Bill Russell, 44 years after being inducted, finally accepted his Hall of Fame ring. His reason for not embracing the honor was Russell’s feeling that he was undeserving of being the first black player to receive the honor.
In a private ceremony w/my wife & close friends A.Mourning @AnnMeyers @billwalton & others I accepted my #HOF ring. In ‘75 I refused being the 1st black player to go into the @Hoophall I felt others before me should have that honor. Good to see progress; ChuckCooperHOF19 @NBA pic.twitter.com/2FI5U7ThTg
— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) November 15, 2019
This is a nice reminder that not everything someone does is can be evaluated from a surface-level perspective.
Why did Coach-X do this? How come Player-Y decided to approach it that way? So on and so forth. We may never know someone’s true intentions. It’s a decent thing to keep in mind as we tend to judge others — and, more accurately, their decisions — from a distance without knowing most of the context.
It’s The Morning After College Basketball!
Penny Hardaway Still Has Something To Say
Joseph Nardone (@JosephNardone): While James Wiseman decided to drop his suit against the NCAA, with the Memphis Tigers deeming him ineligible for the time being, Penny Hardaway isn’t holding back punches.
“When you find out, you let me know,” Hardaway said when asked about a possible resolution. “We are still waiting on Isaiah Stokes’ [transfer waiver from Florida]. So we’re just in limbo right now.”
Many — myself included — believe there is something already in the works between the NCAA and Memphis in regards to Wiseman’s eligibility. Otherwise, it made little sense to play the big man for a single game, then everyone involved to quickly reverse course. In turn, it’s slightly weird to see Hardaway remaining defiantly awesome.
“I think (Wiseman supporters) are just looking at the situation,” Penny Hardaway said on Friday. “Aren’t we all just looking at the situation and why this is bad? I think everybody is looking at it. I think everybody has kind of controlled their own narratives, but if you’re looking at it for what it’s worth, you see it. People around the country are saying, ‘How?’ That’s why they are on his side.
“(Wiseman) loves (the support),” Hardaway said. “He’s just really confused. He’s just really hurt that they are trying to take games away from him. He just wants to play. All he wants to do is play basketball.”
These aren’t the kind of words you would expect from a person involved in the rumored behind-the-scenes agreement between the NCAA and the Memphis Tigers.
Not that any of it matters. Penny Hardaway has a pretty neat role in college basketball. Assuming he continues to recruit at a high level, winning games in the process, he acts as a modern day Jerry Tarkanian of sorts. With the majority of major coaches either no commenting or siding with the governing body on issues, Hardaway is around to help provide balance, if not flat rebellion toward the NCAA’s archaic ideals.
Nevertheless, this will only go as far as Memphis’ success allows it.
Is Auburn the Best Team In The SEC?
Blake Lovell (@theblakelovell): While all the talk in the SEC in the preseason was centered around a battle between Kentucky and Florida for the league title, the defending conference tournament champions are proving that maybe they should’ve gotten more attention.
Auburn cruised to a 116-70 victory against Cal State Northridge on Friday night, scoring 66 points in the first half and never looking back en route to the blowout win.
Sure, the Matadors were still without their most impactful player in Lamine Diane, who averaged 24.8 points and 11.2 rebounds per game last season but it currently academically ineligible.
But still, to put 116 points in a game while starting 4-0 following a season where some of the best players in program history entered the professional ranks? It’s pretty impressive.
No one will be able to replace what Jared Harper did for the Tigers, but Samir Doughty is doing his best to at least come close. The 6-4 senior scored 33 points and grabbed eight rebounds while not turning the ball over a single time in 24 minutes against Cal State Northridge. J’Von McCormick had 16 assists, and standout freshman Issac Okoro continued his excellent play with 17 points in 20 minutes.
This wasn’t just about one big win. Bruce Pearl’s team is playing with the same confidence and swagger that they have in recent seasons, and it’s paid off thus far.
If that theme continues, Auburn may yet again be the SEC team we’re talking about most come March.
Cole Anthony Continues To Shine
Joe: Welp. It appears as though the Cole Anthony hyped that was building for several years was deserved. On Friday night, the freshman guard scored 28 points. The North Carolina Tar Heels have only played three games and Anthony has scored 20-plus in all of them.
In fact, on the season, Anthony is averaging 27.3 points per game on 40% shooting from the floor while making 44.8% of his attempts from beyond the arc. While he’s averaging as many assists as turnovers (3.3), his also somehow averaging over seven boards per contest; though, on Friday, he only had a single rebound.
Anywho, every season people ask questions like “Who will replace the generational Zion Williamson” or whatever else that infers the death of college basketball. And yet, every season, someone emerges to claim the throne. Sometimes it’s a single dude and other voyages it’s a collective.
So far, with the needed small sample size theater caveat, Cole Anthony is this season’s dude.
Gonzaga Is Still Gonzaga
Blake: We pretty much know what to expect from the Zags at this point. Even if we have our questions about this or that, Mark Few always seems to figure it out.
Gonzaga earned its own 4-0 start with a 30-point win at Texas A&M on Friday, and it was simply a dominant road effort against an SEC squad that still has a lot of work to do.
The Zags controlled the game in nearly every facet. They shot 49.2 percent to Texas A&M’s 30.4 percent. They earned a 46-29 advantage on the glass. They had 20 assists to the Aggies’ five assists.
It was a game that Few’s team was supposed to win, but it’s how they did it that proved that this program is the same as it has always been.
The three-game stretch in December against Washington, Arizona, and North Carolina will probably tell us a lot more about this particular team and how it stacks up against elite teams.
But it’s clear that Gonzaga is still going to be in the discussion as a potential national title contender.
The Walking Bucket Was A Bucket
It’s a shame people use his NBA career against him, but Michael Beasley had one of the best one-and-done careers in college basketball history. Had his professional career been less than wayward, it would likely be celebrated more than it is.
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Blake Lovell is a national writer for ClutchPoints. He’s also a contributor for the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook and Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview magazine. He hosts two podcasts: Marching to Madness (CBB) and Establish the Pass (NFL).
You can follow him on Twitter @theblakelovell.
Joseph Nardone has been covering basketball for nearly a decade for various outlets in a variety of ways. He currently contributes to Forbes and Clutchpoints. You can follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone.