Video games are now a career for many millennials

Video games are now a career for many millennials

AUGUSTA, Ga. -“It’s a dream job. I’m 23-years-old, and I was working a regular job before this and it sucked, so getting to play 2K is always nice,” says Conner Rodrigues, professional NBA 2K player.

“Now that I’m able to play it for money it’s a dream come true. I never thought this would even a possibility,” says Jonathan Jefferson, professional NBA 2K player.

Three years ago, teens would have never expected playing video games would become a career field. 

Now the NBA 2K league, a professional E-Sports league that features the best 2K players in the world, is one of many competitive E-sports competitions that have beaten the norm.

“Once I started getting older I started realizing I’m actually good at 2K, so I started putting more time to it, but always through the whole process of making it to the league, and playing the game I always took care of my other priorities first, always went to school. When I got done with school I got a job right after high school,” says Conner Rodrigues, Hawks Talon GC player. 

But then many lives were changed when players were drafted into an 18-week season that includes tournaments, playoffs, and finals for cash prize bonuses on top of their income. 

The highest base salary for 2K players is $37,000 plus free housing, travel, and benefits like medical insurance and a retirement plan. They can also sign endorsement deals to earn more income. 

The league is only in its second season and it’s continuously growing. 

“Bringing in new expansion teams every year from the NBA until we get the 30 teams involved in the league, so it’s going to grow. Also, we’re now doing tournaments in other markets, so just instead of going to New York and practicing and playing every week, we’re now in Orlando, we’re now in Vegas, so we get to travel and get to generate fans all over,” says Wesley Acuff, Hawks Talon GC coach. 

Hawks Talon GC is a local NBA 2K league affiliate of the Atlanta hawks. Only 2 hours from Augusta. 

Not only can you be a player, the league offers opportunities for coaches, managers, social media, live production and more.

“Getting into this industry is just like anything else you want to do. You just have to do your research, learn the background about it, get your feet wet as much as possible in the industry,” says Wesley Acuff. 

This is what a typical day looks like for a team. Each day they are perfecting their craft to compete.

“We practice for about 5 to 6 hours a day, and then we go to the gym after that,” says Jonathan Jefferson. 

“Setting up schedules making sure these guys are on time, taking the game serious, practicing the game plan. Also, keeping the guys in the gym, so that they stay healthy and not spend the season just getting out of shape,” says Wesley Acuff. 

And traveling to New York for games. Players say this opportunity has impacted their lives tremendously. 

“We’ve been to a lot of places already, and I’ve probably only been to two places since before the league,” says Jonathan Jefferson. 

Even if you’re not playing the game, there’s opportunities in Augusta to learn how to make them. 

Augusta university will be adding an Animation program this upcoming Fall.

“We’re setting you up to learn the skills sets that you use to make cartoons, video games, the things that people are out there enjoying. A lot of people have to make that stuff, so we’re teach those skills to get you a job in the industry,” says A.B. Osborne, Asst. Professor of Animation at AU. 

Some job opportunities include animation, programming, level design, and more. 

“We’ll dive into things like 2D and 3D animation, pre-production so everything from like character design all the way up to story boarding. You learn how to do some more technical things like character rigging, special effects. There’s going to be classes in 3D modeling, 3D texturing,” says A.B. Osborne. 

Georgia being a great market for animation, Augusta felt it was necessary to give students this avenue. 

“A lot of Hollywood films are shot here, Cartoon Network is here, Adult Swim, the people that do Bob’s Burgers Bento Box is game companies are here. There’s quite a bit going on in Georgia,” says A.B. Osborne. 

More information on Augusta University’s Animation program:

More information on the NBA 2K League and qualifications:

Dylan Cardwell comes back home to compete in Nike Peach Jam

Dylan Cardwell comes back home to compete in Nike Peach Jam

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – You might remember the 6’11 power forward Dylan Cardwell when he played for Evans High School’s basketball team up until his sophomore year. 

Cardwell is the only athlete representing Augusta in the Nike Peach Jam with AOT, short for Athletes Of Tomorrow. 

“It’s just great to be playing in it, and feeling the atmosphere. As well as coming back to Augusta and playing in front of my community and getting the support from everybody in this city,” says Dylan Cardwell, AOT power forward. 

He’s back in town after transferring to one of the top high schools in the country, Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. 

“I just wanted it more. So, you know being around people that have a chance of going pro that just really allowed me to evolve my game as well. Also, get a chance to see how they work and also implement that into my game,” says Dylan Cardwell. 

His personal motto is that iron sharpens iron, so he joined forces with Brandon Boston Jr. and Sharife Cooper, who are in the top 20 recruiting class of 2020. 

The rising senior will be transferring to McEachern High in Atlanta where he and cooper hope to push each other to a second-straight state championship. 

“Knowing somebody that’s going to play super hard every play and is going to be on your time for not just this tournament, but a long time coming..and he’s a great person!” says Sharife Cooper, AOT Guard.

But Dylan and his family tell me the biggest bonus of moving to Atlanta is being closer to home.

“I’m able to see him throughout the week. Practice and play games and be closer to him. It also means a lot for him to see us,” says Michele Cardwell, Dylan’s Mom: 

Next time you see Cardwell’s name it might be on the back of any one of the jersies from his several D1 offers, like Tennessee and other big name schools.

AOT’s coaches tell me any college would be lucky to have him. 

“Dylan is a fun kid man. Everyone loves Dylan. He has great personality and like I said his work ethic is affectious,” says Damon Wilson, AOT’s Basketball Director.

Mackenzie Engram's #FarewellTour2018 faces reality

Mackenzie Engram's #FarewellTour2018 faces reality

ATHENS, Ga. — Three, two, one ... game over! As the final buzzer went off, University of Georgia’s senior forward Mackenzie Engram’s time on the court as a Lady Bulldog came to an end. Georgia survived up until the Duke Blue Devils defeated them in the second round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament, 66-40. 

On social media, Engram has labeled her last season: #FarewellTour2018. Her emotions immediately burst out as reality struck that this game was done, and it actually came her time to say good-bye to her basketball career at Georgia.  

“Obviously it’s a disappointment,” said Engram. “Coach Joni told me she was proud of me, and I tried to keep it together, because I didn’t know if the camera was on me or not, so when I got to my brother, I just let it all out. I didn’t’ really care at that point. He just tried to encourage me and just said what Coach Joni said, that what we’ve done for this program is unbelievable, and I’m just so happy to be a part of something so special.” 

For Engram’s last time suiting up in the Stegeman Coliseum, the Lady Blue Devils shut down Engram and her team’s offense with their tough two-three zone defense. Duke’s length underneath the basket and incredible movement contained her to only scoring five points and grabbing down six rebounds to wrap up the matchup. 

“I’m not sad that we lost,” said Engram. “I’m sad that I’ll never get to play with this team again. I’m sad that this was my last time putting Georgia on my chest … playing in the Steg. I’m so proud of what we’ve done and like Coach Joni said, ‘this game does not define us.’ I’m not sad about the loss, I’m sad that when I walk out of the locker room, that’s my last time.”

Not only is Engram’s departure personally tough for her, but also for Engram’s partner in crime on the floor, Cailya Robinson. Robinson and Engram have been a dynamic duo on both ends of the court, that has opened up many opportunities for the abundance of success Georgia experienced this season. 

“Playing with Mackenzie has been great,” Robinson said. “We were effective on the court because of our chemistry, which made it easier for us to work together. I think it played well in the game, which has helped us a lot, and I’m going to miss her.” 

Engram said it was special to be in the NCAA tournament and for it to be on their home floor. Georgia’s message this week has been “enjoy where we are, and enjoy what we’ve done,” and that’s what she has done, realizing that this is it for her. Engram left the court with a standing ovation from fans and witnesses, who have watched what she has done for the program for the past four years. 

“I just kind of took a look around and knew this is it,” said Engram. 

Engram has left her mark

Engram has been one of the main faces of the women’s basketball program at the University of Georgia since 2014.

 As a freshman, she made an immediate name for herself. Engram saw action in all 31 games, and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team.  

During her final season as a senior captain, Engram was able to help Georgia climb back to the top having a memorable 26-7 season. 

Engram helped her team tie with South Carolina for second place in the Southeastern Conference, and advance to the quarterfinals of the 2018 SEC tournament. 

Engram also led her team to host and win their first NCAA tournament game since 2003, defeating Mercer, 68-63. Engram finished that game with 21 points and 10 rebounds. 

During her #FarewellTour2018, she averaged 12.9 points and seven rebounds per game, and can walk away with the milestone of scoring her 1,000th career score against LSU on Feb. 4. 

The two seniors, Engram and Haley Clark had a mission to leave a mark on the court during their last season as a Lady Bulldog.  

“[Engram and Clark] came together, and they wanted to leave Georgia in a prominent position, and they’ve done more than that,” said Coach Joni Taylor. “You look at what they do on the basketball court, but they’re even better women off the court. 

“The things they are involved in with the community and the way they represent us on and off the floor is something that I can only hope the rest of our young ladies look up to and aspire to be.”

The two seniors, Engram and Haley Clark had a mission to leave a mark on the court during their last season as a Lady Bulldog.  

“[Engram and Clark] came together, and they wanted to leave Georgia in a prominent position, and they’ve done more than that,” said Coach Joni Taylor. “You look at what they do on the basketball court, but they’re even better women off the court. 

“The things they are involved in with the community and the way they represent us on and off the floor is something that I can only hope the rest of our young ladies look up to and aspire to be.”

Engram May Not Say Farewell So Soon

In May, Engram will graduate from one of the top journalism programs in the country to prepare for her spotlight as a sports reporter. She knew this was the path she wanted to take the first time she visited the University of Georgia on her recruiting trip. 

Engram accepted her college basketball days coming to an end and prepared to step into the life as a sports broadcaster, but with the assistance of her agent, the ball may continue to bounce by possibly being picked up by a team in the WNBA draft or even overseas. 

“I don't think the Farewell Tour is over yet,” said Engram. “I am currently still looking to play whether that's in the WNBA or overseas. I think the fact that I know there is possibility that I can still play, that ‘ending feeling’ hasn't really hit me yet. 

“Now as far as technically not being a UGA women's basketball player, it hit me pretty hard when I got a group text with a workout message and I had to leave the group since I won't be participating in those anymore.”

This decision to continue recently changed for Engram. She was not aware that WNBA and overseas teams were looking at her to join them.  

“When I talked to my coach and she told me that she heard my name bouncing around I just thought to myself, ‘Am I really done playing’ And I don't believe that I am,” Engram said. “I feel like I have a couple more years left in me. So, the draft is on April 12th and I'll know more about what's next after that night. 

If that does not work out, Engram will take on the two post-graduate internships she was awarded for the summer and fall term. Along the way, she has made a valuable connection with former Georgia basketball and volleyball player and current SEC host, Maria Taylor, who is now her mentor. Taylor allows Engram to shadow her and also critiques any work that Engram produces.  

“She has been amazing,” said Engram. “Whenever I text/call her she always answers. She is constantly helping me prefect my craft by watching my videos and telling me what I should keep doing or what I need to get better at. I am very thankful to have mentor like Maria. She's so loving and kind and definitely someone I dream to end up like.”

With basketball being a full-time job, Engram finds time each week to get broadcasting experience as a reporter for the Georgia’s SEC Weekly Recap for the women’s basketball team. 

Engram also has a website, where she produces all of her own original content. This website was designed for Engram to work on her writing content, while producing motivational posts that will possibly impact others’ lives.  

Engram’s final words for her Farewell Tour

Even though Engram will trade in her basketball shoes for a microphone, this game will always be in her heart. Sports broadcasting will be a different avenue for her to take to express the love she has for basketball. 

The relationships Engram has created have been the best take away of her experience. She said Georgia’s basketball program has made her a better player, but also developed her into a better person. 

“This game has changed my life,” Engram said. “It has brought me tears, bruises, floor burns, and pain, but most of all it has brought me happiness and memories that I will remember forever.” 

After her last game against Duke, Engram sent out a final message via Twitter to thank all of her fans for supporting her throughout the year’s she has been here.

(Photo by Georgia Bulldogs) 

Arike Ogunbowale wins it all

Arike Ogunbowale wins it all

With ice in her veins, Notre Dame’s very own Arike Ogunbowale relentlessly gave a clutch performance to send her team home with a national title. 

Now I want you to keep in mind that her first name means: something that you see and you cherish. On the biggest stage of women’s basketball in Columbus, Ohio, the world did just that by witnessing Arike knock down back-to-back buzzer beaters to win the NCAA Championship for Notre Dame! 

The first shot that had the world in awe was in an overtime win against the Undefeated UConn Huskies in the semifinals. Arike sent UConn back home with a pull up jump shot to improve the score to 91-89! Her idol, Kobe Bryant, was in attendance at the game, so Ogunbowale said she channeled her Mamba Mentality. 

After the game, Kobe and Arike exchanged tweets saying: 

Kobe- “Big time shot Arike! We are a UCONN women’s basketball family, but we love seeing great players make great plays! I know my lil sis Jewel Loyd is happy. Well done Notre Dame women’s basketball. Good luck on Sunday. #mambamentality.” 
Arike responded- “WOW! My life is complete. The GOAT!” 

And then Kobe responded- “’s complete finishing the job on Sunday.” 

So she came out and did just that against Mississippi State. She had a rough shooting night going 15-20, but SHOOTERS KEEP SHOOTING! With the game tied 58-58, She demanded the ball in the final seconds of the game, and hit a clutch 3-point shot to win the NCAA championship! 

A national title hasn’t been done in 17 years for Notre Dame and it happened All in ONE weekend in less than 48 hours! Arike put the team on her back, and gave the world a performance of a life time. The thought of knocking down two back-to-back buzzer beaters to win the NCAA Championship is unreal and unheard of, but Ogunbowale made it possible. Both shots nearly in the same spot on the court. 

Ogunbowale instantly became a celebrity and Twitter friends with Kobe Bryant, and a trophy to go with it. The fairytale ending could not get any better. 

Ogunbowale was named the Most Outstanding player of the tournament for her astonishing efforts. She’s only a Junior, and will be on every teams drawing board next year, but fans and teammates will get to cherish her in the NCAA for one more season. Congratulations to the Goat! 



The Chaos of the 2018 March Madness

The Chaos of the 2018 March Madness

This year’s March Madness tournament was one for the books! The world has never seen so many upsets and unbelievable Cinderella stories in a span of one month before, but that is what makes the madness of this event so special and worthwhile. In my opinion, this has been the most exciting March Madness in history!

The chaos started in the South bracket, when the world was taken by surprise that the No. 16 seed, University of Maryland-Baltimore College defeated the No. 1 seed Virginia, 74-54. It’s always expected for higher seeds to blow out low seeded. With that being said UMBC made history, by being the first No.16 team to blow out a number one team. Virginia was sent home way too early, and sent nearly everyone’s bracket to the trash. At this point, viewers and teams knew there was going to be a lot in store in this year’s tournament … it was only the first round.

Just when we thought this tournament would pan out as usual, another upset struck by No.11 Syracuse, who danced their way all the way to the Sweet 16, defeated No.3 Michigan State, 55-53. And from this game forward, we saw close nail-biting games that were determined by buzzer beaters.

 Causing upsets was great headlines; however, many people argued that this is not good for the number March Madness views. People watch this tournament, to see big name programs face other top teams, not teams like UMBC that has never been heard of before.

As we continued to watch, the South bracket was shocking. The top four teams were no wear to be found as they were sent home early by upset after upset. The No.9 Florida State knocked out No.8 Missouri, No.1 Xavier, and then No.4 Gonzaga. The East on the other hand stayed true to norm by having the strongest team weeding out the weak.

Finally, the last team that keep the Cinderella story alive was No.11 Loyola-Chicago. Their basketball program has become very popular as they took on some of the toughest competitors, such as No.6 Miami, No.3 Tennessee, No.8 Nevada, and No.9 Nevada State. They were an unknown team up until now. Since everyone’s team was out of the bracket, everyone joined the Loyola-Chicago Bandwagon. It was hard not to as they had the sweetest chaplain, 98 year-old Sister Jean praying over them. Sister Jean became a celebrity too as she stole the world’s heart away with her kind-hearted, personality.

Loyola-Chicago made it all the way to the Final Four until Michigan ended their fairytale, 69-57. Michigan went to take on Villanova, and Villanova won it all, 79-62. Villanova was named the 2018 Champions, which was done twice in three years by them. It was well deserved as all of their tournament wins were by double digits.

This March Madness was the craziest of them all and gave the world something to see!

Kobe Bryant adds Oscar to his endless accomplishments

Kobe Bryant adds Oscar to his endless accomplishments

Sunday night, Kobe Bryant took home another piece of hardware to add his endless list of accomplishments, but this time it was for the Oscars! The retired Los Angeles Laker now the first professional athlete to receive an Oscars. This six minute film won over five nominations in the category of the best animated short film, called “Dear Basketball”.

On Kobe’s trophy shelf today, the Oscar will add to his five NBA Championships, two Olympic gold medals, NBA MVP award, and four All-Star game MVP awards. Out of all of these accolades, Bryant admitted that he felt better than winning a championship!

The legend wrote a letter in 2015 announcing his retirement, and later transformed this letter into a masterpiece by executive producing the film with animated assistance from Glen Keane, who also worked in animations of Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid.

The animated film illustrates Kobe Bryant as a child dreaming of being a professional basketball player. There’s moments where he is shooting the game winning shot with his dad’s rolled up tube socks. It later shoes Bryant becoming into the star he is today, and what the game has done for him; however, the ball stops rolling as his career comes to a close. His mentality can keep the game going, but his body cannot. Bryant closes by thanking the game of basketball, and the emphasizes importance it has made in his life.

After receiving the Oscar, Kobe made a reference to a Fox News host who told Lebron James to “Shut up and dribble” after making a political comment in a recent interview. Here is the opening statement he made after receiving the award:

 “I don’t know if it’s possible, I mean, as basketball players, we’re really supposed to shut up and dribble. I’m glad we do a little bit more than that.”

James paid tribute to Kobe’s acceptance speech and achievement via Twitter saying:

“Salute @kobebryant on that Oscar!! #WeAreMoreThanShutUpDribble #UJustContinueToSitBackAndWatch

Shaq even expressed his thoughts via twitter, and also a little confession at the end saying: “Congrats to KOBE first Oscar that’s big bro #dearbasketball. Proud of you, Big honor for you and your family. I’m jealous lol.”

Bryant’s basketball career is over, but his success never fails to continue. The Oscars will add onto five NBA title rings, four All-Star MVP’s, and two Finals MVP’s. Congratulations to the GOAT, Kobe Bryant! 

(Picture by

2018 MEAC vs. SWAC Challenge hosted in Atlanta

2018 MEAC vs. SWAC Challenge hosted in Atlanta

We are going to be talking about how hot Atlanta is going to be when college football kicks off in September! The MEAC vs. SWAC Challenge will be taking place at a neutral site, which will be held at Georgia State’s new stadium, Pete Petite Field on Labor Day weekend, September 2nd. Atlanta will continue to be the host for the next three years! The game will be presented nationally on ESPN2, which is huge for HBCU Football, because they are continuously making a presence and gaining exposure as ESPN provides them a platform. Atlanta has became a supportive city of HBCU football already hosting the Celebration Bowl in previous Decembers that is also televised on ESPN.

For those of you who are not familiar with this MEAC vs. SWAC Challenge, it is an early season matchup that is between two HBCU football teams that are the defending champions of the Southwest Athletic Conference and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. This challenge has been in existence since 2005, and will be entering its 14th year. MEAC has been the highly anticipated team to come out on top against a SWAC team, having a winning record of 9-3. Usually, this particular challenge would be hosted at campus of the participating team, such as Birmingham, Orlando, and Daytona, but up until the year 2020, they feel like getting back to the roots of a neutral site is important and that Atlanta would be the perfect place to call home.

As we look into the game, SWAC’s Prairie View A&M and MEAC’s North Carolina Central will be going head-to-head. This will be the first matchup we will see that kicks off HBCU college football. Speaking of first, this is also the first time in history that these two teams will face each other. Furthermore, It is notable that both head coaches are diving into their first year at their university’s program. Both coaches along with their respectable commissioner's, SWAC’s Edgar Grant and MEAC’s Commissioner Dennis Thomas, were all in attendance to talk about the upcoming game at a press conference hosted by ESPN on February 28th at Georgia State. This event was moderated by ESPN’s very own Jay Harris, who has been a strong voice and supporter of the MEAC vs. SWAC challenge. Harris asked many questions pertaining to what the highly anticipated event will do for HBCU football and the importance of the challenge.

On Prairie View A&M’s side, head coach Eric Dooley is taking over to lead his team in their second appearance in the MEAC vs. SWAC challenge. Coach Dooley expressed a lot of excitement towards the matchup. He believes that the health of HBCU football has grown, and the network of ESPN has brought the knowledge of its presence. There is a lot of excitement from these programs to build their brand, gain exposure, and have the opportunity to utilize their platform to tell their stories.

“I think it means a lot to both institutions,” said coach Eric Dooley. “You get the opportunity to start the season off, but also get a chance to get that exposure that’s going to be on national television. I think it’s good for the university. I always think of the recruiting aspect of it. So i think it’s good not only the academic side, but for the athletic side as well.” .10-.31 secs

Given ESPN as their platform, this will allow the culture and HBCU football to be shared and spread nationwide. SWAC’s commissioner Edgar Grant believes that investments should be into this challenge, in order to enhance the tradition and provide a great experience for student athletes, alumni, and fans.

“For the leagues that are represented up here, it provides our student athlete to be apart of a great event,” said SWAC’s commissioner Edgar Grant. “It does a number of things for our membership, our exposure to the public, to our fan base, and to those who do not know about the SWAC or the MEAC is about. It definitely allows them to see what we are about, our brand of football, the pageantry, the bands, our cheer- all those things identified before I came to the league.” 

With it being both the entire team of North Carolina Central and head coach Granville Eastman first time in the MEAC vs. SWAC Challenge, this program is still working together to build as one. Currently, Coach Eastman is still working on learning strengths and weakness of his team, but he loves the attitude coming from the players towards having a new coach.

“We’re still in the learning process,” said head coach Granville Eastman. “We’re still in off season workouts, they’ve been working for the past seven, eight weeks lifting getting stronger- that’s our goal now right now. We’re about to transition into some morning condition and trying to create some adverse effects, and then spring off. So it’s really hard to say right now. We’re still building that team chemistry, nothing promised to anyone as the new head coach.”

There's so much excitement for the game to be hosted in Atlanta for the next three years. To MEAC’s commissioner, Dennis E. Thomas, it seemed perfect to hold such an event in a city that has a strong football atmosphere.

“I think that now- and I am biased, I admit- that Atlanta is the football capital of the universe,” said MEAC’s commissioner, Dennis E. Thomas. “You have so many events that are here, you have the Super Bowl coming in, you have the College Football Playoffs Here, just on and on and on, and so I think this is absolutely fabulous for each institution.”

Overall, I am excited to see the MEAC vs. SWAC challenge being brought to the city of Atlanta! ESPN providing this platform. When you’re relaxing on Labor Day Weekend, make sure you tune into ESPN2 to watch these two opponents to kick off college football! You don’t want to miss it!

Madness Hits Before March

Madness Hits Before March

With March Madness around the corner, the NCAA has found themselves in many allegations of collegiate basketball players receiving loans.

Yahoo Sports leaked numerous documents and bank records that were obtained in many FBI investigations. These documents exposed at least 20 D1 programs and more than 25 current and past players that violated NCAA rules by receiving funds from ASM Sports’ NBA agent Andy Miller. These “loans” were payments that ranged in four to five-figure digits.

NCAA president Mark Emmert was not too pleased with the negative light that was shined on this organization, and released a statement Friday morning addressing the violations:

“These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America,” said Mark Emmert. “Simply put, people who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports. They are an affront to all those who play by the rules,”

There were many big-name basketball programs that were mentioned that took part in this misconduct during the secretive recruiting process: Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, Kentucky, South Carolina, Alabama and Texas.

Yahoo Sports reached out to N.C State, Seton Hall, Maryland, Kentucky and Washington, and all of these programs declined to speak on the subject.

“We learned of the report this morning and it is the first we’ve heard about this information,” said North Carolina State director of athletics Debbie Yow. “The report involves an agent N.C. State disassociated with in 2012. Of course, we will fully cooperate with any investigations or inquiries.”

The expense reports for each player listed loans that were invested into their entertainment, travel, and families dated back to Dec. 31, 2015. Here are some of the players that were listed on the documents:

  • Dennis Smith-  recruited by North Carolina State to play in 2016-17 would receive $43,500. He would receive a total of $73,500 in loans, but it was noted “options to recoup the money” when Smith did not go through signing with ASM Sports Agency.
  • Isaiah Whitehead- During Whitehead’s freshman year at Seton Hall, he received $26,136.
  • Tim Quarterman- During Quarterman’s junior year at LSU, he received at least $16,000.
  • Diamond Stone- Received $14,303 Stone’s freshman year.
  • Markelle Fultz- Received $10,000; however, Fultz did not sign with ASM Sports Agency.

These allegations are still under investigation with the FBI. This is a crucial time for all programs being a contender with playoffs tipping off in days. Many of their star athletes, like Collin Sexton, could possibly be sitting out due to ineligibility if true. 


(Photo Credit:

Possible Changes in the NBA Playoff Format

Possible Changes in the NBA Playoff Format

For the past three years, it was no doubt that the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors would go head-to-head in the NBA Championship. The Warriors would sweep every opponent in sight on the western side, and the Cavaliers would defeat their eastern foes to climb their way to the top…just like a broken record. This foreseen outcome has taken some of the excitement and even competition out of the NBA playoffs as all the fans predicted the fairytale ending.

This 2017-2018 season, many trades amongst different organizations in the NBA have taken place trying to create the best formula to be tough contender to compete in the playoffs. In the back of every team’s mind, was a strong team to take down the Golden State Warriors.

There has been many discussion from NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, that there should be a change the NBA playoff seeding system for the top 16 teams regardless of the conference.. Usually, the league has always had the Eastern and Western Conferences compete separately, and the winners would meet in the Finals. It is believed that seeding by record regardless of the conference would result in a fairer, fresher, and more competitive playoff.

“You also would like to have a format where your two best teams are ultimately going to meet in the Finals,” said Adam Siler. “You could have a situation where the top two teams in the league are meeting in the conference finals or somewhere else. So we’re going to continue to look at that. It’s still my hope that we’re going to figure out ways.”

This new format could potentially result in a West vs. East team competition in many brackets, which has never taken place before. Many people think this is a great idea; however, it would be no surprise that eastern teams will not agree with the change. The competition is unmatched in the West and could ultimately destroy chances of eastern teams securing a seat and advancing in the playoffs.

Another main concern is the strenuous traveling players would have to undergo to compete in different conferences. Back-and-forth traveling could cause earlier fatigue and health issues down the line.  

Players, such as Lebron James have already voiced their opinions about the possible change in the format, and he is not to pleased with the thought. James enjoyed the change of the NBA All-Star Game; however he strongly believes that the NBA Playoffs is more serious and should be left alone.

“It’s cool to mess around with the All-Star Game, we proved you can do that,” said James. “But let’s not get too crazy about the playoffs.”

Discussions of the format change are still being considered.

(Photo by: VCG/VCG) 


Cleveland Cavaliers Trades Away Players to Restore Culture

Cleveland Cavaliers Trades Away Players to Restore Culture

The Cleveland Cavaliers brought in some big name players to build their program with intentions to destroy the Golden State Warriors, but mistakenly it tore down their own successful culture of this franchise.

The excitement of bringing in new faces quickly faded away when adversity struck. This dream team quickly turned into a nightmare. Locker room drama stirred up, chemistry was never found, and losing became more habitual than usual. The Cavaliers had no other choice, but to get rid of half their roster before the trade deadline.

It was breaking news after breaking news, as the media received the update that six players were traded from Cleveland: Isaiah Thomas, Dwayne Wade, Derrick Rose, Jae Crowder, Iman Shumpert, and Channing Frye.

The chaos began with Isaiah Thomas being the first to go. Here’s where the ex-Cavalier players are now:

·         Isaiah Thomas is on the Los Angeles Lakers

·         Dwyane Wade is on the Miami Heat

·         Derrick Rose is on the Utah Jazz

·         Jae Crowder is on the Utah Jazz

·         Iman Shumpert is on the Sacramento Kings

·         Channing Frye is on the Los Angeles Lakers

The Cavs added George Hill, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. From these trades, the team became younger, better defensively, and most importantly drama free.

J.R. Smith survived the trade deadline, and of course King Lebron James remained on the roster as he looks to continue to carry and develop his new team.

What surprised many people was the trading Dwyane Wade back to Miami. Everyone was thrilled to see the two best friends, James and Wade, take the floor together again representing the same team. Both players were unaware that Wade’s name was in the mix of the trade until the afternoon it occurred.

James accepted the fact that his best friend was being sent back home considering he sees him all the time anyways. Although he won’t see him every day, they both know how this industry is.

“I’m happy as hell for D-Wade,” James said, per “He gets to go back home and that’s how it should be. I’ve always felt like that’s where his heart and his mind was and I think it’s going to be great for him. I look forward to seeing the footage of him being announced tonight back in Miami.

This was a good move from the Cavaliers to improve their athleticism. The newcomers Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. will bring in some more lockdown defense, and some solid guards are also being added with George Hill and Rodney Hood. Hood will be a great offensive threat for the Cavaliers, and they are excited about all new players.

It was reported that the Cavs’ atmosphere has already changed for the better, so now we will have to see if these improvements will mesh together.

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images). 

No. 1 UConn slaughters USC, takes advantage of Gamecocks’ ‘lapses’

No. 1 UConn slaughters USC, takes advantage of Gamecocks’ ‘lapses’

Colombia, SC — Hearing the names UConn and South Carolina naturally can strike fear in all of their NCAA opponents, so when these two names are in the same conversation, the basketball world stops as they disrupt the peace. 

Thursday night, the Gamecocks and Huskies went to work on the hardwood as the two teams took a small break from conference play for a highly-anticipated match-up.

However, not afraid of the spotlight, the No. 1 UConn Huskies stormed past South Carolina as they continue to remain untouchable, extending its record to 21-0 – making them one of two teams still undefeated in Division 1. The Huskies led the entire game and defeated the No.7 South Carolina Gamecocks, 83-58.

The well-coached UConn team under Geno Auriemma noticed South Carolina’s defensive flaws early in the game and made them pay for it repeatedly, by punching them over and over as the Huskies penetrated the Gamecocks’ defense.

At one point, the game was 41-18...there was still 4:28 remaining in the second frame. 

“Yeah we’re undersized, but we’re going to battle, fight, push the ball, and we’re going to do what we normally do,” said Coach Auriemma. “We knew there were some things that we could not stop, but we also had a feeling going in that we were going do things that they were going to struggle with.”

Watching the game, you could say the Huskies were unbothered by their Gamecock rival and the possession of their 2017 national title. The white-out game could’ve been mistaken for a blackout as UConn effortlessly knocked the hopes out of the Gamecocks causing an upset. 

South Carolina failed to disrupt UConn’s offensive flow. They were a well-oiled machine that knocked down shots left and right from various players on the court. In fact, the Huskies had four players score at least 10 points compared to its opponent who only had two. 

The No. 1 team in the nation shot 41% from the field as compared to the No. 7 team in the nation who shot 32.8%. 

“UConn can take control of the game when you’re not getting back, turning the ball over, and giving them second opportunities to score points,” said Coach Dawn Staley. “Then you’re coming up with empty possessions. Once you have those lapses, it’s hard to overcome.” 

Despite Gabby Williams showing there is still a struggle with her hip injury, she was able to contribute 14 points. Yet, it was her toughness on the boards which stood out as she collected a team-high 14 rebounds — six came on the offensive end which as Staley eluded to, gave the Huskies second chances to score. 

Kia Nurse was the catalyst tonight on the offensive end as her efforts kept UConn in the lead with 23 points, followed by Katie Lou Samuelson with 20 points of her own. 

Not only were the Huskies balanced with scoring, its defense was locked in on everyone for South Carolina. UConn made the night dreadful for the Gamecocks’ confidence when it came to shooting. Outside of Bianca Jackson, the home team couldn’t buy a basket and after a turnover, South Carolina really looked deflated trotting back on defense to catch-up with an energized Husky player.

A game that was hyped up turned into another rout by UConn. The Huskies continue to not let up on its opponent as they defeated its seventh Top 25 team in the nation this year. 

Jackson led the Gamecocks with 20 points, and A’ja Wilson was able to put up 14 and 16 rebounds, but all other South Carolina players did not score over eight points. 

Outside of Samuleson, Nurse, and Williams, Napheesa Collier contributed 19 points for UConn.

Next Up: 

With a short turnaround, a rematch of last season’s NCAA Finals between South Carolina and the No.2 Mississippi State Bulldogs (undefeated at 23-0) will take place on Monday, Feb. 5th at 7 p.m. on ESPN 2 at home in the Colonial Life Arena. 

The UConn Huskies will return to the court on Sunday (Feb. 4) to face Cincinnati.

Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

The Format Change for the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend

The Format Change for the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend

It’s almost that time of the year again when NBA players get to break away from their original teams and mesh together as an unstoppable force to experience a weekend of fun and friendly competition. The 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend is approaching us and will take place on February 16th through the 18th at the Staple Center in Los Angeles, California.

Now usually, it’s the Western Conference versus the Eastern Conference, but this year they've spiced up the format! By fan vote, Lebron will represent the East and Steph Curry will represent the West as team captains. James and Curry made their selections by drafting players onto their team in a similar style as a backyard pickup game. Only the elite are considered. They can also choose from any conference they prefer.

Here is the starting lineups:


Team LeBron

Kevin Durant                                       Golden State Warriors

Anthony Davis                                    New Orleans Pelicans

LeBron James                                     Cleveland Cavaliers

Paul George                                        Oklahoma City

Kyrie Irving                                          Boston Celtics


Now originally, New Orleans Pelicans’ DeMarcus Cousins would be suiting up in place of Paul George, but Cousins has recently suffered a torn left Achilles tendon and will be out for the remainder of the season.

It was also a little surprising to see James select Kyrie Irving on his team after all the drama that escalated after Irving requested to be traded from the Cavaliers.

“Kyrie was available on the draft board,” said James. “He’s one of the best point guards that we have in our league, so it was an easy choice for me.”


 As for Team Curry:

James Harden                                     Houston Rockets

DeMar DeRozan                                 Toronto Raptors

Stephen Curry                                     Golden State Warriors

Giannis Anteokounmpo                       Milwaukee Bucks

Joel Embiid                                          Philadelphia Trailblazers


This is the first time the format of the All-Star game has been conducted in this way, so it’s going to be very interesting for both fans and players to see this performance. With this style, you can potentially have Eastern players playing against other Eastern players, and vice versa for the West. There will also be players that are currently on the same team playing against each other like Steph Curry and Kevin Durant.

Jerseys will also be different! Instead of differentiating the teams with red against blue jerseys that have ‘EAST’ or ‘WEST’ on them, their original team logos will be black and white on the front, and the jersey colors will be grey for away and white for home.

The All-Stars will pocket $100,000 each if their team wins the 2018 NBA All-Star game. This is 50 thousand more than previous years! The losing team will still receive $25,000 per All-Star, so we're looking at a huge price gap. Hopefully this incentive will spark a more competitive attitude from the players than usual. As viewers, we are accustomed to the All-Star games ending up being a dunk contest accompanied with no defense, so this change could spark up a difference!

Stay tuned on February 18th on TNT at 8 p.m. ET.