Armed with jump shot + trim physique, Stone looks to wow NBA scouts

May/10/2016

Diamond Stone didn’t know what to expect when he traveled to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., last month to begin his post-Maryland life.

The setting on the 500-acre campus might be “lovely,” as Stone called it, yet it is far from paradise when you get past the palm trees.

In an interview with The Baltimore Sun – his first since announcing plans to turn pro following his freshman year – Stone admitted it took him a little while to get used to the basketball boot camp mentality as he prepared for his next stop, the NBA.

“At first I tried to go with the flow, but it didn’t work out,” said Stone, who was sent to the IMG Academy by his management team at Tandem Sports & Entertainment. “I kind of broke down and hit the wall. I wasn’t used to working out this much. My body adapted. I’m doing fine now.”

Stone acknowledges he didn’t work as hard as he thought during the eight months he spent in College Park. The isolated location of the IMG Academy has helped him focus.

“At Maryland there was a lot of distractions [with normal college life] and I probably wasn’t as consistent [in his workouts] as I should have been,” he said. “Right now I’m in a great environment, a smaller city, it’s not like Miami or anything like that. I have a lot of time to focus and just worry about myself.”

Stone said the training concepts at IMG are similar to what he did with Kyle Tarp, Maryland’s director of basketball performance, but the small group he works with every day — often for six or seven hours a day — gives him more repetitions. Instead of a trainer instructing 15 players at once, it’s one-on-one, and with little time off between sets.

“Here it’s rapid; it’s crazy here,” Stone said. “They try to break you down here.”

The plan is for Stone to be in optimum shape once he begins private workouts with NBA teams. Like most players expected to be drafted in the first round, Stone will attend the NBA combine starting Wednesday in Chicago only to be officially measured and start the interview process with teams interested in selecting the 6-foot-11, 260-pound teenager in the draft.

“We’re going to see how the lottery balls shake out before we start scheduling workouts,” said Tandem president Jim Tanner, who is overseeing Stone’s transition to the NBA.

Stone will briefly unite in Chicago with three of his former teammates – point guard Melo Trimble and forwards Robert Carter Jr. and Jake Layman – who are all projected as second-round picks. Unlike Stone and Carter, Trimble has yet to sign with an agent and can take his name out of the June 23 draft by May 25 in order to return to the Terps.

Though he and Carter occasionally discussed their future when they roomed together on the road, Stone said that he didn’t make his decision about turning pro until after the season ended.

Stone said he met with his parents as well as with Maryland coach Mark Turgeon a few days after the season-ending Sweet 16 loss to Kansas, a game in which Stone scored just five points and had four rebounds in 21 foul-plagued minutes. In his one season in college, Stone averaged 12.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and a team-best 1.6 blocks a game.

“My parents we talked it over, we thought it was the right decision,” Stone said. “Coach Turgeon, of course he wanted me to come back, but he said, ‘Chase your dream. I’m not going to hold you back. If this is what you want to do, I’m all for it.’”

Getting leaner

For the next few weeks, Stone is trying to get his body – and his game – ready for the NBA.

While his weight has remained about the same as it was for most of his time at Maryland, the IMG trainers have been working on Stone trimming his body fat, improving his “fast-twitch” explosiveness and working on his perimeter game so he can also play more facing the basket in the pros.

“If you saw me, I look like I’m about 240 [pounds],” Stone said. “I look way different than I did at Maryland. I just want to be stronger, faster… I’m moving more laterally. We do more power forward kind of work, I played more the 5 [center] at Maryland. At the next level I’m probably going to play more 4 [power forward] working on my jump shot and my NBA 3. Different counter moves going to the basket…It’s a work in progress.”

Most NBA scouts and general managers believe that as much as Stone showed on the offensive end at Maryland, there are still questions about his defense and attitude. Stone said that he credits Turgeon for staying on him about his defense, which improved during the season.

Though he was a good 3-point shooter at Dominican High – he made four 3-pointers in a playoff game en route to a fourth straight state title – Stone never attempted a single 3-pointer while shooting a team-best 56.8 percent from the field as a freshman at Maryland.

“That’s what I want to keep hush, I don’t want anyone to know until it’s game time,” Stone said of his 3-point shooting. “I want the defender to sag off me as far as possible. It’ll be a surprise to them.”

It’s going to be hard to keep it a secret after what Stone has shown during his workouts at the IMG Academy.

According to Dan Barto, the lead skills trainer at the IMG Academy, Stone hit eight straight NBA 3-pointers in a drill that involves backpedaling from midcourt to different spots around the perimeter and then shooting.

“I hadn’t seen a center prospect do a moving 3-point shooting drill to that level in all my time,” Barto said, adding that he has trained more than 100 players who have been drafted over the past 14 years.

Barto said Stone’s work ethic and attitude have been equally impressive given the regimen.

“It breaks a lot of people,” Barto said. “They make excuses. This kid has not complained once.”

Barto believes Stone has set himself up well to have a smooth transition to the NBA and compares Stone’s game to that of 7-foot center Nikola Vucevic, who as a 20-year-old was drafted No. 16 by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2011 and traded the follow year to the Orlando Magic. Vucevic has been the team’s leading scorer the past two seasons and its leading rebounder in each of his four seasons there.

Keeping in touch

There’s a part of college life Stone misses.

“Just hanging out with my teammates every day,” he said. “When I left, being in the group chats, I kind of miss my teammates.”

Stone has followed the publicity surrounding the “Running Man Challenge” videos posted on Twitter by former teammates Jared Nickens and Jaylen Brantley. The spots got so popular that the two Terps appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” last week.

Asked why he hasn’t been in any of the videos, Stone chuckled.

“I’m not the dancer,” he said. “I’m kind of behind the scenes, I don’t like being recorded dancing.”

The low-profile is going to change soon. Stone is one of 17 players invited to the May 17 draft lottery in New York. Though most mock drafts project him to be picked between the the high teens and low 20s, Barto expects Stone’s stock to rise once he begins private workouts with pitting him head-to-head against other center prospects.

“What I see with my eyes right now is physically so much different than what you saw this season and what you see on film,” Barto said. “If [Domantas] Sabonis and [Henry] Ellenson and [Jakob] Poeltl are not working twice as hard as he is, they’re going to really struggle to match up with him.”

For his part, Stone might just be a little too busy to pay attention to any of it.

“I just want to get drafted, to be honest with you,” he said. “Any team that drafts me, I’ll just be thankful. I’m not picky at all. It’s just a blessing to be in the situation I am.”

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Tandem Signs Alabama’s Retin Obasohan

May/04/2016

NEWS RELEASE

Tandem President Jim Tanner + European Agent Nick Lotsos to Jointly Represent University of Alabama’s Retin Obasohan

Arlington, VA, May 4, 2016 Tandem Sports + Entertainment and European-based Sports Promotion have jointly signed Retin Obasohan from the University of Alabama. Obasohan will be represented by Tandem president Jim Tanner and Sports Promotion’s Nick Lotsos for the NBA Draft and throughout his professional basketball career. The two agencies will provide full-service representation for Obasohan, handling contractual agreements, personal appearances, public relations services, corporate partnerships, community relations initiatives and business opportunities.

“Retin is a mature player with a promising future,” Tanner said.  “He is a rare blend of exceptional skill and natural athletic gifts. He’s a great fit for Tandem and our culture. We’re excited to work with Retin and look forward to preparing him for the NBA Draft.”

Obasohan excelled both on the court and in the classroom at Alabama. Off the court, he was honored as the 2016 SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year, as well as recognized with CoSIDA First Team Academic All-District honors. Obasohan earned a degree in finance in May 2015, and returned for his final season at Alabama while working toward a master’s degree in marketing. Obasohan averaged 20.6 points in SEC play this season and earned First Team All-SEC and SEC All-Defensive Team recognition. Prior to Alabama, Obasohan played for Belgium’s Under-20, Under-18 and Under-16 National Teams in the European Championships.

“I’ve followed Retin closely and have been very impressed with his play,” Lotsos said. “He has huge potential and we’re ready to get him in front of the right teams. He did very well at the Portsmouth Invitational, and he’s only going to improve.”

ABOUT TANDEM SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT

Tandem’s roster of clients includes Tim Duncan, Jeremy Lin, Grant Hill, Ray Allen, John Henson, Brandan Wright, Thaddeus Young, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia, Gerald Henderson, Raymond Felton, C. J. Watson, Dominique Wilkins and Tamika Catchings. Marketing and public relations clients include World Series champion pitcher Chris Young, and two-time Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merritt.  Public relations clients include Charles Johnson Foundation, NormaTec, authors Jon Pessah (“THE GAME: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers”) and Adam Lazarus (“Hail to the Redskins”).

Contact:    

Meredith Geisler

Tandem Sports & Entertainment, LLC

(703) 740-5015

mgeisler@tandemse.com

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Wayne Ellington Wins J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award

April/27/2016

NEW YORK, April 27, 2016 – Guard Wayne Ellington of the Brooklyn Nets has won the 2015-16 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award as selected by the Professional Basketball Writers Association (PBWA). The honor, named after the NBA’s second commissioner, is presented annually by the PBWA to the player, coach or athletic trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community.

The other finalists for the award were guard George Hill of the Indiana Pacers, forward LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, guard Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers and guard John Wall of the Washington Wizards.

After his father, Wayne Ellington Sr., was shot to death on Nov. 9, 2014, in Philadelphia, Ellington, a native of Wynnewood, Pa., decided to channel his grief into action by becoming an advocate for gun-violence prevention.

On Sept. 21, 2015, Ellington was the featured speaker at Peace Day Philly’s “March for Peace” before a crowd of mostly schoolchildren, many of whom lost a loved one to gun violence. His speech was a primary attraction at the fifth annual Peace Day Philly, which was the culmination of a weeklong series of peace-oriented events. Also in September, Ellington joined Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas and other current and former NBA players to help run the fourth annual Chicago Peace League Basketball Tournament, which aims to reduce gang violence in the city.

Ellington has continued his outreach efforts by creating the “Power of W.E.” campaign. In addition to filming a PSA for one of the only hospital-based violence-prevention programs of its kind in the country (in conjunction with Temple University), Ellington plans to host the Philadelphia Peace Games in August. For that event, rival gang members in Philadelphia will come together for a basketball game played on a court built and customized with Power of W.E. messaging for community use.

“Wayne Ellington’s efforts to curb gun violence are inspiring,” said PBWA President Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. “His message resonates.”

Ellington also connected with The Rens, a grassroots children’s basketball program in New York City. The Rens became the first basketball team in the country at any level to wear orange patches on their jerseys as a statement against the crisis of gun violence after multiple incidents of gun violence involving the team’s members. Ellington provided them with tickets to attend two Nets games. Through the Brooklyn Nets Assist program, Ellington also donated more than 2,000 tickets this season to various youth basketball programs, non-profit organizations and schools throughout New York City.

Wayne himself took to Twitter on Wednesday night to thank his followers for the support and relay his gratitude for the recognition by the PBWA.

 

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Tandem Signs University of Maryland’s Diamond Stone

April/11/2016

NEWS RELEASE

 

Tandem Signs University of Maryland’s Big Ten All-Freshman Honoree Diamond Stone

Stone will enter the 2016 NBA Draft after spending one season at Maryland.

 

Arlington, VA, April 11, 2016 – Tandem Sports + Entertainment has signed NBA-bound Diamond Stone, Tandem President Jim Tanner announced. Tandem will provide full-service representation for Stone, overseeing contractual agreements, personal appearances, public relations services, corporate partnerships, community relations initiatives and business opportunities. Stone will be represented by Tanner and Derrick Powell, Tandem’s Vice President of Athlete Representation.

 

“Diamond possesses enormous talent,” Tanner said. “He added energy to Maryland and helped the Terps maintain top rankings throughout the season.  We are looking forward to helping Diamond prepare for the NBA Draft this summer, and supporting him in this next exciting chapter of his career.”

 

Stone had an impressive freshman year at the University of Maryland and received Big Ten All-Freshman team honors. He was second on the team in scoring (12.5 ppg), and led the Terrapins in blocks (1.6 bpg), despite being fifth on the team in minutes played (22.6 mpg). Stone recorded 39 points and 12 rebounds in a win against Penn State on Dec. 30.

 

As a high school senior, Stone was a 2015 Parade First Team All-American and participated in the 2015 McDonald’s All-American game.

 

“Diamond is a special player and a real NBA talent,” Powell said. “We are excited to welcome him to our Tandem family and are ready to help him maximize his potential on and off the court.”

 

ABOUT TANDEM SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT

Tandem’s roster of clients includes Tim Duncan, Jeremy Lin, Grant Hill, Ray Allen, John Henson, Brandan Wright, Thaddeus Young, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia, Gerald Henderson, Raymond Felton, C. J. Watson, Dominique Wilkins and Tamika Catchings. Marketing and public relations clients include World Series champion pitcher Chris Young, and two-time Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merritt.  Public relations clients include Charles Johnson Foundation, NormaTec, authors Jon Pessah (“THE GAME: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers”) and Adam Lazarus (“Hail to the Redskins”).

Contact:        

Meredith Geisler

Tandem Sports & Entertainment, LLC

(703) 740-5015

mgeisler@tandemse.com

 

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BY Tandem Sports + Entertainment / PUBLISHED April/11/2016 / tandemse.com

tandemse.com/news
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Minor Miracles Leave Hill Hungry

March/23/2016

So far, with unpredictability wrapped inside of craziness after nearly every opening tipoff, this is the wildest NCAA Tournament ever.

I mean, it’s not even close.

“Wow. That’s a bold statement,” said Grant Hill, the Duke miracle worker turned Turner Sports basketball television analyst. He suggested over the phone between traveling to tournament games that everything the rest of us have seen while rubbing our eyes during the last few days of March Madness is either an optical illusion or a tad overrated.

Thanks to a half-court prayer that bounced off the glass before sliding through the net, Northern Iowa beat Texas.

Speaking of Northern Iowa, the 11th-seeded Panthers followed their Texas upset with a 12-point lead against Texas A&M with 34 seconds left. According to FiveThirtyEight, Northern Iowa had only a 1 in 3,333 chance of losing at that point, but the game went into double overtime.

Northern Iowa didn’t win.

Yale did — once. Even though the Bulldogs hadn’t reached the NCAA Tournament in 54 years, they won in March Madness for the first time ever.

Elsewhere, Stephen F. Austin forgot it was a No. 14 seed and hammered No. 3 seed West Virginia, but this was more shocking: Middle Tennessee State couldn’t care less that it was a No. 15 seed along the way to shoving No. 2 seed Michigan State into purgatory.

In sum, after the opening 32 games of this NCAA Tournament, double-digit seeds won a record 10.

Surely, Mr. Hill is impressed by that.

“You know, a lot of these things have been pretty normal for the NCAA Tournament, because we’ve seen them in recent years,” Hill said. “You have upsets. You have buzzer-beaters. You have great individual performances. And then you have some recognizable teams that are still in the hunt as we approach the Sweet 16.

“Now, I do think you could say this is one of the better first weekends we’ve had. But as a person who fancies himself as a basketball historian, especially college basketball, and I go back to the early 1980s … That’s why it’s like, wow. To call this the wildest NCAA Tournament ever at this point, that’s tough to say.”

Actually, it isn’t, but I’ll give Hill a break. This 43-year-old son of Dallas Cowboys running back legend Calvin Hill became a member of the unofficial Good Guys Hall of Fame decades ago. He is among the few folks ever to serve as a national TV analyst for NBA games and college ones at the same time. He also could play. During his 19 NBA seasons, he made seven trips to the All-Star Game. Then there is the primary reason he isn’t easily impressed by this NCAA Tournament: He helped put the “Ms,” as in miraculous, in March Madness. When he starred for Duke teams that specialized in victories (includingthe victory) during the early 1990s, he did everything well: scoring, passing, defending, stealing, blocking and thrilling.

That said, Hill isn’t just about yesterday regarding the NCAA Tournament. There is much he enjoys about now.

“I did like the game Sunday between Stephen F. Austin and Notre Dame, when Notre Dame won with the tip-in [basket] at the end,” Hill said. “Obviously, there was the game I covered between Indiana and Kentucky. That was very fascinating and interesting, just because the rivalry ended for a period of time, and they were able to bring it back [with Indiana winning]. There was the Wisconsin game [with Bronson Koenig nailing a couple of clutch threes down the stretch, including the game-winner with no time left]. That was pretty amazing, but you know what? When it comes to the tournament, I think every game takes on its own personality and has its own narrative.”

What about Hill’s top player so far?

“Yeah, Buddy Hield,” Hill said of Oklahoma’s sharpshooting guard. “What he did against Virginia Commonwealth in the second half [29 of his 36 points overall] basically confirmed what many thought, and that is, he’s the best player in college basketball. But you also have to throw in Angel Rodriguez, because he’s near the top of the list with how he’s played for Miami.”

We’re almost at the victory, but let’s begin with Hill’s favorite moment through the opening rounds of this tournament.

“That half-court shot [by Northern Iowa's Paul Jesperson]. That was a pretty magical one,” Hill said. “So was that tip-in [by Notre Dame's Rex Pflueger] and Koening’s 3-pointer, but here’s what’s interesting. Those three types of moments are normally spread out over the entire tournament. In this case, they happened during a four-day stretch on the first weekend. So, in some respects, that’s highly unusual. But just when you think ‘it’ can’t happen or ‘it’ won’t happen, you see these moments.”

Duke had a slew of them during Hill’s era, and several were controversial. As a result, the Blue Devils were viewed outside of Durham, N.C., as either famous or infamous, with zero middle ground. Not that they cared. Hill joined lightning rods Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley to capture back-to-back national titles for Duke in 1991 and ’92. After that duo left for the pros, Hill remained to take the Blue Devils to another championship game in 1994. They lost to Arkansas, but it didn’t affect Hill’s legacy.

Which brings us to the victory. It was courtesy of The Shot, but that was only because of The Pass. Both moments comprised what Sports Illustrated calls the greatest college basketball game ever played, and it occurred on March 28, 1992, in Philadelphia between Duke and Kentucky during the finals of the East Regional. In overtime, Kentucky led 103-102 with 2.1 seconds left, and you know much of the rest. After Hill heaved a 75-foot pass from beneath the Kentucky basket, Laettner grabbed the ball, dribbled once and nailed the game-winner.

Without The Pass, The Shot never happens. Here’s another thing: When you watch the replays, most Duke players left their huddle with coach Mike Krzyzewski looking confident despite a tense situation. The Blue Devils also were fortunate that then-Kentucky coach Rick Pitino pulled the boneheaded move of his career by not guarding Hill on the inbounds pass.

Even so, a question remains after nearly a quarter of a century: Was it a fluke, or did Hill really think The Pass and The Shot would work?

“Yeah. I think so,” said Hill with a flimsy response, adding some definition in a hurry. “We had a timeout, and Christian said, ‘Hey, Grant makes the pass. I’ll make the shot.’ And he had made every shot he took that game (9-for-9 from the field and 10-for-10 from the foul line before The Shot), and for me, we practiced those baseball passes every day in practice, so it wasn’t just by chance. I always tended to excel at throwing those passes, and I bragged about how football was in my genes and that I played the wrong sport and that I should have been a quarterback. So at that moment, Coach K, knowing those things, decided to have me be the inbounds passer.

“When I didn’t see anybody on the ball, it gave me more confidence to know that I could take my time and give Christian time to catch it.”

Ho-hum. Just another comeback for the College Basketball Hall of Famer, and I get it. Since Hill shrugs over The Pass and The Shot, these current miracles during the NCAA Tournament are little ones in his world.

Well, if Hill thinks they are miracles at all.

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Cavaliers sign guard Jordan McRae for rest of season

March/09/2016

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cavaliers have signed guard Jordan McRae for the remainder of this season.

The team said Wednesday that they have signed McRae to a multi-year contract, but provided no further details on his deal. McRae has appeared in three games since he signed a 10-day contract on Feb. 28.

The 6-foot-6 McRae began the season in the NBA Development League, where he made 29l starts for Delaware, averaging 23.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists. Against Canton on Jan. 26, he scored a D-League record 61 points with 11 rebounds and seven assists.

McRae also had two 10-day stints with the Phoenix Suns this season, appearing in seven games. He averaged 5.3 points and 1.4 assists in 11.7 minutes.

He was originally selected by San Antonio in the 2014 draft. McRae played in Australia for a year before joining Delaware for the season’s final 13 games.

BY Associated Press / PUBLISHED March/9/2016 / NBA.com

http://www.nba.com/2016/news/03/09/cavaliers-sign-guard-mcrae-for-rest-of-season.ap/
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WNBA Star Tamika Catchings to Publish Autobiography “Catch a Star”

February/22/2016

NEWS RELEASE

WNBA Star Tamika Catchings to Publish

Autobiography “Catch a Star” in March 2016

Indianapolis, IN, Feb. 22, 2016 – Basketball star Tamika Catchings shares her adverse, yet triumphant journey in her upcoming autobiography Catch A Star: Shining Through Adversity to Become a Champion, on March 1, 2016. The book is co-authored with Ken Petersen and features an introduction from former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy.

In Catch a Star, Catchings shares stories of her childhood, when her love for the game began. Growing up, Catchings suffered from profound hearing loss, bullying, and the anguish of her parents’ divorce. But she wasn’t about to allow those challenges to determine her destiny. Through perseverance and God’s grace, Catchings became one of the top female basketball players of all time.

Catch a Star is her story of overcoming. Of leading the Indiana Fever to its first championship. Of being named one of the WNBA’s top 15 players in history. Of earning three Olympic gold medals. And of founding the Catch the Stars Foundation to help young people achieve their dreams.

Catch the Stars Foundation was founded in 2004 to empower youth to achieve their dreams through goal setting programs that promote fitness, literacy and mentoring. The foundation meets needs through a specific emphasis on supporting and assisting under-served and low-to-moderate income communities throughout Indianapolis.

The publication of Catch a Star follows Catchings’s announcement to begin her final season in the WNBA this May. Playing for what will be a total of 15 seasons with the Indiana Fever, Catchings has earned impressive titles including the 2012 WNBA Championship and WNBA Finals MVP, WNBA’s 2011 MVP, 10-time WNBA All-Star, 5-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, and 2002 Rookie of the Year. Catchings is also a three-time Olympic gold medalist and was a four-time All-American and a member of the National Champion University of Tennessee Lady Vols under legendary coach Pat Summitt. Catchings serves as the president of the WNBA Player Association and was recently selected to be the first woman to receive the National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award.

Catch A Star Book Tour Schedule:

Monday, February 29

7-9 p.m.

Barnes & Noble

8675 River Crossing Blvd.

Greenwood, IN 46240

 

Tuesday, March 1

7-9 p.m.

Barnes & Noble

1251 US 31 North

Greenwood, IN 46142

 

Thursday, March 3

4-6 p.m.

NBA Store

545 5th Ave. (at 45th Street)

New York, NY

 

Saturday, March 5

12-2 p.m.

Barnes & Noble

10280 Midtown Parkway

Jacksonville, FL 32246

 

ABOUT REVELL

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life. Whether through fiction, Christian living, self-help, marriage, family, or youth books, each Revell publication reflects relevance, integrity, and excellence.

 

ABOUT BAKER PUBLISHING GROUP

Baker Publishing Group publishes high-quality writings that represent historic Christianity and serve the diverse interests and concerns of evangelical readers.

 

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Contact:  Meredith Geisler

Tandem Sports & Entertainment, LLC

(703) 740-5015

mgeisler@tandemse.com

 

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Knicks Sign Thanasis Antetokounmpo to 10-Day Contract

January/29/2016

NEW YORK, January 29, 2016 –- New York Knickerbockers President Phil Jackson announced today that the team has signed forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo – from the Westchester Knicks — to a 10-day contract. His signing marks the 15th NBA Gatorade D-League call-up of the season.

Antetokounmpo, 6-7, 205-pounds, is averaging 10.3 points, on 50.2-percent shooting, 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.26 blocks over 27.7 minutes in 27 games (25 starts) for the D-League’s Eastern Conference-leading Westchester Knicks (16-11) this season.

The Athens, Greece native was originally selected by New York in the second round (51st overall) of the 2014 NBA Draft, attending training camp in 2015 before being waived on Oct. 23, 2015, returning to Westchester for the second straight season. He is the older brother of Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis.

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Suns Sign Jordan McRae

The Phoenix Suns announced today they have signed guard Jordan McRae to a 10-day contract. McRae ranks third in the NBA Development League with an average of 23.1 points in 28 games with the Delaware 87ers this season, including a D-League record 61 points in his most recent outing on Tuesday.

In addition to 23.1 points, McRae is averaging 5.2 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 35.5 minutes in his second D-League season, both with the 87ers. In a 130-123 overtime win over the Canton Charge on Tuesday, McRae shot 21-of-34 from the field and 16-of-18 from the free throw line to score an NBA D-League single-game record 61 points, the highest individual point total in any NBA or D-League game this season.

The 14th GATORADE Call-Up in the NBA this season, this is McRae’s first career NBA regular season signing. Originally selected by San Antonio with the 58th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft then traded to Philadelphia on draft night, McRae played professionally in Australia in 2014-15 before joining Delaware for the season’s final 13 games and averaging 18.4 points. A 6-5, 179-pound guard, McRae played for Philadelphia at NBA Summer League in 2014 and 2015, also playing with the 76ers this past preseason before being waived on Oct. 26.

A native of Savannah, Ga., McRae played collegiately at the University of Tennessee where he averaged 13.3 points in 114 games over four seasons. McRae earned First Team All-SEC honors as a senior in 2013-14 when he ranked fourth in the conference with a scoring average of 18.7 points, helping the Volunteers to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament.

McRae will wear number 52. The Suns’ roster now stands at 15.

BY Phoenix Suns / PUBLISHED January/29/2016 / NBA.com

http://www.nba.com/suns/press-release/suns-sign-jordan-mcrae
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Zaza Pachulia feels ‘loved’ after falling just short of starting ASG

January/22/2016

Dallas Mavericks center Zaza Pachulia, a full-time starter for the first time in a decade, was almost voted in as an All-Star starter.

Pachulia finished fourth among Western Conference frontcourt players with 768,112 votes, just more than 14,000 behind San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard for the final starting spot.

Pachulia said he is humbled and honored to have come so close.

“Oh, man, it’s a great feeling,” Pachulia told ESPN.com. “I have a bunch of smiles. It’s all good vibes. I’m so thankful. I don’t think there is one player who is liked by everybody. Every single person has their own flavor. They like different players or whatever.

“What I’m thankful is that fans, without me asking anybody, they took it to this level. I was so close. It’s just an amazing feeling. I feel loved. That’s more important to me than being an All-Star, honestly. It’s not easy to be an All-Star, but it’s even more difficult to be loved by so many people and have so many people have your back, especially a guy coming from a small country like Georgia.”

Pachulia is in the midst of a career year in his 13th NBA season, averaging 10.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game after arriving in Dallas this summer in a salary-dump deal from the Milwaukee Bucks, who traded him for a top-55-protected second-round pick.

Pachulia finished with significantly more votes than several players with All-Star pedigrees who have strong cases to be selected to the team by the conference’s coaches. That group includes Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (651,850), San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan (431,087), New Orleans Pelicans forward/center Anthony Davis (400,688), Sacramento Kingscenter DeMarcus Cousins (364,270), Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge(268,003) and Mavs power forward Dirk Nowitzki (173,317).

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (726,616) and Clippers centerDeAndre Jordan (269,427) are other worthy All-Star starting candidates who finished below Pachulia.

Nowitzki, a 13-time All-Star, joked that Pachulia lobbied for votes from “everyone with an Internet connection in Georgia,” his native country, when Pachulia had more than twice as many votes as him when the initial balloting was released weeks ago.

There was some truth in that jest, and Georgia, a country with a population of approximately 4.5 million, certainly stuffed the cyberballots. Musician Wyclef Jean, who has a mutual friend with Pachulia from Georgia, posted a song on social media campaigning for the big man.

“Man, my country is amazing,” Pachulia said. “It feels so great to be loved by this many people. That’s what I care about the most, and that’s why I’m so happy.”

Pachulia, whom the Mavs traded for after being jilted by Jordan in free agency, also has quickly achieved a cult-figure sort of status with the Dallas fan base because of his production, passion and easygoing personality. He is beloved by his teammates, who consider him an emotional and vocal leader, and is a major reason the Mavs are in the middle of the West playoff pack at 25-19.

According to research by ESPN Stats & Information, Pachulia never had finished higher than fifth among centers in the old All-Star voting system when that position was on the ballot, and never higher than 10th among frontcourt players in the new system.

“I’m so humbled by it,” said Pachulia, who spent Thursday afternoon visiting patients at the Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas. “Words can’t describe how happy I’m feeling with the love I’m feeling from the fans, from the Mavs fans and my people in Georgia. They appreciate what I do.”

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