For the first-time in twelve-years, the Virginia Tech Hokies’ are marching on to the second round of the NCAA March Madness Tournament.
Canadian guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker, a sophomore guard from Toronto, Ontario was impressive in his second NCAA tournament game — finishing with a game-high 20 points to lead Hokies to a 66-52 win over the No. 13 Saint Louis Billikens.
Saint Louis had no answer for Alexander-Walker who continues to deliver for Buzz Williams, pulling down 6 rebounds and adding three steals on 8-of-13 shooting.
Virginia Tech last reached the second round of the tournament as a fifth seed in 2007 when it beat No. 12 Illinois Fighting Illini before being taken down by No. 4 Southern Illinois.
Since Alexander-Walker’s arrival, the Hokies have improved tremendously — reaching the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament for the third straight year — a first in the program’s history.
Like many freshmen during their first dance, Alexander-Walker’s 15-point, 3-assist, 2 rebound effort wasn’t quite good enough to earn an invite to a second date as the Hokies couldn’t quite get over the hump — falling 86-83 to a talented Alabama Crimson Tide squad in the first round of the classic eight-nine match-up.
No. 4 Virginia Tech (ACC) will look to cool off the Flames of No. 12 seed Liberty — the Atlantic Sun Conference champions, in the round of 32.
The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina Ionescu
There’s no business, like unfinished business.
Most great basketball stars take their smartphone penmanship to ‘The Players Tribune’ to announce a change of game and mind move to greener pastures, which seems to be the new trend like Kung Fu Kenny headbands. But not the green duck of Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu. In a pen drop moment she dropped the mic as she made a declaration like Leonardo DiCaprio staring at all that love in the boardroom in ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’.
“I’m not f##### leaving!”
O.K. she didn’t say it quite like that. Rather more eloquently in the form of a love letter to her state and basketball mind. She may have that Eurostep stop on a dime from downtown that puts in that change and pops the button like James Harden. She may have film broke down by the mamba mentality of the one and only Kobe Bryant. Or articles wrote about her by this writers’ writing inspiration Shea Serrano of The Ringer. She may have even gone number one if she put in her draft card this year.
But the WNBA can wait.
Green with envy and legendary shades she may be the next great of this game like the Storm of Sue Bird to Breanna Stewart. She’s the type of player that’s so good to watch she could even get away with taking more steps than ladders like most of those NBA folks. But no! An inspired Ionescu is doing things the right way. After being made by Baylor, the ducks will quack again. And they will do so with their top billing. Sabrina will return for one last run. She’s got the rest of her playing career to be a WNBA legend for whatever team from the Sparks to Mercury picks her. But the Pac-12 Wade trophy winner has only got one last chance at a Final Four dance after the madness that is March.
Just look at the above picture. She’s only got so long for this. To be a kid. She may be far from ‘Sabrina The Teenage Witch’, but this maturing talent is still young. To be that again, we should just be happy she still has that chance. One chance to make the Ducks mighty again. To have those best years of your life with the best friends you’ll ever meet. These are her memories. Her signed sneakers and scissored nets. Who are any of us to take that away. We can wait. As her parquet paths next year to the big leagues will be like this season’s road to Zion.
The two time Nancy Lieberman award winner will take her L ready 19.9 points, 8.2 assists and 7.4 rebounds averages to one last ride and stand in Oregon. Flying with the 18 record of the most career triple doubles in NCAA history. She won’t be in New York next month, but she’ll be writing in more history books next year as other teams bet it all on some bouncing balls. And if you think this game is all about the big league and the big payday, then this outstanding Oregon statement doesn’t give a duck.
“I won’t predict exactly how far we’re going to go….. but I’ll just say this. We have unfinished business. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.”
Time to get back to work and take everyone back to school.
R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson make All-America First Team
Canada’s most-hyped recruit makes history.
Canada’s R.J. Barrett has been named a first-team Associated Press All-American, and finished second in AP Player of the Year voting to teammate Zion Williamson.
Barrett and Williamson, who led Duke to the NCAA men’s basketball Elite Eight this season, are only the second set of freshmen teammates to make the AP First Team.
Kentucky’s John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins were the first to manage the feat in 2010.
Barrett (Mississauga, Ont.) was one of Duke’s most effective players, averaging 22.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.
He received two votes for AP Player of the Year, but Williamson — who electrified fans with his other-worldly athleticism — was the runaway winner.
Williamson, the projected No. 1 pick in this summer’s NBA Draft, received 59 of 64 votes for the award.
Murray State’s Ja Morant, Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter and Michigan State’s Cassius Winston were the only others players to receive votes, with one apiece.
Barrett is also a projected NBA lottery pick, and is the most-hyped Canadian recruit since Andrew Wiggins, who went No. 1 overall in 2014.
Wiggins has struggled to live up to the hype that surrounded him in high school, and Barrett has faced similarly colossal expectations.
Barrett entered Duke as the nation’s top recruit after winning a national U.S. high school championship with Florida’s Montverde Academy in 2018.
And there have been gripes about his perceived effectiveness in comparison to the media coverage he has received.
An anonymous survey of 110 U.S. college players by The Athletic this year named Barrett college basketball’s most overrated player.
But in the same poll Barrett also receive votes for “best player in the game,” and he was routinely praised for his performances Duke.
USA Today also named Barrett its 2019 national college player of the year.
“While Zion Williamson might beat Barrett for the No. 1 pick in June’s NBA draft, Barrett proved to be the more impressive college player,” USA Today wrote.
“The freshman carried the load when Williamson was hurt for six games, spearheading the Blue Devils to three wins in March that helped them become the NCAA tournament’s top overall seed.
“When Duke was at full strength, he gave the team a scorer who wanted the ball at the end of the game.”
Some have speculated Barrett’s ceiling as a pro will be similar to that of mid-level stars like DeMar DeRozan and Jimmy Butler.
He is still projected as a top-three pick in the NBA Draft, scheduled for June 20 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Barrett is the son of Canada Basketball general manager and former Olympian Rowan Barrett, and R.J. has been a fixture in Canada’s national program.
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