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Florida to name basketball court after Billy Donovan

Florida will name its basketball court after former coach Billy Donovan, who led the Gators to two national championships and four Final Four appearances during his 19 seasons in Gainesville.

The court will officially be renamed on Feb. 15 at the men’s basketball game against Vanderbilt with Donovan in attendance during NBA All-Star break, the school announced Friday. Donovan left Florida in 2015 to become head coach of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.

Former athletic director Jeremy Foley, who hired Donovan in 1996, and current athletic director Scott Stricklin recently delivered the news to Donovan in person.

“I was totally shocked,” Donovan said in a statement. “It was really emotional. I didn’t anticipate this. I’m thankful, I’m honored and just incredibly humbled by it all.”

Donovan went 467-185 during his time with the Gators and in addition to the national championships and Final Fours, Florida won six SEC championships, made 14 NCAA tournament appearances and had 16 20-win seasons.

The 2006 and 2007 national championships are the only back-to-back titles in men’s basketball over the past 25 years, and Florida reached a No. 1 national ranking in five different seasons under Donovan. That includes 2013-14 team, which won a program-record 30 straight games wins.

“It had been on my radar for some time, and Jeremy had made it clear it was something that was important to him,” Stricklin said in a statement. “During my time at Kentucky, I had a front-row seat for the impact Billy made, not just on the Florida program, but our league. You saw the kind of coach and person he was, and the respect he had around the country. This was just an obvious way to honor him.”

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‘I Think I’m the Top Pick’

LaMelo Ball believes he should be the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

“I believe in myself and I’ve worked hard to get here,” says the 18-year-old Ball, who’s currently tearing up the Australian National Basketball League

LaMeloi is putting up 17 points, 7.5 rebounds and seven assists a night Down Under.

Per Yahoo Sports:

So, does Ball believe he should be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft? “Most definitely. I believe in myself and I’ve worked hard to get here,” Ball told Yahoo Sports. “The other guys at the top of the draft, James [Wiseman] and Anthony [Edwards], are very talented too. But just in the way I believe in myself, I think I’m the top pick.”

Ball was the first player in the NBL since 2005 to post back-to-back triple-doubles, finishing with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists Saturday night.

“Basketball is just basketball,” he told Yahoo Sports, shrugging with a smile. “It’s been a little different everywhere I’ve played, but the game stays the same. And if you’re talented enough, you can play anywhere and against anyone and that’s just what I’ve been doing over here.”

One thing’s for sure, LaMelo Ball is the player in the 2020 class to beat right now, and it doesn’t stop after draft night. “I don’t want to be a player that’s just drafted and is a role player in the NBA,” he told Yahoo Sports. “I want to keep rising from there and be one of the best to ever play the game. I’ve been working my whole life for this.”

Related LaMelo Ball In Conversation For No. 1 Pick In 2020 NBA Draft

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College basketball picks — Does being (or beating) No. 1 matter?

The No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 poll for college basketball has already been passed around to four different teams … and seems destined to change hands again sooner rather than later. ESPN.com’s college basketball experts discussed what the phenomenon of being No. 1 means in the 2019-20 season, and made their picks for an intriguing weekend slate of games that features a number of (somewhat polarizing) early conference matchups.

Jump to score predictions for the weekend’s top games

One of the big themes of the early season has been the lack of a consistent No. 1 — Michigan State, Kentucky, Duke and now Louisville have all spent time in the spot. Is it too early to say there’s just not going to be a standout team this season in college basketball? Does being No. 1 (or beating No. 1) even matter in 2019-20?

Jeff Borzello, college basketball insider: It’s not too early at all, given what we’ve seen in the first month of the season. The teams that looked that way entering the season have shown major flaws, and the new crop of teams near the top of the rankings — Louisville, Maryland, Ohio State — aren’t perfect either. I do think the Cardinals are the best team in the country right now, but I don’t see them as being a tier above the rest of the country.

Beating No. 1 still matters for at-large résumé purposes (yes, we’re already thinking ahead to March), but I don’t think being No. 1 matters outside of a program milestone. We’ve already had four different No. 1 teams and none has lasted more than a week or two.

Myron Medcalf, senior college basketball writer: Certainly not too early. We have a lot of teams that are searching for an identity, albeit without the benefit of last season’s talent pool, an asset that made a lot of teams look dominant early in the season. Gonzaga, Duke, Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky all lost multiple first-round picks from a year ago. One of those squads tends to hover near No. 1 most years but they lost great players and they’re not easy to replace. So the typically superior programs seem mortal this season and that should lead to a lot of movement at the top of the polls, but no true juggernaut before the postseason.

John Gasaway, college basketball writer: It is definitely not too early to say that, and, right now, being No. 1 doesn’t really indicate much separation between said team (currently Louisville) and the rest of the top six or seven programs. Now, a standout team could emerge: Kansas, the Cardinals, Duke, Kentucky, Maryland, who knows? But every team named there has already either lost a game or at least looked eminently normal at times (Louisville beat Akron by six at home; the Terrapins more or less played an even game the whole way with Temple before winning). No one is standing out, yet.

Jordan Schultz, insider/analyst: Louisville is the best and most complete team in the country, and Jordan Nwora is a bona fide POY candidate. But what we’ve seen thus far in terms of teetering around No. 1 is a telltale sign of what’s to come. We certainly know what we have in teams like Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and even Michigan State: good clubs, perhaps with the potential to become great.

But I’m more interested in the unknown. For example, what happens to Memphis when James Wiseman returns? With their bevy of potential first-round picks, how good are Arizona and Washington? Is Dayton a legitimate Final Four contender? To be sure, inconsistency inside even the top 15-20 is something we should all expect, especially as we try and gauge how good all of the nation’s prized freshmen are.

Lots of big conference matchups this weekend, with North Carolina-Virginia (4 p.m. ET, Sunday, ACC Network) leading the way. Do you like the “early” league games?

Schultz: I don’t think anyone despises the early season conference games more than me. College basketball around the holidays is about feasting on boatloads of nonconference gems and tournaments. Granted, we still have plenty of that, but I’m not ready to fully appreciate or accept a Virginia-Carolina game in early December — just as the teams aren’t either.

And, just as college football features tune-ups during the first month of its season, conference play among the hoops landscape is about learning who’s who. Both the ‘Hoos and Heels got smacked this week — by Purdue and Ohio State, respectively. Why play such marquee — and significant — conference games, before head coaches even know what they have, and before teams have actually established a true identity?

Gasaway: Put me down for two cheers on behalf of early conference games. They do feel kind of abnormal, particularly when, for example, Virginia opens its season with a road game at Syracuse. Still, these league games are replacing what would otherwise be, for the most part, pretty undistinguished home games against pretty undistinguished opponents. Yes, Stephen F. Austin ended up winning at Duke, but catching that lightning in a bottle is exceedingly rare. In effect, increasing the number of conference games means, on balance, more good basketball coming to our screens.

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SLAM 225 Is On Sale Now ❄🔥



SLAM 225 highlights rising stars at every level of basketball. The issue has features on three ridiculous high school hoopers pushing the culture forward (Sharife Cooper/Josh Christopher/Jalen Green), a certified bucket out in Atlanta (Trae Young), Miami’s new fire squad (Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro), a future UConn Huskie with the swaggiest game in the country (Paige Bueckers), two young ascending NBA guards (Devonte’ Graham and Collin Sexton) and much more. Pull out posters of Luka Doncic and Elene Delle Donne included. COP UP!


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ESPN Basketball Recruiting – Player Rankings


1 C Temecula, CA
Rancho Christian School 7’0” 205 97

2 PG Arlington, TX
Montverde Academy 6’7” 215 97

3 SG Fresno, CA
Prolific Prep 6’5” 180 97

SF Glendale, WI
IMG Academy 6’8” 210 96

5 SF Chatsworth, CA
Sierra Canyon High School 6’8” 180 96

6 PG Minneapolis, MN
Minnehaha Academy 6’4” 195 96

7 SF Wolfeboro, NH
Brewster Academy 6’7” 190 95

8 PF West Palm Beach, FL
Montverde Academy 6’7” 210 95

9 PF Austin, TX
Vandegrift High School 6’8” 205 95

10 C Orange, CA
Orange Lutheran High School 6’11” 235 95

SG Lakewood, CA
Mayfair High School 6’4” 205 95

12 SF Chatsworth, CA
Sierra Canyon High School 6’6” 175 95

13 PF Richmond, VA
Word of God Christian Academy 6’9” 215 95

14 C Winterville, NC
Montverde Academy 6’9” 225 94

15 C Fairburn, GA
Woodward Academy 6’11” 220 94

16 PG Las Vegas, NV
Trinity International School 6’3” 190 94

17 SG Charlotte, NC
IMG Academy 6’5” 210 94

18 PG Saint Louis, MO
Christian Brothers College High School 6’3” 180 94

19 PG Powder Springs, GA
McEachern High School 6’0” 160 94

20 SG Chesapeake, VA
Oak Hill Academy 6’3” 175 94

21 SG Chicago, IL
Prolific Prep 6’3” 190 93

22 PG Leesburg, VA
Paul VI High School 6’2” 180 92

23 SG Chicago, IL
Whitney Young High School 6’3” 160 92

24 PG Santa Ana, CA
Mater Dei High School 6’3” 210 91

25 SF Bell Buckle, TN
The Webb School 6’4” 190 90

26 SG Washington, OK
Washington High School 6’4” 167 90

27 PF Pontiac, MI
Waterford Mott High School 6’8” 185 90

28 PF Huntington, WV
Huntington Prep 6’8” 215 90

29 C Norfolk, VA
IMG Academy 7’0” 230 89

30 SF Hyattsville, MD
DeMatha Catholic High School 6’6” 215 89

31 SG Chicago, IL
Morgan Park High School 6’3” 175 89

32 SF Houston, TX
Duncanville High School 6’7” 195 88

33 SF Short Hills, NJ
Blair Academy 6’5” 190 88

34 SF Seattle, WA
Dream City Christian 6’6” 180 88

35 C Hyattsville, MD
DeMatha Catholic High School 7’1” 260 87

36 PF Hickory, NC
Moravian Prep 6’9” 87

37 C Mount Pleasant, UT
Wasatch Academy 6’8” 225 87

38 SG Little Rock, AR
Montverde Academy 6’6” 185 87

39 PF Norcross, GA
Norcross High School 6’8” 195 87

40 SF Phoenix, AZ
Hillcrest Prep 6’4” 200 87

41 PF Jacksonville, FL
Hargrave Military Academy 6’7” 210 87

42 PG White Plains, NY
Archbishop Stepinac High School 6’1” 86

43 PG Baton Rouge, LA
Scotlandville Magnet High School 6’2” 86

44 PF Richmond, VA
Trinity Episcopal School 6’7” 238 86

45 PF Camden, NJ
Camden High School 6’8” 215 85

46 PF Prior Lake, MN
Prior Lake High School 6’9” 210 85

47 SF Saint Louis, MO
Vashon High School 6’6” 195 85

48 PG Oklahoma City, OK
Putnam City West High School 6’3” 85

49 C Montclair, NJ
Roselle Catholic High School 6’10” 235 85

50 SF Sacramento, CA
Sheldon High School 6’7” 220 85

51 SG Memphis, TN
IMG Academy 6’4” 190 84

52 SF Tempe, AZ
Hillcrest Prep 6’6” 160 84

53 SF Albany, NY
The Albany Academy 6’5” 175 84

54 C Oskaloosa, IA
Oskaloosa High School 6’10” 225 84

55 SF Phoenix, AZ
Hillcrest Prep 6’7” 185 84

56 PF Brooklyn Park, MN
Park Center High School 6’8” 230 84

57 PG Brookville, NY
Long Island Lutheran High School 6’0” 155 84

58 SG Putnam, CT
Putnam Science Academy 6’3” 84

59 PG Coatesville, PA
Huntington Prep 6’2” 200 84

60 PF Baltimore, MD
Polytechnic Institute High School 6’7” 220 84

61 SF Toronto, Ontario, CAN
International Sports Academy 6’7” 195 84

62 SG Murrieta, CA
Rancho Christian School 6’4” 190 84

63 C Roebuck, SC
Dorman High School 6’9” 220 84

64 SG Richmond, VA
Monacan High School 6’4” 195 83

65 PG Katy, TX
Morton Ranch High School 5’10” 170 83

66 PG Loganville, GA
Grayson High School 6’0” 165 83

67 SG Toledo, OH
Montverde Academy 6’3” 170 83

68 SF Dickinson, TX
Dickinson High School 6’6” 180 83

69 PG Greensboro, NC
Greensboro Day School 6’1” 170 83

70 PG Alpharetta, GA
St. Francis High School 6’2” 83

71 SF Henderson, NV
Liberty High School 6’6” 220 83

72 SG Butler, PA
Butler Senior High School 6’4” 215 83

73 PG Goshen, KY
North Oldham High School 6’6” 196 83

74 PG Flint, MI
Beecher High School 5’11” 165 83

75 SG Bel Aire, KS
Sunrise Christian Academy 6’3” 175 83

76 C Loganville, GA
The Skill Factory Prep School 7’1” 83

77 PF Beverly, MA
Brewster Academy 6’6” 220 82

78 PF Washington, DC
Gonzaga College High School 6’6” 215 82

79 SG Newark, NJ
Roselle Catholic High School 6’3” 210 82

80 PF Chatsworth, CA
Sierra Canyon High School 6’6” 220 82

81 SG Jacksonville, AR
Jacksonville High School 6’3” 165 82

82 PG Indianapolis, IN
Lawrence Central High School 5’10” 165 82

83 C Las Vegas, NV
Huntington Prep 6’9” 210 82

84 SG Brooklyn, NY
Brewster Academy 6’4” 82

85 SG Mishawaka, IN
La Lumiere School 6’3” 180 82

86 PF Glendale, WI
Oak Hill Academy 6’8” 200 82

87 C Fort Smith, AR
Northside High School 6’9” 82

88 PF Saint Paul, MN
East Ridge High School 6’8” 200 82

89 SG Lincoln, NE
Lincoln North Star High School 6’4” 185 82

90 PG Little Rock, AR
Oak Hill Academy 5’11” 170 82

91 PG Orchard Lake, MI
Saint Marys High School 6’1” 81

92 SF Huntington, WV
Huntington Prep 6’5” 192 81

93 SF Wolfeboro, NH
Brewster Academy 6’4” 185 81

94 SG Las Vegas, NV
Bishop Gorman High School 6’3” 175 81

95 SG Washington, DC
Oak Hill Academy 6’4” 180 81

96 SG Loganville, GA
Grayson High School 6’3” 180 81

97 SF Indianapolis, IN
Lawrence Central High School 6’5” 185 81

98 PG Miami, FL
Brewster Academy 6’2” 175 81

99 C Saint Louis, MO
Trinity Catholic High School 6’11” 210 81

100 SF Bradenton, FL
IMG Academy 6’5” 190 81

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Warriors, Rockets And Heat Lean On Two-Way Players

When the NBA instituted the new two-way contract it opened up additional flexibility for squads in the league. The biggest benefits of the new contract mechanism are three-fold.

On one hand, being able to sign two players to two-way contracts allows teams to dibs players that they like above and beyond the 15 players typically allowed on standard contracts.

Of course there’s more to two-way contracts than just reserving fringe roster players, the ability to pass players up to the big league squad for a set period of time throughout the season while developing them in the G League for the rest of that time gives teams vital injury depth.

We’ve already seen several teams bit hard by the injury bug less than two months into the regular season and those teams can call upon players who they might otherwise stash in the G League if they need additional hands on deck.

Another important but less discussed benefit of two-ways deals is the financial flexibility that they allow as well.

After an offseason where we saw several franchises hard-cap themselves because of sign-and-trade deals or the use of certain exceptions, utilizing two-way players rather than players on standard contracts can be beneficial.

Teams that are hard-capped are not permitted to exceed a specific tax apron. This year’s tax apron is set at $138.9 million, a number derived by an algorithm determined when the latest CBA was deployed, which started at $6 million north of the luxury threshold and has increased relative to fluctuations in the salary cap ever since.

Players inked to two-way deals are paid a prorated sum of the league minimum for the number of days they rack up with the big league club but that total doesn’t count against a team’s salary cap hit.

That last part allows teams dangerously close to the hard-cap to add bodies despite financial limitations and we’ve seen several teams take advantage of this so far this season.

Yesterday, Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports broke down the two-way players who have racked up the most service time in the NBA so far this season and not surprisingly the three teams that have leaned most heavily on these players are all staring at a hard cap.

Leading the way with 20 days’ worth of service time through December 4 is Golden State Warriors guard Ky Bowman. The 21-year-old has played 23.6 minutes per game for the Dubs so far this season and seen action in 23 games. Bowman has averaged 8.9 points per game for the team during this span

The decision by Golden State to utilize a two-way player like this is a no-brainer, not only are the Warriors pinned up against the NBA hard cap (they have $136.9 million in guaranteed money on their books this season), they’ve also been obliterated by injuries through the first few months of the season with no shortage of absences to key rotation pieces.

The player with the second most days of service time this season is Chris Clemons. Clemons has racked up 18 days with the Houston Rockets and has 14 games played and over 9 minutes per to show for it.

The Rockets have $137.1 million in guaranteed deals on their payroll this season so being able to call upon Clemons on occasion allows the team to fill out its rotation without creeping closer to the hard cap.

Chris Silva sits just behind Clemons with 17 days of service time and has suited up for the Miami Heat in 19 games so far this season. The Heat don’t have quite as much immediate financial pressure as the other two given that Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson technically remain on non-guaranteed deals but assuming Miami ends up retaining the two breakout rotation pieces, their payroll creeps up to $136.1 million.

Smith adds that the Oklahoma City Thunder have already used up 13 days of service time with Devon Hall and that the Cleveland Cavaliers have reached 11 days of time with Tyler Cook.

Neither the Cavs or OKC teams face a hard-cap but they’re non-contenders who’d likely prefer to limbo under the luxury tax threshold if at all possible. Keeping their payroll in check by utilizing two-way players is one way to do that.

Teams aren’t able to milk their two-way players for service time all season long, however.

If the Warriors want to use Bowman for every game this season, they’ll eventually exceed the 45 days of service time permitted under league guidelines and be forced to convert his deal to a standard contract (or let him ride out the season in Santa Cruz).

At that point the team may be able squeeze the prorated minimum contract cap hit under the tax apron but it would limit their other transaction options significantly.

The three-year-old two-way contract mechanism may not be be the flashiest way for teams to make transactions but if managed and optimized creatively, it’s a valuable tool for contenders and rebuilding teams alike.

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Ranking the top 25 high school players regardless of class

In June, ESPN took a crack at ranking the best players in the top three classes of high school basketball, regardless of class, with the sensational Emoni Bates topping our list back then. The list has undergone some revision since that time, but the top three have remained unchanged, with Bates, USC-bound Evan Mobley, and Oklahoma State-bound Cade Cunningham still occupying the initial spots.

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The ‘Clot’ Air Jordan 1 Mid is Now Live on StockX

The “Clot” AJ1 Mid is now available on StockX.

As part of the “Fearless Ones” Collection, this pair is of 1s is from the brainchild of Edison Chen and Clot. The pair features the famous silk detailing, removable uppers, a coin-like feature on the laces and black Swoosh with stitching that fades and becomes a single stitch towards the heel.

Looking to add another pair of AJ1s to your collection? Hit StockX to grab your pair.

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Highest risers and new names in the ESPN 100 and prospect rankings

The recruiting season for 2020 is in full swing, and thus it’s a good time to update our ESPN 100, ESPN 60 and ESPN 25 player rankings for the first time since August. As always, there’s a notable amount of movement on our lists.

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Devin Booker Goes Off, Scores 44 Points in OT Win

76ers (15-7), Wizards 119 (7-13)

Philadelphia suffered a surprising road loss despite big scoring nights from Tobias Harris (33 points) and Joel Embiid (26 points). The Wizards enjoyed 20+ points from three players, led by rookie Rui Hachimura’s 27 points.

Nuggets 129 (14-5), Knicks 92 (4-18)

It was all Denver in the second half, with them pushing their lead to as much as 43 in the fourth quarter. Eight Nuggets hit double-digits, paced by Will Barton (17 points). Mitchell Robinson put in 17 points and 7 rebounds for the Knicks.

Rockets 119 (14-7), Raptors 109 (15-6)

Houston pulled out the road win thanks to a 3-point barrage from Ben McLemore, who finished with 28 points in 29 minutes and made eight 3-pointers. Pascal Siakam led the Raptors with 24 points.

Suns 139 (10-11), Pelicans 132 (6-16)

New Orleans rallied late to force the game into overtime, but the Suns pulled away in the final period. Devin Booker went off for 44 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds in the win. JJ Redick put up 26 points for the Pelicans.

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