richardonsummer

Richardson to make Heat debut in NBA summer leagues

 

Former Tennessee and new Miami Heat guard Josh Richardson will play in both Orlando’s Pro Summer League and Las Vegas’ NBA Summer League.

Miami released its summer league roster on Wednesday.

Richardson’s summer league play will start in Orlando on Saturday, where the Heat will play five games in seven days. Then, the Heat’s summer league team heads to Las Vegas for at least five more games.

How well Richardson plays could determine if he gets a contract.

If you’re interested in catching some games, be on the lookout for specific broadcasts from NBA TV. Fans can also watch every game live on NBA.com.

Here’s the Heat’s schedule for both leagues:

Orlando —

Saturday, July 4, 2015

9:00 a.m. Miami @ Indiana

Sunday, July 5, 2015

5:00 p.m. Brooklyn @ Miami

Monday, July 6, 2015

3rd game 5:00 p.m. Detroit @ Miami

 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

3rd game 5:00 p.m. LA Clippers @ Miami

Friday, July 10, 2015 (Championship Day)

1st game 8:00 a.m. 6th place @ 5th place

2nd game 10:00 a.m. 4th place @ 3rd place

3rd game 12:00 p.m. 2nd place @ 1st place

4th game 2:00 p.m. 8th place @ 7th place

5th game 4:00 p.m. 10th place @ 9th place

Las Vegas ( times are Eastern)  —

Saturday, July 11

4:30 p.m. — Miami vs. Utah (Game 14)

Monday, July 13

2 p.m. — Miami vs. Denver (Game 27)

Tuesday, July 14

1 p.m. — Miami vs. Boston (Game 35)

* The rest of the games from July 15-20 will be decided by the league’s tournament format. I’ll update the rest of the schedule when it’s determined when the Heat will play.

Here’s the Heat’s summer league roster:

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Tennessee guard Josh Richardson (1) drives past Vanderbilt forward Jeff Roberson (11) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee won in overtime, 76-73. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Josh Richardson’s turning point

 

There’s a funny story about a very scrawny Josh Richardson showing up for a recruiting visit to Tennessee in skinny jeans and glasses with no lenses. The hipster from Oklahoma looked more like the younger brother of a recruit than someone who deserved a scholarship.

But looks can be deceiving, and Richardson on Thursday night became the 46th Vol drafted into the NBA.

There’s an event in between worth mentioning.

After Richardson had grown into the defensive specialist Jordan McRae hated to play against every day at practice, but before he became the face of the program, there was an important meeting in former UT coach Cuonzo Martin’s office. Martin, now at Cal, told Richardson the team needed more.

The Vols were attempting to save a season that nearly derailed after a loss to lowly Texas A&M dropped their record to 16-11 and 7-7 in the SEC. The regular season had ended and the conference tournament was approaching. Thoughts of the NBA draft were threatening to distract key players. It was time for the easygoing, often-goofy Richardson to assume more of a leadership role. Period.

If Richardson wanted to run and complain to his parents — he didn’t — he would have gotten the same message.

“He doesn’t even know this, but I guess I can reveal this now,” Martin said Friday. “I called his mom and dad to say I need their help to push him to be a leader. I was going to challenge him more. He accepted that challenge … It wasn’t a case of the talent. He always had the talent. It was a matter of him understanding of what we needed him to be.”

Micheal Richardson, Josh’s father, and Martin had known one another since Martin offered his son, then a three-star prospect, a scholarship to Missouri State. He agreed.

“Josh had always been an informal leader on the team,” Micheal Richardson said Friday. “He (Martin) gave him that formal leadership role. He came out and said, ‘Josh is one of our leaders.'”

A day after seeing his son receive the phone call from Miami Heat president Pat Riley, Micheal Richardson says that meeting Josh Richardson had with Martin is still significant.

“I think that was a turning point,” Micheal Richardson said. “It gave him that confidence.”

Josh Richardson continued to wreak havoc on defense but started to look like a different player at the other end. He averaged 19.3 points per game during UT’s surprise Sweet 16 run. He became more vocal in huddles and timeouts.

Like many others, I wondered: Was this was the new Josh Richardson or just a March mirage? Dad didn’t have any doubts.

“I wasn’t concerned because Josh, at that point, after the tournament, he just said, ‘Man I can do this,'” Micheal Richardson said. “And he never looked back. Coach (Donnie) Tyndall came in and basically put the ball in his hands, and that was great, too.”

Tyndall deserves credit as well. He helped Josh Richardson grow his offensive game, showing him how to create separation and find his shot. He poured confidence into his new star and designed around him.

Tyndall quickly realized Josh Richardson’s potential. By then, so did Josh Richardson. He was ready to lead, and he thrived. Thanks in part to the meeting with Martin that helped start his rise.

TeeH

Oak Ridge star Tee Higgins claims basketball offer from Vols

 

Tee Higgins, a four-star Oak Ridge High School wide receiver in the 2017 class, has been on the Tennessee football team’s wish list for a while.

Now the Vols basketball team is after him, too.

The 6-foot-4, 184-pound Higgins has received a basketball scholarship offer from the Vols, he posted to his Twitter account Thursday night.

The offer came after Higgins, accompanied by his AAU coach and former Vols guard Bobby Maze, stopped by UT’s campus on Tuesday afternoon, according to a 247Sports report.

Higgins holds a long offer list for football (including Alabama and Ohio State), but this is believed to be the combo guard’s third basketball offer. Middle Tennessee State offered first, followed by Auburn on June 2.

Higgins earned all-state honors in football and basketball last season and earned the PrepXtra Boys Basketball sophomore of the year award. He helped Oak Ridge reach the Class AAA state tournament, averaging a team-high 13.9 points along with 6 rebounds and 3 assists.

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Q&A with new Vols walk-on Brad Woodson

 

Brad Woodson assumed his shot at becoming a Tennessee basketball player expired when former Vols coach Donnie Tyndall was fired. Maybe he could be a manager, or something. Then, during an impromptu meeting last week, new Vols coach Rick Barnes extended an invitation that became the highlight of Woodson’s campus orientation. I caught up with Woodson, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound shooting guard from Murfreesboro’s Riverdale High School, about joining the team as a walk-on in July.

Q: Can you walk me through the process of finding out you were going to join the team?

A: “Originally, under Tyndall, we had talked about being a walk-on, but with the coaching switch and everything it kind of fell through. I was up in Knoxville for orientation last Monday and Tuesday, and I went by to see if I could be a part of the team. I waited and waited and ended up talking to a manager. I gave them my name and number. Then Coach Barnes walked in. He had remembered watching film on me and invited me to watch practice later that day. It kind of all happened at once. The timing was great .”

“It kind of surprised me, because when it fell through before I was like, ‘Dang maybe I can be a manager, or be around the team or something.’ It was crazy how it all happened. It was a great surprise to have that happen at the end of orientation.”

Q: What did Barnes tell you he was looking for in a walk-on?

A: “A smart guy who can shoot the ball as well. That’s pretty much it.”

Q: Are you more of a shooting guard or a point guard?

A: “Naturally, I’m a shooting guard. Shooting is my strongest ability.”

Q: What are your expectations for your freshman season?

A: “Just help the team in any way, whether it’s with a couple of minutes every now and then, or pushing the guys in practice, or running the scout team offense.”

Q: Your dad, Kevin Woodson, coached you throughout high school. How did being a coach’s son shape your game?

A: “Just always being around the game and talking about the game. On Saturday, after the Friday night game, we would watch film and go over stuff that should be different. We always had that connection. He didn’t even have to say anything … Having a dad as a coach definitely helped the basketball IQ.”

Q: What are the areas you need to improve?

A: “My speed and my ball handling would be two of the main ones. Those are the two parts of my game that need to get a lot better.”

Q: You were a pretty good baseball player in high school as well. Any chance you try to play that as well at UT?

A: “No. I’ll be strictly basketball.”

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Tennessee basketball freshmen receive jersey numbers

 

The Tennessee men’s basketball team’s roster has been updated to include incoming freshmen, which means we now know the numbers the new guys will wear. The digits:

No. 1 — Lamonte’ Turner (6-2, 180)

No. 2 — Ray Kasongo (6-9, 235)

No. 5 — Admiral Schofield (6-6, 220)

No. 11 — Kyle Alexander (6-10, 200)

No. 25 — Shembari Phillips (6-4, 185)

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Three-star 2015 small forward Dikembe Dixson to visit Vols

Monday Update: Dikembe Dixson did not arrive for an official visit Monday. His father, Sam Dixson, told the News Sentinel in a phone interview on Monday afternoon that he expects his son’s visit to be rescheduled for later this week.

Dikembe Dixson, a three-star small forward in the 2015 class, has a Tennessee offer and plans to visit Knoxville next week.

The 6-foot-7, 190-pound Dixson announced on Twitter on Friday night that he is now considering Tennessee along with Mississippi State and Alabama.

A strong push from Tennessee has moved the Vols into the picture as of late, according to Brad Napier, head coach at Mingo Central High School in Matewan, West Virginia.

“I know he was talking to (Vols) coach (Rick) Barnes tonight,” Napier said late Friday night. “They are planning to bring him in for an official visit.”

That visit is scheduled for Monday (May 18).

Napier said Barnes’ staff, specifically associate head coach Rob Lanier, established a relationship with Dixson while at Texas. That interest intensified this week.

Napier said Dixson visited Alabama last week and has a visit to Mississippi State scheduled later this week. He said Arkansas had been in the picture but isn’t any longer.

“He really liked Alabama last weekend,” Napier said. “He’s really excited about Tennessee now that it has come into the picture here lately. He had a good relationship with the staff when they were at Texas.”

Napier said Dixson averaged 22 points and 10.5 rebounds as a senior this season. He describes him as a “very athletic” player who excels in transition.

“He’s just an elite athlete,” Napier said. “He can shoot it. He as a really nice stroke. He is just all-around a good player. He needs to get in the weight room a bit, get a little stronger and fine tune his skills.”

Napier said Dixson originally planned to sign on May 26, but that date could be pushed back due to his new interest in the Vols. When asked why the decision has been delayed compared to many recruits in the 2015 class, Napier said Dixson always planned to wait until after his season ended to make his decision.

“He kind of wanted to take his time through the whole process,” Napier said. “His sister played at Marshall. The family knows how the whole process goes.”

Dixson’s sister, Suporia Dickens, played at Marshall from 2011-2014. Dixson’s cousin, Montrell Dixson, is a 6-foot-6, 200-pound shooting guard in the 2016 class who has drawn some Division I interest.

Something that could hep Tennessee: Ruben Kasongo, the younger brother of 2015 Tennessee signee Ray Kasongo, was a teammate of Dikembe Dixson’s at Mingo Central last season. Ruben Kasongo has since transferred, but the players remained friends.

“Those guys communicate,” Napier said.

Tennessee has one scholarship available for the 2015 class — if additional roster defections do not occur. Last week, UT power forward target Ebuka Izundu committed to Miami.

The 247Sports composite ranks Dixson the No. 219 overall prospect and the No. 43 small forward in the 2015 class.

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Vols basketball coach Rick Barnes discusses (brief) TV career

Tennessee fans know they landed an accomplished basketball coach in Rick Barnes.

Some might not have known he’s also a professional actor. Or at least he was — once.

Barnes made an appearance on NBC’s hit TV show “Friday Night Lights” back when he coached the Texas basketball team. He played a football coach in the 11th episode of Season Two, and he’s still reaping the rewards. They include a Screen Actor’s Guild card, an Oscar vote and an occasional royalty of “about 17 or 18 bucks.”

“That came about because my son was living in California,” Barnes told Sports Radio’s SportsTalk on Friday. “I flew back and was sitting beside this guy. I just started carrying on a conversation with him. He told me he was an actor in “Friday Night Lights.” I said, ‘Really?’ They were doing all that in Austin, Texas. He actually sad that everyone on the plane is part of that cast in some way. He pointed to his left and said, ‘That guy right there is in charge of the whole thing.’ He was asleep. I’d gotten up and went to the restroom, and when I came back to my seat, he was awake. And he asked me if I would do a cameo.”

Barnes recruited the show’s top running back, Brian “Smash” Williams, during his cameo. Spoiler alert: Barnes revealed the actor who plays smash, Gaius Charles, said he never touched a football in his life before his role on the show. Barnes joked that it might not be his last acting gig.

“I’m getting ready to stop coaching and get into acting full-time, you know?” he said. “There are a few roles on TV I think I would be really good for. All the roles that (Kevin) Costner and (Clint) Eastwood play, they should have cast me in some of those roles.”

Barnes also told the radio show’s hosts, Jimmy Hyams and Jesse Smithey, that he was conducting this radio interview while in the back of a limousine on the way to a charity event.

Sounds like he’s ready for Hollywood.

Some other highlights from the interview, which you can listen to in full here, included:

  • Two of Barnes’ three UT commitments are from Canada. He was asked if a better brand of basketball is being taught in Canada than the United States.
    Barnes: “I can say this to you without reservation: Every Canadian kid that we have ever coached has a passion, and their work ethic is unbelievable. I can tell you, up to this point, and I don’t think it will be any different, the three Canadians we coached while we were at Texas, those guys would be in the top-10 in terms of putting time in the gym, staying in the gym and wanting to be as good as they can be. I do think there is someway, somehow a work ethic that is put in place there, and a love for the game. They’re getting some great coaching at the grassroots level.”
  • Barnes was asked what it’s like when players leave a program after a coaching change. How hard is he working to get them to stay?
    Barnes: “The key is honesty. You’ve got to sit down, and you’re always going to lay out your program the way that you want it to go — what you’re looking for going forward, what’s going to be expected, what’s going to be the culture you’re trying to create. And sometimes it’s just not what the player is looking for. Sometimes it’s not what the coach is looking for … We want it to work for everyone. But we’ve done this long enough to know that it’s not going to work (for everyone). Sometimes it’s just better that everyone gets a fresh start. You never know how that’s going to work out, but it seems to always take care of itself.”
  • Barnes also said the Vols “could end up on the road” for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge this season. The slate of games should be announced sometime this week.

Vols basketball target Kyle Alexander nearing announcement

kyle alexander

  • Tennessee 2015 basketball target Kyle Alexander is nearing a decision between UT and New Mexico and will make his announcement Thursday or Friday, the three-star forward told the News Sentinel in a text message on Wednesday night.
    “Still deciding with my family,” Alexander said.
    Alexander told the News Sentinel on Monday that he hoped to finalize his pick before the end of the week.
    The 6-foot-10 1/2, 200-pound Canadian out of Orangeville Prep in Orangeville, Ontario visited New Mexico last weekend and UT the weekend before.
  • UT 2015 point guard commitment Lamonte’ Turner doesn’t expect to sign his letter of intent until later this month, he told the News Sentinel in a text message Monday. Turner, who plays for IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., said he wants to wait until he is back home in Alabama with his family before he signs. UT cannot announce Turner’s addition, and UT coach Rick Barnes cannot comment on him publicly, until he signs.
  • Add University of Arkansas at Little Rock graduate transfer James White to the recruiting radar. ESPN’s Jeff Borzello reported Wednesday that UT is among the teams pursuing the 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward. The competition includes Memphis, Alabama, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Wichita State, George Washington, VCU, Ole Miss and Arkansas. White averaged 11.9 points and 6.6 rebounds last season, but missed the final 15 games due to a stress fracture, according to Troy Schulte of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. White averaged 11.6 points and 6.1 rebounds as a redshirt sophomore. He averaged 7.2 points and 3.6 rebounds as a redshirt freshman. The Jonesboro, Ga., native redshirted in 2011-12 due to tendinitis in his knee.

 

 

 

 

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Update on Tennessee target Ebuka Izundu’s recruitment

 

Tennessee basketball recruiting target Ebuka Izundu enjoyed his official visit with the Vols last weekend, but the four-star power forward plans to take three more official visits before deciding where he will play, according to his high school coach.

Victory Christian Center School (Charlotte, N.C.) coach Aureice McCain told the News Sentinel on Wednesday that Izundu will visit Miami this weekend and Arkansas next weekend before taking his final official visit to Texas Tech. Izundu has already taken official visits to Cincinnati and Tennessee.

McCain said Izundu plans to pick between the five schools he visited. The target date for his announcement is May 15.

“It went well,” McCain said of Izundu’s visit with the Vols. “Ebuka said he really liked the school, but he’s still keeping his options open.”

“He said it was a nice campus. Good coaching staff. He was impressed with the facilities. He felt like that academic staff and stuff were good. He likes it, but he’s excited about seeing the other schools as well.”

McCain said the commitment of junior-college power forward Ray Kasongo to UT on Tuesday wouldn’t necessarily hurt the Vols’ chances of landing Izundu.

“That guy coming in, he’s a junior college kid, so he only has two years,” McCain said. “Ebuka has four, but still he wants to produce and be able to come in and contribute from the beginning.”

UT assistant coach Desmond Oliver, a former Charlotte assistant coach, is the lead on the recruitment of Izundu, a former Charlotte signee.

Scouting service 247Sports ranks the 6-foot-10, 210-pound Izundu the No. 70 player in the 2015 class and the No. 18 power forward.

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Emptying the notebook on Tennessee’s two new commits

 

What a day. Tennessee basketball doubled the size of its 2015 signing class Tuesday, thanks to the commitments of point guard Lamonte’ Turner and power forward Ray Kasongo. I crammed as much as I could into tomorrow’s News Sentinel story, but here is some more info that either didn’t make the cut or had to be trimmed down.

  • Don’t forget the proper punctuation on the end of Lamonte’. You’ll see it as “Lamonte” online (and in the previous stories I’ve written about him), but he says that’s incorrect.
  • Lamonte’ Turner said he is a cousin of Ralston Turner. Remember Ralston? He’s the former NC State guard who hung 33 points on the Vols during the Wolfpack’s win in Raleigh last season. “He actually text me today after I committed,” Lamonte’ Turner said. “He said ‘Congratualtions, man. Ask your teammates. I killed them.'”
    He really did.
  • There was some confusion surrounding Turner’s commitment. Reports that he would commit to Alabama conflicted with reports that he did not have an official offer from the Crimson Tide. A well-placed Alabama source told Cecil Hurt of he Tuscaloosa News that committing to Alabama wasn’t even an option for Turner. Cecil is nails on the Alabama beat and I don’t doubt his reporting. But Turner refuted the notion that he didn’t have an Alabama offer.
    “I do have an Alabama offer,” he said. “I’m guessing they were saying that because they felt they weren’t going to get me.”
    Who knows what really happened there. Add some more fuel to the Tennessee-Alabama rivalry.
  • The commitment of Turner could help the re-recruitment of Romello White. White, a four-star power forward in the 2016 class, de-committed from the Vols after the Donnie Tyndall-to- Rick Barnes coaching change. Turner said he’s trying to get his teammate at IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) back on board.
    “I really think it’s a possibility,” Turner said, “With some work we can get him.”

kasongo jump

 

  • Kasongo, who averaged six points and 4.9 rebounds at College of Southern Idaho last season, considers himself a stretch four. He says he can shoot the three despite missing the one attempt he took last season.
    “I didn’t display it as much,” he admitted. “I’m a really good shot blocker. I like to beat guys off the dribble. I have a really good post game. I’m a physical player. I run up and down the court.”
    I’ll wait to see the 3-point prowess, but I’ll buy the shot-blocking. He averaged. 2.2 blocks last season.
  • Jerry Meyer, director of basketball scouting with 247Sports, weighed in on both additions. He said both are good gets for UT, based on the remaining options.
    “He’s a quick player, very good in open space,” Meyer said of Turner. “Where he needs to get better is building strength and becoming stronger with the ball. He’s loose, wiry and good in space. He has a game built around quickness.”
    Meyer said Kasongo is an athletic big man who, thanks to having a junior-college season under his belt, will be able to offer immediate help in the post.
    “His athleticism is the main thing,” Meyer said. “He’s strong. He can defend the five man. I would assume he’s going to spend a lot of time battling inside, defending the big men Tennessee plays against. His defense and athleticism is ahead of his offense. Day one, you are going to get a guy who is physical enough. He’s ready to play and not scared. He’s going to defend and battle on the boards. Whatever you get offensively is icing on the cake.”
  • Barnes and his staff can’t comment on the commitments until they are signed and through compliance, but the Tennessee basketball Twitter account gave a nod to the two-commitment day tonight.