suspended for the first eight games of the season.

Iowa lures McCaffery from Siena


IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Iowa has convinced Fran McCaffery to leave Siena to become the Hawkeyes' new coach.

Athletic director Gary Barta announced the hiring in a release Sunday and said McCaffery would be introduced in a press conference on Monday in Iowa City.

McCaffery went 112-51 in five seasons at Siena, leading the Saints to three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. Siena lost to Purdue in the first round this year and finished with a 27-7 record.

McCaffery replaces Todd Lickliter, who was fired after Iowa went 10-22 this year.

The Hawkeyes last made the NCAA tournament in 2006 -- losing to Northwestern State on a 3 at the buzzer -- and coach Steve Alford left for New Mexico following the 2007 season. While Alford has built the Lobos into a force in the Mountain West Conference, Iowa hasn't had a winning season since he left.

Once one of the top programs in the Big Ten, the Hawkeyes went 38-58 under Lickliter while sinking to the bottom of the league.

McCaffery, a Philadelphia native who turns 51 in May, has taken three different programs to the NCAA tournament as a head coach. He played college ball at Wake Forest and Penn.

McCaffery spent six seasons at UNC-Greensboro, posting a 90-87 record, before taking over at Siena before the 2005-06 season. McCaffery also coached Lehigh for three seasons, guiding it to the NCAA tournament in 1988, before leaving to become an assistant at Notre Dame.

Though Iowa appeared to be on track for improvement in 2010-11, Barta let Lickliter go on March 15. Barta cited a slumping record, lagging attendance and dwindling revenue from ticket sales and contributions in announcing Lickliter's dismissal.

Lickliter saw a number of key players transfer during his tenure. One of McCaffery's first duties is to make sure the Hawkeyes' current core of players, including sophomores Matt Gatens and Aaron Fuller and promising freshmen Eric May and Cully Payne, stick around to help him rebuild the program.

Peachtree Hoops Interview With: McDonald's All-American Jelan Kendrick


Peachtree Hoops Interview With: McDonald's All-American Jelan Kendrick
by The Human Highlight Blog on Mar 27, 2010 4:46 PM EDT

Memphis-bound McDonald's All-American Jelan Kendrick talks to Peachtree Hoops--after he signs this basketball for someone else, of course.

View full size photo »
Peachtree Hoops got the opportunity to speak with one of Georgia's finest in high school basketball, the McDonald's All-American Jelan Kendrick from Wheeler High School.

Having never watched the young man play, save for some You Tube clips, and having never spoken to Jelan, we were interested in asking some questions about his decision of colleges, the path to being a McDonald's All-American and the surrounding press and accolades that come with that. Kendrick also answered questions about who folks say his game is most like and which of the Hawks' stars' skills he would most like to have.

We thank the Greater Atlanta McDonald's Operators Association for inviting us in to talk to Kendrick, who we found to be a remarkable young man, well on his way to a successful career.

Talk about this process of being a McDonald’s All-American:
Great experience—a lot of work put into this, trying to get to this level, that a lot of people said I couldn’t get to. Once I accomplished this, it’s like a relief, but I can’t sit. There is a lot of places I want to get to. To be the only player in Georgia selected to this game is just tremendous. I get to represent this state, a state and people I love so much, in this game.

Did any of the Georgia teams recruit you? What led you to the Memphis Tigers?
Recruiting class coming in is incredible. Josh Pastner sold me on the dream on how we can prosper and make history and also the seniors that are already there. Definitely you have to throw in the fans in Memphis because they are definitely crazy about their basketball team and you gotta love the atmosphere. We want to make a big impact next year, get to the tournament, and win a national championship.

I got a lot of interest from Georgia and Georgia Tech, but it’s just different things to make you go different ways. I love both schools and their coaching staffs.

Talk about all the press and accolades you have received. Did you think four years ago this was going to happen?
Four years ago I was thinking I was trying to get into a D2 school. But I always thought if I worked hard I could get to a D1 school. I never thought it would get to being on the front of a lot of big magazines, such as SLAM! and CourtCred. It’s just an incredible blessing to have all this---and Iove it (laughing)—so keep the press coming.

Seriously, coming where I come from, people get the wrong press—I am just happy I can come in and be a good example for the kids and get the good press.

How would you describe your game—who were your basketball influences?

I’ve never really compared myself to anyone—some people compare me to Penny Hardaway, Jalen Rose, some say Scottie Pippen—I’ve heard a lot of things and those are great basketball players—I have a lot of work to do to get to that level. Hopefully in the future people will want to compare themselves to me.

My dad and brother, neighborhood---My Dad always played hard, taught me to never back down from anyone. He’s about 6’2, 230 then and he could play 1, 2, 5—he’d play the five on defense and the point guard on offense—so that’s where I got that point guard/forward thing.

Also Antoine Johnson, who went to Westlake High School (now a senior at Georgia Southern) he was just a great guard—he took me under his wing.

Any of the Hawks come to the games?
Maurice Evans came to the games—he kind of took me under his wings, too. I lost track of him when I lost my other phone—I really appreciated him coming to the games—he’s a great player and I hope to get back in touch with him again.

If there were no age limit, would you be considering the NBA?
I think a lot of kids would’ve looked at that. I believe everything happens for a reason because if there was no age limit, then a lot of things would have gone down different in your life. Who’s to say at this point—I’m just glad that I get to go to the University of Memphis and enjoy that for as many years as I can.

Do you watch the Hawks?
The Hawks are my favorite team!

Ok, If you can choose between Smoove’s athleticism, Jamal’s handles, Joe’s jumper, or Horford’s strength and passion, which would you love to have most?
You gotta go with Al Horford with that mix of strength and passion. When you have that strength and passion for the game, you put everything you have every time you step on the floor---and that’s something no team can take away from you.

The 2010 McDonald’s All American Games will tip-off in Columbus, Ohio at Value City Arena on March 31. Tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster. The best part about the McDonald's All American Games is that proceeds benefit local Ronald McDonald House Charities Chapters. Proceeds from the 2010 Games will benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, and all players will have an opportunity to visit the house during Game Week. To learn more about the McDonald’s All American Games, and see the full roster of 2010 players, please visit www.mcdonaldsallamerican.com.

The Greater Atlanta McDonald's Operators Association is proud to support local high school basketball and the local community.

(All photos courtesy of the Greater Atlanta McDonald's Operators Association)

Chris Crawford and Austin Hollins Participating in 2010 Jack Jones Shootout April 10th at the FedEx Forum


Chris Crawford and Austin Hollins Participating in 2010 Jack Jones Shootout April 10th at the FedEx Forum
http://www.jackjonesshootout.com/index.html

Other players committed

Jarekious Badley - East (TN)

Skylor Blackler - Bell City (MO)

David Chadwick - Hargrave Military Academy (VA) Rivals 3 Star - Rice Commitment

Chris Crawford - Sheffield (TN)Rivals 4 Star - Memphis Commitment

Lavonte Dority - Chicago (IL) Rivals 3 Star - South Florida Commitment

Elliott Eliason - Chadron (NE) Rivals 3 Star - Minnesota Commitment

Austin Hollins - Germantown (TN)Rivals 3 Star - Minnesota Commitment

Alex Kirk - Los Alamos (NM) Rivals 3 Star - New Mexico Commitment

Kenyon McNeaill - Conway (AR)Rivals 3 Star - Uncommitted

Preston Purifoy - Conway (AR) Rivals 3 Star - UAB Commitment

Mardracus Wade - Hargrave Military Academy (VA) Rivals 3 Star - Arkansas Commitment

Jack Jones Shootout brings kids to the big show


Hoop Dreams
Jack Jones Shootout brings kids to the big show

The name “John Paul Jones” is etched on the newsroom office door of The Daily News building in Downtown Memphis and also on the main entrance of a 16,000-seat arena at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

But for the man himself, known by friends as “Jack,” the true measure of his name – and of his legacy – is more aptly found in the eponymous basketball showcase he launched three years ago, the Jack Jones Shootout.

It’s through this event that Jones, who turns 90 on April 4, hopes to leave an indelible imprint on the hearts and minds of Memphis-area youths.

The third annual Shootout is set for April 10 at FedExForum with basketball games for kids ages 8-18 in the afternoon followed by the Memphis Grizzlies’ season finale against the Philadelphia 76ers at 7 p.m.

The basketball extravaganza gives local kids a chance to learn from professional coaches in a camp and also play on the same floor as the world’s best players. This year’s event has added a senior game featuring some of the nation’s top high school recruits.

It’s free to anyone who has a ticket for that night’s Grizzlies game, and donations made to the Shootout benefit youth athletic programs and help more kids attend the entire day’s festivities.

The Shootout was borne of Jones’ passion for basketball, which he said grew rapidly during the early 1970s while watching then-Memphis State University make a rousing run to the NCAA championship game.

Leading the Tigers that year was a hoops legend whose impression on Jones lives to this day.

“I go back to the days of Larry Finch. That’s when I started really getting interested,” Jones said. “Playing as well as he did and as often as he did, Larry Finch is my all-time favorite.”

Basketball soul
Jones’ admiration for Finch – last year’s Shootout proceeds helped buy Finch, who is in poor health, a new hospital bed and wheelchair – mirrors his love for basketball.

So Jones was elated when the Grizzlies moved to town in 2001 and has been a courtside season-ticket holder since the team’s opening game. He’s such a dedicated fan that his wife, Sandra, said Jack won’t let them leave games even if the Grizzlies are losing badly because empty seats look bad on television.

But Jones, a noted philanthropist and former president/publisher of The Daily News, doesn’t reserve his love of the game to the Grizzlies. He is equally passionate about the University of Memphis Tigers and his law school alma mater Virginia, where he travels most seasons to see a game or two.

Jones’ fervor now includes the Shootout, which has grown in its first three years. This year’s debut senior showcase, for example, includes homegrown talent and U of M recruits Tarik Black and Chris Crawford.

Jack Jones Shootout
April 10, FedExForum
For tickets and to donate, visit www.jackjonesshootout.com.

Ernie Kuyper, general manager of M33M Basketball – a youth basketball program co-founded by Kuyper and his cousin, former Grizzlies player Mike Miller – said Jones is providing a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for kids in the city of Memphis and the surrounding area.”

“It’s their dream,” said Kuyper, whose M33M players compete in the senior game. “When you’re a kid sitting in the stands watching the Memphis Grizzlies play, you dream of playing on that court one day. Jack, as many games as he’s been to, is providing that dream for these youth of Memphis and the surrounding area.”

Notable life
Making an impact on the lives of Memphians is something Jones has done for decades.

Jones specialized in transportation law, helping truck lines deal with moving goods across the country.

His family started The Daily News in 1886, and Jones took the reins of the paper in 1960, serving as publisher until 1994 when he sold his interest in the company to stepson Peter Schutt, who now is the fourth-generation family member to own the business.

During his 34-year tenure at The Daily News, Jones served as president of the Tennessee Press Association and national chairman of the American Court and Commercial Newspapers group.

As someone accustomed to leadership roles, Jones said he holds the utmost respect for the coaches of his favorite teams, such as the Grizzlies’ Lionel Hollins or the Tigers’ Josh Pastner.

Perhaps it’s because he sees a parallel of teamwork in the workplace and on the basketball floor.

“I’ve heard Jack say many times that … ‘Nothing brings people together like the Grizzlies and the Tigers,’” Sandra Jones said. “It’s a great relationship.”

On the verge of turning 90, Jones knows that the relationship, along with his name, will carry on for a long, long time.

It will carry on at the Virginia arena his son, Paul Tudor Jones II, built and named after him (known affectionately as “The Jack”).

And it will carry on through the Jack Jones Shootout.

“I look forward to going to games in the years to come,” Jones said, pausing, “since I’m going to live to be 105 years old.”