Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
“If it were up to me, I want to see him get going,” Smith told the paper after the 7-foot Maker went for 24 points, 16 rebounds and six blocks in a win over Prime Prep at the Bluegrass Showcase. “The quicker he does that, the better he gets. He has to progress and go do what he has to do.
“He needs to get up there. And we’re preparing him now to be ready to go into a college situation.”
NEW YORK — Rutgers’ seniors Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack did everything in their power to make sure that the Scarlet Knights came away with the win Friday night against Vanderbilt, just three days after the team’s embarrassing 18-point loss to St. Peter’s.
Both players were on the court for all 40 minutes of Rutgers’ 68-65 victory in the semifinals of the Barclays Center Classic — and were key in making sure that Rutgers bounced back.
“[The loss] motivated us a lot,” Mack said. “That loss was a bad loss for us. The next day in practice we came in really excited to practice and ready to get better and I think it led over to this game.”
Rutgers will face No. 9 Virginia in Saturday night’s championship game, while Vanderbilt will face La Salle in the consolation game. The Cavaliers beat the Explorers, 64-56.
NEW YORK — As St. John’s coach Steve Lavin looked out and surveyed Gonzaga’s massive front line in the final of the NIT Preseason Tip-Off, he must’ve wished he had another big man to throw into the mix.
Once 6-foot-9 Chris Obekpa fouled out in the second half, the Johnnies had nothing else in the way of bigs.
Their biggest player was 6-6 Sir’Dominic Pointer.
Still, the Johnnies’ small lineup closed to within three points in the final minute before losing to the No. 10 Zags, 73-66, in the championship game at Madison Square Garden.
“Granted, with Chris Obekpa out, the leading shot-blocker in the country, it puts us at a real disadvantage,” Lavin said.
“Gonzaga is a good team and they have a lot of size, a lot of lumber down low,” he added. “We just didn’t get over the hump in the last minute or so.”
The 6-foot-10 Bryant recently visited Kentucky unofficially and picked up the offer at that time, Roberts reported. Meantime, Wildcats head coach John Calipari and assistant Kenny Payne watched Bryant go for 16 points Friday night when Huntington Prep beat Burlington (N.J.) Life Center, 74-54, at the Bluegrass Showcase.
“You see guys like that — you absolutely want to play your best game,” Bryant said of Calipari and Payne.
According to Roberts, Bryant and his teammates, including 2016 small forward Miles Bridges, then watched Kentucky practice on Saturday. Bryant may then take an official to the school as well.
NEW YORK — Kyle Wiltjer is a high-scoring forward and an integral member of a team that some believe can win the NCAA championship come April.
Two years ago, that description might have summed up Wiltjer’s role at Kentucky.
But now that he’s found a new home at Gonzaga, the 6-foot-10 Wiltjer seems to fit in perfectly with his new team.
In two games here at the NIT Preseason Tip-Off, he combined to score 40 points and grab nine rebounds en route to being named to the All-Tournament Team. The No. 10 Zags beat St. John’s, 73-66, Friday night at Madison Square Garden to win the NIT championship.
“It was a good test for us, it was our first real road game,” Wiltjer, averaging 16.8 points and 5.2 boards on the season, told me in the Knicks locker room, which doubled as the Gonzaga dressing room this week. “It would’ve been nice to win by more, but I think it was a good test for us and I think that’s what we needed.”
Kentucky head coach John Calipari and assistants Kenny Payne and Barry “Slice” Rohrssen, along with assistants from Louisville, spent Friday watching Caleb Swanigan, the 6-foot-8 power forward out of Fort Wayne (IN) Homestead.