2012 count expunged for ex-Coastal Carolina player

2012 criminal charge expunged for former Coastal Carolina basketball player Gradnigo

      
 

 

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Kentucky Basketball: What 2014-15 Wildcats Can Learn from 2012 National Champs

Kentucky basketball stands as the clear preseason favorite for the national title, but that’s not the only thing about the 2014-15 squad that should look familiar to Big Blue Nation. The mix of celebrated freshmen and returning sophomores from a Final Four squad makes these Wildcats a fair imitation of the Anthony Davis-led bunch that cut down the nets in the spring of 2012.

If John Calipari’s current troops want to match the postseason success of the storied Inevitables, they could stand to take a few pages from the older team’s playbook. Here are some key lessons for the latest round of championship hopefuls in Lexington to take to heart:

 

Defense is a team sport

Having the transcendent Davis patrolling the paint was the most important element of Kentucky’s record-setting 2012 D, but it certainly wasn’t the only one. All five Wildcats bought into the job of shutting down opposing scorers, a process made easier by a lineup with four players 6’4” or taller.

Next season, if freshman Devin Booker starts on the wing, all five UK starters will be at least 6’5”. But getting all of them to commit on the defensive end is another question entirely. Andrew Harrison and Dakari Johnson will both need to make major upgrades on that end of the floor for Kentucky’s defense to go from good (41st nationally, per KenPom.com) to championship-caliber.

 

Three-pointers are optional

The 2011-12 Wildcats took 33 fewer three-pointers than last year’s squad, but made 19 more. Partly, that’s a function of the presence of Doron Lamb on the former team, but it’s also a matter of not forcing treys when it isn’t necessary.

Like last year’s roster, the 2014-15 version of Big Blue won’t have a Lamb-type marksman who ought to be shooting every time he gets open. Even postseason hero Aaron Harrison (who hit an unremarkable 35.6 percent from deep on the year) should think twice about jacking up long-range shots when there’s still time on the shot clock to try for something closer.

 

Feed the hot hand

Everyone remembers Davis as the hero of the Inevitables (with good reason), but the big man shot 1-of-10 from the floor in the national title game. It was Lamb who bailed out the UK offense that night, lighting up Kansas for 22 points.

Spreading the ball around wasn’t a particular problem for the ‘Cats last season, but the moral of Lamb’s success story still bears repeating. Even with Trey Lyles, Johnson and Karl-Anthony Towns inside, there will be nights when Booker or one of the Harrisons gets in a rhythm with his jump shot. When that happens, the best thing the ‘Cats can do is play that advantage for all it’s worth, even if it means that their usual scoring leader—like Davis in his team’s biggest game—ends up in single digits.

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Charles Barkley, just like he did in 2011 and 2012, still thinks the NBA sucks

It hardly needs to be pointed out any longer that Charles Barkley speaks his mind and is unafraid to ruffle some feathers along the way as he pontificates about the NBA, politics, well, anything and everything. Perhaps stories should be written about occasions when Barkley appears to pull his punches a bit when discussing a […]The post Charles Barkley, just like he did in 2011 and 2012, still thinks the NBA sucks appeared first on Sportress of Blogitude.

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UNC Basketball: Tar Heels’ 2012 Class Is Turning the Corner in 2013-14

The North Carolina Tar Heels are powering through their nonconference schedule, picking up victories over the top three teams in the 2014 preseason rankings. No other team is even close to matching that resumé.

A big chunk of the credit for those signature wins goes to UNC’s 2012 recruiting class—a class many implied was an indicator of Roy Williams’ decline as a recruiter. With an average ranking of 46.5 in the ESPN 100, Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, Joel James and J.P. Tokoto simply weren’t going to cut it in Chapel Hill.

This class stayed on the hot seat through most of 2012-13 with jittery individual performances.

Paige was finding his way as a freshman starter at the Tar Heels’ most crucial position. He struggled with his shooting, and the high-octane Heels weren’t being run with the precision fans were accustomed to under his predecessor, Kendall Marshall.

James was prone to mind-boggling mental mistakes and slippery hands that made folks wonder if he could ever get it together. The lack of a solid starting center only magnified every error he made on the floor.

Tokoto showed promise with his athleticism and defensive prowess, but that was easily forgotten as he bricked jumper after jumper. He was just 1-of-11 from downtown as a freshman.

Johnson was dominant on offense from the beginning, receiving the least negative attention of the quartet. However, his defense left much to be desired, and his 187-pound frame was cause for concern at the power forward position.

Fast forward to 2013-14.

P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald were both sidelined by NCAA investigations, leaving Tokoto as the lone scholarship wing on the roster. That also forced Paige to shift to shooting guard, as he was the only shooter Williams could truly trust.

The fans and media weren’t there yet, though. They needed proof he could light up the arc. And the thought of having to rely on Tokoto and James produced another round of Doomsday theories for the program and its Hall of Fame coach.

It didn’t take long for Paige to silence the critics. The sophomore guard drilled 17 of his first 32 treys and put up a 32-spot in Carolina’s 93-84 upset win over the Louisville Cardinals. He quickly went from being labeled a recruiting whiff by Coach Williams to the star of the show in Chapel Hill.

Even through his shooting slump over the last four games, Paige remains a fan favorite. His 21-point performance in the second half against Kentucky only solidified his status among the Carolina faithful.

It’s tough to hate on 19.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals from a sophomore point guard playing the 2 for the first time.

Johnson was smoldering once again straight out of the gate, hauling in rebounds, blocking shots and scoring at will. Against Richmond, he racked up 12 boards, one assist, two blocks and a career-high 24 points in just 22 minutes of action.

Johnson ranks fifth on the squad in minutes (20.6), but he is third in scoring (13.0), first in rebounds (6.9) and first in blocks (1.4). He has also become the Tar Heels’ greatest threat in the post with his new 210-pound frame, dropping lighting-quick hooks and smooth turnaround jumpers with the efficiency one should expect from a guy nicknamed Easy B.

He also leads the team with a shooting percentage of 59.5.

For Tokoto and James, though, the start of their sophomore campaigns has still been riddled with controversy among fans.

In a highly publicized battle of the bigs, James managed to edge freshman Kennedy Meeks for the starting center spot. It wasn’t long before folks were calling for a demotion.

James wasn’t making the mistakes he used to as a freshman, but he was still failing to fill the stat columns with his inability to box out and front his defender in the post. Meanwhile, Meeks was breaking out with a 13-point, 12-rebound, seven-assist performance against Louisville.

Williams remained loyal to James despite the public outcry, and his steadfast approach appears to be paying off. Though he still isn’t producing the numbers we’d like to see on the offensive end, James is becoming impossible to deal with in the defensive paint.

The stats don’t show how many times an opponent has had to pass out of a post-up opportunity because he didn’t give up ground. They don’t show how many shots he has altered just by standing tall with his hands in the air.

James had just five rebounds and one steal against Michigan State, but he still earned defensive player of the game for those very reasons. The 280-pound big man is coming along, and if he can ever find a mean streak, he could be equally formidable on the offensive end.

His potential becomes more evident with each passing game.

Tokoto started the season hot, scoring 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor and 1-of-1 from three in the first half of the season opener against Oakland. From there, the small forward went ice cold, hitting rock bottom in the loss to Belmont with a 4-of-16 performance from the free-throw line.

In a three-point loss, Tokoto was just too easy a target for the blame. Especially since few were ever sold on his potential. It was an “I told you so” moment for the naysayers.

Being the respectable, hard-working young man that he is, Tokoto was practicing his free throws just hours after the game. When a player has the dedication, drive and the elite athleticism of Air Pierre, great things can happen.

And we are seeing the fruit of his labor now.

Tokoto was on fire against Kentucky, dropping just about every shot the Wildcats gave him. Runners, mid-range jumpers…even a three-pointer. Every time UK seemed to be pulling it together for a run in the first half, he was there to deflate its balloon.

Paige, of course, took over that role in the second half.

Over the last four games, Tokoto is quietly shooting 60.5 percent from the floor, is 2-of-2 from downtown and is averaging 12.3 points, five rebounds, two assists, 0.8 steals and 0.8 blocks per game. Yes, he is still struggling from the free-throw line, and he needs to bring his turnovers down, but nobody can deny his progression.

We are living in an age of instant gratification. Answers are available to us immediately with a quick Google search we can do from anywhere with our smart phones. We used to be happy to wait a minute or two for a photo to load on the Internet with the turtle-paced 56k modems of old.

Now we freak out if a video doesn’t start playing within five seconds on our 4G phones.

Those expectations have worked their way into the realm of college basketball. Gone are the days of developing players over three or four years. Fans want instant gratification. If the players aren’t stars when they first step on the floor, they never will be.

That simply isn’t true. North Carolina’s recruiting class of 2012 is living proof. And, quite frankly, it’s been a joy watching these kids develop.

You can have your one-and-dones. I’ll take Marcus Paige, J.P. Tokoto, Brice Johnson and Joel James any day of the week.

 

Rollin Yeatts is the lead columnist for North Carolina Tar Heels basketball on Bleacher Report. He also hosts a weekly all-sports video podcast at TSB Sports. Visit his B/R profile for more.

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Top 2012 picks Kidd-Gilchrist, Davis out 4-6 weeks (Yahoo Sports)

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 1: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist #14 of the Charlotte Bobcats drives to the basket against the Miami Heat on December 1, 2013 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

It’s been a tough week for former Kentucky stars and top 2012 NBA draft picks Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The Bobcats announced Wednesday that Kidd-Gilchrist will be sidelined four to six weeks with a broken left hand, an eerily similar injury to what Davis suffered earlier this week. Kidd-Gilchrist, the No. 2 pick in the 2012 draft, suffered a non-displaced fracture of the fourth metacarpal in his left hand during Tuesday night’s game at Dallas. Kidd-Gilchrist’s former college teammate and friend Davis, who was selected No. 1 last year, suffered a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal in his left hand in the Pelicans game Sunday night against the New York Knicks.


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Report: Royce White Cursed Out Rockets Executive During 2012 Tantrum

Many around NBA circles are probably wondering what caused the Houston Rockets to jettison Royce White away to Philadelphia, after taking a first round risk on the mercurial forward with the 16th pick in the 2012 draft.
The Rockets who were more than patient with White and his mental health issues, probably decided enough was enough after White allegedly exploded on a high ranking Rockets official.
According to TMZ, cursed out a Rockets top attorney days before he was suspended around mid-season.
In the report, Rockets officials were diligently trying to work out the terms that would allow White to comfortable travel and play with the team.
At that time, White was refusing to travel or play with the Rockets because of his anxiety issues.
We’re told the team had been trying to work out an arrangement with White — to cater to his health situation — but Royce refused to travel or play with the team, citing his anxiety disorder.
But after talks went nowhere, and White screamed at…

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Bill Hader tells James Harden trash-talking story from 2012 NBA Finals

In terms of the biggest fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder, former SNL actor Bill Hader has to be counted among them and recently, he stopped by Grantland’s B.S. Report to talk about a myriad of subjects.
One of the topics covered in the podcast was the time that he and his father sat court-side at the 2012 NBA Finals and presented a pretty hilarious story about the trash-talking of then-Thunder guard James Harden.
Apparently, Harden’s trash-talking was so good that he even had LeBron James agreeing with him:

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Jeffery Taylor of the Charlotte Bobcats Will Be Biggest Steal of the 2012 Draft

Is it too early, and maybe a bit too bold, to go ahead and say Jeffery Taylor, the second-year shooting guard/small forward out of Vanderbilt will be the biggest steal of the 2012 NBA draft?

Maybe. But I don’t care, because he’s the real deal, and there are many teams in the lower half of the first round of last year’s draft who are going to look back and wonder why they didn’t pick him.

Somehow, Taylor managed to fall to the second round, where the Charlotte Bobcats, despite already drafting an uber-athletic SF earlier in the draft, promptly drafted him with the first pick of the round. 

At Vanderbilt, Taylor was an insanely athletic swingman who showcased an excellent shooting touch beyond the three-point line and a terrific ability to cut to the basket. He was one of three highly touted Vandy prospects who entered last years draft.

The other two, John Jenkins and Festus Ezeli, both had skill sets that could make them valuable role players in the NBA. Jenkins is a pure shooter with excellent range, while Ezeli is a solid 7-footer who can come off the bench and grab some rebounds and play tough defense.

But neither were, or are even remotely, as complete overall as Jeff Taylor. Yet Jenkins was drafted 23rd overall (by the Atlanta Hawks), while the Golden State Warriors selected Ezeli with the final pick of the first round, one slot ahead of Taylor.

There were plenty of head-scratching picks in the lower half of the draft. Taylor, after a strong four years at Vanderbilt and an excellent combine showing, was considered a guy who could possibly sneak into the teens.

Virtually no one thought he’d make it past the first round.

And while many of the prospects picked in the late teens all the way through the end of the first round haven’t, and quite possibly will never produce, Taylor had a solid rookie season with Charlotte. His insane athleticism, good shooting skills and excellent defense all had Charlotte fans watering at the mouth, and while he never quite found his grip in his first season as a true scorer, that could very well change in 2013-14.

Taylor’s Las Vegas Summer League breakout wasn’t particularly surprising to anyone who had seen him play prior to this summer. Everyone knew he had the ability to be a very big scorer with his athletic prowess and shooting touch. Taylor averaged 20.3 points in summer league, shooting 47.5 percent from the floor and 36.8 percent from three-point land.

He was considered one of the best performers in Vegas and, along with teammate Cody Zeller, made the Las Vegas Summer League All-Star team

Yes, it’s summer league. We all know that, so before you start rattling on about how there’s no way he’s going to score 20 per game in the regular season, let me go ahead and cut you off by saying, “duh.”

Taylor’s not going to start for the Bobcats this season. Along with back-up combo guard Ramon Sessions, Taylor will likely be used as a sixth man to back up Gerald Henderson at shooting guard and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at small forward, and he’ll likely earn a few spot starts for the team here and there.

He’ll also be a key player if an unfortunate injury strikes the team.

Taylor’s biggest weakness last season wasn’t skill or athleticism: it was merely getting a feel for the NBA pace and building confidence. With the 15 pounds he added this offseason while training (yes, a good 15 pounds, not a Sean May 15 pounds), and what appears to be a new “killer instinct,” Taylor will be immensely valuable for the Bobcats this season, and should be viewed as one of the key players for this franchise moving forward.

Taylor’s scoring output could as much as double from the 6.1 points he scored last season, and he’ll likely do it more efficiently, while wowing crowds with dunk contest-style plays. 

Taylor should have gone higher in the draft based solely off of his ability to defend on the wing, where he demonstrates excellent lateral quickness. He rarely gets beat playing man-to-man defense. His athleticism should have bumped him up even higher in the draft, and his jumper should have given him yet another bump.

In my final mock draft, I had Taylor going 19th. I don’t recall seeing a draft that had him going below 25th or one having him being selected behind his two Vanderbilt teammates.

While the teams who passed over him will shake their heads as they realize what a gem they passed over, the Bobcats (and soon to be Hornets) will revel in the fact that they acquired the best pick for value in the entire draft.

Taylor looked like a man possessed during summer league, posterized players who got in his way and showed off his range. His confidence is clearly not an issue anymore.

There shouldn’t be a question that Taylor was the biggest steal of the draft. That ship has sailed. The only question is, how good will Taylor actually become.

My guess? If he keeps up at the pace he’s going, with his unreal physical and athletic gifts, he’ll be a starter on the wing and up for discussion as one of the most improved players this season. He’ll eventually be a guy who can put up 18-plus points per game and take games over when he’s hot.

Charlotte absolutely must seize this opportunity to further develop Taylor. While I firmly believe re-signing Henderson was imperative, and that MKG is still the unquestioned starter at SF, the Bobcats must find a way to give JT 25 minutes per game this season, so he can continue to grow his confidence.

He’s a crowd-pleaser when he gets eye level with his explosive dunks, and he’s both a defensive and offensive weapon. The Bobcats received a gift at pick No. 31 last year, and they must not squander it.

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John Calipari compares new-look UK roster to 2012 title team

John Calipari’s grand plan at Kentucky is ahead of schedule.

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NCAA had record $71 million surplus in fiscal 2012

NCAA revenue increased and its endowment fund continued to skyrocket in fiscal 2012.

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