Tag: #NCAA

Taulia Tagovailoa leaving Alabama was not a shocker

Taulia Tagovailoa has left Alabama and it came at no surprise. In the middle of a global pandemic, with no spring practice, no spring game and no telling when fall camp will start, it was time.

Alabama will forever cherish the Tagovailoa’s. Tua beat out Jalen Hurts. He won a national championship and set multiple school and national records. One may argue that no other Crimson Tide player has ever made the impact that he did on the program.

But for Taulia, he will be remembered for his high school career and for being the younger of the two. In Alabama, he threw for 71 touchdowns in two seasons at Thompson and was named 7A Quarterback of the Year in 2018 and 2019 by the Alabama Sports Writers Association. Taulia threw for 13,577 yards and 135 touchdowns in high school.

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But with his brother being drafted by the Miami Dolphins, he no longer wants to be at Alabama. Do you blame him?

Mac Jones was likely the starter, Bryce Young, the backup and a battle between Taulia and Paul Tyson–the great-grandson of the late Paul “Bear” Bryant– for the third spot. It is fair to think he did not want to waste another year of eligibility.

And that’s ok.

Alabama should be good without Taulia. Now, he can be a quarterback outside of his brother’s shadow.

He joins a Maryland team coached by Mike Locksley, the former Alabama offensive coordinator and the coach who initially recruited him. He will have Rakim Jarrett, the No. 4 wide receiver nationally, No. 1 wide receiver in Washington D.C. and the No. 27 overall player.

He has the talent. He has a coach that believes in him. Now, he needs to deliver.

Some have questioned whether or not he should have been at Alabama. Both Tagovailoa’s had dreams of playing at the highest level, but they often made decisions with the family. Staying at Alabama, he would have forever been compared to his brother, regardless of how well he performed.

It’s hard being a little brother. Being Tua’s brother is even harder.

But despite living in the shadows, during Alabama’s season opener verse Duke, Taulia, with 5:03 left in the game and the Crimson Tide leading 35-3, handed the ball off to Jerome Ford for a touchdown. He celebrated. He was flexing towards the sideline. In his first collegiate game, he led a scoring drive. His older brother was there—the first to congratulate him before he had to hold the PAT.

That’s something they’ll have together for the rest of their lives. Nothing will ever take that moment away—no amount of distance. No matter where their journey takes them. They played college ball together.

In Alabama, the Tagovailoa’s are royalty.

Tua is the Hawaiian prince.

Taulia was supposed to follow.

That’s how it always will be.

His family lives in Alabama.

But it was time to say goodbye.

Tagovailoa enters transfer portal but Miami might not be the best fit for him

It was the secret everyone knew about. Taulia Tagovailoa, the younger brother of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, entered his name into the transfer portal.

That doesn’t mean he will leave Alabama, a player can remove his name from the database at any time, but now other programs are permitted to contact him and do not need permission. However, NCAA bylaws permit schools to pull the scholarship from the player at the end of the semester.

The younger of the Tagovailoa’s was a four-star recruit of Alabama’s 2019 recruiting class. He was the No. 5 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Alabama. He had planned to redshirt his freshman season, but his brother’s season-ending injury forced him to burn that opportunity.

In five games, Tagovailoa completed nine of his 12 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Alabama was not able to have spring practice and there is no telling when fall camp will start. With Mac Jones likely the starter, and Bryce Young, the No. 1 quarterback and No. 2 overall player in the country coming in as a freshman, there is no room for a quarterback battle. It may be that Tagovailoa doesn’t want to waste another year of eligibility waiting his turn if that ever comes.

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And even though many people think he will end up in Miami with his brother, that may not be the most realistic option. Miami is D’Eriq King’s program for now. And even though King only has one season with the Hurricanes, that system might not be the right fit for Tagovailoa. It would almost be catastrophic if he transfers to Miami and gets put into a situation like former Ohio State quarterback and five-star recruit Tate Martell.

Another obstacle is the number of scholarships available. Miami is currently looking at a pair of transfers from different positions, so Miami might not even have a spot for Tagovailoa.

If he wants to be near his brother, South Florida, Florida International or Florida Atlantic may be a better, more realistic landing spot. Given that FIU is a hotbed for quarterbacks, don’t be shocked if Tagovailoa ends up there or at least has conversations with the coaching staff.

According to FIU’s recruiting coordinator, Nick Stuhlmuller, the Panthers have had more quarterbacks drafted the past three years than any other school in the sunshine state including, Florida, Florida State, Miami, FAU and UCF.

Over the past five seasons, those five schools have had just one quarterback drafted—Miami’s Brad Kaaya, who was a seventh-round pick in 2017 to the Detriot Lions.

So, maybe, the Hurricanes wouldn’t be the best fit for him. In 2019 FIU upset Miami 30-24 with former Miami head coach Butch Davis.

Or, maybe, he could end up outside the state of Florida altogether. 

Players skipping college won’t threaten the NCAA

The college basketball landscape is changing. The NCAA is on a downward spiral. These are things I have heard. The truth is, perhaps it is. But I’m not buying it.

The NCAA announced on Wednesday that it will be moving forward with a plan to allow college athletes to profit from third-party endorsements and other activities that use their name, image and likeness.

So, yes. I suppose the game is changing—a little. But that decision has been a long time coming and it’s the right thing to do.

The topic of discussion I’m speaking on is players forgoing college to play professionally.

Jalen Green, one of the nation’s top high school recruits, made news when he announced that he is going to bypass the NCAA and sign with the G League, a development league for the NBA. Green reportedly signed a contract around $500,000. He will also have his tuition paid for by the NBA, should he decide to go back to school and earn his degree.

The right decision? It’s a safe one. The NBA G League set records for players on end-of-regular-season NBA rosters with NBA G League experience (272)–a total of 52 percent of all NBA players during the 2018-19 season.

It’s monumental, but Green isn’t the first player to take this route. Neither is top recruit Isaiah Todd or five-star prospect Daishen Nix. Before them, R.J. Hampton signed a multi-year deal with the New Zealand Breakers of the National Basketball League (NBL), in Australia, with the option to leave for the NBA and LaMelo Ball who last played for the Illawarra Hawks of the NBL has entered his name into the 2020 NBA Draft.

But that’s only a handful of players. Sure, more will follow, but here’s the thing; from 1995 to 2005, 39 players went straight from high school to the NBA. Players like Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Dwight Howard and LeBron James.

College basketball continued to thrive with players like Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Juan Dixon, J.J. Redick, Chris Paul, among others. The ratings for the Final Four were higher during that stretch than they were in the next decade.

For every player that goes pro, there will be a Ja Morant, a Zion Williamson, or a Obadiah Toppin. The NCAA will continue to get top talent, even if guys decide to skip school.

Programs like this give athletes options to play professionally. The NBA G league deserves credit for that.

But the NCAA will not hurt from this. They will only continue to thrive.

Trio of Alabama players will enter 2020 NBA Draft

A trio of Alabama basketball players will be “testing the NBA waters.”

Wednesday morning Kira Lewis Jr. announced on Twitter his decision to enter the 2020 NBA Draft while keeping his eligibility. The sophomore, who reclassified to join the 2018 class, played last season as an 18-year-old.

In 2019-20, Lewis Jr. averaged 18.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. Over two years with the Crimson Tide, he had 1,031 total points, 260 assists and only 183 turnovers.

Hours later, John Petty Jr. took to Instagram announcing he will forgo his senior season to enter the draft.

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In 2019-20, Petty Jr. averaged 14.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He earned second-team all-conference honors after being one of the country’s best three-point shooters, ranking 9th nationally and first in the SEC shooting 44-percent from beyond the arc.

On Saturday, junior forward Herbert Jones announced on Instagram he will enter the draft while also keeping his eligibility.

Despite missing five games due to a fractured left wrist, he led the team in charges taken 22, deflections 84 and floor dives 31 while averaging 7.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

Alabama basketball lands top Canadian recruit

Nate Oats and his staff landed top Canadian prospect Josh Primo when he committed to Alabama Friday morning.

The 6-foot-6, 180-pound guard, Primo, is a five-star recruit in 247Sports’ individual rankings and is ranked as the No. 7 combo guard and 27th-best overall player in the 2020 recruiting class.

He is the No. 17 pick in ESPN’s mock 2021 NBA Draft.

Along with the Crimson Tide, Creighton was his other finalist.

Despite whether or not guards Kira Lewis Jr. and John Petty Jr. keep their names in the NBA Draft or return to Alabama, the Crimson Tide’s roster is in good shape.

NCAA looks to give seniors eligibility relief

A day after the NCAA canceled its men’s and women’s national basketball tournaments and stopped all spring sports in the middle of their seasons to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the NCAA Division I Council Committee has recommended that eligibility relief is given to all student-athletes who participate in spring sports. 

“Details of eligibility relief will be finalized at a later time,” the NCAA said Friday in a statement. “Additional issues with NCAA rules must be addressed, and appropriate governance bodies will work through those in the coming days and week.”

Almost every large sports organization has canceled, suspended, or held in place its future events. Regarding the NCAA, all spring sports were suspended and all remaining winter and spring championships have been canceled. 

The NCAA on Friday banned in-person recruiting for Division I coaches and advised schools to suspend official and unofficial visits until at least April 15.

In the next several weeks, the NCAA will evaluate and determine what has to be done when it comes to scholarship limits. 

It’s unclear what options, if any, will be considered for winter sports athletes. The season was nearly complete. Some teams were going to advance to the NCAA tournament and others weren’t. However, there has been talk about discussing the issue further in detail. 

Despite what the outcome is, these seniors deserve a second chance at a happy ending.

Sports have stopped and college seniors said their goodbyes

We have never seen a period like this in sports. It’s unprecedented. It’s hard to comprehend. We know sports aren’t everything. But sometimes we act like they are. We may scream too loud. Heckle the referee too much. But at the end of the day, we understand.

On Wednesday night, the NBA suspended the season after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus. Then, on Thursday, the dominos started to fall. First, the college conferences canceled their basketball tournaments. Then Major League Soccer and the National Hockey Leauge suspended its seasons. Major League Baseball canceled spring training games and delayed the start of the regular season for at least two weeks. March Madness was over before it began: The NCAA called off its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

It’s heartbreaking. For the fans. For the coaches. For the families. And for the athletes.

The effect of this is much bigger than sports, but sometimes sports is all these kids have to look forward to. It’s what keeps them pushing forward. Alabama junior guard John Petty Jr. was seen with a poster of himself walking out of Bridgestone Arena. Players were visibly shaken.

College softball and baseball players began spreading messages on social media. Many of whom were saying their goodbyes to the sport they love and the school they call home.

It’s nobody’s fault. It had to be done. The safety of human life is a top priority. No, if and or buts. But, to watch athletes that worked their entire childhood to shine on the biggest stage have it all snatched away from them in a blink of an eye is hard.

I’ve gotten to know several student-athletes during my time at the University of Alabama–some of whom I’ve become good friends with– and my heart aches for them. I’m sorry for each and every one of them, for having their season ripped away in an utterly devastating fashion. Accepting the fact your career is over is hard. These athletes dream of living that magical moment and having that fairy tale ending.

Now that won’t happen.

You all deserve better than this.

This isn’t how it’s supposed to end.

The NCAA should give spring student-athletes a year of eligibility back. They should wave the scholarship numbers for an unprecedented circumstance.

The positive of this situation is everyone coming together. Maybe, the cancellation of these major sporting events helped get the point across that this is a severe matter and taking action needed to happen.

But it’s ok to feel sadness. If you’re anything like me, the better part of your day is consumed by sports. I am a sports journalist. I write about sports. Now for the unforeseeable future, there won’t be games to write about. My day usually consists of reading multiple articles, watching ESPN, engaging with followers on social media, doing research–breaking down film on teams, games and athletes–and of course, writing. A lot.

Part of my DNA is tainted.

Coronavirus killed sports as we know it. There’s no March Madness for the first time in 81 years. No College World Series. No Women’s College World Series. No spring sports in general.

Seniors said their goodbyes and life will go on. But, forever, we appreciate you.

Alabama’s tournament hopes fall to Vanderbilt

When the city of Nashville needed someone to stand up and fight, the Vanderbilt basketball team was there to answer the call. On a night removed from the deadly tornados that killed at least 25 people, the Commodores came into Tuscaloosa and played some of its best basketball of the season.

Led by Saben Lee, scoring a career-high 38 points, with eight rebounds and five assists, with nothing to lose, they showed what it meant to play for something more than just basketball.

Alabama didn’t make it easy, though. Graduate-student guard James Bolden on his senior night hit seven three-pointers finishing with 24 points and three rebounds.

But even in the worst of circumstances, Vanderbilt gave Nashville something to cheer for. Even if only for a night.

With its postseason hopes hanging by a thread, the Crimson Tide (16-14, 8-9 SEC) couldn’t finish, losing its final home game of the season, 87-79. It is the Commodores’ (10-20, 2-15 SEC) first road SEC win since 2018 and just its second conference win of the season beating then ranked No. 3 LSU earlier in the year.

“Obviously a super disappointing loss,” head coach Nate Oats’ said in a press release. “That probably buries our tournament chances, which we kind of knew, barring us winning the SEC tournament, we probably aren’t going to be playing in it.”

Sophomore guard Kira Lewis Jr. led Alabama with 30 points and four rebounds. He became the second-fastest Crimson Tide player to reach 1,000 career points. Freshman guard Jaden Shackelford finished with 18 points.

Despite the impressive numbers Alabama is putting up, they continue to have trouble with turnovers and junior forward Alex Reece. In the last 10 games, he is just 15-of-63 from behind the arc and since LSU, he is 8-of-32. Reece struggles to play stout defense and hold on to loose balls.

With one game left on the Crimson Tide’s schedule, whatever hope there was to make the NCAA tournament is now gone.

Its win the SEC tournament or get invited to the NIT.

As Cecil Hurt, of The Tuscaloosa News, pointed out, over the last four seasons, the Crimson Tide holds a 15-25 record, including an 8-12 home record in February and March. Despite what injuries there are, what players are eligible, or not eligible, nothing changes, the NCAA tournament should not be the expectation. 

“We talk about max effort here and we didn’t give it tonight,” Oats said. “I am really disappointed. This is not the first time we’ve done this, though. We are good enough. We lost at Kentucky, but when you look at the other top teams in this league, we beat LSU, we beat Auburn, go to overtime at Auburn, up 21 at Florida and end up losing, Mississippi State is in front of us in the rankings and we beat them. To me, that’s inconsistency and effort. We have to get that changed.”

Alabama plays its final game of the regular season Saturday at Missouri. Tipoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. CT.

Alabama wins a crucial game against South Carolina

If you had any doubts, put them to rest until a later date.

After trailing 12-1 early in the first half, Alabama (16-13, 8-8 SEC) was able to fight back and beat South Carolina, 90-86, keeping its NCAA tournament hopes alive.

“I told our guys during the week and before the game that I thought this game was one that would reveal a lot about our character and I thought it did, especially with the way we started,” head coach Nate Oats said in a press release. “South Carolina got up 12 in the first five or six minutes of the game.”

With junior guard John Petty Jr. out due to injury, freshman forward Javian Davis stepped up. He was physical and got to the foul line, finishing 11-of-15 from the charity stripe. Davis earned a double-double with a career-high 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Junior forward Herbert Jones continued to do the dirty work, despite only playing with one hand. Having two steals and throwing his body on the hardwood, the “One-Handed Bandit,” as the commentators dubbed him, continued to show why he belongs in the discussion for Defensive Player of the Year.

 

 

Sophomore guard Kira Lewis Jr. led the Crimson Tide with 25 points, finishing 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. Freshman guard Jaden Shackelford added 18 points and seven rebounds. Jones had 10 points and eight rebounds, finishing 4-of-6 from the foul line.

Alabama outrebounded South Carolina 44-39 and only had 11 turnovers. The Crimson Tide attempted a season-high 47 free throws, capitalizing on 33.

Oats’ was called for his sixth technical of the season, making Alabama 6-0 in games he has been T’d up.

With two games remaining on the Crimson Tide’s schedule, there is an opportunity to reach 18 wins. That, and the chance to earn wins in the SEC tournament could be enough to get a bid into the NCAA tournament.

“This puts us in a great spot going into the last week of the regular season,” Oats said.

But it is crucial Alabama finishes strong and keeps its mishaps to a minimum.

Alabama hosts Vanderbilt (9-20, 1-15 SEC) in its final home game of the regular season Tuesday night. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. CT.

Alabama suffers bad loss to Texas A&M at home

Alabama had it. And then they didn’t.

Alabama basketball lost a crucial home game to Texas A&M 74-68 on Wednesday night inside Coleman Coliseum.

Texas A&M forced Alabama to play at its strengths. The Aggies hold its opponents to 64 points per game and held the Crimson Tide to just 68. Texas A&M played the shot clock. Played physical defense. And Alabama struggled to find a solid answer.

“This was a disappointing loss, one we really needed if we’re going to make a run at the NCAA tournament,” head coach Nate Oats said in a press release. “You’ve got to give Texas A&M a lot of credit, they’re playing hard.”

The opportunities were there for Alabama (14-12, 6-7 SEC). Two, in fact. Actually, in reality, like three. Maybe four. Two potential game-tying three-point shots in the final minute, but both Kira Lewis Jr. and Jaden Shackleford missed. Alex Reece had an opportunity but missed it. Then, on a three-point shot, Shackleford was fouled and missed all three free throws.

But it was more than that. It was a tale of two halves.

To end the first half, the Crimson Tide held the Aggies to zero field goals in the last 6:16. Texas A&M had 14 turnovers, resulting in 14 Alabama points. The Crimson Tide made eight three-pointers and four two-pointers.

Alabama was playing its game, Texas A&M was just hanging around.

But then things changed.

To close out the game, Texas A&M finished on a 12-0 run, including a Quenton Jackson three-ball with 57 seconds remaining to take the lead 68-62.

Each year it’s the same reality. Alabama can’t finish in February. In each of the past four seasons, Alabama hasn’t earned more than two wins to finish its last five games. The Crimson Tide will have to finish 4-1 or 5-0 to have a shot at the NCAA tournament. And, that’s a lot to ask.

The fight in this team is undeniable, but you can’t lose to Texas A&M and expect to make the NCAA tournament. A Quadrant three loss really hurts the Crimson Tide. Remember, Alabama was an 11.5 point favorite. They lost by six.

With five games remaining on the Crimson Tide’s schedule, two stick out. Mississippi State and South Carolina. Both of whom sit on the bubble, both of which Alabama can’t afford to lose.

“We have got to get this figured out. Some of this is on the coaching staff,” Oats said about Alabama’s struggles late in the season. “We didn’t do a great job of attacking the pressure. That’s on me, and we’ve got to get them more prepared to play.”

Alabama starts a two-game road trip in the state of Mississippi, starting with Ole Miss on Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. CT.