Kentucky and Duke Are Hopping on the Bronny James Recruiting Train

Bronny James Jr. may be the most talked about 14 year old since Justin Bieber. Definitely the most popular 8th grader in the recruiting world since Billy Gillispie offered one a scholarship. If you aren’t already to seeing him plastered all over the internet (or on the vino… SHEESH), get used to it. The class of 2023 doesn’t graduate for a while, but some top programs seem to already be sold on LeBron’s son.

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According to 247Sports and several other publications, Bronny Jr. already has standing scholarship offers from Kentucky and Duke. Of course, anyone with the same genes as one of the most athletic players to have ever lived is going to be attractive to just about every program. On top of that, he had a stellar performance at this year’s Nike EYBL tournament. Here is what 247Sports’ basketball insider Evan Daniels had to say about him:

“With his father looking on, James showed impressive feel for the game and incredible poise for his age. He was unphased by the circus like environment around him. James has a smooth shooting stroke from three, competed on both ends and played with energy. He finished with 11 points and his team left with a double digit victory.

“He’s going to be real special,” Emoni Bates, a top 2022 prospect, said about Bronny after the game. “He plays hard, he’s smart. He finds people. He’s going to be real good.”

The idea of projecting a rising freshman is difficult, and ultimately James’ continued skill development and physical growth will determine where he ends up, but at this stage the 2023 guard is tracking as a future high major prospect.”

Bronny’s recruitment will be one for the books. LeBron having not gone to college means it’s anyone’s guess as to where he ends up. LeBron grew up an Ohio State fan, played under Coach K for Team USA, and has spent a significant amount of time at Kentucky games. When Bronny ultimately does make his decision, the announcement video will be legendary. I expect no less than two helicopters.

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Zion to New Orleans, Even Though He Really Wants to Stay at Duke Another Year

Every college basketball fan’s worst nightmare was almost realized and we didn’t even know it. Zion Williamson actually wanted to go back to Duke for another year. Turns out, we actually have something to thank Coach K for. In a recent interview with Franklyn Calle of the Slam, he said:

“You get this college experience once,” he says. “If you’re in a situation like mine, where you’re one and done, I’m just trying to make the most of what I got. I love Duke, and honestly, I don’t want to leave. If I didn’t have as much at stake, I probably would stay for another year. But I can’t.

“Being at Duke was a dream come true for me. Everything about it. Looking to the sidelines, Whoa, that’s Coach K I’m playing for! Coach K is looking at me [and] telling me I’m built for this moment. I have a true brotherhood on and off the court. Everything was just a movie,” he says. “This was the best year of my life. So if I could come back for a second year I would, but unfortunately that’s just not the reality we live in. The reality we live in is [that] my ultimate dream is the NBA. It’s what I’ve been dreaming about as a kid so I have to pursue that. And I have to take care of my family.”

Probably didn’t want to take a pay cut.

The highest rated prospect since LeBron James not only went to college, but also had to be convinced to leave it. I get it. Playing for Duke and Coach K, experiencing Cameron Indoor and being the top story every single day had to have been incredible. But also, if I had to pick between having an incredible experience again or millions of dollars… I’m getting paid every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

This is absolutely insane to hear. Zion works his entire life to get himself to the place he is now and he really wanted to delay it for another year. Is cramming on Luke Maye really that fun? I would imagine so, but I wouldn’t pass up millions of dollars for that. Why would he want to risk another injury like the one he had a couple months ago just to lose in the first round to a 15 seed? He may be afraid of sharing the spotlight, because right now, it looks like he would rather play with Alex O’Connell than Anthony Davis.

Hate Is Learned, Especially in College Basketball

College basketball fans are the most passionate fans in America. Whether you went to that school, grew up cheering for them, or have no connection to them and just like them because they are good (Duke fans); one thing is for certain: you have learned to hate your rival school.

As a UK alum and born and raised Kentuckian, I grew up a Cats fan. I cried every year we lost in the tournament until I was about 13 and then again when we won in 2012. But with my love for Kentucky basketball came something else. I developed a deep hatred for teams like Louisville, Tennessee and, above all, DUKE. But here is the thing, I really don’t know why I hate them.

When it comes to Louisville, it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense why I hate them. I mean, I have lived my whole live, excluding college, in that city. I don’t hate any other college there, just the University of Louisville. I have friends that go there (humble brag I have friends), have had a good time at UofL parties (humble brag I go to parties), and the Yum! Center has never disappointed. So, do I really hate that school because they beat Kentucky every now and then? YUP.

Then, there is Tennessee. No idea why I hate them. I never even gave that color orange a chance. It doesn’t deserve one, but still.

Then we have Duke. If you want to talk irrational, my hatred for Duke is definitely falls under than category. If you don’t know specifically why Kentucky fans hate Duke, I will bring you up to speed. In the year of our Lord 1992, Christian Laettner hit a last second turnaround jumpshot to put Duke in the Final Four and Kentucky out of the tournament.

That’s it. One shot that was entirely Kentucky’s fault for not guarding the inbounder or playing defense. Not only do I hate Duke because of this, I also hate Christian Laettner. And here is the worst part: I wasn’t even alive for this game. So something I did not experience nor was I able to understand until much later has left a lasting impression on me and left me with an irrational hatred of a school I never could have gotten into anyway.

I am not sure how rival schools work where you are from, but for me, a loss for Duke feels as good as a Kentucky win. Maybe as good as sex. I’m not sure though, I’ll let you all know when it happens to me.

The Team That Will Threaten Zion and Duke’s Hopes of a National Title

The East region of the NCAA March Madness might be the toughest. With the top 4 teams making it to the Sweet 16 (Duke, Michigan State, LSU, Virginia Tech), it honestly could be a toss-up for which team will make it out of there. We all know what the majority is saying though: Duke can’t lose. Duke with Zion Williamson is destined to win the National Championship this year, because no one could possibly stop him. Well, what if I told you there was a team in the East region that could threaten Zion and Duke’s hopes of making it to even the Final Four? No, this isn’t a 30/30, but it is something that is just as thought provoking. That team isn’t Michigan State or Virginia Tech, but rather the LSU Tigers.

I know what you’re thinking, “No way! LSU doesn’t have a head coach and they lost to Florida twice this year!” Just hear me out. Let me address the teams abilities first. So, LSU might be one of the most talented, athletic, and long teams in the country. They have both size and speed. Tremont Waters has established himself as one of the most talented point guards in the country; Skylar Mays has given the team the needed leadership and shooting ability that they desperately needed all year; Javonte Smart has emerged as one of the great young talents in college basketball with his new found confidence; Kavell Bigby-Williams is one of the only seniors on the team, but he has been the perfect 6’11” 250 lbs center that the team has needed; finally, the absolute freak of nature himself Naz Reid. Naz is scary good. He can eat you up down low or pop it from three. LSU is also a deep team with guys like Emmitt Williams, Marlon Taylor, and Darius Days. All of these guys help make LSU one of the best teams in the country.

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So then what are they so great at aside from having absolute athletes on their team? They can beat on both offense and defense. Where they might struggle from behind the three, they are one of the nationals leaders in offensive rebounding. When they get that ball down low in the paint they are almost automatic. They don’t get blocked often either. The fact that they spend a lot of time in the paint, LSU spends a lot of time at the free throw line. This is where they have had a lot of success this year averaging roughly 75%. On defense, they are lockdown. They are one of the nationals leaders in steals and blocks. It is very hard to get the shots you want against this very long and athletic team. One of LSU’s biggest struggles is following asleep on defense when the shot clock get to about 10 seconds, and also becoming too conservative on offense. They have a knack for letting teams back into the game because they try to park the bus and it never works for them. So, I think that those are one of the only things that you can do to take advantage of this team.

Next, addressing the Will Wade situation. Yes, I know that it is difficult to be successful when you don’t have your commander in chief, the guy that has led this team all season; however, they have still played very well. People forget, Tony Benford has been with the team all year. It is not like this guy has just randomly stepped in to take over a team that he knows nothing about. These players trust him to lead the team in Wade’s absence and can use this “Us Against the World” mentality to their advantage. No one has given them a look all tournament. I mean, they were one of the potential upsets in the first round. They’re playing great basketball, and have all the talent they need.

Obviously, for LSU to play Duke then both teams would have to make it to the Elite Eight. This is entirely possible. I think that these Sweet Sixteen match-ups (Duke – Virginia Tech and Michigan State – LSU) are going to be really fun. I just have never had confidence in Michigan State all year, and Virginia Tech has a very tough task ahead of them. Anything is possible come tournament time. That is why they call it March Madness, so that is yet to be seen. However, if LSU and Duke do play then I think LSU can have a lot of success against Duke.

Duke may have 3 of the top 10 NBA prospects in college basketball on their team with Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish, but that doesn’t mean that they are unbeatable. As we have seen throughout this year, Duke has struggled in some major scoring areas, mainly from behind the three. Duke might be the worst three point percentage shooting team in all of college basketball. That is not a joke. Their three point percentage is just above 30% (30.7%). That is atrocious. That is 329th/353 teams in college basketball. Yikes. They also don’t make their free throws, which is a cause for concern. Leaving points at the line can cost a team a game, and it almost happened to Duke versus UCF on Sunday. Zion missed the game tying free throw and luckily for Duke RJ Barrett was there to get the offensive rebound and make the layup. That could have been a completely different outcome had Tacko Fall not fouled out when he fouled Zion on that last play.

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The size and speed of LSU, coupled with their raw talent, would be something that Duke has not seen yet in this tournament. They may get a little of that against Virginia Tech, but LSU is a different animal. UCF was a challenge to Duke because of their ability to guard within the paint. That was something that forced Duke to shoot outside shots, which they cannot shoot well.

So, if LSU and Duke meet in the Elite Eight, look for the upset. LSU will control the paint and keep Duke from getting what they want inside and be forced to shoot threes. Duke is on upset watch. You heard it hear first.

Just a reminder that the last time LSU and Duke faced off during March Madness, the Glen “Big Baby” Davis led LSU Tigers beat number 1 Seed JJ Redick led Duke Blue Devils to advance to the Elite Eight back in 2006.

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-Parmesan Don

@soft7parm

ACC Tournament Final Prediction

First of all, this has been a really fun ACC Tournament. A lot of fun games. I have been tremendously surprised by the play of Florida State. I didn’t even think they would make it past Virginia Tech, much less Virginia. So that being said, let’s drive right into this championship game.

Florida State vs. Duke

When: 8:30 p.m. ET ESPN

Spread: Duke -8

Over/Under: 146.5

The only other time these teams met this year, it was a shootout. Duke ended up winning the thriller at Florida State 80-78. Duke still has more to show in this ACC tournament. Last night’s win over their biggest rival, North Carolina, was exhausting and full of emotion. I think that it might have taken a lot out of some of these guys, but now they have this confidence they didn’t have before the tournament. Duke has now gotten over the hurdle of beating North Carolina this season. If this were the regular season and they were playing at Florida State, then some might say that Duke is due for a letdown game. I don’t see that happening in this ACC Tournament final though.

That being said, Florida State has impressed me immensely. They have really made me eat my words time and time again in this tournament. I am shocked with the level of play they have had so far. I think that they can really carry their level of shooting and defensive abilities throughout the tournament into this game. As much as I’m going to hate saying this, Duke is just a much better team. I know I have been picking against Florida State all tournament long, but the addition of Zion Williamson back into the lineup has proven to be so effective. It is true how good Zion really is. I don’t think anyone in the country can have an answer for him. However, some credit for Florida State, I think that they are going to beat the spread. That’s a big spread for a conference championship game. This will be fun to watch and a close game throughout. Duke will be your 2019 ACC Tournament Champions.

Prediction: Duke 77 – 71 Florida State

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-Parmesan Don

@soft7parm