Chris Dortch


Blue Ribbon releases 35th anniversary cover, All-America team

Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook released its 35th anniversary cover on Thursday, and along with it, its five-player preseason All-America first team. Over the course of 35 years, from humble beginnings in the basement of founder Chris Wallace’s parents’ home to respect as the “bible” of college basketball to now, when the book is used as a season-long textbook for coaches, NBA scouts, broadcasters from every major network including CBS and ESPN, even the NCAA tournament selection committee, Blue Ribbon has prided itself on changing with the times—adding teams, improvingRead More

Two-sport star Connaughton has sights set on the NBA

Pat Connaughton

The prevailing opinion that former Notre Dame guard/fireballing righthander Pat Connaughton prefers baseball over basketball has dogged him like a cranky debt collector for at least the last five years, so much so that Connaughton has had to stage a couple of high-profile public displays of hoops skill to convince people otherwise. The latest came last week at the NBA’s Chicago pre-draft combine, where Connaughton set the Twitterverse ablaze with the hashtag #WhiteMenCanJump after soaring to a 44-inch max vertical leap, easily the best in the combine and tied forRead More

White has extra motivation to make NBA dreams become reality

Aaron White

Five years ago, Aaron White was at a crossroads, staring a major life decision in the face and unsure how to proceed. The decision: where he would spend the next four years of his life, earning a college degree and playing basketball. A long list of suitors had been whittled to two final choices. White’s father Rick suggested writing them on a piece of paper and listing the pros and cons of each. One was Duquesne. The other was Iowa. White had been heavily recruited out of Strongsville, Ohio, whichRead More

Is Cameron Payne this year’s Elfrid Payton?

Cameron Payne

Murray State assistant basketball coach William Small was in his office in the fall of 2012 when his phone rang. The caller was Damon Stoudamire, then a Memphis assistant, who had just come from a high school game in the city, where he watched Skal Labissiere, a future five-star recruit and Kentucky signee who was then playing for Evangelical Christian School. But a player on the other team caught Stoudamire’s eye, thus his call to Small. “He said, ‘man, I made a bad mistake,’ ” Small said. “I said, ‘whatRead More

Hunter’s decision to declare for NBA Draft a family affair

R.J. Hunter

If Georgia State guard R.J. Hunter decides to bypass his senior season and declare for the NBA Draft, his sister will have played a part in the decision. That’s right, his sister. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s followed Hunter’s three-year career playing for his father Ron at Georgia State. The Hunters are a close-knit family—otherwise Hunter would be playing at Iowa right now—potentially life-altering decisions aren’t taken lightly, and often, majority rules. Thus Jasmine Hunter’s role in the most important decision her brother will have madeRead More

Turner seems to possess what Vols’ Barnes wants in a point guard

Lamonte Turner must be a tough hombre. The well-traveled Turner, whose career has taken him from high schools in Alabama to Florida and finally the IMG Academy, is the third player (so far) in Rick Barnes’ first recruiting class at Tennessee. Unlike Canadian big men Ray Kasongo and Kyle Alexander, Turner, a 6-1, 175-pound point guard, hasn’t signed scholarship papers. He’ll do so when he returns home to Alabama once his curriculum is complete at IMG. Thus, neither Barnes nor his assistants can speak publicly about Turner’s skills. But weRead More

Boyhood friends trying to help make Tennessee basketball relevant again

Before Rob Lanier knew he would rejoin his former boss at Texas, Rick Barnes, to help stabilize the reeling basketball program Tennessee, he had a suggestion: Hire Desmond Oliver. There are casual friends, good friends, close friends and best friends. And then there’s the relationship Lanier and Oliver have maintained for 34 years, all the way back to the days the two grew up a couple of doors apart on Donovan Street in the rugged Buffalo, N.Y. housing project, Ferry Grider Homes. Perhaps that street name was a harbinger ofRead More

Vols tap Canadian connection for second time in as many weeks

That stamp new Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes and his assistants are putting on their program is going to have a maple leaf displayed prominently in one corner of it. For the second time in as many weeks, the Vol staff has landed a talented big man from Canada. This week, it’s Kyle Alexander, who comes from Orangeville Prep in Ontario. Alexander is 6-10, and in basketball parlance is a plus six, which means his wingspan of 7-4 is six inches longer than his frame. Alexander joins 6-10, 235-pound RayRead More

Here’s how Rick Barnes and his staff will recruit at Tennessee


One month into what figures to be Rick Barnes’ final stop as a college basketball coach, we begin to get an idea of how Tennessee will procure its talent. Recruiting is the lifeblood of any program, and the way Barnes and his staff operate, there will be no rush to judgment, no scramble to fill jerseys with warm bodies, just for the sake of completing a roster. This philosophy applies to the crazy, early days any coach goes through after taking a new job, and it applies to the future.Read More

Why Tennessee hoops will develop Canadian connection

The fact that two basketball players from Canada are making official visits to Tennessee this weekend is no coincidence. Rob Lanier, one of new coach Rick Barnes’ assistants, has ties north of the border, evidenced by the success Lanier and Barnes had luring Canadian players to their previous employer, Texas. No, Kyle Alexander and Ray Kasongo, the Vols’ weekend visitors, aren’t to be mistaken, talent-wise, for former Longhorns Tristan Thompson, Myck Kabongo or Corey Joseph, not yet anyway. But both are skilled. And their presence begs a question. Why hasn’tRead More